This forum uses cookies
This forum makes use of cookies to store your login information if you are registered, and your last visit if you are not. Cookies are small text documents stored on your computer; the cookies set by this forum can only be used on this website and pose no security risk. Cookies on this forum also track the specific topics you have read and when you last read them. Please confirm whether you accept or reject these cookies being set.

A cookie will be stored in your browser regardless of choice to prevent you being asked this question again. You will be able to change your cookie settings at any time using the link in the footer.

Whereas we believe lightning to be released as a result of the collision of clouds, they believe that the clouds collide so as to release lightning: for as they attribute all to deity, they are led to believe not that things have a meaning insofar as they occur, but rather that they occur because they must have a meaning.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
AD 58

Nikolai's attention shifted from one book to the next. Upon his desk was opened three volumes, the centermost winning the treasure of his contemplation for the time being.

Consideration of this Hasan, this man who saw fit to claim himself the title of an Islamic savior, had driven Nikolai into the pages of research such as he hadn't delved in forty years. The sacred tome of the Atharim given him for study that day beneath Vatican City he knew by heart, but its pages were filled with convolutions of prophecy undefined by Wilhelm Ravid himself. Surely there was something he had missed? Something yet to be translated?

A quiet hum of electrical light dimmed into screen-saver mode, but the transition tore at his concentration until Nikolai finally swung in his chair and powered down the entire unit. A blessed peace fell as a result, leaving him to the more traditional lamps that illuminated his personal living chambers, though bright they still were. Meters beneath the surface of the Kremlin was the sole place Nikolai fell most at peace. Despite his every intention to contain the chaos of the world, only here was he able to reach the core of his identity. Polished floors ran underfoot, stone hewn roughly five-hundred years ago held aloft ceilings which were painted with long-faded mosaics to conceal an otherwise ugly basement. Nobody questioned his choice, though he had his pick of the palatial monuments of Russia above. Here everything was geometric and solid, and in their consistency Nikolai found uncomplicated beauty. In his gaze around the room he used for an office, he caught a reflection of himself staring back from the smooth surface of a cold mirror on the opposite wall, and he wondered, yet again, how long his will alone could hold before the land staggered unbidden across the uncertain terrain that led to war.

His back straightened, and suddenly the man behind the desk sat taller than before and his gaze more penetrating, even as he stared back at the reflection of himself. Centered on the wall behind and above him, just as the long-dead Regus of the Atharim displayed the ancient shield of the Ravid family, was also positioned the heart of Nikolai's legacy. The great symbol of his empire, the double crescent of his office, colored black and orange on a sheen of sleek gray. It was a mathematical equation made into form, though few recognized the genius of cycloids but statisticians and philosophers. The symbolism was perfect when Nikolai began to contemplate the mark he would adopt for himself when the ASU was born. Similar shapes, crafted points and beautiful curves, he likewise assigned to each and every Dominance in the CCD and already had the flags of DVIII, DIX, and DX chosen. They would come in time, of this he was sure.

But his symbol was not alone. Gilded around the shape was a halo of epithets. Centermost was his own, Ascendancy, self-defined as one arisen above mankind, burdened with glorious duty to lead and sustain the children of the world with the heavy, loving hand of a father to billions. The others, smaller but no less significant, were other phrases. Archon. Amulet.

And Apollyon.

He continued to consider himself in the mirror. His gaze rose from his own powerful expression to that of the ominous title. Of all the gods, the Atharim knew the most about Apollyon, though Nikolai had deemed they actually knew very little. According to Garret, Wilhelm, and the rest of the conclave as they existed forty years ago, Apollyon would shake the world with change and usher in an age of everlasting peace. He was a herald, but victory could not be purchased without sacrifice. It was this river of red that Nikolai was willing to chart, but he would not allow himself to feel the sting of regret. It was the greater purpose he saw. The eyes of a deity could penetrate the decades far greater than a mere mortal.

In that moment, he seized his divine gifts into his grasp and willed into existence dense sheets to curl around the harsh lights fluorescing the room. As a consequence, they dimmed to a manageable, dim glow that would otherwise be far too dark to read what was printed on the pages before him. More than once he'd surprised Custody Agents with his ability to read in otherwise unbelievable darkness. The shadow cloaked him as surely as the black robes of his initiation, but it focused his attention as a beam of laser light itself. He would finally be able to concentrate.

With none but his own eyes to witness, he slid from the jacket of his suit and began to elevate the sleeves of the shirt above his elbows. The freedom gave him better range to hover over the books in which he was sure hid the answers he sought, but the scars on the flesh of one arm ran five deep trails, and he peeled the sleeve back to his wrists once more, unable to gaze upon that which marked his flesh with destiny. Subconscious anger tightened the power's spheres until nearly all light was bent from mortal eyes. Even in his greatness he strained to see, but at least the scars were invisible to him now, hidden by cloth and the shift of light. He glanced where he knew the mirror hung once more, but he was all but invisible to himself.

That was when the idea struck.

As he pushed from the chair, all light in the room returned full blast as the manifestation of his will dissolved what had capped them into darkness. He strode from the desk, anxious with the attempt churning in his imagination, until he was positioned fully before the mirror. It was a rare relic of the Romanov's. Sleek glass framed by heavily carved wood, gilded and jeweled. The gaudy decoration was unfitting in an otherwise ascetic space, but the symbolism reminded Nikolai of legacy, and how easily it was lost.

But as of now, he was uncaring of the mirror itself as more than mere inspiration. Mirrors and darkness, they were only manipulations of light, after all. They could be used as a way to hide as sure as a cloak could drape a man with anonymity -- a man hidden from the world.

The infinite force of the ages spun from his mind. He tried three of the five elements first, but his guess was incorrect, and the pillaring image of himself never wavered its reflection.

His jaw tightened and he tried again, seemingly staring at himself, but the shape of a god in a man's flesh was not what he viewed. The greatest of his accomplishments were done with the five elements together, but now he sought elegance, not raw power. And what was more refined than a wisp of flame and a gust of wind? It was the absence of air, after all, that smothered fire, contained and hid it from existence.

Fire and Air curled together before him like a shield.

The light folded, and suddenly, it curled around the reflection of himself until Nikolai's own eyes beheld only the threads of power while the image of himself disappeared from all view.

Elation soared glorious victory, and he gasped with well-earned astonishment. Except for the shield, he was invisible.

He smiled to himself, but the moment he moved to clasp his hands behind his back, the spell was broken, and the folding of light dispelled. He returned to full view.

The smile faded as he considered himself once more. "Interesting,"
he said. Soon after, he returned to his desk, recovered the lights with their shades, and continued his reading.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)