Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 7 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 7: Meeting the Guardians

With the gem and the little gates taken care of, I thought we were safe from their influence. I was wrong.

Before we left Earth, Randi and I asked Noa to marry us. We’d been together for centuries of Earth time and couldn’t bear the idea of separating.

We left, wanting to avoid seeing my siblings, we decided to see what Albion was all about. We arrived and were amazed by the rolling green hills, crystal lakes, and absolutely sublime nature. It was a realm of green and growing things.

“Hello, can I help you?” asked a man that looked strikingly like a younger Merlin. Instead of looking ancient, he looked like he was in his sixties. His hair was streaked in white and his skin was a healthy brown instead of grey.

“Merlin? How are you here?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t often meet people in the proper temporal order. Nice to see you again, Lord Robin. I’m better known here as Emris. I’m the Guardian of Reality.”

I stared, blinking awkwardly until Randi elbowed me and said, “I’m Lady Randi of Fay and this is my husband, Lord Robin.”

“Oh.” He bowed. It felt strange for the wizard to bow to me. I’d been a god, a first born, and a lord, but Merlin was the stuff of legend.

I tried to find some words, but was distracted by a woman walking quickly towards us. She was young, maybe fourteen, and still had a slight roundness to her face. Her skin was golden and her hair was pure black. Her eyes glowed with anger and seemed to shift from dark brown to red when she saw me.

“What the hell is that gate doing in my Aether?” the woman demanded.

“I thought the Aether would dispose of it,” I replied, caught off guard.

“It won’t. That thing is made of pure order. It’s not from our universe and it’s slowly creating a pocket reality around itself. Get it out!”

“Lord Robin and Lady Randi, this is Iman. She is the Guardian of Aether.” Merlin introduced us, suppressing a smile.

“Why would the force of magic and chaos need a guardian?” I asked, confused.

Putting her hand on her hip and scowling Iman replied, “For exactly this sort of situation.”

“She has you there,” Randi said with a chuckle.

Iman added, “Also for your information, Aether and Chaos are not the same thing and have two separate Guardians.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but then shrugged. “Any suggestions as to where to put it to avoid it opening and releasing a massive army to destroy all the realms?”

“I don’t care, just get it out of my Aether.” Iman looked somehow even more annoyed.

Merlin nodded and with a wide smile said, “I have the perfect place. Embed it under rock in the Canadian Shield. Wait, you won’t have any idea about that for a while. I’ll show you.” He opened a portal that sounded odd, like some great beast wheezing, and Merlin and I stepped through. 

The land we arrived at was harsher than Avalon, but no less verdant or beautiful. The trees were large and there was a slight chill in the air. I felt under me and could tell there was a natural cavern completely cut off from the surface about two kilometres down. The gate would be safe there. I pulled it from the Aether and put it in place. Without the Aether, the nascent realm collapsed into itself.

“Why here?” I asked Merlin.

“It’s pure rock and pretty isolated. Those that live here respect nature and have no need to delve that deep. It’ll stay hidden for more than a thousand years.”

“That’s oddly specific,” I said, not really surprised. Merlin only nodded and I started to ask the question that had been bothering me. “I thought Guardians were beings of great power…”

“And you want to know how a human became the guardian of Aether?”

“It seemed like a rude question.”

Merlin shrugged a little as if he didn’t believe in rude questions and replied, “What better being than a human? They are chaos and they wield Aether without ever knowing it. Humans are by far the most diverse and terrifying creatures in the realms.”

“But without powers…” I trailed off, understanding dawning on me. “All humans can affect the Aether?” He nodded. “And she has complete mastery of it?”

“Not quite, but close. She’s young, but can already wield pure Aether, something I’ve never seen anyone but the Guardian of Aether do. Also, unlike all other life in the universe, the Aether likes her.”

The idea that the stuff of chaos and magic could have personal preferences for certain people or any form of sentience was enough to scare me.

“How many Guardians are in Avalon?” I asked as we walked through the return portal.

Merlin had a look of mischief in his eyes that I tried my best to memorize. It was both charming and ominous at the same time. “All seven are here for the first time since the creation of the universe. That one was an accident. This will be the final meeting of the original seven Guardians. Would you like to join us?”

His words made sense, but left me feeling like I was missing information or context.

Randi and Iman were chatting as we arrived and I took my wife’s hand as we walked towards a modest castle.

Outside the castle gates were thousands of tents, an entire city of them. Walking between them were men and women in robes or armour. It was an army.

“Why is there an army at the gates of your castle?”

“Don’t worry. Camelot isn’t under siege. We’re preparing for war. Your nephew has a taste for conquest and he’s coming for Albion.”

Read Chapter 8

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 6 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 6: The Fall of Atlantis and a New Friend

If you’ve never seen the armies of Fay marching, you’re lucky. I was on their side and it was terrifying. We march in perfect unison with one bagpipe, drum, or trumpet per soldier. The sound is hauntingly beautiful, emphasis on hauntingly.

When the Fay marched on Atlantis, we were a united realm of several billion. Our army outnumbered the Atlanteans who were left a hundred to one. 

Even one platoon of Fay soldiers is as deadly as any human army before the twentieth century. The only advantage the Atlanteans had was the ability to wield worked metal and that didn’t help them. They’d grown dependent on their magic, which was impressive, but nothing compared to that of my brother and sister.

Those that were attacking us fled and I was able to catch my breath. It wasn’t long before I saw a group of soldiers marching toward us and realized we were still dressed in Atlantean garb. A wave of my hand and both Randi and I were in Fay clothing that befit a lord and lady of Fay.

The Fay soldiers hesitated and then turned towards a group of Atlantean mages attempting to activate the smaller gates. They succeeded and disappeared, but the soldiers followed them.

“You were talking about leaving?” I said. I was still holding the magical gem that had powered the large gate. I could feel its will. It wanted nothing more than to reconnect with its gate. The power it held was equivalent to me and my siblings. I wondered why it hadn’t become a person like we had. Since that time, I have learned that there were a total of four gems that weren’t transformed into people, each powerful enough to create a realm.

The one I held and the Gem of Chaos had created Earth and its universe. The Aetheria Crystal started creating Everworld, and the last was the Stone of Albion. 

“Yes. I think we should leave before this realm goes to sleep.” It’s not possible to completely destroy a realm as long as someone remembers them. The realm goes to sleep until it’s forgotten or reclaimed.

I took her hand and tried to send us to Earth. The gem had other plans. It diverted my spell into the Aether and next to the gate. I tried again and we were back on the plains of Atlantis.

“The gem isn’t going to let me move us. I’m not sure what to do,” I said and looked at Randi pleadingly. She didn’t get a chance to answer before a scream of agony overpowered the fighting and war instruments.

Melchior was standing on a pile of Atlanteans and held another’s head in his hands. I watched as the magic flowed out of the screamer and Melchior tossed them into the pile. He was draining their magic and souls.

A shiver of fear ran through me. There was something wrong with that man and it terrified me.

“The gates,” Randi suggested. “Toss one to earth and then use another to create a bridge.”

It was a great idea and I went one step further, tossing all the smaller gates to Earth, spreading them across that world. I left one gate in Atlantis as I saw a great wave of water heading toward us. The Atlanteans had decided to drown their world rather than let the Fay destroy it.

I activated the last gate and we jumped through. The contrast was jarring. We’d left a war-torn realm filled with sound and pain, and we’d arrived on an island where the loudest thing was birdsong and the ocean gently lapping at the shore.

“Are you gods?” asked a large, muscled man who was shirtless and adorned with impressive tattoos. 

“We are lords of Fay. My name is Robin, this is Randi.”

The man bowed and replied, “I am Noa, Chief of this island.”

Telepathically, Randi said, We need to destroy that gem.

We can’t, I replied. It’s too powerful. We need to break it into pieces and scatter those across the realms.

I took the crystal and started ripping pieces apart. It took less energy the smaller the crystal became. “I’ve sent all the pieces to different parts of the Earth and Albion. Everworld is already too unstable.”

“Why don’t you throw a piece into the stars?” Noa suggested. 

In Fay, the land is the universe; there’s a sun, but no solar system in the same sense as Earth. I’d forgotten that there was a vast universe. I threw a large piece of the gem as far as I possibly could. There was no way humans would get to it.

The last sliver I handed to Noa. “Keep this safe,” I told him. Sometimes you just need to follow your instincts about a person, and something was telling me that Noa was a good man.

“I will do my best, but I’m only a humble chief.” There was a sparkle in his eyes as he spoke.

A doorway opened and two Atlantean wizards stepped through. They looked angry. When they saw me, they screamed, “You stole our gates and gem!”

“Is this true?” Noa asked.

“Well, there was a war and the gem was too powerful to keep in one place. So yes, but they were about to be wiped out of existence anyway.”

“If we’d unleashed the Lost Realms and the Mulciber, your Fay armies would have been destroyed,” the wizard replied.

“I might not know of all these otherworldly things, but I’ve never heard of unleashing anything turning out well. Things are on leashes for a reason.” Noa shrugged.

“We weren’t talking to you, human! This is between Atlanteans and Fay. You should stay out of it or you’ll regret it.” The wizard smirked and turned back to me.

I was going to say something very witty, once I thought of it, but Noa interjected softly, “There’s just one problem with that.”

“What?” demanded the other wizard.

“You’re on my people’s island.”

The wizard’s laughter was cut off when the ocean itself rose up like a big hand and swatted them off the island.

Noa chuckled and asked, “So how does this thing work?” pointing at the gate. I explained to him that his crystal couldn’t open it to any other gate unless it was close, but that I could if he wanted. “Wonderful. Please open it to the coldest place it’ll go.”

I did so and Noa stepped into the shade of a palm tree, disappearing.

He reappeared under the same tree, holding the two wizards as if he’d travelled by shadow and water. “These two need to cool off.” They looked tiny next to him, being neither muscled or anywhere near his height. He tossed them through the gate and I closed it.

“That was fun,” he said with a big grin. “Now you two have done what you’ve set out to do. You seem like you attract or create trouble. Please leave.”

I shook my head in disbelief and replied, “Absolutely. Your assistance was appreciated.”

That was the first time I met an Aetherborn, a person created by the chaos of magic and human imagination. 

“I like him,” said Randi.

“Me too,” I replied.

Read Chapter 7

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 5 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 5: Things Go Poorly in Atlantis

“That’s the same gate,” Peaseblossom said, eyes wide in terror. The same gate that had let the horrifying metal soldiers into the Deep Realms.

“It’s not,” Randi said, tilting her head in a very fox-like way. “It will be the same gate, but it’s currently not the same gate. This is it before it was activated.”

Our whispered conversation hadn’t pierced the loudness of my brother and his wife as they marvelled at the gate. “You can go anywhere as long as you have that crystal?” asked Titania. She pointed at a large greenish gem on a pedestal in front of the large gate. The gem was pulsing with power.

“Yes, anywhere that has a gate. We’ve designed the smaller ones using what we learned of the bigger one. We’ve never been able to activate the big one to connect with its original network. We’ve used the crystal with the smaller ones, and we were able to copy the energy as a spell.” I discovered later that they’d found the large gate on Earth and did their best to learn the language.

“Where do you think the bigger one went originally?” Titania asked, obviously finding this amusing.

The leader of the Atlanteans smiled in a way most people do when they explain something to a child and said, “We’re not sure. We believe it can connect to other such gates in completely different universes. You see, we believe that life in the realms started outside our universe.”

“Isn’t that fascinating, Oberon. They think life started elsewhere and came here as refugees. What a quaint notion.” She was playing at being ignorant and it got her a hearty laugh from Oberon.

There was something dangerous in the leader’s eyes. “It is a lot to understand for one such as yourself,” he said it and gestured at the teenager. I shivered again, having temporarily forgotten him in my distraction, but his magic was wrong in the way a forest fire was wrong. All destruction and hunger.

“One such as myself?” The threat in my sister’s tone was clear enough that a few people who’d been following the wagon moved away.

It was the leader’s turn to play at ignorance, although I’m not sure he was playing. “It is well known that the spirit of intellect passes on from the mother to the child leaving her near witless.”

I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. The leader nodded at me and I shook my head.

Before I could say anything, Oberon’s booming voice echoed over the field. “Fool. You’ve just insulted Queen of the Fay Realms, former goddess of the sun and knowledge. She is more clever and has more spirit of intellect than you, in your limited imagination, could conceive of.”  

Titania put her hand on Oberon’s and said, “He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”

The leader proved Oberon right by replying, “I have studied intellect in the greatest universities of Atlantis, Sir. Be assured I know more about it than you or your woman.”

Again I laughed. Oberon looked me in the eyes and I could see his power and anger rising as he said, “You laugh at us, brother?”

“No, I just enjoy a little chaos, and honestly I can’t imagine how he could be more wrong and insulting.” 

Recognition flashed in the leader’s eyes and he sneered, “Oh you. When I first heard there was a Fay living with us I came by to see you, but you were busy discussing philosophy with children in a courtyard. I knew at that point you weren’t worth talking with. I only discuss magic and philosophy with the greatest minds, not a fool who seeks the counsel of children.”

I was so thrown by his disdain for his own people that I wasn’t able to say anything. If I had been able to, I may have saved his life. Instead, Titania spoke, “Children are wise—”

The leader cut her off by saying, “Silence, Woman. The adults are speaking.”

She didn’t yell or even seem to be too angry, she simply snapped her fingers and where the leader had stood was an equal mass of spiders. The spiders proved to have better sense and moved as fast as their legs could take them away from Titania.

Oberon roared in anger and the chariot we were in, along with the poor horse that pulled it, turned into snakes. 

Humans are absolutely fantastic as a race; with the exception of a precious few,, they are born with nothing but cleverness and a near magical ability to adapt to any situation. The people of Atlantis stood in abject terror for a few moments before starting yelling for guards and arming themselves.

Oberon, Titania, and Melchior disappeared. Randi, in the midst of the chaos, asked, “Where did they go?”

“Back to Fay to prepare the army,” Peaseblossom said. “We have maybe an hour before this place and everyone in it dies by Fay hands.”

A man grabbed the green crystal and ran for the large gate. It flew from his hands and the gate activated. I saw the same scene I’d seen before, a long serpent of metal winding its way towards our world. 

Summoning my power, I tossed the gate into the Deep Realms where I knew the past me would deal with it. The crystal tried to phase into the Aether to follow the gate, but I contained it. 

“All these people will die if we don’t do something,” Peaseblossom said.

“Can we help?” a chorus of three voices asked. Before me were three young women. One looked as if she had never seen the sun, she was unnaturally pale and had white-blonde hair. The second was a complete contrast; her skin was black as ebony and she had dark red hair. The last had no hair at all and her skin gleamed like polished gold.

I recognised them as the pieces of the crystal that Merlin had tossed into Everworld. “Charites, Horae, and Moirai. Sisters, what are you doing here?”

Together as one they said, “Everworld banished us. They didn’t believe our truths. Their world is ending and if they don’t fix the magic, it will destroy them all. Their wise men were fools, their gods shadows, and their people too proud. Banished, we found a small realm in need of guidance.”

I wasn’t thinking in riddles at the time and only really half-listened as the Atlanteans had decided to attack us. “Atlantis?” I asked.

They laughed with genuine joy when they said, “No. We discovered Albion. A realm of peace, magic, and story.”

The magic the Atlantaens used was painfully strong, anyone but me or my siblings would have fallen in seconds. As it were, I was getting tired. “Okay. Can you get to the point? I’m a little busy.”

“We shall take all the innocent Atlanteans, with their permission, to Albion. Peaseblossom, would you care to come?”

Peaseblossom said her goodbyes and the Sisters of Albion disappeared with her and all the innocents. Unfortunately, that didn’t include those attacking me and Randi.

“We should get out of here before—” I stopped talking as I saw portals opening and the armies of Fay marching out of them.

Read Chapter 6

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 4 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 4: The Gate and the Fox go to Atlantis

I barely had time to move out of the way as a spear flew by my head. I desperately wanted to look back at where it landed, but I had to close the gate.

The gate was the size of an elephant standing on its hind legs; it would let in an army very quickly. I did the only thing I could think of and ripped the entire structure out of the Fay Realms and tossed it into the Aether.

The Aether is a place of pure chaos and magic. If something, or someone, isn’t protected while inside, it will devour them and leave nothing but memories behind.

I turned back and found the fox, skewered by the spear. She whimpered gently as the spear dissolved around her. The realm’s deep hate for metal was still strong even all these years after the first civil war. 

I saw the life flowing out of her and my heart ached. There was nothing I could do to save her. Even my magic had limits.

Peaseblosson looked at the fox and cried. They picked up the fragile body and said, “I have nothing but a Fay’s magic left in me, but I give it all to you so that you can heal. Please live.”

My sibling’s last shreds of power flowed into the fox and mingled with the creature’s own magic. The result was a core of magic more powerful than any I’d seen.

Falling to the ground, the two breathed heavily, but they were alive.

“I feel weak,” said Peaseblossom.

“Thank you,” replied the fox. Her voice was soft and sweet, but with an authority that demanded attention.

As I watched, the fox grew into a beautiful woman. Her colouring was simpler as a human. Her skin was a tan colour that was almost orange, while her hair was black as the night without stars. 

Despite my age, I was a young fool at the time and thought I fell in love at that instant. I know now that I fell in love with her every day we were together.

My mouth opened and closed like a fish gasping for air and both of them, thankfully, ignored me.

“I will never forget what you did for me,” the fox said.

Smiling wanly, Peaseblosson said, “It was the least I could do. You released me from the burdens of being a Fay Lord. Now I can go live amongst the Humans.”

“You mean Everworld?” I asked.

The fox laughed and said, “For those of us that have walked the Deep Realms, time is just a direction to walk in. You must meet the humans. They are interesting.”

“What do we call you?” asked Peaseblossom.

The fox waited and said, “Call me Randi… Randi Peaseblossom. If that’s acceptable.”

“Yes. I would like that. Now I think I’d like to settle in Atlantis.”

As we walked towards the middle of the forest that was the Deep Realms, I felt something strange. I looked at where the gate had been and saw that there was a thin spot where the gate had punched a hole between universes.

I did my best to patch it, but it would require returning and repairing it every couple of centuries.

Atlantis was a wonder. A place of human imagination and power. Humans, I learned, were from Earth and had apparently taken over after the dinosaurs. They were very similar to us and those who had made their home in Everworld. It leads me to believe that there is some force at work shaping sentience. 

Somehow, humans had learned to harness the powers of magic so efficiently that they’d carved out a new realm adjacent to Earth, which they called Atlantis. They understood magic in ways me and my family had never considered. 

Peaseblossom joined the great world and became a musician. Although they no longer had any magic, their music was amazing.

“How long do you plan on spending here?” asked Randi one day as we walked the markets of Atlantis. We’d been sharing a small apartment with Peaseblossom and we were both learning about the Atlanteans. It was a calm life and honestly, I was happy. We had masked our magical signatures to look like simple Fay. I didn’t want to get involved with the royals or court.

The smell of food was heavy in the air with cumin, cinnamon, and silphium. My stomach grumbled and I didn’t know how to answer the question. I tried to be cool, but stuttered, “I was having a nice time here with you and this place is lovely I… I…” I shrugged.

She laughed and rolled her eyes before saying, “I have a bad feeling something is going to happen.”

No sooner had she said it than trumpets roared over the market and a cryer announced, “Lord Oberon, Lady Titania, and their son Melchior. Rulers of the Fay Realms.

I hoped to not be noticed, but of course Oberon saw us in the markets and loudy called to me, “Brother, join us. We go to see the greatest magic in Atlantis. They say it’s the work of the gods but I don’t remember making it.” He laughed at his own joke. 

Randi and I climbed aboard their chariot and I nodded to Titania and tried not to shudder at the sight of Melchior. Although still a young teen, he exuded power in the same way an uncontrolled brushfire did. From a distance he was beautiful, up close he was terrifying.

“What is this magic?” Randi asked.

“And who are you?” Oberon asked, lechery oozing out of him.

“This is Lady Randi Peaseblossom,” I said to him, a little petulance and defensiveness creeping into my voice. Using the name of one of the original five was a way of saying you were a descendant of theirs.

Putting a gentle hand on mine, Randi said, “I’m Robin’s girlfriend. Although I haven’t told him that yet.” 

My brother roared with laughter and Randi winked at me. My heart then tried to match the beat of a hummingbird’s and I missed a large part of the conversation.

It wasn’t until I heard the word “gate” that I came back to the conversation fully. I was going to ask the nature of this gate when we came up to it.

I recognized the magical signature immediately. Somehow, the gate I’d tossed into the Aether and that should have been destroyed by the raw power was sitting on a hillside in Atlantis. Worse, there were the hundreds of smaller versions created by the Atlanteans.

Read Chapter 5

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 3 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 3: God, Trickster, and Coward

We quickly realized, the other four and I, that we were different from the Fay. Our magic was inside and the world was linked to us. The Fay realms bent to our every whim and fantasy, while the Fay had immense magical power, but needed to pull it from the Aether. It limited them since they had to pull magic through the barrier.

We were gods among them and they loved us. For countless years, we were benevolent deities to adoring masses. I say we, but it was mostly the other four; I liked to disguise myself and live amongst the Fay. They were fascinating and overly serious. I spent most of the godly reign of my siblings pulling pranks and tricks throughout the realm.

I was a menace and I fully admit it. I’m not proud of those years, but everyone has some embarrassing moments tucked into their past. Mine just happen to be the basis for every trickster god in multiple realms. 

The problem with complete power is that it corrupts, even the gods. The four became capricious and mean. They treated the Fay like bugs and slaves. I’m not completely blameless either. 

The Fay grew angry and frustrated, as they should, and rose up. They discovered that worked metal hurt our magic as much as theirs and they took arms against us. The first great Fay civil war was a horrible thing where most of the Fay died. The fighting only stopped when Mav died, her heart pierced by cold iron.

That’s when the realm itself expelled all worked metal. I’m not sure what happens to the metal, but when it’s brought into Fay, it bubbles and boils and goes into the ground.

After Mav’s death, the remaining three disappeared, and we discovered that certain Fay had the strength and will to carve a kingdom out of the wild realm around them; they were the Fay Lords. And so was born the Fay Kingdoms, ruled by those who had killed their own gods. 

Again, I am not proud of my actions, but I left Fay completely. First I travelled to Earth, but it was controlled by wild magic and large reptiles, so I tried Everworld. It had been created with magic similar to my own and I had assumed it would greet me kindly. Although the people were kind, the realm itself fought my every move and one morning I awoke back in Fay. Everworld had expelled me the way Fay expels metal.

I had been gone long enough that when I returned there were nine kingdoms, the greatest of all being called Mav. After a few enquiries, I discovered its king and queen were Oberon and Titania. They had reinvented themselves as Fay Lords and started a kingdom. I was shocked to hear that they also had a son, Melchior.

In our time as gods, we’d had many children with the regular Fay. Most of those children went mad with power, so we stopped. In those countless days and nights, we had never successfully mated with each other.  

I had to see for myself what the child was. I’d convinced myself that he was just another Fay until I saw him. I looked at his magic; he had the same core of power as myself, but he was also capable of pulling power from the Aether.

That made him extremely dangerous and I grew fearful. With his power, he could rewrite the universe, maybe all universes. I did the only thing I knew what to do and I ran. I ran into the Deep realms until I couldn’t breath, think, or stay awake.

I woke up when someone slapped me. It was Peaseblossom and they looked different. Their magic was subdued and they looked peaceful. “Wake up, Robin,” they said, punctuating it with another slap.

“What if I don’t?” I asked petulantly. 

“Then the Deep realms will eat you, maybe.”

I laughed as much at their uncertainty as their joke. “What have you done to yourself, Sibling?”

Smiling, they said, “I travelled the Deep realms and came across a fox that walked in the shadows. I followed her and found her, I thought, eating another fox. When I approached I saw that she was transforming the fox’s core magic from internal to external. I watched her do it multiple times and finally with enough practice I was able to do it to myself. I am no better now than a common Fay.”

“Are you happy?” I asked, not sure how to respond. They nodded and I asked if they could show me where the fox had been.

My sibling did not explain the beauty that was this fox. She had fur as dark as night with shocks of bright red, her eyes were intelligent, and most interestingly, her magical core was the same as ours.

“Hello, my lady. You are magnificent. I thank you for teaching my sibling your magic.” I thought it best to be polite. I didn’t expect the fox to respond and I was surprised when she rushed forward and bit my leg. She yowled at me and bit again before turning and running.

“I think you’ve insulted her,” Peaseblossom said.

“I think she wants us to follow,” I replied and ran after the beauty.

I had no idea where we were going. I knew that to wander too far into the Deep was to lose yourself in time, but all that mattered was that fox. When I finally caught up with her she gave me a look that was what I assume was the fox equivalent to, About time. 

After that, we ran together until we reached the other end of the Deep realms, where reality just gave up, and it’s there that I saw the first gate. It was an arch of stone two stories high with sigils of magic all around it.

But it wasn’t the arch that chilled my blood and stopped my heart; it’s what was visible through the arch. An army dressed in some sort of silver metal lined up in rows that reached so far in the distance that together, they looked like a giant metal serpent.

“Mulciber,” I whispered in horror.

Read Chapter 4

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 2 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 2: The Oldest Merlin

“Ooo-ooo-ooo the heroes of Westmeath, The Phantom and the Wraith!” sang Merlin as they slowly walked towards the forest. “I’ve had that stuck in my head, this time, for over a millenia.”

“What is this about and why are you so old?” Oberon asked.

Laughing slightly as if the man had made a great joke, Merlin replied, “Don’t be hasty. I am very old, but we’ll get there in time.”

Titania looked like she was going to say something, but instead rolled her eyes. 

“This is about magic isn’t it?” I asked.

“Astute observation, Robin,” Merlin replied. “Can you feel it?”

I shook my head. “You’re a wizard, so I assumed.”

We walked for a long time until the Fay realms started to thin. They were young and hadn’t solidified; they weren’t a planet like Everworld or Earth. They were just a giant plain of existence.

We came to the end where the Fay realms reverted into pure Aether and Merlin, with the ease of a school teacher, explained, “The Fay realms were built of pure inner power, magic from another universe completely. It’s not compatible with the magic from this universe. It’s too…” He paused and looked around.

When he didn’t say anything, I ventured, “Organized?”

“Yes,” he said and clapped his hands together. “Aether is partially sentient and always trying to convert order into chaos. The nascent universe over there—” he gestured back where we’d come from. “—It has a natural defence against Aether called a barrier. You do not have one.”

That’s when I saw that the ground in front of us was receding slowly. 

Peaseblossom made a high pitched sound and said, “Fay is being eaten?”

Merlin only nodded as the rest of us stared at him, wide-eyed. It was Titania that finally said, “What do we do?”

“Nothing. It’ll slowly eat at Fay until a barrier is put up or it consumes everything,” Merlin said casually.

“Can you do anything?” Mav asked, somehow sounding bored and worried at the same time.

“Me, yes. Me now, no. I wasn’t expecting to be here yet, but since I was the only me here, I figured I’d warn you. Just don’t go into the Aether and you’ll be okay for a while. I’ll be back after I see a girl about a ring.” He fidgeted with a large crystal ring before turning back and slowly walking back towards the Deep realms.

The other others walked away from Merlin to do whatever it was they wanted to do. I stayed back to walk with him. After a long time of walking, I asked him something that had bothered me my whole life, or less than a few hours, I suppose. “Why us? Who made us? Why are we here? What’s the goal?”

Merlin seemed to think it over and finally answered, “Chaos thrives on imbalance. The Fay balance out the Humans just like New Albion will balance Everdome.” When I looked confused, he said, “Fay are important to creating a balanced universe that won’t collapse back into chaos.” 

He went back to walking as if that had explained anything and just when I thought he’d forgotten what I’d asked he added, “You were magical crystals created when powerful creatures died. The Mulciber took those souls and experimented, creating superpowered crystals they could use as a powersource. A group of brave people fought them and took the crystals, redirecting a great gate into this universe and planned on building a better, less dangerous home. They succeeded in creating the universe, but not so much with the safer.”

“So I’m a rebirth of a bunch of magical souls?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied with a smile. “You were always my favourite Robin.” 

I watched Merlin walk towards the Deep realms forest as another version of him, somehow older, walked out. As they crossed each other, the younger said, “You dawdled.”

The elder replied, “Yes and you would have, will, do the same thing.”

They both burst into chuckles and then walked away from one another. The elder Merlin saw me and smiled like we’d not seen each other in a long time. “Robin, my old friend. If I had to choose who would be there when I die, you would have made the top one-hundred for sure.”

I ignored the bitterness in his voice and asked, “Die? Are you dying? What can I do to help you?” 

He patted my shoulder and said, “You’re so young. I’ve lived a long time. Not as long as you will, but longer than most humans should.”

“Why are you here if you’re dying?”

“I am the Guardian of Reality. The universe has given me everything I have ever wanted and it’s time I pay it back for that.” He said it as if it answered my question, but I felt like I was missing parts. 

“Are all wizards this cryptic?” I asked.

“Only the good ones and those that forget how much information they’re supposed to give.” We reached the fading parts of Fay again and I was alarmed to see how much had been lost. He nodded to me and said, “This is my stop. I’m going to become the barrier for Fay. The only advice I have for you is to take time to truly enjoy life. Sometimes we’re too busy living that we forget how much fun it is and take it too seriously.”

With that, and before I could ask any questions, he stepped back, and with a flash of white light, disappeared. When my vision cleared, the thinning was gone. I walked forward to where it had been and there was nothing but more of the realm. 

Our realm was complete and the universe set into motion. I didn’t appreciate what that meant at the time, but I wasn’t even a day old.

Read Chapter 3

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Read more about Merlin in his Holiday Stories

Birth of the Aetherverse – Chapter 1 (Serial Story)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 1: The Voices of Time and Reality

The first thing I remember is the voice of a young man saying, “Where are we?”

A second voice answered him, this time a young woman, “It’s not where but when, big brother.”

“Fine, Morgan. When are we?”

“We are at the beginning of our universe. This is the Aether, but the question is, what are those?”

A gentle, dark brown hand picked me up and the young man asked, “Don’t you know?”

“No. You never told me. Spoilers and all that.”

I tried to speak, but with no mouth or body per-say, I couldn’t. “These look a lot like the  Aetheria crystals. Its magic signature feels familiar.” The man finished what he was saying and I felt myself changing.

If you’ve never gone from crystal to humanoid, it sort of feels like the best stretch you’ve ever had. 

The woman, who I saw was dark with beautiful blue eyes said, “Ah. Robin Goodfellow.”

That is my name. I was named by the Guardian of Time. I am Robin, or Puck. Yes, that one, but my old friend William used little but my name.

“If this is the beginning of our universe, where’s Everworld?” the boy asked. He had the scraggly beginnings of a beard and close-cut brown hair. His skin was as dark as his sister’s.

I pointed at a large stone gate that seemed to float in the nothingness that surrounded us.

There were people walking through, lots of people. They were obviously carrying everything they owned into a vast nothingness. I felt bad for them and I didn’t know why.

“Wow. The original settlers of Everworld.” The man sounded awed. 

There were thousands walking through the gate and I started walking towards them, but the woman stopped me. “No, Robin. Those events are already decided and you aren’t part of them.”

I watched them walk away for what seemed like a very long time before seeing one man closing the gate with magic. He looked sad while he clung to two crystals. He turned to us; he and his crystals disappeared, replaced by a ball of golden light.

“I think we just watched the big bang,” Morgan said, her voice serene. 

“What about all these other crystals?” I asked, proud to have finally found my voice. “Are they like me?”

There were five other crystals, one of which had been shattered into three pieces. Morgana said to her brother, “Pick them up, you’ll know their names.”

In order, he picked them up and named them, “Oberon, Titania, Mav, and Peaseblossom.” As he touched and named them they became real and flesh like me. 

Oberon was of brown skin with a deep red beard, I knew him then as the king of all Fay, even if there were only five of us. His first sound was a deep rumble of laughter, it flowed from him and filled the Fay realms with water.

Titania was dark skinned and the queen of the day. Her eyes and smile became the sun.

Mav was as pale as the moonlight, queen of night and shadows. Her hair blanketed the night. 

Peaseblossom wasn’t tall and statuesque like the other three, they were short and furtive looking like a rabbit caught in the open. From them came all the plants and wildlife. They were the monarch of nature.  

They all looked at me expectantly. What was I compared to the kings and queens? I was all the rest, I was magic, hope, joy, luck, power, cunning, and everything in between. I wasn’t a king or queen, I was the first Fay lord. From me came the Fay themselves, in all their many forms and failures.

To the three pieces of the last crystal, Merlin whispered,” Charites, Horae, and Moirai, the Three Sisters. You belong in Everworld.” Their forms didn’t fill out, instead turning into balls of light that sped towards where Everworld had been.

“What are we?” I asked Merlin.

He looked pensive and answered, “You are souls made of magic from the old realms. You were brought here to kickstart a new universe where magic wasn’t based on the spiritual energy of its people, but was a fundamental element of the universe.”

Morgana cocked her head sideways and asked, “How did you figure it out? It took me millennia of studying the old texts.”

“My thesis supervisor told me. He lived through the Fay and Mulciber wars.” He looked at us and shrugged before adding, “Oops. Spoilers.”

Something about the word, Mulciber, made me shiver in disgust and fear. An image of a long line of metal, snaking around a mountain, popped into my mind. 

“So what do we do now?” asked Oberon. 

“Be Fay,” said Merlin. When we looked confused, he added, “You get to decide what that means and try to be kind.”

Oberon, Titania, and Mav scoffed at Merlin’s comment, but I’m not sure they understood it. Peaseblossom had wandered off part way through the conversation and was talking to a tree.

“Goodbye and good luck.” Merlin turned to Morgana and asked, “Is this where you…”

Giving him a dirty look, she replied, “No, it’s further in. Follow me.” They walked into the forest and they hugged each other. It was the kind of hug where they knew they’d never see each other again. As they hugged, the world melted around her and everything went a little distorted. Both of them disappeared.

That forest and it’s boundaries where Morgana died became the Deep realms of Fay, a place of wild magic and even wilder temporal effects. 

An old man walked out of the forest and looked at us in surprise. He looked like Merlin, but much older. His brown scruff had become a white beard, his brown skin turned a little grey, but his eyes hadn’t changed; they were still filled with mischief and curiosity. 

He smiled and said, “Oh my. I’ve gone a little too far back this time. Glad I stopped or I would have met myself. That would be awkward.”

Read Chapter 2

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Read more about Merlin in his Holiday Stories