Here's something about a Sidereal. The prose is a bit goofy, but the narrator is a bit goofy, so it fits. More to follow.
The Loom of Fate sings. How long have I been away? An hour? A day? A year? No matter. The symphony of the strands continues, essential to – and oblivious of – the grand performance of Creation, which is in turn unknowing of the music of the Loom. A dance where the partners are forever apart.
The lowest range of the song is barely audible, the bass rumble of ideas and concepts. They tie everything together, giving it a purpose from which to grow. Slightly higher, and with more rhythm and direction, are the fates of nations and places, a hearty, complex sound, plucked by the hands of a thousand players. Here, city is plunged into war and quivers with nervous anticipation; there, a forest provides shelter to a migration of birds, ringing with the cacophony of its temporary residents.
Some of the song is nothing but silence, the quiescent acceptance of inanimate objects, each grain of sand merely something for an ocean tide or a probing turtle to play with. A part of the song is high and sweet, the passage of mortal life, the strands oh so thin and far too short, but full of an energy and vivacity that puts the other strands to shame. Each one is unique, each one is special, and each one is forgotten as soon as its part in the chorus is done and it is replaced by a newer, stronger harmony. Everything is as it should be, and yet…
And yet, there is an echo, a dissonance that does not belong. Curious.
I step up to the edge of the walkway, reaching out over the railing to the passing strands. Maybe the strands are drawn to me, or maybe I move myself to strands, but a thread finds its way between my fingers. I move my hands up and down the strand, feeling the slight bumps that connect the different segments of destiny, each one signifying the end of one story and the start of another.
The strand is translucent, like a piece of glass, almost invisible, but only for an instant. Then it surges with color, a red, a green, a blue, or sometimes many colors swirling together. Emotions, moments of significance: that is what the colors denote, passions and tragedies both fated and improvised. If I looked down, all the way down, to the end of the strand, I would see the violet shades, the purple so dark it is almost black, that herald the end of whatever the strand embodies.
But death does not interest me, not now. For now, I am interested in life, and my eyes run up and the down the strand, then over to the others near it. The colors move in harmony, the events of one life affecting those around it. Here, a moment of sadness provokes another violet wave in a nearby strand; a friend or lover, then. That same sadness causes the brilliant blue of satisfaction in a different strand; an enemy’s delight at the suffering of the target of his hatred.
I cannot find what I am looking for. The echo is not a sound itself; rather, it is the absence of sound. Only by playing the nearby strands can I form an idea of its location. Finding it will take time, time that I do not have today.
A moment of separation is required. I pull my attention away from the Loom, reaching into the folds of my coat to pull out a notebook. The thick sheets of paper lack the elegance of a scroll of silk or the sophistication of an essence-based recording device, but they have a comforting reality that the other two lack. I have a history with paper like this, one that stretches back to the days before my exaltation, twenty, thirty years ago. Perhaps, as I grow older, as I my identity fades and becomes diffuse, molded by the stress of destiny and fate, my attachment to the past will fade as well. But for now it is real, as real as anything else that defines me, whoever I may be at the moment.
I lean forward onto the railing again, catching my sleeve on smooth post. The arm under that sleeve is unfamiliar, the skin a bronze hue, not the nut brown of Gesa Ygali, the life I had lived for so long. Nor is it the expected pale gold, the flesh of Reven Akario, the identity that I am the most attached to, the one that the Loom and my family and my own actions have given to me.
I shake my head. It had been too long. For a year, for longer than a year, I had been away from the Loom, away from Yu Shan, living someone else's life, the life of a stranger, a fiction. A lie. I am Reven Akario and not some other, regardless of what my eyes may tell me.
The reason for the disconnect comes swiftly. Of course, spending so many months in the hot sun of the South would do that to my skin. I just hadn't noticed under the mirage of the disguise that had fooled even my own senses, tricking me into seeing only the fiction of Gesa Ygali. He had had no need for sun cloth, no reason to protect his skin from the sun's rays, so he had sat comfortably in the burning heat of the Southern dunes. Reven Akario, the identity underlying him - me! I am forced to remind myself - had lacked that assurance. My purposeful fictions might fool the eye, but the sun sees through all. A useful lesson for the future.
Another pocket produces a charcoal pencil, still sharp. I wonder how long it has been since I last used it. It doesn't matter, the habits comes rushing back, and I chew on the end of the pencil as my hand moves swiftly across the paper, summarizing the results of my mission. Why the mission was important I don't quite know, but it will form an essential movement in the ongoing rush of the symphony of history. Gesa Ygali has done remarkable good for a lie, and for a moment I mourn his death.
Some, of course, would say that he had never lived, that he was only a mask for me to wear during my mission. While I can accept that argument, it seems, to me, to lack an essential understanding of what makes a person real. A person is not just a collection of motes and molecules, held together by the energy of life – he is a construct, an idea that gains definition by virtue of how others see him, and how he sees himself. Aren't ideas just as real as physical matter? Aren't they, from a certain point of view, more real than anything else? After all, is reality anything more than what we perceive it to be, anything more than a collection of ideas and concepts that we arrange to our liking?
I smile to myself. I am certain that others have had these thoughts before, and that they have reflected on them far more deeply and profoundly than I ever will. Perhaps, in time, I will have the leisure to explore them thoroughly. But at the moment I have paper work to do.
In time the notes are finished, and I can return to the Cerulean Lute of Harmony. I imagine my superiors will want to know that I have returned from Creation, and that my mission was a success. Will they see fit to explain what, exactly, my mission was about? Do they even know? I imagine not. Ignorance, of course, is no obstacle to the utility of an action, since the nature of an action is a matter of perspective, of ideas.
There I go again, daydreaming. I shove the notebook back under my jacket, folding it into one of the pockets to elsewhere. The motion has immediacy, a tactile urgency that brings me back into focus. I resolve to leave the Loom, to go back to my office, to slowly reconstruct the layers that make up my life. There are many people who I need to speak to, my superiors and colleagues and friends, but I am reluctant to see them. More precisely, I am reluctant to see myself, to see myself reflected in their eyes, their expectations and demands and requirements trying to shape and mold me. But the process is a necessary one, part of the give and take that defines a personality. Avoiding it is futile.
The pattern spiders hum and click, moving past me on the warp and weft of the Loom. I pay them no mind, which I imagine is how they like it, anonymous custodians of Fate. Soon enough I find my way out of the Lotus Dome, or, to be more exact, the exit presents itself to me. Time, reality, physical location - all of them are subjective in the Loom. One does not find something here so much as one seeks it, one wishes for it, and eventually one is blessed with the happy coincidence of coexisting with what one seeks. If only everything could be so simple.
I step outside.