Mother and Father, the keepers of the Shadow Spire, stood before the loa that answered their call. Their twisted forms were pathetic and frail before the dazzling spirit. It was a budding rose of energy, fractals of a dozen timelines blossoming their tales into reality.
“Bloodline to bloodline, in constant transition,” Father rasped. “Our pattern, our flesh, and our one restoration.”
The loa shivered, its celestial skin etched with Empire falling, shadowland pulled in, torn down, crumbling into the event horizon of a cruel, lipsticked sneer.
“Conception, completion, the will of the Family,” Mother cooed, pulling her twisting cloak tighter around her. “Grandfather watch me. Spirits maintain me.”
“Survivors,” Father begged. “Please. Show us survivors.”
Older Family hibernating in their own private moments, alone or cuddled with their loves in bubbles separate from the Eleven Days, rolling over in their sleep.
“We will open the Spire for them,” Father said. “They will amble to us eventually.”
Mathara’s fleet, skeletons pulled from the influence of the Infernal Sphere, leather-clad Uncles clamouring inside the holds, flying into the future under her command.
“Mathara,” Mother ventures softly, “Is she…?”
The fractals shifted, an ending bloomed, and they saw Mathara and Kristeva taking their piece of Empire back to the corrupted War Queen and her Homeworld’s blazing orange sky, Faction boneships brittled and armed, descending even as the Edifice shadow covered the false Grandfather and the—
Mother and Father spitefully watched that Homeworld, one of many sheath echoes believing itself to be the original, detonate. Everyone connected to the screaming noosphere would either flock to other cloneworlds or fall from Warring Heaven, crashing to the Lesser Species. Their hearts would decay in their chest, their timelines rotting into thorned patchworks of broken memories.
“No Faction survivors,” Father muttered as Mathara’s fleet crumbled out of the Spiral, their shadowed souls bubbling into viruses that ticked with poisoned gearwork, waiting to twist the terrified reactions of human hosts into empty clock faces.
“What of other Cataclysms? The other Homeworld deaths?”
The Elementals’ future of a forgecity Throneworld beneath the Needle’s gleam was already forming in the sterile greyness, its Emperor wandering aimlessly in an exile’s century as his Ministers and Magistrate waited for him, the latter toying absently with his rosette-
“No, not Homeworlders, the Family,” Mother gently reminded the loa. “Any survivors of the Family?”
There was no trace of the Faction amidst conflicting accounts and destructions, but on Homeworld ruins long cold and adrift in time were huddled campfires of ritual and bone, hiding in desperation and mockery in the ruins of the temporal fossils Ardethe, New Alexandria, an ancient and rusted Wonderland –
“Look how young they all are,” Mother said, worriedly. “We will send them a signal. They will join us here at the Spire.”
Finally, the loa shows her, the new Grandfather, raging red hair and envy green eyes, shushing her shadow as she speaks to her cavernous home and companion.
“Blasphemer,” the Father spat.
“We are currently beggars,” Mother said hatefully to her love. “We cannot be picky.”
“No,” Father agreed, “we cannot. Look at what we have left. The few in the Empire’s vacuum, children hiding on dead Homeworlds. The little witch. It’s not ideal. It’s not enough.”
“Our Family will still have grown,” Mother said. “We will not be many, but we will be together. And we know there are more. The ones telling us of the Peace. We are not the last.”
“We almost were,” Father grumbled.
Mother reached out and stroked him. A piece of him flaked off and fizzled in the air. “Then we are decided?”
“Yes, I believe so. The weapon.” Father straightened, casting his voice back at the loa. “Please. The weapon. Show us where we can find it.”
The spirit hummed and began to close. Its petals withered, the form crumpling in on itself, blackening. It gave them a final flash, one last burning image. Mother and Father tilted their skulls as they saw something in history writhing, gleaming green eyes looking back at them.
The loa vanished with a sigh of lost time, and Mother and Father returned the Spire to draw plans.
(as told to Jacob Black)