Burning in the Void – Chapter 43

breaking the seal _Sera

Lana Tso half led, half carried Sera from the stand of trees where they left Jo and Petrov eating figs and glowering over Sera’s decision to go and meet the Captain. As they left Petrov had called after them, “You’ll regret it before the end Sera. That’s the whole reason the old bastard wants you, because he regrets what’s become of him in the last three centuries.”

Despite Petrov’s dire predictions, Sera insisted that Tso take her to meet the Captain, and so they hiked the length of the Green, passing couples tangled together on the grass, children playing in the trees, circles of men and women speaking, laughing, playing instruments, and dancing, and long stretches of cultivated fields in which grew all manner of vegetables. There were no fences, and as far as Sera could tell nobody guarded the fruit trees or vegetable gardens.

“Lana, how can these plants all grow so well here in the Green?”

Tso adjusted her arm under Sera’s shoulder. She didn’t reply for several minutes, but Sera knew she must have heard the question because as they shambled along Sera watched the their progress through a dozen different eyes and she could see Lana’s face working with emotion as she considered Sera’s question.

Eventually, Tso said, “That’s an odd question, Sera. You said that there is a Green in the Kingdom, in a place called the Spine. Don’t you grow anything there?”

“There are fig trees and gardens, but they are few and have been under the protection of the king for generations. We have a common covered in grass and moss, which is green and refreshing to walk in, at least where the grass hasn’t been torn up by children playing, but our soil is not nearly so rich and deep as yours.”

Tso nodded, the confusion slipping from her face. “We have no king here, Sera. Few of us work, at least in a sense you would recognize, and those who feel called to tend the gardens think it more a pastime than a chore.”

“If you have no king, how are you governed?”

Before Tso could reply, Sera felt the now familiar pressure of the Captain pushing new memories into her mind. The experience was still unpleasant, but the pain of it no longer ripped through her skull like a jagged shard of metal. It was now closer to the dull ache of an inflamed sinus and, despite the discomfort, she had begun to associate it with wondrous revelations and thrilling sensory shifts. Images and memories tumbled into Sera’s mind, of people and nations and governments, of philosophers and political theorists, of kingdoms and anarchies. She understood little of it, and had the strong sense that she was only skimming over the surface of a a deep pool of knowledge and experience, a pool so deep that though she might know all of it someday, she could spend her life swimming through it, tasting the myriad flavors and trying to come to an understanding of it.