“This area’s restricted.”
Uren’s voice echoed around the massive rough hewn cavern, the black obsidian walls reflecting the light from the ball in the middle of the room in all directions. The high lights illuminating the standing figure of Drean in the middle of the room below it.
“We’re all the same rank,” Drean looked back at him, “I’ve just never been in here before, wanted to know what it was.”
“Yeah, but you’ve only just qualified, things like this need introductions, you’re not safe in here by yourself, that thing will end you if you get too close.”
“I thought I heard a voice inside here...”
“You did...” Uren nodded, “It’s the voice of your curiosity telling you that you shouldn’t be in here, now come on, before we both get caught...”
“Come on Uren,” Drean looked at him, “How can this be?”
“The clue’s on the door,” Uren pointed back down the corridor leading into the room, “All you’ve got to do is read it.”
“Caged Universe...” Drean looked up at the energy, “I couldn’t imagine it, Universes are huge, we’re in a universe now, how could that be a Universe?”
“It’s a Caged Universe,” Uren smiled, “What’s the problem, you got no belief? You were a priest before you ever became a Guardian for the Museum weren’t you?”
“Yeah, did twenty years in the faith.”
“Why did you give it up?”
“I didn’t see enough reasons to believe in something that promised the greater good and continually delivered the larger bad.” Drean shrugged, “At least here we’re doing something useful.”
“Maybe,” Uren looked up at the globe, “Me, I came here for the sights.”
“What were you before you did this?”
“I was never anything else,” Uren looked back down, “I was an apprentice when they brought this thing in here, they said that it was the most dangerous thing they’d ever found.”
“Who brought it in?”
“The Outsiders caged it and brought it here, they left it hanging there and left instructions for it never to be touched.”
“If it’s never to be touched, how did they move it here?”
“Who knows, Outsiders man, walkers between worlds, ever seen one?”
“The one I saw walked three inches off the floor, and every time I looked at him, I couldn’t see anything of him, it was like my vision kept on sliding off him.” Uren pointed at the globe as the surface coruscated with dark rainbow energy, “He lifted that up there and left it, and that was thirty years ago.”
“Never thought about touching it?” Drean looked up and then back to Uren
“Every day, but I remember what it said when it left.”
“What did it say?”
Uren looked around the room and drew close, motioning for Drean to come closer.
“This is all that’s left of the universe that existed before this one,” Uren pointed upwards, “If you believe what the outsiders say anyway.”
“Why would they leave it here?”
“The one that left it here said that he didn’t trust himself not to use it, and so putting it in a place where they could never get to it again was the best way forwards.”
“What does it do?”
“It sits there doing nothing,” Uren smiled, “The Outsider just said that whoever touched it would contaminate that universe with their essence, and that everything within that universe would be to their whim.”
“Even moreso then,” Drean looked up at the ball, “Why would they leave it here...?”
“Because no one knows we’re here, the only people we’ve got here are the ones like us, the few, the dispossessed, the humble. We’re the ones that gave up everything to be here, we have no interest in having such things for ourselves.”
“And because no one knows we’re here, no one’s ever going to come for it.”
“Exactly,” Uren nodded, “And in this way, they made sure that no one could ever use it.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Drean looked up again, “That’s a dead universe isn’t it, so whatever you contaminate it with wouldn’t be something that affects anyone would it?”
“You’re not thinking straight,” Uren turned to face him, “Just being near this thing is dangerous, we should get back to regular duties.”
“Yeah, but...to have the power of a whole universe in your hand...” Drean reached into his robes and drew out his ceremonial mace, taking a single step and smashing Uren around the head. Uren fell to the ground without a noise and Drean turned him over to make sure that he still lived. Drean stood and looked up at the ball of energy as it strobed brighter and brighter, the voices he’d heard when he walked past now strong inside his head.
Join us, touch the sphere.
“What happens when I do,” Drean looked up, stretching his arms wide
“My own universe...” Drean stretched higher...
Uren woke to an empty room and shook his head as he sat up, feeling the lump where Drean had struck him. He stood and turned, seeing the empty space behind him, the ball still coruscating with the same energies and the voices that he heard every day still talking to him.
Uren shook his head and walked from the chamber, Maestro Dias waiting for him at the door. Uren said nothing as he walked through the door and the Maestro closed them behind him, threading the bolt through the bar.
“I still don’t understand why we have this as a test,” Uren turned to face the Maestro
“Because until this point, you have not been faced with ultimate power,” The Maestro said, “Until this point, all you’ve seen are trinkets.”
“But we know what it does, why not just lock it away.”
“Can you think of a better way of testing someone’s judgement than giving them the chance to have infinite power in the palm of their hands?”
“So it’s now contaminated forever with his essence?”
“His and everyone else that’s ever failed, like the outsider that delivered it here, like that raiding party years ago, they’re all in there now.”
“So it’s even more contaminated,” Uren frowned, “So what are we protecting it from?”
“It doesn’t need protecting,” Maestro Dias turned back towards the chapel, “It really is the mass of a universe held together by forces beyond our comprehension, and that’s where it really needs a man of science to appreciate what it is...”
“I don’t understand.”
“Of course not, but consider this, the more dense things get, the greater their gravity, yes?”
“And so a universe compressed into a small room must have some serious gravity to it, yes?”
“And the laws of time say that when gravity holds everything, so there can be no time, yes?”
“I’m starting to lose it a little...”
The Maestro smiled and turned back to him.
“The rainbow energy is the protective field that holds it there, when you break the field, the gravity can have you...”
“No longer wondering about what happened...” The Maestro nodded, “The second they touch it, the gravity grabs them and time ceases to be...”
“So the voices...”
“Are the last echoes of every person who ever wanted to rule a universe...”
“And forever trapped in time, never able to move again, not realising they’re already gone...”
Uren looked back at the door, the cold in his bones had nothing to do with the temperature...