Continuing with one of the themes in The Sun God’s Heir trilogy, power continues to fascinate me. So many questions. If we have so much of it, and we do if we measure it in total rather than by each, why aren’t we (again I’m exploring a gross generalization) happier. In this global we, I include the fabulously wealthy among us as well as the power mongers and dictators. What is power? There are a couple of definitions, but I’ll use this one:
the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
So influencing the behavior of others is a survival trait. A survival trait that evolves based on success. Somebody thought of that one. What’s his name, oh yes, Darwin. So does the accrual of power as a positive evolutionary trait continue forever, or does it reach a place where something different than the ability to influence others passes it in evolutionary power. Is there a location on the power graph where more power becomes less useful toward specific outcome. In this case happiness. By the way, happiness is totally in the eye of the beholder. Depending on the mental, emotional, and psychopathic setup of the individual, I’m certain that happiness is widely different. Since I’m exploring power, I’ll leave the definitions of why employ it once physical survival is assured, for later.
Power is the application of energy. The accumulation of energy is required. I will define energy as anything that causes movement. I may dabble in layman’s quantum explanations and ask forgiveness up front. Just consider this an exercise in science fiction. Here’s my premise:
Power as a means to affect an end grows inversely proportional at a certain point on the continuum when every other downstream vibration of its use is not or cannot be taken into consideration. In English; unless you know where every vibration of the rock you throw into the pond is going, you can’t know if throwing that rock will help you or hinder you.
The protagonist and antagonist in The Sun God’s Heir: Return were brothers and disciples of an enlightened pharaoh. The power that each can potentially wield is orders of magnitude above that of their fellow men. True power begins to seek the consensus of the universe before throwing the stone into the pond. It is the path of connecting with that consensus that really jump starts evolution.
In The Sun God’s Heir: Return, one character forces his way back into embodiment while the other has incarnated naturally. One remembers the power gained in an earlier incarnation, the other must remember in order to have a chance at defending himself and those he loves. Fortunately this journey takes place in the latter part of the 17th century, a time of pirates, of exploration, and great change. If you were good with a rapier, not a bad time to be alive. If you could wield the powers of earth, water, air, and fire, and if you were the only one, well, the possibilities for acquiring power, the ability to direct or influence others, was unlimited. Unless it wasn’t.
Here is a little from the book I've been talking about.
In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.
The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.
After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.
Three men bled out into the dirt.
René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.
Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.
A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.
The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.
The mere thought of his fencing master filled him with both reassurance and dread. René slid the rapier into the one place his training permitted, its scabbard. He walked over to where the huge black stallion stamped his impatience, and pulled himself into the saddle.
Some impulse caused him to turn his head one last time. The sunlight that surrounded the men flickered like a candle in the wind, and the air was filled with a loud buzzing sound. Although still posed in identical postures of death, three different men now stared sightless.
Their skin was darker than the leather tanned sailors. Each wore a short linen kilt of some kind that left their upper bodies naked. As strange as the men appeared, their weapons were what drew René’s eye. The swords were archaic; sickle shaped and appeared to be forged of bronze. These men wore different faces and yet their eyes—somehow he knew they were the same sailors he had just killed. René blinked and there before him the original three men lay unmoved. Dead.
For an instant his mind balked, darkness encircled the edges of his vision.
Do not anticipate meaning. The Maestro’s voice echoed in his head. Meaning may be ignored, but it cannot be hurried.
The darkness receded, and he reined the stallion’s head toward home.
René approached the linden shaded lane to the château. The stately trees, their clasped hands steepled over the gravel drive, had always welcomed him. Now they were just a faded backdrop that moved past the corners of his eyes. Could it have been only hours ago that the anniversary of his sixteenth year had presented itself like a gaily wrapped gift waiting for his excited appreciation? The day had dawned as grand as any he had yet experienced, and he had awakened early, eager for the morning’s light.
“Henri,” he yelled, as he charged down the marble staircase and into the dining room. Breakfast was set and steaming on the polished mahogany table. Burnished silver platters and cream colored porcelain bowls held a variety of eggs, sausages, fruits, and breads. How Henri always seemed to anticipate his entry amazed René.
“Oui, Master René.” Serene as always, the middle-aged major domo entered the dining room. Henri walked over to the table and poured a cup of tea for René. “ S’il vous plaît, be seated, sir.”
“I cannot. Maybe a roll and a link of sausage. Henri, do you know what today is?”
Henri paused as if deep in thought. “Thursday. Oui, I am quite sure ’tis Thursday.”
René took a still sizzling sausage from a tray and did his best to fold it within a baguette.
“Non, ’tis my birth date,” he managed around a mouthful of sausage and roll.
“Which one is that, sir?”
“How do you not know? You were there.”
“Well, I remember ’twas after the end of the war. Let me see. The war was over in…”
“Very droll, Henri. Your memory works fine, ’tis your humor that leaves room for improvement. Today is... so... I cannot explain, it feels like anything is possible today.”
“Given that there is still plenty of day left, perhaps you might sit down and eat. I expect you will need all your strength for a day so filled with possibility.”
“I cannot be late.” René gulped his tea and shoved the rest of the roll and sausage into his mouth.
“Happy anniversary, Master René.”
“Merci, Henri.” René checked his appearance in one of the grand foyer mirrors, and then strode toward the courtyard. The time had come to present himself to the Maestro.
René vibrated with excitement. He paused just inside the entrance to the training area. This was no way to face the Maestro. He sucked in a deep breath, exhaled, and reached for that quiet center. The torrent of chaotic thought stilled and that unique calm of intense focus settled around him. His friends Marc and Anatole sported their weapons in public. René had yet to earn that privilege. Disarming the Maestro was the only way, and since that possibility seemed as remote as the ability to fly, it generated a great deal of frustration.
Today, however, might be the day.
A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.
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