Eight: Revolutionary’s Toss

Luminarist + November 2015 – June 2017: Chapter Eight — Revolutionary’s Toss

Celestial Institute, a boarding school for adults, is located on the fabled world of Terra. Only those chosen by the Shining One may enter. People of all walks of life come here to hone their gifts and effect positive change. The newest recruit is Meissa, a young woman anticipating the future.

She becomes fast friends with Nadir, a man with little self-confidence whose guardian is the powerful Zenith. Upon the school throne stands Alhena, the Shining One herself. Backing them is the Acolyte of Archangels. Becoming entangled in Celestial Institute’s inner workings, Meissa knows that everyone has purpose, and her light shines the brightest of them all.

Why?

Meissa beamed at the Acolyte as he finished that part of the tale of the original Luminarist. “Aww, so they lived together until the end of their lives and had Alhena?” She stopped as she remembered something too glaringly obvious. “Then why is Alhena here?”

He shook his metallic blue haired head. “The story didn’t end happily, Meissa. Mirai was keeping a huge secret from Nairn – as he said to her that first night, he was her angel of death, but he meant it. He had come for her soul, and disobeyed his orders to create her death and collect her. His physical body was killed while driving to her home six months after their first offline reunion. He intended on asking for her hand in marriage that very evening, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before that there was a chance that they could be separated by her family.”

“Oh …” she breathed, “but if he died before they could get married, what about Alhena?”

“Nairn conceived Alhena some time during the first night they had spent together in her studio. Mirai was to meet her, and to provide explanations to her family regarding her unforeseen pregnancy and his wish to be married, whether or not if her family approved.”

“But he died, or at least, his human form did.”

“Yes. Nairn grieved, and her family didn’t help matters by pressuring her to abort her baby or find another man who could help raise the child. She chose suicide by drowning shortly after Alhena was born. In his angelic form, Mirai took her soul away. At Nairn’s request, he brought Alhena to Celestial Institute. Mirai founded the school as a safe haven for their daughter, a long standing memory of his beloved, and for humans who could hone their gifts here to effect positive change on Earth.”

Meissa nodded, throat thickened. “Where are they now?”

The Acolyte’s teal closed as he considered his reply. “No one knows. All we are aware of is the fact that Mirai collected Nairn’s soul, and there has been no sign of either the Founding Angel or the Luminarist since then. I assume they’ve passed on beyond this realm.”

Dark purple looked away despite their proximity. “I wish I could have met them, not just because they’re Asmani’s parents, but they sound like a family that I would’ve loved to get to know.”

The Acolyte pulled away and pointed to a crimson wall tapestry. Meissa took him up on his offer, lifting aside the tapestry to see a painting of Mirai and Nairn standing close to each other, their backs forming a sort of arrow that pointed towards the viewer. The long lost couple wore the same outfits of when they initially met offline. Mirai’s expression was melancholic in nature, focused mostly on his beloved and yet also sparing a glance towards Meissa. Nairn looked determined, long brown hair tied so low that one would think that her hair was loose, and she bore braided ear tails reminiscent of Alhena. The Moon shone behind them against a backdrop of street lampposts in the darkness, the cables carrying electrical transmissions gave the painting an eerie feel. Meissa soon noticed that Mirai’s left hand and Nairn’s right were lifted, both were holding a thick, heavy metal chain. She wondered what the significance of the chains were – Mirai had been fondling a chain on the same bus that Nairn was instructed by her grandfather to catch.

That last consideration begged a question for her to ponder on. If Nairn’s grandfather hadn’t told the medium to instruct his granddaughter to take the bus, would she be prevented from coming into contact with Mirai and be able to avoid their fate? Or would Mirai find her eventually, no matter how she ran? They’d been online friends for four years prior to meeting in real life. Surely Mirai would’ve done what he needed, or wanted, to do.

It was tugging at her mind. On Terra’s Wings – a reference to Terra, the founding angel of death was definitely Mirai himself, Celestial Institute was definitely based on the school of the game, and the classes were the four programs. Yet this Luminarist class, she wasn’t sure what that was about. The player had to achieve the angel’s good ending in order to unlock the Luminarist class. Then what would happen? Did the player begin again with a character as a Luminarist, or would the game be complete?

Nairn as Himeko beat the game, and she paid the price along with her angel Mirai. It would be game over. Meissa shivered. Perhaps that was why there had only been one Luminarist in all of Terran history, because it resulted in that person’s death and the disappearance of the one she’d fallen in love with. But a video game, no matter how complex, couldn’t account for real life deaths, right? It had to be a sheer coincidence that a storyline could have impacted an innocent woman so drastically. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players …” Eh? Where did that sentence come from besides from her tongue? The Acolyte looked at her quizzically for a few seconds before closing his eyes and sighing again.

“We’re too similar, you and I,” he said quietly, almost too quietly for her to hear him. She stared blankly at him. “Do you receive impressions or thoughts that couldn’t be your own?”

“Well yes, but …”

“Do you see, hear, feel, or smell the spiritual world? Or do all these things come to your mind? Do you know things that you couldn’t have known before, all on your own?”

“Acolyte?”

He leaned in close to her, and she blushed once again. “We’re more alike than you presume, Meissa.”

“Your name,” she breathed, “I want to know your name.”

That broke the spell over them. He averted his gaze from hers, and turned his back to her. “To you, and to everyone else here, I am the Acolyte of Archangels.”

“That’s just a title,” she said bitterly. “Why won’t you tell me what your name is?”

His voice was still warm, but his words were like icicles piercing into her heart. “To give one’s name is a sign of intimacy, one that I refuse to afford any of you. You are all my students, and I am your guidance counsellor. Dismissed, Meissa.”

What happened to the sweet, gentle man whom she was slowly falling for? Was she really overriding some other mysterious law at Celestial Institute?

“Okay,” she said timidly, and left the temple with a heavy heart to return to the Water Tower. The ever faithful Nadir was waiting there for her, and she was about to embrace him when she spotted her few belongings packed next to him. “What is the meaning of this, Nadir?” Her voice shook as she spoke. It couldn’t be.

“The Shining One appealed her case to the Gatekeeper of Terra’s Fire, and the two convinced the Acolyte of Archangels. You’re dismissed from the Water Tower, Miss Meissa.” He paused at the tears welling up in her eyes. “It’ll be okay.” She sunk to her knees, not caring at this point about the pretty clothes that the Acolyte had made for her. All she could feel at that moment was a sense of betrayal. She’d been good to everyone. “You’ve got to accept their decision. You’re not what the Raphael program needs. I’m sorry to say it, but we all know it’s true.”

She burst into crying, absolutely inconsolable despite Nadir’s efforts to calm her down. He too got on his knees and hugged her, rubbing the upper part of her back, murmuring, “It’s okay, it’ll be all right,” into her ear, and patting her head. She cried into his shoulder until no more tears could be shed by her, and pulled her olive face from his dark one to ask a heartbreaking question in a haunted voice.

“What will become of me now?”

Nadir’s heart wrenched at her wretchedness, and a strange feeling came over him …

“Professor Niall, what will become of me now?”

It had been a voice, one utterly broken from the pain forced upon her by the world. Nadir carefully controlled his visage to not betray any ill feeling for Meissa to decipher. Yet who was that voice? Who was this Professor Niall, and why was the voice like one who had given their hope? Suddenly frightened, he clutched the lavender haired woman to him. “You’re going to be okay, Miss Meissa.”

“You’re going to be okay, Miss Nairn.”

This time, the voice was a more mature version of his own, a voice belonging to past the middle aged part of an adult male’s life. He wondered at that, how could he be hearing a different pitch of his own speech?

“I’m feeling awful and useless. There’s no reason to stay here.”

“I’m feeling awful and useless. There’s no reason to stay here,” sobbed Meissa.

“Yes, there is, Miss Meissa. There is always hope for tomorrow.”

“Yes, there is, Miss Nairn. There is always hope for tomorrow.”

The voices that came unbidden to his hearing, and to his hearing alone, ceased now.

“But where will I go? What will happen now?” she asked him tearfully.

Nadir took in a very deep breath, shaken by how identical the two conversations were, the one in his head and the one he had with Meissa. He had to communicate the decision made by the Gatekeeper, Shining One, and the Acolyte. “The Earth Tower will take you, Miss Meissa. You’ll be enrolled in the Uriel program. The three believe it will suit you better than Raphael.” Thankfully she nodded, accepted his offer to help her to her feet, and picked up her few small items. They trekked over to the northern Earth Tower, Meissa was silent the entire way. He looked at her worriedly. It wasn’t like the bright, cheerful Miss Meissa to be so down and glum.

And just when he thought she’d be lost in her reveries, a hard light hit her dark purple eyes. His amber blanked at the sight. “I’m going to do my best,” she said determinedly. “I’ll show those three that I’m more than my failures. I’ll be the best here at this school.”

“That’s a tough plate to order,” he said, trying to placate what he assumed to be her deeply felt rage.

“No, Nadir, it’s not just tough, it’s necessary.” With that, she bid him goodnight, and he stood at the foot of the tower, wondering what on Terra was going on.

——

The next morning, Meissa left the Earth Tower very early to wander through the gardens. As she marvelled at the effects of the sunlight upon each dewy petal of the many kinds of flowers she could see, she stiffened as she heard someone come up behind her, making no effort to mask his or her intrusion. It sounded like a swirl of a robe and cloak and she swallowed. No way would the Acolyte of Archangels come all the way out here just to see her. Didn’t he shut himself up in the temple all day and night? She’d never seen him venture outdoors.

“Hmm,” went the soft, kind voice that comforted the souls of Celestial Institute, “at this hour, only Zenith and I are awake. What troubles you so, Meissa?”

“You know perfectly well what troubles me,” she said with an undertone of disappointment. Really? Was he going to pretend that yesterday didn’t happen?

He sighed. “There is only so much I can assist you with, so much that I can protect you from.”

“Protect me from what?” She whirled around, discovering to her sudden shyness that he was standing so close to her, close enough to breathe in the scent of her lavender hair. That made no sense to her – weren’t they supposed to keep their distance from each other? Why was he acting as if he wanted to be nearer, to be – that word again – intimate with her? Perhaps she should remind him of his place, by stating his title out loud. Teal looked down on her kindly, yet sadly, and she wondered where she’d seen that expression before.

“I hope destiny is not unkind to you as well,” he bowed his head, and with a flap of his robe, turned to leave when she impulsively grabbed at the back of his right shoulder. He stopped moving, and she could hear him breathing deeply as if he were wrestling for control within himself.

Mirai looked at Nairn like this. I don’t know how I know that, but he knew her fate and took the risk to love her despite what awaited the two of them.

“Acolyte of Archangels,” she requested with a steely resolution, “I wish to challenge the Shining One. I will take her title from her. Do you understand?”

He exhaled slowly. “I know your reason, and I agree. I will arrange for the examinations. Prepare yourself, Meissa. They will not be very easy despite the age of your death. You will be up against someone who has been in the three worlds longer than you have, with all that knowledge to support her.”

“Don’t dumb them down for me,” she admonished him. “I’ll play at her level.”

“Best of luck to you,” he said wistfully, and left her alone in the gardens, amongst the flowers that never ceased to bloom.

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