Artwork: Imperia by Lucian Stanculescu
ALONE AMONG THE MISORS
Copyright 2014 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Among the Misors, the (translated) Death Sphere, was not a true sphere at all, but a 6th Dimensional hole in 3D space. As such, it punctured our universe from all sides equally, our reality distorting just above a whisper, outside the circle of its unknown physics.
The Wandering Zoroas of the Misors traveled their world, holding the Death Sphere aloft above their multi-fingered heads. Alone among their own kind in this odd biological configuration, even the Zoroas could not tell you why they were genetically built this way. One was simply born a Zoroas with the fully formed tell-tale head-hand. When one came of age – and that age was not fixed – a Death Sphere would materialize, perched upon the hand that grew from the top of their head.
From that moment on, the Zoroas would surrender all their possessions to the Sodalites of Siblings, don their robes, take up their staff, and wander their world, seeking the one Misor among the many who uniquely belonged to this single sphere.
Their wanderings were not entirely random, as the Zoroas claimed that the Death Sphere in some way “Pulled” them to their target. That Misor could be in the same city, kingdom, or on the other side of the world or – in this time of space faring – out somewhere among the colonies.
It was the nearly irresistible compulsion of the Pulling that all Zoroas followed.
Time and distance were immaterial.
It didn’t matter the journey. All communities of significant size had at least one Zoroaster where the Sodalites of Siblings could find shelter and food. And barring catastrophe, no Zoroas could die so long as they held the Death Sphere. In as much as the Death Sphere also held onto them – it was impossible to rid themselves of it.
It was called a Death Sphere because it was instant death to the single Misor who belonged to it. The hole “recognized” only its one specific Misor from among the billions, and would suddenly turn upon its “axis” point, drawing in both the intended as well as the Zoroas who held it aloft, then vanish from our space.
So the purpose of the Zoroas were two-fold, as they were suicidal assassins. In every manner of perception, it was absolutely their life’s calling.
Not all Misors died this way. But as a matter of culture, just as many were happy to die on their own, as were those who looked forward with eager trepidation, to the coming of their own Death Sphere. As it is with the randomness of life, no Misor was given the choice of dying – or not – by Death Sphere; just as no Misor was given the choice of being born into the unspoken covenant of the Zoroas.
Occasionally a Misor intended for shared death died prematurely. The Pulling would call the Zoroas to their remains, then pull no more. These Zoroas became Elders. There was a grim inevitability to living as a Zoroas, though there was a worse sadness of culturally misplaced shame in becoming an Elder. Yet a deeper respect, truly one without covetous desire, was given to an Elder, who would spend the rest of their life holding a Death Sphere that pulled for no one.
“Death is an experience best shared.”
– old Zoroas saying
So it was on a most particular night of a most particular day, in a colony many solar systems removed from Misorn, that a Tithing named Fanfa – a Misors caretaker of the Zoroas whose own skull fingers failed to fully form and so, never received a Death Sphere – opened the doors to a young Sibling dressed in the manner of Zoroas from the Homeworld.
The Tithing matched the gaze of the young Zoroas, but respectfully looked no further. As with all Sodalites of Siblings from Elders to Tithings, Fanfa averted her gaze so as not to look directly at his Death Sphere. It was there in the periphery above her direct field of vision, and the whispering distortion of our reality around its edge was easily heard.
“Welcome weary Sibling,” Fanfa said, bowing as she intoned the traditional greeting. “All you require is here.”
The Homeworld Sibling moved his staff toward her and back, in the typical Zoroas way of quiet gratitude, yet he stayed by the door.
New to the job of being a Zoroas Tithing, Fanfa wondered if there was some part of the minor ceremony she’d forgot.
“Forgive me if I have failed you,” Fanfa said bowing again, her stumpy head-hand’s webbed fingers opened wide. “I am only a recruit.”
The recruit’s awkward apology drew the attention of the other Zoroas seated in the room. Everyone stopped their drinking, eating, talking, to see what ailed their latest Sibling.
“I am Tatal and the fault is mine,” he said. “As I am also new and not fully accustomed to the ways of wandering.”
An older Zoroas named S’Orcea, who only came of age when her Death Sphere appeared late in life, had acquired experience and maturity long before she began her travels. She approached the two young people at the door to ease the discomfort of her Siblings.
“In this Zoroaster,” S’Orcea said. “like all Zoroasters, no Sodal Sibling is ever a stranger. You are welcome to eat and rest here until your Pulling calls you away.”
The abrupt chest heaving was apparent beneath Tatal’s voluminous robe. Startled, S’Orcea looked to the man’s eyes and was surprised to see the young Zoroas was grieving.
“Please forgive me, my Siblings,” Tatal said. “But the Pulling… the Pulling has drawn me here.”
To S’Orcea and Fanfa’s utter surprise, Tatal’s Death Sphere began noisily turning.
Suddenly afraid, for a Tithing is not a true Zoroas, Fanfa looked for help to S’Orcea, only to see that the elder Zoroas’s Death Sphere was also expanding, turning, the reality of our universe crackling across it. The stricken S’Orcea needed no mirror to know, she could hear it.
What was the meaning of this? In all recorded history, no Zoroas had ever come for another.
Fighting her fear, Fanfa found herself backing away from the two Zoroas and looking to the other travelers for help. But there would be no help from any of them on this most particular night. All of them could see that every Sibling in the room held aloft a spinning Death Sphere, growing and angrily tearing our universe apart.
Story ALONE AMONG THE MISORS Copyright 2014 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
The Art Inspires the Story
Artwork: IMPERIA Artist: Lucian Stanculescu
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