THE FOUNDING SEVEN
In-between the planes of reality, phased inside and outside the void itself, surrounded by the ever-expanding cosmos, a simple-looking room stood isolated from the rest of the world, doused in perpetual silence, surrounded by eternal spatial storms vainly attempting to tear it apart. Its wooden walls withstood everything, seemingly invulnerable to any damage whatsoever save for the one of time.
Two praying mats lay flat on the floor, parallel to one another, occupied by a man and a woman sitting cross-legged, meditating in perpetual, eternal silence. On woman’s forehead, a silver-jetted ‘2’ lay imprinted, glistening faintly in milky white; on man’s, ebony-black ‘1’ stood seemingly carved into his skull, the edges blending in perfectly with his high forehead.
A space just in front of the two suddenly tore open as five figures walked through, quickly sitting opposite of them. All five figures had similarly embedded numbers on their foreheads, ranging from ‘3’ to ‘7’, all wearing identical robes laden with faintly golden threads at the edges.
Among the seven figures was one Lino was rather familiar with -- Six, the Eternal Watcher, who sat absentminded, his gaze slightly dulled as though deep in thought. A woman sitting next to him, with faintly cyan ‘7’ etched onto her forehead, had short, brown hair and beyond ordinary-looking features, making it easy to mistake her as practically any other average person. Save for the pair of tantalizing, black eyes, she had no distinguishing features. Titled ‘Maiden of Effervescence’, she was a rather ironic existence, as despite her title, hardly a soul knew she even existed.
A man with a deep-blue ‘5’ carved into his skull was a complete contrast, donning a fascinatingly long, rainbow-colored hair, style reflected also in his eyes. He had rather chiseled features and an eternally plastered smile on his face. ‘Ghost of the Thousand Masks’ was his title, and even Six had forgotten the man’s original appearance; he’d often joked that the ‘Thousand Masks’ should be changed to ‘Billion Masks’ by now.
Sitting by his side was another man, Four, donning a wholesome cloak, faint traces of his face covered up in white gauze, only revealing a pair of blaring, crimson eyes without pupils. Even beneath the somewhat loose robe, he appeared rather lean and slender, even skeletal. Titled ‘Harbinger of the Undead’, he oozed rather eerier air about himself that caused even those currently sitting next to him to sit a bit further apart.
A woman with ‘3’ carved bloodily into her skull was tall, muscular and rather mean-looking, her expression seemingly frozen in perpetual state of anger; her eyebrows were sharp, looming over blazing, coral eyes seemingly spitting flames out. Her hair was wild and unruly, mirroring the color of her eyes and seemingly even the shape of the flames. She was titled ‘The First Sun’, though for many she was merely the last.
“... so... what’s up everyone?” Seven spoke out emotionlessly. “We haven’t seen each other in a while.”
“I’ve seen you yesterday.” Five replied with a strange smile.
“Your creepy obsession with her ran the comedic course about four billion years ago,” Six said, sighing lowly. “Now it’s just really... really... really sad.”
“You’re just jealous I’ve caught glimpse of her left tit once.” Five scoffed.
“... you do realize she gave birth to two of his children?” Four joined in with a rather low and somber voice. “I imagine, in order for that to happen, he must have seen her everything.”
“I selectively choose to ignore that.” Five said.
“... like you selectively choose to ignore your duties?” Three chimed in with faint anger in her voice. “I have come to inspect you four times in the past millennium, yet not once have I actually come across you.”
“Not everyone’s as duty-obsessed as you are,” Five scoffed. “The rest of us just want to live fun lives.”
“So obsessing over Seven for eons on end, without ever standing any sort of a chance, and drinking yourself to sleep whenever it gets too much... is your idea of a fun life?” Four said. “Interesting.”
“It’s not true he never stood a chance,” Seven said. “I did promise I’d come to stand on his grave naked once he croaks.”
“Hear that?” Six grinned. “So hurry up and die so your dreams can come true.”
“Humph, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? To take out your sole love rival? I don’t think so.”
“... I think it’s kind of adorable he’d stayed loyal to her all these years,” Two suddenly said, opening her eyes and smiling faintly. “Despite the fact that he hasn’t had sex since he was an ordinary human, aged nineteen.”
“Oh, look who decided to get off her high, mighty, aloof tower,” Five scoffed. “And only to talk about sex. God, will you ever change? Hasn’t he fucked your libido out of you by now?” he pointed at the only man who hadn’t spoken thus far, One.
“Yeah,” Six joined in, stroking his beard. “At one point, you two practically fucked the mankind back into existence.”
“Ah,” Seven moaned lowly. “Good old days where incest was really your only option...”
“... I imagine we didn’t gather here to do the same thing we do all the time -- talk about random things for an hour and leave,” Four said. “Why have you summoned us, One? We were busy.”
“No you were not.” One replied, opening his eyes as well.
“No we were not, but still. That’s no reason to ruin our fun.”
“I will be quick,” One said. “Gaia won’t be able to reach the First Scripture, at least not in time.”
“... so? What’s that got to do with us?” Five asked.
“We’ll have to untangle the web of lies, everyone,” One said, sighing faintly. “I feel this is our last chance.”
“... you want to go to war?” Six asked, arching his brows.
“You’re the closest to the boy,” Two said. “You tell us.”
“... I thought our involvement would remain minimal,” Six frowned. “And only in the namesake of balance. Aggravating the Outsiders and encasing us into a war hardly seems to echo that sentiment.”
“The reason we abstained from involvement thus far was precisely because balance, however thin, was there,” One said. “But, it will break; Chaos is already beginning to devour other elements, outside of the Empyrean’s will -- meaning it has achieved the First Stage.”
“Then just counter it, as we did so far,” Four said. “What’s the issue?”
“The issue is that it’s not just Chaos,” Two sighed. “Composition of elemental world is being tampered at the base; we cannot afford to disrupt it any further.”
“... I’ve looked into it,” Seven said. “But, I was incapable of tracing the disruptions back to the source.”
“There was a massive escalation in disruption around the time the Empyrean killed the Light Bearer,” Four said. “Could the two somehow be related?”
“... spikes can be observed in patterns,” Five said, his expression turning serious. “Each time Bearer was felled, we’d seen increased volume of disruptions across the board. I think we can safely conclude that they are not merely natural shockwaves, and are artificial in make.”
“I’ve managed to isolate their source,” Two said. “They aren’t of Noterra origin.”
“... inter-dimensional?” Six mumbled, frowning. “Weren’t we isolated from any Worlds with potency of influencing ours?”
“That is the reason why we need to untangle the web,” One said, going back to the start of the discussion. “We still can’t ascertain Ataxia’s or Gaia’s intentions, and we have to know them. In order to do that, we have to escalate their conflict.”
“... Gaia is one thing, but I very much doubt we can get Ataxia to do anything he doesn’t want,” Four said. “Remember, we exist in part because of him.”
“I am almost certain Ataxia isn’t of this world,” One said, stroking his chin as he sighed. “And, if there’s a threat from the Outsiders, I need to know with absolute certainty. We lucked out with the spatial holes thus far, but we won’t be lucky forever. The most terrifying aspect of this is that these disruptions aren’t targeted; four other worlds I’m overseeing are undergoing similar changes, only on a much larger scale.”
“If we have noticed them,” Three said suddenly. “Ataxia must have too. If it was something that could threaten everything, he would have already informed us. Seeing as he hasn’t...”
“... in any case, this must be thoroughly understood,” One replied after a short silence. “I will head farther out into the Ether and expand our Zone of Understanding by another quadrant. In the meantime, Six, seeing as you’ve already established a relationship with the Empyrean, try to enlist his help in isolation. Have Seven and Five assist you. Four and Three will assist Gaia in reaching the First Scripture; I know we have promised Ataxia not to go after it, but times have changed. Also task Eight and Thirteen with ensuring the safety of other Bearers. We can’t have the Empyrean going around and killing them one after another. Especially not now.”
“... I’ll remain here,” Two said. “And attempt to counter the disruptions, however little.”
“We shall meet again in twenty years,” One said, his body slowly disappearing into a vault of smoke. “Before then, I hope we all complete our tasks; especially reaching the First Scripture... I have a feeling it is a quintessential piece to our puzzle...”