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Book 8, Chapter 34 - Destiny's Child

 The God King opened up the core of his consciousness to Cloudhawk.

As he touched upon that kernel of will he felt information being forced into him. A tearing pain bloomed in his skull. Knowledge, memory, everything was suddenly trying to enter his brain all at once.

Much of it was structured in a way that the human mind - and even the Quintessence - could not fully understand. It was a fragment of consciousness the spirit had intentionally sealed even from itself.

What was the universe?

In a narrow sense it was nothing but matter, energy, time and space. These disparate parts came together to form a stable and consistent data model. Its most fundamental laws were the operating system.

Everything born within the universe, from matter to energy, living or dead, followed these rules. However, these models and rules were created at random - meaning that rules may be entirely different from one universe to the next.

One form of matter may not be able to exist in a different reality.

These clashes of cosmic law were irreconcilable. An atomic structure that was stable in one may collapse in another. Any civilization that dreamed of crossing the border into a new universe would discover it was impossible. Such were the shackles of mortality.

To be freed from the bounds was to master all the rules and truths of the cosmos. Like a coder adjusting a program to their own specifications. The great Quintessences could do this. That's what made them greater than gods.

However, the people of this magnificent civilization did not evolve into being. They were a product of an exo-cosmic vacuum. They were different from all known species, birthed from the ether with the power to control time and space such that nothing was beyond their capabilities. Such spirits could move from one universe into another, modifying the laws as they saw fit. With this power came the responsibility to seed life across the infinite reaches of existence.

The ones humans called gods were nothing more than guardians, created by these spirits. In the very beginning they weren't meant to be slavers but gardeners. Out among the sterile void they watched and supported life as it germinated. Benevolent guardians who were never meant to interfere.

But then things changed.

Quintessences thought they could control everything, but there existed something beyond even their reach. Every universe possessed its own destiny - or, more exactly, a higher and more abstract nature beyond comprehension that could only be called destiny.

Across countless universes, over an unfathomable period this ancient people realized that just as they were born from the nothingness, to nothingness they would return. Even the near-omnipotent spirits discovered that eternity was unachievable. The void was eating away at them and their end was near at hand.

Their purpose seemed to have been fulfilled. Nothingness called.

Everything eventually ended. The disappearance of these old spirits would herald the birth of a new race of shepherds. Not even these all-powerful spirits could escape the inevitable. Their only recourse was to search for this new race and, if possible, become them. Ancient predictions told the spirits that their redemption would arise from among the mortal creatures. Sure enough, that is what happened.

The Demon King and God King, finally reunited, was a pure Quintessence. These beings which were beyond comprehension, whose thoughts and actions were inscrutable, could not be understood in the same way as other living things. There was no way to express the way their minds worked. Even communication was trying.

It was to this end that the Quintessence recreated itself, being born anew into a new physical form so that it could communicate with ordinary beings. That's when it all went wrong.

Thousands of years ago the one who controlled the Sumeru of this universe experienced a schism. Two distinct wills emerged; one that felt the Quintessence should not resist the call of the void, and another that held the Quintessence should be reborn. This intense dispute coalesced into two separate minds.

That was when the God King and Demon King were born.

But Demon or God, both were fragments of the Quintessence. Merely manifestations of opposing desires. This schism fractured the Quintessence and its power.

In the early days, the God King and Demon King didn't even realize this truth. They existed in their respective bodies, acting in accordance with their individual wills like a schizophrenic. So it continued until their conflict enveloped the universe and the two became mortal enemies.

You could say the Demon King and God Kings were twins.

Because of their incomplete state they could not again become one. The God King did not know if there were other Quintessence like itself, who had split and were locked in an internal war. If so, then the Demon King and God King phenomena was not an exception. Perhaps in every universe there were two fragments of one whole in conflict, the same scenario playing out again and again with different results across the multiverse.

Cloudhawk recovered from his trance. It was a brief meditation, a few moments only, but it was a staggering instant of enlightenment. What were these spirits really? These Quintessences? What was the unifying theory behind Sumeru and its kings?

His superficial understanding didn't provide an answer, much less any insight into the core consciousness of these beings. Among the memories he was given were visions of the Quintessence before its birth, memories neither Cloudhawk nor even the spirit itself fully grasped.

Such incredible complexity. Even the smallest fraction was enough to overwhelm the greatest minds of the universe.

The God King spoke in even tones. "Now you understand why you are so special."

"A Quintessence controls space, time and the laws of the universe. I'm just a man... but I have the same abilities as you spirits. So you think I'm your answer."

"Just so. Countless years of waiting - you are what we have all been searching for. Your form can be copied, mind body and soul, to give birth to new Quintessences. You can save us all from extinction."

Cloudhawk still had trouble comprehending why this mighty being coveted the soul of an ordinary human. Since the first time he took hold of an artifact he learned that he was beyond constraints, but he didn't think it was anything special.

Yet in the eyes of the Quintessence, it meant everything.

Besides the spirits themselves no other species across all the multiverse possessed the power to change cosmic law. In the face of a Quintessence Cloudhawk's strength was laughably minute. But it had nothing to do with strength. He was the product of that greatest of things, around since the dawn of all.

He was destiny's child.

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