Chapter Twenty-three: Metamorphosis

Open your mind, Janil. Let your body fall away. Trust me, trust that I will never let any harm come to you. Trust that your body is safe.

A chill runs down my spine as I can begin to feel countless presences surrounding me. It’s… overwhelming, to the point that I start to understand just what the queen means. I must… detach. My body, this amalgamation of flesh, bone, sinew, cartilage, this thing they call Camfurdian… it… it is…

Meaningless.

As we are taught, our bodies ultimately mean nothing. It is the breath of life that matters… and yet, even that seems not to matter right now. I can hear my body breathing, almost in sync with hers. Then… I realize, no. She… is the one breathing life into me as my existence begins to… fade.

No.

Not fade. Change.

I breathe deep of her breath, filling my lungs as she exhales. My mind starts to go blank.

Then a flash.

Kala…

My goodness, Kala, I need…

No… I don’t. I want you, Kala. I want your smile. Your companionship, your wisdom. I… can only take what you gave me and move forward with that. You tried so hard in such a short period of time to shape me, to show me the kind of man you wanted me to be. Your final act of desperation, no…

No… that wasn’t desperation. That was an act of love. Love for life, love for me, and yes, even love for Elikel and Monrenth. It was an act of compassion. That… is the person you wanted me to be, isn’t it? I… will be.

The images go dark. All around me is quiet again. I… can’t feel my body. I can’t even feel my own breathing. I can’t feel the queen around me. There’s just… a void, a gentle green-grey mist that seems to be the start and end of all existence.

Am… I dead?

No… I cannot be. Kalarai isn’t with me, and I know beyond everything else, when I take my final breath, I will see him, somehow.

What is this place? A world between worlds?

My mind flashes to the eggs.

I have my Model 83 rifle in hand, cracking the last egg, the large one. I’m trying my best to please Elikel. Yet… Elikel is nowhere. Neither are the rest of the eggs. Neither are the other Camfurdians.

I’m alone… with this broken egg. This… nymph, this infantile being looks up at me. It knows.

It… knows.

I throw the rifle and kneel down, embracing the insect, the young Groyin. “My precious little thing, I’ll never hurt you, never again. You… can be so much more. I’ll never hurt you.”

I plead with it, and desperately plant a kiss on its head, not giving a damn about the goo it’s covered in.

Then… it disappears. It’s Kehl.

And yet, something is not right. Something is different. He doesn’t seem to notice me. I touch his arm, and a rush of warmth floods over me.

Then… he’s gone.

I look around the green-grey void… and finally I see Kenlyi. Still, I know it isn’t him. He’s… quiet. Too quiet.

I can see his face, the pain, the anguish, the confusion. I reach out to touch him, and I realize, as my hand passes through him, I cannot help him.

I… can’t truly help Kenlyi.

He fades into the mist, and I see the Groyin queen appear.

“Your mind… protects and holds on to much, child.”

I nod, weakly scared. “I’d let it all go to feel more, my queen.”

“It isn’t that simple. Everything that you are, every memory you have, it is all going to be a part of us. There is to be no hiding it, no giving it up. If you cannot share it with me, then you cannot be a part of us.” Slowly, hovering in this green-grey mist, she approaches me.

I nod slowly. “No walls between us. No lies, no hiding. My mind is yours.”

“No, your mind isn’t mine. It will belong to everyone, the whole of our collective. Conversely, everything that we are will be available to you.” Her clawed hand reaches out and touches my face and I begin to cry.

“I’m scared of not being able to find someone to love, my queen. Kenlyi doesn’t understand this, and I’m not certain he will know what to make of me if I do this.” I wrap myself up in her arms again, and she starts to stroke my hair.

“Love… as you know it, it a foreign concept for us. Then there’s the matter of the fact that we are so different of a species. That doesn’t have to stop you from caring about Kenlyi, or anyone else for that matter. We just… have to learn this expression of emotion to better understand it.” She holds me tight.

You can still live your life however, but we will share in it, just as we will share our lives with you. Tell me, Janil, lesser to Kalarai, second to Elikel, lover to Kenlyi, son of Arahni: are you willing to be of one mind with us?”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

There’s an intense quiet all of a sudden. The image of the queen disappears and I’m left alone in this green-grey mist, floating in this void.

I close my eyes and I can feel my body drifting away, weightless in this void. Then… a whisper.

No…

Hundreds of whispers.

No…

Thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, billions, I don’t know!

The whispers begin to intensify, and I realize that it’s billions of Groyin, their minds singing in a perfect harmony.

Hundreds, no… thousands, no, tens of thousands more voice singing now, the melody of the higher Groyin adding a beautiful complexity to the song.

And then… hundreds more voices, the queens, deftly directing their choir. I… know now why she called it the song of her people.

It’s… so beautiful.

I could lose myself in this forever if I could.

This… is perfection. This is chaos brought into order and peace. Harmony and melody in perfect form.

My mind sings with them.

I… am a part of them, a part of their mind.

I am Groyin.

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