From the Other side I have Shadowed many different people down the long years. Most of my Subjects were defined as good, although a few were labelled evil; some were ordinary and others again reckoned great in the eyes of their fellows. Some died young and beautiful, and at other times I watched an ageing, wrinkled face and longed once more for the freedom of the Pool. I have been – fortunately – truly skeletal only once, and in the process of reflecting decay, I hid myself in the outermost planes before the clean bones came, and finally the blessed release handed down by the Law. I spent many ages after this particular episode in the Pool; it is understood by all that the cleansing, healing process is especially necessary after such a Shadowing.
We are the Kyrië. We are born with you and it is our task to Shadow your lives, although we do not die. We live on the Other side of the mirror, where humans do not dream of another dimension touching planes with earth wherever man and nature create copies. For any human on the earth at a given time, there is a corresponding Kyrian, with a surplus of our brethren quiescent in the Pool of Shadows. This is where we go when the physical entity we have been Shadowing relinquishes its spirit. We rest there, and ponder, growing more knowledgeable with the centuries and with each successive Imaging.
We are rational and calm beings. We strive to avoid the tangled emotions of humanity, preferring the role of passionless observers. To be sure, there is an element of discomfort in Shadowing a dead subject before burial or cremation. Without the mercy of prompt disposal rites, the Kyrian must sometimes Reflect, should the Dimensions be touching at the time, decay in itself until the release brought by fire or earth, or the peaceful surrender to water. We do not mind water. It is the quietest end; fittingly circular.
I said as much to the Leader one day. I was between Images and took the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom.
“Why,” I said, “do humans not always consign their brethren to water when they die? It is where they come from, after all; it completes a physical and spiritual circle. It is harmonious on both sides – or so it seems to me…”
I ended a little doubtfully; one is humbled by the Leader’s great age and tranquil wisdom. He looked at me with, I thought, an unusual expression that almost passed for surprise.
“That is a wise observation, child,” he said, “and one for which I do not have an answer. It is not our place to judge what we might consider their shortcomings.”
I was silent a while, sensing a mild rebuke.
“Well then,” I said eventually, “if it is permitted to ask: where did I come from? How did I get here – and all my brethren, too?”
“You ask many questions for one so young. You show traces of what, on the Other side, they call Curiosity – more so than your brethren.”
“Is it bad to be curious?”
“I do not understand. How do we learn if we are not curious?”
“One must be curious about the right things.”
“Including where I – we – came from?”
“You are indefatigable. All right then, as you ask, I will tell you that you came from the splintering of sunlight in a raindrop – the prism effect of light refracted in water. You are leaping fire-in-water. You emerged at either sunrise or sunset, in the last split second when the earthly sun rose or fell at the horizon’s rim. You are the stuff of mirrors and dreams and beyond. On the Other side, you are Shadow; a breath of drifting smoke, without real substance but of changing form. You are another part of the Pan-Dimension – essentially wise and beautiful and untroubled by what They, on the Other side, call emotion. You are the fire’s smoke; water; air – three in one simultaneously but without sufficient particles to give substance, and untouched by ache or pain.”
“But – I have seen my Subjects fall and bruise themselves, or been cut and bleeding, and I have correspondingly reflected that in my self. And somehow – I thought I felt their pain.”
“No!” said the Leader sharply. “Do not say so. You merely experienced discomfort as a concept of which we are objectively aware, but cannot participate in.”
“Can not – or May not?” I ventured boldly.
He shifted slightly and his aura changed. The Leader’s face took on a forbidding expression and the rainbow covering in which he had garbed himself gave out deep grey and purple hues. If I had been human, I thought fleetingly, I think I would have been what they called Afraid.
“Child,” he said gravely, “I have spoken to you of the Law. Do not let me speak again.”
Then he closed his mind to me and left me in the Pool with those who did not ask my questions.
= = = =
An editorial note:
I was travelling alone in Europe once when I was younger and while on a train in Italy, I was listening to the lyrics from Mr Mister’s ‘Kyrie Eleison’. The chorus is:
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I’m going will you follow
On a highway in the night.”
‘Kyrie Eleison’ means ‘Lord have mercy’ in Greek, and while I was on the road alone and listening to a song that I really loved, the seeds of the Kyrië story were born.