Oetho stood dumbfounded. Around him everything seemed fluid and improbable. The zone of grass flowed outward as new blades lifted up. In the distance, he saw shapes, tall columns like crudely drawn trees. Even the ground started taking on texture, pebbles, rock and the flakiness of dirt. And then he felt a breeze upon his face, and the smell of fresh dew.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “The first Mystics wrote about this. They speculated that worlds were grown like plants from seeds. I read that stuff when I was a boy, when I was training in the discipline. I thought it was just a metaphor; everyone did. But, now, to actually see it happening …”
Oetho breathed in deeply and lifted his arms in delight. He walked into the grass and sat at Amana’s side; the tufts soft and pleasant.
“I hoped that I was wrong.” He spoke as the stared upward. The ceiling was expanding away from them, taking on color and form, wisps of clouds painted in swaths across the new sky. “Juxin came to me that day looking for a way to find it.”
Amana gritted her teeth. “I might be able to forgive you, Oetho. But do not mention that man’s name.”
Oetho sighed. “Don’t you see? He found it. It was only a theory, guesses based on conjecture, information hidden in the texts. I discovered it there so long ago. No one wanted to believe; just another foolish idea from a boy to young to know better. But I convinced him at least. He believed.”
“He believed because he had too,” said Amana, unable to disguise her scorn. “He hungered for it. He was the Prime Hunter; he commanded the Army of the People; he controlled the power of the ancients, and still it was not enough for him. He wanted the power that could reshape the world!”
“He wanted to end the war, to eliminate the Ban-Tho once and for all.”
“Yet, he destroyed everything!”
Amana let the kid run loose and stood up, hovering over Oetho. “He didn’t kill millions of people? He did not tear the world apart?”
“I don’t think the world was destroyed. I think it started over.”
Amana’s eye twitched and that lump emerged back in her throat.
“What I mean is I think he found a way to activate the seed. I think it started growing again, growing a new world. When I opened the portal with the stone, it must have gotten confused and taken us here instead, to this new place.”
“And this matters how?”
Oetho stood up. “It matters because …” He stopped short again and stood in wonderment. The tunnel he had emerged from only minutes ago was now mostly gone, replaced by a staircase leading down. This was strange because it was not just any staircase that dipped into the ground; it was a staircase leading down into a cellar, his cellar, and beside it stood the curtain wall surrounding the courtyard of his great stone tower.
“Because, we are home,” he said.