When the Ancients rose to power, they made use of their science to erect giant cities. Over time, their science unbalanced the Sephirs, and so they explored new avenues in which to grow. They discovered the ability to pass into the Currents from within their own minds. The Ancients used this newfound ability to walk the Currents and communicate with both the spirits and the Archons. Together, they balanced the Sephirs and restored order. Despite their vast knowledge of both science and magic, the Ancients maintained strict discipline in using their power.
~From A Current History of Ictar, as told by Nidic Waq
A glimmer of gray daylight splintered through the sitting room window, bringing Darr awake with a headache centered in his temples radiating down his face. He’d never experienced anything like it. He lifted his frame halfway up on the sofa, holding his hand to his forehead.
The spirits came to him, their presence sudden and intrusive.
Erec and Jinn must’ve returned during the night, he thought. He’d simply overheard a conversation with their father. Darr clamped his eyes shut. The voices came from within him, from the part of his mind connected to the Currents. The voices of the spirits flooded through him, their messages jumbled, but insistent. They wanted to be heard, whatever they were saying. Darr struggled to an upright position, fighting past the pain in his head. Perhaps this invasion by the spirits caused his headache, though he couldn’t be certain since nothing like it had happened before. The spirits only came when he thought about them, and they were never this persistent.
He took in deep breaths, sending air into his midsection in steady motions. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the silence in the house. The confusion of sound in the Currents and the throbbing of his head made them difficult to ignore, but not impossible. The air he breathed, and the comfort of his home, became his sanctuary. After a few minutes, Darr’s body and mind begin to relax, and with it, the voices disappeared. His headache became a dull tingle behind his skull, but with the spirits no longer present, he could function.
Darr’s eyes focused, and his physical body closed around him. The Currents still buzzed in his ears, awash with the incessant ramblings of the spirits, but Darr didn’t have attention to give them. A wave of sickness washed through him, disorienting him. He tried to stand and found his legs gave out.
“Do not strain yourself, young Summoner,” Racall soothed from right behind him. Gently, the Archon lifted him to his feet, holding him by the back of his shirt.
“What’s wrong with me?” Darr asked, his words slurring together.
“Your body and mind are adjusting to the shift between worlds. You need rest, but now is not an option. Come. I have your pack.”
Racall nudged him forward, and Darr’s legs worked mechanically. The air and darkness of the night closed around him as Racall prodded him out into the pass. With it, came a deadening cold, but Darr didn’t feel it from the elements. This cold came from inside him, radiating outward from the marrow of his bones. The night itself appeared normal and calm, but some threat lurked close by. Perhaps a predator cindercat was on the hunt, but that didn’t feel right. Whatever was out there didn’t feel natural.
Nothing could be seen with the eyes or heard with the ears.
Darr’s thoughts grew jumbled again and he fell to the ground. Racall had him on his feet in moments, nudging him onward, his voice a whisper of reassurance. “Not far now, young Reintol.”
The Summoner let himself be propelled forward. His body moved fine on its own, as long as he didn’t try to dwell on whatever went on around him. He and Racall had left the main pass now, and his legs worked harder as they started up an incline. Long grasses whipped at his arms and face, but these were minor annoyances. When at last they stopped, they were on a broad ledge above a canyon, but the shadow and starlight gave no real definition.