This is a rather lengthy post. It will require some substantial scrolling down on your part. Unfortunately, I don't want to split the Canto into two pieces, so this is what you get. This is one of my favorite pieces of the epic that I've written so far. Important things happen. I hope you enjoy. If you've missed any previous parts of the journey, click here to read them.
“Awake, Oscambria, for I have things to show thee,” said Viis somberly.
The Hero opened his eyes to the God of Dream and Vision,
Standing tall and proud over him like gods do.
Readers, I do not have to tell you what Viis looks like,
as you’ve all seen it when you close your eyes at night,
Its translucent, shape-shifting form
And its piercing silver eyes.
The Hero rose, naked as he was when he lay down,
And covered himself with a random pile of animal furs from the dream.
“I know you, but I don’t. Who are you?” he asked, his voice as strong as his heart.
“I am Viis, the God of Dream and Vision,
and I am here to guide you on your destiny-walk,
to clear the fog in your mind
and set your feet upon the right path.
“Walk with me, child, and I will show you the four pillars of your destiny.”
They set out upon a long and treacherous road,
Lined with wonderful and hideous apparitions on the sides.
In the ditches flowed blood and water,
Thick and dark,
And an orb of burning flame hung in the purple sky,
Casting long shadows onto the two.
“These visions are the people and things you will see in your life;
they are what the Sisters have woven for you.”
They stopped beside an immense grey pillar,
Tall and mighty, its spike reaching up into the heavens and out of sight.
It appeared to be made of one smooth stone,
With no cracks or joints along its polished surface,
And Oscambria extended his hand and touched it.
“This pillar is your curse, child,
and touching it will enlighten you of your affliction.”
Immediately a scene opened before the Hero’s eyes,
of the challenge between him and Zzizgarg.
He watched as the immortal rushed out of the Courte du Gods
And through the streets of Athins,
And he could see the anger burning in Zzizgarg’s eyes.
He watched as the child of Fire and Ice drew a blade and cut his open hand,
Letting the blood pour down onto the Fire-altar and pray a Blood-oath.
Deception hung about Zzizgarg as he prayed,
And suddenly a god appeared from the fire.
The Hero heard and witnessed the events unfold,
Helpless to interfere,
And felt his heart falter when Zzizgarg deceived his father.
The vision suddenly faded and the pillar returned.
“Zzizgarg,” hissed Oscambria,
“I should have guessed that he would be behind this.
I’ve always tried to befriend the wretch,
But his pride kindles the flame in my blood
And I can’t help but knock him from his pedestal,
Though I see now the foolishness of my behavior.”
Viis neither admonished nor consoled him, but simply nodded,
Speaking, “I am not here to tell you how you should act,
Only to show you what is in store for you.
This is the first pillar of your life, and the foundation for how you will live.
This pillar, the curse you bear, will shape all of your actions,
And they will stretch into the other worlds
And affect more than you can currently comprehend.”
“But if you can do nothing but show me, why must I see my fate?
Is it not cruel to show me my life’s path and condemn me to obeying it?
Can I not change what I see, or is it etched in one of these pillars?”
“Come with me, Oscambria, and witness your second pillar,”
commanded Viis, its voice the strong mixture of male and female,
reaching out a hand for the Hero to take.
They continued down the path.
The second pillar came into view,
Again reaching up into the heavens and continuing beyond vision,
Though it was still far off in the distance.
Oscambria stopped, his attention caught by a bystander on the roadside,
A young maid garbed in a simple merchant tunic,
Her hair black as ebony
And her skin as bronze as a dinera.
“Who is she?” inquired the Hero, entranced at her beauty.
“These ghosts are the people you will meet along your way.
Her name is Koesan.
More than that, I cannot say.”
“She is beautiful,” replied the Hero.
Viis stared blankly at Oscambria, who was staring openly at Koesan,
who was staring at the sack of flour in her hands.
They came to the next pillar, this one seamless as the first,
Though its color was dark grey and speckled with red.
Again Oscambria reached out and touched the stone.
He beheld two massive armies,
One of men and gods, the other of gods and immortals.
They were on an unmarked field,
Ripe with wheat and tares.
Suddenly the battle erupted, violent and full of force.
Corpses fell, both of gods and men,
And the battle raged on for many days.
The end came with the dimming of the Flame,
The god Rone falling to the sword of an armored warrior,
Masked in a wicked black metal helm,
and the god’s head was cut from his body.
The warrior removed his mask and Oscambria gasped,
Seeing his own face revealed.
The curse was still on him, but it appeared to be fading,
His skin returning to its normal color,
As Rone’s power left with his life.
The warrior Oscambria sheathed his sword
And walked among the countless corpses.
The vision vanished, leaving Oscambria panting slightly.
He had no words, no remarks, only shock.
“Come, child, and see the third pillar.”
They walked in troubled silence,
Oscambria understandably distraught
From the vision he’d seen,
And he attempted to cast off the horrible image of the fallen god.
The next pillar reached up into the heavens,
But its exterior was marred with cracks.
It burned a bright orange-red, as if it was on fire,
And Oscambria stalled before it.
“I do not wish to know, magnificent Viis.”
The God of Dream and Vision nodded, then spoke in its strange voice,
“Yet you must, child. It is willed for you to do so.”
Hesitantly, the Hero touched the cracked stone,
And once again the visions opened before him.
Zzizgarg sat on a throne in Athins,
A scepter in one hand and a chalice in the other.
The throne room burned with torches.
At the immortal’s feet lay a dead king,
His body burnt black.
A dark crown sat atop Zzizgarg’s head,
And an evil grin was on his face,
Beneath his burning, red eyes.
“My name is Cornball the Fierce, the Flickering Flame,” said Zzizgarg,
“and I am your new king. You will all bow to me and worship me,
as you did my father, the fallen Fire, Rone.
I claim his mantle and hereby witness my Ascension.”
The immortal reared back his head and screamed violently,
A roar as loud as the wounded dying,
And flames burst forth from his open mouth.
Lines of fire shot from his eyes and outstretched hands,
And all around him objects burned,
From the glorious, exotic tapestries
To the royal Bunny Rabbit in the Gilded Cage.
When the intensity flared bright, the vision faded,
And Oscambria staggered back from the pillar, expecting to find himself ablaze.
His hand was hot from the stone.
“The last pillar awaits, Hero.”
“Hero? I am no hero.”
“Not now,” replied Viis smoothly, “but you will be,
for you are destined to be the Champion of the Three Worlds.
“All will know of your deeds in the days to come.
Minstrels will sing of your exploits,
Ministers will preach of your deeds,
Women will tremble at a mere drawing of your visage,
And men will seek to emulate you.
Children will play like they are you,
Re-enacting your glorious works.
“Yes, Oscambria, this curse was just the beginning of your journey.
By the end, you will be heralded as the Hero of the Living Worlds.”
Viis stared into Oscambria’s eyes,
Its silver pupils seeing all the way into his soul,
And the Hero knew it was true.
“But how can these things I see make me a hero?”
asked Oscambria sincerely.
“Come with me to the last pillar, child.”
The God of Dream and Vision did not answer him, you notice,
For gods so rarely decide to give straight answers to asking ones.
Instead, he was led to the final pillar,
Far away from the third, down the winding path,
Through a dark forest and below a lake,
Climbing a mountain and finally to the pillar itself.
The last pillar was not like the first three.
It was broken and ruined.
Massive black stones lay at its thick base.
All around the landscape was dead and barren,
As if they were near the Planet of the Dead.
“Touch it, Oscambria, and learn of your destiny.
Learn what your purpose is in this world.”
Inexplicably drawn to the ruined pillar,
The Hero slowly reached forth his hand
And lay his open palm on the shattered stone.
Before him appeared a world unlike anything he could imagine,
Yet similar in many ways.
The sky was blue, but the two familiar planets in the sky were removed,
Completely vanished and replaced by a massive orange star.
The magnificent temples of Athins were laid to waste,
And in their place were quick-food joints,
Filling the air with the sickly sweet smell of burgermeat.
The old altars to the gods were gone
And in their place was one altar.
Carved into the stone was an inscription:
TO THE GODS, EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU.
Children walked the rotunda, happy and bright,
Each with a book in their hands.
The men and women worked side by side,
Together for the better of all,
And their only concerns were for society to prosper,
For everyone to have what they wanted,
And for the Cubs to win the pennant.
There was a sense of liberty throughout the lands,
Of a care-free lifestyle where everyone let everything be okay,
Where dogs and cats were friends
And roaches no longer lived.
It was Utopia, Oscambria, realized,
Ushered in somehow by his actions
And by the choices he would make.
Finally he saw a mighty spire, shooting from the ground and high into the sky,
Towering above all surrounding buildings,
And on its top stood a statue of Oscambria,
Flowing hair and chiseled chest,
A handsome goatee on his face,
A Muse mask in one hand
And a murderous blade in the other.
The setting sun cast a beautiful picture in his mind
And suddenly the vision disappeared.
Viis was standing quietly behind him,
A hint of a smile on its face.
“This is the end of your visions, Hero, and your dream.
You have seen the four pillars of your life
And the road the Sisters have made for you.”
“I’m not sure I understand everything I’ve witnessed,”
he exclaimed, “but I thank you for showing me.”
This time Viis did smile,
And rows of sharp, silvery teeth flashed in the pale light.
“It has been a pleasure, child, even if your path
will lead to the destruction of many of my kind.
What the Sisters have woven is woven.”
With this the sleep ended, and Oscambria woke up.
The cave was still dark, but the rain had ended.
He had no idea how long he’d been sleeping,
But his clothes were dry, albeit still stained.
He put on his garb and thought of his visions,
Of what his life had in store for him,
And for the first time since his curse, he smiled.