|Laurel of Murinda, Queen of Andar|
Previously: <Prologue> <Chapter 1> <Chapter 2> <Chapter 3> <Chapter 4> <Chapter 5>
When they reached the bottom of the stairway to the magnificent atrium of the Temple-University, Carsius and Laurel called a halt and advanced a few steps beyond the crowd. When they spoke, their voices echoed to the very last person.
"People of Eillumaeia," Carsius began, "you should know now beyond a shadow of a doubt what you are about to face, should you decide to do so; we will not be like the Elitinati, and use you as means for our own ends against your free will! Inside this building are the wyrts which they used once to enslave you; also there are people in there, ones you might recognize as neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens. I would caution you: forget them! Forget who they once were!"
There was a murmur of dissent rippling through the crowd; many indeed had assumed they would find only enemies, Elitinati loyalists. Laurel picked up on this and sought to explain.
"Good people, by now you know how my friends and I have systematically undermined the Elitinati's many strongholds on this planet; this Temple-University is the very last one, and thus it will be most dufficult. The last stronghold the Elitinati have is over the minds of these people inside. They have all had control of your minds at one time, and if you do not heed our warning, you expose yourself for them to have again. Please do not throw away your freedom so easily! Remain on guard. The power of the wyrt is in physical contact; therefore the people within, who have been Inoculated, as the soldiers once were, to become like wyrts, will also try to establish that same contact! Do not let them!"
Someone in the throng shouted, "Let's just kill them all!" and everyone cheered, but Carsius signaled for silence.
"Did I not warn you that these would be your friends, still enmeshed in their belief of the Elitinati lies? Would you be so willing to slay your own neighbor? Friends, I assure you, this is not our purpose! In order to prevent bloodshed and free everyone who has been trapped, our objective will be to distract the humans, and allow Laurel—this Elf you see beside me—to discover and reach the mother-mind, and to turn it's influence back on itself, thus wresting it from Elitinati control and freeing them just as she freed you! So here is what you must do: take no weapons, and be prepared to beat back and distract the crowds inside, clearing a path while avoiding succumbing to the influence yourself."
"But how?" A voice called out. "How can we fight against the influence if we cannot avoid their touch?"
"Through faith!" Laurel answered. "The heart is stronger than the mind. Believe in your hearts that what we have told you is truth, that your friends can be saved, and they cannot take your minds!"
Carsius looked over the crowd. "Does everyone understand what you are to do?"
"We understand!" they cried back.
"Remember," Laurel called, "do not follow your mind; that has been twisted by the Elitinati, and could very well be again! Believe with your heart, and the trust you carry there cannot be shaken! FORWARD!"
With a cry the entire mass swept upward and inward.
Augustus caught up to Carsius.
"What if we get in there and the Elitinati meet us head-on with a contingency plan?"
Carsius could not say; he had been wondering the same thing. Yet Laurel had been adamant in their earlier conversation on the way to the steps: the last pillar was definitely science and reason of the mind, and this could only be confronted by belief of the heart.
"If they are there," he said, "then every one of us is in for the battle of our lives. That is what my mind thinks."
"Oh?" Augustus' tone was almost mocking, "and what does your heart tell you?"
"I believe we must follow Laurel's advice and meet any doubts in our mind with faith that this last plan will succeed, and trust in each other that none of us will turn."
They had reached to top of the steps. It was all or nothing.
Augustus did not slow, but ran with the crowd through the doors of the Temple-University. "Here I stand by faith!" he yelled to whatever fate awaited him inside.
The charging throng was met by the squadron of Novices. Their eyes were blank and hollow-looking. They stood as am impenetrable mass, ready to withstand anything brought against them, impervious to intimidation. Their master was the mother-mind, and they were prepared under her command to lay down their lives to protect her. She would preserve the remainder of her life by any means necessary. Behind the Novices stood the Overseers, and the Mentors. The wyrts waited still further back, the last, insurmountable obstacle for any fool lucky enough to make it through the groping crowd unscathed.