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Wellspring by The Fire Tiger

Wellspring

Long and far ago, in a time lost to the expanses of space, a dying civilization yells out for help one final time.

The years have gone on for too long to be considered meaningful anymore. The race once known as "humans" have instead taken to referring their own progress as "eras", and the arbitrary markers for when each era begins and ends are denoted by important technological advancements made that incited said eras. This melancholic eulogy begins in the Singularity Era, beginning with the birth of so-called "meta spaces" -- powerful, highly concentrated locations of energy where one could potentially reside in for minutes at a time. While these spaces were a mere novelty at the time, they would eventually grow to such power that multiple people could eventually live in these spaces for weeks.

The humans effectively recreated what we know today as Threads. But these were different. Whereas our divine portals transport you to a magical place where anything written by the Composer crafting this Thread was possible, these meta spaces were mere bastardizations of this concept, poorly created and often mass produced for the sole purpose of having other humans live there, as the real world they had been in was slowly running out of space to house all the humans in the world. In the face of the creativity our Threads possess, meta spaces were putrid, dishonourable and soulless. But they were enough for the humans who simply needed to escape their world's inevitable fate. This wouldn't be for long, though, as eventually, more advancements in technology made it possible for the human soul, their psyche and their mind to be transferred into their virtual worlds... and with this started the last-named era of the humans, and their eventual eradication at the hands of their own creators.

The few remaining humans who were there to name this era referred to it as the Finality, and it began the moment the first human passed onto a meta space successfully, proving to their race that their world was no longer necessary. Soon, multiple people would enroll themselves into entering the meta space craze, and as more and more people gave up their tangible flesh to become immortalized in a corporate dystopia coated in pastel of many colors, the energy that they collectively emitted grew to unprecedented heights. This massive build-up alerted a duo of cosmic beings, ones that the humans thought were fake or dead. What they referred to as "God", "Allah", or "Zeus" were two Dreamwalkers that went by the names of Albireon and Zhang. These are said to be the very first Dreamwalkers to exist, and they created the first Thread, the Origin Thread, simply as a show of power. They had no intention of tending to it, or look after anyone within this Thread, a mistake that Albireon would heavily regret. The moment they saw their sacred creation secrete unimaginable power, they became furious, and looking inside their Thread would only worsen the sting they felt.

Albireon would see how the humans had occupied everything within the universe. Where there was a star, there was a large dome surrounding it, collecting energy to send back to a terrestrial planet to maintain its ever-increasing electricity demands. Where nature could have flourished, it was flattened and destroyed to make room for more humans and buildings. Albireon saw this and wept, unaware that her creation was being warped and twisted to unrecognizable lengths. Zhang, however, became enraged. He looked to the past and saw a myriad of needless wars. What should have been an agreement over a small patch of land grew into a murderous rampage. Humans once separated each other by their skin colour, or their birthright. There were ample opportunities for humans to band together and form a future that benefitted all, but none of them were taken, with humans much rather preferring to continue infighting and keeping seemingly arbitrary people in power. And now those same people, the ones that dared to destroy the world they lived in and push away themselves for their own personal gain, looked to the stars for a glimmer of hope. Albireon and Zhang could do nothing but turn a blind eye, as they found their Thread to be completely irredeemable, and they went back to their dimension with the most bitter taste in their mouths.

Decades would pass inside the Thread, and eventually, the stars that the humans relied on so much for their energy began to die and cause novas of varying degrees. The earth that they walked on now became near inhabitable as the star that they used to mark a new day had begun to swell, ready to collapse at any moment. Solar flares as a result of this would hit the earth, causing outages across the virtual spaces that over 85% of the human population now lived in. One by one, they would short circuit and shut down, often for good. The population agonizingly dwindled, and often the final thoughts of the humans that once lived there would be asking themselves where it all went wrong.

And after killing nearly every human possible, the sun star would settle down and revert to its normal size, leaving a destroyed ozone layer and dried oceans in its wake. The last remaining humans at this time, 15 groups of families, all begged at the top of their lungs for divine intervention. They wept and prayed and bargained for their deities, their familiars, their creators to come save them from this madness that they didn't deserve... and what they got instead was an apoplectic Zhang descending from the skies, finally livid of the voices from his Thread that would not stop screaming for help. The humans took this as a sign that their god, who they falsely believed to be benevolent and all-loving, was nothing more than an enraged demon who was simply punishing the human race because they could. This only made Zhang grow even more furious, and it would take Albireon to descend and ease his anger, as well as explain to the humans why they took so long to respond.

The families all begged Albireon to take them in, to escape this brutal, incorrigible world. But unfortunately, she refused, stating that taking them in would not achieve salvation, and that they would inevitably taint the world they resided in, like their previous ancestors did to their own. Surprisingly, however, Zhang spoke an idea that perplexed both the humans and Albireon: Of all 15 families, only the youngest children of each would be granted freedom. They would be taken into their world, and there they would grow up and flourish under the Dreamwalkers' care... but with one cruel condition. These children would immediately forget everything about their past life, cursed to never know where they originated from, and only learn about it when they were properly ready to handle it, after many years under their wings. They would never know what their ancestors did to deserve destruction, or what their world was like before it was decimated. They would simply live without this knowledge burdening them until the time was right for them to bear it.

...the parents agreed to this treaty. And with one tearful, heartfelt goodbye, the families all gave up their youngest kins to the Dreamwalkers. Albireon immediately warped them to their dimension, and Zhang granted the remaining humans a swift and painless end... by destroying the Origin Thread. The destruction of this Thread caused the memories of the recently saved children to cease to exist, too... and such was the bitter finale of humanity. Now, standing before the Dreamwalkers were 15 younglings, varying from newborn to nearly teen, the only humans to have been spared from their inevitable fate. Yet soon, they, too, would no longer be humans, but Dreamwalkers, just like their new parents.

Albireon and Zhang would give each of their newly adopted offspring a new name and formed their personalities based on the loose ends of the destroyed Thread. The youngest of the foster children was a months old baby girl, and the next youngest after that was a two-year-old boy who took great interest in his "sister". Next were three children who always stuck together, two boys and one girl, all with the same rough age of five, and after that was a roughed-up girl aged seven who seemed to protect a mentally ill boy of her same age as if her life depended on it. The next child, also seven, described themselves as feeling neither boy nor girl, but was confused as to why they felt this way. And another still, aged eight, said she only felt like a girl in appearance. Two children, one boy and one girl, aged nine, only ever paired up with each other while no one was looking, while the remaining two boys and two girls quickly formed a deep friendship with each other.

From these new roots, the two Dreamwalkers tended to these children as if they were their own. From Albireon, they learned of the power of creativity, the necessity of taking in new information, and the ideal world that they should craft for their own future. From Zhang, they were taught about emotions and how to manage them, what it meant to be a Dreamwalker, and how they, too, could possess the same power they did. The children all took in these lessons at their own pace, and as the years went on, they would learn to wield these lessons learned in their own way. But there was one lesson they could not take in or apply, and this unfortunately had to do with the children's original status.

Albireon was sad to hear that none of the children could use magic like she could. Even with so many years of trying, they still could not cast even the simplest of spells, and Albireon just couldn't understand why, at first. As she came to realize later, though, humans simply couldn't do magic. Even gifting a human the power to dream infinitely and imagine brightly could not change this, and she became depressed that such was the reality. In an act of desperation, Albireon turned to teaching her children how to express creatively, such as painting or writing, with the hope that, if the typical human could not wield their magic, then they could make a vessel to cast their own magic. And while nothing happened at first...

One day, during a sparring session with the eldest son, Zhang suddenly fell to the ground, feeling unwell. Shocked and confused, the children all dragged their father into his bed, until Albireon arrived. She explained to her children that Zhang had just gotten an upset stomach and then sent them on their way, but she knew the truth. This was the direct result of Zhang destroying the Origin Thread all those years ago. This elimination of a Thread he cared so deeply about... it was this feeling of regret that was slowly killing him from the inside, and he was nearing his ultimatum. All Albireon could do was pray to whoever laid outside of their world to have mercy on his soul once Zhang passed on... but one of their children, who had been pressing her ear against the door to his father's room and overheard everything her mother said, became stricken with grief. This grief manifested itself as a glow within her very soul, an aura that refused the events she just heard, and with one aimless cry for help, the girl let this aura escape her body.

The aura travelled to the furthest edges of the world. It travelled to undiscovered worlds and passed through different iterations of those worlds. It became enlightened with what was possible, and how much there was to see, until finally, it travelled back to Zhang and Albireon. The Dreamwalkers felt, for a brief moment, extreme clarity, as if a mental fog had been dispatched... And suddenly, Zhang's peril was completely reversed. Albireon's plan had worked, in their time of need, and this was the sign that she needed to continue teaching her children how to wield this strange, new form of magic. And so, with Zhang having completely recovered, they got to work on this new development.

The Dreamwalkers taught their children about creation. They taught them about how a little bit of imagination can go a long way. How they can express this will into various forms, and the ways to do so. The children learned to paint, play instruments, write down on parchment paper. They learned to move around their bodies, sow and craft different clothes, tell jokes and gags. All so that they could find their own way to unleash their own power when they needed it the most. The Dreamwalkers called this new power... "the will of the composer", as their children were conducting their own ways to manage their magic, their own will, much like how a musical composer would want you to experience what he felt from the first moment his music was but a mere memory in their head. And as the years grew longer, more progress was made on this than anything else.

And after so much sacrifice from the Dreamwalkers, the two had shaped their children into beings capable of continuing their legacy. Each of the 15 children each had their own way of expressing their creativity, and when they did so, their will surrounded them and made just about anything possible. Even so, the children still didn't possess the power to create a Thread like their parents -- this, unfortunately, seemed out of reach for them, even with their new powers. To them, though, it was fine. So long as they possessed this power, most of the children thought, then they could be just like their mother and father... and they all lived quite contently.

...but alas. The sickness that once tormented Zhang came creeping back to him, slowly, and this time, Albireon was afflicted as well. Both Dreamwalkers knew of this fate and had willingly accepted it the moment they agreed to destroy the Origin Thread. They hadn't anticipated for it to take them while they still had much more to teach their children... But one look at them in that moment made Albireon and Zhang realize that their children were no longer the small humans they were before. They had grown into aspiring men and women, creating their crafts and weaving the magic they held within. Sure, there was still much to learn... but only so much time. And for what it was worth, they had spent the right amount of time giving these children the best future they could.

And so, the Dreamwalkers finally confessed to them of what was becoming of themselves. Through tears and pleas, they came to realize that there was no reversing this course of events, and that their loving parents would pass on... yet, somehow, they realized that maybe it wasn't yet too late. Perhaps by combining their strength and unleashing all their might, they could rewind, or perhaps, even eradicate their ailment. It was daunting, but if just one of them could stall it, then surely all their power combined would be overwhelming for even fate itself.

But the Dreamwalkers knew this would happen. In fact, they had devised a plan around it. One that would allow them to live on embedded within the land that they were about to create with their children's help. They would not be able to stop this sickness from taking their life, so perhaps... it was best to sacrifice themselves before it did.

On that fateful day, the Dreamwalkers said goodbye to each and every one of their children. They embraced their bodies, laughed about times past, and wiped away their sad tears, knowing that there was no turning back from what had been planned. Albireon and Zhang eventually walked away, hand in hand, to a faraway place... and their children began their master plan. Each gathered their wills, their aura, their pursuit for a brighter future, and kept welling it up within themselves. Their bodies glowed with might, their passion burning brighter than the stars, and after so long... All of the children released their energy.

It was unclear what Albireon and Zhang did, but whatever it was caused a grand explosion when they were hit with their children's magic, and from this brightness came life. Flowing rivers and grassy greens, cliffs haphazardly strewn about, all emerging from the epicenter of the explosion, and it would only expand further. Different biomes sprung, rivers became seas, of which also turned into lakes and such, and the sky was painted a bright blue. And when the explosion finally reached the children, being enveloped in the white blast, they had all gained... something great. Their parents had granted them one final gift: the ability to open Threads, and with it, their full proper transformation into Dreamwalkers.

And as nature kept spreading and filling their unending world, the children could hear their parents' voices. They had told them how proud they've reached, and that they would watch over them as long as they were alive. In this reunion, they had made a final request to their children: take their power and guide the people towards greener pastures, and to make them realize their true potential, just as they had done with them. As if on cue, the world eventually filled with a different kind of life, that being other Dreamwalkers, having been born from the nearly infinite hopes and dreams that the children possessed. Albireon and Zhang finally moved on... and the children all understood what needed to be done.

Over the years, these fifteen children became known as the "Original Composers", and from there, each new Composer born came from their lineage. Many years have passed, and now Composers are regarded as special beings that live longer than their peers and have the unique power to create Threads, living worlds made from their imagination that possessed incredible power, a power that is harnessed back into the world and aids in the expansion of life. And while there is no confirmation, the Original Composers are said to be practically immortal. The only reason it isn't certain is because all of them have refused to come forward, or at least announce themselves to the public. As far as the people are concerned, they are real, but they hide in plain sight, likely because they don't think they deserve grand praise and would much rather lift up others.

...and they would be right. I should know, for I am Nodos, one of the fifteen Original Composers.

I had originally written this letter as an apology to you, my dearest mother and father. To let you know that, after so long, I finally learned about my history, and all those times that I insisted I was ready to know were clearly just me being too curious for my own good. Even now I still cannot fathom how much my species had burned away their lives, how it could even be possible for a person to harbor such self-centeredness. I shudder to think about what my original family had to go through during those final moments... You were both right. In that moment, it clearly was too much responsibility to bear, even after you graciously raised us up to your status.

But as I wrote it, my mind began to wonder elsewhere. The greatest mystery that I had chased after so long has finally been revealed to me. I always told myself that, regardless of whatever possible outcome, though, I would be happy to take in that knowledge. And now that these answers were in my possession... I only felt bitter and regretful. This was forbidden knowledge for us for a reason. It didn't seem right for me to just accept the facts as they were. A piece of me, that shining light that you described me to always have, slowly deteriorated at the thought of knowing something that should not have been.

If it wasn't for Cedric, my loyal Conductor, I most likely wouldn't have been here, rewriting this letter.

I took him in as a simple scribe one day. At the time, the concept of Composers having helpers was relatively novel. I told him that I was a struggling Composer, that my duty to create Threads was taxing on me, and I needed some guidance. Cedric had the spirit I was looking for, what with him being an assistant at the local Library of the Cosmos and being an all-around problem solver. I figured he would have made a great Composer if he had been born into such a role, and when I came forward with this request, he immediately jumped to my aid. Since then, Cedric has helped me sow together many different worlds, Threads that I couldn't imagine having written before without his help, and in exchange, I answered any question that he could possibly think of. I didn't reveal to him my true nature, though -- I just told him that I've lived long enough to know much about the world, and he believed it.

When he saw me sulking about after learning of my own truth, though, he realized something was wrong, and finally asked me about my past. I had refrained him from ever asking about it out of fear. How could he possibly react at the thought of a mythical being standing before him, and for help no less? When he stood by me and asked why I was so somber, I simply sat him down and confessed about my origins. It felt like I had nothing else to lose from this, that this truly was something neither I nor Cedric could feasibly resolve. And yet, my Conductor pulled through.

He reminded me of my nature. He reminded me of the power that I possessed, that I still possess. No amount of horrid truth could unshackle me from what I was now, and Cedric knew it well. Even when he wasn't aware of the real me, he knew what kind of person I was on the inside, and that is all that mattered to him. His respect for me never wavered, and it was what he told me at the end that stuck with me the most. He told me to truly think about you two, my esteemed caretakers. He told me that no matter what, you would still be so proud of me for continuing my path, for remaining so curious and gaining more knowledge about the world until the ends of time. And, deep inside, I knew this to be true.

So now, it is with his help that I write to you this letter anew. This time, it's not written to air out regrets, but rather to give my deepest gratitude. Without your help, mother and father, I wouldn't have become the person I am today, but it is also because of Cedric that I realize now that this is not a path I must walk alone. Just as you two have shown me the way forward and how to walk upon it, Cedric has continued to guide me on that same path. I firmly believe that is the ultimate lesson you have attempted to teach me all those years ago, and now you look to me, from wherever you lay, with warm smiles.

...and speaking of, now that I no longer chase after my backstory, I have taken to chase after all the other mysteries that I never got an answer to. Starting with where you two have made your resting place. It was so far away, and I have forgotten in which direction you two made your final trek, or from where you started. But I suppose that's what adds to the mystery, and you two know how I love a riddle that much more the closer to impossible it becomes to solve. I also never got a clear response on how the world keeps expanding so far out into the infinite, and why creating Threads is so integral to this process. You left us without even providing so much as a hint on the matter...

My brothers and sisters all fare well. I had thought about telling them about our origins, but decided against it. Surprising, as I usually am the nosy and boisterous one in regards to secrets. If any of them would like the answer, I would happily provide it to them, but for now, I shall remain silent. In the meantime, they have all went their separate ways, but we still find ourselves from time to time at our refuge, where we spent our time with you two. We say our greetings and ask how things go, and then we leave. We really should meet up more often...

Cedric has taken to asking even more questions. Now that he knows I am one of the Original Composers, he's become engrossed with knowing more about the things I've seen, from our eyes and from yours as well. I sincerely hope you don't mind me confessing to him how Mother always made Father a strawberry pie whenever He was feeling low, or how you two gave us all a scare by summoning a wolf to lead us into our rooms! Oh, Mother really was the bolder one, despite appearances...

I suppose, however, that this is as much as I can write for today. Rest assured, my dearest parents, that I will continue to uphold my duties as a Composer, and with Cedric by my side and the strength of my brothers and sisters close by, I can continue to chase after every question and find the answer to all our world's paradoxes. And perhaps, someday... I'll finally come to visit you two. One last time.

Thank you for being wonderful parents, and many more thanks for granting us the gift of your boundless power.

Nodos

Wellspring

The Fire Tiger

Conductor's Notes: ...surprise.


We've been... terribly busy as of late, but today, we bring to you not a preview of a Thread, but a preview of our world. It started as a simple letter, but quickly spiraled out of control. I had to be the one to bring order to my Composer's musings, as is my duty, though this time it was to remind him of how capable he was. How much more powerful he was now. After what he went through... I respect him that much more now.


There is not much more to this. Please read for yourself. I hope to see you all soon with a Thread to present.


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