The Pools of Nereus
By: Steve Carr
Profanus, the second of the iceblue suns, twin suns of a long ago exploded gigantic mothersun was at midsky. PuttoVinci's wings were flapping frantically as he crossed the emerald green sky. This almost frenzied fashion in which he was flying was against PuttoVinci's nature.
Seeing PuttoVinci's silhouette against the glowing Profanus, the other Putti fluttered their wings excitedly also. The Putti were momentarily distracted from watching their charges, the Renaissites who lay peacefully in a state of perpetual reflection in the translucent pools of crimson tinged gel.
In his agitation, PuttoVinci was fearful that in his rush to reach MonetRex that he would overlook the very thing that was causing his near panic. There were rumors of a changing in color of one of the pools. It was this he was scanning for as he flew above the millions of pools. A disruption of reflection of one of the Renaissites had not happened in a millennium.
PuttoVinci knew there was need for heightened concern. It was rumored there was one or more Putti who had joined with The School of the WatersInBetween and the Collections of the Southern Cap. The School and the Collections had made it clear they had one mission now, to bring the Renaissites out of their perpetual reflection. Traitorous Putti aligning with The School and the Collections would bring about a new and unprecedented threat to the Northern Cap.
At the Northern pole was The Haze. PuttoVinci reached it not seeing a change in any of the pools he had flown over. It was from where the MonetRex, The Lightness, ruled over the Northern cap and the pools.
Entering the haze PuttoVinci was suddenly at the end of a cavernous nave that stretched a distance that couldn't be measured. Other Putti were flying in and out of the nave and greeted PuttoVinci with a slight bow of their heads as they passed him. All the Putti of Nereus knew PuttoVinci because he was the ambassador and speaker for The Lightness.
PuttoVinci rushed down the nave, The Haze forming as wisps of color and form all around him as he flew. Along the way he passed alcoves where statues of the grotesque and bizarre creatures of the sixth moon Bosch shaped and dissolved and shaped again into a different one.
Entering the presence of The Lightness happened abruptly, marked first by the only truly solid thing in the The Haze, the living Capitoline Wolf. It stood erect on her four legs, her many tits being suckled on by the Putti who came in and out of The Haze to drink from her many teats. Beyond her was The Lightness, a bursting circular formation of color. It shifted in size and intensity from moment to moment. At the core of The Lightness was a round, red, glowing, pulsating, circle casting one impression of hue and intensity to another, always changing.
PuttoVinci hovered reverently in midair before The Lightness and bowed his head and spoke softly, but urgently. "I come from the shore Your Lightness with news of rumors that The School has turned an unknown number of Putti to their ways. The School and the Collections are endeavoring to bring one or more Renaissites out of their reflections."
Out of The Lightness came a voice, grave in tone, but gentle, questioning. "There has been no change in any of the pools?"
"No, Your Lightness. No changes have been reported by any Putti," PuttoVinci said.
The Lightness spoke again. "Perhaps The School is creating these rumors in order to arouse concern where none is warranted. Nevertheless, The School inhabits all the WaterInBetween and should not be trusted. Their supreme being, Trident, does not understand the purpose of the pools. The School travels in great numbers in the waters of Nereus and they are not beyond acting on Trident's ignorance nor are the Collections."
"I understand," PuttoVinci said.
"If one in a shoal knows something then it is known and sung about by the entirety of The School," The Lightness said. "Station a few of your trusted brothers on the shores and have them listen closely to the music of the shoals. The shoals do not act or think independently of The School. If Trident and the Collections are up to something then every shoal will be singing about it. Be alert but be calm PuttoVinci."
"Yes, Your Lightness," PuttoVinci said, bowing then turning and exiting The Haze feeling no better than when he had entered it.
Sacre, the second of the two suns was rising over the Northern Cap as PuttoVinci hovered above a female Renaissite, his wings barely fluttering. The female Renaissite was in a state of deep reflection. Her eyes were wide open but not focused, her breathing steady, and typical of the Grecoites of the Southern Cap. Her long thin legs and arms were still and seemed to fill the entire pool in which she lay. PuttoVinci had been one of the Putti who rescued her after she washed up on a Northern Cap shore many movements in time ago.
"I escaped being put to death by my collection on the Southern Cap as soon as they became aware of my reflection abilities," she had told him. "My swim across the WatersInBetween also nearly ended in my death. The shoals did everything in their powers to drown me."
Looking down on the female Grecoite, a Grecohumanoid, PuttoVinci felt a tinge of sadness for her and for all the Renaissites. Once in the pools they never aged. From the time they first lay in the crimson gel they fell into a state of eternal reflection, each mind being connected to every other mind of every Renaissite in all the pools. After either escaping or being rescued from their Collections and entering their pool, life beyond it ceased to exist.
"Reflection is the immersion into always changing, shifting color. Color speaks to all Renaissites. Each Renaissite brings to the pool a new hue. They also bring a new way to contemplate color and the relationship of color to light and shadow. Color is never ending and can not die. Color is being," MonetRex had told PuttoVinci on the day PuttoVinci was selected as the new ambassador. "Think of their minds as a map of colors in which the directions and locations on the maps are always in flux, and each new Renaissite adds a new part of the never ending map."
Looking at the Grecoite below him and every time he looked down on or tended a Renaissite he pondered the usefulness of an everlasting life devoted solely to reflecting on and sharing colors with millions of others simultaneously. It was that thought that made PuttoVinci understand why the combined Collections of the Southern Pole had joined the Schools to destroy the pools. They did not understand why the pools needed to exist at all.
The last time it happened there was a disruption, a darkness. The pools and the Renaissites in them came out of the dark bringing new reflections guided by The Lightness. But never before had there been rumors that Putti had joined with the Collections and Schools to bring about such an attempted destruction.
The gel provided everything the Renaissites needed to live, as well as served as the conductive material through which the Renaissites passed their thoughts. It was the putti's sole duty, to maintain the reflection sustaining gel.
"She has been in that pool for many movements."
Startled out of his contemplation, PuttoVinci looked up and saw PuttoPablo hovering just above him, his wings barely moving. "Yes, like all the Grecohumanoids from her citystate, she barely fits into the pool."
"Yet, there she is kept like all the other Renaissites from all the different citystates," PuttoPablo said coming down to eyetoeye level with PuttoVinci. His clear blue eyes were vacant of any emotion in the typical Putti cherub face.
"Kept?" PuttoVinci replied, "they enter the pools of their own accord, they are drawn to the palette, to the reflection abilities of all the other Renaissites. You know that."
"Of course, every Putti knows that, but it does make you wonder if they truly know what an eternity in the pool will be like before they lie down in one," PuttoPablo said, his wings fluttering nervously.
"An eternity reflecting on the changing and shifting nature of color, the transformative nature of color, linked with the minds of a million others also reflecting on the same thing is a noble existence," PuttoVinci said.
"Noble but to what ends?" PuttoPablo said, turning and flying away.
PuttoVinci had known PuttoPablo since the end of the darkness and had grown accustomed to his questioning of the purpose of the pools and the Renaissites in reflection in them. With rumors about traitors among the Putti, PuttoVinci was concerned about the words PuttoPablo used.
"Kept?" He said aloud in a whisper, mulling over the meaning of the word.
He looked down at the female Grecohumanoid Renaissite and had an uneasy feeling that in ways he had not thought about before, he and the other Putti were not just attendants, but also keepers of their charges.
In the light of a rising Profanus, PuttoVinci and PuttoCiambue stood on a large rock looking out over the vast turquoise waters beyond the shore and heard the songs of the shoals. The entirety of The School was singing in the WatersInBetween the same notes in unison.
"The School intends for the song to be heard," PuttoCiambue said. "The shoals could have transmitted the same song to each other without making a sound. The School did nothing without there being a clear purpose behind it."
Even as Putti never aged, all Putti knew that PuttoCiambue was the first, the oldest, among them. He was the first to arrive after the ending of the darkness, and he was known for his wisdom. Many of the Putti were surprised that PuttoVinci had been chosen by The Lightness as his ambassador and not PuttoCiambue. PuttoCiambue had taken the oversight in stride, and since the emergence of The Lightness, he and PuttoVinci had become close friends. It was PuttoCiambue that PuttoVinci trusted the most among all the Putti and confided in when in doubt. PuttoCiambue was the only Putti among them all who had facial hair, a small single white hair that hung down from his dimpled chin. As was his habit when in serious conversation, he twirled the single hair around with his pudgy index finger.
"From early on we putti are taught it how The School is able to keep all the different waterbeings in the vast WaterInBetween living in harmony," PuttoVinci said. "Some shoals feed on other shoals. Some feed only on the vegetation of the water's floor, but each shoal swims in accordance to where The School wants them to swim."
"Never underestimate the collective power of The School," PuttoCiambue said.
"Do you believe Trident is powerful enough to control The School?" PuttoVinci asked.
"Trident has never been seen by anyone in many movements," PuttoCiambue said, "not The School and not The Collections. But they believe he still exists and that he holds their destiny and the destiny of Nereus in his hands. The belief in something that can't be seen or proven to exist is stronger than believing in that which can be seen. I haven't the wisdom to understand why that is, but if The School and The Collections believe Trident wants the ending of the pools and the Renaissites then they will act to try and make it happen."
PuttoCiambue twisted his single hair. "We are up against a being that wields incredible and dangerous power just because it can not be proven he no longer lives somewhere within the WaterInBetween."
PuttoVinci thought about this for a moment. "MonetRex speaks of Trident as if he exists also."
"MonetRex has the wisdom to know that to deny the existence of Trident is foolish. MonetRex interprets all things that are not pure color as having form and substance, even if you can't see it. It is the root of imagination."
PuttoVinci, tilted his head, turning his ear to a new wave of songsound coming from the shoals. "Their song has changed slightly."
"I noticed it also," PuttoCiambue said. "They are communicating with someone inland."
"Of course, until now I lacked the imagination to know who," PuttoVinci said, his wings suddenly flapping wildly lifting him into the air and away from the shore toward inland, leaving his friend PuttoCiambue on the rock twirling his single chin hair questioningly.
PuttoVinci entered the nave of The Haze flying at great speed. Putti were fleeing The Haze, their wings beating frantically as they exited the nave rushing past PuttoVinci without acknowledging him. Going at breakneck speed down the shifting, wavering nave he entered the chamber of The Lightness. He collided with the Capitoline Wolf, who was staggering about, Putti hanging precariously from her teats. Then he was upon him, in the presence of MonetRex.
"Why?" PuttoVinci said without the usual reverence for the almighty among them.
The core of The Lightness had shrunk and was decreasing more even as he spoke. "A movement in time is never intended to last for eternity PuttoVinci."
The vibrant lightfilled colors around The Lightness was swirling, revolving around the red core. It was collapsing into the core changing from hues of red to pink, to purple, to blue. "I did not mean to deceive you my faithful Putto."
"But what of the Renaissites and all the time they spent in reflection?"
"The Collections and The School have guaranteed me that their lives will not be in danger. They will emerge out of the pools and return to the lives they left behind. Their work is done."
"But what did it all achieve, the many movements of reflection?" PuttoVinci lowered himself to the floor, He did what he had never done in the presence of The Lightness; standing on his two small legs and feet, his wings totally still.
"It was all meant to achieve nothing at all other than one movement building on another. Just as this movement built on the darkness, and the darkness built on what came before that." The voice of MonetRex began to fade, slowly becoming a whisper speaking out of an everdissolving core. "The Renaissites were a means to reflect on the evolution of color in all its manifestations and now it is time to use what was reflected upon to evolve to the rising movement."
"What movement is that?" PuttoVinci asked forlornly.
"Substance and form in all its varieties," a voice said from behind him.
PuttoVinci turned and there was PuttoPablo.
"You and The Lightness conspired to bring about the end of the pools?" PuttoVinci asked.
"The truce and declaration of a new understanding for the new movement. The Accord of The Museumatti, was written by me as the hand of MonetRex and signed by The School and all the citystates that make up The Collections under the everwatchful eye of Trident." PuttoPablo put his hand on PuttoVinci's shoulder. "Do not despair my friend, every ending is just a beginning."
The core of The Lightness, and all the colors that surrounded it vanished and the MonetRex ceased to exist.
Under the sun Sacre, sitting beside a pool empty of a Renaissite with the gel dried to a murky brown around the marble, PuttoVinci held the limp body of PuttoCiambue in his short arms. He looked at the face of his friend and said, "what purpose did we serve, did any of this serve?"
"It's too soon to know that. Only future movements will be able to reflect on their own the significance of what we meant and what we achieved," PuttoCiambue said, then he died.
Laying the lifeless body of PuttoCiambue in an empty pool, with great effort PuttoVinci rose into the air and flew over the lifeless palette, seeing the countless number of bodies of other Putti dead alongside the pools they had maintained for so long. Only when he reached the now solid structure of what was once The Haze did he stop. There at the entrance was a pool of water lilies with a large single stone on its banks that read: To The Memory of MonetRex, The Lightness.