Feeling as though the world were strangely distant, Kiko reflected.
In the two months since the Sennin had left the Emerald Isle Kiko had learned more about life and the universe than in all the years preceding. Studying at the feet of the Dusk Sages was an incomparable feeling of exhilaration. They had the gift of literally putting the knowledge directly into her mind with a touch, and so she learned at an unprecedented rate. She supposed the only reason that they worked as they did in stages is to prevent her from going mad, or cracking in half with the strain of a rapidly expanding world view. Even so, each new discovery was such a revolution for her she began to suspect that it must require immense patience on their part to accept her ignorance.
She learned, for example, that Karia was speaking more than ever these days and what she whispered was somehow comforting to the Dusk Sages. Though she never heard the planet speak, she learned to tell instantly when a Dusk Sage was hearing her voice. They became serene, beatific even, and afterward they thrummed with happy energy. It made her wonder if her admiration of the Dusk Sages was similar to their feelings for Karia.
She looked beside her. The dictionary of Cheldrun that Kiyoshi had made for her lay open on the ground. She reached for it, but it was too far away. Still, it was a welcome reminder of all that had transpired. Everything she had seen.
It seemed too immense that one little Prill like her should come to see and know so much, and the more the Dusk Sages taught her the more she realized that it was a tiny fraction of the wonders of the All. It is a shame, she thought, that we all unravel. There is no way to see it all, know it all.
Kiko was relatively certain that she would never know who the man with oily hair and lace cuffs was, nor why he behaved as he did. He was a child of Steel, with eyes like Rei's, but he had arrived on the Emerald Isle without a boat or any other means of transport. The Dusk Sages observed him from a distance without saying anything. They revealed no emotion, but Kiko felt apprehension on their behalf. For a while she told herself that he would want to be a disciple like Kiko, Ramora, and Maruko, but if he had come to study, then he chose the wrong masters. A week after his arrival he was spotted in the company of resisters.
In the mornings Maruko had taken to singing, from memory, all the Prill lore that she could dredge up. Kiko tried to sing along, but Maruko had a better memory and Ramora had a better voice, she felt ashamed. The Dusk Sages genuinely delighted in the company of their creations, though all of their interactions were colored with melancholy. The creations on the island were sick, Kiko knew, and the health of the Prill was a sad reminder for them of the tragedy of their exile. Mostly it was better to sing and learn and observe than the alternative, even if the unraveling is true.
Sadly, Kiko knew that the unraveling was not only true, but inevitable. She looked down at her chest, pierced by two daggers. Another in her thigh was embedded so deep it pinned her to the ground.
The man with the red eyes had come at sunrise to the Flame of Dawning where all the living Dusk Sages were gathered. He greeted them with flowery language (most of which Kiko understood) and argued at length for something so abhorrent that Kiko thought she must have misunderstood. He wanted the Dusk Sages to reclaim their creations, to use them for mana in order to control the Kyo Tee Shee and then to return in power to the continent of their children. He called them 'Initiators' and 'Gods' and said that it was their responsibility to cleanse Karia of the Cheldrun who he called 'Malice'.
The Dusk Sages listened, tolerantly, over a long period as he explained the story of the Cheldrun, and pleaded with them. The Dusk Sages simply shook their heads, with tear filled eyes, but said nothing. He behaved petulantly, like a child who is used to getting his way. He shouted and cursed. He whimpered and cried. He accused them of negligence, of hating their own children, and denying their own responsibility. Kiko could see that his words were wounding them and she tried to intervene, to calm him down.
That is when he exploded. A storm of knives rushed from his coat impaling her and anyone who came close. He rose into the sky, glowing with purple light, and began hurling wave after wave of sharpened blades and incinerating energy upon the gathered Dusk Sages. Kiko shouted for them to flee, to fight back, to do anything, but they just stood there, weeping.
Resisters crawled up the mountainside and began attacking the gathered Sages from the outside, as the man continued to pulse with malevolent power and to rend the ones he had called Gods just moments before. From his hand he unleashed a purple crane, which swelled to enormous size and swooped down on the dying Dusk Sages, greedily dipping its beak in the rainbow fluid which washed in waves over the field. Kijuuki, Mokuzai's Kyo Tee-Shee. As Kiko watched, the crane consumed every Sage there, becoming bloated with mana. The crane gave a piercing shriek which caused the Flame of Dawning to split in half and fall, before returning to its meal.
The resisters were just as voracious, and most horrifying of all, as they ran out of Dusk Sages to consume they fell on one another in their frenzied state. They wrenched masks off of one another's faces, and sucked mana out of one another's eye sockets. The red-eyed man did not cease his slaughter either, but turned his fury on the resisters as well. Rays of purple light from his hands incinerated his targets, and as Kijuuki fed he only grew more powerful, until his blasts were breaking apart trees, then boulders, then mountains, then sundering the island itself.
Kiko couldn't think of anything to do then, but to sing. She looked around, but Maruko and Ramora were lying in heaps, dead. So she let her trembling voice ring out with the Song of Sending, the funeral song of the Prill. It was perhaps the worst rendition of the song ever performed, but The-One-Who-Opens-Doors smiled and nodded at her as he died. The look on his face was one of pride.
From the corpses of the resisters new Kyo Tee-Shee sprang. They joined the feeding frenzy, as the ground trembled and Kiko, who was on the point of passing out but kept singing all the same, wondered if the island were lifting out of the ocean into the sky. She could not hear herself over the roar, but she pressed on approaching the climax. The red-eyed man was completely obscured in a field of purple light now. She no longer cared who he was, it was beyond her.
When her breath was expended, she fell back and looked at that dictionary laying on the ground beside her. Its pages were spattered with rainbow colored blood. The wind took it and blew it out of sight. She imagined the wind was blowing it like a message to the All. We are unraveling as you decreed. Is it what you you hoped?