Note: the original of this used Zanyuki’s Book of Zan, the original Book of Heresy. In my personal, revised RF, Catherine Luminus instead receives a copy of the Negatios, first penned by Eltania Elis and kept and studied by no less than her grandfather, Alestar Edian.
This happens way before the Fourth Battle of Niven, by the way.
Catherine Luminus sat reading the book she but recently received in the glory of a Novus morning. Golden sunlight dappled the small clearing in the Recluses Enclave, while a soft breeze gently shook the boughs of the trees that were like a canopy of emerald green above her.
But amidst such beauty, in the embrace of the sun’s light and warmth, the Angel of Light flipped each page with trepidation, and there were moments when she could not suppress a shudder.
“My lady is discomfited at what she sees,” the young Corite standing in front of her said. His voice was melodious, as if every word were a song, and hearing him speak, and remembering who had sent her this book, made her smile despite the gravity of the thing she held.
Catherine closed the book gently, fearing that any impertinence would disturb the… things the tome spoke of. How could something so… disturbing have ever been written? No wonder it claimed the life of Eltania Elis, even as she wrote it, and had to be kept under the strongest of locks by Catherine’s grandfather.
“I do not think anyone who has ever had the… chance to even read but a few pages of this work cannot but be disturbed by its contents,” Catherine said to her companion. “By the Light and the Dark, I see now why Akadva wanted so badly to eradicate all traces of this, and why the leadership of the early Dvija decided to seal it within grandfather’s Library.”
“It has been part of our burden for a long time, my Lady” the Corite said. “If only the Grand Abbot knew how much even Blessed Baal agrees with him on the need to suppress that tome, whose copy you but hold among many others, I am sure he would not be so rash to accuse even us Edians of spreading it. In his mind, Lord Akadva thinks that anything of heresy must have its source from Saint Alestar’s children. He was but its keeper after all, although I think the Akadva all-too-readily blames our Lord Saint for its loss and spreading.”
Catherine traced a delicate, porcelain-white finger, longer than many Bellato because of her pronounced Corite heritage, on the cover of the book. The intricate and complex artwork on the leather – real leather, from one of the creatures of Elan, so she was told – proved that, contrary to what Iven and Rakien Varuna, the Heavy Scales, would wish, the book was not only alive and well but revered and celebrated as well.
Catherine had once faced all ten of the Hands of Hybroer and the Architect himself in mortal combat, in the Dark Hall Dimension, but she stood strong. Yet she shuddered at the thought of those who would revere such a work as the Negatios.
“Your lord was wise to send me a copy of this, dear Jehuda” Catherine said, putting the book down on the table beside her divan and standing to give the young Edian Ranger a loving embrace. “I only hope he is wiser to not have kept one for himself.”
Jehuda Kinath laughed through the blush evident on his pale skin at the attention he was receiving from the Lady Catherine. Who can stand in the presence of such a beauty and not be enthralled, nevermind that she was the living descendant of Saint Alestar himself? “I am sure he would like us to believe he has exercised his usual prudence, Lady Catherine. Just as you, most of all, as his True Beloved, would know that his courage and inquisitiveness can sometimes get in the way of his common sense.”
Catherine sighed. How right Jehuda is, she thinks. That oaf would most likely have kept a copy himself. The Light knows how much he’s committed to memory already. In fact, now that she has read parts of the book itself, she realizes that some of the things he was muttering the last time they shared a night together, when he thought she was asleep, came from the book itself.
Ah, Iven Al-Haram Akadva, if only you knew. The Mouth of DECEM, yet you are aware of so little that goes on away from your self-serving platitudes.
“Much as I wish to be in your sweet embrace for all eternity, Lady Catherine, my lord and my people will wonder why I tarry, and my own mother would chastise me for being remiss in my duties, both to my lord and to Saint Alestar’s children” Jehuda said, bowing low to the Angel of Light after he had, reluctantly, separated himself from his lord’s Beloved.
“Ah, dear me, I keep you so. Go, Jehuda. Please take care. Give my regards to your parents and Blessed Baal. The Recluses major domo will ensure your safe passage across Bellato territory.”
“Do you have a message for my lord, Lady Catherine? His duties are endless as the war goes on, but I am sure he would be thankful for even the littlest of correspondence from you.”
Catherine smiled at the thought of her True Beloved, but it is a sad smile. War and fate separates them, a gulf that their guardian once said was almost impossible to bridge without the destruction of all their worlds.
Many a time, in those few moments they can be together, has he voiced the thought of commandeering a starship and taking her far from all this hate and bloodletting. And in those moments, she would remind him of who he is, the role he plays in the war and in the struggle that is yet to come. She would tell him, again and again in the shadows they lay together in, that he is perhaps their best hope.
She would never let him know how much she herself is tempted to accede to his rash desire.
“Tell him that a minute does not pass where I do not ache for his presence, and that I await with all eagerness the moment that I can be beside him once again. And tell him to not lose hope, even as he reads the passages of this disturbing work and see so much that concerns him in it.
“Tell him, my dear Jehuda, that I above all others believe in him and hope that my love will keep him strong in all the trials he faces,” Catherine said, fingering the Talk Jade she wore around her neck. It belonged to someone else, someone very dearest to her Beloved, but he had gifted her with it when they first parted ways, under the skies of a different planet all those years ago. They started out trying to kill each other, and ended up possessing the other half of the other’s soul and the entirety of their hearts.
Did we seal our fate, and that of humanity, that day, my love, Catherine wondered? Or do we have a chance to not only realize what we have for each other, but lead our people to a better tomorrow, despite what this sad, sad book says?
The young Edian Ranger bowed to his master’s Beloved before going his way. Catherine looked at where Jehuda once stood for a long time, praying for his safe return to the Edian Sanctuary hidden in Vafer Shrine’s meandering corridors.
But she knew that she was just making excuses to herself not to return to the thing her Beloved had gifted her with.
The Negatios. The Revelation of the Endtimes, as whispered – some say screamed – by DECEM himself to the All Seeing One, Eltania Elis, most gifted daughter of Lord Kronos.
Too bad what she held was only a copy, Catherine thought. Her grandfather, Alestar, once possessed the original and only version of the Negatios. The Angel of Light was curious if the last chapter was, indeed, written in Eltania’s own blood.
By the Light and Dark, what could have she Seen that drove her to such madness, Catherine asked herself as she looked at the tome sitting innocently on the table beside the divan. Aunt Elia is the most gifted of Seers we Bellato ever had, but it had to take the… ministrations of Celestial to drive her to the edge of sanity. Catherine remembered how, after the recovery of Elia Lunus from the Genekeepers, her mother, Candace, had cried long and hard about the fate that befell her cousin. Candace’s husband, and Catherine’s father, Altair, the son of Alestar Edian, said that the things Elia saw were still but shadows compared to the horrors Eltania was forced to bear witness to when she wrote the Negatios.
Her mind, her upbringing, her training, yes, even her soul itself, screamed in response to its contents. Yet, by some perverse spirit, she was attracted to its pages nonetheless. Uncle Harvey, Catherine thought, would probably chalk it up to the “holonovela” syndrome – a fascination with the perverse, burlesque and totally taboo, the burly Armsman once said – but she knew there was something to it, something more.
Catherine looked at her communicator. Federal Intelligence Director Ichigo Daisen has long wanted to see this book with his own eyes, a complete, fully illuminated copy that was actually written (and, oh, is this paper made from the skin of some creature, too?) and not the product of any high-tech process. It would mean that whoever made this copy was sure he or she (or it? Can there be Abominations who believe in the words of the Negatios?) was lifting verses from a source true to the original. Silver FIST Alpha had already fought one of the creatures mentioned in this book, and the Black Dragon wanted as much information as he can on the things that decimated his agency’s most elite anti-Force unit.
The Angel of Light took her communicator and turned it off. She then went to the terminal near her divan and informed the Enclave staff that she is not to be disturbed unless it was an emergency.
She then sat down on the divan and opened the tome once again. Catherine had to go deep into her upbringing as the Heir of Edian to even begin to understand the strange, archaic script and language. She was fluent in Corite, given her lineage, as much as she was in Bellato, but some of the words were hard to understand.
Catherine was, actually, a bit relieved at that. For not long into the first few pages, she was already scandalized and horrified at what she read.