Atlantis Logo

Log of the Month for July, 2020

Visiting Ghosts
Posted on July 2nd, 2020 by Emilaina Acacia

// Content Warning: Suicide //

Emilaina led the group that had joined her back down the hiking path through the jungle and into the safety of her grandmother’s home. She made sure to warn them that they weren’t allowed back into the jungle alone–if they’d tried, one of the natives would stalk them anyway, but it’s always polite to give warning. For the most part the big cats and large, predatory rodents exclusive to the island knew to avoid people, but visitors were watched carefully for a reason.

Emily felt it was worth mentioning to Kuari, though, that if she wanted to stretch her wings they don’t have any predators that fly, and the big cats are probably easy to outrun if you can.

The beach and even the jungle below the southern shale cliffs were free range, however, as this area was much more inhabited than it appeared at first glance. Once the sun began to sink it became even more obvious, different shaped beams of light shining sideways through the underbrush to mark the presence of dozens of windows hidden in the growth. The paths between houses feature small stones worked into the dirt that are almost impossible to see, but definitely give the ground a different texture that can easily be followed to new places once you notice it. 

Once everyone was settled down for the evening, Emily left for the part of her visit she hadn’t wanted to do in front of the others. She had considered stopping on the way back, but she barely wanted to pray in front of the others for fear it would make them uncomfortable. It had been hard to miss that Suzuki had felt awkward when she’d said the guide’s prayer at the peak, but Emily still wasn’t sure how to simply explain things with layers of context.

It was just something she had always known. The stones control the mountain, and you have to thank them for guiding you to the top, because they also have the option to strand you in the middle of the jungle. To Emily, each stone had a slight, living hum that she wasn’t certain the others could feel. They may be hard to spot if you’re looking for them, but she knew the memory stones by the feeling of a thousand eyes on her back, each one watching you walk by. Natives knew not to tell people the stones are watching them, it usually made them much more uncomfortable than the prayers.

The sun was setting as she reached the terrace again, the last light glinting off of the colored gems and creating the familiar twinkling, multicolored mist of the jungle’s last light. Emily unhooked the chained obsidian she had been carrying, holding it up at arm’s length.

We will find the way that we are meant to,” she mumbled in the native tongue, and began slowly walking along the path. She slowly pulled the gem back to hold it in front of her chest with both hands, gently running her fingers over the edge of the obsidian to help herself get lost in thought.

A familiar rush of thick air pushed against her and she turned toward the edge of the terrace, carefully sliding down onto the untamed jungle floor. She slid her foot from fallen tree to half-dead bush as she carefully made her way towards the stone she felt humming the loudest, gently brushing plants out of the way.

The stone was completely covered by vines, which Emily began unceremoniously ripping off and tossing into the brush. When the last handful of vines resisted her she paused, looking around and realizing just how low down the mountain she was. She hesitated a moment before pulling out the small silver knife she had brought, using it to cut away the living plants, slowly working her way down to uncover the whole stone.

It was, as she had suspected, quite old. Some of the obsidian had been chipped away by time, exposing the now slowly eroding lava rock inside that would contain the person’s ashes. Even with the ravages of time, Emily could tell that this stone had been made to resemble the ohaki flower, a native plant used as a painkiller.

She found the keystone and carefully popped it out of place, turning it over. The relatively large, flat chunk of obsidian was on a chain that had been melted into the lava rock, sealing the two together. The chain had just enough give for her to flip the keystone, revealing the inscription–still mostly legible, because the carvings are on the inside. Emily clicked on the small light she had brought, an LED set not to be much brighter than a candle.

Feriamor doa Ohari’Lemailo, a man who had died almost seven thousand years ago. Emily clicked her light up to a higher setting just to be sure she had read the year correctly, stunned. She looked around once more, suddenly realizing there was a stone held over her head by the leaning trunk of a tree that had grown around it, and many more dotted the ground around her in pieces. Some were even buried deep beneath her feet but this one had managed to survive, a thick bush having grown under it that it had been riding up layers of sediment for some time now.

Emily clicked her light back down to the lower setting and hung it from a nearby branch, kneeling in front of Feriamor’s stone. She watched it, and it watched her. She swallowed nervously. She took a deep breath, gave a stretching bow, and then laid her keystone on the ground in front of her. She sat back up on her knees, closed her eyes, and took another deep breath.

The Doctor had spent some time on meditation in her ‘year away’, something she had been avoiding for most of her life. Even now it was uncomfortable to open her mind to her sixth sense, and she had to keep repeatedly unwinding herself in waves. She rolled her shoulders back, shifted her legs, it took her a long time to get comfortable. She felt eyes on her back cropping up in rings, until she could barely breathe from the sensation of the whole island watching her.

When she had finally managed to relax she felt the familiar sensation of reality growing distant, sound curving around her and what little light there was bending upwards and away. Emily felt a sense of relief at first, thinking this was much like what her grandpa would show her, but in the next moment she regretted her thoughts.

She shrieked, gripping her head and falling forwards as she felt searing pain shooting through her body. After the initial hit it began to dull into a somewhat familiar burning ache, distant warbled voices ringing through her migraine, scattered beams of light hitting her like a concert light show.

It was as if a hand reached out of the memory stone, gripping Emily firmly by the arm. It pulled her sideways with a bit of force, and suddenly she could breathe. She looked around with wide eyes, finding herself somewhere familiar, the building that was now her grandmother’s house. She looked down and a young girl with wild, curly black hair sat in her lap…

“A legend,” a somewhat familiar voice said, the face of a kind old man drifting through the memory. He was related to them, a grandfather with some number of greats. Emily squinted at his face, wishing she could get a clearer look.

“One of your ancestors,” the girls’ great grandmother corrected.

Spare me the controversy!” Emily said, then blinked with surprise. She remembered that because she’d thought it was funny, she could almost hear it distantly through her own ears. Her mouth moved on its own, “I just want to hear the story.

The man cast a concerned glance at the girl in Emily’s lap–no, at Emily, sitting in her older sister’s lap. Averi was eight, which would mean Emily was four. Parts of the memory were still painful, but she could hear most of what was being said through Averi’s ears.

“Feriamor was supposedly the first. There have been a few, but now they are all called feriamori because of his legend,” the man began.

Fer-i.. a…” Averi sounded out, thinking out loud. Emily felt herself saying the words, but through a thick filter, as if she were slightly drunk. She gave up on trying to get a good look at their great grandfather’s face–Averi would have known it better, but this obviously wasn’t actually Averi’s memory, Emily was just using her eyes, “Soul eater?

The girls’ grandmother snort-laughed, slapping her leg, “Ha! Close. In your language it would be closer to ‘soul weaver’,” she waved a hand, gesturing to the old man, “but he tells it well, go on.”

The old man had packed a pipe full of some herbs, lighting it up as he was signaled. He took a few puffs, blowing the smoke over the fire lit in the middle of the room. He raised a hand towards Averi and she mimicked the motion, the two pausing for a moment to connect their minds. Averi then lifted Emily’s hand as well. Emily did remember that part, the smoke in the air dimming the painful light and allowing her to see some of the story.

“Feriamor lived a long time ago,” the man took another puff from his pipe, a white haze now hanging in the air. Averi looked over the fire, where the smoke was beginning to swirl up into the shape of a young man with no face. While he told the story with his words, the elder tribesman presented the visuals through psychic suggestion.

“Ohari, his father was a warrior and his mother a medic. Both of them were beautiful people,” more figures had appeared in the mist, somewhat generic tribal faces–it didn’t matter how accurate any of it was, “and greatly respected.”

“Many wondered, then, why the gods chose to curse their son,” he waved his hand, and the original figure’s face appeared, horribly disfigured. His left arm stopped at the elbow, and he was missing his left leg entirely. HIs skin looked like clay that had been lazily smashed onto his skeleton, his body slightly crooked in every possible way.

“Our people are good,” the man puffed his pipe, and the smokey figure was given a wooden leg, a long silver hook for an arm, and a leather strap that straightened his spine, “so he was taken care of. But it was hard for the others not to see him as different. Treat him different. After all, they had to.”

Feriamor became much younger and shrunk down, running off into the mist. A dozen more children came back out with him, running in circles and kicking around a ball. Feriamor was trying to play, but a wooden leg that can bend and flex is still just a wooden leg. The other kids let him score and he didn’t seem very happy about it.

“As you know, to be Betazoid is to have the gift of empathy. We feel for each other in the most literal sense,” the man continued, the image of the sad boy growing larger as it came into focus once more, “but the gift is different with every person.”

“Feriamor thought he was called to be a medic. He had an incredible ability to look at someone and just know what was wrong with them. He knew things about people that they themselves did not know,” the smokey figure began to grow older, as did his peers. Feriamor bandaged the arm of a faceless figure, “however, he was also known to say things others considered outlandish.”

“One day, he was certain he felt someone in distress in the jungle. He begged his father to take him, but he refused. After all, Feriamor was the only one who had felt anything,” the smoke figures played out the scene. Feriamor, now a teenager, screamed at his father before storming out of frame.

“Two cycles later, he felt it again, just as strong. He knew he wouldn’t be believed…” the smokey figure quickly grabbed a spear, donning a rope-cinched wrap for the hike. He ran off into the jungle, trees and leaves wafting off into trails of smoke as they became too complex.

He ran along a narrow path then came to a sudden stop, two slit-pupiled eyes peering at him out of the wispy jungle, “at the time, we did not understand the ekita the way we do now.”

The scene became a bit clearer. A Glasfori woman was clinging to the low branch of a tree, barely hanging on, blood dripping from her leg. Feriamor had locked eyes with the ekita, the two slowly beginning to circle. The great black jungle cat flicked its tail, dark purple eyes now solely focused on him.

“With the ekita’s focus on him, Glasfori suddenly felt the woman’s emotional distress and stormed the jungle from the northeast. Having felt what seemed like Feriamor’s disappearance, his father charged in from the south with Ohari. Over twenty people came to converge on the two, but by the time they got there…”

The smoke whipped in a quick circle, then slowly began to clear. Feriamor stood over a spear sticking out of the ground, a lump below the spear indicating that the ekita was no more. As warriors and farmers alike came storming out of brush with their weapons brandished, they slowly lowered them one by one, watching in amazement as Feriamor bandaged the woman’s leg.

Emily felt her heart skip a beat in real life. The memory began to warp as if it were ending, the mist of the jungle sticking to her skin in real life. Her great grandfather’s voice was growing distant, but was still there as the visual swirled out of view.

“The soul weaver shared in more than emotions, he could share the physical pain of others,” the old man spoke, while Emily found herself in a futuristic control room full of monitors. She slowly looked around, confused how it could appear to her so clearly when she couldn’t remember having ever seen it before.

Something was skipped. There was more to that story, but the stone was nearing its point. Emily looked up and Kathryn Harper was standing on a platform, furiously typing on a console, blood dripping out of her nose…

“Though we call it a gift because we practice gratefulness, the goodness is not inherent. Some have felt cursed, through time. Especially,” the old man choked up a bit, and she felt it much more clearly than she had as a child. Had he known? She could never ask him that now.

“Feriamori have all ended the same way,” the man sighed, “too young.”

A smokey image of Feriamor gracefully diving into an active volcano flashed across Emily’s vision, replaced after a blink by an image of Kathryn Harper falling limply off of the raised platform, the sequence to shut down the reactor unfinished, but only just–

No!” Emily gasped, raising a hand. Suddenly she was in a completely different moment, Betazed and her ancestors forgotten, but not gone. She clenched her fist, reaching out without putting up her walls. She met minds with the Captain, a connection unlike any she’d felt prior. For an agonizing minute she felt her own organs cooking inside her as she stood outside of the chamber, allowing herself to writhe and scream and let it all out–she hoped–enough for two.

A tear ran down her cheek. It was hard for her to imagine, even now, that this was only half as bad as it could have been. She hadn’t even known what she was doing, only that a powerful voice inside of her had told her not to let someone go through that alone. 

Sight, sound, and emotion all rang out of her like ears deafened by a loud sound. She felt herself get picked up and carried outside, which only marginally helped. She felt a cold chill wash over her, a soul slithering up her spine before diving its way back into the earth.

Just like that it was over, her body and mind slowly shedding ache in waves.

Emily looked up at the lit sky, closed her eyes, and reopened them in the misty darkness of the jungle. She couldn’t be sure how much she had moved, she was in the spot she’d started in, but was now laying on her back. She craned her neck to look at the memory stone for a long moment with wide eyes, then curled up sideways and sobbed into her knees.

Trek Logo Divider


  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    What a wonderfully descriptive, emotive, and powerfully-written look into the mythos you’ve established around this particular culture. Also, the connection back to and explanation of why Emily was able to help Kate deal with the pain at the reactor was both unexpected and intense. Absolutely brilliant work!

  •  Alexis Wright says:

    What a powerful log! I loved the imagery with the pipe smoke, that was masterfully done. I was really drawn in by your storytelling. Thank you for helping us understand what Emily went through to help Kate!

  • Kuari Kuari says:

    I can count on your descriptive skills to take me to another place, and this is probably my favorite so far. Having spent two sims on shore leave here, Emily’s friends being accepted by the natives, and the rich description and exploration we’ve had of it, I’m even beginning to feel an affinity for this place. None of it can compare to Emily’s bind to it though, and this connection between story from thousands of years ago to the crew’s thousands of years in the future is inspiring!

  • Leave a Reply