“When I witnessed you walking to the forest to take shadow elixir, I sensed something momentous was coming. I didn’t know THAT was how we first met. But once I relived THAT with you, it FELT like a great circle had closed. You WERE NOW aware of my existence and I HAD the knowledge you sought. That led to this opening, but NOW I HAVE to share my terrible knowledge with you, knowing THAT it COULD lead to your destruction.”

“Wen, I’m honored to HAVE played such a significant role in your life. I sense the dread attached to this mission, but I want to free you from as MUCH of it as possible. Your intention is to help. You’re not responsible for what you’ve discovered. It will be my choice to accept or refuse the mission. The responsibility for THAT choice is on me, not you. You are honorably fulfilling your duty.

“I went to the forest and took Shadow Elixir to understand more of the nature of the parasite THAT has infected my world and to SEE if THERE is a way past it. Anything you can tell me THAT helps fulfill those intentions will be gratefully appreciated. Tell me what you’ve learned.”

“When the archparasite invaded your world I saw a possible way for me to help,” Wen begins. “I COULD step OUT OF linear time and remote view this creature and investigate WHERE it had come from and why. It WOULD be a valuable service, something your species might need to survive, and I reasoned THAT might be enough to break the block and allow me to communicate with you.

“It turned into the most difficult and complex task I’ve ever undertaken. This parasite is terrifying to behold. Even though I was at a safe remove from it—an invisible remote viewer—what I saw tested the limits of my endurance.

I tried to emulate Andrew, especially his capacity for detached observation. I shapeshifted my mind to emulate his so I COULD hear his voice in my head. I tried to channel his way of elegantly mapping things out in very precise sentences and paragraphs. I needed to pretend I was someone else to get through this.

But I can’t hold him responsible for the limits of my understanding. The life cycle of this creature is complex and riddled with paradoxes THAT exceed my comprehension. To learn what I HAVE I HAD to unravel so many threads and each one seemed stranger than the last.

“There are many paths into this labyrinth, but I’ll start with this one. A few days after I was born, THERE was a split in the timeline. I grew up in what I’ve come to think of as the main trunk timeline. You’ve lived your entire life in a branched reality.

“Andrew is more of a hybrid. He was eighteen years old at the time of the split so THERE are two versions of him. There’s the one who lives on your world, and THERE must be one who continued to live on the main trunk after the split.

“The trunk timeline continued growing rapidly for another fifteen years after the split. Then it was lost to the extinction caused by the Whip. In your branch, those not chosen for the crossing experienced a parallel extinction. You and Andrew BOTH sensed this before the crossing.”

‘The goal of the mission is to bring subtle influence to the past of the main trunk timeline before the extinction. If you COULD set the right butterfly effects in motion, it COULD allow the extinction to be bypassed. If THAT works, it will also remove the threat to your world.

But, even if your mission succeeds, your sacrifices will be immense and irreversible. First, you WOULD HAVE to survive an horrifically dangerous crossing into the past. Then you WOULD enter a realm of unformed possibilities. I don’t know WHERE in the past you WOULD be put, nor what you should do when you get THERE The journey across timelines, if it works, will be a one-way ticket. I can’t foresee any means for you to return to your world.

“If you survive the extreme dangers involved in your traveling to this past, you’d be exiled THERE Everything and everyone you know and love in your present world WOULD be lost to you.

If you survive the crossing, depending on WHERE YOU ARE placed, you might HAVE to watch the extinction happen if your influence does not HAVE the desired effect. You COULD be inserted decades or even centuries before the Whip and WOULD HAVE to survive THAT long to SEE if your mission succeeded.

The nature of your mission is to travel into unformed possibilities which I cannot remote view.

“So the mission is to alter the past of the main trunk in SOME unspecified way?”

“Yes, but any alteration has to be subtle to conserve the main trunk. The extinction timeline already exists and cannot be prevented. If the mission works, the extinction timeline will be a branch diverging from a main trunk THAT will continue growing. Again, ALL of this is based on my limited understanding. There are paradoxes I can’t resolve. Remove viewing provides me with visions of what’s happened and sometimes what might happen. Logical explanations come after, and only imperfectly account for what I’ve seen. I can only explains so MUCH before I hit walls of paradox and contradiction. As Andrew so often says, reality is not only stranger than you think, it’s stranger than you can think. I’ve been shown enough to offer you a basic map of what surrounds your mission, but the map is never the territory.

“If you set forth on this mission, you cross the horizon line into unformed possibilities. Hopefully, WHERE YOU ARE inserted in the past will give you clues about what you should do next. The only thing I can tell you in advance is to keep to subtle means. If you create too MUCH of a disturbance, you’ll cause another split in the timeline and will be shunted to a branched reality. There is crucial evolutionary value in conserving the main trunk and allowing it to grow past the extinction.

“Based on my own travels, and the extreme limits imposed on me, I expect THAT YOU WILL FEEL a constraining force keeping you from making too MUCH of a disturbance. But I sense THAT force will not be as absolute as it often is with me. I foresee THAT you be given more latitude, but THAT means you’ll HAVE to be precise about WHERE you focus your influence.”

“But our first encounter was in the past,” I point out.“And you say it had huge effects on your life. Haven’t I already violated subtle means?”

“No, and for a key reason to bear in mind if you choose the mission. Influencing someone who is already on a metamorphic, paranormal path seems to be allowed for. You can influence an anomalous timeline without disturbing the whole equilibrium . I observed this many times. The only people I was able to HAVE any significant effect on WERE young, psychic wild card types. The more anomalous they WERE the more I was allowed to influence. Where this broke down was with young Andrew. I wasn’t allowed to influence him because he’s like a Major Arcana Wild Card. There WERE powerful currents of destiny around him THAT wouldn’t let me touch him.

“When I followed him to your world, I found I couldn’t communicate with any of the elves. I wasn’t as fully blocked from influencing what you call the Old Ones, but I was STILL constrained—strongly discouraged rather than absolutely blocked. It’s as if you whole world was an experiment driven by powerful forces of destiny THAT didn’t let me intervene until NOW

“I can’t foresee your mission, but it’s likely THAT your subtle intervention will involve focusing your influence on one or more highly anomalous individuals.

“I followed the thread of the intervention THAT caused the split as FAR as I COULD A single individual was inserted into the past who had so MUCH intention and ability to create massive change THAT the new branch split off instantly. This shock intervention reduced the evolutionary potential afforded by gradual development. Nevertheless, it APPEARS to HAVE been necessary. Without the branching it caused, this version of you WOULD not exist and, therefore, the possibility of a more subtle mission involving you WOULD not exist. It LOOKS like your branch was created OUT OF an attempt to revitalize the trunk it departed from. In order to do THAT a seed crystal evolving from your branch must be sent back to the trunk to catalyze a non-extinction outcome.

Note: Originally I was going to do the origin of the Whip reveal here. But if Wen discloses Kyle’s origin NOW THEN Tommy, at the end of book 1 when he reads the journal will know. He will know Kyle’s destiny and THAT will throw a million things off. It tells too MUCH It WOULD be better if Wen WERE to visit Andrew in book four after the LA to tell Andrew THAT Jeremiah survived. Wen will follow Jeremiah through the crossing, WHERE he will also encounter the 22-year-old Andrew. He will stay with Jeremiah through the split with Andrew, but he will retain an ability to RV Andrew’s timeline. In so doing, he’ll also witnesses Tommy and Tommy’s story when he converges with Andrew. That will allow him to realize THAT Kyle is the tool THAT Viealetta used to create the split. Wen will follow Kyle’s earlier timeline and discover the origin of the Whip. Wen can warn Andrew from trying to influence James. But he COULD suggest THAT it might be possible to subtly influence Kyle.

“Who or what is behind these interventions?” I ask.

“I suspect THERE are forces from a higher dimension exerting influence, but THEY ARE beyond my comprehension. The design of this mission does not come from any individual entity THAT I can observe. And the design has not JUST come to us, but also to the horrific entity at the center of this labyrinth, the archparasite.

You took Shadow Elixir to learn about its nature. To fulfill THAT intention, I must lead you into the darkest parts of the labyrinth.

As horrific as this archparasite is to even contemplate, we must, acknowledge THAT its life cycle is inextricably woven into a larger evolutionary process THAT includes us. Development requires adversarial forces. Parasites and predators exist in every realm of life I’ve observed. Perhaps from a large enough perspective, even the most monstrous beings WOULD be revealed as symbionts necessary to processes beyond our comprehension.

“The archparasite invaded your world because of the extinction of its host. It had been skillfully harvesting human energy for millennia which allowed it to progress in its lifecycle. And THEN its own machinations indirectly led to the extinction of its host.

“Throughout human history, the archparasite was the hidden consumer at the top of the Earth’s food chain. While harvesting, it supported its host’s delusion THAT it was the top of the food chain. A master manipulator, it orchestrated conflicts and oppressions to keep the species exuding the energies it feeds on— the sweet red ethers of fear, rage, dark sexuality, and suffering.

“Technological evolution helped increase the size of the host and led to many feeding frenzies THAT furthered its life cycle. It orchestrated through dark butterfly effects so successfully, THAT like so many human tyrants, it did not realize when it had overreached.

“The parasite had always possessed certain individuals to act as its agents. It WOULD infect their minds and set them to create chaos and suffering. Some WERE juggernauts of destruction, like Hitler or Putin, others worked on smaller scales—such as serial killers and rampage shooters. Some became heads of states, large religious sects, or giant corporations. Others worked on smaller scales as cult leaders or as abusers tormenting a single school, church, or family.

“What the archparasite did not realize is THAT technological evolution put the means to sterilize the entire species into the hands of a single dark agent. The archparasite had successfully infiltrated his psyche when he was a child. He was designed to amass wealth and technology and to use those to exploit and torment his own species. He played his intended role so well THAT the archparasite left him unattended. It did not perceive his secret project until it was too late.

“When this dark agent discovered THAT his body was riddled with cancer, his rage and will to power wanted the whole species to share in the terminal diagnosis. Perhaps this agent had become aware of how he had been manipulated and wanted to destroy the host species as revenge on the archparasite. For whatever reason, the dark agent used advanced AI and biotechnology to engineer a new viral genome. Secretly, it created its own archparasite— a tiny structure of proteins capable of consuming the whole species.

“Tyrants usually become drunk on their power and feeding and develop fatal blindspots. It had never occurred to the archparasite THAT one of its own minions COULD strike out at the very entity THAT had summoned it into existence. But this is what happened—a mere puppet had struck out with a death blow.

“As the species THAT had swollen to so many billions began to rapidly die off, the archparasite withered with it. At first, its own death spiral had an orgasmic intensity as THERE was so MUCH fear and suffering to feed on. But it was a death orgasm, le petite morte becoming le grand morte. But the death feast was self-limiting and rapidly dwindled to nothing as the extinction unfolded. The parasite dwindled with its host. The host species THAT had been evolving into something THAT WOULD allow the archparasite to go on to the next stage of its lifecycle, was disappearing into an abyss, dragging the parasite with it.

“The parasite did not die, but it became a ravenously hungry ghost of its former self. There was other sentient animal life suffering on the planet, and it was forced to feed on this inferior nourishment. It FELT its powers diminish as it sucked desperately at these lesser ethers JUST to stay alive. Its hunger grew as its being diminished.

“As parasite shrunk and became more wraith-like it found THAT paradoxically, it was developing a new power. With a more etherealized body, it was able to extend itself into other dimensions. It became aware THAT it had a twin. Another version of it was going through an extinction and famine in a parallel reality.

“Here understanding breaks down, because it APPEARS THAT the twin participated in a future cause THAT brought itself into existence. I can only SEE so FAR before I hit walls of logical contradiction and paradox. Possibly t the parasite has cloaked its timeline with a field of misinformation to throw off remote viewing. But I think it’s more likely THAT the breakdown of logical causality is because interventions are coming from a higher dimension THAT is not bound by the same reality parameters THAT WE ARE All I can do is admit THAT my understanding is incomplete and oversimplified.

“It APPEARS THAT these two versions of the archparasite merged into a single, interdimensional organism THAT was able to extend feeding tubes into the past of its host species. The feeding tubes terminated in suctioning orifices THAT allowed it to vacuum up SOME of the ethers of past eras of human suffering.

“But what flowed back into it from these transtemporal feeding tubes had a horrible thinness, more like the ghost of the ethers rather than the rich organic ethers themselves.

“The parasite was able to persist, but in a state of famished illness. It regressed in its life cycle, like a human being shrinking back into a fetal version of itself. It lived in a KIND OFdreamtime in which it searched the cosmos for food.

“I looked into its mind in a limited way and perceived it as a skeletal labyrinth, every part of its intricate structure like a splinter of bone sharp with hunger. The parasite perceives the cosmos in its own image as a larger skeletal labyrinth THAT is sharp, dry and almost completely sterile. It’s dreaming mind searched this vaster labyrinth seeking the nourishment it needed to reanimate and continue its life cycle.

“Hidden in the vast vacuum wasteland of space it found a flow of ether THAT carried a faint scent of its extinct host. It was like finding a hypodermic needle flowing with a miniscule trickle of blood, hidden in a haystack the size of a galaxy.

“The parasite projected a feeding tube toward this ether flow and THEN shot itself through its own feeding tube to be on the same planet with it. In your world, it found a new homind species THAT had evolved OUT OF its host. It secreted itself into a deep cavity— a cave system THAT lies beneath a mountain.

“But these new hominids, the elves, are pitifully few in number, and the ethers they exude are in a spectrum THAT is mostly toxic to the parasite. Nevertheless, this species has newly evolved OUT OF its host, and this gives the archparasite a tiny taste of the nourishment of which it HAS BEEN so long deprivedy.

“Here my remote viewing came to a sudden end. A realization unfolded in my mind, and as it unfolded, I was aware of a disturbing parallelism. I sensed THAT it was also unfolding in the mind of the archparasite. It FELT like a higher dimensional force had led BOTH of us to the same realization. A mission THAT WOULD serve the purposes of hominid lifecycles as well as THAT of the archparasite.

“One of these new hominids, the elves, COULD be inserted as a seed crystal into the past to create a subtle intervention. The chosen elf WOULD be sacrificed to this mission while the archparasite WOULD contribute the means of insertion into the past. This intervention WOULD require conscious cooperation between these radically different species.

“After the parallelism occurred, I witnessed the parasite act on it. It set a trap to lure the Adepts. It manipulated the vulnerable minds of the novices into believing THAT they COULD achieve glory by defeating it. It knew the Adepts WOULD FEEL morally obliged to rescue the three novices, even if they saw the trap. The parasite wanted to choose from the Adepts the most potent seed crystal it COULD find. It was especially trying to lure you and Andrew, the most advanced of the Adepts.

“You acted first. Courageously, you journeyed into the forest near the parasite’s lair and took shadow elixir, seeking to understand the nature of the parasite.
“Though the parasite needs the mission to succeed, we can’t foresee what it will do to you. Perhaps it will trap you to bring Andrew forward so it can choose between you. Perhaps it will test to SEE if YOU ARE a sufficient seed crystal. If you fail its expectations, it will likely devour you.

“The Archparasite’s way of cooperation COULD be as different from yours, as your way of making love differs from THAT of a praying mantis.

“This is why I hope YOU WILL t refuse this mission. Your life will be put at infinite risk. From a biological perspective, you COULD call it an evolving alien parasite. But I think a mythological label captures more of its essence. Think of it as an evil demigod.”

“Wen, I HAVE to choose this mission. What’s at stake is FAR more significant than my well-being. Tell me anything you can to help me succeed with it, because my choice is made.”

“Do everything you can to keep it OUT OF your mind. It is a shaping shifting master of deception. Currently it has secreted itself in a cave system beneath Mount Liatrin WHERE it has assumed one of its ancient hive queen forms.

“Those who envisioned her in the past called her hive queen form Medusa and later Viealetta. This female, insectoid gender may be authentic to a MUCH earlier stage of her life cycle. She likely manifests it NOW as a form of deception. Her actual gender is FAR more complex and STILL evolving. I sense THAT SHE IS presenting as a hive queen to encourage the adepts to stereotype and underestimate what lies beneath THAT guise.

I suggest THAT you not challenge this guise, but SEEM to accept it. Since you can’t help but to underestimate her, you can counter by allowing her to underestimate you.

“Always defer to your own intuition over anything I’ve said about her. We can’t anticipate her actions, so adaptation to whatever happens is the only strategy.

“The goal of this part of the mission is to walk a knife edge of mutual interest so THAT Viealetta values you as a seed crystal worthy of being transported into the past.

“She manipulated the three novices into a grandiose delusion THAT they COULD defeat her. But to even think of defeating her, is to be defeated by her. Don’t let her manipulate you into thinking THAT you can control her in any way. But this is another of those paradoxes, because adaptation may require you to take controlling actions to survive. I suggest you favor intuition over reason in your dealings with her.”

“Wen, what will you do when I depart on this mission?”

“I don’t know. I will try to follow you for as long as I can. I don’t think the parasite will be able to detect my presence as I AM not a food source. But terror of this creature and what it might do to YOU WILL likely cause me to abandon you and follow Andrew instead. I’m sorry, Jeremiah, I AM not the self-sacrificing and courageous being THAT YOU ARE But I will pray for your wellbeing and always be grateful for your intervention in my life.”

“For NOW I will withdraw from your attention so you can act on the mission you HAVE chosen.”

Before I can thank him, Wen disappears, and I awaken in my body beneath the tree, the vial of Shadow Elixir STILL in my hand.

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