Exiles is the story of Luke Adams, a weak man employed as an English teacher. Luke is transported to a different world, along with a few hundred other souls. Who the engineers of that transportation were, what their purpose was, and what Luke’s involvement might be, is the subject of the tale.
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PRISM – Exiles is the latest novel from the pen of Nigel Edwards, author of The Cookie Tin. Exiles is the story of Luke Adams, a rather weak individual employed as a teacher of English at a secondary school. In the middle of his humdrum life, Luke is transported to a different world. A few hundred other souls are transported with him, pulled into adventure by the simple virtue of their proximity. The catalyst for the transportation is a plate in his skull Luke received following a traffic accident. This plate was manufactured from a metal that contained the most minute of fragments from a machine that was destroyed in a war, a war that took place on a planet an immeasurable distance from Earth. Particles from the machine – which should not be considered as a mere mechanical device – were hurled across the space-time divide, to mingle with the broiling firmament of our nascent planet, later to be mined and incorporated into the medical plate Luke received. However, while the motes were the catalyst, they were not the engineers of the transportation – that was the product of deliberate action – but who those engineers were, what their purpose might be, and what Luke’s involvement might be, is the subject of the tale …
Hard, brown eyes stared out from beneath the thickest eyebrows I had ever seen. His thin hair reached to the floor and was unadorned, and he had no beard.
“But I am Motaan,” he said. “THE Motaan. I am the Adéqoso, Motaanso Voqam é Shimqol, and what I wished was to meet with you.”
His voice was humourless, without warmth, but I sensed no animosity either.
“You have heard of me?” I asked.
“Heard? I have been aware of you since before your arrival in my world. I saw your presence in the Abyss, you and the other, and I have wondered these months what it was that rested my attention. The other I was able to reach, and guide his thoughts so that eventually he found his way to me, and from him I learned much. But you were masked and closeted, protected by those who would interfere with my plans. Still, they could not prevent my keeping an eye open, and I have followed your doings with interest, you and those who came with you. You have been befriended by the redoubtable Qotaq , the Red Mediator. He sees you as a sign of benediction for House Shenrî’s candidate to the crown. Is that so? Do you laud the Ålmaazhé Efrem Sherfin?”
His questions were spoken softly, with no intonation or clue to suggest his own feelings. I could not determine what answers he expected or looked for, so replied in the same matter-of-fact manner.
“I – We – My people were brought here without their consent. We were strangers to your world, with no knowledge of the ways and politics of the Plaq-tî. Motaan – Qotaq – offered the possibility that if we helped his cause then a way might be found to return us to our own world.”
“So for you it matters not who wears the White Robe?”
“I have not met the Ålmaazhé-o, Ref or Qan. Through Motaan I saw the best chance for my people to go home, the wish of many…”
“But not of you.” The Voqam waved a hand, and the grid on which we stood started to subtly change. A ripple began, centred around my feet, spreading outwards. Soon the whole of the plateau was undulating, waving, ebbing and flowing as if being pulled or pushed by opposing forces and uncertain which would prove the stronger.
“This is where you stand in your unhappiness, the dilemma of choice: the obligation of solidarity with your own kind, and the desire to remain. On one side lies the stability of normality, the acceptance of lot, the known limitations of the familiar. On the other is the adventure of the uncertain, the tremulous possibilities, the potential of power in a new life. You believe you have made the choice, but you have not. You are afraid of the consequences of both – and that makes you weak.”
“You are like the Maazhé-o,” I said.
“The Maazhé-o? They are the lost and estranged husks of the past. They think the Motaan do not hear or heed them, but I am the Motaan, and I know them well. They set themselves against me, and would destroy the Prism, and with it the Universe, to serve the purpose of Oblivion. That will not be permitted.”
“You use many words but don’t offer real counsel.”
“Counsel is not my purpose. I assess. I estimate. I gauge and appraise, and then decide. My choices are more profound than any confronting you. My choices direct the course of Fate, and rule the destiny of eternity. All I require is the information to make my decision.”
“So what information did you want from me?”
“Only to know you, to determine your value in the scheme, and through you the value of Qotaq. It is his judgement, his choice that I must mediate on. His candidate against Hoq’s .”
“And what is your decision?”
“It has not yet been made. Two Maazhé-o come. An experiment presents itself that is intriguing to the speculative mind, where two candidates are presented as one. Hoq is most supportive, where Qotaq may be less so; we shall see. But now I have seen you I must return and consider my findings. There is the other one, of course…”
“Cavezon?” I interrupted. “Is he the other? Where is he? I have seen him in a dream…”
“Yes, yes,” the other replied, the first sign of an emotion in his voice: irritation. “He dreams of you also, I am sure.”
“Is he like me?” I asked. “Since arrival I have developed certain attributes, abilities that I did not have before. Does he share them? In my dream we were in a race, a race to…”
“Yes, yes. Perhaps. Your dreams are your own, and that business is yours, not mine. Resolve it as you will, so long as you do not interrupt my work. Your friend, Cavezon, is most useful. Perhaps you may also prove of use. But you mentioned counsel, did you not? Then I will give you some: do not interfere with my purpose.” Each word had been said slowly, accompanied by a stabbing finger. “Qotaq is an able mage, but sometimes his own propensities and sense of right and wrong rule his actions. Hoq is no better, and maybe worse. But I am Adéqoso and Voqam, and suffer no bias. I will make my judgement and deliver it for the benefit of all.” He turned his back on me, then said “One thing more. Be wary of the murmurings of the Maazhé-o. Their reasoning is not that of the living, for they live no more. Their cause is not mine, nor yours either. And decide soon where your future lies. Opportunity may come your way.”
“Wait,” I called. “What opportunity? What of my people? Will you help them return?” There was no answer, for I was alone once more on the platform of my life, and soon that too disappeared, and the Lady in the garden sat serenely on her bench.