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I was impressed that they had been upfront with me, informing me that the choices I made may affect their very existence in this Universe, I hoped their advice to ignore any repercussions the Tuatha de Danaan might suffer was made altruistically, with benevolence in mind, not trickery or gamesmanship.
It was my choice, a choice that might result in their banishment or death in this realm, and still, they encouraged me. I'd thought certain that even a small decrease in influence was not something any G.o.d would accept.
My next thought was a concern for the Sithern. Its ability to adapt and bond with the people that inhabited the s.p.a.ce was possible because of limited sentience. It was childlike in its eagerness to please, while still managing to maintain the ferocity of the most dangerous attack dogs. I was afraid of what would happen if I refused the claim and left the Sithern on Earth, afraid that it would be corrupted if claimed by one of the Pantheons that would remain to guide Earth's faithful.
I was adamant about one thing; I didn't want to allow the Sithern to die. I wasn't certain that would be its fate if I abandoned it, but considering how the other Pantheons repressed the Tuatha de Danaan on Talahm, it seemed likely that evolution and change were inevitable. It was possible System would establish and protect the realm, but Beleros' warning suggested that even if it survived, it would no longer be Sidhe.
The Sithern had been created to harbor and protect d.u.c.h.ess Wynne and her people. Any changes that altered that imperative would surely corrupt the protections that were part of the magic that gave the Sithern life. If it was changed or damaged irreparable, then it was likely it would no longer be a safe haven. The symbiotic relationship between the ent.i.ty that protected and shielded Sidhe and the Sidhe would certainly be severed.
I wondered if left behind the chances that the Sithern might replace CERN, destined to become one of Earth's first dungeons. A world where Volar-fey, Knockers, and Sidhe sp.a.w.ned in a continuous cycle for those farming experience and loot.
Or if the Sithern was claimed by others, what would happen to those residents that had been born when the Sithern was formed. Those Volar-fey that had refused Danu's gift and remained steadfast in their resolve to maintain their ident.i.ty.
The d.u.c.h.ess and her people would certainly escape, attempting to return to Talahm when I did. Even if that effort was stymied and they could not return to Talahm, they could claim refuge in the Summerlands, building a home and community there. I thought that a remote possibility. I was confident that it was more likely that we would be using the Summerlands as a stepping stone, a place between on our journey to return to Talahm.
But what of those individuals that had never existed without the confines of the Sithern? Those that refused to abandon home and choose instead to stay?
I knew from my earlier experiment that I was capable of opening a gate that would allow all of them to escape, but I couldn't force them to enter. And I wasn't sure how long I could keep the Portal open. The construct was fueled by magic and will, so theoretically, I could tap into the ley lines that ran through the Sithern and keep the Portal operating indefinitely. But was there some hidden limit to Portal control that I was unaware of?
I didn't remember there being much strain or effort involved when I'd opened the portal between the Summerlands and Talahm, providing pa.s.sage for everyone after the Olympians kidnapped me. There was no noticeable changes in mana or stamina reserves as each person traversed the pa.s.sage between realms, but then I'd not needed to keep the rift between the two realms open long enough to allow an entire Sithern full of residents to pa.s.s.
The decision to claim the Sithern demanded I consider the needs for those that already made the Sithern home, and the repercussion that claiming it would entail. Would it be any safer for the Sithern or those that remained if I decided to claim it? Would that choice make any difference in outcome? The Sithern would still be located in hostile territory, still, be subject to forced conscription by envious G.o.ds. I couldn't stay to protect and guard the entrance. Once I left, would my claim have any meaning?
I realized that if I were going to claim in an effort to protect the Sithern, I would have been better off claiming Earth as my Fief too. Even if I claimed this island of calm as a sanctuary, this ent.i.ty that had already embraced my needs and changed to reflect my desires, once I returned to Talahm, there would be no way to protect and a.s.sert my right as the claimant.
I was conflicted, in my heart, I felt a yearning, the Sithern that was, existed because my domain and interaction had given birth, had elevated the Sithern releasing its full potential. The Sithern was a living ent.i.ty, and I wanted to protect it, I just didn't see a way to do so. Certainly, claiming it seemed only a stopgap measure.
"d.u.c.h.ess Wynne?" I said hoping to gain a fresh perspective, wondering if she may have a viewpoint or solution that would help. She had, after all, been the impetus and harbinger for the Sithern's initial creation, born in response to her need. She was powerful and knowledgeable, not many knew the secrets of Sithern creation.
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I thought her as powerless as I in this instance, but I hoped her more knowledgeable. I knew to ask her to claim the Sithern was no solution, she was bound by mortal constraints, foibles, and considerations, she too would be leaving this Universe.
"What do you think? Does it make sense to claim the Sithern when I have to abandon it when we return to Talahm?" I asked.
"Why do you have to abandon it? Since you have decided that you won't remain, it would be cruel to leave the Sithern to its fate. Beleros has warned that the other Pantheons would not be kind, especially when they learn that claiming this Sidhe will make no difference, that it would not allow them egress or access to the Summerlands," she answered.
"G.o.ds that have been stymied are destructive. Their tantrums can topple mountains, destroy continents, drain oceans. I fear the Sithern would be destroyed at the very least. More likely it would be warped, tortured until it became something dark and twisted," she said confirming one of my fears.
"I would rather see it dead than consigned to that fate."