The next morning, Zizfvah woke everyone early: so anxious was he to reach the Thermal Pools that they did not even clean their campsite as they usually would every time. Circumventing around an unsettling-looking area filled with what appeared to be geysers coming out of the ground to their right, they continued a four-hour trek up north through (rumored) Nugüloz-infested wastes and then proceeded northeast towards an area of hills. After several more hours they reached an odd physical anomaly in between two hills where it looked like something had once fallen from the sky and destroyed what might have been another hill in between them. In between the deformed landmass and the hill to the right they saw what looked like a narrow trail escaping into the rock formations behind.
"This would be it!" Zizfvah noted as he compared what they were seeing to an illustration on the map. "The Path of the Suns!"
"But these don't look anything like suns," Richard tried to wrap his head around. "Why do they call them that?"
No one had any idea, but they were indeed glad they were going on the right path. According to Anacaona-Amoxtli's directions, only one more hour through the narrow ravines between the giant rocks, where then the path would lead them to an open plain straight ahead – and beyond that: the hidden Berrebo temple to the Thermal Pools awaited.
As they walked Dixie continued his philosophical discussion with Zizfvah from the night before. He wasn't convinced at all that his own brain could be refined beyond its limits. "We are just physical brains," he reasoned. "I know what you’re going to say. I've talked to Chilley about this: we would convince each other somehow, we have free will. But honestly, come on; scientists aren't wrong: the chemistry in our being governs everything. The real you is just chemistry. Some of you genetically have got an advantage. The rest of us non-Berrebos could never adapt to these Balhrrama powers."
"Then what about Ireu?" Zizfvah reasoned back. "He is not Berrebo. What about Bill here? Or Laberinto or Abadno back at Mizu Picchu?"
"Those are outliers," said Dixie. "Some trace of Berrebo DNA I bet – or Kayo then: I would guarantee it. It's really just about inequality. Your brain chemistries are more powerful to adapt to Balhrrama principles."
"You still do not get it," Zizfvah almost snorted with laughter. "You believe that and therefore you are what you believe. Well if anything, we are certainly going to need to train your mind before you enter the hollow Earths." As they walked along the plane and avoided the occasional three-headed hydra gecko and other anomalous rodent roaming about, Zizfvah started to share with Dixie about his personal theories on the concept of free will versus determinism.
"It is of utmost importance one realizes that it is the will which allows a person to transcend to higher levels of Balhrrama," he told Dixie. "If a person fails to do this from the beginning, they have small hope they could ever even tap into Balhrrama. It is so counter-intuitive because it builds over higher levels of physics that cannot be measured by any metrics you have in the Outer Realms. Your tools are limited."
Something about the Berrebo's voice started to plant a seed of something other than a seed of doubt deep inside Dixie. In fact, Dixie was so intrigued by the feeling that while Zizfvah gave him a pep talk while they walked, he started to get psyched with excitement. “You’re absolutely right!” he told Zizfvah. “Been looking at this wrong, I think. It’s like turning a knob on a radio and tapping into the right frequency; like internal energy’s filling up inside!” The feeling almost reminded him of when he had absorbed that Affla-tus jewel back in the Portals of Armageddon. Soon he could feel his 'Grand Velocity' muscle memory start to kick in again due to the excitement.
“So impressionable,” Zizfvah whispered to Bill, who just shook his head as they watched their friend run circles around the group like a little kid. In his enthusiasm Dixie even started doing ‘suicides’ here and there whenever he would see a rodent come out of the ground: he would run towards it and when he reached the hole it had disappeared into, he would sprint back towards Zizfvah as he and the rest of the group continued to head towards a peculiar-looking structure surrounded by an ominous series of cavernous rocks in the distance.
“Hey, conserve your energy there, tough guy!” Bill shouted after him.
When Dixie came back, Zizfvah took him aside to clarify some things. "That is good you feel something, but Balhrrama should never be ‘nervous’ energy! Soon he could hear Bill and the others teasing him in the background.
“They’re making fun of me,” said Dixie, “I don’t really care! I feel pretty good.”
“Do not worry about them,” said the Berrebo. “The younger ones do not know any better. They have not yet tapped into what you are starting to discover; you just need refinement.”
“They think I’m an eccentric idiot.”
“The others do not have enough sense to see that you are simply tapping into a larger stream of consciousness that makes up a more ideal ‘you’ – as they wish they could tap into their ideal free ‘selves’,” Zizfvah reassured him. “Once refined and civilized a bit, that ideal ‘you’ you are feeling can become the Balhrrama-welding model that could be the more ideal ‘you’ – not the ‘you’ that is you most of the time: the ‘you’ that you wish you did not have with all its attention grabbing imperfection that you have been deceived into thinking is ‘you’. Do you not get it?" Zizfvah continued.
“That’s a lot of ‘you’s’ to keep track of” Dixie admitted. “Sounds like Balhrrama is dangerous for Schizophrenics.”
“Do not be absurd!” said Zizfvah.
"All I am saying is that if you are self-aware enough to realize that your own brain is working against you, then that would mean the real 'you' is trapped inside there somewhere. And only the neurochemistry you presently have is what is working against you.”But such setbacks is not the real you, even if you did have real neurochemistry working against you. The key?” And he leaned over so no one else could hear.
“I don’t get it,” Dixie confessed.
“I will explain to you once again in a little while; when we will have all the time in the world; you will see,” said the Berrebo. He looked intense. "This which I just explained resurrects everything within the immaterial that needs to resurrect the material back to its proper alignment -- and perhaps even greater than you would imagine. Say it with me: spirit is everything."
Dixie's mind stuttered for a moment: he couldn’t' recall now how many times he had heard that before.
"Spirit is everything," Zizfvah repeated. "Say it with me."
"Spirit is everything!" Richard screamed nearby as he walked. "I like that!"
"Yeah," said Ricardo, and even Bill forced out a grin. "That's good stuff."
"Why do I want to self-destruct all the time?" Dixie sincerely asked the Berrebo.
"It is not you. It is the chemicals," explained the Berrebo.
"But the chemicals are me, dammit!" His mind did not want to comply. He felt he was going insane.
Zizfvah did his best to briefly explain the Berrebo secret again to Balhrrama. "We are just in a shell. We are trapped inside this... thing," he said as he pinched Dixie's arm. Dixie started to nod agreeably, for he could feel the 'Grand Velocity' sleep inside of him again and he didn't like it. He felt frustrated with himself. He couldn't think anything more soothing than rip his body apart. Maybe if he did that, then the ideal him could just step out and transfer his being into a new one like the great legendary Demodads did.
"Maybe that's the key to cloning," Dixie considered. "You tell me."
"I have heard that," Zizfvah grinned. "The theory is the so-called Demodads or their chief servants have mastery of putting themselves into other bodies: bionics. Ireu even witnessed that once. Did he ever tell you?"
"Can anyone blame anyone for wanting to escape such a flawed body?" Dixie answered back.
"If we look like we were created as flawed, note one thing if you are outside of any Gradient long enough: that we were not meant to be as that. Look around physical nature and see for it yourself."
The group was getting much closer now and their mutual excitement was growing. "A few more miles and we will be in!" Zizfvah encouraged the others. The whole company was lost in their own thoughts; wondering what supernatural anomaly some of them were going to exactly experience in a moment. "If you have studied the Codexes, you can more or less tell what to expect,” Zizfah went on. “But from what I know, this is what I can tell you about them; how they work..."
Excerpt from Book VII: Great South Beyond Time
Copyright 2019 Octavio Rhodes
"Note the excerpts have been slightly edited and abridged for non spoiler content"