159 Mystery of the Shard
The longer Zoey started at the scene before her, the more of it she was able to understand. In the image that depicted her inner world she could see the sandy shores and calm surface of her essence lake, and beyond was the island and the tree sitting on it as well. But there had been changes to the place.
The lake seemed bigger, considerably bigger. The young tree on the island was also larger, its crystalline surface showing energy pulsing beneath it like the beat of her heart. In the sky the aurora were more brilliant than ever, and she could now see stars twinkling in the night sky beyond.
The calm waters of the essence lake still the same, showing the glowing molten energy and the deep blue colors of her dual Heritages flowing in harmony in the depths. Beyond that though, the plains that had been only grass before were now showing small trees! The were ordinary trees, not crystalline like the one in the lake's center, and they were sprouting up all over the prairie in seemingly random spots.
Zoey shook her head in wonder and looked further along the mosaic, following a line of runes and glyphs that led to another scene that seemed to depict her abilities. She could see the representation of her Ice Venom Rune, her Gravity Rune, and all the others along with what creature the runes had been derived from. All of them were depicted in the same runic portraits with lines of runic code she couldn't decipher connecting them to the rest of the mosaic.
Looking onwards she saw what could only be the representation of her interface connected to her two databases. The interface was easily recognizable, but the two databases were images of two libraries that seemed to stretch out forever in the mural, hinting at the massive quantity of information stored within.
Zoey moved on, looking over the section that showed her elemental affinity. There wasn't much to be seen here aside from the three elements she was attuned to, so she moved to the next section of the wall.
Here she found depictions of her Heritages and was instantly enamored by what she saw.
First was the Gaia Human Heritage, which she remembered her interface had listed as a Tier 3 Harmonic Heritage. It was depicted as a tree sitting atop a globe, it roots digging into the planet as the branches reached towards the twinkling stars above, possible in an effort to touch them.
It was strikingly similar to the crystalline tree in her inner world, and to Zoey it almost seemed like they were one and the same. When she compared the two depictions on the mural, she realized that they were the same tree! There was also many lines of runic code running from the depiction of her inner world to the Gaia Human Harmonic Heritage mural, linking the two together in a complicated arrangement that Zoey had no way of understanding.
But then she noticed what was next to the Gaia Human Heritage mural. It was the representation of her Dark Star Runic Heritage. The sheer amount of code that was linking the two together was astonishing! Nowhere else on the massive wall that seemed to depict everything about her self and her abilities could she see the same density and complexity that she saw linking her two heritages together.
There were thousands upon thousands of code strands linking and overlapping, all of them pulsing with lights that seemed to signify some form of information transfer. Zoey found herself staring at the complex runes and glyphs in the code for a long time before she turned her attention to the actual picture of the Dark Star Runic Heritage.
Here she saw the image of a star, a sun that was a rotating ball of churning power, glowing with a dull, molten red light through the image. But when Zoey looked closer, she thought she could make out a silhouette in the heart of the star. It was a small spec of dark in the center, flickering as if it was an illusion, but Zoey was sure it was the silhouette of a person, though she could not imagine who or what it could be.
After a long while of pondering the image, Zoey stepped back to look at the entire mosaic again. With her body as the nexus, the information about herself was spread out in an orbit around her form, all of it forming a beautiful harmony of sorts when she could see how it was all linked together.
However, Zoey was still a bit confused. She understood the images and the depictions, but what did it all mean? Why had she been brought here, and where exactly was this place? If she had to guess, she would say that it was all due to her Dark Star Heritage, but she still was missing too much information about all of this.
She looked back at the Dark Star Shard again, the one she had recovered from the dungeon. Back then it had spoken to her with the voice of a woman. She remembered it sounding mechanical, yet still mostly organic. A recording perhaps? But the message had at the time been directed towards her, the voice telling her that they had prepared the Dark Star to save their loved ones, but had been too late. There was also the bit about understanding and controlling the Dark Star with the Shard, so maybe that was the answer to it all?
Zoey approached the pedestal and examined it, noting the circle of runic symbols around the outer edge of the pedestal and the hollow portion in the center. The Shard itself was hovering above the pedestal, the red-orange point of energy inside calmly swirling in circles inside the crystal as it hung suspended in the air as if waiting. But waiting for what exactly?
Zoey noticed that the hollow part in the center of the pedestal seemed to be the exact shape as the crystal itself, as if the crystal was meant to be placed inside the pedestal by her hand. Zoey thought about it for a moment, but was not able to come up with any other sound ideas for what else to do, so she reached out and took hold of the crystal.
When her hand touched it, she felt a tingle of energy, like a static shock, pass into her. After that she felt a strange and familiar warmth coming from the Shard. She remembered feeling the same thing when she had first found the Shard, like a mother's embrace, warm and secure.
She held the Shard for a moment, letting the strange sensation flow through her. Then, she gently placed it into the hollow slot in the pedestal.
Suddenly, the light that had illuminated the area she was in suddenly changed to match the red-orange light that was swirling around inside the Shard. The Shard itself began to hum, softly at first, but then louder and deeper, until it was like a massive, mechanical beast was coming to life beneath Zoey's feet.
The humming was resonating with the crystal, and Zoey also saw with a start that it was resonating with her other body that was floating in the air in front of her!
The humming soon reached its peak, the bass-like vibrations thrumming through the area and around everything all at once. Zoey then saw the Dark Star Shard light up, and a beam of light suddenly appeared from the crystal, landing directly on the chest of her other form. She then witnessed an uncountable amount of runes and glyphs pouring from the Shard directly into her body through the beam of light.
As this happened, Zoey suddenly felt sleepy, very sleepy. When had she lain down on the floor? She couldn't remember, but it felt nice to lay here... Perhaps only a moment of rest... Only a moment.
As her eyelids fluttered closed, she vaguely heard a voice echo through the space.
DARK STAR SHARD TRANSFER COMPLETE
BEGINNING CORE ENHANCEMENT
PLEASE STAND BY...