Nicolai Levashov
About Spirit, Mind and many other things...
Svetlana de Rohan Levashov
Part 1. Childhood. Vol. 1. Awakening

29. Stella-5. Svetilo. Hell. Isolda

All the way home from the cemetery I was sulky with my grandmother for no reason whatsoever, at the same time being angry with myself for that. I looked like a ruffled sparrow and my grandmother perfectly saw it, which, of course, irritated me even more and forced a retreat into my "safe shell". It is highly likely that it was childish offence that raged inside me because she actually, so I thought, hid a lot from me and taught me nothing, apparently considering me unworthy or incapable of doing something greater. Although my inner voice was telling me that I was awfully wrong, I was unable to calm down and look at the situation from the outside, which I always did when I thought that I could be wrong.

Finally my impatient heart was unable to bear the silence any longer.

– Well, what were you talking about for so long? If certainly, I am allowed to know... – I mumbled, not even trying to hide how offended I was.

– We did not talk, we thought. – My grandmother answered, calmly smiling.

It seemed that she simply teased me to provoke me to some action which only she knew...

– Well then, what did you "think" about? – Then I finally fired, unable to contain my feelings: – Why does Stella’s grandmother teach her, and you don’t teach me?! Do you think that I am incapable of anything more?

– First of all, stop boiling or you’ll steam away. – Grandmother said calmly again. – And secondly, Stella has a long way to go to match you. Besides, what do you want me to teach you, if you have not yet understood even that which you have now? So, when you have, we’ll talk about the rest.

I stared at my grandmother, as if I saw her for the first time in my life. What does she mean "Stella has a long way to go to match me"?! She does such things and knows so much! And of what am I capable? The only thing I did was just help somebody; and apart from that I knew nothing.

My grandmother perfectly saw my utter confusion, but did not help a bit, probably considering that I must get through it on my own, but I could not. The unexpected "positive" shock made my thoughts somersault. I was absolutely unable to think soberly and only looked at her with eyes wide open, failing to digest the "devastating" news...

– But what about "floors"? I could not get there. It was Stella’s grandmother who showed them to me! – I persistently did not wish to give up.

– Well, she did that precisely so you could try it on your own. – My grandmother established an "undeniable" fact.

– Can I really go there on my own? – I was dumbfounded.

– Of course you can! It’s the simplest of things that you can do. You don’t believe in yourself and therefore don’t try...

– I don’t try? – I nearly suffocated at such terrible injustice. – The only thing I constantly do is keep trying! Well, probably not the things I should try...

Suddenly I remembered that Stella very often repeated that I could do much more... But what precisely could I do? I had no idea what they all talked about, but now I felt that I gradually began to calm down and think which always helped me in any difficult situation. Suddenly life did not seem so unfair to me and I began to revive.

Being inspired by such good news I, certainly, "tried" during the following days. Not sparing myself and pitilessly martyrising my emaciated physical body, I daily visited the "floors" dozens of times without showing myself to Stella. I wished to give her a pleasant surprise but wanted to do it properly without disgracing myself by making a foolish mistake.

At last I decided that it was time to stop hiding and to visit my dear little friend.

– Wow! Is it you? – At once the familiar voice sounded like happy bells. – I cannot believe it’s truly you! But how did you come here? Did you really come on your own?

As usual her questions rained down on me; her merry little face shone and I was sincerely pleased to see the joyous light that gushed out of her.

– Well, shall we go for a walk? – I asked smiling.

Stella was in raptures about my independently coming and that now we could meet when we felt like it, needing nobody’s assistance!

– See! I told you that you can do much more! – Stella twittered happily. – And now everything will be all right and we need nobody! It’s so great that you came! I wanted to show you something and have been waiting and waiting for you to be here. But we’ll have to go to that unpleasant place.

– Do you mean the "ground floor"?

Stella nodded.

– Why? – I asked. – Have you lost something?

– I have not lost anything; on the contrary I found something! – The girl exclaimed victoriously. – Remember, I told you that there are good spirits in that world and you did not want to believe me?

Frankly speaking I still held that opinion, but I nodded, unwilling to offend my happy friend.

– And now you’ll believe me! – Stella said contentedly. – Shall we?

This time we easily "slipped" down the "floors", probably because we had already gained some experience in that, and I again saw an oppressive picture, very like one that I had seen before.

Our feet squelched through the black stinking slush, out of which the brooks of turbid reddish water streamed. The scarlet sky was dark. It blazed with blood-red flashes and loomed very low, pushing the purple mass of heavy and cumbersome clouds, which resisted and hung – heavy, swollen and pregnant, threatening to be delivered of a terrible waterfall, wiping everything off the face of the earth. From time to time a wall of brown-red opaque waters broke through out of them with a resounding roar, striking the earth so strongly that it seemed that the sky fell to the ground...

The trees were naked and faceless and idly moved their flabby and thorny branches. Further on there was a joyless withered steppe which faded in the distance behind the wall of dirty grey fog. Numerous sullen and wilting human spirits aimlessly rambled here and there, senselessly looking for something, paying no attention to the surrounding world, which, to tell the truth, was so unpleasant that it evoked no desire whatsoever to look at it. The scenery spread horror and depression seasoned with despair all around.

– O, dear! How scary it is here. – Stella whispered shivering. – I could not get used to it and probably never will, no matter how many times I come here. How can the poor fellows live here?!

– Well, probably, these "poor fellows" did something really wrong, if they got here. In fact nobody sent them here – they got what they deserved, right? – I still did not give up.

– Just wait and you’ll see. – Stella whispered enigmatically.

Suddenly we saw a cave covered with greyish greenery. A tall stately man who was absolutely out of place in this wretched soul-freezing landscape came out of it, squinting...

– Hello, Sad One! – Stella affectionately welcomed the stranger. – Here, I brought my friend. She does not believe that it is possible find good people here and I wanted to show you to her... I hope you don’t mind, do you?

– Hello, dear. – The man answered sadly. – I don’t think I am good enough to show to anyone. You should not do that, really.

Strangely enough, I liked this sad man. He emanated strength and warmth and it was very pleasant to be next to him. Anyway, he was not like the overwhelming majority of people who dwelt on this "floor" – weak-willed and broken-hearted, surrendered at the discretion of fate.

– Tell us your story, Sad Man... – Stella asked, lightly smiling.

– Well, there is nothing to tell, actually, and there is nothing to be proud of. – The stranger shook his head. – What do you need this for?

For some reason I felt deep pity for him. I knew absolutely nothing about him, and still I was almost sure that this man could not do anything truly bad. Well, he just could not! Stella, smiling, observed my thoughts which she obviously liked very much.

– All right! I agree. You’re right! – At last I honestly confessed, on seeing her satisfied little face.

– But you know nothing about him and the matter is not so simple with him. – Stella complacently pronounced, slyly smiling. – Please, tell her, Sad One...

The man cheerlessly smiled at us and quietly pronounced:

– I am here, because I killed... I killed many people – not for pleasure, but of necessity.

I was terribly disappointed – he killed! How could I be so foolish as to believe in him! But for some reason the slightest sense of rejection or hostility persistently failed to appear in me. I obviously liked the man and I could not do anything with it, no matter how hard I tried.

– Is it an identical guilt – to kill for pleasure or from necessity? – I asked. – Sometimes people don’t have a choice, do they? For example: when they have to defend themselves or others. I always admired heroes – warriors and knights. The latter I always adored. How is it possible to compare them to ordinary killers?

He gave me a long and sad look and then quietly answered:

– I don’t know, dear. The fact that I am here means that the guilt is identical. But judging on how I feel this guilt in my heart, it’s not. I never wished to kill, I simply protected my land; I was a hero there. And here it appeared that I just killed... Can it be fair, really? I think – not.

– So, you were a warrior? – I asked with hope. – But then, the difference should be huge – you protected your home, family and children! And you don’t look like a killer.

– Well, dear. None of us are truly as others see us; because they see only what they want to see or only what we want to show them. And as to the war, at first I thought the same way as you and even was proud of my deeds. And here it appears that there was nothing to be proud of. Murder is murder, and it’s not important the way it was accomplished.

– But this is wrong! – I was indignant. – How can a maniac-killer turn out to be the same as a hero?! It can not be; it must not be!

My whole self raged in indignation! But the man dolefully looked at me with his sad grey eyes in which I read understanding...

– Both a hero and killer take life. Probably, there are "extenuating circumstances", because a person who protects somebody else takes life being guided by a noble and just reason. But one way or another, they both have to pay for it... very bitterly, believe me.

– May I ask you, when did you live? – I asked, being slightly confused.

– Oh, it was quite long time ago. I am here for the second time already. For some reason my two lives were alike – I militated for somebody in both... and then paid... always bitterly... – The stranger fell silent for a long time, as if not wishing to talk about it anymore, but then continued quietly. – There are people who like to militate. I always hated it. But for some reason life returned me to the same circle for the second time, as if I was deliberately put into this exclusive circle without any possibility of being freed from it. When I lived, all people fought inter se. One occupied others’ lands, the latter protected their possessions. Sons overturned fathers, brothers killed brothers... Many terrible things happened. Some people performed unthinkable exploits; some betrayed others and some were simply cowards. But nobody even suspected what a bitter price they would have to pay for everything they did.

– Did you have family there? – I asked to change the subject. – Were there children?

– Certainly! But it was so long ago! They once became great-grandfathers, died then... And some live again. It was a long time ago...

– And you are still here?! – I whispered looking around in horror.

I could not even imagine that he’d been living there for many, many years, suffering and "paying" for his guilt, without the slightest hope of leaving this horrific "floor" before the time comes to return to the physical Earth! And once there he will have to start everything again from the very beginning, in order that when his next "physical" life is over to return (maybe here!) with a whole new set of "luggage", bad or good, depending on how he lives his "next" earthly life... And there is not the slightest hope for him to be freed from this exclusive circle (be it good or bad), because if one begins the earthly life, he "dooms" himself to this eternal circular "journey". And depending on his actions, the return to the "floors" can be very pleasant or very scary.

– What if you don’t you kill anybody in the new life, you will not return to this "floor" anymore, right? – I asked with hope.

– But I remember nothing, my dear, when I return there... It’s after death that we remember our lives and errors. And when we begin to live there again, our memory is closed at once. Probably, that is why our old "acts" recur – because we don’t remember our old errors... But frankly speaking, even if I knew that I would be "punished" again, I would never stand aside, if my family or my country was in danger. It’s all strange, if we come to think it over. It would seem that the one who "distributes" our guilt and payment wishes that only cowards and betrayers live on Earth. Otherwise, he would not punish scoundrels and heroes the same way. Or is there, nevertheless, a difference in the punishment? It must be, in all fairness. In fact there are heroes who performed superhuman exploits. They had songs and legends dedicated to them which lived for centuries. They should not be placed amongst ordinary murderers, for sure! I wish I could ask somebody about that…

– I also think that such thing cannot be! In fact there are people that performed such wonders of human courage that even after death they, like the sun, lit up the earthly path for all the living for centuries. I like to read about them very much and I try to find as many books as possible which tell about human exploits. They help me to live and cope with my loneliness, when life becomes too hard. The only thing that I cannot understand is: why heroes always must die on Earth in order that people can see their rightness? Why does everybody become indignant only when a hero cannot be revived? Why is it only then that the long sleeping human pride arises and the crowd, ardent with just anger, take down the "enemies" like specks of dust on their "faithful" way? – Sincere indignation raged in me. Probably I spoke too quickly and too much, but I rarely had the possibility of expressing what really "hurts" me... and I continued.

– In fact people killed first even their poor God, and only afterwards began to worship him. Is it really impossible to see the real truth before it’s already too late? Is not it really better to keep safe the heroes, follow their example and learn from them? Do people really always need the shocking example of others' courage to believe in theirs? Why is it necessary to first kill somebody so that they could set a monument to glorify him after? Honestly I would prefer to erect monuments to the living, if they are worthy of it...

And what do you mean that somebody "distributes guilt"? You mean God or something? But it's not God that punishes. We punish ourselves. We are responsible for everything.

– Don’t you believe in God, dear? – The sad man, who attentively listened to my "emotionally-indignant" speech, was surprised.

– I have not found him yet... But if he really exists, then he must be kind. But for some reason many people are afraid of him or threaten others in his name. They say in our school: "Man – stands proud"! How can a person be proud, if fear hangs over him all the time?! Besides, there are too many different Gods. Every country has its own. And everybody tries to prove that their God is the best... No, I don’t understand a lot of things yet... But how can one believe in something without understanding? We are taught at our school that there is nothing after death. But how can I believe it, if I see quite another thing? I think that blind faith simply kills hope in people and increases fear. If they knew what happens in reality, they would behave a lot more cautiously. It would not be all the same to them what happens after their death. They would know that they will live again, and they will have to pay for how they lived their life. The only thing is that they will not answer to a "threatening God", of course, but to themselves. And nobody will come to redeem their sins, but they have to do that on their own. I wanted to tell about that, but nobody wanted to listen to me, probably, because life is much more comfortable and simpler without this knowledge. – At last I finished my "terribly long" speech.

Suddenly I became very sad. This man somehow made me talk about things that never left me in peace since the day I first "touched" the world of the dead, and naively I thought that I just needed to tell to people what I know and "they would believe at once and even rejoice! And of course, would want to do only good." What a naive child one has to be to engender such a foolish and unrealizable dream in one’s heart?! People hate to know that there is something else "there", after their death. Because if they admit it, it will mean that they will have to answer for everything they have done, and this is exactly what nobody wants to do. People are like children. They are sure for some reason that if they close their eyes and see nothing, then nothing bad will happen to them... or if they shift everything onto their God’s strong shoulders, which "redeemed" all their sins, everything will be all right... But is it true and right? I was just a ten-year-old girl, but a lot of things already could not find their place within my simple "child's" logical scope then. For example, the book about God (the Bible) told that pride is a tremendous sin, but the Christ (son of man!!!) said that he would redeem "all human sins" with his death... What Pride one must have to put oneself on the same footing as the whole of humanity?! And what kind of man would be so bold as to think of himself in this way: God’s Son or man’s son? Let’s take churches: each one is more beautiful than the last, as if ancient architects tried to do their best to outdo each other in building their God’s house. Yes, it’s true – the churches are incredibly beautiful. They look like museums. Each is a real work of art. But, if I got it right, man goes to church to speak to God, doesn’t he?

In that case, how can he possibly find Him in the shocking luxury that strikes the eye with its abundance of gold, which, let’s take me for example, did not dispose me to open my heart at all, on the contrary – I shut it as quickly as possible in order not to see the brutally tortured bleeding God, almost nude, crucified in the middle of the glittering and oppressing gold, as if people celebrated His death, but did not believe or rejoice in His life... We plant fresh flowers even on our cemeteries in order that they remind us of the life of the dead. So why I did not see a statue of a living Christ in any church, to whom one can pray, or talk or open one’s heart? And is that really so that the House of God only means His death? One day I asked a priest why we did not pray to a living God. He looked at me as if at an importunate fly and said that "it was done to prevent us from forgetting that he (God) had given His life for us, redeeming our sins, and now we always must remember that we are unworthy of Him (?!) And repent of our sins, as much as possible"... However if he has already redeemed all our sins then for what we should repent? And if we must repent, then His atonement is a lie? The priest got very angry and said that I had heretical thoughts and I must atone for them, reading "Our Father" (!) twenty times in the evening. I think, comments are unnecessary here...

I could go on at great length, because all of that strongly irritated me then. I had thousands of questions to which nobody gave any answers, but only advised me to "believe", which I could never do, because before I come to believe, I need to understand why, and if there was no logic in "faith", then I considered it to be a "search for a black cat in a black room", and neither my heart nor my soul needed such faith. Not because I had a "dark" soul (like some told me) which did not need God, on the contrary, I think that my soul was light enough to understand and accept, but the matter was that there was nothing to accept... Besides, what can be explained here, if people killed their God and then decided that it would more "correct" to worship Him? In my opinion, it would be better if they had not killed Him but tried to learn from Him as many things as possible, if He indeed was a real God... For some reason I felt much closer to our "old Gods", the carved statues of which were in abundance both in our city and the whole of Lithuania. They were amusing and warm, merry and angry, sad and severe. These gods were not so incomprehensibly "tragic" like, for example, Christ to whom shockingly expensive churches were dedicated, as if somebody really tried to atone for sins.

A church in Vilnus
A church in Vilnus (Lithuania); the bleeding God over a stunning golden altar.

«Old» lithuanian Gods «Old» lithuanian Gods «Old» lithuanian Gods
«Old» lithuanian Gods" in my native town Alitus. They are homely and warrm, like an ordinary united family.

To me these Gods were kind protagonists of fairy-tales and looked like our parents – they could be kind and affectionate, but if necessary, they could to punish us severely when we misbehaved too much. They were a lot nearer to our heart than that incomprehensible and distant God which had His terrible death at men’s hands.

I would like to ask the faithful to try not to be indignant, on reading the lines which contain my thoughts of that time. It was then and I looked for my child's truth in Faith too, as well as in any other things. Therefore I can argue only about my views and concepts which I have now, and which will be expounded in this book later. And then it was a time of "persistent search", which did not come to me easily.

– You’re a strange girl... – The Sad one whispered thoughtfully.

– I am not strange, I am simply alive. But I live in two worlds – that of the living and the dead. And I can see things which many people, unfortunately, do not see. Probably, that is why nobody believes me. But everything would be much simpler, if people listened and reflected on it a little, even not believing. Well, I think that if it could happen one day, it would not be today. But I have to live with it exactly today...

– I am very sorry, dear... – The man whispered. – You know, there are a lot of people like me here. Thousands... Probably, you will find it interesting to talk to them. There are real heroes, not like me. There are many of them…

Suddenly I felt a burning desire to help to this sad and lonely man. However, I had no idea what I could do for him.

– Do you want us to create another world for you while you are here? – Stella asked unexpectedly.

It was a magnificent idea, and I became a little ashamed that it did not occur to me first. Stella was a wonderful little human being and somehow always found something pleasant that could bring joy to others.

– What do you mean "another world"? – The man was surprised.

– Here, look... – and suddenly bright and joyful light began to shine in his dark and sullen cave! – How would you like this kind of a home?

The eyes of our "sad" acquaintance lit with happiness. Perplexedly he looked around, understanding nothing of what had just happened here. Meanwhile his terrible and dark cave changed: now the sun shone brightly, luxuriant greenery exhaled pleasant aromas, the birds joyfully sang songs, and blossoming flowers smelled divine; the brook murmured, lively in its farthest corner, spilling drops of the purest and freshest crystal water...

– There! Do you like it? – Stella asked merrily.

The man was absolutely stunned by what he saw and could not say a word. He only looked at this beauty with his eyes wide open in which trembling drops of "happy" tears glittered like pure diamonds.

– My God, I have not seen the sun for so long! – He whispered. – Who are you, girl?

– I am just a human being, like you – dead. And she is, you know it already, alive. Sometimes we go for a walk here together and we help, if we can, of course.

It was obvious that the little girl was extremely satisfied with the produced effect and literally fidgeted to make it last longer...

– Do you truly like it? Do you want it to be always like this?

The man nodded, unable to pronounce a word.

I did not even try to imagine the happiness he was now experiencing considering the black horror in which he lived every day for so long!

– Thank you, dear... – The man whispered. – Tell me one thing – how can this last?

– Oh, it’s simple! Your world will be only here, in this cave, and nobody will see it except for you. And if you don’t leave, it will remain with you forever. Well, I will come to you to check it... My name is Stella.

– I don’t know what to say for such a gift... I don’t deserve it. It’s probably wrong... My name is Svetilo. Well, I have not brought much "light" yet. (Svetilo means "Luminary" – E.L.)

– Don’t worry; you will bring it some day! – It was clear that the little girl was very proud of what she’d done and almost burst with pleasure.

– Thank you, dear girls... – Svetilo sat, hanging his proud head, and suddenly began to cry like a child.

– What about others like him? – I whispered into Stella’s ear. – There are probably very many of them? What we shall do for them? It is not fair to help only one. Besides, who gave us the right to judge who deserves such help?

Stella’s face frowned at once...

– I don’t know... But I know that it is correct. If it was wrong, we could not do it. Different rules work here.

Suddenly it dawned upon me:

– Wait a moment. What about our Harold?! In fact he was a knight, so he killed too. How did he manage to stay "upstairs"?

– He paid for everything he had done. I asked him about it. He paid very dearly. – Stella answered in earnest, funnily wrinkling her little forehead.

– How did he pay? – I did not understand.

– With his spirit... – The little girl sadly whispered. – He gave part of his spirit for what he had done during his life-time. But he had a very highly-developed spirit; therefore, even on giving a part of it, he still was able to stay on the "highest floor". But very few can do it, only truly very highly developed spirits. Ordinary people lose too much and go much lower than they were at the beginning. Like Svetilo.

It was staggering. It means that on having done something bad on Earth, people lose a part of themselves (more correctly, part of their evolutional potential), and even then still must be in that terrible horrific place called "the low" astral world. Indeed, each has to pay for his errors too dearly.

– Well, we can go now, – Stella waved with her little hand and merrily twittered. – Good-bye, Svetilo! I shall visit you!

We set out and our new friend sat still, frozen from unexpected happiness, voraciously absorbing the warmth and beauty of the world which Stella created for him, like a dying man would absorb the life which suddenly came back to him...

– Yes, it’s correct, you were absolutely right! – I said thoughtfully.

Stella shone.

Being in the most "iridescent" mood we made our way toward the mountains, when suddenly an enormous, thorny-sharp-clawed creature came up from the clouds and threw itself straight on us...

– Watch out! – Stella squealed, and I just had time to see two rows of razor sharp teeth, felt a strong blow in my back and fell head over heels onto the ground...

The creature flew right toward us, loudly clicking with its widely open sharp-toothed beak, and we sped along at top speed, splashing through loathesome mucous and mentally begging that this terrible "miracle of a bird" would be interested in something else. We felt that it moved much quicker than we did and we had no chance to break away from it. As ill luck would have it, there was not a single tree nearby or bushes or even stones to hide behind. There was only an ominous black rock in the distance.

– There! – Shouted Stella, pointing at it with her finger.

Suddenly another creature appeared right in front of us. It looked so scary that our blood ran cold. It appeared as if "straight out of air" and was truly horrific. Long wiry hair completely covered the enormous black hulk, making it look like a pot-bellied bear; only this "bear" had the height of a three-storey building. Two enormous bent horns "crowned" its rugged monstrous head and a terrible mouth was decorated with a couple of incredibly long tusks, sharp like knives; one would become weak at the knees just looking at them. Unexpectedly for us, the monster easily jumped and hooked the flying "ugly thing" on one of its enormous tusks... We froze, dumbfounded.

– Run!!! – Stella squealed. – Run while it’s "busy"!

We were ready to be off like a shot, as suddenly a thin voice sounded behind us:

– Girls, stop!!! Don’t run! Dean saved you. He is not an enemy!

We turned around and saw a tiny, very beautiful dark-eyed girl who... calmly stroked the monster! To say that we were surprised is to say almost nothing. It was unbelievable! Indeed, it was a day of surprises! The girl smiled in a friendly way, being absolutely not afraid of the hairy monster standing near her.

– Please, don’t be afraid of him. He is very kind. We saw that beastly Ovara was after you and decided to help. Dean was in time. Good boy!

The "good boy" began to purr which sounded like a light earthquake and, bending his head, licked the girl’s face.

– And what is an Ovara and why did it attack us? – I asked.

– It attacks everybody. It’s a predator, a very dangerous one. – The girl answered calmly. – May I ask you what you’re doing here, girls? You are not from here in fact?

– No, we are not. We simply went for a walk. But we have the same question for you – what do you do here?

– I visit my mother. – The child grew sad. – We died together, but for some reason she got here. And now I live here, but I don’t say it to her, because she would never agree to it. She thinks I just come to visit her...

– But would not it indeed be better if you just visit? It’s so awful here! – Stella flinched.

– I cannot leave her alone here. I look after her in order that nothing happens to her. And Dean is with me. He helps me.

I just could not believe it. This tiny brave little girl voluntarily left her beautiful and kind "floor" to live in this cold, terrible and alien world, protecting her mother, who obviously did something very wrong! I think that there wouldn’t be very many such brave and selfless people (even adults!) who would make up their mind to do anything similar... And then I thought – maybe she simply did not understand to what she was going to doom herself?!

– How long have you been here, girl, if it’s not a secret?

– I got here quite recently... – The dark-eyed child sadly answered, fingering a curl of her lovely black hair. – When I died I got into such a beautiful world! It was so kind and light! And then I saw that my mother was not with me and rushed to look for her. At first it was so terrible! I could not find her anywhere... And then I fell into this terrible world... And found her. I was so scared here... and so lonely... My mother ordered me to leave and even scolded. But I cannot leave her... And now I have a friend, my kind Dean, and I can live here somehow…

Her "kind friend" roared again, which gave us enormous "low astral" shivers. On pulling myself together, I tried to calm down a little and began to observe the hairy wonder. He felt at once that I paid attention to him and showed his terrible teeth. I jumped back.

– Don’t be afraid, please! It’s the way he smiles at you. – The girl "calmed" me down.

Well, one would learn how to run very quickly on seeing such a smile. – I thought.

– How did it happen that you became friends? – Stella asked.

– When I just came here, I was very scared, especially when the monsters, like the one that came for you, attacked. One day, when I almost died, Dean saved me from heaps of the terrible flying "birds". I was frightened of him too in the beginning, but then I understood what a golden heart he has. He is my best friend! I never had such friends, even when I lived on Earth.

– How could you get used to him so quickly? His appearance is not quite, let’s say, ordinary?

– I understood one very simple truth here, which I did not notice on Earth for some reason – appearance does not matter, if a person or creature has a kind heart... My mother was very handsome, but sometimes very wicked too, and then all her beauty disappeared somewhere. Although Dean looks frightful, he is always very kind and always protects me. I feel his goodness and am not afraid of anything. Besides one can easily get used to any appearance...

– Do you know that you will be here for a very long time, longer than people live on Earth? Do you really want to stay here?

– My mother is here. So, I must help her. And when she "goes" to live on Earth again, I will go too... to the place where there is much more good. The people are very strange in this frightful world – as if they don’t live at all. Why is it so? Do you know something about it?

– Who told you that your mother would go to live again? – Stella became interested.

– Dean, of course. He knows a lot. He has lived here for a very long time. Also he said that when we (my mother and I) live again, we will have different families and then I would not have this mother... That is why I want to be with her now.

– How do you talk to your Dean? – Stella asked. – And why you don’t wish to tell us your name?

It was true. We did not know her name yet and where she was from.

– My name was Maria. But does it really matter here?

– Of course! – Stella broke into laughter. – How do you think we shall socialise with you? When you go away, you will have a new name, but while you are here, you’ll have to live with the old one. Have you talked to someone here, girl Maria? – Stella asked, as usual jumping from subject to subject.

– Yes, I have. – The child pronounced uncertainly. – But they are so strange here and so unhappy. Why are they so unhappy?

– Do you think that this reality can make somebody happy? – I was surprised at her question. – It kills any hopes beforehand! How is it possible to be happy here?

– I don’t know. When I am with my mother, it seems to me that I could be happy here too. It’s true that it’s very scary here and she does not like it. When I said that I could stay with her, she shouted at me and said that I am her "brainless disaster". But I am not offended. I know that she is simply scared, as well as I am...

– Maybe, she just wanted to protect you from your "extreme" decision and make you come back to your "floor"? – Stella asked carefully trying not to offend the girl.

– No, of course not. But thank you for your kind words. Mother often called me quite unpleasant names even on Earth. But I know that it was not from malice. She was unhappy because I was born and often said that I ruined her life. But it was not my fault, right? I always tried to make her happy, but for some reason I failed. And I never knew my father. – Maria was very sad and her voice trembled as if she was on the verge of tears.

Stella and I exchanged glances and I was almost sure that the thoughts similar to mine visited her head. I already disliked the spoilt and selfish "mother" which instead of worrying about her daughter did not understand her heroic sacrifice and in addition very painfully offended her.

– But Dean says that I am good and make him very happy! – The girl chirped much merrier. – He wants to be my friend. Others who I met here are very cold and indifferent, and sometimes even wicked, especially those with monsters hooked on.

– Monsters – what? – We did not understand.

– Well, some spirits have terribly ugly monsters sitting on their backs which tell them what they must do. If they disobey, the monsters taunt them terribly. I tried to talk to these spirits, but the monsters did not allow me.

We understood absolutely nothing from this "explanation", but the fact that some astral creatures torture people could not remain "uninvestigated" by us, therefore we asked her at once, where we could see the surprising phenomenon.

– Everywhere! Especially near the "black mountain". There, behind the trees. Do you want us to go with you too?

– Of course, we’ll be very glad if you do! – Stella replied immediately, being terribly happy.

To tell the truth I did not relish the prospect of meeting again somebody "terrible and incomprehensible", especially being alone. But interest won over fear, and certainly, we would go there, even being a little bit afraid. But now, having such a protector as Dean with us, we went with greater enthusiasm.

In a very short while our eyes wide open in amazement saw the real Hell... The picture was reminiscent of Bosch’s paintings, a "mad" painter which once shocked the whole world with his art. Certainly, he was not mad, but simply a visionary, which for some reason could see only the low astral world. But one should give him his due – he depicted it excellently... I saw his painting in a book which I found in my dad’s library and still remember the terrible feeling which most of his paintings transmitted...

– It’s terrible! – The dumbfounded Stella whispered.

I could probably say that we saw a lot of things on the "floors", but even we were unable to imagine this in our most terrible nightmare! We found something absolutely unthinkable behind the "black rock". It looked like an enormous flat "caldron", gouged in the rock, at the bottom of which purple "lava" bubbled. The burning hot air "burst out" every now and then with strange flashing reddish bubbles from which scalding steam broke forth and its large drops fell on the soil or people. The heart-breaking screams were heard, but they grew silent at once, because the most revolting creatures I have ever seen in my life sat on the people’s backs and controlled the victims, with an air of satisfaction, paying no attention whatsoever to their sufferings.

Burning hot stones reddened under people’s bare feet; purple soil bubbled and "melted". The hot steam broke through enormous cracks and burned the feet of the human spirits, which, crying from pain went upwards, evaporating in a light puff of smoke. The wide and fiery red river ran through the middle of the "caldron". From time to time the disgusting monsters threw an exhausted spirit there, which caused a short splash of orange sparks, at once turned into a fluffy white cloud and disappeared... this time forever... It was a genuine Hell and both Stella and I were eager to leave this terrible place as quickly as possible.

– What shall we do? – Stella whispered, horrified. – Do you want to go down there? Can we really help them? Look, how many of them are!

We stood on the brink of the dark-brown precipice dried up with heat, observing the "medley" of pain, despair and violence at the bottom, inundated with horror, and felt so childlike and powerless that this time even my bellicose Stella totally agreed to loosen her ever enthusiastic "get-up-and-go" and was ready to dash away to her homely and safe upper "floor"...

I suddenly remembered that Maria had spoken to these cruelly punished people (whether it was fate or themselves).

– Tell us, please, how did you get down there? – Puzzled, I asked.

– Dean took me there. – Maria answered calmly, as if it went without saying.

– What have the poor people done to deserve this kind of place? – I asked.

– I think the matter is not in what they’ve done but in the fact that they were very strong and had a lot of life-force, which the monsters need because they "feed" on these poor people. – The child explained in a very adult way.

– What?! – We almost jumped. – It means that they simply "eat" them?

– Lamentably – yes... When we went there, I saw a pure silvery stream that comes out of these poor people and fills the monsters on their backs. And the latter at once revived and became extremely satisfied. Some human spirits found it very difficult to walk after that. It’s so terrible. And there is nothing we can do to help them. Dean says that there are too many of them even for him.

– Indeed. And we can hardly do anything too. – Stella whispered sadly.

It was very hard to simply turn and go away, but we perfectly understood that it was not in our power to help and could not just stand and calmly observe the terrible "spectacle". Therefore, on giving one last glance at this terrible Hell, we decided to go to another place. To say that my human pride was not hurt would be untrue, because I always disliked losing. But I also learned a long time ago to accept reality the way it is and not to complain about my helplessness, if to help somebody was beyond my strength.

– May I ask you, girls, where are you going? – Maria grew sad.

– I would like to go upstairs. Honestly speaking, I’ve had enough of the "ground floor" for today. I would like to see something more cheerful. – I replied and thought about Maria – poor girl – she has to stay here! And regrettably, we could not offer her any help, because it was her choice and her decision which only she could change…

Well-known whirlwinds of silver energies began to shimmer and "wrapped" us in the dense and fluffy "cocoon", and we easily and gracefully slipped "upstairs"...

– Gosh, how good is to be here! – Stella happily breathed out, coming "home" at last. – And how terrible it is "down" there! Poor people, how is it possible to become better, living in such a nightmare everyday?! Something is wrong here, don’t you think?

I laughed:

– Well, what would you offer to "correct"?

– Don’t laugh! We must think out something. I do not know yet – what. But I shall. – The girl declared, being absolutely serious.

I loved very much her adult serious attitude toward life and "iron" desire to find a positive way out of any situation. Having a shining sunny character, Stella, nevertheless, could be an incredibly strong and brave little human being who would never surrender and always defend justice or friends, dear to her heart, with might and main.

– Well, let’s go for a walk and get some fresh air, because I have still not recovered from the horror which we’ve just seen. I cannot even breathe easily, not to mention those awful visions. – I suggested to my wonderful friend.

We again "slid" gently within the silver-"dense" silence, being totally relaxed, enjoying the peace and tenderness of this wonderful "floor", and I still thought of brave little Maria who we willy-nilly left in that terribly joyless and dangerous world and who had only her frightful hairy friend and hope that her "blind" but dearly beloved mother could at last see how strongly she loved her and wanted to make her happy for the period of time that they had before their new embodiment on Earth...

– Wow! You just look at that. How beautiful! – Stella’s merry voice pulled me out of my sad thoughts.

I saw an enormous merry golden ball which glimmered inside and a beautiful young lady dressed in a very bright multicoloured dress in it. She was sitting in the brightly blooming glade and was hardly distinguishable from the background of unbelievable bells of some fantastic flowers which vigorously blazed with all colours of the rainbow. She had very long fair hair the colour of ripe wheat which fell downward in heavy waves, shrouding her from head to toe like a golden cloak. Deep blue friendly eyes looked straight at us, as if inviting us to start the conversation.

– Hello! I hope we won’t bother you. – I welcomed the stranger, not knowing what to begin with and, as usual, slightly feeling shy.

– And hello to you, Light One. – The young lady smiled.

– Why do you call me that? – I was very surprised.

– I don’t know. – The stranger answered affectionately. – It simply suits you! I am Isolda. But tell me, what is your name?

– It’s Svetlana. – I answered, being slightly confused.

– See! I’ve guessed! What do you do here, Svetlana? And who is your pretty friend? (Svetlana means Bearing Light – E.L.)

– We just went for a walk. This is Stella; she is my friend. Are you the Isolda who had her Tristan? – I took heart to ask.

The lady’s eyes widened in surprise as she obviously did not expect that somebody would know her in this world...

– How do you know it, girl? – She whispered.

– I’ve read a book about you. I liked it so much! – I exclaimed enthusiastically. – You loved each other so much, and then you died. I was so sorry about it! And where is Tristan? Is he really no longer with you?

– No, dear, he is so far away. I have been looking for him for so long a time! And when I finally found him, it appeared that we cannot be together here too. I cannot go where he is. – Isolda answered sadly.

And suddenly a simple vision came to me – he was in the low astral world, apparently for some "sins" he had committed. And certainly she could go there; simply she did not know how to do it or doubted that she could.

– I can show you how you can go there, if you want, of course. You may see him whenever you want, with the only condition – you should be very careful.

– You can you go there! – She was very surprised.

I nodded.

– And you too.

– I am sorry, Isolda. Tell me, please, why is your world so bright? – Stella was unable to retain her curiosity.

– It always was cold and misty where I lived, and it was quite different where I was born: the sun always shone brightly, the flowers smelled sweet and the snow was only in winter and even then it was sunny. I missed my country so much that I still fail to take delight in it to my heart's content. Indeed, my name sounds quite cold, but it’s because when I was a child, I got lost and was found on ice. That is why they called Isolda. ("Iso" can be tranlated from Russian as "from or of", "lda" – accusative case for "liod" – "ice" – E.L.)

– Wow! That’s true – "of ice"! I would never guess! – I stared at her, dumbfounded.

– It’s nothing. Take Tristan, for example. He never had a name and lived all his life nameless. – Isolda smiled.

– But what about "Tristan"?

– Oh, come on, dear! It just means "one who owns three camps", – Isolde laughed. – His family died when he was little and that is why he was not given a proper name when the time came – there was nobody to do it.

– But why do you explain all of it in my language? In fact it’s in Russian!

– But we are Russians, more precisely – were then. – She corrected herself. – Now who knows who we will be...

– How is that – Russians? – I was completely confused.

– Well, not quite, but in your terms we were Russians. There were many more of us then, and everything was much more diverse – our land, language and life... It was a long time ago...

– But the book says that you were Irish and Scottish?! Or is it a lie again?

– Why a lie? No not at all. It’s just that my father arrived from the "warm" Rus to become the ruler of the "island" camp, because it was seized with long and bloody wars and nobody could put an end to them, and he was a skilful warrior, and therefore they asked him to come. But I always missed "my" Rus... It was always too cold for me on those islands.

– May I ask you, how did you truly die? Of course, only if it does not hurt you to tell me. Different books describe it differently, and I would like to know very much how it really happened...

– I gave his body to the sea – it was their custom then... and went home... Only I never got there... I did not have enough forces. I wanted so much to see the sun, but could not... or may be Tristan did not "let me go"...

– But what about those books which say that you died together or that you killed yourself?

– I don’t know, Light One. It was not me who wrote them... And people always like to tell tales, especially beautiful ones, and they embellish them in order that they touch hearts more deeply... I died a natural death after many years. It was forbidden to commit suicide.

– Probably, it was very sad for you to be so far away from home.

– Well, what can I say? At first it was even interesting while my mother was alive. And when she died, the whole world grew dark for me. I was too small then. I never loved my father. War was the only thing that made sense of his life. He appreciated me only because he could barter something on marrying me off. He was a warrior to the very marrow of his bones and died as such. I always longed for coming back home, even in my dreams, but... it never happened.

– Do you want us to take you to Tristan? We’ll show you how to do it at first, and then you can do it on your own. It’s easy. – I offered, hoping with all my heart that she would agree.

I wanted very much to see this legend "fully", if the occasion arose anyway, and although I felt a little ashamed, I decided not to listen to my strongly indignant "inner voice" this time and to try to convince Isolda somehow to go for a "walk" on the ground "floor" and find her Tristan.

I truly loved this "cold" northern legend. It conquered my heart from the very minute I began to read it. The happiness in it was so fleeting and the sadness so infinite! In fact, as Isolda said, they did add a lot of things there, because it really touched one’s heart, but maybe everything happened exactly this way? Who could know it? In fact those who saw all of it died a long time ago. That is why I wanted to take advantage of this, certainly, the only opportunity to know what happened in reality...

Isolda sat quietly, thinking about something, as if not daring to take advantage of the only chance, which occurred so unexpectedly, and meet the one from whom fate had separated her for so long...

– I do not know... Maybe it’s all unnecessary... Maybe it’s better to leave the things as they are? – Isolda whispered confusedly. – It hurts too much... I fear to make a mistake…

I was incredibly surprised at her fear! It was the first time since the day I began to speak to the dead that someone refused to talk or meet those who once loved so strongly and tragically...

– Please, let’s go! I know that later you will regret not going! We’ll simply show you how to do it, and if you decide not to do it again, you will not go there anymore. But you must have a choice. A person must have the right to choose. Do you agree?

At last she nodded:

– Well, let’s go, Light One. You are right. I must not hide behind the "back of the impossible". It’s cowardice. And nobody likes cowards. And I never was one of them...

I showed my protective shield to her and to my greatest surprise, she made hers very easily. I was very happy, because it greatly facilitated our "journey".

– Well, are you ready? – Stella smiled merrily to cheer her up.

We dived into the shining haze and in a few short seconds "swam" along the silver path of the astral world...

– It’s so beautiful here. – Isolda whispered. – But I saw him in another place which was not so light.

– It’s here too, only a little bit lower. – I calmed her down. – You’ll see, we’ll find him very soon.

We "slipped" slightly deeper and I was ready to see the usual "terribly-oppressive" reality of the low astral plane, when, to my surprise, we saw nothing of the kind. We found ourselves in a place, pleasant enough, but with very sullen and sad scenery. Heavy and muddy waves washed the stony shore of the navy blue sea. Idly "pursuing" one another, they "bumped" against the shore and unwillingly and slowly returned, pulling the grey sand and shallow, black and brilliant pebbles with them. A majestic, enormous and dark-green mountain the top of which bashfully hid behind the grey swollen clouds was seen far off. The sky was heavy, but not intimidating, totally covered with grey clouds. Small bushes of some unknown plants grew scraggily on the shore. The landscape was sullen, but "normal" enough. In any case, it was reminiscent of those which one can see on Earth on a rainy, very gloomy day. It did not produce the "blatant horror" which we had seen in other places on this "floor".

A lonely man sat ashore of this "heavy" dark sea, deeply in thought. He seemed to be quite young and handsome enough, but was very sad and paid no attention to us.

– My Brave Falcon! Tristanushka! – Isolda whispered with a catch in her voice.

She had stiffened and was pale as death. Stella began to worry about her and touched her hand, but the young lady saw and heard nothing around her and only looked at her beloved Tristan without taking her eyes off him. It seemed that she wanted to absorb every detail of his face... every hair... the curve of his lips... the heat of his brown eyes... to save all this in her heart, worn out with suffering, forever and maybe even to carry it into her next "earthly" life.

– My light Ldinushka... My sun... Please, leave, don’t torment me... – Tristan looked at her fearfully, unwilling to believe that it was a reality, and covered his face with his hands, thus shutting himself off from the painful "apparition", and repeated: – Leave me, my joy... Please, leave now...

Unable to look at this heart-breaking scene anymore, Stella and I decided to interfere.

– I beg your pardon, Tristan, but it’s not a ghost, it’s your Isolda! She is real. – Stella pronounced affectionately. – You’d better accept her, don’t hurt her anymore...

– Ldinushka, is it really you? How many times I saw you here like this and how many times I lost you! You always disappeared, as soon as I tried to speak to you. – He cautiously stretched his hands toward her, as if being afraid to frighten her off, and she, forgetting everything in the world, threw herself at him and froze, as if she wanted to stay like this, merging with him into one, never to part.

I watched this meeting with increasing anxiety and thought of how we could help these two people who had suffered a lot and now were infinitely happy to be together the remaining time before their next embodiment...

– Oh, don’t think about it now! They’ve just met! – Stella read my thoughts. – And then we’ll work something out...

They stood, snuggling up to each other, being afraid that something could suddenly separate them or that this wonderful vision would disappear in a flash and everything would be the same as it had been before...

– The world is so empty without you, my Ldinushka, so dark!

Only now I noticed that Isolda looked different! Probably that bright "sunny" dress was intended only for her alone, just as the blooming field... And now she had met her Tristan... I must say that wearing her white dress embroidered with a red pattern, she looked absolutely stunning! She looked like a young bride.

– They neither danced in a wedding circle for us, my brave falcon, nor did they offer their felicitations with a nuptial toast. They gave me to a stranger, but I always was your wife. I was destined to be yours... even when I lost you. Now we’ll be together forever, my joy, we’ll never part from this day... – Isolda gently whispered.

Something treacherously pinched my eyes and I began to pick pebbles on the shore in order not to show that I was crying. But Stella was not the kind of person to be fooled that easily, and besides she also was on the verge of tears.

– How sad is all this, right? She does not live here... Doesn’t she understand? Do you think she will stay with him? – The girl fidgeted. She wanted so much to know everything.

Dozens of questions for these two recklessly happy people, who saw nothing around, swarmed in my head. But I knew with absolute certainty that I could not ask anything, being unable to disturb their unexpected and so fragile happiness...

– What shall we do? – Anxious Stella asked. – Shall we leave her here?

– I think it’s not we who should decide. This is her decision and her life. – Then I addressed Isolda. – I am awfully sorry, Isolda, but we would like to go. Can we help you in anything else?

– Oh, my dear girls! I totally forgot! Please, forgive me! – She clapped her hands, blushing. – Tristanushka it’s they who we should thank! They brought me to you. I came before, as soon as I found you, but you could not hear me... That was so hard, now they have brought so much happiness!

Tristan suddenly bowed very low:

– I thank you, good maidens... for returning my happiness, my Ldinushka. I wish you joy and good, celestial ones... I am in your debt forever... You only have to say.

His eyes began to glitter suspiciously and I understood that a little bit more and he would cry. Therefore, in order for him keep his masculine pride (once hurt so severely!), I turned to Isolda and said as tenderly as possible:

– I understand that you want to stay?

She sadly nodded.

– Then, look attentively at this. I hope it’ll help you to be here and make life a bit easier. – I showed her my "special" green protection, hoping that they would be more or less safe here with it. – And one more thing. You’ve, probably, understood that here you could create your "sunny world". I think he (I pointed at Tristan) would like it very much.

It was absolutely clear that Isolda did not even think about it and now she began to shine with happiness, obviously anticipating what a "staggering" surprise she would give to Tristan...

Everything around them began to sparkle with merry colours; the sea began to shine with rainbows, and we understood that everything would be all right with them and "slid" back into our beloved mental world to discuss our possible future trips...

Download the Book

1. The beginning
2. A friend
3. The first "swallows"
4. The loss
5. Reality
6. The first contact
7. A test
8. The farewell
9. The awakening
10. Everyday life
11. The neighbours
12. Cookies
13. The fire that did not warm up
14. Loneliness
15. Giving eating up
16. The second contact
17. The result
18. Anesthesia
19. The neighbour
20. Unusual salvation
21. Unexpected guests
22. The poltergeist
23. A car accident
24. An angel
25. Stella
26. Stella-2. Harold
27. Stella-3. Axel
28. Stella-4. The astral world
29. Stella-5. Svetilo. The hell. Izolda
30. Stella-6. The mental world
31. Vaya. Other worlds
32. My parents
33. The surprise
34. Sorrow
35. Isidora
36. Isidora-2. Rome
37. Isidora-3. Meteora
38. Isidora-4. The Loss
39. Isidora-5. The Darkness
40. Isidora-6. Svetodar
41. Isidora-7. The Cathars
42. Isidora-8. The Key of Gods
43. Isidora-9. The loss of Anna. The woman Warrior
44. Isidora-10. Vidomir. The sleeping Kings