|ESC - Reflections
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|Author:||NCEITFOA [ Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:58 pm ]|
|Post subject:||ESC - Reflections|
A warning, of sorts, this short piece is weird, purposefully so, since I attempted to capture phenomological explorative writing. I am not Merleau-Ponty, not even close, but I decided that it was too me the most interesting way in which to create a short yet highly introspective piece. This is not an action story, war story or even a story as such. It is a short internal interrogation by a character of their phenomenon as it ends. I enjoyed doing it, I made it mostly easy and straight forward to understand, but it is bizarre compared to what is probably expected. This was a personal pleasure project so much of myself shines through and I will apologize in advance for it. Read it if you wish, it is no personal adventure by my OC's however but about canon characters (only one to be honest), or do not and enjoy your day. Either way I wish you well.
What is this?
It was a jarring sensation, it felt that normally things had a distinct beginning, but it was aware of thoughts without knowing when it had suddenly gained said awareness. Could there be a middle without a beginning? Or did the process, rationally, turn the middle into the beginning? What preceded the experience?
Already it was getting jumbled again. It returned to the point it could focus on, it could make sense of.
What is this?
The ‘this’ in question was something in front of it, was something it could focus on, could use to position itself relative to its own experience, as the liquid world around it began to slowly solidify into shapes it could identify as distinct from each other.
In front was where its attention was when it came too, suddenly, without the end in sight. In front of it, it could see…see…see…something? See something…see what?
It occurred that a name usually made it easier to do…this…thoughts through its own head. Names…it knew some names, not too many, but not too few either.
Is this mine?
The thing it saw before it could be described, it felt, as a ‘hand,’ at least in the sense that a drawing of a horse might be called a ‘horse’ if you asked; ‘what did you draw there?’
It certainly seemed to have the requisite qualities to be a hand, although it couldn’t remember how it knew that, such as five digits, the rough outline and an open palm. Of course, it was totally black, as if made from darkness or pitch, and devoid of details or distinct features.
‘…different from you?’
Past its hand was something else, a bit blurred, in front of it. It held out its hand straight before it, trying to focus on this appendage which for some reason was grafted to it, the scenery beyond the hand slowly coming into more focus the longer it stared.
There was something further in front of it, past the hand which seemed to be its’ own. Again it seemed like it was leaping into the story just as it reached a climax, but not an end, the context of the situation lost and as a result the meaning of the symbols diluted. The image was grainy, maybe blurry, but definitely far off. There was…was…someone standing there.
He was previously a handsome Elf, it felt somehow, with blonde hair and a frequently used smile. It would almost have been like looking in a mirror, it felt, if only half the Elf’s face wasn’t a mass of dead-burnt flesh which merely sagged grotesquely as the rest of it moved. That, and the fact that it did not know what it looked like, but that now seemed a minor detail. Once again it returned to the issue of a name. That would make this all a lot easier.
Maybe he knew some names? Certainly it had occurred that maybe it could ask the Elf for some help, despite the fact that the Elf didn’t really seem to be aware that it was there, but this seemed a small impediment to the matter of its’ name. A larger impediment was the awareness it had that the Elf had no names to give. Strangely it got the sense that, rather than being able to give it a name, it might be able to give him a name. Something starting with maybe a T or a K felt appropriate. Maybe both at the same time?
There were two other shapes in the scene, but they were even harder to see than the first, one was some kind of blue coat with a pointy hat, the other a golden-black blob lying on the ground. For some reason the longer it looked at that pointy hat the more it felt something, which was good because it didn’t know what feeling was yet, so it tried to stare as hard as it could and as long as it could, and the longer and harder it stared the more and more it began to see something…something…
It could see them, the Pointy-Hat and the burnt-Elf, sitting beside each other as they rested their backs together. Like before the scene seemed somewhat further off then its hand but, at the same time, seemed somewhat clearer then the image of before.
“I have been thinking,” The previously handsome, now burnt, Elf had told the Pointy-Hat.
“Always a foreboding sign,” the Pointy-Hat had responded lightly, earning a small chuckle from the other Elf, before he continued.
“I have been thinking, do you think I would make a good father?” Although the question had sounded like a joke it was actually deadly serious in its own deadly way. Comically deadly perhaps.
The Pointy-Hat scoffed, maybe guffawed, or did a little of both.
“I think the wisest answer here is…remain true to your strengths,” The Pointy-Hat had said, voice the same combination of joking and serious as the Elf’s had been.
“What are my strengths?” The other Elf had asked, leaning forward a bit so as to allow the Pointy-Hat to lean his neck back onto the shoulder of the other Elf. The Pointy-Hat looked surprisingly tired.
“Not parenting, that is certain,” the Point-Hat closed his eyes to shield them from the sunlight coming down through tree branches to lightly bathe the pair simply seated on the grass.
“Evasive as always,” the other Elf had mumbled to himself as his hand errantly searched the grass for nothing in particular.
For a while the two remained quiet until, eyes now closed as he seemed to be resting, the Pointy-Hat spoke up again;
“What does draw such an odd question from you though? It seems quite uncharacteristic,”
“Is it truly so uncharacteristic?” The other Elf had asked, genuinely unsure, as he looked up at the canopy above.
“Looking toward the future? Yes.” Once more the Pointy-Hat’s voice was a combination of seriousness and humour, eliciting a chuckle from both Elves.
“Well, if you must know, Malhandir and I have been talking recently. He has quite the extended family you know? And…” the other Elf’s voice dropped to a conspiratorially low whisper as he adopted a look of mock seriousness;
“You did not here this from me but he is quite, shall we say, loose with the number of mares he knows to put it politely.” The other Elf chuckled a little at what he presumably thought was his own cleverness.
“I think I knew someone else like that when I was young, what was his name again, hmm?”
That stopped the Elf’s laughter.
But only for a moment. Soon the two were laughing again, even as the Elf made an attempt to swipe the Pointy-Hat’s pointy hat from off his head, forcing the Pointy-Hat to stand up and take a step back.
“Fair enough, but I have changed a little, you know? I may not be you, but even I can grow a little, can’t I?” It was not really a question, and both laughed more softly at the comment, before they continued on in silence for a bit.
“Still, I must say, I think you have been taking a bit too much advice from your horse again, you do know I am available for that sort of thing,” the Pointy-Hat had said.
“And deprive the wide world of…whatever it is you’re always off doing. No, there are still so many human women who have not had the honour of, ahem, your skill with your razor tongue,” both had snickered at the comment. For some reason it felt really good.
“Besides, between you and me, I am far too afraid to seek counsel from any lest Malhandir become jealous. I can assure you there is no sight more chilling than that horse when it is in a foul temper.” The joke, a painfully overused one, still seemed to somehow elicit laughter from both of them. Curiously, the two seemed to know exactly what to say to each other.
Still as the laughter died down it seemed to find itself drawn out, thinning, as an unmistakeable undertone filtered through.
“Do you ever miss it much? Traveling like we used too I mean,” the Pointy-Hat’s voice was drenched in something. But it was a very secretive thing, a frightened and yet simultaneously frightening thing. For some reason it felt it knew exactly what that thing was. It had the sudden clear impression that, if it had been there, it would have been shouting;
Get away! Get away! Can’t you see what he is? Don’t you see how dangerous he is? Are you not terrified? This will break you, the more you give in to it, the more it will break you.
It did not know why.
But the Elf did not see anything, or hear anything, or smell anything, or taste anything that it did not want too. So, what was real, was always disguised. It chose to be blind.
“Hmm…no. Well I mean, of course, I would enjoy traveling with you again, slaying evil, rescuing the innocent and all that. I might even enjoy having the ironic honour of dealing with your sordid affairs for once. But my heart is now here. It always will be. You are welcome to join us though, always, you belong here as much as I do, brother, you are my family and all my family belong here. Just make sure to show Malhandir the proper respect, you do not want to hear what happened to the last Lord who failed to do that,” and almost as if scripted it ended with the two laughing again.
Again, however, the Pointy-Hat laughed loudest. As if it was trying hardest to find something to laugh for.
Sensation, feeling, was a curious thing to rediscover. As if small needles were piercing through a million different points on its body it slowly remembered what it meant to feel something. The longer it held the feeling in it the more it recognized what the feeling was;
Pain. Sharp and stabbing and blunt and irritating, this pain lasted as long as it stared at the figure with the hat and staff. It didn’t know what this pain was, where it came from, but it sat in what it thought was perhaps called its chest.
Without knowing how, it looked at its chest, trying to find what was causing this pain, the hand shaped darkness it had searching for what it could be. But its chest, like the rest of its body, if it could be called that, seemed similarly little more than a copy of a body filled in with blackness. Certainly it was, once again, recognizable that the form was a body in the loosest sense; same rough dimensions, bipedal, four limbed and such, but the evidence that it was not really a body was also once again clear. It was all black, inky black, and devoid once again of the features that gave life and personality to a person.
It was as if someone had taken a person’s silhouette and then inflated it, imparted it volume, depth and mass but not changing the shape and appearance of the silhouette itself.
Its hand came to rest above a higher position on its chest, to the left, the place the pain seemed to emanate from, but the place was as blank as the rest of its body, and thus if the pain lay there it was impossible to know why.
It returned its gaze to the hat wearing figure, the image having become more grainy and blurry in the period it had searched its own body. The pain subdued whenever it took its eyes from the figure and now, as it drifted away, the pain was becoming bearable again; more akin to a dull thud or tiny scratching in the place on his chest. Yet it also realized that the longer it stared through the pain the more things came to it. Things like names…it could vaguely see a name begin to form by the hat wearing figure;
The burnt-Elf, once more unburnt in the images, stumbled through the dark with the gait of a drunkard.
Behind him lay a vast and sprawling encampment. But more than he could ever remember wanting right now the Elf wanted to be utterly alone and abandoned.
As he continued to wind his way awkwardly away from the camp the Teclis’ voice continued to ring through his ears;
It was necessary.
The thought sent him stumbling to his knees, a sudden feeling of unease in his stomach almost paralyzing him, as he furiously scrabbled on his front hands like a beast to regain his footing. Even then, as he steadily rose to two feet again, he found himself bent over, gut aching, as the words seemed to chase him further and further away.
He wanted to be alone. He needed to be alone.
He tried to make each step heavier than the last, hoping to in this way drown out the noise of his own thoughts, as ‘she’ continued to circle within them endlessly. What a curse memory was to now of all times remind him of each and every detail of ‘her’.
His footing failed him again, weakness was beginning to become him greatly, and this time he almost did not bother to rise from the dirt.
What was the point? What point was there to anything anymore? How could he ever make up for failing ‘her’? How could he ever greet a new day with the knowledge that no matter what happened, from now until the End of his life, ‘she’ would never be there.
It was too much, just too much. Did the Gods really hate him so much? Had he done something to them that they would let ‘her’ die as part of their plans? He could not live with this, he just could not. ‘She’ was a part of him, a part of him that could not be reduced, without ‘her’ what Tyrion was, was diminished.
His hands gripped his head as he imagined the joy of simply crushing the thoughts form his skull, watching blood bubble up from the crown of his head and then treacle down his face. He could almost hear the rewarding crunch that would follow. It would be simple, easy and clean. No one could stop him here. He was alone.
Except he was not alone and he knew it. It was why he still lay in imitation of the dead upon the floor. The truth was that no matter how far he ran, lead, killed, loved or anything he would never be alone again. ‘She’ was in every breath he took and in every thought he had. ‘She’ was the only inhabitant of his dreams and the sole cause of his nightmares. ‘She’ would never go away and, yet, at the same time she would never be with him again.
He rolled over onto his back, still cutting a humiliating sight as he wallowed in dust and dirt, and his hand quavered above Sunfang’s sheath.
Again, he remembered, how quick and clean it would be. How he could silence everything and finally be rid of the World.
Was it quick for her?
Everything came up again. He was on his hands and knees, facing down, retching until eventually there was nothing left to retch and he merely choked upon his own bile. A shaky hand wiped at the disgusting bits which clung to his lower lip, but even then he almost missed his face as his vision blurred. Weakness became him.
He sat back, onto the floor, head now looking up at the stars and moon.
He could not for the life of him remember when they had become so oppressive to him.
Was it quick for her?
He needed to be alone. He needed to be alone. He needed to be alone but for all that he was, pathetic and weak, he did not want to be alone. More than he could ever remember wanting he wanted to be with someone right now, anyone, just to see evidence that he existed and meant something to the world. To try to still cling to the faint hope that he, ‘she’, was not simply a piece one expended on a game board like some fancy bauble. He wanted to believe so desperately in that. He wanted too…
Sitting cross-legged in the dirt, the night hanging unsympathetically above, he cried. He only said one thing;
“I am so sorry, Aliathra, I am so, so sorry, so sorry. Forgive me, please, please, forgive me, I beg you, I…I…I…I…” but words were soon simply lost too tears.
Tears which were lost forever in the dark beneath the light of the callous sky.
The intensity of the pain forced it to look away again, regrettably, as the figure was beginning to move out of sight. But it was too much, too much, it clawed with blunt and stubbed shadow-fingers at the place where the pain seemed to come from but achieved nothing. It had, though, the distinct impression that pain was normally worse than this. What it was experiencing, perhaps, was not real pain then.
Why? Why? Why? Why does it hurt? I was so close to a name! So close!
Amongst the indistinct blackness of its form, something was aching. It tried to know what, moving the parts of its form in sequence, as if to determine if there was a physical trigger for the pain. But each part on its own felt nothing, caused nothing, the pain instead seemed to sit within the form, or perhaps it was intrinsic to it.
How frustrating it was to feel like one was a single totality. It had an impression, yet again, that once it had known what it was like to be multiples within a singular but now, now, always it supposed as far as it knew, it felt like a single stroke of black paint against a colourful background. Its whole body seemed to contain the knowledge of this pain. But still…where was the pain coming from?
Seemed to it to be the word it was looking for. With a force of effort, or not since it was unsure if it still had effort, it once more returned its focus to Teclis and the golden black blob. It noticed, even at this distance somehow, that Teclis seemed to be saying something. His lips moved, slowly, as his eyes were frozen upon the burnt-Elf, but the thing felt incapable of deciphering its words.
The female Elf was beautiful, even chained to the posts of a tent as she was, her demeanour and bearing made it clear that she was aware that she was beautiful. Aware, and very proud thereof.
Although it was she who was chained, with the burnt-Elf of earlier standing above her once again no longer burnt, it seemed quite clear to everything in the room that she was not the captive one here.
“So, I was correct, yes? I have proved my loyalty?” Even the black-thing couldn’t help but feel a strange shiver through its form as the voice unspooled from her mouth like yarns of fine silk. The burnt-Elf seemed somewhat less effected though;
“You prove nothing. How do I not know this is a trap you have concocted? Why should I trust that you, now, would suddenly betray a son whom you have almost destroyed the world for?” The Elf spat the words with all the vehemence he could manage but, it seemed, there was not much vehemence left in him. The action of spitting the words out alone seemed tired, drawn out, resigned. It was here that that it noticed that the tone of voice of the Elf seemed thin, replete of content.
The thing could commiserate. As it once more felt its own form it too felt thin and stretched. As if it was being used to cover something too wide and too long for it too actually fit. But it was stretching to fit.
“I have only ever sought to serve one Lord, always, my son was only a necessary stepping stone to that end,”
“Necessary is not a word I am fond of right now, I begin to think that our world would be a much better place if all those who can only view others as ‘things’ to step over were stepped over themselves. Perhaps then they might feel a little what it is like to be treated as an insect.” The vehemence returned swiftly and there was nothing resigned about his tone now. Even the female Elf, although only somewhat, seemed to pause to reconsider her words.
“It is not I who took your daughter and friends from you Prince. I am not the one who you should be speaking to in anger,” her voice changed swiftly, almost as if it had always been different, as it seemed to become akin to the stroking of a hand across a small child’s face.
“It is not anger I speak from, it is my heart I am speaking from. Not that I would expect you to understand that,”
The face of the female Elf flashed for a moment with a variety of feelings, anger, and indignation and even for the briefest of moment’s pity, before finally it became one of a strange sincerity. It was strange, in that, it looked as if the face was unaccustomed to wearing sincerity upon it. Certainly it seemed the expression of emotion was genuine but it sat uncomfortably, almost facetiously, upon the female Elf’s face.
“Yes…it is true. I have no heart. My heart was taken from me a long time ago, but in that we are alike, Prince,” her words seemed to reach out like a hand, lifting the burnt Elf’s chin until he looked her in the eyes.
“You were so sweet at the beginning, my Prince, but that beginning was all wrong, very wrong. What has it gained you? Who has stood by you for it? Of the people you cared for who sacrificed for you? You say you speak from your heart but that is all wrong. My Prince, like me, your heart is gone. How can it not be? No Aliathra, no Teclis, no Finubar, no Eldyra, and no Eltharion and…” the last name seemed difficult to say for the female Elf, almost as if she had to vomit it out;
“No Alarielle. Remove those names and what is your heart? What was your heart but ever their possession and not yours? A heart is the thing we fill with the people we love. My heart was taken from me and you have never owned your heart, my Prince, it has always been the property of others, and they have chosen to use it as their stepping stone. We have no hearts to speak of you and I.”
The burnt-Elf recoiled, despite himself, from the voice of the female Elf, turning his face away to hide what were obvious tears. The female Elf, though clearly aware of these tears, chose to give the Elf the illusion of ignorance. For a moment, allowing him to compose himself, she remained softly sitting on the floor of the tent, arms long ago actually free of the pointless chains that bound her, and formed into her lap.
The World slowly passed the two by as they remained frozen thus, searching for something to say into the gap between. It was the burnt-Elf who gave up first, moving to leave the tent and the female Elf behind him.
“Where will you go now? What will you do?”
“Of what concern is that too you?”
“Is it not obvious? I have disguised nothing from you,” her voice quavered and the male Elf rounded upon her fiercely, a sword out and levelled at her throat as he glared into her eyes.
“I do not need you to help me, I do not want you to help me, I despise you, your son, all of you. You have murdered tens of thousands, you relish in torture and slavery, you both deserve nothing but each other forever,” he snarled in a way which seemed inappropriate for the man pointing a sword at an unarmed frail woman. His grip on the sword seemed to slacken.
“You do need me. You have always needed me. What are your defences Prince? Drinking? Fighting? Hurling yourself into armies of Daemons and foes? Seeking death to absolve you of failing your daughter? Your strongest defences, as you call them, are simply self-inflicted wounds you give yourself time and time again. Again and again you castigate and flagellate yourself for being insufficient, for being too little, and what does that help? You blame yourself for your failures, you blame yourself for your successes, you blame yourself for the failures of your comrades and you blame yourself for never being enough. If I do not try to help you…you will kill yourself.”
For a moment the two remained as they were, he towering above her with a sword held to her throat, she simply seated before him with nothing upon her, face defiant, but no means of defence.
Once more the World moved past the two, and the burnt-Elf seemed incapable of moving with it.
The male Elf sagged to the floor, sword forgotten, as he went to its knees, slamming both fists to the ground, drawing ragged breaths as he once more futilely sought to hide tears, curling into himself until he became a most undignified sight.
“What, what is this? Why do I we have it? Why would anyone risk this feeling,” he breathed sharply between grit teeth, as the female Elf risked shifting closer and placing a single hand tentatively upon the male Elf’s back. When this seemed to elicit no reaction she placed her head upon the crook of his back and slowly spoke in a tone of voice she had not used in almost six-thousand years.
“It is called heart break. It is the worst pain you will ever know.”
A heart! That was it! The pain it was feeling was because of…a heart. Or perhaps, more accurately, it was remembering the pain of a heart it never possessed itself. Yes. The pain was there, but it was more like the knowledge of the pain, the awareness of it, without the experience. In this it seemed similar to the way its form seemed to be the awareness of a form without the actual existence thereof.
The painful scratching feeling began to let up again now, as the blurry figures melted into obscurity, the burned Elf’s image looming larger and larger, large enough now that it could notice the sword hilt grasped in his one hand.
It was beginning to grow warmer, and it could see the lips of the Elf slowly forming words although it couldn’t hear anything he said. The two shapes blurred until they were both nearly invisible. The burnt-Elf-with-hand-on-sword-hilt was growing larger and larger and the black-thing thought it could see sparks begin to ignite beneath the skin.
It was growing warmer. Much warmer.
For some reason it once more gained the impression that the Elf before it might be some sort of mirror. The longer it focused, for there was no memory of pain when looking at it, the more it gained the sentiment that it was standing just behind this Elf, although somehow also in front of it, and that it viewed the events from far off because it was a shadow cast by the Elf.
Yes, that seemed to fit, it stood behind the Elf some distance, cast off like an unwanted shadow, and it looked from behind the eyes of the Elf at both what the Elf saw but, also, at the Elf himself. It suddenly dawned that this might not be an Elf.
So what was the Elf’s name? It was certain it knew this. It also felt certain that once it knew this it would know its own name. So what was the name?
In the memory of the female Elf there had been many names, although it could now only recall two, but it was certain that none of them had been this Elf’s name. But it had to know. It had to know.
So it took halting steps forward. The process was uneasy, not least of all because it didn’t really understand how it moved, but the distance between the two seemed to shrink rapidly regardless of how many steps it failed to take. As it approached the Elf seemed to loom above it, mouth still wordlessly working, and the black-thing felt the heat grow and grow.
Yet with the heat came images it vaguely recalled, and in the haze of warmth it sought a name.
It was jarring, if it could be explained, to not feel like there was a beginning or an ending. To feel as if one simply started in the middle. Of course, he supposed, that would make the middle the beginning, right? Teclis would know the answer to those sort of questions, or he’d simply conceive of a convincing enough lie to satisfy the asker of the question. He was, after all, clever like that.
He had lost track of beginnings and ends since Reaver’s Mark. Now, since he had ceased sleeping, every day and night just blurred into the same unwanted mess of awareness.
Neither sleeping nor waking could ever change the fact that she was not, and could not ever be, here with him. Thus exhaustion, the hallucinations and slowing of his mental faculties it brought, was the only way to even try to mitigate the pain. It was futile.
But the early light fluttering in informed him that what was once night was beginning to give way to dawn. Although he’d never thought about it before – indeed he most likely had scoffed at those who did – exhaustion distracted his mind now, with thoughts such as why dawn and night were separated when, in truth, the two bled into each other with no exact end or beginning.
When had he begun fearing the sunrise? Since Morathi?
But dawn was a beginning. A beginning for everyone in that camp. Dawn meant continuing to the Shrine of Khaine, and the fate that awaited them there. Dawn meant living, however painful it was. He could not leave his men to suffer. He had to still be their bulwark. If that meant dying at the Shrine then it was not so bad.
Normally squires or Handmaidens would have assisted him to don his armour. But he had ceased using their services some time ago. Since he no longer slept, he didn’t even take his armour off that often, preferring too simply sit upon the floor of his tent and stare at its canopy. Whole nights he had while away thusly, seeing ‘her’ in everything no matter how much he wished not too.
The truth was he feared, above all things, sleep because he feared what dreams they would bring. The nightmares would not frighten him for, now, his life had become a nightmare beyond anything sleep could hold. But dreams, dreams, they would show him something far worse than any nightmare.
But his helmet had fallen off, sometime in his thrashing about on the floor with Morathi, and now as he prepared to go he crawled about on the floor to see where he might have knocked it. For a Prince as noble as he it was a strangely pathetic sight as he crawled about, dirtying clean and expensive linen and cloth, using gauntlets made for war as crude implements as he groped about like a blind man in his tired haze for the helm.
His search was brought to a premature end, however, when the head of a beautiful white stallion poked its way through into his tent, helmet held in between its teeth, and it gave a small whiny to gain his attention.
He could not help but smile. Although it was true he had sent all his squires and retainers away the one being he could never get to leave him, no matter how hard he tried, was this horse.
“Malhandir,” he said, his face creasing with a smile which seemed to find it difficult to stay on his face, as he picked himself up from the dirt, the daze of exhaustion lifting somewhat, and he walked towards his friend.
Malhandir itself seemed to nicker sympathetically, slowly stepping in, as it lowered its head to drop the helmet into the Elf’s hands. The Elf promptly put the helmet aside, ignoring it for the time being, as he placed his arms as best he could around Malhandir’s broad shoulders and pressed his face into the snow white neck of the horse.
Though the horse seemed somewhat surprised at first, it was possessed of a noble bearing which seemed to make even the slightest action seem regal. It stayed still for a while, a look of understanding on its features, as it allowed the small Elf to cling to it in silence a little longer.
The moment passed, sadly, as all moments do.
The Elf pulled away, somewhat, still clasping Malhandir, as he looked the creature in the eyes with his own puffy red ones;
“Are you ready old friend? We may well die today, even more than usual you know, so I understand if you cannot accompany me. If we die today we can probably expect our carcasses to be strung up on the Witch King’s Banner or our viscera turned into a belt, you know how the Druchii hate to waste.”
The laugh was a tiny fragile thing. Although not yet broken fully, it was clear that the slightest bump or chink would shatter it.
Malhandir’s face seemed to smile, although it was difficult to know with a horse, but it did give an affectionate nudge to the Elf’s shoulder as if playfully battering him.
”I know, I know. I suppose this is not the time to jest? I suppose this is not much of a time at all. Do you think I can do it?”
The horse stared the Elf in the face, its mouth opening as it said;
That was its name! Yes! It was Prince Tyrion! Defender of Ulthuan, Herald of the Phoenix King, Brother of Teclis, Consort of the Everqueen, friend of Eltharion the Grim, slayer of Urian Poisonblade and N’kari, Partner of Malhandir, Father of Aliathra and failed Regent of Ulthuan.
But…but that did not seem right. It could not be Tyrion for the Elf before it was Tyrion. It distinctly now realized that the Elf before it was Tyrion. The name had gone a great deal to helping it think.
It was growing very hot now and the Elf was beginning to slowly slide the sword out of its place within the shrine. As the sword slid out sparks seemed to leap from it, where they landed catching, and soon fires were beginning to sprout about Tyrion, including on his own form. If he felt any discomfort from this he did not display it.
It was growing very warm. The fires were rising.
But it still had a conundrum to solve. What was it? Though it felt the name Tyrion seemed to suit it the name also seemed to suit, perhaps better, the Elf in front of it. But that Elf, that Tyrion, seemed to be sloughing off the name as the fires rose. With each moment that the air became hotter, the name Tyrion seemed to belong less and less in this place, seemed to be burning away like a thin sheet of paper, in favour of a new name. All of a sudden it felt stretched once again, as if being pulled in all four directions, as if someone was desperately trying to use it to cover something. But that thing, whatever it was, was far too large for it, Tyrion perhaps, to ever cover.
The sword came out.
Pain wracked every single second and fibre of his body. He was aware of the intense burns across his face, largely by merit of the fact that he could no longer feel that side of his face, nor see out of that eye, but he could not care less at this moment. A frenzy had overtaken him. Although in his fight with Malekith it had been the rush of combat and the need to lay low that ancient evil that had pushed him on, he had still felt the pain, especially after his victory, still been slowed by it.
But now, as he stood before the Widowmaker itself, all pain was forgotten. The world itself was melting away. The only thing that even slightly pulled him from the trance he had been in was the arrival of Teclis, whose words had cut through the daze, to reach him. But those words were as hollow and empty, he now saw, as the one who spoke them.
Even as Teclis spoke, though the first words did ring through the Widowmaker’s call and pulled Tyrion’s eyes to Teclis, the words after merely destroyed that moment of connection. Instead, as the Widowmaker once more began to force his eyes to it, he had time only for a few thoughts before he was once more lost in his obsession.
My brother, my beloved brother, how could you have come to hate me so much? What did I do that invited this upon me? Did I displease someone…something? Did I offend the Gods somehow? I only sought to make us, all of us, safe and happy. In that what did I do that was so wrong? What did I do that made you take her from me? She was your niece. I would rather you had killed me then her, you know that.
But Teclis only spoke of how Morathi used him, offered no further reasoning, and Tyrion could feel a spark of something igniting beneath the skin. With each further word Tyrion felt whatever will he had slipping. The Widowmaker was calling to him, a series of sibilant whispers whose content was indecipherable, yet irresistible. He had felt the Widowmaker call him before, many times, but this was stronger than anything else he had felt before. It was not so much calling him as it was reaching out to him and pulling him. His hand seemed to move of its own volition, yet at the same time felt far more comfortable in its motion then it had ever felt when he moved it, and the words he needed to say were coming to him freely now, removing the need for him to create them himself. Things were easier this way and, as his hand hovered about the hilt, he realized that from now on things would only ever get easier.
Drawing the Widowmaker felt like something he had to do, he should do, even if he knew doing so was wrong. It felt natural, almost appropriate, as if this moment had been waiting for him to come. He felt beneath himself, as if something was bubbling up to the surface, a churning and primeval sea which hid beneath him threatened to flood, and he was pushed on by the momentum it generated in his own body.
Then he remembered that, strangely, his heart was hurting. But he did not remember any wounds beyond the scorching of his face. Strange. It almost felt for a moment as if moving his hand to draw the sword was causing his heart to hurt. But that was foolish.
His hand closed around the hilt.
It was impossible to describe the setting, for he understood nothing of what was about him anymore. The Shrine, Teclis, Malekith everything was gone. Or maybe not, he could no longer tell, as he seemed to drift dislocated from everything.
His form was being consumed, a cankerous blackness seemed to seep out of the hole where his heart should have been, and oozing across his entire body as it erased feature and distinction from him. The feeling of being stretched, of being spread too thin, suddenly stopped and like a piece of twine which could no longer stretch to accommodate what it bound the feeling snapped.
And then he saw what had snapped him so easily. In front of him, with his body still being erased by blackness, was him. Not him, but Him, the him that he truly was, not the pale memory of him that he had briefly been before. Him, Khaine, Tyrion or whatever other name.
The figure was towering, although he was by no means taller than Tyrion, and he was wreathed in a fire which seemed to burn with no ill effect beneath his very skin. He wore power upon his brow and clenched the Widowmaker in one hand as if it was a part of his being.
With a crackle of flames and a scattering of sparks into the formlessness all around He clasped a gauntleted fist around his neck and crushed. Although the pain was excruciating, it was nothing compared to the night and days since Teclis, Aliathra and Alarielle had been lost to him. Tyrion was already aware that the pain was becoming simply the memory of another’s pain, as He became him and thus his feelings were relegated simply to the shadows of His feelings.
As the creature clenched, the blackness grew faster and faster. As the flames burned directly in front of him the shadows they cast seemed to fuse to his body, slowly turning him into the silhouette of Him. He, it, was the shadow of Him, the real him, who had always been Him.
The fires had grown into tall pyres all about him. In the flickering light of those roaring flames only one shadow persisted; himself, lurking behind Tyrion or Khaine, no there was no distinction.
He now knew what he was; a dream of a real soul who had come to believe himself the dreamer for he went so long before the one who dreamed him awoke. But now He, who was also the real him, was waking from His slumber. Within the fire, which now began to melt metal and flesh, he could see Him undergoing a change as the separation between armour and body became liminal and the light and blood within became fire. There was a forging of soul in those fires.
So, then, in the end what was the answer to his conundrum? What was he? He was a shadow thrown by who he really was. He had been the layer over the Him. But he was not Him, he could never be Him, but at the same time he was no longer himself, as Him was also himself. So was there a him to begin with? Or had he never really existed except in his own thoughts?
By now the intensity of the flames had burned the inky darkness into a scorched and fractured charcoal like colour. Cracking as the form he now was could once more see the twisted indented spiral where his heart would have been, marking the puckered wound that had done this to him.
Still his fear was receding, and with it his thoughts and feelings, as he looked into that fire. The Fires seemed to draw everything he was too it, feeding his thoughts, feelings and aspirations into it.
He recalled that he had once asked someone, the names were escaping him once again as their importance seemed to vanish, about dying in fire. It had sounded like a terrible affair. But he did not countenance the thought that entering that fire would hurt. For some reason, deep within it, it began to feel that burning alive would perhaps be akin to coming home. It had no home to come to but it had the memories of his and also His homes to at least pretend would be its. Within that inferno was where it belonged. Those cruel flames were the only proof of it ever being in place of Him.
A parade of faces seemed to pass it by as the fire approached but it could no longer remember who or what they were. A grim faced Elf who gave him an urge to clasp a hand about his shoulder, a young Elf woman crying over the form of her father who he wished to console, a wizened old Elf smiling lightly as it stood beside a glowing pointy-hat wearing Elf, a tall and noble Elf wearing a crown whom he felt only pity for, and many others beside. Yet through the entire parade it could identify none, not one, even if it felt some of them it had met but a moment ago. At its end was a beautiful Queen, radiant in her glory, dressed in finery and whom he did not doubt was the most magnificent sight he had ever seen. She wore power on her brow too, but whilst His was crude and obvious, her was light and inviting. It felt important to know her name, it felt as if it was somehow lesser for forgetting that.
But after the parade only He remained and, it was clear, that it was time for the shadow of Him to go back to being nothing but a shadow. It could not help but feel a little relieved. At least, from now on, He would have to bear his constant mistakes and He would have to endure the company and betrayal of others.
But there was still something it had to do. One last impulse it had to fulfil, finish, before it could come back. It knew not why but it knew what it had to do.
The intensity of the heat had almost petrified its blackened body and with a sound akin to the groaning of an old tree parts of its blackened form began to flake and break off, turning into ash, which was the carried back into the flame where it swirled about the haze of blood surrounding him.
It took a step back and faltered, its leg bursting away into ash as its foot touched down, sending it sprawling to one knee. There was not much time and it had to finish this, this one last thing. With an urgency it did not remember as its own it began to carve a message with its fingers into his arm. The process was slow and frustrating, its blunted fingers had to be used as a pick slowly chipping away flakes of the arm in order to form the message. As he did so his own hand was reduced to little more than a stump, the rest of it floating away to join Him, but still he carved on.
Crack, crack went his arm, bits of ash flying off of it.
As he bludgeoned holes into its arm, words forming because of how they were framed by the darkness, it wondered what it would feel like.
It was not dying, not yet, since He was not dead and all that it was, was a pale reflection of the him that became Him.
Crack, crack, crack it continued to chip away with the broken stub of what was once a hand.
No light or fire streamed out of the cavities it carved into itself. Like him it was totally hollow and filled by Him.
He was almost done, almost, then he would know what it was he was doing.
It was very lonely.
Work done it looked upon the word and felt a strange contentment. It smiled, its face cracking apart at the corners and vanishing into ash. It wondered if, perhaps, there was a way it could ever earn a chance to see them again.
Then it was gone. The last bits burst into puffs of ash and smoke and fused themselves to the flames. For a moment the word lingered, framed by the black, but as that broke apart and blew away the forms too vanished. The meaning of the word remained a brief while longer as the shadow of him that was Him tried to keep it there as long as possible.
Reflection: Permitted to Dream
But perhaps if everything else could, for now, be set aside and forgotten and if he was now to cease to be anything but His own dream then there was something to anticipate.
It was unlikely to last long, if time was still relevant to the matter, so there was no reason to try to hide from it anymore. It had been more exhausting hiding from it the past month then every war he had ever fought in in his entire, relatively brief, life had ever been.
If it was permitted then he would have so very much liked to have a dream again.
The dream itself was a familiar one, he had been having it for more than a century now, even though the particulars and specifics of it were rarely consistent. At times the number of inhabitants in his dream could range into the hundreds and, yet, at other times it ranged as low as a handful. The location, the décor, could be a palace or a farmstead, a ship bound for the Old World or merely a comfortable bed of grass on which to lie.
These details did not change the dream, merely coloured it, and in the grand scheme of things were usually forgotten by his dull wits shortly the next morning.
It was only him and her in the dream now. They sat side by side, no pomp or circumstance dividing, as they watched everything from before end. He made sure to keep her in a tight embrace for as long as the dream lasted, even if all she did was give him a somewhat pitying gaze in response, he was simply grateful that she humoured him this, yet another, weakness and foible of his ever growing list.
Normally, in the dream, he always found the courage he lacked in life to tell her exactly why she meant as much as she did to him. To explain that though it was unfair and selfish he would always take pride in her achievements, that though it was weak and greedy he would always love her more, that though he had no right too he would always serve her and that all the horrors and burdens to be placed on her head would never be her own but merely the cost of his arrogance.
A daughter could not choose their own father and thus should not be blamed for who their father was. A daughter should become what she chooses to be, not what her father made her. A daughter was a future which deserved to have the right to be explored. A daughter was supposed to outlive him. A father was supposed to kill monsters. It was what fathers were made for*.
But he had killed her, not the monsters. The monsters, all of them, were going to survive. He had only managed to kill her.
So now, this final time, he had no courage to say such hollow and pointless platitudes and lies. He had no courage to disguise how much of a weakling and coward he always had been. He could only hope that, if she ever had, had the chance to see exactly how pathetic and disgusting he was, that she would find it in herself to absolve him.
So this final time if it was permitted, or even if it was not to be honest, he would dream of him and of her as they would never, ever have the chance to be; a Father and his Daughter.
Then there was hate..
|Author:||Aicanor [ Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:17 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: ESC - Reflections|
Interesting piece. You warned us it was not traditional story and it wasn't. At one time I was almost sure 'the it' was Aenarion's armour. But it wasn't, was it? There must have been more than one point of view.
|Author:||Haagrum [ Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:52 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: ESC - Reflections|
A very well-written, if unusual piece. It wasn't easy to get into, but I think you've pulled it off.
I had guessed the identity of the narrator (or at least, I thought I had) early in the piece, but I don't think it's that simple. This was a very interesting approach to take to this particular story, and one which hasn't been attempted before (that I know of, at least).
|Author:||NCEITFOA [ Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:59 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: ESC - Reflections|
Interesting piece. You warned us it was not traditional story and it wasn't. At one time I was almost sure 'the it' was Aenarion's armour. But it wasn't, was it? There must have been more than one point of view.
Traditional is tough for me right now. Since I genuinely don't feel a connection to Warhammer Fantasy's Fluff as a result of the cuckoldry. I played Warhammer Fantasy Battle for epic battles and fantasy warfare not to watch...I don't know what to even call it, it just makes me so sad and sick.
But you're not wrong about the Armour of Aenarion. What is true is that there were a lot more then one point of view, part of the idea was the confusing mess of wills and personas clashing. Though it is true there was more then one point of view, ultimately, all points of view are the same. Everything is just little bits of Khaine finally returning to him as he gets born.
A very well-written, if unusual piece. It wasn't easy to get into, but I think you've pulled it off.
I had guessed the identity of the narrator (or at least, I thought I had) early in the piece, but I don't think it's that simple. This was a very interesting approach to take to this particular story, and one which hasn't been attempted before (that I know of, at least).
I appreciate that you think I pulled it off well, to me it stinks of clear melancholy so that's probably why I can't help but feel it sucks. Yeah I think the identity of the narrator was probably pretty obvious (as in really obvious) as for the approach I am glad you found it interesting, that's more then I can ask on its own.
I suppose this is my attempt at an ending.
Addendums to the Reflection:
There had been a time, not so long ago in fact, where she would have taken the time to appreciate and relish the scene of carnage below her.
The battlefield was, by now, mired in a wide melee as attempts to gain ground became slow and exhausting work for the combatants involved. Both sides were showing signs of fatigue by now, dusk settling indicating how long they had been killing each other, but when it came to a contest of energy the Aestyrion had the advantage of madness on their side. Thus she felt no need for her own involvement as of yet. No she was, instead, fulfilling a far more important purpose.
She was watching him.
If it was true that the lines of the conflict were mostly static now, with the Aestyrion perhaps slowly pushing their foes back, then one individual stood in contradiction to this summation. Like a spear tip the distinctive form of the Avatar of Khaine was far ahead of his own lines, creating a gap of corpses behind him which his men tried to fill in as the more zealous sought to keep pace with their leader. It was a fool’s hope they had of achieving that.
Morathi felt yet another distinctive quiver through her spine, one hand clenching Sulephet’s mane more tightly, as she watched him.
When had she last seen it? More than six-thousand years ago. It was almost incomprehensible to imagine memory could keep itself so pristine. But those memories were burned into her mind like nothing else ever had been. Had or ever would be.
Now those memories were coming to life.
She temporarily sharpened her focus as a Dragon began its descent towards the Avatar’s form. By now he was almost surrounded on all sides by his foes, his supposed bodyguard lagging significantly behind, yet the surrounding enemies seemed hesitant to move towards either the Prince or the ring of corpses about him. All save the Dragon and its rider of course.
Naturally, she assumed, that there was nothing to worry about.
She gulped reflexively.
With a huge beat of wings the monster returned to the ground and, for a moment, she lost sight of the Avatar behind the visage of the Dragon.
It only briefly remained thus and, shortly, the Dragon seemed to reel back, its serpentine neck arcing, before it seemed to scramble back into the sky. As the huge bulk of the creature moved she caught sight of what it had obscured but could see only the Avatar’s horse, already falling back towards Tyrion’s erstwhile bodyguards.
A saurian roar drew her attention from the horse and back to the Dragon which, in mid-air, seemed to be thrashing about. In between its thrashing Morathi caught sight of the cause of the Dragon’s discomfort; her Avatar was on it.
She let out a sight and relaxed, her staff lowering, even as she realized that she had not remembered raising it in the first place.
The Dragon now seemed to be recoiling back, taking it beyond the battle. Morathi gave suit without looking back to their own forces. Her duty was now to him, once again, and she would not fail him as she did before.
A small, private part of herself was relieved when she finally caught up with him some distance from the carnage of the primary battlefield. Although it was true that he, since drawing the Widowmaker, had become nigh impossible to kill that did not change the fact that she still felt pangs of worry and concern whenever he vanished from her sight. It had been centuries since she had felt so anxious.
It was love, she was certain of it.
He was pacing when she found him, a recently common state for him to be in, as his hands clearly twitched by his side as if seeking something to do. Since drawing the Widowmaker she had noticed a number of changes about him but one of the most clear was the sheer restlessness it gave him. He hardly ever slept and found it incredibly difficult to remain still for in length of time. Morathi, of course, did not object to either of these traits. There were far more interesting things to do at night then sleep in her opinion. But the Widowmaker seemed to take any experience, any emotion or feeling, and translate it into anger. Thus his countenance seemed to always be that of a man fuming or about to lash out. It became him well. Like a wounded animal he limped back and forth, snarling and baring his fangs at everyone and everything about himself, unpredictable to all.
Well, all but her that was.
His pacing hardly stopped at her approach, pausing only briefly to notice her presence, before turning his attention back to the Dragon carcass behind him and attempting to extricate the Widowmaker most ingloriously from between the eyes of the gargantuan creature. The corpse of what was once a Dragon of Caledor was bathed in its own blood and that of its rider. Yet, Morathi noted, she did not see the body of the rider atop it or nearby. At places its bones jutted out of gaping holes like the barbs on a portcullis, one eye lay crushed to a jelly-like pulp a short distance from the remains of the head which had been severed from most of its maw. The remains of its mouth, fangs still protruding, lay a short distance away from the impaled skull, connected now to the rest of the head only by a smear of blood against the ground.
The stench about it was powerful, and Morathi took a moment to savour the crude aroma, as the heat of the night festered against the soft innards spooling out of the creature’s scaled hide.
With a wet ‘plop’ Tyrion’s armoured boot caved in a further part of the skull of the creature, crushing down into non-active brain matter, as the Widowmaker slid out of the hole it had left betwixt the Dragon’s eyes. A spray of blood and brain matter spattered about, striking Tyrion and his armour, and staining the surroundings a mixture of dark reds. Bits of gore clung to the armour, decorating it in a fashion, as Tyrion spat out some of it which had flown into his face. The Widowmaker, however, alone remained unmarred as all gore and viscera upon it were sloughed off as if incapable of clinging to it.
The sight was quite wonderful and she had to clench her legs about Sulephet to steady herself as she landed and daintily leapt from the creature’s back in order to meet her Prince.
The white stallion strode past her even as her joyous greeting stayed upon her lips. She shot the horse a venomous glare which would have cowed most living beings. If Malhandir noticed it gave no sign and merely continued to pass by her towards his Master.
Malhandir stalled for a moment, its nostrils temporarily turning upwards in apparent disgust, as it approached Tyrion but the Prince paid the horse’s disquiet no heed and simply marched forward, grasping the reins of the horse far more forcefully then it was accustomed to. In the process he also smeared some of the blood staining him unto the Stallion’s snow-white coat.
Morathi smiled internally at the horse’s discomfort, as if it was in some way her victory, as she made sure to stride forward to Tyrion’s side heedless of the stench and pall of gore about him.
Truthfully the Prince’s state was abysmal. Even now, though the Widowmaker was clean, the rest of him was drenched in the viscera of his fallen foes. Had this coating of blood and guts simply been the result of his recent clash, which had ended scant moments ago, it would be understandable but his armour bore upon it the caked layers of blood and dirt from almost all the battles since the Shrine of Khaine. His hair too, when the helm was removed, was matted and stuck together in clumps with the hardened remains of slain foes giving him a wild look which Morathi found fitting.
If any of his subordinates, save Malhandir, noticed the state of the Prince of late they seemed unwilling to comment, and Morathi saw to it that this state of being was encouraged. Her Prince was fine as he was, he had no need to preen like some peacock, death was his garment and he wore it like a rabid animal.
Finally his bloodshot eyes fell upon her and she felt her heart soar a bit into her throat. How long had it been since she felt nervous before a man? Especially a man who had already seen her naked?
“You are here again,” he spoke calmly, a rarity for him, as his eyes roved up and down her form. Although he had seen it many times before by now there seemed to be a new element in his examination and thus Morathi made sure to expose herself completely, making sure that he could see her every aspect.
She never concealed anything from him.
“I am always beside you, I have always been beside you,” she spoke truthfully, by now a greeting she was accustomed to giving him, as she awaited his inevitable demand for where next he could find enemies. Yet, tonight, he remained strangely quiet first. It was quite a wait before he finally spoke to her again.
He regarded her impassively, turning his back to Malhandir, as he now gave her his full attention.
The question was brusque yet its brevity belied its impact. With a stunned look Morathi found herself confused. Yet in the brief silence that followed it was clear that an answer was expected. Morathi stumbled somewhat with her words, a strange experience for her, as she tried to give him a satisfactory answer.
“Because you are my King,”
The answer seemed not to impress the Avatar and his eyes unfocused from her .
“Your son bears Asuryan’s blessing, does he not?”
Such a bold statement. She had not expected such a thing. Morathi searched his reddened eyes for some indication of his intentions. Was this a jest? A test?
“S-so it is said. But how convenient for him that the Flames sank scant moments after he claimed to have entered them, and what witnesses does he have? Teclis? All of Ulthuan now knows that your twin would damn and doom whoever he found expedient to do so, his words cannot be trusted by any.”
Morathi repeated the story she had crafted and with which she had successfully convinced dozens of nobles to reject her son’s legitimacy with all the persuasion she normally mustered.
The Avatar seemed, once again, unimpressed by the answer. His eyes tarried on her a moment more before he turned back to the horse, ignoring her.
Morathi’s heart gave an unsteady beat as she watched his back turning to her. His attention dwindling, she remembered when he last turned his back on her. Then, that time, she had watched him go not even countenancing that it would be the last time she ever saw him. She would not repeat the mistake of over six-thousand years ago now. She would not let him go alone ever again.
“Even if he bore the blessing of Asuryan, you would still be my King,” Morathi blurted out, capturing his attention and forcing him to look back at her, look back and find her own gaze unwaveringly matched to his.
It was the Avatar who first looked away from her.
“Phoenix Kings, by definition, are the Kings of Asuryan, are they not? Why do you believe it is I who should be King then?” Another test, or a genuine question? Either way she knew the answer long before he asked, she would not mince her time with pretty words, not for him, for him, as it had been centuries ago, she would tell the truth;
“Because it is you whom I love, that is all reason I shall ever need,” she took some steps forward, drawing closer to him, as she spoke softly;
“Even if the World and everyone and everything on it were against us it would still be you, it has always been you, and I will not let you forget that,” she was approaching him now, her eyes misting over somewhat, as she looked forward to the rewards she would soon reap. Not that she thought of it in such utilitarian terms, she did not stroke his ego solely for her own pleasure, the truth was that she genuinely meant every word she said to him.
Her advance, and further statement, were abruptly lost to her as a cold pin prick of pain suddenly blossomed upon her waist. Looking down she saw the edge of the Widowmaker lightly touching her side, a small sprout of red where it touched her, and from there back she saw the sword and the hand that held it all connected. She looked up at the Avatar.
“Love? Love is dangerous. Love is pain, the closer you draw to someone, the more you cut yourself upon them. We all seek to be embraced but the truth is that an embrace will always hurt us. No matter how close we may wish to come to each other seeking another’s company will always mean hurting ourselves. Love is Athari's, not the Mother's, it is selfish, jealous and cruel. It is pain.”
"Yet the Mother is worse, the Mother is a liar, she claims to love all, to have compassion for all, yet she will always chose some children over the others, she will always accept that there are children who must live forgotten and motherless. It may not be selfish and it may not be jealous but, thus, it is not love. The Mother cannot experience love, but she will always claim to, for she is jealous of us," she returned, confident, as she began to feel the shifting of something very old inside of him.
"So love, of which all myths and bards speak, amounts to nothing more than the urge to lose ourselves? Self-Destruction sublimated into another? What purpose is there to derive from that?"
"There is no purpose in love. There is only the Truth. There is 'you' and 'me' in Love and, only through love, for a brief moment can we ascend to a 'we' and, when we are 'we', we understand that the world about us never has, and never will, matter. Without love, why live?"
She could not help but wonder if, somewhere, she had begun a theological discussion with the God of Murder. Murder, the action and intent, was perhaps the action which weighed heaviest of all upon the metaphysical connections between living beings. In some ways it would seem that, quite plainly, murder was as opposed to Love as any two concepts could be. But, Morathi, saw a different perspective.
Taking a deep breath she steeled herself and stepped forward.
She winced somewhat as she felt the sword slowly shear a line through her waist. Each step was considerably difficult, the bloody incision she was giving her own body testament to that, but regardless she continued to walk towards him, ignoring the pain.
“Will endure that pain gladly…”
She was on top of him now, a sizeable gash upon her waist bleeding, as she gently placed one palm upon her wound and allowed the blood to soak it.
“My feelings are not so shallow as to stop or be dimmed by your or my pain or suffering and…”
Her palm was now covered in her own blood as she brought it up, placing it upon the top of his armour, over his heart to leave her mark, staining right beside the ever diminishing heart-shaped jewel.
“Our pain will be the proof, proof none can ever doubt, of our love. What love is deeper than that love which binds one in pain? When we hurt for someone and are hurt for them we prove our love more than any amount empty promises broken as soon as they cease to be expedient to us,” she leaned herself into his imposing figure, bloodied palm still above his hearts as if claiming it, as she rested her head upon his armoured torso.
“Like the pain you feel for your daughter, so great a pain makes your love for her impossible to doubt,” she whispered the final piece, feeling emboldened to touch upon a topic she normally avoided, as she took a strange comfort from the coldness he exuded.
Silence briefly lingered between the two but, despite a brief tension, eventually she felt the cold point of the Widowmaker withdraw from her skin, a wound left behind as memory of where it had penetrated her, and his arms went limp beside him.
“Love…an interesting thing with which to choose a king,” he mused.
“There is no stronger force in all the worlds, gods themselves can be humbled by love,” she whispered back, lifting her face from his chest, briefly catching sight of her reflection off the darkened plate and seeing a young Elf Maid from almost ten thousand years ago looking back at her with smile of innocence sacrificed, before gazing up to meet his eyes.
But a hair’s breadth of air separated their faces and, soon, not even that remained.
Cut. Slice. Slash. Lacerate. Eviscerate. Impale. Shear. Shave. Decapitate. Disembowel. Vivisect. Castrate. Torture. Rip. Rend. Tear. Murder.
The lovely chorus of violence sang once more in his head, drowning out screams and shrieks, as blood flew in tempo.
It was euphoria, joy pure and unadulterated, as his arm swung about in wide arcs to disembowel all about him;
Disembowel. Shear. Decapitate. Amputate. Shred.
If he did not hate each and every single thing so very much he almost would have wished that they could see and hear the world the way he could. To its very core he saw, he peeled back the gauzy layers of flesh and bone to play and mould the soft tissue and flesh within like a potter’s clay.
Shred. Rip. Hate. Kill.
Seized by a sudden impulse he thrust his gauntlet through the chest and breast plate of the Knight trying in vain to fight him, loving the artistic pattern of blood which spurted onto his own face, tongue lapping up reflexively to taste at it, as he crushed the soft meaty heart and ripped it free of the Elf’s chest.
The heart look appetizing.
Consume. Devour. Hate. Kill.
But he did hate. Not them, or that, or him, or her, or they for all those were limitations cowards and sycophants placed upon their hate in order to escape the Truth. No his was a hatred without limit. It was not accurate to say he hated any particular group or person, he simply hated with every fibre of his being.
It occurred to him as he brought his arm down through the skull of some fool on his feet that the colours of his armour looked familiar, as if he knew it, but such concerns bled away when yet another herd of cattle moved to lay their necks down on a cutting board for him. He would certainly not disappoint.
Decapitate. Decapitate. Decapitate. Decapitate. Decapitate.
The sheep and cows of war were still fighting about him, counting on their farmers to guide them. But he had never had a taste for farming, even his pathetic-former-self knew this to be true, he was a butcher and a murderer whose whole entire soul was stained red to match his body.
His laugh sputtered briefly as warm blood flowed from his drenched form and into his mouth. He savoured the taste briefly, relishing in the fact that each drop was someone else’s happiness stolen from them, before returning to his manic laugh. The red shot nature of his eyes was only accentuated by blood which now covered almost his entire face in a red war mask.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
His joy was orgiastic as he felt the rewarding crunch of the stupid beast beneath him hooves end the life of yet another animal. There was no feeling greater than this, even the witch’s games in bed were paltry compared to this release, as he felt the world vibrate brightly in the colours of hatred and death.
He hoped the farmers were watching, all of them, he wanted them to see just how hard he was trying to be exactly what they had always wanted to see. He wanted to hear them nod and say; ‘didn’t we tell you this one was a monster? A brute?’ after all if they were all so eager all the time to see a monster why hadn’t they simply asked?
Everyone just kept lining up to die, didn’t they understand that if they were patient he would still get to them in time?
Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder.
Through the carnage he caught sight of some of the farmers, the foppish dragon rider was still as always doing his best to lick the heels of his master. He could not help but wonder if the two of them should perhaps not get married instead.
Of course there was the oh-so-noble King himself, six-thousand years old and still having to have things handed to him on a silver platter, Asuryan’s new chosen was simply another of a long list of trials the arrogant self-styled God arrayed against him.
He saw the Mother too, his pathetic-old-self’s lover, still as defiant against him as since the dawn. He had a special hate for her, one he looked forward to venting, after he carved the daughter's name into every inch of bare skin she had.
If the Mother was supposed to embrace all then why did she always find a reason not to embrace him? First she had said Kurnos and cried such pretty little tears millenniums ago and now she cried Asuryan and claimed it was all pre-ordained. If she hated him so then she should say so, hatred he understood, but the Mother was also a liar. A good mother was supposed to accept her children, not choose them, yet he was always the only one she refused to choose.
In that he supposed she was perfect for Asuryan. They both hated him and were always lying to turn the others again them. Liars. He hated liars.
He hoped they appreciated how hard he was trying to make this enjoyable for them.
Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.
The world was hatred. Life was hatred. Life was hostile to itself for it hated itself. Everything and everyone hated themselves. Life is nothing more than the exercise of self-loathing applied to its logical extreme. This was the Truth. His Truth. The Truth of the World. The Farmers gave their livestock distractions, told their livestock stories and at the same time lied to their livestock. Even now they led them like well-fed and happy animals to the slaughtering house.
There the animals would be laid out, vapid grins on their faces, souls laid bare as they looked to their left and right and saw their friends and family lying beside them, naked to their souls, grinning like idiots. Then…
Chop. Slice. Dice. Cut.
Their pretty heads would come clean off and roll onto the floor for the rats to gnaw in until their skulls made fine homes. That was the fate of those who choose a lie over the truth. Their souls were soon to be forfeit, his brother would make sure of that.
He simply offered the Truth to those who would listen. He gave them what they needed to survive; nothing. The world was absurd, it was a place without justice, meaning, good, moral or fairness. The only way to survive in an absurd world was to live an absurd life.
So he was absurd. He hated absurdly.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
But there was one hatred which was different. Through the orchestral symphony of hate and violence he spotted the form and soul of the one he hated most.
All hatred was not the same, not even his, and as his world bled away into nothing but that single tiny figure chanting and casting strange magic, he realized that pain and hatred could change even for him.
Finally, finally, it will be your turn to hurt.
Surely, if the world was fair, then the murderers of an innocent girl would not go unpunished.
But the world was absurd.
And he hated.
The thought occurred to him. It was not the first thought that occurred to him, no, that was;
Am I dying?
Followed shortly on by;
Yes, yes I am dying.
But these thoughts were short and cold, obvious, almost comforting to him as he felt like he woke up from a very long and deep sleep.
No. The thought that occurred to him was;
I never thought I would die alone.
To be fair the statement was a lie. He had often thought he would die alone, physically at least, since the life of constant warfare had made such a probable and very likely end.
Things had changed, though, after Aliathra’s birth. After that he had resolved to not die without her beside him.
He had remembered how much pain Eldyra had gone through after Eldyr’s death and had hoped to, as a result, make sure that he never repeated that for himself.
Of course this, in of itself, was supremely arrogant. Eldyr certainly thought to himself every day that he would return from battle to see Eldyra again. What right did he have to imagine he was any better than Eldyr? If anything he now knew he was not even worth the dirt upon Eldyr’s boots. He truly was nothing more than the insect deserving to be squashed beneath Malekith and Teclis’ plans.
Still that did not change the fact that he had never anticipated that he would die alone. If alone in body he had always assumed that, in spirit, his twin, his lover and his daughter would still be with him. But right now he could feel nothing from either of them. He was alone.
His heart was breaking, not figuratively for it had figuratively broken a long time ago at Reaver’s Mark, but literally now the pulped fleshy remains of it, left behind by Alith Anar’s arrow, were losing all strength even as they vainly attempted to continue pumping small trickles of blood through to his limbs. But he was no longer a friend of blood.
His knees gave way and he collapsed, death approaching. The edges of his vision were darkening and he wandered if he would ever be granted a reprieve to see Aliathra again.
For a moment he thought he caught sight of Teclis and Alarielle but he had long ago lost the capability to tell who they were.
He wondered, as he collapsed fully and sensations began to all pool into each other, if Alarielle and Teclis were happy with the new world they were making. A world with Malekith as its leader.
This world, Teclis and Alarielle’s world, was now built upon the foundation of a little girl’s tears, screams, bones and blood. Her innocent life snuffed out for their use. His little girl's life had been crushed to form the mortar of other people's dreams. Neither he or she had ever been asked their opinions. Were they really so akin as to insects that their feelings and thoughts were totally irrelevant? Could Alarielle and Teclis really condone a world built on Aliathra's murderers, a world where her murderers would be hailed as heroes? What cynicism, to declare the murderers of an innocent young girl heroes.
He hated the world.
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