We stood inches apart but miles in our hearts. In a large room of black stones without a torch but I trembled from my old friend’s presence. Beasts from another dream roared through the long corridors of this tower. My companions entombed from the faith placed in me, an addled general. A heaviness touched my heart knowing I could never make this right. Light flickered in front of me. I reached out to touch but it floated out of reach.
“Death made you much more slim. Maybe I should try it myself after the holidays. The results are quite ephemeral. I’m positive you are the friend I abandoned for my selfish desire. The heaviness confirms that we once knew each other because you are trying to pop my heart like a balloon. I’d be better off that way. You can’t though. This tower is a prison that executes souls by eating away at memories and turning them into beasts. A lich gave me this calling it a gift to her champion. What does it do?” I pondered as I walked around the room and traced my left hand against the walls.
“Steals away everything that makes you you. But I remember you like a scar on the back of my hand. Even that won’t remain forever here. All you had to do was refuse!” the light, perhaps the soul, changed color in correspondence to its own emotions.
“Start a senseless war or sacrifice a single person? The answer is quite. . .”
“It isn’t simple. And the war wouldn’t have been senseless. They killed good people, your family even, yet you sold one more person to their hunger. Me. You originally wanted revenge then you settled for diplomacy. What matters to you in this tragedy?”
“The things that mattered are dead now.” I stumbled on those words.
“You came to this death trap just to see me, huh? Dumb kid. This is nothing like going to a friend’s grave.”
“Why I brought this.” I took a grave marker out of my bag and placed it on the floor.
“You think of me after betraying me?”
“I remember every person I hurt because I’m sorry. I’m sorry that they got in the way of my war.” the light exploded after my remark revealing the visage of my old friend.
“My war against the Earth.”
“Is fighting all you can do with your life!? You lost so much to the world but you’re still gambling with it. I tried my best in turning you away from this path. Why return here if you’ll never heed my words? Your hands drip with blood still.” the torches in the room lit suddenly after his words.
My friend sat on a chair. He was no longer transparent and stared at me with unforgiving eyes. The walls lined with portraits of the past. I remembered those days because they are adorned to my thoughts. A feeling of remorse pierced through the shell made to hide a painful truth. Droplets dripped on the ground and echoed through this stone room. I looked at my hands.
Fresh blood covered them. My stomach rolled, I covered my mouth, and closed my eyes out of disgust. The sound remained. I covered my ears to no avail. Memories of blood on oppressors and the oppressed emerged. My face fixed onto the bodies of oppressors while my friends bled to death before them. Their blood remained on my hands even now.
“That is what follows you. Every sorrow changed you into them. If you learned from the past instead of being controlled by it then life would be different. So if you want to talk then let’s talk about life over a few drinks.” the ghost tossed me a bottle of booze.
“Thanks. I really need this old friend. You see,” I opened the bottle and took a long drink, “There was a time I wanted to avoid revenge. Olivia before she died told me never to hurt others. I betrayed her dying wish. She was too idealistic in a realistic world.”
“Do you justify that as why she died?”
“She would’ve been better off if she just let me die. Twice that night I died. One when I came alone to the cliff to commit suicide. And the other when I ran from men with guns. She saved me by coming there and taking a bullet for me. If she wasn’t that idealistic we’d both be erased.”
“Love is a crazy, kid. We think we will just grow old with that special someone. Some get that. Blessed are their lives. Most never will because the harsh world doesn’t let anything last long. If you live doesn’t the love prove itself still? You’ve made bad choices but her dying promise wasn’t what she said. She didn’t want you to hurt by seeking revenge. Her love for you outweighed her whole entire existence yet you worry about a single broken promise.”
“I learned something that made the promise worth breaking. This world is coming undone from the choices we, humanity, have made. If we stay divided nothing will save us in the end. But there is hope. When an evil greater than each other rises we ignore our simple gripes to fight as one. I wanted to save us by being a shining light. The truth is we need darkness so that our divided fires burn together.”
“What if we engineer this darkness just to hide the truth? What if there was no evil if we didn’t create it?”
“That’s really idealistic. Existence can be unforgiving creating tragedies that test the merit of any beast. Pain creates two paths. And we can’t all do the same with our lives because the realities we face can differ vastly. But those who justify acts of aggression are just as idealistic. We think that by hurting them they’d understand a life they never lived. Don’t you see the dilemma we face? Reality isn’t fair or contrite yet we claim to know it. No one encompasses everything. We destroy our bodies upon the lives we were given believing that there is no other way. This is the problem that we have come to face. We refuse to look at truth for the advent of mass appeal because we are a social creature. Evolution needs to extend from genes into our minds but it never will if we never try to change.”
“Then why can’t you change your path? Everything you have is valid if not the truth. You really must be your worst enemy.”
“If I don’t intervene the lies we have created will be our white flag. I will join the darkness so that I can give humanity a fair warning. They don’t want a harbinger just to take over instantaneously. But if I join there is a chance I could screw up their plans just enough for us all to see.”
“Why can’t you just warn them?”
“They wouldn’t believe me. You know that. People want to believe that everything is alright. They’d abandon everything just to hear four words. Everything will be okay.” I placed the empty bottle on the floor.
“Your desire for results is a little frightening. I can’t see what could ever be scarier than you. A man who knows what is right but proceeds to do what is wrong. But I knew when you fought that beast years ago that you carry everything. Do you not trust others at all?”
“Are you trying to change the subject? You’re a ghost WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO BE AFRAID ABOUT?!”
“A friend who is in pain. Oh and maybe a tower that eats away at memories until. . .wait a moment. Does it only affect ghosts?”
“Nope. Anything with memories will be used. I’ll be here just a little longer. I’m letting the memories that make this painful leave me. Everything is better this way. Ariex, I can’t go back on this path alone if these memories remain like daggers in my already rotting flesh.” the blood on my hands partially disappeared when a few memories faded away.
“That is your lifeline. It is ugly and unfair but the truth you need. If you follow this path any longer your whole body will be covered in blood. Maybe when the memories vanish you won’t have a reason to care. I can’t get you to turn away from all of this. Can you at least tell me what memories will remain?”
“My meeting with the lich Xycea and when you attacked Gorikahn with your Amber Wardens. Everything else will just complicate my life going forward.” I used some wind magic to blow out the torches.
“Your friends and family and loved ones erased. I hope there is a way to reverse this. You’ll need it to know that you were never evil. You care too much. And for that I’ll disappear. . .”
I waited there in the darkness. Everything about the past except the two events vanished. I started the Rise of the First Blight.
Rayne stood up and looked around in confusion as he whispered “Why am I in this wretched place? Stupid Amber Wardens attacking my city for no reason. Serves them right to be sealed here for eternity.” whispered Rayne as he stood up and looked around in confusion. His foot stomped on the floor made of crystallized ghosts then he smiled. . .