Ariex, have you known all along? The demons of this world don’t have horns. They walk beside us unto the sound of creation, destruction, and resurrection. I was an idiot to think that the sides are so easily divided. The two marks have taught me that we are wrong. But my duty remains the same. And you will need to follow your own duty.
My body can’t handle both the darkness and the light. You’ll know what we should do but I can’t give you my burden. We’d be playing right into their hands and our suffering won’t end with death. Who are they? Who made these monsters both human and not? Two brothers recreated among creation endlessly to guide everything. A differing point of view created a war that has no victor in sight. Futility is in our nature yet we succeed.
We started as kids running on meadows of grass. Those days we believed in adventure and fun. Tragedy haunted on the outskirts of our Eden like a serpent. He watched us grow from children into men. We walked separate paths and met him along the way. My heart poisoned when everything came crashing down. The tragedy of laying your love to rest. And the darkness I found myself in blinded me from Ariex’s darkness.
He abandoned the Royal Protectorate. An order made him question his humanity. The High General decided to execute unaligned Mist Alchemists in Southern Dragacia. He saw a kid lose his father because no one would help. Orders are orders. Ariex repeated that a lot to justify the past. On different paths we sat there and stared at nothing for months. We lost sight of the endless blue skies of our Eden.
I grab a corner of a stone wall. The memories stimulate the marks making my blood feel like it’s boiling. I try clearing my mind to no avail. I begin inching my way towards where Ariex will be waiting. The guards and the people laugh at me like some drunk. Tears roll down my cheeks but I keep moving.
Suddenly I lose my balance then fall on my back. I gasp out air and gaze at the cloudy sky concealing the Sun. A desire to give up washes over me. I shakily reach my hand out towards the sky. Someone gently grabs my hand. The warmth of this person keeps the doubts at bay long enough for me to get on my feet. The person laughs at me but never turns to face me.
“Synji, you idiot, did you really let yourself get cursed again? What would our parents say? We only have one choice if you don’t want to die.” Ariex’s deep voice carries a sense of rationality.
“Well Raejak and you agree I’m an idiot. Thanks! Asshole. And do you mean we should do an absolution? You know that only makes things worse. An Endarkened and an Envoy of the Mists? Are you flipping insane? The tale of Karthentrex and Pan should tell you how terrible of an option this is.”
“And you think dying will be better? The curses will dissolve whatever remains of you. If you live that is more time to change fate. Choose against life and you never existed at all. You can’t leave me all alone. I know this choice will condemn many to pain but they’ll survive because that’s what we know to do. Survival is a part of human nature.”
“This is from the person who also says that laziness is a part of human nature.”
“I’m not going to waste energy on barely surviving. We have minds so use them. When survival is easy and we can relax then we can learn. I learned that an absolution blends the existences of the two participants. We’ll know everything about each other even the things we don’t want to. The only thing is that the hearts must be aligned. Do we truly do this just to save you?”
“No. My life isn’t worth that much to me. We do this with the intention of reversing fate. Too many people accept what they’re given. Screw everything and we will rise.”
“That’s my brother! By the light granted through Karthentrex’s knowledge and the darkness created with Pan’s death the tree of chaos arose. The choice to mend the Universe tree was made when nothing should be allowed to live. If they had walked away everything would have faded. A Universe sentenced to deletion that refused its fate. We are the children of a forbidden plane.” Ariex grabs my hand creating a powerful light in our palms.
A warmth washes over the coldness of my heart. The clouds above start swirling and create an opening for the Sun. Light focuses on my chest where the Mark of the First Blight rests. Painfully the light burns away every trace of the curse. No one else sees the absolution because the residents of this city are blind to the Mists. But the High General watches from the castle and knows who is responsible. The light from the Sun turns dark with the curse.
Something keeps the light from finishing the absolution. My memories of the Endarkened emerge in the city. Three portals appear above the city. An eye, a staff, and a gavel come forth. They judge our worth. A arrow flies from where the High General is and pierces the eye. Raejak comes from nowhere and closes the portals with some complex Mist Alchemy.
“You have no power here Grand Judge. The eye is blind. Go back to the Stones of Fate because someday even you will fall. I’m sorry. You will not erase another Universe because it wasn’t perfect. Let these two be free from your judgment. We might be damned but there is still hope. I, Raejak, will atone if we fail. These are my conditions.”
“This is Raejak? You’ll be a great pawn in the End. Your belief in hope will diminish in the future. The Stones of Fate only says that I’m more sorry than you. I’ve forgotten so much but I feel like I must erase your Universe. You all remind me about something I hate. Rintaen made a similar bet with me. I accepted his because I wanted this to be entertaining. I’ll accept yours because this is my only way to win. You can’t deny fate.”
Everything returns to normal. The Mark of the First Blight rests on its new bearer. Ariex and myself stare at each other. He touches the mark and winces from pain. I pat his back. We look up at the still cloudy sky. Randomly another arrow with a letter zips by into the stone wall. I open the letter and find detail orders for Ariex and myself.
Ariex grabs the letter from my hands. He starts laughing then hands it to Raejak. Strangers give us very frightened glances. I sit down and rest my head in my hands. Raejak tears up the letter, they both sit next to me, and we stare at the castle.
“We aren’t allowed to ever return. Our last mission for the Royal Protectorate has begun. Can someone tell me what the fuck just happened?” Ariex asks with some unease.
“First, we made a deal with something from the Mists. The Grand Judge was unexpected. I was briefed by the High General on the chance of failure. If we didn’t make a deal the First Blight would start and we’d be unable to stop it.
Second, the orders are the true objective of the Royal Protectorate. Have fun fishing for the next two years Ariex. Be sure when you meet the kid you don’t kill him. He is a good kid just the hate he has for the Royal Protectorate makes you the best candidate. You only need to bring him to the Devil Straits in Aldrassil. After that the dominoes will fall.
Third, Synji and myself need to destroy the home of the Endarkened. The Gorundin Mountains have a huge secret that we’ll unravel. If we are successful the world will have more hope. We all may end up being despised by history though. We are knowingly creating a disastrous future that will undo everything the Grand Judge hopes to accomplish.”
We look back up to the sky. The clouds are clearing up. Perhaps a city divided but at this moment it’s beautiful. The people living their lives unaware of the scary truth. Us three must protect all of this because although they may be wrong they’re happy. Whatever may come I’ll do my best to live and protect this city divided.