I stand in the devastation wrought by conflict. The victors will someday say how they fought for some grand ideal and paved a way towards a better future. They will only speak a fable far away from truth. People died because of stubborn policies protected by stubborn men. What will I say to the youth about us survivors?
Whoever strikes first usually lives. Any hesitation will shatter your bones and collapse your innards. The ideals I stood behind vanished as blood and gore drained onto the ground. Nothing could save me from the nightmare. I changed into the person I loathed, a killer. We all did.
Everyone says I should lie to forget what happened. I can’t hide from what haunts me when it’s me. A darker side surfaced. He aimed sword strikes at chinks in armor and burned foes in magical flames. I watched in terror knowing that this was me. Why did I enjoy watching other humans bleed and their skin melt? I’m sick inside.
When backed into a corner humans fight. The stubborn foreign policies forced my men towards action. Our enemy followed a man who promised a return to their homeland while he chased another agenda for someone else’s policy. Neither side cared to fill in these discrepancies before raising their arms. We soaked the Earth in iron cold blood.
Most humans know they’ll escape war but I’m unlike them. I tried protecting a city by aligning it with my enemy no matter what the cost was. My friend, my soul, and my ideals have all been washed away by a dark tide. Beneath the depths I realize that I’ll never return to the light I once so cherished. In suspension the coming war cradles me within the darkness my soul once rejected. Will a light ever reach me here before the tendrils drag me further below?
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. . .
Some beings are born into existence but some are created from emotions in excess. Myths are given life through the feelings that are shared. There are many universes that react differently. A few don’t change, some even change ever so slightly, and there is even one that has become a dream itself. Well one of the more volatile universes created living versions of myths. Pan was one of them trying to see how life truly was.
The humans of that Earth hated these creatures for being a mockery of life. Surely humans were the mockery if anything. They started killing off the myths one by one for a reason hid from the masses. It was the Romans of that universe who did this. They wanted control but the myths gave people hope which leads to the downfall of any empire that caters to the wealthy.
One hot day on the Mediterranean a fleet of ships transported hundreds to a secret location, a mass burial ground. Charybdis attacked the ship carrying Pan and his brother Karthentrex to their execution. Fate had them wash ashore Daedalus’ labyrinth where they came face to face with a new myth.
A tree grew at the heart of the labyrinth. Both Pan and Karthentrex set off on a journey to find that tree. Many threats presented themselves but it wasn’t until the last one that one of the satyrs died. Stone statues came to life and took Pan to the ferryman awaiting every dream given life.
Karthentrex cried but pushed pass the army of statues. He passed out when he reached the tree at the center which wasn’t terrible because the army couldn’t enter. When he awoke his first word was. . .
“Pan. . .”
A natural disturbance catches Karthentrex’s attention. The tree was dying. An Eternal Time Blossom, a tree often referred to as a gauge for a universe’s demise, was dying. Karthentrex grabbed the thing he kept from Pan, a wooden fife, and played a lovely tune. No matter what magic he used the tree never showed any sign of healing.
“If the universe is dying we don’t have much time. My last offer is my heart born of flesh and myth. It serves no purpose than to keep me alive but with that life comes untold possibilities. Creatures may never accomplish the perfect possibilities. What of a tree that is tied to the universe’s heart? Surely you can do what I cannot. Take what is mine and make everything right as you see best. Have free will for once.”
Karthentrex ripped out his heart. The tree absorbed the heart and healed Karthentrex’s wound. Afterwards fog enshrouded the chamber as a visage appeared.
“I, a being created for the longevity of this universe, accept your gift. Us Grand Time Blossoms have our roots transcending space and time connecting ourselves to the Universe Core. It is a hub where the universes disperse mass data into. Most creatures we call the data their soul but it isn’t that grand. Memories are replicated creating a consciousness in a being that isn’t you. Universes must follow strict guidelines to keep certain memories from being created. Those memories would be a virus to the whole system calling for a reboot of existence. Although it wouldn’t be terrible we still want to prevent it. The wealth of information has nothing to compare in value. Why would we wish to erase it all?
Foolish we have become in our relations with the beings of our universes. Accepting your gift is a sign of our depravity affecting the whole system. You bestow upon me free will and I bestow to you everything that is known at any point in history. The future is seen in branches so be weary of how deep you gaze. Any being could become lost in this knowledge that is more treacherous than this here maze.
Lastly this form will die so take these two seeds and plant them wherever you like. One is the good in existence and the other is the bad. You need to plant both. Trust me Karthentrex I am looking out for every creature in this universe. I see that this may lead to something terrible but you are the only one who can do this. In a day this universe will die if you don’t plant these seeds. They will allow me to re-tether myself to the Universe Core giving this universe another chance. Thank you.”
Karthentrex planted the seed that looked good and destroyed the other. He listened to the Grand Time Blossom just thought he could save the world from pain if he destroyed the bad seed. Nothing drastically changed and the tree couldn’t revoke the promise because the seeds weren’t a part of it. Free choice for eternal knowledge was their deal. So why did Karthentrex not use his eternal knowledge to know he messed up? He didn’t instantly know how to use it. Which he will in years figure it out and see just what he did.
The far reaching effects of this choice will create a new path for this universe. Creating thirteen blights that will ravage a single planet, the Earth, until either it spreads to the Grand Time Blossom or the beings fix the wrongs they had made.
So I write the first book called A City of Glass to explore centuries after Karthentrex’s choice. The world changed greatly since then. I can’t wait to show it. Welcome to the Rise of the First Blight.