A howl breaking through the membranes that divide mind and heart leaves a fissure within. Every thought of self seems even less real. They vanish into the fissure. No way to be led back to the correct path if there ever was one to begin with. And the truth stands perpetually like a pagan monument built on hallowed ground.
I realize the thoughts in my head don’t justify a thing. The truth will be even if every soul is deleted. Who am I to question it? All I can do is try my best at living. The howl returns me from the open space inside. My mind must calculate and my heart must will. If they do anything else I will lose this battle.
The beast dashes at me once more with gnashing fangs. I cross my blades right before the impact connects. A shock wave of force runs through the blades and into my bones. I grunt from the pain then realize the beast just standing in front of me.
“Why does it have armor?” I say the most obscure thought in my head making the entire regiment laugh.
I remove my plate armor and taunt the beast. It charges at me but I jump over the attempt. The alchemists’ summon a magical barrier before it went any further. A staggering opponent unaware of me above aiming my blades for his eyes. It howls once more causing the barrier to crack.
The sergeant stands in front of the alchemists as a secondary barrier if the first falls. This is always harder with others. After I lost the only two families I ever had I’m cold to his selfless gesture. Novice alchemists can’t withstand the shear strength of the demons I fight. Well gravity will be the determining factor here. The beast lashes out with its arms shattering the barrier. Crystallized shards of mist fire off in every direction.
I slam the blades into the beast’s neck and push it backwards. Dark mist spews from the wounds. My chest starts burning when the dark mist engulfs the whole field. I tear my shirt off and feel the mark left there years ago from a lover. Memories about her I chose to forget return because the darkness feeds an inner fire I wish to put out.
“Poor old Niteblade abandoned by everyone he cares about. Unable to see what was in front of you you accepted one of us. Was it the face of your lover that made you blind? Did you not see the corpses, smell the decay, watch friends kill each other with their ravenous lust, and see your lover leading that dark covenant?” a sinister voice emerges.
“I saw everything. She lost her way and so did others. But that woman wasn’t my lover. She was one of you, the Endarkened.”
“Is that what you call us? We are the Illuminated. Life hurts some people really badly. The Mists have been altered and now the strong emotions people catalyzes an extreme reaction. Complete soul removal. The human must be a willing party for us to be created. But there is another way if an emotional bond ties a human to an Illuminated. You gave into the desires of flesh and desecrated yourself.”
“Yeah. I’m a human we make mistakes sometimes small and sometimes big. We will screw up but we can learn. Can your kind learn anything more than your patron sin? Pride.”
“You could tell? I can’t say if we know our potential when we are hunted like beasts. Ask your superiors who imprisoned the Seven Kings and altered the Mists. But what do you care? All you know is orders like we know sin. We both don’t understand why we exist.”
“I don’t feel for you. The fact I can relate makes me want to kill you more. I’ll check into your lead though and lay to rest every corpse you tainted in your wake.”
“Thank you. I don’t like living if it means I erase everything around me. But I can’t surrender without a fight. My patron sin says more terrible things and you’ll never hear it. Why? Your friend who stood in the way of those alchemists. He’ll never be able to return to battle even if he lives. Such a selfless act refutes my existence.”
“Your execution comes from the Spear made from the light of hope. Searing through the damnation until only humanity remains. The word of God is lost yet morality never dies. It is in all of us to stand upright no matter how much we fall. Without holy text we can still see the way. Defiled hearts must be cleansed by the surging waters of hope and change.”
“Beautifully resolute. You have admirable qualities but lack many things. I won’t pretend that I can persuade you to sin. Death is the answer then I’ll snatch your soul. Lowly beings such as yourself make lovely pawns.” Pride snickers at my belief and humanity.
I reach for my blade while listening to the wind for Pride’s movements. The darkness parts, I shove my blade into the opening, and see red blood spew out. I stumble back fearing my action. A laugh trails from multiple places in the darkness. Blood on me dissipates into the darkness. Thoughts pile up in my head making it even harder to see the difference between illusions and reality.
I feel with my left foot. My boot hits the hilt of my other sword. I kick up the blade and grab it. Something feels weird. The weight is off. It transforms into a spike and pushes into my palm. My mark reacts violently. Blood turns black and crystallizes into a blade. I feel my mind slipping underneath the taint.
The blade absorbs the darkness. Pride stares at me with a smug gaze. He rushes me biting and clawing like a wild beast. My flesh begins to crack and memories begin shattering. I struggle to find any light within me. Everything goes black but I can still hear my thoughts.
Stop the darkness, I must. EMBRACE IT!!! No, I can’t. My life h as to remain. I’ve seen too much. REST FOR A WHILE. . .no. If I let you win I’ll never be safe inside. Isn’t that overrated? Very much so. Then why? I must make right the past. You can’t. I know that. Why then? To protect my new friends.
Light pours from the cracks. I stand up in a beam of sunlight. The blade that is my right hand dissolves the darkness within. Sunshine fills the crystalline blade. Pride backs away with fear then starts laughing. I dash at him but his claws deflect my attack.
“Did you really think light could. . .” Pride’s claw fades away into the sunlight.
I push him back to the edge of the forest clearing. A giant oak stands between him and escape. I say a prayer under my breath and shatter the crystalline blade into four shards. Each shard flies into the beast. Two shards pierce his shoulders, one digs into his heart, and the last enters his head through the right eye. The beast disintegrates into sparkling sunlight and I fall to my knees.
The alchemists come over and place their hands on my shoulders. I hear the lieutenant crawling over. Brothers sitting in the aftermath of a battle. The stench of blood lingers in the air. Three brothers lay lifelessly on the ground. Tears drip from our eyes. We know it is our fault death welcomes them. Strength defines the result.
“I wasn’t strong enough to save them. Lieutenant you can’t even stand up now. The horses ran off and I’m too weak to carry you to the nearest town. I’m your general but I can’t do more than when I was a nameless soldier. I should relinquish my position.” I lament on the truth of these events.
“Kid, you are fit to be a general for saying that. General Niteblade thank you for saving our lives. And we are sorry that you must overcome that curse for us. If you turned we would’ve all died. But you overcame it. What is a few broken bones, gouges, and blood? Nothing compared to that curse. What matters is we are alive.” the Lieutenant adds from an adrenaline high.
“Who can still stand?” I yell at the remaining soldiers who all yell back.
“General let us alchemists lead them. The town must be burned down. If he was wandering that only means he ran out of livestock. Anything else?” the taller alchemist pats my back.
“Bring the bodies here. I promise to lay them all to rest. They aren’t easily erased like our superiors think. One lonely regiment tucking a scary truth away from the public’s eyes. But we still have things we must do. Leave me here though. I have to finish that prayer for it.” I give the best orders I can with Pride’s essence merging into the mark.
In the encompassing light we walk
Through the straits of sin and talk.
Choices make the path. Undeterred,
We continue our journey. What we feared
Will soon burn away in the light.
Beings of stardust who think they’re right.
Our lies will burn away
Leaving nothing but ash.
Humanity is nothing divine
Nor will it ever be. Wine
Should be drank and bread shared.
Not taught or learned just shared.
There is darkness and light. Day and night,
The movement of celestial bodies around stars,
Give birth to the duality that leaves scars.
Rest in the light of dead stars and bask in daylight.