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Alone [Short Story]
Topic Started: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:57 am (140 Views)
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How many times had the sun set over the bay of Taras, casting a golden glow across it? Day after day, and age after age, the cycle of the world continued, unhindered by man or beast, by war or peace. Some things remained true no matter how mortals wished them otherwise. Atop a rocky structure in the middle of the bay was a tower, made of polished granite and marble. It had been raised rather recently, especially in the scale of the bay's history.

Atop the mountain was a figure, a thin woman, with ruddy hair, and scars across her skin, the edges peeking from her white robe suggesting that they covered much of her body. She looked to be a young adult, as her skin did not yet bear the wrinkles of the elderly. Still, there was a fatigue about her, and her eyes bore dark circles beneath them. Drawing closer, one might notice that her chest did not heave with breath, nor any other sign of life. Were it not for her tangled mass of hair fluttering in the salty air, one might think her a lifelike statue, or some unfortunate soul who had dared tamper with time. She faced the setting sun, it's slowly dimming rays highlighting her scarred eyes, now a mix of congealed blood, with hints of blue and green within, her eyelids jagged and cut. The damaged orbs did not move, did not blink, despite gazing into the blinding light of the evening directly.

For how long had she been this way? How long had she born the marks of a common thief's greed? Tears began to roll down her cheek, her expression otherwise neutral. All was silent, save for the sound of the waves crashing against the base of the small structure, and the call of the gulls. As the sun cast the last of its rays, one could watch the light slowly move across her body, before vanishing completely.

As night began to fall, the figure finally moved, her head drooping in a defeated gesture, before she turned to go down the spiral staircase that led from the tower into the massive building. She ran her fingers along the wall, feeling the granite on her fingertips. She seemed to have no issue navigating the spiraling hallway, despite her apparent blindness, a gift given to her by the mark on her forehead, which could be said to resemble an eye, with elaborate patterns around it, etched in ink. Her bare feet barely made a sound against the hard stone, and she flitted through the palace's halls like a ghost. The hall finally opened into a large great hall. The ceiling was very high up, with arches of coral contrasting against a marble floor and ceiling. A thin layer of water covered the center of the room, and was bordered by a small canal, only a foot deep or so. Only the area along the edges, where the columns touched, was completely dry. There were a few side exits and entrances, like the one the woman came from, with a larger entrance at each end. One led to the dock and entrance, the other to the upper levels, where the residents of the island palace lived.

A few men and women stood as guards, fitting in a strange hide armor, that appeared to be made of some sea creature's skin. They held spears at their side, and while they seemed relaxed, their stance betrayed their readiness to fight, if needed. The redheaded woman silently made her way to the stairs at the back, the servants and guards alike nodding in deference to her, not noticing the tear-strains through the tangle of fiery hair. She passed through a few living areas, before coming to a large set of double doors that bore the same mark as her forehead. She pushed the massive doors open without any effort, despite her thin build, and closed them behind her.

In the center of the room was a shallow circular pool of water, with a bed, and other furniture lining the walls of it. There were no windows, only a strange bio-luminescent moss on the ceiling for light. She walked to the middle of the pool, and sat, the water coming up to the middle of her leg when seated.

“Why am I like this?” She asked the apparently empty room. A smooth voice like the sound of a river answered her.

“I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more specific.”

“Why am I still like this? All the things that have happened, all that you have had me do, everything you molded me into, why am I still so weak?”

“Weak? You are one of the strongest mortals I have ever aided, and many in the city love and respect you. You earned your place in the guard, then the navy. You have a servants, troops, a ship, and a palace, that -need I remind you- you gained when you defeated me, of all people. No one has even been able to find a way to permanently kill you. How are you in any way weak, little Keener?”

The young girl, who was called Silnimare, sighed, tears dripping into the pool at her feet.

“I'm still blind. Sure I can 'see' in a way, but I'll never again see my mother's face on the wall of my dad's home. I've almost forgotten what she looked like. I'm weak, because despite my best efforts, I can't seem to protect hardly anyone. I'm weak because it's been almost ten years, and I still can't let go of what happened. I'm weak, because despite all the power I've attained, I can't even keep it together when I feel the sun on my face sometimes. I'm weak, because deep inside, I'm still that scared little girl, crying on her daddy's shoulder when she found out she would be blind forever, and that her mom was gone. So many people suffer, and just keep going. I put on a good face, but honestly...”

She hung her head, the tears streaming down her scarred cheeks, sobs beginning to break up her words.

“H-honestly, I'm weak because I can't do anything about it. I'm scarred, she's d... dead, and my dad hates me now, and I can't let go, no matter how I try, and I don't even know if I'll get to see her again now, and it just gets so b-bad, that I get like this, and I can't stop crying, but I can't let them see me like this, and I just....”

Silnimare wept, her frame heaving, unable to even speak for a moment. She finally managed to finish her sentence.

“I'm just so scared, Rachiel... after all this time... I'm still so scared...”

A shimmering hand made of water placed its hand on her shoulder, a comforting gesture. It belonged to a feminine figure, her body made of a dark water that was speckled with light, her hair silver and her eyes like liquid metal. The aqueous figure lowered itself next to her, and Silnimare leaned into its chest, crying and afraid. The angel Rachiel held Silnimare close, her hand caressing the woman's tangled mess of hair. She had served many roles to this girl over the years of their contract: savior, teacher, protector, puppet-master, even enemy.

But this was different.

This was not about Celestial patron and warrior. This was a friend, and a sad, grieving girl in need of comfort. She continued to cradle Silnimare's head against her chest, letting the young woman cry.

“It's okay to cry... it's okay..”

When the redhead tried to start talking again, she shushed her gently, slowly rocking to soothe her.

“Listen to me, child. It's okay. You've suffered a great deal, some by my own hand. If I had the power to wave it all away I would, but I can't. None but the gods can, and they've been gone for some time. But it's okay.”

Her face smothered in Rachiel's chest, Silnimare began to mutter over and over, “it's not okay... it isn't... nothing's okay... not okay..”

Again, the angel gently shushed her, calmly stroking her hair and cheek reassuringly.

“It is okay, Silnimare, and listen to me. It's not okay because those things happened. It's not okay because you're some super-human that is above mortal concerns. It is okay because it's normal. Tragedy is a part of life, and everyone has hurts and pains, and it makes them want to scream and cry and do anything to make the pain stop. You're not weak because you're scared. Everyone is. I've been around for longer than most, and I still get scared. I have regrets. I have people I've missed. It's okay. It's okay to be sad, and to grieve, to be scared, and to cry, and to miss someone so terribly that it feels like your heart will tear in half. It's okay, because it's part of living. You've had a rough hand dealt to you at a very young age, and you've grown so much. But nothing will make what happened go away, but that's okay. You'll ache, and you'll cry, and you'll feel sad, and angry, and anxious, and it's okay. You have friends, who care about you. Your father loves you, even if he doesn't always show it. You've saved so many people, but still, you're going to be scared, you're going to weep. It doesn't make you weak to cry, it doesn't make you weak to feel so bad that you wish it would all end. Your very existence is proof of that. No matter how low you've gotten, you kept fighting, even if it was by a thread. You never stopped. You never gave up. You may have asked for help sometimes, and that's okay. It's not weakness to need help. Being able to say that you need help, just one thing to hang onto, to keep you going, that is strength. That, my dear Silnimare, is willpower. Rather than say that you were finished, and it was over, and ending your life, you carried on. You carry all this in your heart, and you say it makes you weak? You fight against yourself everyday, beating yourself up about the past, but something keeps you going. I'm not saying you'll forget it, but you will someday learn to forgive yourself. I will say this one more time, child:

You. Are. Not. Weak.

And I will always be here for you, as long as you are here.”

Silnimare's sobbing had slowed, and she pondered the words of the celestial. Rachiel put her fingers to Silnimare's head, and she immediately fell asleep. Standing, the angel cradled her, and carried her to the bed. While the girl no longer required sleep, Rachiel thought some good dreams might do her some good, and magically induced a restful sleep full of pleasant dreams of her mother. As she stood, her glistening form standing over the sleeping girl, she kissed the forehead that she had marked so long ago.

“Good night, little Keener. Dream of your loved ones, and know: you are never alone, no matter how much it feels that way.”
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