THE FORGOTTEN TALE (IV)
All Lino heard was the sound of the buzzing and a low hiss, like snake’s yet even lower, and all he saw was the blending of reality, heavy distortion as though someone ripped it open with their nails, before it all changed. One moment, Eve was standing on top of the spire overlooking a massive chasm in the earth from which the city stood erected, and the next she was within the misted, fogged, inaudible nightmare.
It was for a flash, but Lino had spotted the masked figure she mentioned with number 8 etched into his mask. He was tall, Lino forged his image, with short, spiked blonde hair and a pair of clear, azure-colored eyes, on a thinner side of things.
She was right, he realized inwardly; before she ever realized it was happening, she was ripped away from her reality and into this one, still composing herself and readying for the battle.
“Huh? You gonna play the hiding game now, cocksucker? Come out here and face me fairly you little bitch!” she growled angrily, holding tightly onto her sword.
“We won’t fight,” a calm, even voice, almost with no distinguishing features to speak of, replied to her. It was also then that the man appeared, standing right in front of her, over a full head taller, looking down into her eyes. “As that was not my mission.”
“You coc--huh? What’s going on?” Eve stuttered out in confusion. “Why... where is my Qi?!! What did you do to me?!!”
“Ensure the Empyrean passes on peacefully,” the man replied instead. “That was my mission. The setting? Ah, my personal creativity. Nobody said you can’t have some fun while working. But... you know that one too well, don’t you.”
“Answer my question fuckface!! Ataxia, what the shit is going on?!”
“You have wronged the world,” the man replied, still calm. “And the world... is tired. Tired of you, Eve. Of your madness. What I did... was simply recreate your reality, one within which you are not an all-powerful Empyrean... one where you are not the threat to the existence itself.”
“... so, what? This is an illusion? Ha ha, you really think you can keep me contained within an illusion?” she spoke out, smiling condescendingly.
“Illusion? No, no, of course not -- it’s nothing cheap like that.” the man chuckled. “Ah, I should introduce myself first, I believe. My name is Eight, Fiendish Titular -- Creator of Realities. I have mastered all Laws pertaining to creation, manipulation and destruction of the Reality -- and you are witnessing some of my finest work at the moment, if I may be abstain from humbleness for a moment.”
“... I’ve never heard of you.” Eve frowned.
“Of course you haven’t. Even Gaia doesn’t know me... well, aside from the fact that I most-likely exist.”
“... heh, this has been fun,” Eve chuckled, pressing her forehead against his by standing on her toes. “But, fun’s over. Let me out of here or I’ll do things to your balls that even the men of most insane fetishes wouldn’t like.”
“We have observed you for two years now,” the man replied, still smiling. “And we were waiting all the while. We knew your rampage would eventually come to an end; some of us even fancied a bet over which one of us would get to do the honors. I bet on myself, naturally, and I’ll be getting Twelfth’s chessboard -- the oldest chessboard in the world. I mostly demanded it just to piss him off, to be honest. He’s a bit of a bully.”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I already said -- ah, you must mean what organization I belong to?”
“No, I mean who the fuck do you think you are to threaten me and spit bullshit into my face like you’re some lubed up ass ready for deep-shoving.”
“... well, I do suppose your tongue is your last weapon at the moment,” the man chuckled. “And -- I mean this with all my heart -- it’s a vicious and stingy weapon... but, it also has one major flaw.”
“Oh? And what’s that?”
“It’s ineffective on anyone whose brain has matured past the age of fifteen.” the man said.
“Then we have a whole lot of children running around in old farts’ bodies.”
“That we certainly do, sadly.”
“... you know I won’t just sit down and accept this, right? I’ll find a way out of here.” Eve said.
“Do you even know where is ‘here’?” the man asked her, smiling.
“I... I have some theories...”
“Ah -- I’m being summoned back. They really don’t like me wandering about too much; they get giddy, you know?” the man said, looking up toward the invisible sky. “Eventually, Ataxia will explain everything to you. Or he won’t. He’s after all, you know, embodiment of Chaos. Can’t exactly predict what he’ll do. He might even help you get out of the place he asked us to put you in. Oops. I guess I shouldn’t have said that. Oh well. Cat’s out of the bag now.”
“... at least do it, you know, with some wit and charm.” Eve sighed. “And of course I already realized that shit. Otherwise, how could have a ‘reality bitch’ actually distort the reality of an Empyrean?”
“... ah. You’re a smart one. Shame.”
“... suck a dick, pusshole.”
“... well, I don’t know what that means,” he said, turning around. “But, also I have a few words for you.” he glanced back and seemingly gazed past Eve’s eyes, staring directly into Lino’s Soul. “There are two general truths to Chaos -- Creation and Destruction. We have supported every Creator, and even a few Destructors... but we very much like this world, Eve’s successor, and we’ll hardly stand by and watch as someone bathes it into the oceans of blood repeatedly. Just the fact that Ataxia allowed you to witness Eve’s Records tells me you are more than just another Empyrean, and that without a doubt one day we’ll meet. I just hope that, when that day comes, you’ll have learned from her mistakes and not have repeated them. Otherwise, our meeting might be a bit awkward... and held in a place very much similar to this one. ‘till next time, then.”
Both Eve and Lino stared off into the man’s back until he vanished, blending into the world and simply... disappearing. Lino felt his heart attempting to burst out of his chest, while it even seemed to take Eve quite a few moments to recover. She sighed bitterly and sat down, looking up toward the sky.
“... Ataxia later told me about him,” she mumbled softly. “And, if all cards align, you too will most-likely end up meeting him one day. Although a bit mischievous... he’s a good person. Unlike me.” she added, smiling faintly. “Did you know he learned to manipulate reality at the age of eight... just so he could give his little sister a better reality to live out the last few months she had? I... I’d have never done anything like that. Everything I learned, everything I did, everything I said... it was all entirely for me and no one else. I’ve never loved in my life, never found a husband or started a family. One time, I even considered it -- having a kid. But... I never did. Because I couldn’t stand the idea of some snot waking me up in the middle of the night.”
“When he was twelve,” she continued. “He fashioned a whole new reality for his entire village... one within which they weren’t starving and dying from preventable diseases. That left him bedridden for three decades... longer than my whole life... including the last years I spent here. From all the stories Ataxia told me, I had eventually grown less resentful of him locking me up here... and started to even smile whenever his name would come up.”
“And, whatever the world may say of me, they can never say I’ve never loved,” she added, smiling wider. “Even if brief, and probably crafted out of a pure illusion I built him of inside my head... I had created a singular attachment to my life here. I only wished I’d listened when people told me there was more to life than my mission, than the calling, than battling whatever foe I marked that day. Perhaps, then, my life would have gone differently. Even Eldon... the only other person I’ve ever looked up to, told me exactly that... and he even showed me what that life looked like... but, I ascribed it to him being soft... and the reason he never finished the mission.”
“Everything -- and everyone -- in the world is part of a massive puzzle,” she said, closing her eyes. “And sometimes pieces just don’t fit. That doesn’t mean we need stop looking for those that do. However larger than you the story you’re writing is, however bigger than life the things you do are... in the end, those aren’t the moments you’ll remember when breath begins to fade. You won’t remember your battles, or how you made someone cry just by using words... and you won’t remember how many boxes you’ve checked out on the mission board... you’ll remember little moments. Moments that truly defined you. They won’t all necessarily be happy or good... but that doesn’t matter. No story is ever built purely from happiness and joy. That’s a dream I wouldn’t wish even upon my worst enemies. When you stumble, you learn to get up. When you fall... you learn how to rise up. When you fail... you learn how to avoid mistakes. Those are the moments you’ll remember... and whether your death is peaceful or not... whether you cross with a smile or with a cry... you have a whole life to decide. Don’t be like me and lose yourself in things that don’t matter.”
Lino listened to the whole speech with a slight frown on his face; he truly wished for a moment he could pop out of her and scream at her that he’s nothing like her -- well, aside from enjoying the rush from fighting a bit too much. And lashing out with his tongue quite a bit. And looking cool when doing stuff. But, he certainly wasn’t anything like her, he swore inwardly. And then he also realized he was only thinking about himself while someone else was going through some really heavy stuff. I sure hope Hannah doesn’t leave me when I unload all this shit on her... was the last thought he fancied before being ripped back into his own world and into his own reality.