Come, young one. See us beneath the glow.
Their eyes twinkle at odd angles with the light, like small diamonds set upon a backdrop of deepest velvet. My heart pounds steadily as I feel the blood rush to my head. I’m exhilarated and uncertain. This has been the moment I’ve waited for, a moment I’ve dreamt of in perfect solitude. All of the dreaming, the pondering, the magic. Every drop of it.
All this time, only to be afraid. I can certainly hurt you if I please but I’m here to listen and converse with you tonight, this special night. Come to me, and be brave.
The leader’s voice was shrill but eloquent and commanding. I’m neither afraid nor without courage, I tell the table in even tones. The air grows quiet as they still themselves. I’m thinking of how I came to this moment, I say, because I want to remember it for later. I want to remember every second.
Why are we here?
I won’t give you the position you seek. I’m here to negotiate terms, to see if I can find a an impartial balance to the havoc I’ve wreaked.
Murmurs amidst the shrouded figures. I could hear their heavy robes shuffling beside one another. The leader of the ensemble, the one who spoke, looks up into the light and removes his cowl. All bone and no muscle, but bright eyes set deep in the skull. He looks down in thought for a moment, then back up at me. His stare burns into the deep reaches of my bones, and I exhale a long breath in the hopes of maintaining my composure.
We are here because we belong to you, and yet you command so little of this reach. Tell us, what do you think we can do for you after all this time?
I approach the table and the still shrouded figures fan out so there is one chair for the taking. I sit down and remove my own cowl, and let out another long breath. I feel like myself again, here beside the ones I’ve summoned. What is the price for this at present? I ask as I point at my beating heart. The leader’s eyes rake across my face and land squarely at eye level. They glimmer with thought.
Why your own and not another? My reach expands beyond the mortal mind, and I can see the soul you seek just beyond the vale.
My hands tremble at the thought, as I didn’t think this possible. I was under the impression that I was allowed to request a modification to myself and no one else, I tell them. If this is the case, I want you to find him and prolong the judgment and subsequent afterlife. I’ll trade whatever you require. The leader’s eyes sparkle with fire as it lays a skeletal hand onto the table. I place mine into the boney grasp without a second thought.
I recall the day I crafted you, down to the ligament. You remained still and silent through the pain, not a sound uttered. You were worth more than a thousand of them. My eternal eyes have not laid sight on any such creation since.
He was uncharacteristically tender as my weight hovered in his spindly grasp. He seemed wistful if it could be said of such a creature, borne of my dark dreams. I feel my eyes moisten at the mention of pain. I look down in equal parts shame and rage. Long minutes pass as we sit in silence and it all sinks back into me. I look up at him.
My darling. You have strayed from the path. You have suffered more than I thought possible. It is marvel and pity, and I will have no more of this. I require what has always been.
My complexion drains of color as I think back on all I had done with the sight of my maker above me. All of the things I wasn’t given, all I had gained and all I had lost. I have little left to offer, I say.
You have been mine since your inception, as I am yours. Keep me in your darkness and do not forget my presence nor the reach of my grasp, as it may be commanded by the one I deem worthy. I made you and I will have you remain as such.
I look into the ancient eyes, unblinking and unyielding.
I have forgotten you in the quest to become another. I have forgotten my own reach. I will honor this bequest here and onwards. I will have your power with me, a life for the many lives lost. I return to my better self in confidence, and he straightens up as he sees my alignment in form.
Take it, and keep it. I will be here. We will be here.
As I make to leave the dark and cold room, I look back at my maker. I wonder if I have asked for the unforgivable, the unredeemable and yet, I know it to be just. I see him watch my every movement, without judgment or afterthought or decision. Merely a statement of presence and purpose, that he would remain there till I return next.
They belonged to me, the immemorial wraiths. There inside, part of every nerve and muscle, thought and action. I would go forth, and do well to remember such.