A woman sat in a bedchamber. The floor was marble inlaid upon marble; the pillars were granite on granite. She idly cast her eyes up to skim over the endlessly repeated runes worked around the frescoes. She had seen them thousands of times before.
She knew what she must do, and it was the last thing that she wanted to do, and there was no way to change it.
Her window was open to the air from outside. A small breeze was circulating through the room; it peered its head quizzically inside, rummaged through the room, ruffled her hair before departing to seek another haven. It carried the faintest hint of jasmine, the kind her mother used to keep on a table in the entryway of their house. Distantly, she could hear the deep grumble of a car passing by on the road below her.
She knew that none of it was real.
The first summoner to make his way to her ruins can not be more than twenty years old; he reminds her of her younger brother, all wrapped around in eagerness and idealism. It is for the sake of Yusharo's memory that she is gentle with this boy, in telling him what needs to be done.
What she had done, she had done for Yusharo, when all was said and done; for Yusharo, and for all of the children of Zanarkand who had marched off to war and never returned.
A woman sits in a bedchamber. The floor is marble inlaid upon marble; the pillars are granite on granite. She idly casts her eyes up to skim over the endlessly repeated runes worked around the frescoes. She has seen them thousands of times before.
She knows what she must do, and it is the last thing that she wants to do, and there is no way to change it.
Her window is open to the air from outside, but the wind is still, carrying only the taste of dust and decline with it. The only sound she hears is her heartbeat in her ears, slow and ponderous, present only because the reverse would take too much concentration.
She knows that none of this is real. (unless it is)
"Father," said she, stepping across the cold stone floor with soft footfalls, "I think that we should talk."
Her father did not reply; her father so often did not reply. She took another step forward. "Father."
The first one leaves the memories of his love, wreathed around with sunlight, bright with morning fire and smiling up at him. The second brings the memory of her child, barely old enough to know his mother's name before she gave herself as Spira's blood. Then comes the third, and fourth, each one entrusting memories to her.
Go forth, she says, and sacrifice your love for ashen comfort. A summoner has no self to give the melting pot of molten fire; from then to now, each of you should know what's asked of you.
The fifth to find her brings a soul of light, a heart of valor -- brings her (and leaves her) the feel of calling forth the aeon, riding it across the heavens. She knows, from him, the way it feels to love the sky, the wind, the dance upon the fire and the water -- though she never did herself.
Each summoner will offer up his self; too, each guardian the summoner finally brings to cast as sacrifice into the fire as body for the final calling-forth. Each leave her broken fragments of his loves as memories and dreams, so that she may know the weight of what she asks, that she may know how much it costs each one to give himself or herself up for strangers out of love. The years go by; each decade, it seems, brings another crop of bright-eyed faces forth to seek her, each one burning with the fire of the reluctant martyr.
Her own fire has cooled over the years and centuries, she knows, overwritten by what she draws forth from each of these who come to transform self into salvation. She steals what each one brings her, to remind her of the fact she once did love with clarity and fire; to remind herself that at one point she knew the passion that brings a woman forth to sacrifice her love.
a woman [sits-will sit-has sat] in a bedchamber the floor is marble inlaid upon marble the pillars are granite on granite she idly (ieyui) [has cast-will cast-is casting] her eyes up to skim over the endlessly (nobomeno) repeated runes worked around the frescoes she [sees-will see-has seen-is going to see] (renmiri) them thousands of times before
she knows what she [must do-has done-will do] (yojuyogo) and it is the last thing that she [wants to do-will do-has done] and there [is-was-will be] no way to change it
her window is open to the air from outside a small breeze is circulating through the room it peers its head quizzically inside rummages through the room (hasatekanae) and ruffles her hair before departing to seek another haven it carries the faintest hint of jasmine the kind her mother used to keep on a table in the entryway of their house (before it all went wrong, went wrong, went horribly wrong) distantly she [hears-is hearing-has heard-will have been hearing] the deep grumble of a car passing by (kutamae) on the road below her
she knows that none of this [is-was-ever has been] real
(inore yo, ebon-ju, yume mi yo, inorigo, hatenaku, sakaetamae)
"Take me," he said, as though he were offering the choice of coffee or tea. "You need someone. Take me."
Her fingers tangled in his hair. "I can't," she whispered.
"You have to." He rested his head in her lap. "You have to choose someone. I'm selfish enough to not want it to be anyone but me."
"I'm selfish enough that it must be anyone but you," she whispered, but she knew he did not hear.
if it be now 'tis not to come
if it be not to come it will be now
if it be not now yet it will come
harmonic minor modulation [sounds-will sound-is sounding] in her ears and she [has reached-reaches-should have been reaching] out a hand to lift it against the one who [has sacrificed-will have sacrificed-is sacrificing] himself for his summoner and yet wants to see his son again
i know you.
i know you do.
but when it all comes down to it she is the one who is the dream here and her father the chief dreamer and he had always dreamed of a biddable daughter so she can do nothing but stand and watch the dream pulled apart
(inore yo, ebon-ju, yume mi yo, inorigo, hatenaku, sakaetamae)
It's not real. None of it is real.
But dying's not all that bad when you don't have anything left to live for.
Time creeps for her, then sneaks across her boundaries. She dreams of her own father; remembers him, remembers all his rules. He had no pity for the weak; not even for flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. After, she'd wondered if she'd wished his death -- unlikely though that were.
It was his death, untimely and abrupt, that enlightened her to what there was that waited in the afterlife. She now knows her lover died to give her father grace; she knows that every guardian, even to the last, must follow all the rules. She herself has not been much for rules; so much so that she fights each inch of death to ape the living, though she knows that even she must someday pry the grip of her fingers loose from life, follow her father.
He will not win, she vows, not even after all the souls she's taken; not after she sacrificed her love to obey the rules. The final aeon must defeat her father -- must then become her father, after death. The cycle never ends. It falls to her to be the hands that take each guardian, even though she sheds the tears for them, even though she cannot wash her hands clean after. One by one, the hopeful come to her, crossing land and sea, the way the rules dictate to them that they must seek their death.
She wonders vaguely if this is how her father felt when he became no more her father; if this is how he felt, if even he (so ruthless now) hesitates at death dealt time and again, if tears still plague him after each invocation of their cycle's rules.
(She wonders if he ever thinks the same of her.)
No more is he her father after this; even he must obey the rules that shroud them all in death. It falls, then, unto her.
She wondered, dimly (later) if she could have found another way, if she had just waited a little while longer. If she had just tried a little harder.
If she had been a little less determined to be the one who saved the world.
sleep, sleep, little one, sleep
what shall you fear when i am here?
sleep, little one, sleep
chamomile and catnip, rosemary and primrose
is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?
if the world is sleeping then let them not arise
for when the dreamers waken, the dream they're holding dies
oh god if i'm dreaming make it stop and take me home
If she'd known when she made her choice that she wasn't only killing herself and her lover, she might have found a different way. But after a while, you become what you most fight against.
And after a while, somebody always comes to send you home.
first i shall take a step onto the river and then i shall take a step onto the fire and then i shall take a step onto the ice and then i shall take a step over the lighting and then I shall
take a step onto the darkness and then i shall take a step onto the light and then i shall take a breath and open my mouth as though to scream and nothing shall stream forth but the song and then i shall
watch as it all falls to nothing and then i shall
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