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Tears of Angels
Fear overtook the ancient depths of the man’s being. His breath came, slower yet than it had but moments before, and only with immense quantities of pure effort. And still he ran on, into the mystic horizons clouded in dusk, for he knew no other options blessed his poor soul. There was no sound, a cloak of terrifying silence broken only by his footsteps. The very land itself wept for his pain – the heavens cried their silent tears and the sky bled its crimson wounds. Agony was all that remained, a never-ending torrent of pain as his eternal flight dragged onwards.
As he ran, the emerald floor of the world sparkled in the heavens’ tears, caressing with welcome relief the bloodstained, hardened undersides of his feet. The dried blood washed away, left to nourish the earth, and as so the skies’ blood was drained, replaced with the final blackness of night. Or perhaps he was running but on hardened, jagged earth-and his feet bled still. As the pain diluted his mind, the shadow drew nearer. It would be upon him in moments, so rapid was its approach. Yes – it was upon him now, his doom had come at last! He screamed, pouring the entirety of his being into one outlet of emotion; yet the silence remained unbroken and the shadow remained distant, approaching still.
There was no respite, he realized now. Eternal was his punishment, never would he escape this vambrace of pain. The wrongs he had committed he knew not – yet judging by the severity of his torture, they must have been great. A massacre, he thought, or a genocide perhaps. In his sober mind he hated himself for the possibility, hoping to God that he was not responsible for the slaughter of innocents. Yet in the depths of his mind, in the secret, darkest corner of his existence, the idea encompassed him with joy. He imagined thousands of others sharing the pain he was being forced to endure, and he was happy for it.
The shadow was hidden now, through the newfound veil of darkness. Yet still it was there, he was sure of it, its ominous presence of penultimate foreboding could not be denied. The man’s anxiety grew, muscles tightening with mortal tension, on the verge of relishing in the sweet ecstasy of collapse. The clouds passed by as he ran, sparkling islands of misty grey surviving the never-ending onslaught of night’s sea. These post-dusk clouds embodied the epiphany of survival, he realized now, holding out for infinity against the armies of darkness, of far greater strength than they and ever pressing on.
An orb of light brightened the depths of darkness’ reign, now. Larger it grew, steadily, as the man’s pace increased. Shall I die now? he wondered Has my time in this hellish domain been terminated at last? The crystal! It lies ahead- I must reach it. The game depends on it- the game, yes, the game! I must reach the crystal – the sapphire tears of angels will it! By God, the clouds shine bright. By God! Angels tears caress my soul, sapphire, yes, on this infinite horizon. The tides deny the shore – yes the crimson tides deny the shore! My unholy ecstasy is lost – lost, for I must emerge victorious from the game…
And now he stood before the light, his vision focused, sanity returned. The illumination came from lanterns, wardens of radiance, guarding the sanctuary of a small cabin against the incoming waves of night. The cabin stood, a single story high, forged of felled logs arranged in a picturesque fashion. A self-sufficient dwelling, perhaps, or an abandoned one. He knocked on the door, beating, awaiting a response from the inner depths, a response that he was denied. Impending doom approached, drawing nearer, he sensed it now – his knocks took on the appeal of desperation. Frantic now, shadows danced at his vision’s borders, the wood began to shatter under his terror-driven fury.
The door shattered. Fragments of splintered wood were sent sprawling outwards, where they were consumed by darkness. The wardens flickered and were slain, and the shadows drew nearer. Inside, now, watching as all-consuming darkness pressed on, held at bay by the refuge’s illumination. It was lost- all was lost, he was forever chained by the shackles of the cabin. The darkness would press on forever and always, for there was no light now, no savior, except that within the house. And soon its time too would draw to a close, and then doom would be upon him.
A distant memory of a time long past surfaced, hammering upon the sea of frozen ice that had kept it caged in the murky depths. A memory of brilliant light, shining throughout all the land, that brought calm and peace and refuge from darkness. Memories of this past were fewer now, and more precious as such, memories of the time before the…climax. He called it this in his thoughts, the climax, yet it was an empty term. He knew nothing of it; save that it was the border between past and present, light and dark. Before it there had been a thing called day, a beautiful thing, wondrous in that light succeeded in conquering the dark, and then it had come. This past could be recalled only as if through a haze, misty remnants of once-treasured memories drifting through the haphazard waters of time. Then the mysterious climax had come, and after all that existed was darkness. In this darkness his memory returned- and it yielded nothing but eternal torture, eternal flight from the shadow’s pursuit.
A crash from above drove him from within himself. He strode, purposefully, towards the origin of the sound. It had faded now, and silence returned, yet the man’s mind could still trace the location from which it had risen. It had come from above – at a greater height than even the upper solidified boundary of the house. For the first time, now, he began to survey the condition of the dwelling upon which he had come.
The walls were constructed of fallen timber, nailed strongly together. To the man’s great surprise, the floor beneath was nonexistent, in the sense that it was only soft earth on which his feet rested. Nonetheless, the earth within the confines of the residence contrasted sharply to the hard-packed gravel-like terrain outside. In this earth grew an emerald sea of life, a memory of times when such life could exist in the outside world. The room was completely uninhabited save for two distinguishing features. In the back corner, nestled comfortably, stood a massive tree. It stretched to the room’s summit, growing straight from the luscious greenery below. The smell of pine filled the vicinity – an aroma quite lost to the wasteland world he existed in now. Adorning this tree were spheres of brilliant color – glittering brilliantly in the false light. A memory came to mind – a memory of happiness, of peace. And now this memory was as lost as a dream upon waking – unreachable, as if it had never occurred, perhaps even meaningless.
The other object of notable importance was a stairwell embedded into the adjacent corner. Forged of living, thriving, vines and greenery, it seemed to wind itself of its own accord to a gaping void in the timber apex of the room. It was to this stairwell that the man journeyed, and began his ascent.
The house was not drastically altered on the upper floor, save for the fact that grass no longer grew up from the earth below, despite that the floor was built of logs. The sole piece of furnishing was a bed-standing on legs of oak and covered in sheets of vegetation. At present, the bed remained unoccupied. Suddenly and without warning, the area’s aroma warmed significantly; the bone-chill of the barren wastes that now made all of existence banished, to be replaced by the warm harmony of times long past. The room brightened as well – a brilliant glow radiating from an unknown source behind him, mocking the sunlight of fallen memories. The man turned, and to his great chock stood a creature fit for the brightest of fantasies, a fairy of a child’s innocent imaginations. It was a being of pure light-glowing with the beat of the wild, pulsing with the illumination that would feed the extinct vegetation. It stood the size of a child – donned in golden robes fit for the highest elven prince. Behind it unfolded wings – glorious ornaments of the purest died mithril, which floated gently in the creature’s wake. Yet despite all these attributes, the greatest glory of this being was its intricate facial features. Its face was as smooth and untarnished as that of a newborn – yet the face mimicked more so that of an older child. And the eyes - the deep, azure eyes, eternal seas of knowledge, and upon gazing into them it was clear that this being was ancient.
“I welcome thee, stranger, to the Angel’s Sanctuary.” The voice did not originate from the being, but echoed throughout the room, or perhaps throughout the man’s mind-it was unclear which. “Named for the mythical beings of ancient times – the supposed bringers of light and hope. The idea fit this place, I thought, and so it was created.”
The man stared, still in a state of absolute shock at the sight of the fantastical fairy before him. Came the echo once more, “I am known to those few I have met as the Guardian of Angels, for I shall reside in this place for all of eternity. Upon my light these relics of the past feed, and upon their beauty my light thrives. The cycle is eternal-the cycle cannot be broken. Whatever may come to pass in the hell that now reigns this land, angels will always reign here. Now stranger, I question thee- What be thy name?”
The man stood frozen, still, unable to respond. His memory had been returned, to some extent; memories of running through sunlit fields of emerald, memories of brilliant seas extending on for eternity under a bloodred sky, yet beautiful crimson and not that of a bloodstained, weary world. These were the fading memories to which he clung so tightly. Without them, he was alone in a world without goodness or light, void of happiness. Save for this place; the thought drove him back to his reality.
“My name…my name I cannot recall. I simply am, as I always was, and shall be forevermore.”
The radiating speech of the guardian commenced once more, “Then, by all that is light, I beg thee – don thyself in a name! Without this, you are nothing but particles of flesh; an animal roaming alone in a savage world. It is your name that makes you human, and without it you shall never be more than a vacant shell of a man.”
“I will think on this, kind guardian, but for the present I must leave this place. I destroy its safety by my very presence, as the shadow hunts me without rest. Until we meet again, kindred spirit – farewell.”
“It shall be as it will be; do what you feel you must. But remember- a man without a name is no man at all. With these words I will part from the. May the peace of angels follow in thy wake, brother.”
The following events occurred in the likeness of a dream. Without hesitation, the man strode down the steps, slid open the door, and stepped out from the sanctuary and into the wasteland of existence. Without delay he felt the shadow. Fear gripped his soul once more. Instantly, desperate to retreat to the light, he turned. Yet the sanctuary was gone, as if it had never been. There was nowhere for him now. Turning towards the horizon, he ran.
Darkness eternal. It eats at the depth’s of one’s being, battering the gates of one’s heart, questing for control of the being. And always, it gains its victory. The mind becomes a slave to darkness, and humanity is lost. There is no dawn, no coming day. The night shall carry on forever, in the glory of the dark, never to succumb to light. And so the creature is lost, and its mind slips into decay, and its individuality is smothered by the blackened cloak of repression. Yet the fortress was holding still, and so he ran on.
A storm was to come. He could always tell, beforehand, when such a creature was on the verge of being released. It was not a storm as those endured in ages past, certainly not, for he would fall on his knees and praise the blissful, sweet coolness should it be so. It was to be a storm from the depths of evil’s rage, from the blackened pits of the damned themselves. They came, as though at random, at times throughout the new world. And yet, he knew within himself that it was not so. There is no random – simply that the forces driving something are beyond human comprehension does not yield the fact that there are no such forces. Such forces must exist, so he knew, forces that reign the world in the exact pattern of life. And now these forces had driven onwards another ruthless storm.
The wind picked up steadily, rising from a light breeze to a hate-filled gale, driving him forward, propelling him towards an unknown destination. The howling of the storm took up its omnipresent moan, its sorrow extending throughout the land, sorrow reflected in his soul, sorrow of a banish from sanctuary. The rain now took up, if it could indeed be called such. No sweet crystals of water fell downwards, but rather burning fractured shards of glass, plummeting to the ruptured earth below with vicious speed. The heavens glowed the crimson of fire and flame, tears of a sorrowful storm, longing for a lost world. The heat was unbearable – his skin began to blister, pits of melting flesh erupting in fountains of oozing white liquid. Yet still, his fear overcame his sorrow and pain and so he carried on. Through the inferno that fell around him the man ran – and as he ran his sorrow was joined by hate, rage at the world, at life, at the light which had forsaken him. A roar of the wild thunder of the heavens rang throughout, and the sky shone azure. Sapphire bolts of the purest energy shattered the barren wastes, rapidly, at an unmatchable pace now. The bolts, now encased in brilliant flame, spiraled in their existence. And upon crashing with the packed dirt, this dirt would violently erupt into crimson flames, infernos of wrath spiraling up to the vacancy of the heavens, from whence they came. Frozen fissures fell too now, pillars of ice, twisting down in fatal glory and shattering into crystals of frozen water upon contact.
The man felt his body stiffen, a null sensation, draining, yet somehow without pain. His body flashed darkest blue, now, and the empty sensation was slaughtered. Pain exploded, agony, throughout him. He fell to the ground, writhing, skin scorched black. He touched his arm tentatively and the skin crumpled and was gone, and there now existed naught but bone and tender, raw meat. Still he rose to his feet and ran on, panting, dying. To the cliff’s edge he ran, and at the point he could run no further, he turned to face the vast expanse beyond. All that could be seen was a vast expanse of barren packed dirt, flooded with waves of fire. The crimson tides deny the shore. His body burned, burning in the unholy blood of his fallen, and now he was freezing, burning and freezing by the tempest’s wrath, and now his anger was replaced, for he had not the power left to hate. The crimson tides deny the shore. The crimson tides deny the shore. The storm calmed, his body slowly forging to whole once more. Pain and sorrow overtook him, and his mind fell from grace. The world slipped to darkness.
The storm was gone. The man rose to his feet, anxiety intensifying, terror at his temporary inactivity. The shadow was coming, and with every moment he spent still it drove itself closer. Across the wasteland he resumed his run, the bloodred sky mocking his petty existence. The shadows drew nearer, it seemed. His anxiety was rising, fear, pure terror, drawing nearer. His fear of a shadow he had yet to witness, a shadow he feared based solely on presence. And yet this fear, this fear was one he could not shake.
The man pulled up to an instant halt. Directly ahead of him, rising in its beautiful presence, stood the cabin known as Angel’s Sanctuary. All thoughts of preserving the place by leaving it without him were lost. Such noble thoughts were saved for times when one did not face the danger he was submitting himself to directly. In the face of such danger and torture, no soul, however strong, could be noble enough to sacrifice itself.
He strode into the dwelling. Instantly, he sensed that something was not aright. The presence of darkness did not abandon him as it had previously upon his entrance. In fact, it seemed to spread, to grow, as if the dark’s ominous power were mocking his foolishness. This darkness was pressing inwards once again, now. Beauty and bliss lost, scorched earth devoured slowly by the omnipotent flames. Quickly, with the power of evil behind him, the man sprinted towards the stairwell. Flames ate at his lower flesh, scorching humanity, scabs and blistering wounds arising in place of life. The stairs crumpled, now, as he stood at the apex of the fallen sanctuary. The room seemed to be hollow, at a quick search, until a more detailed scrutiny revealed otherwise. Upon the bed rested a bundle of darkness, curled, bathed in shadow and mystery.
The man fell to his knees, drowned in a sea of sorrow. Remnants of a joyous past – last hope for return, for pretend – abolished. The goodness of the world torn from life’s fabric by such great wicked evil, the darkness of man’s imagination. He screamed; a high pitched scream of utmost sorrow, longing and desire, a scream gone unheard throughout the barren lands. Crawling, he overcame the meager distance between himself and the place of resting. Lying, guarded from the wind’s icy grip by a blanket of crimson, was the Guardian of Angels. There was no peace present in his lifeless eyes – no joy at having endured a pleasant life. There was only the twisted vision of agony – of sorrow for the lost beauty he had created. The man rose, conscious thoughts still controlled by sorrow’s misery. He placed his hand upon the creature, heedless of the rotting blood encompassing the guardian’s face, and upon removing his hand, he found it to be soaked in gleaming scarlet, in the life that had once flown through the internal systems of this creature.
A name? Your final wish was for me to don upon myself a name. So was your desire and so it shall be. A name that reflects my being, a name that reflects the very purpose of life itself. The window shattered, and he found himself surrounded by a sea of rushing air. Nothing exists in life save sorrow and agony. Any joy, hope, or beauty that is created is annihilated by darkness. There is only longing, regret, and hollow desire… Crouching, he landed harmlessly upon the dried, broken ground. Striding towards the dark horizons, his mind was a machine. I am the incarnation of this sorrow-emotion taken form, the epiphany of loss and pain. My name…my name is Tear.