He, Part Five
Their view is no longer that of a dark hall. The incorporeal ones aren’t here, and they never will be. The corporeal hallucinations of Zero won’t reach this place either. Even if a god stretched its arms to reach this place, he too, would only fail. The place between the heaven and hell, the world where happiness is part of a dark chain of misery, that is where they were born, these two. But this place? This is no heaven, hell, or the land between them. This is fantasy.
The boy always thought that life is transient and that the world itself was just a cage wherein all that is transient withers away, and all that isn’t will remain as an empty echo, resonant for eons, until the world itself ceases existing.
Though he doesn’t know it himself, what he truly seeks is a fate that hangs between transient and eternal, a life that’s not in a cage, nor an echo in the dark. One can only wonder what kind of fate it’d be.
The girl has always ignored reality, she looks for a path that won’t force her to go through misery, but inevitably she always ends up with the worst possible outcome. She tried fleeing the truth by reading and studying. However, once the world hammered the reality into her, she found out that there’s no one else left.
She tried hiding, but couldn’t flee forever. The cold touch of the fate reached her, and she made her wish she has yet to regret. Slowly, she’s begun to accept reality.
Both of them wished for something they thought would bring happiness, but the implicit is that they brought the worst misery a human can experience.
The boy said, “I wish to live peacefully with a girl I would love for as long as I live.”
The girl said, “Make the one who made my family disappear suffer for years until a painful death claims that one’s life.”
Isn’t it beautiful? They destroyed each other with those wishes. But now that they’ve come to this realm of fantasy. Both of their wishes go against each other, and both of them are powerful enough to erase the gods of their world, and that is precisely what happened, though it was the boy’s wish that made the two Gods of Balance disappear.
Because where there are gods, there are people.
Where there are people, there is strife.
They open their eyes, their gazes meet. The last light of the day welcomes them with its warmth. The cold breeze of the ocean is strong up here, but they don’t seem to mind it. The sun on the horizon dyes the water red.
They smile at each other for a while, using body language alone. They’ve clearly grown fond of each other for being able to converse with mere expressions.
Once they take a look around, they finally realize that they genuinely left their former world. They stand on top of a tower that reaches the clouds, not because it’s so tall, but because this island in itself is high above the ocean level. However, there’s no way down from up here other than jumping off the edge.
“Where are we?” The girl wonders.
“I don’t know. There’s an ocean, no cliffs.”
Then, they both realize something, turning to look at each other again.
The girl goes first. “Do you…?”
The boy fills in. “Understand me…?”
Foolish couple. There is no such thing as a language barrier in fantasy reality. “Speak while you can,” I tell them.
They both turn to look at me whom they ignored until now. Try as they might, they’ll never comprehend the thing they see. I am something they cannot hold within their ken. They can only guess what sits in front of their eyes.
Not a god.
Not a person.
Not a ghost.
“Who are you?” The boy asks.
“That, I will not answer.”
“Then can you tell us where we are?”
“In a new world that was created only recently.”
“What world? Why?” The girl inquires.
“There must always be a world, it’s the rule of an Era. You two destroyed the former. Thus this was created.”
“We… what?” The boy blurts.
“You two have only one hour to talk. When the sun descends beyond the horizon, you cannot return to your former world anymore, and as you might have figured, you’ll starve up here, so either go back, or wither away.”
Of course, they can’t go back. There’s nothing to go back to. Those two cursed lives who originate from the first have left the second Era to haunt the next one. Even I can’t tell what’ll happen if they go back to a previous Era. This is the beginning of the third Era, and these two are blessed with a chance to see its inception.
“How do we go back?” The girl asks
“That is up to you two. Now, ignore me and have a chat while you still can.”
The cold breeze caresses their cheeks as they nod, turning to look at each other. They sit down on the cold stone floor, happier than ever. They’ve been waiting for a moment like this ever since they met.
“Where do you come from?” The boy begins.
The girl answers. “From Rechitsi. Have you heard of it?”
“Once or twice. Where is it?”
“Far to the West of Castle Zero.”
“Castle Zero? You mean the…?”
“Yes, the place where you found me. Where do you come from?”
“Gormanch. It’s a vast country in North, took me two years to get here.”
“You saw whales before, right?”
“Only a few. I was fishing with my dad then.”
“Your father was a fisherman? Mine was a merchant.”
For a moment, they remain silent. Tears stream down the girl’s face, tears of joy. The boy can only smile.
“I’m glad I got a chance to talk with you like this. I was so desperate to ask you many things.”
“Me too. I thought it’d take years.” The girl asks next. “What did you say when you met me?”
“Thank you, for being alive. I wanted to say it anyway now that you can understand me.”
Sobbing, the girl replies. “I’m glad you exist. I thought I’d have to live in an empty world all by myself. My youngest brother died when he was five, that alone was horrible. But when I found out that my whole family disappeared, I was so broken and empty. When we went down into the cellar to get the wine bottle, I heard my deceased little brother. There was some tall unearthly woman with eerie clothes, and my brother’s voice came from its belly. I’m still so scared,” she holds her head.
“I didn’t see it. I saw two shadowy ghosts that had human eyes, gleaming ones. Uh, by any chance, was that tall woman behind us in the library?” Just the mere thought of it makes him shiver.
She lifts her face. “Yes, its long tongue latched onto my clothes. I in panic removed my shirt, thinking that the tongue must be sticky.”
“Ah, that explains a lot.” Then, the boy recalls something. “Uh, do you, perhaps, remember the last night?”
The girl’s eyes go round, flailing her arms as if to tell him that he shouldn’t go dig any further. “P-please! Let’s forget that part!”
He nods. “Then may I ask why you didn’t accept my shirt earlier? I mean, I don’t mind if you go around—”
“Yeah? Go on.”
“Uh, nevermind. Just so you know, I have two shirts, lending one shouldn’t hurt.”
The girl holds her forehead, shame overflowing. “Ah, of course, silly me…”
“I just thought that if you were shirtless in turn—”
“Huh? Go on.”
“Umm, just lend me your shirt.”
“Fine by me.”
The boy removes his shirt, handing it over. He didn’t lie about the second shirt, he has a brown sleeveless one under. In no time the girl is wearing the one she is given.
They stand up, holding hands as their gazes meet. It’s their body language again, they sure know each other well for a day-old couple. Then, they turn to look at me as if I knew what they were thinking.
However, I don’t.
But I should.
After all, I am the…
They nod in unison. ““We’ll go back now.””
What? “Why? You still have time. Nay, that doesn’t matter. Rather, how did you figure out the way back?” I inquire.
Without replying, they climb on top of the capstones of the tower, holding hands with their backs facing me. They embrace the wind together, watching the sunset above the red ocean. Something’s not right, I don’t get it.
“Ready?” The boy asks.
And so they throw themselves down the tower. It shouldn’t be the way back. There is no way to return, after all. Definitely, they’ll die upon landing.
Then, I mark two figures entering my ken. They stand on top of the capstones, like the boy and the girl. However, they don’t look like a couple. Their clothes don’t belong here, for this is a medieval world, this and the previous, but yet they wear jeans, both of them, and the girl has a hoodie, whereas the boy has a formal shirt.
The girl looks evil.
The boy looks pained.
Looking at them directly causes such agony that I can’t describe it. They shouldn’t exist, that is all I know. Also, they aren’t the boy and the girl from the second Era, nor are they the two cursed lives.
“…Stop!” I plead. The pain they cause is too much!
The girl who shouldn’t exist giggles. “Crumble, ?????????!”
She says my name, but the I feel like the whole world was ringing, so it’s difficult to confirm whether she gets it right or not.
“Crumble like a weak tower, suffer for it!” She curses.
Without any reason, they follow the other boy-girl duo, elegantly falling down to their inevitable death.
I saw them.
I saw them in the first Era.
Just like now, they fell from a tower, intentionally jumping to their deaths.
Just what’s going on…?
Previous Chapter — Next Chapter