by Rune Grey
Perhaps it was the first time that I looked in the mirror that I realized it. Realized that my life was falling apart at the seams, all of my carefully placed illusions fading away, or shattering like a hall of mirrors.
The silence is indeed, deafening.
I've hated mirrors. Hated them ever since that first day, when I staggered into the shop of some merchant, already long dead from the fighting. That day when I stopped, and looked at what I had become.
I stared at my hands, realizing that they were neither the thick, long fingers that I had known in my mortal life, nor were they the almost demonic talons that I had born for the remainder of my exsistence. My fingers were graceful, almost elven in their form... not a ladies hands, but the hands of an artist. A poet.
I didn't know at that point that those hands had only practiced one form of art their entire lives. There was only one color they used, and only one canvas. The color of blood, and the canvas of the battlefield.
But I'm getting ahead of myself again. I do that from time to time.
The face I wore was the face of a young man, barely old enough to shave. Pale, ice blue eyes stared back at me, mocking orbs of color, accusing me of what I had done. The face was thin, delicate, and crowned with a mop of unruley, unkempt brown hair, the type that keeps falling in your eyes and always has to be tied back. But that face was laughing, the shattered look in the eyes accusing me of my crimes, my failings.
She looked at the mirror from behind me, her face indescribable. What was it that I saw there? Sorrow? Regret? Pain? Or was it triumph? Satisfaction? I couldn't tell. All I could do is stare at the alien face, the one that was not mine, but the one that I wore.
"Are you not satisfied? Is this not what you wanted?" she asked, combing her blue hair back from her eyes. I stared back at her, a look of hatred so intense in my face that she took a step backwards, startled by the force of my fury. It was like a wave, rushing through me, seeking an outlet, something to destroy.
I could feel it there, that burning source of power that had sustained my old, frail body for several years after the war. The power that had allowed me to bring hell to the world. The force that had allowed me to walk to the foot of God's altar, to the gates of Solaris themselves, and spit on them... just to prove to them that I could. To force them to choke on my superiorty, to know that the only reason that they were allowed their continued exsistence was at my mercy, and none others.
Zohar had stripped away my mortality, stripped away my soul. Stepping into that cruciable had been the second most painful experience of my life. Nothing could compare to the loss that I had suffered, try as the entity that exsisted within that reactor might. In the end, I had been reforged into what could only be called a demon, a blackened, twisted creature of pure power, pain, and rage. A being whose only goal was to share that pain with as many people as possible. My human form had been twisted beyond recognition, and only the fact that I had TOLD them who I was allowed them to know that they had not yet finished paying for their crimes.
I brought hell to the Eden that was Solaris. I brought with me a force of Gears that the world had never seen before, Gears that only the ledgendary Omnigears could stand against. They still speak of that force in whispers, behind closed doors, afraid that if they speak fo it too loudly, that I will hear them, and bring the force of Diabalos into the world again.
SHE was the one who finally brought some manner of sanity to me. HER. Miang. The bitch who had cost me everything. The woman whose life was traded for the only bright spark that I had ever treasured in my entire life had been given up as a sacrifice so that this blue haired ancient monster could be handed over to Zephyr for 'punishment'.
But her offer was something that I could not refuse.
"Yes, you did show me how I could cast off this 'shell', didn't you?" I snarled back, my hand flexing, a cracking of Ether lightning playing between the tips of my fingers. "And I was willing to pay the price."
That illicited a glance back towards my other body, which was lying in the corner, a cloak tossed over it. A single, black claw, its fingers elongated into sharp talons, peeked from under the covering garment... a grim reminder as to what lay underneath it.
With a snarl I raised my hand, summoning the power from Zohar, the lifeblood of the planet, into myself. I felt it rolling there, trying to gain some measure of control over me, but no... the time for that to happened had past when I had clawed my way up from the pit that housed Zohar. I held it a moment longer, letting the far off presence know that it was I who was in control, before releasing it.
Blood, bone, and sinew flew across the room, decorating everything in a grisly shade of red. Miang took another step back, one entire side of her face coated red with the blood that had once flown through my veins. Her eyes were wide with something that resembled shock. I took a small amount of satisfaction in that. I would never again serve as anyone's puppet. From this day forth, I would forge the destiny of the world. And thus I would forge my own destiny.
I felt another twinge, of the captured soul that writhed in tourment within the crucable that was my soul, screaming in agony at the twin pain and tourment that dwelled within me... the scars of the psychic agony as I wrested the power from Zohar, and the still bleeding wound of grief and loss, from when my heart had been torn from my breast.
I smiled. I had chosen this body of a whim, catching the dark bands of cruelty and sadisciousness in his aura. Some small bit of compassion in me had not wanted to harm an innocent when I did this 'thing' that Miang had shown me. This 'thing' that allowed me to move my essence from one body to another. It seemed fitting now that someone as steeped in evil as this one was suffering a tourment that must be close to hell.
This price I would pay. This price, and many others in the future. This would not be the first soul whom I would comit to endless agony, an agony that would last until the final physical destruction of the body that I possessed. This would not be the first death.
No. There would be others. A. Great. Many. Others.
"Thank you for your 'gift' Miang." I replied softly. I licked my lips softly, and savored the taste of power that flowed through me, still seeking something to lash out at, to kill. I let it dance about for a bit, still looking at the mirror. With one of my long, delicate fingers, I wiped a bit of blood from my face.
It was the face. I couldn't stand that mocking expression that stared back at me. The obvious solution was to destroy the mirror. That I did, feeling the sharp bite as bits of polished glass sliced into my knuckles. But still the problem remained. I could not stand to think of myself as who I had been... my crimes had been too many, my sins too great. I wouldn't not be ready when I met her again, not ready to confess all I had done. I may never even do that. But I knew I would see her again before I was ready to be with her again, and she would know me if she saw me eyes, no matter what body I was in.
There was a mask hanging on the wall, a black mask, with small golden beads hanging from the tips of a pair of sweeping horns. I grasped it by the edges, looking it over. Yes, I remembered this mask... I remembered it from my childhood, from a festival in a long dead village. It was worn by the avenging demon, by a warrior brought back from the pits of hell to bring final justice to his enemies, and to comfort his loved ones, so they did not have to see the tourment on his face. The person who wore this mask was called a 'Grahf'.
Grahf. Yes, I would discard 'Lacan' for the time being. Only she would know me by that name. But to the rest of the world, I would be Grahf.
I stepped from the shop a moment later, my fine black cape swirling around me in the late summer breeze. Beneath the mask, my second mask, the mask of flesh that I wore over my soul, smiled. It was a good day. People were out in the fields, but they would soon be returning when the saw Alpha Weltall leaving. And then they would return. Let them think what they would of the shop.
There was a crunch of glass as the newly named Grahf stepped on a bit of glass on his way out the shop. The black mask turned back, looking into the darkened corner of the shop. "I'll see you later." he said to the blue haired woman slumped in the corner, chuckling as he left. There was no response... only the figure's hands, stiffened into a claw, falling to the wooden paneling, splashing in the pool of blood that was slowly spreading from the burst mass of flesh and bone that had been her chest.
Grahf chuckled again as he took one look back. Even if she had given him this 'gift', Miang still needed to be taught a lesson. Needed to be taught that even if he needed her, he still would not let her go unpunished for her crimes against him. None of them would escape what was coming.
Grahf reached inside of his cloak, pulling out a small silver cross, a ruby set in its center. Her cross, that she had worn for so many years. "I will live to the end of the world for you, my love. And if the world does not end of its own accord, then I will be the one to end it."
"I am Grahf, Seeker of Power."
"I am Grahf..." Grahf looked in a nearby puddle, a rippling pool of shining quicksilver, so unusual in this town of blood, pain, soot, and tears. In it he saw himself. He was what he was. For the first time, he realized that the mask he had worn for so long, the mask of pain and grief would never leave him. He had become the mask. And in doing so, he may have damned himself.
"...Emperor of Darkness."
Xenogears, Miang, Grahf, and all related materials are property of Square. I have no intentions of trying to make money off of this fic, etc etc etc.
This fic was written in less than half an hour, yet another of my short oneshots. Strange, neh? Feel free to send any comment about it to me at email@example.com