1st of Zi'da
The chill of winter was upon the country. The little dancers of the skies came floating down towards the mortal men that spent their days inside. It appeared as if every little snowflake knew its place, and every one of them was dancing to one singular rhythm. They were so coordinated, just like they had one brain, one soul, one purpose. And they did. Their short lives were simple enough. They would arise among the great white giants in the sky and dance to the melody of wind until they fell to the ruined dirt of mortal soil, and perish, to never be seen again.
The ones that caught the stone, or the wood, they were luckier, as their lives were extended until one of the mortals deemed them only filth and swiped them too, away from this world. But as far as the cloaked boy knew, they would be in a happier, better place, once they were away from all the destruction and hatred that filled his world. Swiping them away from the gravestones not only meant giving them over to the cruel mistress of death, but also opening for them a door to whatever awaited those with fulfilled lives.
One of the stones in particular, the one with only a single white rose, and a long dead one at that, was catching the attention of the boy's eye. The rest were as important for the world, but for him, that one stone meant more than the rest could ever mean. The name written on it, it was as if he was once more back in Warrick, watching the final resting place of his father.
Ryqos Ej'Nacj | ળબડશ૮ ઇઋ'રએડીઋ It said at the top, in clearly visible, yet still pale letters of both the common and the biqaj tongue. The one who had forsaken his life, according to the dead man. And yet, by forsaking that life of his, Ryqos had made life a greater thing for so many more, and Aeon knew he wasn't alone in that thought. He had even met several who knew the Biqaj, several who had stories of how much of a good person he was. And yet he died. One of the best men the boy had ever met died, just like that, because he wanted to save people instead of deal in bureaucracy. And Malcolm lived. By what law, what rule, did death take the men of this world, when it took one of the best to herself, and left the man of lies and pride alive. It was like it was mocking the boy, spitting in his face and showing him only the bad sides of this life.
Beloved brother and son | ૭ઇઠશ૪ઇઈ ૭ળશમકઇળ એરઈ ૮શર The inscription said, if one was to look below the late colonel's name. It was funny to the boy, how little of his mentor's past he really knew. Before he first visited the graveyard, Aeon had no clue Ryqos' parents were alive, nor that he had siblings. The old man always looked so lonely, as if there was no one in his world besides himself, and yet even with that loneliness, he was always smiling. He still hadn't met the man's family, even after he was given the choice to at the biqaj's funeral. He couldn't deal with that fact. Considering the last name he had chosen, Aeon only presumed his teacher and knight hadn't been close to a family ever in his life. Then again, maybe he wasn't wrong, and the inscription was there only for the lack of anything better to write.
He hadn't brought flowers with him. He never would. Ryqos wasn't the flower kinda guy, and if he was given the chance, the boy knew that he would've been told not to decorate his grave with all colors of the rainbow. The scarred swordsman chuckled as he imagined his mentor smiling, and sitting right on his own gravestone, while at the same level of drukness as he usually would've been. This is supposed to be my resting place, by U'frek's buttcheeks. How am I supposed to rest if there is a ton of flowers above, huh kid? The two of them chuckled, as they usually would've after the older man made a joke with no point. A joke that usually wasn't even funny.
"You know, life was much easier when you were here." Aeon said, barely whispering, as if his lips were trying to imitate the subtle sounds of the wind. The vision of his mentor now rose, as he expected it to subconsciously, and Ryqos' ghostly face turned more serious than it was just a trill ago. And no matter the fact that the boy knew it was just a piece of his imagination, he couldn't stop expecting an answer to come from his mentor.
The dead have enough sadness on their own Aeon, the least you can do for them is be happy and not add your sadness to theirs. The vision said, but its lips weren't moving like before, and the voice wasn't coming from its direction. It seemed to be all around him, completely surrounding him in echoes of Ryqos' voice, as well as his father's. It was a statement worth remembering, and the boy's mind wouldn't let it slip past his heart. No matter how kind his heart was, it was the one who wasn't thinking of others now, as it selfishly acted based on sadness and fear, not hope and happiness. Besides, if you ever need me, I will always be right there to tell you what you need to hear, even though you know all my lessons all too well. The vision now continued in a normal fashion, but the headache caused by the echo of the voices just a few trills ago continued. Ryqos was with a smile, unlike Aeon, and he walked around the graveyard some more, looking at the names the boy had passed next to without paying attention. I'm proud of you kid, no matter what that grandpa in fancy armor says. Somehow, even though the description would be fitting of half the commanders of the Hand, the cloaked man knew exactly what his subconsciousness meant. He couldn't let a 67-year-old liar ruin his life, not after he recovered from the most devastating defeat against the monster.
Aeon nodded in gratitude towards the white ground below which his teacher's empty coffin lay. Most idealists like himself would've given all they could to find the body, or in case it was never found, they would not stop believing in Ryqos' life, and yet, the boy knew death on a personal level, too well for a grown man, much more for a youngster. It had claimed his commander, the colonel, long ago, and there was simply nothing that could be done about it. The first lesson he learned in life was that death was inevitable, and it came for all, no matter how big or small, how rich and powerful or poor and helpless. Death had no prejudice, and it had no envy, because at one point, all of life would be hers.
He had escaped death two too many times already, and if the rules applied, next time he wouldn't be so lucky. Third time's the charm, after all. And yet Aeon couldn't stop himself from searching for it. It was like his bucket list contained only one thing, and it was to find death before it finds him, because dying prepared, and dying ready, would be much better than dying in the middle of a situation you so desperately wanted to resolve. He wasn't afraid of death, not anymore, what he was afraid of, much more than some feared spiders and other heights, was fear. It was fear that caused him to lose that fight with the monster, not the monster itself, and it was fear that caused him to simply move away from Malcolm, not the commander's skill and stature. The boy knew this, so the one thing he truly feared, one thing that brought him to his knees, was feeling afraid in the first place. A controversial, yet horrifying reality, since at any moment, any checkpoint in his life, any marker of achievement, he could collapse from terror of the unknown. And yet he wouldn't stop rushing into it, rushing straight into things that would make him afraid. The was no bravery without fear, and that line was stuck in his head like a slave's brand.
Would hope be enough to shred the dark veil of death? It was a lyric he heard his father read a long long time ago, from a Rynmerian tale he had long since forgotten. And yet what he thought was some distant world of imagination and dreams was now his reality, and the same question lurked around his corner, making him feel as if all that he stood for meant nothing. Or everything. Aeon's mind was a playground for the thoughts that could not be explained by mortal logic, and so his head pulsated as he knew dozens and dozens of questions about the topic of hope, fear, and the end of everything, but he held no answers to any. Wherever he went next, he needed that place to give him at least one answer. At least one, that was all he asked for, and since Rynmere had given him none, it was time he tried his luck in other places of the globe. Be it in worship, in battle, or in conversation, an answer will have to come to him sooner or later, surely.