Fantasy, Home

Her Work and Nothing More

(This is my job. My work is important. This is my job. My work is necessary.)

Over and over she repeated these words to herself. Hoping against hope that her internal mantra alone would stop the trembling of her fingers, stop the hot quick breathes and the blurring vision accompanying the burning behind her wide eyes.

She hopes, prays, begs, that words alone will banish the coiled burning energy held taunt in her chest, squeezing tighter and tighter as the seconds tic by. It’s a wonder her quaking, stuttering heart hadn’t imploded.

Still, she remains kneeling quietly, kneeling in despair, in wonder and horror and anger; watching her lover bleed out beneath her pale fingers. Unable to touch, unable to save him and for what. She chuckled bitterly, a choking horrible sound ripped from her dry throat. So unlike the one he’d told her he loved to listen to.

For order? For the precious balance she and countless others had believed in, had sworn themselves to and worshiped without question? For the sake of others this one man was to die?

No. No that did not seem fair. This was not equal to what would be lost and achieved in turn, this was not balance. Not in her eyes. And yet

On her knees she remained, unmoving, unable to save the only soul she had ever loved and who had loved her in return.

(This is my job. My work is important. This is my job. My work is necessary.)

She was a Keeper of Order, an immortal being made to correct disturbances in the flow of the universe. She was not to get attached, to anyone or anything, for everything, even her own kin,, her own life, was impermanent. Expendable.

Nothing lasts forever, she’d been told. Attachments and shows of emotion will only cloud your judgement. Creation and destruction, that is the only thing that matters. The Universe creates, and we destroy. Smoothing the edges of reality until the work is finished.

She breathed, pulse slowing against her will alongside his; her friend, her lover, her partner. This; his head cradled against her thighs, her fabric of her skirt spread beneath him, the gentle red stained an ever-darkening crimson, his pale hands pressed against a wound he wouldn’t survive, her own shaking hands hovering above; this was all she could offer.

Even this small gesture was pushing what was allowed.

(This is my job. My work is important. This is my job. My work is necessary.)

On and on the mantra went, like a hymn created by her pulse, the words growing faster and faster with every breath he didn’t take.

“I’m sorry.” She gasped, bowing her head, crimson bangs falling like a curtain, shielding her vision from everything but him. “I’m so, so sorry.” She sobbed, hands finally falling, pressing gently, cradling his face. His skin felt almost as cold as her own.

At the back of her neck, she felt the prick of a gaze, her superior; watching her, judging her. As if his centuries of knowledge mattered to her anymore. As if he had the right to judge her sorrow, the love she’d given this mortal man.

She remembered, in the moment between his second-to-last breath and his final exhale, she remembered all the laughter, all the arguments, all the stolen kisses and gentle touches. She remembered falling in anger, into despair, of falling into love, and all the little miracles and disturbances in-between.

She remembered the monotone autonomy of before, of the nothing of her soul before him. She wondered if she was fated to return to that. The cold distance her kind were expected to submit to without complaint.

In that quiet span of eternity, she tasted the last spark of life between his lips, breathed the sharp tang of her lover’s soul, and mourned his loss, and the days that she could have had.

And wondered, bitterly, silently (always silently), if this was worth it. If the heartache, if the pain and joy brought into her heart was truly important. If her life, her immortality, was being put to use in the best way possible.

She wondered what would change, if she stopped too.

(This is my job. My work is important. This is my job. My work is necessary.)

If she just, didn’t do what she was told, if she stopped her kin from killing when she thought it wrong. If she committed herself to a balance she believed in, one she thought fair.

She stared down at her beloved’s face, pale and still, eyes raised to the sky, dim and lifeless. She wondered how many like him had died for simply being in the wrong place as the wrong time. And thought; no more.

(This is my job…. A job I hate… This work is important, but not in the way it was taught.

A job that has taken everything from me…. This work is necessary, but not in the way she’d been told, not with how it was practiced.)

She rose, summoning her obsidian sword, and wondered what she should do now. Wondered what it would be like to fully experience the free-will her lover had showed and shared with her. She stood tall, hair falling like a wall of blood, face dripping dark tears, dress swirling around her, heavy with the blood staining the gold and orange fabric.

She turned to her superior, saw him flinch, and flew at him without a second’s hesitation. She watched the fear and life fade from his eyes as her blade claimed his life.

Somewhere, somehow, an alarm was sounded, the voices of her Superiors ringing out as she cut down all who stood in her way, who threatened her new mission;

“Beware the Autumn huntress! For she will claim us all beneath her blade!”

“Beware the rogue reaper, the Fallen Keeper of the Balance!”

For years, she ravaged the so-called Balance, teaching and killing and drawing in a following. And after many centuries, she fell, upon the soil, amongst the flowers of the clearing that her beloved had died in.

She laughed as her heart was pierced, her blood painting a wretched picture across the green, knowing karma would find her enemies before long, that her loyal following would continue her work without her. She laughed, the image of her Superior’s drowning in their arrogance, their twisted sense of Balance left broken at their feet.

And she smiled. Finally free, she thought, fingers curling around the remembered warmth of her beloved.

 

 

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