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Chapter 46 – From the Depths
I startled myself awake. Awake? Oh, it was just another dream. …No, that was no dream, it was all too real to be a figment of my imagination. Thus far in my existence, that was the single most vivid memory I’d ever experienced. The culmination of my hate, the climax of my revenge. It felt so good, so right, it was my right to kill them for what they had done. In my eyes, no punishment, not even death, could truly atone for the crime the perpetrator foolishly committed. The feeling from the memory buzzed at the tip of my senses, filling me with an adrenaline I didn’t know I could have.
With heightened senses and fear in my heart, I looked to my lizards, feverishly seeking a sign of the passage of time. My vision flitted about, feeling the connection to the same lizards that were there prior to my mental collapse. Ah there, the eggs. Eggs freshly lain when my mind could handle no more still remained unhatched. Thank goodness. I let out an impalpable sigh at my good fortune. They were still here.
In my sudden clarity and alertness, the thing I feared most was awakening too late to save them. I clutched at my heart, torn ragged from the recent slew of events and waited for it to calm. The other fears I held at bay came rushing back to me. Some I thought I quelled with my earlier resolve, yet they still plagued me, trying to make me second guess my decisions. Newer fears laughed at me, calling me powerless, wondering how I could ever hope to protect them when I caused so much damage.
I could still see the effects my cry of despair wrought on the colonies. Many suffered from heart attacks and strokes, unable to handle the wave of my distorted emotions. Not all resulted in death, but too many did. Others were left brain addled or unable to cope with their own emotions. And then, there was her.
The Shy Girl. Although she did not perish, she was by far the most afflicted still living. She was neither here nor there, her heart lost among the waves just as a tsunami rips a home from its foundation and scattered its pieces into the sea. And through all that, I saw the Little Flyer care for her. He kept her fed and hydrated, cleaned her, cleaned up after her, and cared for her as one might their own invalid grandchild.
My heart sang to his, praising his tender care, thanking him for his compassion, and apologizing for his damaged heart that could no longer support his wings in flight. I tried to find the Shy Girl among the family heart, but all that remained were bits and pieces scattered here and there. Her shattered heart reminded me of my former self, when I lost the one I loved most in the world. Just as I lost my child, she lost the love of her life, the Surveyor.
That sudden thought sent a pang through my heart. It was not one of sadness, but the pang of desire for revenge, for blood. The bloodlust of my memory still stained my senses. It was difficult to repress as a part of me still desired to embrace it. But I swallowed it and shoved it down, I could not afford to feel it, not right now. It would be better if I could feel nothing at all, even for just a moment so I could gather my thoughts at set them straight. Right now they were too muddled with regret, sorrow, anger, and helplessness.
Could I do that? Just shut them off? My memory reawakened the feeling of bloodlust inside me, but it also showed me something else. It showed me the calm, that I had the ability to still my heart, even when driven by emotions. I tried to think back to the beginning of the memory, reliving that placid state of mind where nothing in the world bothered me, and my feelings sat beneath a still pool, undisturbed and disconnected.
I felt through my heart, isolating the emotions raging inside me. One by one, I tucked each of them away into little pockets, quelling my fears, stifling my regrets, hiding away my grief, and even shelving my love for a time. I just needed a small reprieve, a chance to sort through everything. As the emotions melted away, I felt the clarity set in. There was a strange detachment in it, as if I didn’t belong to this world. I took a position not as a player, but as an observer. The fear I might have felt at that disconnect was already locked away, far from my present state of mind. I rebuilt the wall inside me that once separated me from my lizards, the same one that nearly caused me to sink into the pit of despair when I opened it. Only this time, I could think clearly.
The deaths of the lizards were sorrowful, but they were only the first of many lives I would someday bear. If I could not handle this, all these deaths as a result of my actions, I had no right to begin a war. It didn’t need to be okay, but I must accept it, for it is the reality and I cannot undo it. Not all the revenge in the world could change that, so it was better to just acknowledge that there were things I could change, and things I could not.
The Surveyor, too. If I let his death continue to assault my senses at the mere thought of him, I would forever be impeded. I must accept his death and welcome his memories into me. I realized only now, with a clear mind, that I kept his memories at bay. In not wanting to accept his death, I unknowingly kept him separated from the others, serving as a tool to hurt myself and cause self-loathing.
The Surveyor needed to be put to rest. Only then could I move forward. It was a surprisingly simple answer, yet my agonized heart could not see it, could not accept it. Only here in this space where not even a ripple marred the calm surface of the water could I see. It was so easy to see the truth outside of myself, as someone looking in from out.
A thought occurred to me, maybe it would be better this way. Maybe I should keep my emotions sequestered, at least until the war was over. Surely a logical mind unburdened by feelings would make it easier.
The placid water that kept me segregated from my emotions shivered. The thought of watching my lizards perish before my eyes, even in pursuit of victory, and not feeling a thing for their passing frightened me even beyond the wall I built. Surely I would become a tyrant for the sake of the greater good, making sacrifices to assure triumph. Sacrifices would need to be made, that I knew, but they should leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I should always remember the ones that gave their lives to secure the futures of their colonies, with a pang of remorse and a cheer of gratitude.
No, this lake of solitude would only exist in times like these, when the distress in my heart made it impossible to contemplate anything. I needed my heart. It was my sole connection to my lizards.
Connection? At that thought, I drew my senses towards the earth. A long time passed since the last time I let myself sink inside it, to feel what it felt. While my mind remained clear, I reached in to listen to what it had to tell me. If I could sense where the other Overseers and their creatures were, I would know how much time I had left to prepare for their arrival. My strategies would begin here.
But as my hand stretched out within the earth, I felt something both foreign and familiar. Like the time I was drawn to the volcano, something within the earth guided my eyes. Paths often tread opened up, and I could feel veins inside the earth. Veins that watched, veins that had eyes. Something existed here in the dark, in the deep. Its hand stretched everywhere, and it watched.
When the Eyes of the Hills saw me, I knew it instantly. There was a shift in the earthly flow, and I could feel the power that resided on the other side of the mountain. This one though, this one blended in, obscured itself to prying eyes. It was quiet, and it was careful. Even when I followed its path to the volcano I did not recognize it for what it was.
And as soon as I realized this to be the work of another being, the Dark of the Depths vanished; its veins that stretched across the earth retreated in an instant.