The Death of a Saint
The chamber ran for an eternity, lit by faded blue light that washed out details and left only general impressions, with a stone floor and what appeared to be stone walls. A vague memory suggested that the chamber was made out of marble, a suggestion that made sense. Crypts were made of marble, were they not? And this would be a tomb, it was almost a tangible feeling, a subtle taste of despair and a whiff of resignation.
Standing in the centre of the room was a delicately built girl, no, woman, her stance defiant as she glared at four masks. Her fair eye and hair colour was washed out in the light, leaving her to look like an alabaster statue of a martyred saint, one who would be chosen by the angels above to be the angel of justice, one who would mete out righteousness fairly, having been tempered by her mortal experience.
There were no saints though, for if there were, this would not be happening. No one could watch this sequence and not attempt to act. Not unless you were desensitised to the violence.
One of the masks spun on its axis and reappeared in front of her. She raised her hands to cover her ears, as if to muffle what was said, to pretend that if she could not hear it then it had not been said. The mask leaned closer to her, giving the general impression that it was repeating itself. The woman shrank back from it, every line of her body indicating her distress. The other masks seemed to linger a certain distance away from her, as if anticipating something. Which would be correct. The dream never changed.
A pale, oversized mask shimmered into view, a perversion of the white porcelain masks of normality. Too many eyes stared at the woman, judging her and found her wanting. It metamorphosed into a man of medium height, with spiked dark hair and sealed over eye sockets. He leaned toward the woman and kissed her. She fought him with her magic and brute force, clawing at his face and casting a high powered Light class spell on him. He merely smiled and drew her closer. She screamed, a cry of utter despair before their lips touched. She went limp, spilling out of the man's arms, onto the floor. He stared down at her and smiled in triumph.
The dream was always the same, a repeat of a memory that he had no right to have. He should not possess it, it should belong to her alone. But he, being impetuous, never thought about his actions. It was the gift of youth, to be unconcerned about cause and effect. He was young no more, the envelope of meat and blood that surrounded himself was an illusion, and a feeble one at that.
He never thought he would curse his gift. Find it frustrating at times, yes. But utterly despise it, hate it as an unalterable part of himself, no. He was naïve back then, evidently.
When he was little, barely out of babyhood, his mother would impress upon him the importance of maintain barriers. Not physical barriers, though that did help. Keeping a barrier between his thoughts and another's, to keep his identity separate from others. It was not an easy task, especially for an impulsive boy like he used to be. She used to laugh, sigh, or simply comment that he needed these barriers.
"Laddie, dear, you need to do this. Otherwise, you could form mental bonds with others, tie your life with theirs, and have no way of rescuing yourself should you need it. Trust me," she would constantly say, the sting of her words eased by the warm smile she always wore around him. Of course he never listened, and created such a bond with her completely unintentionally.
When she was captured, he vaguely remembered screaming with the pain, although that may have been a phantom memory, and collapsing. He was told later he would suffer sporatic fits of convulsions, an event that terrified the small children that lived with him at the time. He only remembered waking up and knowing that his mother was gone.
He should have learnt from that experience never to make mental links with another person. Should have being the key word. He didn't however.
When he first met the group of rather ragged heroes that would eventually save the world, he subconsciously created links with them all, or attempted to. He could only make them with two, the sacrificed saint and her betrayer. At the time, he shrugged it off as being merely a co-incidence. In retrospect, that told him more than he really had a right to know.
The links, while active, remained unused. He had no current interest in using them, and only strong emotion on their parts could awaken the bond at their end. To him, it seemed a perfect solution to ensure their survival, as they had a tendency of never considering their actions, neither of them. He merely provided a method of tracking them, should it ever become necessary.
Her link became active while he was sleeping. Caught in a dream, he watched helplessly as she was sacrificed to the many-eyed mask by her blind lover. It was a bitter, bitter experience for him, to realise his very helplessness. And he learnt exactly why his mother advised caution when dealing with links. As her soul was rended, he too felt his soul begin to tear under the strain. It was horrific, the pain nonwithstanding. He watched in paralysed dismay as his soul started to join her in annihilation, individual delicate traces being devoured by the masks.
His mother saved him, snatched him from the masks and reassembled his soul as best she could. She, like him, was self-taught and while her methods were much more sophisticated than his, her skills were not in the fragility of the mind. He awoke, and knew that something was missing.
From that night on, he began to dream of pale women being devoured by masks, waking in cold sweats at the closeness of death. He was no longer afraid of death, he was afraid of what came beyond. If such a devout Christian can have her soul destroyed, what chance did he have, the bastard son of a Gypsy? There was no God, how could there be? They had defeated that being, torn it's surprisingly physical body apart with their magics and their weapons, leaving only bone and sinew. It mattered not how you lived, as you could still be shattered and ruined. Broken souls were of no use to anyone.
He had never thought about rape, about the violation of an innocent, but now he knew, with the crystal clarity that he knew he was alive, what it felt like. Not the physical violation, although that was surely bad enough. It was the fragmenting of the self, the knowledge that this could happen to you again and you would be as powerless as before to stop it. It was the forced acceptance of your own vulnerability. The long tendrils invading your mind, usurping it and perverting it to another's purpose.
And her manner of death was a rape, a desecration of the soul. He remembered her struggles for air, gasps that were purely in her mind, because her body did not react and instead went slack and chill. There was pressure on her side, the brushing of hair against her skin, suggesting that she was not alone when she died, that someone was there and did not save her. He knew intellectually that her lover could not have saved her, but surely sleeping away as she died was remarkably self-centred.
His mother and he returned to Europe once the ship reached it's first port of call. The funeral was to be held in Switzerland, where she was born and her family lived. It had not been an easy funeral. Her mother was inconsolable, her lover in a state of shock and their companions not much better. They mouthed platitudes like "She died peacefully," and "Died in her sleep, very painless." He knew otherwise. He knew of her battle to remain alive, to stay with her family and her future fiancé.
He did not tell anyone of what he knew. What good would it do? It wouldn't bring her back. He merely stared at her coffin with too-old hazel eyes silently.
"Goodbye, Alice," he whispered finally, taking off his cap in respect. "I promise that we shall right the world, and deny Simon's vision."
Authors Note: Halley? How on earth did I channel Halley? I was supposed to be doing my project research. Oh well. This is more fun.
As for the symbolism, it was fun too. *shakes head * I need to get out more. You have to worry when my characters have more life than I do….