The weight of the world.
How often I have heard humanity refer to their burdens as such; the trials and tribulations that, to a creature as old as I, resonate as poignantly as a single grain of sand cast into the roaring surf. I mean not to belittle the profundity of their pain or deny them the rightful exquisite agony of their moments of mourning. I only desire the defining undeniable clarity of accurate perspective. I ask only that they be able to remove themselves for one fleeting moment from the present situation and stand aside to witness the relative meaning of their strife when set beside the expansive, ceaseless wail of the world around them so that they might better assess the impact of their boasts that their pain is the greatest of them all.
But what is perspective, but for the stone upon which one stands, amidst the reeds and water, alone and cold and scared? One stone, upon a dune, upon a continent, upon a planet spinning ceaselessly through an infinite universe and yet, somehow when night falls it is only our limited line of sight that defines our lives. Nothing more. For when we close our eyes to dream reality disintegrates and slips through our splayed fingers one delicate and disposable experience at a time.
I often catch myself becoming hastily judgmental in my annoyance and chastise myself for my impatience, my narrow-mindedness, for who am I to say that the universe even exists outside of my own perception? To each individual the world may perhaps live independently with an infinite number of outcomes available from second to vanishing second. Who am I to deny the concept that each individual believes, in their own way, in their own right, that their struggle is the ultimate definition of existence and if they themselves ceased to be, so would the universe? When we close our eyes the darkness behind begets an infinite number of worlds, realities we choose to call “dreams.” In these worlds our worries either fade or transform into monsters of impossibly grotesque proportions. But are our dreams reality or our “waking” moments reality?
We are champions, we are slaves, but in the end, we open our eyes back to this particular plane, which we supposedly share with people, places and things we have come to expect, even depend upon. I cannot claim that the trials I have endured over the centuries have been any more “real” or arduous than those experienced by the humans, or even the other vampires, I have encountered in my journeys. I must say, though, that I do feel justified in the belief that the events of the past year have held a bit more gravity. After all, it was the fate of the world we are speaking of that I held in my hands and a global empire I was forced to face and defeat. I realize I must now sound conceited, but if you had endured the agony of possession by a primordial god and merciless torture at the hands of the Tyst Empire’s finest interrogators, perhaps you might understand.
Then again, it is all perspective.
However, if there is anyone who can lay claim to the phrase “the weight of the world,” I feel a bit of entitlement. My apologies. I am not bitter or even jaded, though there was definitely a time in my long life when those adjectives would have been considered most appropriate in reference to me. In fact, the numbness that had begun to claim my soul in the brief decades before my long spell-induced sleep appears to have evaporated like dew from a blade of grass. I feel alive in a way I never thought I would ever again, young and empowered with a renewed zest for knowledge and a painfully sweet passion for the philosophy and religion I had cast aside a century before. Now that the clouds of Adian’s memories have begun to slowly separate, dense gray strands pulling apart to reveal the misty shadows of my true life like yarn between an old woman’s hands, I can understand the influence of “point of view.” I am remembering who I am, who I was as a human before my Dark Father, Phelan rescued me from the brink of mortal death, as well as who I was as a vampire before Adian’s memories made of the strong, confidant Immortal creature I had been, a paranoid, jaded schizophrenic.
Though I may not be of royal lineage as Adian had been, I know now that my mortal life had been nothing to be ashamed of, though I definitely performed a questionable act or two in my time, as most humans do. My life as a vampire has also been one I should not shy away from or hang my head in shame over. I have done all that I can do. I have acted as only my heart said was true and from that my legacy has been born. It was the only path I could have traveled to lead me to this point and I choose to believe that I am now here for a reason far greater than that of merely the conclusion to a mortal war. I have battled the very god who begat the vampire race itself, the Vicinus, and lived to tell the tale. I have survived the tortures of an empire whose lust for immortality rivaled even the greatest of history’s accounts.
However, it was the moment in which, during the final hour before the fall of the Chronous and the execution of Lord Cardone III, I found myself witnessing the very aura of what I can only describe as “God” itself as it reclaimed the Vicinus back into the womb of the universe, that I knew my life would forever be exorcised of the previous lead weight of my preconceived burdens. In the wake of such a monumentally cataclysmic event, I suddenly rediscovered the power of my own conviction to the spiritual philosophy of Preternaturalism I had once preached to the vampiric masses. I remembered with an exquisitely bittersweet poignancy the devotion I had given myself over to, body, mind, and soul. The philosophy I had strived to craft from a viper’s nest of destructive, oppressive mythology, a song that could lift my Brethren out of the crypts they lurked within to a place of significant evolutionary relevancy.
My faith in my own philosophy was unshakable, leaving even the most stalwart naysayer speechless as I accepted their violently dispersed skepticism with a mere quiet nod of my head. The peace I had experienced in those early years, the strength of the fierce vibration of enthusiasm for life and the universe that enveloped me, was beautiful in a way I only now can truly appreciate. From light into darkness I had fallen. It was time for me to reach for the light once again and this time it would be with an even greater respect and understanding of existence than I had ever possessed before.
I knew it would not be an easy path I would walk if I ultimately chose to try to reconstruct the Temple of Preternaturalism. The world had changed radically. The Immortal race had born witness to my rise in a hallucination of infallible influence only to plummet from those heights and fall upon the sword of my own jaded disillusionment. As my judge and jury they had deemed my renunciation of the religion a heresy that ran deeper than any mere self-indulgent abandonment of faith, for my actions had cost the lives of thousands of Fledglings. The pillar of stalwart strength and peace they had clustered about like June bugs to a bonfire had turned to salt, dissolving in the rain until nothing remained. I could not comfort them; I myself was as distraught by my own inability to answer the questions I had seemingly intuited the meaning of only years before. I turned my back on them and walked away into the darkness and in the end they made me pay for my abandonment with their lives. Even though their suicides were not of my command, the Elders of our race deemed me wretchedly manipulative as if I were Jim Jones and my irresponsibility the arsenic-laced Kool-Aid in their tiny paper cups. My followers had never once allowed me the chance to rediscover my faith before giving themselves up to the sun—which, in truth, is all that I had asked.
I had needed time — time for isolation and meditation.
Now, as I stare out over the ocean of my newly reemerging memories, I know I have not lost all faith for I have had the sensation that something more must exist, something greater than what I had been preaching all of those years. I had known my philosophy had been too simple and ultimately flawed in a way that evaded me. The hum of their constant questions and the political white noise of the Elders who orchestrated my church for their own gain stifled my ability to think, to feel. My departure had not been meant to be permanent, but they never gave me the chance to return before deeming me a criminal spiritual huckster.
How the world adores a villain and, even more so, a martyr!
I did not want to be known as such any longer, but would the world ever allow me to shake off entirely that tragic misshapen mantle? The political landscape was molten now. The Tyst Empire had been shaken to its core with my slaying of their emperor, as well as the leader of their elite special intelligence Third Eye unit, Malakai Devolton. The Chronous, the biosynthetic architecture that the whole of society operated from, was dormant, though we all knew that the system’s absence was only temporary. The Tyst were already hard at work to bring the machine back online, as they were blind moles without it.
My personal position within the hierarchy of the new world order was quickly evolving. I had proven myself a worthy and reliable warrior, ultimately fulfilling the missions I was commanded, though all questioned my intention and methods throughout the journey. What had begun as a forced directive from my own Maker, Phelan, as a sort of punishment, had metamorphosed into a deep-seated, honest conviction I had never thought was possible for me to embrace again.
Where I had originally wanted nothing more than anonymity and oblivion, I had rediscovered the meaning of purpose and commitment—to myself, to my people, to the world. For the first time in my life I was now a father, as well as a Maker. While a part of me was still struggling to accept these new titles, I could not deny the intensity of my instinctual resolve to protect my son Nodin and Jasmine, my beautiful Fledgling. This was a chance to right the wrongs I had done to so many and prove to the ones I loved that I was the champion they needed and deserved. My duties to the reconstitution of not only the Immortal kingdom, but the political landscape of human civilization after a century of civil war, were permanently intertwined with my new familial stations. Once violently estranged from Phelan, the treacherous terrain we had traversed together since my reawakening had begun to mend wounds I thought would never be healed.
We stood now as equals, in many respects. Alongside the human outlander tribes of the Phuree, whose numbers grew steadily in the wake of the Chronous’s deactivation as they raided the amagins, convincing the denizens there to flee, we could now firmly envision a new world order. What that final structure might become we could not say with any degree of certainty while the Tyst Empire still existed in any capacity. However, it was a beginning, just enough to ignite the spark of hope that had been extinguished for so very long, a spark to set the world ablaze in revolution and reinvention. It was time for the phoenix to rise once more. After all, what did not kill us certainly made us stronger.
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