in the depths of rumination

How do you describe the feeling of clutching throats, swallowed breaths and clenching hearts in one word? Is it fear that grabs me, or is it anxiety? How do I aptly capture the gnawing feeling in my stomach that things aren’t real, or that they’re too real and I need to wake up?

You are a metre away from me yet galaxies away in your own world, and I find myself repeating in my head: this is real. Over and over. You are real. Every breath. Every touch. Every tingle and flush of skin and every contact between fingers, hands, hearts and souls. 

You are real. So real. You are raw and fresh and unbelievably alive.

But am I?  

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reiji

wine red envelops your solid steel soul, and a white cravat fans out over humble courage and speaks volumes of grace and elegance. there is no other vessel that can contain as much otherworldly spirit as your deep grey eyes, and even the galaxy bows down to the wisdom you hold in them.

oh you who sit in the throne of my mind, who calmly watches over the ongoing chaos and brings me temporary solace in an evil that cannot be undone;

i am grateful for you, always.

moribund

There is no way to describe the tumultous mixture of bitterness and shame I feel. I am stagnant yet static, alive with emotion none too good for the soul. I am bedridden with guilt over something I haven’t done, clenched teeth with balled fists over thoughts that have never crossed the mind.

We are constantly bound by the chains of the invisible.

[between the lines] 02 – greed

They took everything.

You were only a small boy. You cannot remember much, except that there was fire everywhere. Flames eating up houses and grounds and boxes and people. Oh, the people were the worst. You remember the way the fires crawled up their bodies and scorched their skin, eating into flesh and sinew and burning souls to a crisp. It happened to people you knew, people you don’t remember; but you remember feeling like your guts were wrenched out of your body in horror.

You cannot remember much, except that there were cries of joy in the air and warm hugs of relief one day, and it was safe to go out once more. You remember someone saving you from hellfire, someone the villagers described as a comet of blazing flames. His name passed into legend, and you pay him your respects everyday. He had saved everyone by going against the flames and battling the demons. He perished, but his name spread throughout the village as a hero.

He was the brightest light in all darkness, and you cannot compare.

Life resumed soon after in a nearby village. It wasn’t the same, of course; there was no big village square fountain or great wheeled carts of fresh fruit. There is only poverty and barrenness, demise and despair. But amidst it all you’ve found a certain peace; the simplicity and solitude of a soft crackling fire and bowls of rice just enough to fill your stomach for a day. It is no Wilitona with its colourful festivities, but it is home.

There is no more family but there is a group of friends. There is a girl across from your house who wields a dragon spear, and a boy who lives beside you with a flame sword and raven feathers. They are eccentric, but they are home.

All is peaceful in this village, but you know it will not stay peaceful for long. There are signs of hell’s return, in the will-o-wisps that haunt the forests and the sudden deaths of the healthy and young. You can sense the pulsing drums of war in your veins as you spar with the girl. Hell is coming.

And this time, you are ready for it.

You anticipate it, even. You dream of beheading the great god of devils and any general of treachery that comes your way. You will avenge all your fallen family members, you will avenge the comet of blazing flames. You cannot wait for hell to come, cannot wait to taste hellfire upon your lips as you slice through its head with justice.

You cannot wait for revenge.

Friday greets you at the crack of dawn with billows of smoke and the poison of flames.

Hell is here.

Despite years of telling yourself you are prepared, you are sweating in fear. Where is simplicity, where is home? But there is no time to think about that.

At the first scream that pierces the air, you reach for your armour.

Black Armour. Crafted from the finest metals by the best blacksmiths in Sciorn, it is your best defence against the hellfire. It is spiked and angry; a threatening metal suit of thorns protecting your muscular build. It is an armour unlike any other, with its raven black body and golden details, equipped with a flowing palatinate cape.

You grab your weapon — an impressive longsword with a lavender fuller — and head out into the battlefield, or what was previously known as home. There are demons everywhere burning everything down, spitting fires in the air and raining flames from the skies. Bone-horses terrorise the people from their homes, those who weren’t lucky enough to have fled.

And as much as you’ve told yourself you are prepared, you really aren’t. But that doesn’t stop you from going into the flames.

“Greed!”  Raven.

“Where are you going? Get out of there!” Raven yells, as he helps a lady up from the ground and ushers her towards the group of fleeing survivors. “You’re going to get yourself killed!”

“Raven, leave.” You have no time for this. The raven lord fluffs up his feathers in anger, and you feel the rage rising within you. “Leave.”

You have no time for the petulance of a child whose wings are not yet ready to fly.

He stands there still, despite your orders to leave. The heat of hellfire comes nearer, warming your black armour and prickling the back of your neck.

“Whatever you wish to say, speak it now,” you spit out. There is no time.

Raven’s cheeks are flushed red from the heat, and his eyebrows are knitted in frustration as he struggles for words. “Greed, I-”

A deep, rumbling chuckle hovers from behind you. You turn around in alarm and see Hell’s marshall standing before you in all his demonic glory, smirking widely with a thirst for your blood.

“Raven, go!” you yell.

His hastily retreating footsteps are the last you hear from him.

The marshall chuckles gleefully as he levels his gaze with yours. “There is no comet nor pathetic knight to save you now, man in black armour. Are you prepared to say goodbye?”

You are prepared.

You are prepared.

You are prepared.

You think of home and its tranquility. There are memories. There is happiness. There are rice bowls and paddy fields and gardens and home.

No, you are not prepared.

Your eyes squeeze shut, and the grip around the hilt of your sword tightens. You think of the boy and his quick temper, the girl’s calmness that matched your own. You are not prepared to face the marshall, but you are prepared to fight for your friends.

Perhaps it is worth it, to fight the darkness for light to shine through. You were never made for daylight, for it is meant for the people around you whom you love: a certain bird with ruffled feathers and quiet sweet cooes, a confident azure silver dragon knight.

It is true that you are no comet of blazing flames. You are also no knight of light worthy of the sun’s blessings.

You are only a simple man in black armour.

You are Greed Sacrifice, Knight of Shade.

And you are the brightest light in all darkness.

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‘Between the Lines’ is a little series I’m working on in which I take a character from the mobile game Quiz RPG and write a backstory for them based on their bracketed title. All stories are my own intepretations.

(Bonus cookies if you spot any references to other characters!)