|Death of a Mentor
||[Jan. 3rd, 2006|08:30 pm]
Is it really you, my dear? I had hoped... had hoped a long time that I would see you again before I died, before I left this world--
The world is coming to an end, Librarian.
I--I know this. And it is unnatural, it is fading too soon. There is not enough to sustain me here. Not enough to sustain--
There is a man coming, Librarian.
A man? --Marisen? But that is not his real name, is it... merely a name among other names, an identity of--
There is a man, coming to you for help, Librarian. You must help him.
But he is dead, they’ve all died... wait. Wait, don’t leave me here, my love! There is so much that I could never--No. No!
Goodbye, Librarian, goodbye. Remember my name.
The old man gasped and threw himself up from his deathbed. When I approached, I thought he had already gone, gone to whatever land of the dead existed, and that the cry I heard from the entrance was the trick of my imagination. He didn’t look healthy, that was for sure - as I got closer to him, I realized that he hadn’t eaten in who knows how long. But he was still alive, and that was all I needed.
I have to say, I wasn’t too impressed with how my friend had taken care of himself over the years - the tall and sturdy old man of my childhood had withered away to a shadow of himself, thin and pale and dying. I could only wonder if this was how all life would end - would all of the dying turn into pale ghosts like this, pitiful and mocking in lieu of their youth, their fragile hearts beating a lingering death knell, calling them to whatever mysterious void existed?
Mentally, I shook myself out of the thought. All this concern with death was taking away my focus, and whatever few moments of life in this old man were fading fast, faster as the spirit left him.
I came to him slowly, holding his cold, outstretched hand with my own dark-skinned fingers, and slowly, his thin neck twisted, his eyes going to mine.
“M-Marisen,” he whispered, his eyes soft like they were going to cry. “I thought--we all thought you were long gone, that you had died. Were we all deceived?”
I shook my head slowly, and my tongue took a life of its own. “I was dead, L,” it said without my will backing it. “But I’m back, now, and I need your help.”
The old man, the man I once knew to be the great Librarian, stared at me for a long moment and then shook his head, looking more helpless by the minute. “I can’t help you, my child,” whispered the old man, falling slowly back into his pillow. “I am weak, dying, so terribly weak... I lost it not long ago, you see, and then I just gave up.”
I felt my face twisting into a confused frown, and I stepped forward, looking down at him. “Lost what?” I barely registered the girl beside me as I asked him, the dead girl, her pale face searching the old man’s expression, as if taking in an image which was unreal to her.
My old friend didn’t look at me for a moment, his grey eyes looking up at her. “Who--who is this woman you have brought, Marisen? Surely not a sign that you’re settling down?”
I shook my head no, and turned to the unnamed girl with a frown - not even she knew her own name. That, or she wouldn’t tell me. Her head didn’t turn to look at me like it usually did when she sensed my gaze - instead, it stared back at the old man, seemingly unaware of his interest in her.
I took the brief lull in conversation as an opportunity to press forward, and so I grabbed the old man’s hand. “L,” I whispered, doing everything in my power to get him back. “L, what did you lose? Tell me.”
The man known by one letter looked back at me with helpless, sorrowful eyes, and whispered, “My power. The one science that makes us relatives. The one that I have dedicated my life to. It’s gone.”
“You can’t dust anymore?” I asked softly. My voice came hoarsely, like his words had sucked out all the moisture in my throat. My old friend here had been one of the most powerful mages of us all - maybe the most powerful, if they had ever understood what he did.
The man’s expression contorted in pain, and he turned his head away. “Dust,” he mumbled. “Null, reduce, destroy... call it what you will. It has left me.” He turned his head back to me, as if to explain. “It... started to drain from me, like bubbles of air lifting from a jar of water. I found that the experiments I carried on in, could only be accomplished with great difficulty - that anything too large or too small only yielded to my wishes after great difficulty.”
He emphasized the word ‘great’, and as my heart ached for him, my mind was whirling - but the power didn’t leave with old age, not as long as the mind was uncorrupted, so we believed... but then, what was happening to him?
“It--left my mind quickly, quicker than I could perceive... and when it had gone, the foundation of my existence left with it. I can’t go on, my friend. I have nothing. I will leave with... nothing.”
“You can give me something,” I pressed on, a desperation welling in me. “L. Listen to me. Something’s gone wrong, someone’s gotten into the gears of time and existence and fucked with everything, you and me and everyone we know. By all that existed within you, damnit, show me a way. Give me something to go on.” The knot in my stomach twisted tighter, and I felt like all the hopelessness in this man was reaching into my own protected well of faith and leeching me of all my willpower.
The Librarian’s eyes blinked sadly, and looked thoughtful, remembering something, and when he finally spoke, replied, “I heard the call, just as you did, my friend, but I ignored it. It was too vast, the damage, and I glimpsed it just for a moment - and knew that I could not solve it alone.
“If null mages can find the cracks of existence, this was a chasm - a wailing divide in the fabric of existence, like a sword had cleaved it in one blow. It was too vast for me to comprehend, and so I ignored it - until the power to sense it leached through my bones.”
He took a minute to gather his scattered senses, and then he continued, his voice in danger of breaking all the while. “It is not a normal obstruction. Indeed, I--I believe that my power left me through that hole. It is where all things might leave, and yet it is unnatural. It must be healed... must be brought...”
His voice began fading, and I clutched at his hand all the more, squeezing him back into life. “L,” my voice spoke, my mind not fully comprehending its words, “Give me something, anything to go on What can I do to stop this? Where must I go?”
I’ll never forget the Librarian’s face - the expression written on it had been a strange hybrid of grief and somberness. And his last words to me were, “Seek your brethren in their chapters and homes. They will not comprehend like we do, but they are no less in danger. Go... with peace, my friend.”
I was with him as the pulse in his neck began fluttering, slowing, and fading away. He was gone, my old friend’s life had left him, and I was in the company of the dead once more.
It would have been too easy to have fallen into a pit of despair over the whole situation, but I had something to go on now, something solid, more than just a lingering dread in my organs. There was something rotten in the core of existence, a cleave through the tenuous fabric that was unravelling over the centuries, and if I couldn’t stop or reverse the damage, I could at least lessen the impact it made on my people, my distant brethren from a time long ago.
I let my eyes stray to the dead girl, the one who had kickstarted my precarious journey to the heart of this mystery. In the grand scheme of things, she was practically collateral damage - should I leave her now, at the side of the road with this other dead man? What would happen to her if I did?
Inwardly, I railed at myself, for in the end, I imagined her being another obstacle. But I couldn’t leave her. I had taken her under my wing, and with that came a certain responsibility for my actions. And so I beckoned her to follow, stepping toward the door and gesturing to her to leave alone the body of my master.
She didn’t move, staring a little longer at his body. “He’s stopped moving,” she whispered, with a naive concern that astounded me. “What does that mean?” She looked up at me with the question, as if expecting me to answer all her problems.
“It means he’s dead,” I replied, trying not to let the ugly truth cloud my thoughts. “Come on. I know where we’re going now.”