You Are Your Own Eternity
No matter who faces you.
No matter where you stand.
If you never give up.
Not even death could craft your end.
Inspired by the music video: "Fight Song" by Eve
I was a hunter before I met her.
Not a protector.
She was a dragon—still is a dragon—in the body of a little girl, with hair like a blanket of snow, sweeping just above the muck of the ground, billowing far behind puny, bare feet. Pale as can be. With canary yellow eyes only fit for staring into souls, and the kind of powers only meant for devouring them.
I was nothing special—even now, nothing special. Just human, nesting eyes the colour of rust, and a sight that missed whatever was so important about life up until she slithered into it. But I thought: if my eyes could still view someone so valuable as worth more than her bounty of a few too many zeroes, then maybe, I was less blind than I surmised.
We found each other on a day steeped in dusk. Half the sky was raining; half the rain was painted. All around me—on some abandoned street—were puddles with smoky mixtures of red seeping through.
I was kneeling on the floor, my knuckles numb and covered in blood. I couldn't feel them but saw them shaking. There was more blood than I remember causing.
Plipping and plopping.
I watched my fists trying to recall what I'd been fighting.
A soft pitter-patter and two tiny feet appeared in front of me. Lazily, I peered up, and was pierced by her stare, the outline of her horns woven through her hair. The cratering rib cage of a recently deceased beast silhouetting her frame like a ring of ghostly wings. Its bones wisping into golden dust that melted the must from the haze.
Slunked half-ways off my shoulder, my weapon reacted to her. It hung off me like a gym bag made of shadows, but was really a weapon for shredding souls, the type my fists couldn't handle. Where a zipper should've been, its mouth hung hungry, often wide open, with a spiky grin and a large tongue always thirsting... for puddles.
Except here, it quivered. The corners of its mouth angled down. It bit its lip—if you could call it a lip—and swiveled behind me. Afraid. Of this little girl whose rib cage cratered behind her.
I watched her watch me.
We were a duo fit for a fantasy, instead we are the outcasts of the city. Always on the run. From slum to slum. Dodging skyscrapers and their hired hunters. Fighting the world simply by trying to survive it.
"Tch," I let out a bitter puff of smoke. Crushed the cigar with a clench.
She giggled beside me, oblivious to my troubles, as she spray-painted a bathroom stall with a stench.
Graffiti; robbery; illegal activity; she seemed to like these things. The types of joys that got people's attention really, and Attention wanted us dead. And even without hired hands reaching for her neck, she was a lot to manage. Since I met her, I'd gained the rank of an older brother, though I don't remember having nor wanting a sibling, especially not one so needy.
I shut my eyes and forced a sigh.
She tugged my sleeve with her inhuman speed, jolting me from what little respite a sigh could provide, and pointed at a vendor's cart serving oily fries.
Her eyes spoke for her drooling mouth: 'I want this.' they said.
I drew in a smoke and gave her a scornful side eye. Dream on.
It didn't take long for her to throw a can of paint at my head.
Our brawl caused a scene so we ended up fleeing south. A vexing sprig of fries sprouted from her oily mouth, as she waddled along beside me without care.
Sometimes it was hard to justify my time with her over the price value of her wanted poster. I'd gathered a few in my hand, both then and now. I watched her innocent eyes painted in a way that made me scowl.
My soul-shredder, (that shadowy satchel), ate the temptation in the form 'Wanted' papers, leaving my hand with its cold saliva and a much warmer hand holding hers.
An unfamiliar poke struck the side of my shoulder. I looked over to find a cloaker—the worst kind of commercial stalker. A red cloak draping over its tall figure. There was a silence—a long stare—assuming whatever it was under its hood had the eyes to peer, and in my peripheral, she bowed forward for a playful peek. Her hand sprung out in a wave like the creature was an old buddy. My hairs stood on their ends as all its hands spread out like a fan and waved back.
Fast forward a few scenes and she was stolen from me.
Without reason nor rhyme; within a snap of time; I couldn't process what had happened for life to turn this wrong. A single song knocking against my skull like a distorted bell; playing over and over and over and over:
Fight until the world is made right and her warmth is back in my grasp.
I could not think with her not there.
She, to me, was my final limb. The one I'd been missing all along. In a meaningless life surrounded by zeros, she became my +1.
Protector turned hunter; I tracked them down until a base was found: some elusive blacklisted den. A place where fighters and brawlers had a pit to share and an ugly chance at glory from deceptive madmen. It was an arena I had no taste for, but a winner received a reward from a wealthy cloaker who didn't deserve anything he had to offer—much, much, less: my needy little sister.
Attempt one, attempt three, attempt five, six, and thirteen, and all I kept seeing was her petite frame getting dragged from me. Many hands pushing my head into the ground; five, ten, fifteen, maybe twenty? maybe twelve?
The pit turned my vision into a filter of red. So many enemies and forgotten fights with the dead. A shadowy gym bag thriving off of people's souls. Betters and buyers cheering to the sounds of my bloodshed. 'Didn't seem to matter whose blood sprayed, creating puddles out of painted rain in a place where there was no dusk or day or sky. All while too high above, caressed by a crooked finger in a creepy glove, she sat perched on a throne too large, watching me watch her; watching me get hurt; watching her with a look so tortured. From a girl so pale, so frail, so small.
It seemed I'd grown too used to every slash I could not evade being accompanied by the sound of her smacking me with a lopsided band aid.
The sight of her—and that fry-less frown—made me weak. And I could not breathe with the bulk of a Gozu brute strangling me.
With my soul-shredder tossed to the side. I could not fight.
But how could I not fight for the +1-and-only meaning of my life?
The Gozu’s restless hands tightened around my neck. A choke. A gasp. A figment of their soul seeped through my chest. Weighing a ton. Crushing a lung and—
(There was something above)
(a rib-caging a dove)
She was still a dragon.
There was a curdling cry. A roar that tore the sky. A zap of lightning. Spits and violent hisses. The ox head choking me was gone in an instant. I was swept up as the entire den was blasted to pieces.
The bulk of a white beast and its serpentine twist, swimming across the air—up and up and up. Shimmering and magnificent and... fighting for me?
I never knew that was something that could be.
I did not think there was anyone out there who still wanted me to breathe.
The Choose a Home Request Form
A cough sprang outta me.
The white glow from the sol-funder illuminated my face. One hand was cold against its metallic screen. Dark, pooling puddles layered over my feet. My other hand clutched my side. A hover-bus whizzed up the street behind me, disturbing the puddles, rippling their reflections against my ankles.
Meanwhile, the sol-funder loomed over me like a bank tower leaking its funds. A jackpot-like chime nudging my ears as icons of starz kept pouring into the digital happy-face of me. The chimes were never ending.
I tried clearing my throat. It was sore from all the yelling.
In the distance, I heard an upstreamer. Its engine sounded lazy. Cranky even. It moaned out its warning. The star-fundz finally stopped. I realized late. The screen timed out and dimmed, leaving behind a murky reflection. The outline of a hand much bigger than mine was drawn there. A swollen eye stared at it. A smudge of blood smeared along the corner of his mouth—my mouth.
I peeled off my hand, smeared the smudge some more with the hem of my sleeve. Then flipped my palm and stared hard and long at it, or rather, the disk set to its center. I tore my other hand from my side, ignoring the loud throb it left behind, and pressed the disk with one shaky finger. The star clicked once in, and then jutted out. I extracted it.
I'd never used a star-deposit before. I'd never even held a star to deposit before. I thought I never would. I thought the depositor embedded into my hand had been a waste of good surgery. But here it was now, coming in handy, imbuing me with an impossible amount of money.
A slip of water ran up my cheek to my eyelash. I winced away from it.
I tilted my head upwards to where the upstreamer lurked; a giant plate in the sky, eyepatching my favourite moon out of sight, collecting its pools and puddles to deposit somewhere else. Who knew where else.
Dirt water stung against my bruises, shot daggers into my cuts, but it was pretty to look at. Rain pouring towards the sky—or its eyepatch anyway...
. . .
I didn't feel like a trillionaire—or a miniature happy-face. I was just barely a teenager, and small for my age. And I didn't really want the money my mother died for.
If she lived for it, then maybe.
My clothes were soaked.
~ ~ ~
I waited in line at the nearest medi-center.
People with proper clothes and upstanding homes stood in front of me, awaiting service. Treatment. Free pills? Whatever the patient-type came here for.
It was finally my turn.
"Medi-center services, how can I help you?"
A woman with blue-silver waves of hair spoke to me. There was a stylus in her mouth and her chin was on her palm. I couldn't tell if she was amused or bored.
"Um... yeah...how—" I cleared my throat. My voice was still hoarse. "How much does it cost to revive a corpse?"
"Depends..." She removed the stylus from her mouth like it were a smoker, then dabbed its tip into a holo-blotter. When her stylus swiped back up through the air it was scrolling through holographic panels of its own creation. She twisted its mid-section, refining her search. Then ruthlessly, she didn't answer my question:
"Do you have access to your cadaver of choice?"
I thought of the penthouse hotel suite I ran from.
"Is its memory faucet undamaged?"
I thought of how drunk she was.
"Is the body in good condition?"
I thought of the open window.
"And finally...do you have ID?"
I didn't have ID. So I guess that was that. I nodded at nothing she said and walked away without a sound.
~ ~ ~
There was someone sobbing on my hover-bus. I wish they'd shut up. My head was hurting enough as is.
Their audible tears were resurfacing unwanted thoughts. Thoughts I'd worked hard to drown:
'This'll be the last job, I promise," said my mother, who was not dead in my head.
She was mapping out her face for the night, scrolling through mascara masks and lip paints to project onto it. "Once we rob this client, we'll be set for life. We'll leave this stupid planet once and for all. Deal?" She held up her pinky with a sheepish smile. I did not want to, but I held up mine, she clapped it with hers, like a little high five minus the four.
In the hotel suite, she was entertaining her client. A CEO of something. They were in the lounge room. I was uninvited, but I was there too. Not in the lounge, but in the office connected to the bedroom. Based on my mother's usual strategy, I had a good ten minutes before they'd make it to the bed, so I took my time with my quantum-capture, pressing the sphere to anything that looked even remotely valuable.
Then a tele-talker rang from the desk beside me. I'd thought it was just decoration (because who even used tele-talkers anymore?) but there it was, chiming, and his footsteps started coming.
Immediately, I turned on my invisi-cap, but his office had a security detail that made it malfunction. So I was visible.
His kicks were hard.
He threw me in front of my mother, pridefully showing off his prey. She was very drunk, but very worried. Then very angry. There was a brawl. Glass from a bottle. A star thrown into my hand. A shout:
A bad time to find out I wasn't the fight or flight type.
I froze. He approached. We were near a window. My mother, drenched in wine, wobbled to a stand after being knocked down. She took out a knife concealed in her dress and jammed it into him. Near the window. He toppled. Grabbed her wrist—
"Are you okay?"
The sobbing stopped. A handkerchief was thrust in front of me. The various eyes of the hover-bus were on me. Confused, I received it, but didn't answer the question. I left the hover-bus two stops too soon. Someone followed.
The owner of the handkerchief; a nice person, I realized. She was very nosy, but looked very worried. I let her follow me, checking to see if my invisi-cap was still on my head.
~ ~ ~
When I reached my destination, I switched on my invisi-cap and walked in. The nice person was left disoriented outside, but didn't leave. I think she already called authorities so I guess she had to stay. Otherwise there was a fee.
I stood inside one of those planetary transferal pods—a cheap one. This was a port planet—where people were deposited and withdrawn on constant—so these pods were everywhere. No one liked this method of leaving a planet so it was cheaper but still cost a fortune. I wasn't sure what that word meant anymore.
Both my hands were placed on the metallic screen this time. I was shivering.
'Choose a Home Request Form' glowed boldly across the screen.
'Explore an ecosystem right for you!'
'Sort by: Most popular | Land formations | Oxygen levels | Plant life | Ocean life | Lava life | Technological advancement | Population'
I skipped this step and went to: 'Pick a Planet!' I selected one without thinking about it. My thoughts couldn't be trusted.
'Choose a Home!'
'Options: Work your way up | Life of luxury | Middle class | Happy home | Pet owners | Miscellaneous | Other'
I didn't want a home, but didn't have a choice so I clicked 'Other'. A pop-up appeared:
'Warning: Housing shelter is not guaranteed with this birthing service. Is this okay?'
'Species-change request form: N/A
Would you like to retain your memory faucet?'
I paused, but soon decided I didn't want someone else for a mother.
A pop-up: 'Warning: with memory faucet intact, there is a high chance of PTSD due to birthing process. Would you like to sign up to receive your memory faucet at an age of your choosing?'
Oh, that’s smart.
'Age of choice:'
'Terms and condit—'
'Reincarnation fee: 4 777 849 201 stz. Confirm?'
'Please insert ID'
I stared at the screen.
. . .
I was back in front of the screen. The nice person's wallet was in my hand, as I ruffled through for her ID.
'Thank you for your purchase, Averana Kacings! Particle translation and transferal process should begin shortly. | Approximate wait time: 10— 8— 9 mins."
A code-like tattoo crept up my arm. I removed my palms and the codes kept crawling.
I left the pod. Averana shrieked as I took off my invisi-cap in front of her. I handed her back her handkerchief and her wallet. "Thank you for helping me." I told her. Then I clicked the star in my palm. It jutted out, and I handed her a trillion-or-so solz.
Because what would all the money in this world mean in another?
My body felt fuzzy and I realized it was glowing like the things I stuffed in my quantum-capture. I sat down next to her, suddenly feeling light-headed. In the distance, I could see the blurring image of a cop-cruiser—the one Averana must have called—racing around a corner towards us.
For a while, I just sat and watched it approach in silence. I'd be phasing away soon anyway.
Averana knelt by my side to join me. One careful hand of hers rested on my shoulder. Its warmth felt better than a trillion-plus solz ever could.
My head fell against her.
To be honest... even just the pinky would've been enough.
"What do we have here?" Korvo held up the stone to the light of Zin's magic circle. Within the cave's depths it glimmered like a light source of its own. "Never seen a gem quite like this one."
Zin was halfway through a step when he hopped back on one foot to have a looksee. He crossed his arms and leaned playfully against his friend, peering with feigned interest over his shoulder at the rock in his hand. The stone was strange indeed, like if alexandrite had the odd innards of black opal. Streaks of silver mana blazed across its mid-section the more it was twirled.
Being a dark-elf, born from the deepest layers of Aeodian night rock, he expected to know of the gem in his friend's hand on instant. But he did not, and the fact that he knew it not, interested him more than the rock itself.
"Not sure how you keep finding the weird ones, Koko. I worry for the visages of your future children if you ever find a wife."
Korvo scoffed and nudged Zin hard. "If anything, you're, by far, the weirdest thing I've ever discovered. What kind of elf doesn't have pointy ears?"
"The cool kind." Zin answered absently. He was watching the jewel closely now. How was it that he'd never come across a rock such as this? He should know of them all; if not by sight then by aura, by elemental property, by instinct even, but this stone gave him nothing to go off of. It looked rarer than obsidian-diamond, yet possessed the presence of a pebble.
Perhaps his friend's—very human—hand was masking its power. Korvo was strong for his race but, well, human still, and they tended to have a weird tendency to absorb light and reject mana, whereas Zin could do the opposite.
"Lemme see it for a sec?" Zin said.
Korvo tossed it in the air where Zin snatched it.
An exhale was knocked out of him. Acid hellfire spread from his palm to his entire arm. Crackles of static rippled off of him, as though his mana were being peeled away. The magic circle lighting their path flickered and died until blackness encompassed them.
Searing white veins made rivers up his grey skin from where the gem touched it. Shivers crawled up his spine. His knees buckled from under him, yielding to the pain that felled him before the stone could even fall from his grasp.
He could not hear but felt his friend kneeling by his side. Concern in his every nudge.
Zin wanted to reassure him, wanted to shake whatever this feeling was right off, but a foul vision slathered across his eyes.
Suddenly he was not within The Cursive Caverns, but within a sky. Blinding light struck him, and instinctively he recoiled, but it wasn't long before a sandcloud blotted out the sun, red as human blood, pulsing, warping. Lightning teared across its depths, reshaping its foul silhouette. A city lurking beneath. Warriors armed upon griffon-back—dragon-back even. They all faced the cloud. Familiars of phoenixes and fire foxes blasted their arts towards its ominous haze.
Then a person strutted out from its depths. An elven-like form. A flash of yellow eyes that hurt to look at. A hand on his back. His name being shouted over and over. Cold sweat. Pained breaths.
"Zin! Zin! What happened, what's wrong? What can I do?" Korvo was shouting, a lit torch now in his grasp.
It took Zin all his willpower to re-ground himself. Shaking hands dug jagged grooves in the stone under him. A choked cry left his throat. 'What happened? ' he wondered that too. What on earth was that? Why did it summon itself from a random rock? Why didn't it affect his friend...
Zin couldn't speak. He was too shaken to form the words and hated himself for it. Weakness wasn't his style. Though he wasn't sure this was that. Weakness didn't act this way. He was blindsided; attacked from within.
Zin found his arm suddenly around Korvo's shoulder. He was lifted to his feet, surprised anew to find his legs with no strength in them, even now. And more surprised to find that they'd left the cursed cave by the time he blinked. Was he loosing time? Had he passed out?
"Put me down. You smell," Zin croaked.
"Zin? What the hell, man!?" Korvo eased him down against a wall. "Don't freak me out like that! What even happened back there? Are you...good?"
Zin winced. "No, I'm great."
They were outside, Zin noted, though it was dusklight and a pinkish sky that met his gaze rather than the morning sun which he despised. Albeit, at that moment he might not have minded the heat of a sun.
He felt cold...which was disconcerting. It took more than a blizzard's wrath to make him cold, much less the capabilities of some stupid rock. Zin glared at his shaking hand. For a brief spell, the white veins were still engraved on his forearm, but soon they vanished. The echoes of its acidic pain still present. Zin groaned and held his aching temple. A small healing art (he knew wouldn't work) budded at his fingertips.
"What happened!?" Korvo pressed. "Should I go find a healer? Do you need water? Ice? "
Zin glanced up at him. Korvo knelt there with that puppy dog-eyed look of his.
"See, its times like this when your maternal qualities shine brightest."
"Knock it off!" Korvo punched him—"Ah— Sorry!"—and regretted it. "For real though! One second you were fine and cracking your usual dumb jokes, the next you were on the ground, yelling! Were you hexed? Was someone else in the cave with us?"
Hexed... there's a thought Zin hadn't considered. Could a rock perform a hex on its own? Without incantation? Or a creepy old mage to manifest it?
"I don't know." he said, honestly. "It was something in that gem. I don't know why it didn't affect you. My only guess is that it was constructed to target a magic system upon contact."
Korvo gave him a confused look. "I... I don't follow."
"Do I really need to dumb it down more than that? You: no magic. Me: magic. You: it no hurt. Me: it did." He flexed his hand, surveilling the muscles at work.
Zin twitched. Something red fluttered in his peripheral. Something that made him freeze.
At that moment the dusklight from the sky lost its light and night took over. Around Korvo's neck was a necklace Zin had never seen before. It shifted. Zin hesitated.
Gradually, he fixed his gaze to the necklace only to find it wasn't a necklace at all. Red sand lay there, drizzling off an impossible ring like an ethereal shackle.
His gaze crept upward further. Into Korvo's eyes.
That hurt to look at.
Whatever I wear,
will be the wrong pair
for someone out there.
So why not go in flair?
My Top 10 Video Games
Games appeal to me the most when their stories tell better tales than books. So think of this list as the best books I’ve ever had the honour of living in. (I tried to keep it in order but after the 3rd one, there were too many games that couldn’t be compared or put on a scale). Anyhoo:
Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New world
Its the 2nd of the two Symphonia games and, not gonna lie, there’s some sentimental value for me on this one. But I stand by the thought that anyone who loves a good fantasy story (or who loves a good story and doesn’t mind the fantasy) would love this game. I’d never known true story telling until I played this masterpiece; never known true world-building either. Typically, in fantasy stories, the characters aren’t necessarily that relatable. I don’t know what it’s like to save a princess or to stop an evil overlord from destroying a world, but I do know what loneliness feels like, and sacrifice—choosing what’s right over what you want, being the odd one out, and, dare I say, ROMANCE.
Tales games in general know how to attack you in the feels, but this one happened to be the one that knew how to emotionally resonate with me. It also probably plays a major part in why my imagination might seem as endless as it is. This game is a gorgeous, rollercoaster of adventure that I wish got the recognition it deserves.
P.S. You don’t have to be into anime to enjoy this game. Picture it like a more emotion-driven version of final fantasy games. (And with better story, in my opinion)
Naruto Storm 3
(I’m biased, I know)
The only reason this isn’t my first favourite game is because it’s my favourite anime and has an unfair advantage. It’s really not a game that everyone will enjoy, unless you’ve watched or read or played the other Naruto games. But all I’ll say... is I have never known the fear of walking in the e.x.c.r.u.c.i.a.t.i.n.g.l.y. slow shoes of a blissful pregnant woman, until this.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. As @D_Reaper mentioned, the aesthetic of this game is just an international treasure and boy do they make it fun to steal treasure. This game is every artist’s dream. It’s art on art on art. The soundtrack has music producers wiping tears from their eyes. The animation is too detailed for words, the story— *chokes up*. This entire game is so impossibly perfect and flawless and [chef’s kiss] that I feel unqualified to even talk about it; to even begin to try and capture its beauty in my mere mortal words. There. Aren’t. Enough. Words. To express how breathtaking and phenomenal this game truly is.
Tales of Xillia 1 and 2
More Tales games = more feels. So many feels, so many dynamic characters. So many cool map locations. Such unique, interweaving plotlines! Collectively, these games have made me scream out loud more times than I could count. The 1st game has two main characters, which means you get to play it twice with different perspectives (similar to Nier Automata).
The second game has a Choices-Matter system, and we all know how PAINFUL. Choices-Matter games can be! If you don’t know what those are like, picture reading a book or watching a movie where the character’s wellbeing relies solely on how properly you can make a choice in a designated amount of time.
I kid you not, in one of these two games they casually throw in an optional side plot at you that gives you about as much storytelling shock-value as some marvel movies. EXCEPT IT’S A SIDE PLOT!!!
Xillia is a true adventure game through and through. There are experiences from these games that I cannot un-see or un-feel or ever forget, and if I had my own copy, I would be replaying it right now.
Kingdom Hearts 2
(Haven’t played 3 yet, but it will probably be on this list once I do)
This review is mainly for those who don’t know what Kingdom Hearts is, because I think in the gaming community, it’s pretty self-explanatory. But basically:
Kingdom Hearts is the ultimately Disney movie. The magic of Disney is this game. As in, if you like Mickey Mouse, and Stitch and Tinker Bell and Jack Sparrow and Disney characters on a whole, you will get to see, and talk, and fight with and against them all in this game. They are true, authentic versions of their movie selves. As in, for the most part, the same voice actors you know and love from Disney movies are in this game. As in, please. Play. This game. And when I say this game, I mean all of them.
There’s a fine line between hilarious fun and psychological trauma apparently, who knew?
Detroit Become Human
If Detroit was a book, it would be the type to make you race words to turn pages like three lives depended on it.
Choices have never mattered more.
I did not come out unscathed, nor do I know of anyone who has—on their first playthrough anyway. And if you have the heart for it, then this game practically begs for you to suffer through more than one playthrough. The story follows three very different android individuals who have all given me very different types of intense stress! I didn’t even know there were different types of stress.
It got to the point where, during this one scene, I had to pause the game and call my non-gamer, IRL, mom—at work—and ask her what to do (she was also fairly invested in this game). Despite all this, it’s stress I don’t regret.
Out of all of my top 10, this game would probably appeal to non-gamers the most. And if you’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy, then you’ll have someone to look forward to.
Speaks for itself.
(Also Spider-Man is my favourite superhero so I’m biased)
Life is Strange
Another game that left a mark. Choices matter here too, except this game doesn’t often rush you to make a decision, because it doesn’t have to. THEIR CHOICES ARE HARD!!!!! There’s a beautifully calming (and misleading) Lo-Fi soundtrack to accompany you on your tough journey through the authentic, post-secondary, art student experience. Did I mention you have powers?
I’m not exactly sure if this one belongs in my top 10 but it made a very lasting impact for such an underrated game. You play as an adorable cat child in a dying world. Your job: to deliver a Sun, as the chosen one. But it is not. By any means. Your typical ‘chosen one’ story. There’s really no preparing for what this game has in store. And what happens in OneShot doesn’t stay in OneShot.
Keep in mind I chose my top 10 based on story, so let’s not get offended as I share my Honorable Mentions (based on general experience and fun):
Smash Bros! Jet Set Radio Future, Nier Automata, The Last Guardian, Tales of Abyss, Persona 4, Phoenix Wright games, Danganronpa games, Genshin Impact, Tales of Vesperia, Tales of the Borderlands, Final Fantasy 4 and 7, Dust an Elysian Tail, Deemo, and Osu!
A Soulscaper’s Misery
[Inspired by: What it Takes to Fly by Yuumei, (a super inspiring artist who I recommend checking out) I added a link in the comments.]
~ ~ ~
One chain. Two chains. Three.
“Wow, Meiyuu, how are you doing that?”
Little Avi gaped at his master and the birds swooping around her. Their colours and fragrance, their formations and feathers, her control of it all, it was enchanting. Each bird was a pearl of white with streaks of pink and green, yellow and blue, there were other colours too. All bright and refreshing, and Little Avi was mesmerized whole-heartedly.
Meiyuu stood at the centre of a glass, vast pedestal, each petal a symmetrical net of ornate designs sprouting away from her feet. The platform gave the impression of delicacy and defiance; Hubris’s peak. It was a meditation circle of sorts, atop a stained glass temple; The Temple of Dreams, hanging above the mist of the city. A place always graced by warmth and sunlight. A gentle, sparkly hue...
Meiyuu seemed to glow atop this platform, like she was a goddess flying above the rest. And like everybody else, Little Avi admired her. He sat by her feet, like a child watching a magic show. Her poise had the grace of a contemporary dancer set to slow motion. She held her hand out in the air as if picking an apple from a tree that wasn't there, and the birds—the beautiful, colourful birds—flew in sequence around.
Four, five, six chains threatening to drag her down.
She twirled with the shadow of a smile, like a sigh on her face, while her eyes held the sky's blue. Her irises carved through by immense loads of power, as though she'd trained for centuries to do what she did. And the work of a Soulscaper was taxing indeed.
She was not centuries old; not even one; not even half as young. But the expectations and formalities her days required of her; the gruelling hours took upon by a soul-guider, it gave her this appearance. It gave her this stage.
It ripped and gnawed at her back like a bird stripped down by its cage.
She had not lived centuries of life, she'd witnessed it. She'd peered into minds and spirits alike, seen the paths of souls falling apart. Her job was to build them back up, sometimes out of a broken heart, just as she'd guided birds to fly. She strung their souls, entwined them to her dreams and set them free. Uplifting, inspiring, her work begets healing.
Ten, eleven, twelve wounds, bleeding.
She really was magical. It was not just for show. To be on a pedestal is to be vulnerable, susceptible. Meiyuu behaved as though she were nothing special. That did not stop her from seeming untouchable. Navy black hair swept by the breeze, pale porcelain skin neglected by the sun's ease.
Little Avi swayed and hummed, caressed by her silent song when he perked up:
“How do you make the birds listen to you?”
'With broad brush strokes of my blood.'
Her smile was her answer. At times, words were too much. The weight placed on each syllable could feel like a strap and a buckle without touch. Her apprentice didn't mind.
"How long will I have to train to be like you?" he cried.
Painfully. Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen shackles and then you'll see.
This, she said. Dark spirits tore them out of her head. Meiyuu corrected her tone, "you will get there, it just takes time."
A sacrificial climb.
A scraped soul.
It was a path she was hesitant to teach.
The job of a soulscaper was taxing indeed.
Others saw pretty birds...
She felt the raking of their feet.
Slot of Saved Precious Memories
I wrote this like 8ish years ago? I think? It was for a poetry anthology assignment. This was the spoken word one.... I think.
~ ~ ~
The cousin’s house I visit now
Not nearly as fun as my thoughts recall.
The N64 with slots of saved precious memories
sold away for temporary cheap money,
Not necessarily a complete loss game
Playstation 2 arrived the next day
Approximately. It didn’t last
however, change is not the same. Where were my friends A, B, and Zee-
Zed, same thing, forgive a mournful child who got random symbols instead.
Mario, link & Kirby, GONE FOR ETERNITY!
hyperbole, I go there now to see them replaced with-
With Call of Duty.
I supposed it doesn’t matter, the cousin I spent years with is in Vancouver. But
his little bro remains, and how will he ever know the feeling of contempt
when wrapping two petite little hands strategically around three stems
of giant plastic, buttons, and triggers, and joysticks, and fun.
How can he never know – a sword . . .
Maybe even a tennis Racquet
is better than a gun.
So I bought a Wii, just so he can see with great glee
My childhood slot of saved precious memories.
[The poem was about my cousin selling his (and my only access to a) Nintendo 64 in exchange for a playstation 2. Which, looking back now, isn’t even that much of a crime.]
10min Writes With a TaiSensei #5
Avree and Eve
Everix leaned against the alley wall, enveloped in wisps of shadow while watching the little nerd try her best at a game of soccer. He was only halfway through the gateway from his dream realm to her world, but decided to stay there a bit longer, free from her cautious eye.
Avree had kicked and missed the ball by a long shot. She pushed up her specs and stared confusedly at the rolling toy. He chuckled as she chased after it. See, she could have fun just fine on her own.
Everix pushed off the wall to show himself but a leafy hand grabbed hold of his wrist.
“Why do you need to check up on the human? She doesn’t need you.” The nymph’s arm slinked down Eve’s neck, curtaining over his collar bone from behind. Eve stretched away from her, disinterested.
“I made a promise. She’s my----- familiar remember? Even though she thinks I’m hers.”
Neela didn’t accept that answer. She floated over to his other ear with a different strategy of persuasion. “But she doesn’t need you. Not anymore. What point would there be in having her hang on to a figmentation of a dream? ...A half-human wisp, such as yourself?” Neela hovered in front of him, blocking his view of the girl. “You are something her world does not consider real... she cannot move on with her life if she stays tied to you.”
“But she’s...” Everix narrowed his gaze, recognizing the truth to her taunt, ”...she’s a friend.”
“Friend?” Neela lifted his chin, flower petals webbing between her fingers. She tunneled her murky black eyes into his, “Who are you kidding? You’ve fallen in love with that girl, Eve. But you cannot provide for her any more than these visits. You cannot be with her. Her world does not accept you as its visitor. It spits you out when you overstay your hours. How lonely do you think that would make her, if you two became united? If her lover could not stay to hear her cries? What would that mean for your children? Would they be half wisps as well? Would they ghost away out of her arms at birth? Perhaps out of her womb?”
Everix lost control of his Tempest then. He pushed her away with a surge of his power. It bubbled forth like warbled refractions of light against water, as if the air itself bled a purple light, and it hit Neela across her chest and face. A splatter of colour that seemed to carve through her via jagged lines fit for destruction.
Everix regretted the act immediately, but his words did not show it, “You’ve gone too far!” his hand shook with his voice, raw with unhinged might.
She’d turned away from his power, from the mark and the pain, as if she’d simply been slapped. But the effect cut deeper than that—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Her hair wilted, three flower petals acting as bangs had turned from its blush-white hue to an ashen grey that fell from their roots. They crinkled to dust in the space between them, a hiss of silence parting them.
One of the joys of living in the dream realm meant imaginations felt more real than they ever should. He’d felt the weight of her words as if he’d lived through it within eight seconds. It scared him.
“I’m—I’m sorry, let me mend—”
Neela brushed her hand to the side, calling forth her own Tempest. A barrier formed between his hand and her carnaged face, smelling of cherry blossoms and river water. Circular ripples danced across the air, but her voice travelled through it just as strong as before.
“I go too far, Eve, because you do not understand otherwise. I speak cruelty for your own sake,” She shut her eyes, and let her body fade back into the dream realm, “for your human friend as well.”
Her voice lingered even after she’d disappeared, leaving him with a distraught mind and a clear view of the little nerd girl; the full-human familiar; Avree. His friend.
She’d been staring at her hand, probably because of the use of his Tempest, she must have felt the power surge—a rattle in her bones. Soon, instead of her palm, she stared directly towards Everix. Ignoring the soccer game and the screaming children in the field around her. She should not have been able to see or perceive him, in fact it was impossible. She could not have possibly known where he stood. And yet. Out of all the places she could have turned, her stare streamed through a metal fence, past pedestrians, across a street, into the shadows of a dark alley, and into his eyes.
The anticipation and hope and happiness she put into that stare was a painful awakening. Neela was right. He realized. It was cruel to let her depend on him. Anticipation would turn to disappointment; her hope to despair; happiness to agony.
Everix looked to his own hand then, still jittering beyond his control. It did not take desire for him to hurt the ones he cared for. It didn’t take willpower either. He took a step back, away from Avree and the border between their realms. He was the calamity.
A half-dream wisp could not be a dream at all. And if he wasn’t a dream, than he had to be a nightmare.
Her stare fell away as she began to look elsewhere, in search of him. Everix shook his head, taking one final look at Avree and her world before fleeing in the other direction.
He was her nightmare...
but he loved Avree best when she was able to sleep in peace.
10min Writes With a TaiSensei #3
Zin jogged off stage, sweat pouring through his tank top. A stagehand tossed him a towel and he wiped away the sweat from his forehead. He felt electrified. The crowds roar still buzzed through his ears, there was still a tingle at his throat from freshly used vocal chords. His callouses felt singed from shredding his guitar. There was a smile on his face, and a cloud nine exhiliration bursting through his veins.
In contrast, the backstage shadows covered over him a few tints too dark.
“Zin— ... Hey, Zin, come back to us man.”
All of a sudden Zin didn’t feel so electric. He felt weighted, numb, short of breath. His friend and co-star Dex was gawking all his concern at his face, while Zin was on the floor, shaking.
“Zin?----- What did you do? The power’s out on the whole stage.”
Zin could barely make out Dex’s features from the dim red haze of the backup lights, and he struggled to decipher the sounds over the ringing in his ears.
He felt Dex grab his forearm to help him up, but Zin knew before he tried that he wasn’t ready to stand. The room catapulted from one blur to a nauseating next and he gestured at his friend to stop.
“Give him some space people,” That was Jeshi, his personal assistant, ushering onlookers away. Even backstage he couldn’t escape the crowd and without his guitar protecting him from them, he felt their heft. Where’d they put his guitar, he wondered briefly before putting a hand to his head and trying to settle his breathing.
“What makes you think, it was me?” Zin asked.
The crowd was still blaring, he realized, back beyond the stage. Their yells more panicked than raving.
“You said, ‘what did you do?’” he looked up, “what makes you think it was me.”
He didn’t even hesitate,“You were glowing, dude.”