Light and Dark – 4
In the same way that the dark had deepened the farther into it I had slipped, the light too, seemed to have mysteries of its own. The shadows had run beneath the physical world, like a pulse that threaded through the dimensions. Hiding in the understory, connecting and binding – a secret passageway between worlds. Even when it couldn’t be seen and wasn’t noticed, the dark was still present in all places and all times. It had been in my world, and I was sure that it had a home in other worlds as well.
But just as far as the dark was deep, the light was high. In a sudden yet subtle change, I found that a part of myself had been lifted far above the church. And yet I was still there within it too. And while being in the dark had made the physical world look flat, the light seemed to overlap and magnify it. Dimension upon dimension, world upon world – a myriad of the slightest twists on this reality, and only the places touched by the light were visible. As if, without the light, none of it would exist at all.
In the dark, I could have reached all other worlds. But now, in the light, I could create them.
I rose up, farther and farther into the sky, until all around me was a kaleidoscope of light and dark. Moon on midnight water. Dark dragons and flame. Space and stars glimmered all around me. I reached out, and the lights all around came close. I borrowed from them and became stronger.
Drift through this world long enough without any ties to it, and eventually it’ll let you go.
I could start over. A fantasy of my design. My world. My rules.
And my dark.
I was back in the church again. I couldn’t see the shadows, at least not directly. But the light that came from me now illuminated every corner of every stone of the church interior where the dark hadn’t yet corrupted. And the only place that seemed to be impossible to see – a great gap in the middle of the room – moved as if it were alive. A great monster-like dark that was the opposite of everything that I was.
Humans are completely outside the balance of forces…it’s said that they have the power to change the very makeup of this world.
If I had to make a choice, then I would make it completely.
I felt my confidence grow. You’re done for… I thought, willing the words out towards the dark in mimicry of the words that it had before sent to chase me down.
But as I was about to throw all of myself at the shadows, I felt a hand. Even though I had once again lost my physical form, somehow I felt the touch. I could feel the fingers there, even without a form to feel them through. And then a moment more, and my skin felt warm beneath them. And then I was back to myself once more; and the girl of shadows, the girl that was my muse, had taken hold of my arm.
Do you really know what you’re choosing?
The light that I had been just before didn’t leave, but instead flowed away from me and over and around the staff in my hand. I looked at the girl and then at the staff.
When the dark was gone, what then?
My muse’s grip was one that had pulled me out of the light. That had kept me from fully becoming it. And I was sure that my confusion was obvious as I looked at her. “You said,” I whispered, only loud enough for her to hear, “that the only real danger was if I didn’t pick a side.”
“But what if I do? And once the dark is gone?”
She didn’t say anything.
“Or the light?” I asked again. As I did, it was as though everything else in the room held it’s breath. A tension strung through the air and kept all the players and powers still where they were. “What if the world is saved? Or destroyed? Is my story over then? Would I go back to my world anyway?”
She answered me with a quiet question, “Would you want to go?”
Don’t wake up.
“You said I have a choice.”
“You’ve always had a choice. From the moment that you entered this world, you’ve always had a choice.”
Drelmdor had given me a choice too.
Drelmdor, who had been cursed. Cursed, and under the powers of the void. A goat-man out to kill humans, and a boy on a cloud trying to find them. Aleksei with his secrets. A mad inventor on the loose. A library of empty books. A missing muse force. And Eth.
I took a deep breath and then slowly let it out. “I want to stay.”
I drew the last of myself out of the light. Now, it shown with an impossibly bright whiteness. It should have been too bright to even look at. Too bright to stand. But in the heart of the light, I could see the staff still. And next to me too, my muse looked and seemed to see.
I raised my arm, extending it straight above me, with the staff pointed up and at a slight angle towards the mass of shadows. “Go,” I said, still quiet.
The light flew at the shadow in a beam, straight and sure, that struck at the heart of the dark. And rather than fall apart or crumble the way the fire had done, the light instead expanded, and the dark seemed to crumble and fall apart within the light. As it did, the brilliance lessened, as if it were being absorbed into the dark. The two cancelled each other out, and within a few moments more, the interior of the church had returned to its usual dimness, and the last of the two powers drifted down from out of the air, like the slightest scattering of ash and white embers.
I held out a hand, and one of each landed in my palm. For a moment, the little that remained of the light and the dark was there together. But then the speck of black was caught up by an invisible wind, lifted away from my fingers, and disappeared into my shadow that now fell in a normal shape and length behind me. I didn’t see where the tiny piece of light went.
I lowered the staff and held it out in front of me, grasping the shaft with both of my hands and holding it vertical. It had gone back to it’s usual pale color, visible only by the dim light that was still left in the room with us. “More than the hero or the villain…I want to stay in this world.” I turned around to look at her. “Is that all right?”
For just a moment, I saw the slightest of smiles cross her face. “That’s your choice.”
I glanced again at where the dark had been. “But how? How did I know what to do?”
“Your dark. Your rules.”
“You mean because I wanted it to be weak to light, it was? Like when you’ve told me before to just imagine?” I hesitated. “Then all that…was it even real?”
“That depends on what you mean.” Drelmdor had approached us both and now spoke before my muse could answer. “For humans, this world is a canvas. Here, what you wish and what you dream may come to life.”
“Then all I have to do is imagine, and I could get rid of the void for you? I could take away your curse—”
“But this world will remain untouched.” Drelmdor cut in to finish. “You can’t change this world unless you’re bonded to it. But it can still change you.”
“How do I bond to it?”
“You don’t. Not after what happened before. Not if you want to stay alive.”
I frowned. “I’m not leaving.”
“No,” Drelmdor sighed. “You’re not. But there will still be dangers enough.”
I raised a hand to gesture behind me. “So? I’ll take them on. In case you missed what just happened…the dark is gone, and look! The light is stronger. It’s is still here in the room with us and the shadows have gone. Not that I’m trying to be the hero still, but that has to count for something.”
My muse cleared her throat. “Actually, that’s just the bench.”
“The church bench.” She pointed. “It’s on fire.”
~ ~ ~
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