Sunday, August 7, 2016

Walking the Edge: Light and Dark

There was the Light.

There had always been the Light. For as long as she could remember there had been the Light. The Light had been there when they had attended service in the Cathedral.

The Light was invoked at every turn.

A child was born, and there was the Light to help it along the way into this world. A family member died, and the Light was there to comfort those left behind and to guide those departed along. When things went wrong, it was cursed. When things went right, it was praised.

There was no 'turning' to the Light when she departed her family home to work in the Cathedral of Stormwind. Surely it was impossible to turn away from something so present. Everywhere she looked the Light either was, or was scratching to get to. It had not touched all within the city, but it was making an attempt to do so. Those whose lives had turned against them could still be bathed in its glow, and she could see it.

The warmth in their face when they were helped, the relief in their eyes when someone showed them kindness. The Light radiated through such people. It was something she could never truly describe in words, the way it made her feel. It was a guide, it was a presence, and it was a power. A power to heal and a power to touch people in ways that could do so much good.

But there was also the Dark.

She hadn't noticed it for the longest time. Not when she was a child. Her early days with the Church even went without any identification of this other entity's existence. Nothing in Stormwind had hinted at Its being either. In the face of all of those who still somehow spurned the Light, even knowing that such things as the undead and the demonic meandered through the city's streets, nothing gave her an inkling of the Void.

Until she left.

The thought of travel had been so thrilling. There was so much of the world left to experience, and so many other things the Light had touched that she had never seen, or helped. She wasn't, couldn't have been, told that where she was going was nothing short of the very shores of Twisting Nether itself. Had she been sent off to Pandaria just before its conflicts truly began? Or marched through some portal to a foreign world to face a threat she could still hardly comprehend? Perhaps it was both.

Each time she considered the matter it seemed to snap at her, gnawing away at what she recalled of either incident. She could still remember those beautiful beaches. The lush jungles. But could she? When she recalled them it was as though through the eyes of another. Like reading the story of one pushed to extremes.

Always the incident rushed back to her mind when committing to recollection. Someone, she used to think it was herself but could no longer make such a claim with any certainty, was all that was left. Their companions had fallen, to what she couldn't recall. Orcs? Hostile natives? Wildlife? They were dark, twisted figures in the image of her mind. What they were didn't matter, not in this context. The only thing of importance was what reached out to her in that time.

She had been told of ways to defend oneself with the Light. Ways to do harm with it as well. But she had never been taught them. The very idea of using the Light as some sort of weapon still brought a sickness to her stomach. In this case there was no possible amount of healing that was going to save her, and shields were going to only last so long. At that moment she had known it. In that other life she knew that soon she was likely to find herself in need of a burial, rather than delivering the sermon to go with one.

But then there was the voice.

Before it was impossible for her to claim that the Light had spoken to her. That any sort of deity had spoken to her before. Yet the voice called. And oh the things it whispered. Every single thing it said, all it promised, was terrible. But in such times of desperation terrible things can be the most useful. Her hands raised as her attackers had drawn on her. Beyond that she struggled to recall. Such memories were the first to be dismissed from her mind.

In the time since, she still drifted into such points. She knew as much. Far as she could still remember she had been kept on the front lines. Most memories of stuff were kept to times spent in tents, comforting the dying or attempting to prevent such. Still there were the flashes. Times outside of such encampments where the Dark returned to her life.

Even now having returned from such memories to Stormwind, it was impossible to escape it. Her attempts to return to normal were stilted. She could return to the routine, but in the back of her mind it ate at her. It still gnawed when it had already taken so much. The smiles were still warm, and the warmth of the cathedral still made her smile, but every action felt as though it conflicted with another.

Worse were the times when that gnawing turned to cutting. Cutting ways into her mind, filling it with voices. When there were not voices there was the Dark, and through those cuts the Dark bled in. The things it said, the claims it made. Again they were terrible but the way they were said made her believe them just as strongly as she believed in the Light. At times the only thing she could do to keep the thoughts at bay was to retire early, and scribble.

Scribbling helped. It was as though she pulled a plug on her brain and allowed that which had filled her mind to drain out. Often she could toss her journal aside when such was finished and return to what she had been doing prior. Other times she could not help herself put peer inside, to see what this other side of herself had been told. Not all that she wrote could be deciphered, but that which was likely haunted her dreams the night after.

The most terrifying thing they told her was what remained with her the longest, the idea that crept into her mind even when the whispers did not. The thing that created so many nightmares, even if it only made up a handful of the whispers.

"You will need us."

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