Chapter 18: Veil

I am nothing.

And this piece of metal in my hand…reflects only the truest truth.  Divine, naked, and brilliant.

Teetering on the edge of collapse…spinning through the void.  Somewhere, there’s a foothold…somewhere there’s a handhold.  Something to grab on to if only for a little while.  Something to calm the vibration.  Something to soothe the catastrophe.

The feeling ebbs for a second and I become aware of where I am…what I’m doing.   Staring down this hill staring at my sword and thinking this nonsense, while my three soldiers stare at me.  Focus, Kol.  Control.  Breathe.  Control.

And then it comes back, stronger than ever, and I’m running down the hill, screaming at the top of my lungs, cutting at the air, cursing at the gods and no one hears me and no one smites me down.

I arrive at a gate and the guards don’t know what to make of me.  They try to talk to me.  They think I’m just some crazy person.

“Go home,” they say.  “You don’t belong here.”

“Belong here?  Where do I belong?”

Where do I belong…

The next thing I know the gate is open and I’m swinging and this time it isn’t at air.  I find truth in the definitive.  I find truth in the tangible.

Blood…

…is…

…truth.

And if there’s one thing I know it’s truth…truth.  Truth.  Truth….truth?  If you say any word enough times it starts to lose its meaning and just like that, ‘truth’ becomes a lie.

Glimmering and glistening and slick with blood and no one to cry or call out I walk down this path to the mansion.   No peace, sir, no peace at all.

No piece, just pieces.  No peace, just blood.

And I kick the door open and I smash some guest…a guest…in regular clothes…no weapons?  I smash some guest to the floor and his shattered teeth splayed out and the kaleidoscope bleeds only red and my mirror shadow image behind.

Screams now, from the other guests and they’re backing into the corners and their heading for the doors and one, two, three, find my truth.  None can escape.  I am too obvious and they would end my life just as I have ended these and maybe it would be for the best.

And one more down and two more down and you’re all unarmed…and I can feel your souls…I can see your souls, swirling through that ethereal soup and I reach out to touch you, but you’re gone…and you leave only hate and it swarms on me like a black cloud beating on my head and drowning out my ears and clawing at my flesh and eyes.

And I move through the crowd setting my target here or there and one gets past me.  I turn to chase but a spear drives through him and I see Another Still, and he tells me the doors are covered boss, but this is brutal.

This is life, I say, and life is death, and blood is truth, and it is all the same.  These souls know only hate and fear and they fear everything they don’t already hate.

And my liquid sword splashes through someone’s guts…finding life…finding blood.  Finding hate.  Finding truth.

And the screams echo through my head and the cries for help and the pleadings for mercy.  Cattle and I slaughter you.  Bleating like sheep.  Bleeding like cattle.

Where’s the one I came for?  Roger…what a stupid name.  Where is he?  Tell me or you die.  And you tell me and you die.  And the blood blossoms on the floor like a caterpillar from its cocoon.  Beautiful and metamorphic.  And your hateful soul scratches at me and tears, and the look in your eyes…the feeling of your final choking breath.  And the smell…

There is no blood, only truth.  There is no truth only life.  There is no life, only…only…

Only.

Walking through jellied corpses stomping on withered bones I find my way upstairs.

I run my fingers along the walls and I drag my blade behind me and when I reach the top a man is there and he’s throwing a net over me and kicking me down the stairs.

My world is upside down and right side up and side side down and what has changed?  I’m hurt, I can feel it and this…this…armor…it’s tearing my skin off.  My neck is a gaping wound where the flesh has separated from itself like a piece of old fabric leaving the muscle underneath exposed and I can feel it, but there is no pain.

A spear flies through the air and the man with the net comes tumbling down on top of me with crushing weight.  There is no pain but there should be.  There is no feeling except loss.  Will I ever feel again?  Is this the end of my ‘life?’  Does truth destroy life?

Now someone’s cutting the net and saying boss, get up, we can’t do this without you and I’m standing up and I’m squinting through the blood in my eyes.  No, not the blood haze, it abandoned me.  Not the rage, this is…too sterile.

No.

Life.

And I’m heading back up the stairs and I’m kicking open a door and I find two lovers and I say, “Roger?  If you’re Roger I’m here to save you,” and they say no, and I cut off both their heads and their souls scream a hateful scream, and still I breathe my life to them.

Through another door and this one’s open and a man stands alone, looking out the window and he says, “So it’s time, then?” and I say, “I suppose.”

And as he turns to face me I say “Roger?” and he says, “Yes, and you can tell…” and I run him through.  I don’t care, Roger.  I don’t care.

You think I don’t know you but I know me.  And I am you and you are me and there is no beginning or end.  One cataclysm after another or maybe all at once.

And your hateful soul screams a hateful scream.

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