Reflection (Short Story)
I’ve walked this path many a time, where the village once stood. Things have changed significantly since then, what was once a large collection of huts, fortified by a high wall of wood and stone, has been replaced by suburbs. What had once been a forest, surrounding everything and extending on in all directions had been replaced by towering skyscrapers in the centuries that had passed by since my people had chosen to reside here. Those people had been wiped out long before any of the changes had been inflicted upon this land, any of the last survivors merely faded into history, melding into the general populace. I do not count myself among the survivors.
It is for a very simple reason, the human that lived amongst them, the “I” that existed at that time, died a good while before the last massacre the decimated the village had occurred. I fell protecting another one of my people from one of very things we had been trained to hunt and exterminate, a demon, a particularly strong and powerful demon. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me, I had been unnaturally strong even then, but I was distracted, desperate to save the person that had already been fighting this monstrosity. Not but moments later, or so it had seemed to me, I laid dying upon the already blood soaked grass. Somewhere along here...or so I think, it is hard to remember, and the entire field has been paved over with concrete. I’d rather not look even if I could remember exactly where it had been.
Besides, as I had mentioned before I am not that same person anymore, not even human. At first I had only thought myself but a specter. Though, it became known to me that hadn’t been human after all, but something entirely different, of which a false visage of humanity was only a beginning stage in development. Death had merely unlocked my potential. A kind man took me in just after I had reawakened from death, possessing a different body that was recognizable in relation to the first, but still differing in appearance. I was instructed in an art that I found myself to be quite adept at, magic. This all took place somewhere far removed from this world, a different world entirely. Once I did return to Earth, I resumed what I had been trained to do when I was still a child, exorcising, exterminating, and otherwise destroying demons.
I walk down the sidewalk, stopping at what is now a busy intersection, cars speeding through, trying to beat the traffic light. A cloud of exhaust pervades the air around me. It’s stifling, something I’ve gotten used to in a modern world. I shake my head, sighing in response to the recklessness of the drivers. It reminds me of my brother, whom I hadn’t even become aware of until later in my long life, once I became what I am now. It has been awhile since I’d last seen him, since he’d last tried to fight and kill me. Our conflicts have spanned across multiple worlds, multiple realities and planes of existence. Since the day we’d met we’d been fighting, I’d interrupted one of his assassinations, the target had been the fellow demon hunter that I had saved years before, with whom I has just been reunited with.
Of course, there was a time even then that we had come to an understanding, and both of us had lives that were independent of all the strife we’d been through, both caused and inflicted upon us. I lost my wife to a sickness that I could not cure, and not long after, in what I now consider a foolish attempt at compassion; his wife was slain by my hand. This wasn’t without reason, she was an unstable being, and attempted to kill him, as I had expected, he had failed to defend himself, so I merely stepped in. Somehow, for some reason, I had expected him to forgive me at some point for the deed, it had been necessary for both him, and for her, a tortured soul that had been destined to be driven insane by the nature of her mixed blood, of an otherwise incorporeal race and that of a corporeal race.
He never forgave me for that. Somehow, I think he almost prefers it to be this way. Though for me fighting my brother has become a chore, something tying me to the past, something with which I would rather be done with entirely. Still, on and on it goes, always eventually drawing me in with his constant need to involve others who nothing at all to do with the situation at hand.
I turn to look after hearing a loud crash, it seemed that someone hadn’t been paying attention and one of the overly hurried, reckless drivers that had tried to beat the traffic light had passed right in front of them, causing a collision. I feel a few of the many lives that I sense here disappear in that instant. Someone didn’t survive, and it sickens me. I quicken my pace, walking down the sidewalk and away from the scene. I hadn’t been truly motivated to kill in a very, very long time. Death, whether it is of those that I have been trained to hunt and kill, or of mortals, bothers me beyond my comprehension.
One may ask me, how is that I can be bothered by such a thing when I myself have seen several centuries go by, and countless die in between? One might argue that I should be used to it by now. I think that whatever mind came up with this assumption, that one is desensitized to things such as violence and death due to a long exposure, was a human mind. Thus, it is a theory meant for those with finite lives, for I think that after seeing so much of it for so long I’ve just grown tired of it, rather than go into a state of complete desensitization.
Then again, these mortal minds know little beyond what goes on around them. Those that do focus on their blind materialism, trading what knowledge they had gained from mysticism for knowledge of their physical environment, the very nature of their existence. Not one, I suspect...not one would even consider that here walking amongst them is a being that has done so for centuries, concealing his appearance even now, concealing wings of white and black, of a demon and an angel. Still, every once in a while, I think some of them notice that something is amiss. I believe it is in my eyes, emerald green, an unnatural, almost luminescence about them that I could never rid myself of no matter what illusions I might cast upon myself.
It is now that I reach my destination, for my home here stands in the suburbs I mentioned before, almost exactly where I had dwelt before all those centuries ago, and where I am now. Cyclical time, it’s a very intriguing concept. Though, I really could care less as to its validity.
This is a far older Rathiel than the one from my earlier hub "So It Had Come." He is more like the one featured in my first hub related to him, but has yet to start referring to himself as "we" and "us" as he does then. Still, this one's attitude towards the world is closer to the one in my novel.