The Burning Question

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Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:59 am

The Burning Question

Post by Fenril » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:34 pm

Fenril let his body slump to the ground, resting the back of his head against the trunk of an old tree. A jade stone weighed in his hand, carved in the shape of a man leaning on a cane. He ran his thumb against the figure's face and allowed himself to close his eyes for the first time in what seemed like days.

The moment his eyelids closed, a voice rose inside of him, deep from a dark recess of his mind. The words came all at once, condensed in one same flash, not quite heard but rather felt as a single point in his mental space. It posed to him a familiar question, but one he'd not heard in many years. "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" It demanded.

A wave of fear struck him in the silence that followed, sharp and cold, seeping out of his pores into beads of sweat that percolated through his forehead. He knew that question, he'd heard it countless times before.

It had begun rising within him when he was still a boy, around the time he found himself performing feats he'd been unable to explain but slowly had become able to consistently reproduce.

He'd tried answering it, thinking of all of the things that a man might want, could want, or even should want. He'd considered all of the noble things first. To cure the wounded, to protect the weak, to better the world he lived in. But those answers only made the voice grow louder.

He'd tried wishing for power, for riches, for wisdom, even for detachment. With each failed consideration, the question only became more exacting. It hung around his mind like a dark mist, preventing him from focusing on anything else. He'd tried combatting it directly, seizing the power within himself to beat it into silence, screaming inside his own head loudly enough to drown it out. In time, he'd learned that only had the opposite effect.

By the time he started feeling his own body decaying from the inside, the question was all that he could ever hear. Dark spots had started pooling beneath his skin, and his head felt ready to explode, with webs of twisted pain pulsing under his skull. He would summon fire, ice, wind and lightning in fits of rage. And always, the same question. WHAT DO YOU WANT?

There was not much of him left by the time he finally found his answer. Lying on his back with arms and feet stretched out in a cross, alone and unclothed in the forest he'd burned down, he'd whispered on the edge of death: "To live. I want to live."

It was then that he first met his Master, who had approached to the sound of metal boots clinking heavily against the ground. The Myrddraal loomed over the body rotting on the forest floor. "You know, I can help you with that," hissed Rig. "Fire Boy," he added, the lips of his eyeless face twisting into a smile.

* * *

Fenril squeezed the jade statue in his hand so hard he felt his fingers might shatter into a thousand pieces. He opened his eyes as the answer rose once more within him, as clear as a fire plume cutting across the darkness. "I want to live. I'll do anything to live..." he whispered to the sleepy forest.