It was nearing the end of September. The crisp tides of Fall began their descent,
and I found myself walking along a trail that was unknown to me, deep in the mountains of Santa Monica. The arid breeze felt harsh upon my skin, and though I was alone along this unbeaten path, I felt a presence that could only be described as unearthly. Yet, I knew the nature of this force.
“Well, if it is none other than the self-proclaimed thaumaturge,” the Mantle breathed haughtily.
“I did not think that you were one for such lofty titles.”
He floated just ahead of me, eyes like shattered eclipses looking me over.
“No, you are much too weak for an arrogant name like thaumaturge.”
I chuckled. My relationship with the Mantle was tentative, to say the least. Though he was under my command, there was a subtle flair of grudgery in his demeanor that unnerved me at times.
“I suppose I would be hurt by your supportive commentary had I the will to care for it,”
I reply coolly. “Moreover, I did not choose you to be my companion; you were assigned to me by whatever power that be that believes you and I to be joined. Do not assume I enjoy this junction.”
The Mantle laughs, a terrifying gust of angry bees buzzing and nails on a chalkboard fill the canyon where we tread. I can tell my words caught him off guard, if only for a moment.
“So I suppose a thaumaturge you will someday be,” he answered begrudgingly. “Though, were it up to me, you would be but a squire. Your heart is too kind for the likes of thaumaturge.”
A dry smile cracks my lips. “Thankfully, that is not for you to decide.”
There is a brief moment of silence as the two of us walk. Dead leaves whirl about us as the wind blows through the empty trees.
“There was something I wanted to ask of you, Mantle, if I may.”
I do not meet his gaze, but I can feel it penetrating deep into my mind, like silvery searchlights. Since our union, there is little he does not know of my intentions.
“You want to know how it is that a soul of light can be housed in a body of darkness, do you not? But, perhaps even more, you wish to know the fate of those who are like you?”
“That is indeed the thought that has consumed me as of late.” I utter gently. I am eager to hear his response, though I have seen the darkening of eyes too often to know that the answer that awaits me is not what I wish to hear.
“I do not believe the answer I have is the one you were hoping to hear, young thaumaturge. Your kind is quite rare, and destiny has sprinkled the few of you that exist sparsely throughout the beginning of time.” A long sigh, like icebergs collapsing, escapes his lips.
“When the heavens populate their phases, warriors are separated into two natures.
Bodies and souls of Light, and bodies and souls of Darkness. Sometimes, whether it be some twist of fate, or cruel ploy of the divines, a soul can be housed in the opposite body, resulting in a body of light housing a soul of darkness, and a body of darkness encasing a soul of Light. These unusual hybrids have been a consistent force of change in these cycles.”
I interject. “Surely they are a change for good, are they not?”
“Change neither denotes neither bad or good, but it certainly means not the same.” the Mantle clacks.
“The soul of Light in a body of dark is perhaps the most cruel trick of the Cosmos. For he is punished for misdeeds, for having a body of darkness, though his soul burns as bright as those who are paragons for the Light. His yearning for the Light consumes him, yet he knows that were he to be too close to the Light, he would surely burn in righteous flame. Those who champion Light and Dark return to their respective eternities at the end of each cycle, but the hybrids are doomed to return to each cycle for the rest of time, for they do not belong in the Light, yet their soul keeps them from being swallowed by the Darkness. There truly is no salvation for them.”
“I see,” I answer. Crestfallen, I look out onto the plains of golden grass, feeling this dusty wind toss my hair. I wonder how many times I have walked this world, and how many more times I must do so.
“Perhaps, should the Light smile upon me, I could walk in glorious hallowed light, and forsake this darkened husk.” I look to the Mantle, but he has dissipated, his visage now replaced by the crescent glow of the moon above.
“Perhaps.” I hear him whisper upon the wind.
*Audio selection is titled “The Lunarians” from Final Fantasy IV*
Photo credit to my talented sister