The World of Light. It should have been a comfortable dimension to be in. Yet, its appearance was deceptive. Its presence was welcomed and revered much more than its counterpart. Yet the Light could be proven to be just as malevolent. He wondered what it was like to be the one restoring darkness. Stories circulated on how Light blinded you before it burned everything it could touch. The hairs stood on the back of his neck considering it. He worked for a force that was capable of such things.
Amethyst eyes scanned the surrounding area. It was distinctly opposite to the World of Darkness. Its platforms were almost transparently golden; much like a staircase rising to the heavens. Yet the sky accompanying these platforms was a white, ghostly haze; no puffed clouds, no overarching sun heating their faces. No wind. Silence. The Light which dominated this world, a beacon of hope, felt cold, menacing.
As the silver-haired Warrior considered the beams of light in the distance. He knew what awaited the newly appointed Warriors of Darkness, what lay in wait for the Warriors of Light too. They would face the Cloud of Darkness once again – only in a new form with an entirely different purpose.
The Warrior hadn’t flinched. His head remained still as his eyes remained unmoving off the beams of light up ahead like they would suddenly disappear on them. He could feel a breeze flapping in his direction from his brother’s coat. He sensed the heat radiating beside him, the scent of old leather.
But he was too wrapped up in his own thoughts. The memories that had been whisked away from him for a brief period flooded back.
Their awakening was much like one from a long nap; confusion gripping onto the mind like a claw, a sluggishness that could be akin to dragging themselves through a bog. Thankfully, it didn’t last too long.
Luneth recalled several things; both proportionately large and minuscule. Names, faces, places. Their journey felt like a vivid picture book that his brother read to him several times when they were children. Oddly, one made its place in the deepest part of his mind:
“The gift that Noah bestowed to Xande…” Unei seemed thoughtful for several moments as she hobbled along ahead with Luneth in tow, watching and listening to sage and her musings. “It was the greatest gift of them all…”
Luneth paused, blinking at the woman who continued forward. “Mortality?” His laugh was hesitant like he was unsure of whether this was a joke or not. He wanted to confirm they were both talking about the same thing.
“Yes, dear,” Unei chirped, stitching a small smile on her lips as if she had expected Luneth to question her.
Luneth hadn’t moved. Instead, his legs swayed slightly as he stood still and scrunched up his nose. Slowly, his mouth pried itself open again, more questions filing out. “But, Unei…I don’t understand. How is being able to die a great gift?”
The guardian of the dreamworld smiled knowingly, turning to him slowly on her stick, like one of those dancers in the old antique music boxes Luneth found hidden away in the storehouse back home. She slowly approached him before she stopped in front of him. She patted his cheek affectionately, and despite Luneth’s flinch and eye twitch at her sudden gesture, she continued and softly chuckled, “My boy…you are still too young to understand. In time, you will learn.”
Luneth’s head abruptly turned. He registered Arc’s face. It had gotten longer, not as rounded anymore. His freckles had faded. But his eyes were still as soft and concerned for him as they’d always been.
“Sorry,” Luneth chuckled softly, rubbing tiredly at one eye. “I was thinking.”
Arc raised an eyebrow at his old comrade, folding over his arms. “You, thinking? That’s a bad combination if I ever heard one.” He teased, earning a playful punch on the shoulder from Luneth.
“Shut it.” Luneth laughed softly, watching Arc turn to face him again.
“What were you thinking about?”
Luneth could only gaze at Arc’s inquisitive eyes, wondering how he would word it to him. He wondered if he would work out what Unei’s words had meant too or if he would even understand them. He opened his mouth, ready to let the words come out…yet, they failed him as he glanced away, gathering his thoughts again. His brother continued to sit patiently, waiting as his legs dangled off the platform.
Luneth’s lips parted once again. “...you remember Unei?” He asked softly. A grin soon enveloped his lips when his brother smiled, a glimmer in his eyes as he reminisced.
Luneth's grin widened before a throaty chuckle acted as a response. His eyes too gleamed at the memories of her. Her snappy movements, the kind of energy that even a fourteen-year-old like Luneth didn't possess. Her quips and her sarcasm cut through like Odin’s blade. Yet, she was no different from Refia; kind, genuine, the lines creasing her forehead telling of years of wisdom, years of advice she had handed out.
“What about her?”
Luneth glanced to Arc again, his eyebrows arching over his glasses. He licked his bottom lip for a moment as if reconsidering his thoughts on what she had said to him.
“...she said something to me. Something...I didn't understand at the time.” Luneth murmured, eyeing the clouds that silently wandered past. He paused for a moment and he could almost hear his brother distantly urging him to continue. He remembered when he urged him to continue telling tales of travelling knights felling dangerous beasts.
The silver-haired man’s mouth was agape before he relayed his thoughts to the air. “She said…how mortality was the greatest gift of all. How Xande didn’t fully understand what it meant to have that.”
He could feel his brother’s tight, inquisitive stare laying on him. His gaze flittered around to him, again, this insistence that he continue, that he finish what thoughts surfed through his mind. “I didn’t get what she mean…but now…” Luneth paused again, licking his lips. “I do.”
“…and what is it you understand now?”
A puff of air escaped his nostrils as his eyes glazed over in thought once more. “…they were alive for…all those years. Doga and Unei, I mean,” he added, to which Arc nodded softly. Luneth continued orating his stream of thoughts. “Xande…well…he didn’t have to do what he did. Compared to Doga and Unei who had responsibilities, he…” The man swallowed back, tasting the word that lingered in his mouth. “He was…free, almost. Sure, he was going to die someday but he could go and live a full life if he wanted. He had time.”
Luneth’s eyes dropped down below again, and he avoided his brother’s soft eyes. He could feel the gaze of anxiety turn to one of sympathy. Luneth’s lips thinned into a line when his mind turned to thoughts of home, of his family. It felt like only yesterday he was telling his kids not to come home too late, or teasing them as fathers do. His hands balled into fists.
“He…he had a choice. We didn’t. Once the Crystals made us the Warriors of Light, we could never really live a full life.” His breath rasped, a hissing, venomous tone developing in his voice. “We might as well have lived for those one thousand years like Doga and Unei.”
Just as Luneth felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, his body tense like he was about to fly himself into some fit of anger, he felt a firm hand tighten on his shoulder. His head jerked around to Arc. His face was soft, there were no traces of anger or bitterness lurking in his eyes or on his lips. But there was something lurking behind his eyes. Something pooling in his eyes. His smile was small but comforting, sympathetic.
“I know. I know.” Was all he heard Arc repeating for a moment, quietly, some thought behind the words. He watched the man he fought alongside, learned as much from him as he learned from Luneth, and lived with and proudly called his brother, suck in a breath. For a moment he was frozen in time. The tears dried up before he quietly expressed his own wisdom.
“It reminds me of something Doga told us,” Arc started, his smile reminiscent of a fondness he had developed for the older sage. “‘It’s not how long you live that matters. It’s how you make the most of the time you have in this world.’” Arc’s reminiscent smile still sat on his lips as Luneth considered his brother. “Maybe we didn’t see what the future held for our kids. But we had a pretty good life up until then, right?”
Luneth’s eyes scanned over his brother for several moments, before he couldn’t help but crack a smile, laughing softly. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess.” He finalised with a shrug. “When I think about it, me dying in a bed is pretty anti-climactic.”
“Not a very ‘Luneth’ way to go,” Arc joked, earning another soft laugh from Luneth. “Way too boring.”
“Yeah…” Luneth trailed off with his laughter dying down, leaning back on his hands, his fingers outstretched. Once again, his features softened as his gaze travelled to that of the blinding beams in the distance. He heard an unearthly groan sounding from beside him, a familiar breeze signalling a departure.
Luneth smiled at Arc again, nodding. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll see you in a bit, yeah?” He let his shoulders slump in some relief when Arc nodded back, smiling at him in the same soft way he always had. He turned, his boots softly scuffing off the platform as he walked away to where they had set up a camp with the new Warriors of Darkness that had come.
Odd to think that was them with the old Warriors of Darkness.
The Warrior of Light caught sight of the fabric tied onto his arm. As blue as the Water Crystal itself, a ribbon that had faded over time but was far too precious to ever throw away. He smiled a little before he hauled himself onto his feet.
He had never thought he’d want to embrace mortality so willingly.