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What If?

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In the final moments of battle, you contemplated what lay around you. You contemplated the feelings bursting forth in your chest, a light that threatened to tear your soul to pieces. Even as the entirety of existence seemed to rip apart at the seams, you looked at Emet-Selch’s form and could feel every onz of his pain and misery and desperation.

Even as precious moments trickled past, even as pain sears into the deep center of your very existence, the weapon in your hand is not one to sunder and slay--the effort takes the whole of your being and beyond, but where there was once the burning agony of light that filled your soul over there was suddenly clarity. Pain became hope, agony became passion, misery became enlightenment. With every fiber of your being you changed the light itself into a tool, a weapon, cleansed of its fire and instead into something even more devastating.

When the smoke finally cleared and the adrenaline of battle began to settle, Emet-Selch stood before you, once more in the body of Solus. Your eyes meet with his and, in the span of a breath, you can feel as if the eons separating your souls have suddenly contracted into little more than the brief moments between heartbeats. Suddenly there is no more wall of understanding--one soul to another with no regard to fragmentation, no heed on worth or creed or the concept of fragility. It’s not as if the man’s eyes have been washed with new information, but it’s as if he looks at you anew, as if...

As if, in the brief exchange of your soul and his, he caught a glimpse of something within you. Your thoughts, your life, your emotions, laid bare and overpowering. Eons become seconds, thoughts become memories, and in the twisting span of what is and what was, you are sure that there are tears starting to fall down the curve of the man’s cheek and something deeply familiar tugging at your heart--

And then he is gone. Like that, Emet Selch is gone. Disappeared, but not slain.

You can feel it, though you don’t know how.

It takes time for you to recover, and time still for your friends to make sense of what happened. But they move on and, slowly, so do you--for the longest time, it’s truly as if Emet-Selch had actually died at the climax of the battle between you both. The Exarch is alive and well, Norvrandt is saved from destruction and you, your soul, are whole and hale once more in every manner of being.

When the dust settles, when the people begin their rebuilding of the world one brick and board at a time, you find yourself wondering when you’ll see the Ascian’s face again. For the first while you think he is merely waiting for the opportunity to ruin all the good that’s been done. 

But it doesn’t happen.

For the next while you wonder if he’s simply given up on the First entirely, opting to join back upon the Source and wreck havoc upon a situation already standing on the precipice of chaos.

But it doesn’t happen.

At last, many weeks later, you find yourself wondering if you should merely forget about the Ascian and continue on with your life--the twelve only knew how much you already had to worry about. But even then, even when the other Scions have all but chalked the soul up for dead and for bigger things to worry about, you still find yourself plagued by thoughts of the Ascian and his final words to you:

Remember our history.

Remember us. 

You certainly don’t think you even can to begin with, the memories all but etched into your soul. Of places and beings and worlds and lives lived years upon years before the earliest creatures of the First even walked. Eons ago. 

So you keep your promise to him: you remember. You let your mind run free in the evenings, when there is naught else to hear but the sound of your own thoughts, when memories become real once more behind your eyelids, old words a whisper in your years. It’s like the lives of eons past are but a show within your dreams--it’s as if you’re connected to something, someone, and you are privy to their most intimate recollections of a life they yet longed to have again.

It doesn’t take long for you to realize to whom the memories and feelings of yearning belong to

In fact, the very man visits you several nights after they begin.

You’re worried at first, when Emet-Selch enters your quarters. You are ready to fight in little more than a shaken breath, heart pounding in instinct alone long-since driven into your skull, before the man but gestures with his hands in an open admission of peace.

“For once, I assume, a visitor in your quarters late into the evening has no desire to kill you,” Emet-Selch says, before his eyes shift to the side and his lips purse in a moment of thought. “...Unless you have other sorts of people who come to you in the evenings with no warning. Regardless I am here for neither, you’ll be happy to know that I would likely perish if I even attempted it--and, as we both know from the fact that I am talking to you, well...I’m still trying to figure out why you let that happen.”

It takes a long time for you to even let your guard down, let alone take your eyes from the man in the center of the room. It takes longer still for you to move back to your bed. Emet-Selch talks throughout the entirety, curious about the things you had seen of him. Of his memories. Of his thoughts. Though ancient, he is curious to know what you think of them.

And thus creates the first evening of conversation between the two of you. From enemies to cautious partners of conversation, the days came and went with the Ascian visiting you every couple of nights, always with a wry smile on his lips and a biting wit to his tongue. He would come to you and talk--sometimes he would be the only one doing the talking--playing out a facade that he couldn’t keep very well hidden. 

You could feel how lonely he was. And he knew it.

Perhaps it was the echo. Perhaps it was because of your last-moment mercy. Perhaps still it is simple fate, the entwining of souls, the will of a power much larger than yourself. Perhaps it’s all of those things and yet still perhaps it is none. 

But there is no denying that, of all the people that Emet-Selch could have connected to, he doesn’t seem to dislike your company.

In fact, as the weeks and months begin to go by and the Ascian never fails to visit, when you begin to see flickers of darkness at the corner of your eyes in heated battles--ones that down the enemy with no source of the blow, when you begin to put all the pieces of your new sense of normal together into one cohesive picture...

Well, you might see Emet-Selch as a friend. 

He might even see you as the same.