Despite the blindfold, I see the lush jungle all around me. I see drops of water rushing to the edge of fronds, but hesitating. I hear the call and response of excited birds and the constant hum of hidden insect life. I can see it all, just not with my eyes.

I can also feel something else. I can feel myself getting closer to my prize. A current, washing through me, calling out. Artifact recovery was common, but recovery of this particular artifact was not, and with good reason. But the void had guided me well, and steered me from most conflict.

I wonder when one of our number had last gone this deep into the woods? Probably before they were woods. I found myself being proud of nature, of it’s strength in fighting back against what seemed an impossible fate, an obliteration and corruption of life that left only scorched earth until it didn’t. If only our lord had been able to overcome such a fate.

I stop, my silken shoes softly crunching the dirt beneath. I hear a little voice calling out to me, and when I turn my head I can feel its light from atop a leaf. I reach out to the little creature and let it crawl onto my finger. It glows a soft blue, and its wiry legs skitter happily across my black glove causing its fairy-like wings to bob.

Remarkable. To think there were some in this world who thought such simplicities worth destroying.

The head of my small friend turns to the side, and I know it is a warning. I expect it to leap away, succumbing to its distinct mammalian cageyness, but instead it looks back at me. It holds my blindfolded gaze, as if trying to tell me something more. Then, it flutters off.

It seems the void has taken me as far as it can without incident.

I turn to look at whatever my friend had seen, and sure enough there it is, lumbering out from the foliage.

It is black and slick, with tusks like a boar, but no eyes to speak of in its smooth head. It walks on all fours and stands at about fifteen feet tall. Its skin undulates occasionally, tendrils and appendages struggling with themselves, cementing its character as something that should not be.

I saw what the others meant, about how the beasts reminded them of our order. They were “blind” and products of the void.

But I could tell where the difference lay. We were made as unions between the great siblings through teachings by our lord, while they were made as a horrible mish-mash of the language of great beasts.

I drew my sword, letting it’s wrapped handle and our legacy together comfort me, letting its light fill me. I noted the position of the sun, and how close in the trees were, leaving little room to maneuver.

The beast pawed the ground, and then, charged.

I took a breath and stepped toward a nearby tree, falling into its shadow.

I emerged from the beast’s shadow, a nymph rising from a dark lake.

I was behind it now, and I turned to see it’s tendrils lashing at nearby plant-life as if they possessed minds of their own. Perhaps they did. These were confused and confusing creatures, and this one searched desperately for me.

I cast my sword arm out languidly and cut its left hamstring. The hulking beast buckled, but it was not until I cut its other leg that it fell.

I walked around to its front, grabbing a tree and swinging myself around it to avoid the still flailing appendages.

I sunk my blade into it’s throat, holding it there, resting my forehead against the hilt, and uttering a few words. I moved to look into its eyes- only to be reminded that it had none. We stayed that way until it passed.

I hoped that it would find peace, that whatever parts of it that had been roiled together by the aftermath of that weapon could extricate themselves and find their own path.

As I flicked black and violet blood from my blade, the current inside me quickened.

I looked down through the trees past the corpse before me. There was a light, calling out, one that had not been before. Did it have something to do with the beast?

I found my way towards it, and saw my prize amidst a small structure. The structure looked to be made of old brick, one corner and parts of wall missing in the form of jagged holes. There were some cloth hangings, clay pots either in tact or in shards. A mushroom with an eerie pallor wafted a dull red glow from one corner where plant life was creeping its way in. It meant to take this place back too.

But there, in the middle, was what I sought, glowing white. I knelt before it and drew it out.

A sword?

It was curved and elegant, and the beauty of it’s pale white sheen almost pained me to look at. But it was not meant to be a sword.

The void in my mind began to fill in unpermitted ways, not in controlled bursts as we were taught.

It was meant to be a stave. Why wasn’t it a stave? The books said that our Lord never wielded a weapon.

I began to wonder if perhaps this is why none of our brothers or sisters had ever come back once they set out to look for the last remnants of our Lord. Not because they were killed, but because they learned something else, something that filled in the emptiness and jostled the serenity of past teachings.

I felt the weight of the sword change slightly as a familiar tiny something crawled onto my hand. It looked at me with those spindly legs, delicate wings, and its soft blue glow, expectant as it had been when we had seen each other last.

Then, it bowed its head deferentially and bit me.


2 thoughts on “Deference

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