Tell me, my friends.
Which describes you best?
What forbidden thoughts creep forward when you brace your hands on the bathroom sink and stare back into the reflection of someone that you thought was incapable of so many deeds? Deeds now done and repeated? What do you see when you lean in closer because you can't even recognize your own eyes anymore? What are you trying to hide from when you quickly straighten and walk away? Turning your back to go lie down in your makeshift bed? What boils inside of you as you stay wide awake at even in the darkest hours of night? Staring at the ceiling of whatever little hole you've nestled yourself in when there's no one there for company to encourage the lies?
When you give yourself that silent admission, only to turn to the side, pull your legs into your chest and try to bury yourself in your blankets...
Are you wishing for a fresh start? A new beginning where you would do so many things differently?
Or do you pray for the chance to just put an end to everything? For the curtain to just fall, burying you beneath it at long last?
Not that long ago, I asked this very question to one of the Sages.
The first Runner Handler: Hakurei Ryuu.
I never received an answer.
Thankfully, I just recently gave myself a more... personal chance to ask it again.
Her pet isn't here, of course. I wanted some personal time with the darling Sage before I went ahead to the main event. I must say, the Hope Bearer was in such a huff when I spotted her wandering the lamp-lit streets all on her own. Her entire form just bristling. So consumed in her own raging thought patterns from the argument she'd so obviously left behind her in the hotel room. Failing to notice she was not completely alone on her little walk.
I fretted for her. I truly did.
After all, you can never quite be certain... who is waiting around the next corner, can you?
In any case, I decided it far too dangerous for someone such as her to be wandering around on her own.
So I took her under my wing.
Brought her somewhere nice to... cool off.
"...Under a lavender moon - so many thoughts consume me. Who dimmed that glowing light that once burned so bright in me? Is this a radical phase? A problematical age? That keeps me running from all that I used to be..."
There is such a wide array of topics I'd like to discuss with her. Truly, there is. I've read her writing quite carefully, you see. After all, not only does she hold the title of all-amazing Sage in the eyes of the Runners, but she also holds the leash of my true target. Her mind has left me so very curious. So very... amused. Even as I type this, she's giving me an even clearer view into it... but, sadly, she seems to be finding it difficult to continue conversation.
Coughing. Choking on the very water that begs to be her salvation... at the same time as it promises to give her the blessed silence she desires so much. Forever more.
It's been beautiful to watch. Absolutely fascinating. To have the chance to bear witness to a body and mind in such violent conflict with one another. A conflict in which the survival of one promises the destruction of the other. A struggle between the sharp, burning need of the body for air... against the will of the mind to block out the very music that broke it not all that long ago. That crippled it. Haunted it.
She's been treading water for quite some time now, you see. Her limbs must feel like jelly. Strength all but gone...
I wonder which will give in first? It is her choice, after all. She is not bound. She isn't held captive in her predicament in any way... pardoning the shackles she places upon her own self. I merely have to stand back and watch. Turning the music on and off - her personal torment that brings her to hold her OWN self under the water's surface. Allowing the chilling water to blur away the rhythm. All to stop the screaming in her head. The "panic mouse" of her mind.
Of course, music isn't the only thing that water has a tendency to drown out.
I barely have to lift a finger.
People so tend to underestimate the little things, honestly.
These lyrics. These songs. Melodies. Tunes. They cut her deeper than any blade.
I can read it right across her face.
If the blade of these words worked over her body like they do to her mind... the entire pool would already be dyed crimson.
"...A little piece of paper with a picture drawn; Floats on down the street till the wind is gone. And the memory now is like the picture was then. When the paper's crumpled up, it can't be perfect again..."
The simple beauty of this game... rests solely in the fact that the choice is hers to make.
Either she takes her last lungful of water and sinks to the pool floor. Like we both know she wants to. Or she faces the lyrics which Father played for her over and over and over again.
That is not to say that I'm so rude so as to force my company to have discussion overtop of my little distraction. I turn the music on and off at my leisure. Just a minute or so at a time to allow her to rid some of the gained water from her burning lungs. Choked coughs amongst gasps for air. And, amusingly, the Hope Bearer still finds voice to speak to me in those moments. Responding to my inquiries, my comments, even when wearing fearful eyes and chattering teeth.
This time of year is not fit for swimming, after all. Poor dear.
Not even once has she tried to deny her place as a Handler. She almost tends to defend it. Justify it.
Her honesty is admirable. Truly. It is. Though there is a small problem in this case...
"...Daylight dies. Blackout the skies. Does anyone care? Is anybody there? Take this life. Empty inside. I'm already dead. I'll rise to fall again..."
Dimme, my late Handler, had left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, you see.
She... had been an unique woman, I suppose. Totalitarianistic mentality. Intense. Brutal. Spiteful. Infectious. She taught me quite a bit about the human psyche. Using me as her guinea pig. Her lab rat. I was not so much of anything to her other than a dog. No, actually, I was considerably less than that. For a dog still feels pain. Still has a voice. A will. I was a gun at her hip. Something she took out, pointed in her desired direction and ordered "kill" with the expectation of no hesitation nor negotiation. I was not meant for anything other than that command. I did not DO anything but wait for that command. Including speak. Then I was to return to stand by her heel. Without question. Without sparing a second to take a breath.
That was my role. My place.
And I filled it for the first few months of my service.
Dimme told me right from day one that my conversion into a Proxy had to be a mistake. A joke. A stain on her own reputation. Her career. For a teacher such as myself would be far more suited as a Hallowed. A mindless puppet. For certainly I held no true qualities that would benefit the Cause. No training. No suppressed urges to slaughter or spread pain. Nothing. I had nothing to offer. And so I was nothing. And was treated. As. Nothing.
She placed herself as Alpha. Her foot on my throat. Her word absolute. That was all there was.
She taught me levels of pain that I hadn't even known to exist.
She taught me how to fight as both ghost and demon.
She taught me about the Game.
Each one done for a specific reason: to prove how little I was worth. How little my involvement mattered. How I was just a Toy. Just a Tool.
And to make certain I never forgot who owned me.
"...It's still the same, pursuing pain, isn't worth the lie I've gained. We both know how this will end. But I do it again..."
I had tried to resist her will a few times.
The ensuing fights had left me next to death each time. Barely able to crawl, leave alone get back to my feet. And she'd make certain I regretted them for weeks afterwards.
Even during that, I was learning.
I don't think she realized how closely I'd been paying attention.
Then came the final time. The last time. When I finally caught the right opportunity at the right time.
And I still came out of it mostly dead.
The price paid for landing her unconscious.
I then dosed her with the same drug she had given me time and time again. A paralyzing agent that didn't numb. That, if anything, only amplified the pain. I then hung her from the ceiling by her arms until she woke up, which she did within twenty minutes. She seems so amused on the surface. Yet the undertone was complete rage. I could tell. I'd been studying her for so very long. I knew my master well. Like every good dog should. I listened to her as she spoke to me. As she slithered her way into my mind. As she told me things I hadn't wanted to hear. About myself. About my experiences. Where I came from. What I'd done. How I needed her.
I listened as I always did.
"Careful, Hope Bearer. Wouldn't want to take one lungful too many, now, would you?"
Eventually, Dimme fell short of words. Simply stared at me as if I was the lowest form of life possible. Inquiring as to what I intended to do. I moved behind her at that point Limping as I went. My body trembling with the effort to move. Barely able to remain standing. Then... I slowly carved my blades down either side of her spine. Not saying a word as I did. The knots in my stomach only grew tighter as the blood flowed. Part of me wanted to tear her to pieces there and then... but another part took over. One that had a point to make. I can remember feeling the sensation that rang through the blade as her body stiffened. Bristled. Shuddering, ever so slightly. Yet she didn't make a single noise. At least, not until I begun prying at each rib. Cracking them away from her spine.
During that, she screamed.
Once I'd cleared away the ribs that had been in my way, I then removed my gloves... and took hold of her lungs in my bare hands. I remember smiling as I felt her heart pound even faster. Panic. Fear. It was about time she received a good dose of both.
I was done being her puppet.
I was sick and tired of the leash.
And it was with that in mind that I ripped her lungs out of her body. Watching with a satisfaction that I hadn't known in months as she struggled for another breath that would never be granted.
She would never use them again to bend me to her will.
I then burnt her corpse. Daring the bitch to come back from that.
After all, she did have something of a healing ability.
Much like a certain Hope Bearer.
Mitchy. Your Master now has me wondering...
How well she will be able to use her lungs to order you... when I choose to allow the music to play on without interruption?
You must know where we are now.