216 The Hope of a Boy*
The new buds of Spring had broken through the frost of winter. Though the nights were still cold, for the first time in a long time, Rassa couldn't bring himself to care about what happened during the darkest part of the day. Instead he stood by candles and torches and wood oven fires. Smiling with his parents on some nights and his friends on others.
He found time passing him by. The rhythm of work and the warmth in his heart seeing and interacting with his home as he used to allowing him to push any worries of his life outside of the illusion aside. The illusion in fact was becoming more real to him than his life outside. Still, it was in those deep nights, when the candles were doused and the fire had burned out that Rassa found his mind drifting elsewhere. Where he found himself in his dreams were memories of what he was. Of what he would always be. The reminder, where at first it had grounded him and made him determined to find a way out faster, it now turned into resentment.
He wanted no part in the pain and blood lust that had ruled his life before. He just wanted peace. He just wanted to be free of the burdens that had been placed on him so long ago just because they'd thought his will was strong enough. His will? How was will enough to get past all that he had been through. To face it and tell himself that this was his life, that it always would be.
So one night, Rassa decided not to douse the candle by his bedside. He would let light lead him to his peace, not the shadow that had always ruled his life. Only then, much to his disgust and increasing frustration, he couldn't sleep.
Taking the candle with him, Rassa walked down the streets, out towards the orchard then over to the lake. Surai sat there, waiting for him as she stared out over the water.
"I've made my decision," Rassa said.
Surai didn't look at him, practically ignoring him.
"Yes, I heard you," she replied, "I also wouldn't say you have".
Rassa frowned, "I'm not going back there. To all that pain, both mine and that of others. It's not how I want to live my life. It is too big of a burden. I would rather stay here".
"Would you?" asked Surai, turning to look at him, then her eyes flicked to the candle, "I think you're just clutching onto the hopes of a boy. I told you to pick between the man and the monster. Not the boy and the burdens".
"You sound like you're the one who has made the rules when you said this was my choice," said Rassa.
"And you are making it by my power," Surai snapped back, "I told you to prove to me that you were confident in your choice. That it was absolute and that you'd never go back on it. You have yet to do that".
"I have too, I have accepted this life," Rassa insisted.
"Then what is the reason you're carrying that candle, Rassa?" asked Surai.
Rassa blanched, unprepared for the question as his gaze flickered down to the flame.
Surai was suddenly before him and he took a step back though she didn't seem to notice.
"Our lifelines are black because Chaos prefers the boundless possibilities of the night sky to the restricted Order of Day," Surai stated, "You may not be able to see your Life Lines in this Illusion as they are meant to appear, but you know they are there. You still feel them".
Rassa frowned, thinking of the scars on his back as Surai continued to speak.
"You carry that candle because it is a source of light," Surai stated, "And in trying to escape what Chaos granted you, you have manifested light as your shield. So long as the light is there, and the candle remains lit by your own will, you have not made a decision".
Rassa stared at the candle, then at Surai who seemed to be waiting for him to say something, do something. He didn't disappoint her, "Is that what I need to do then? To prove to you that a decision has been made? Just blow out the candle?"
Surai chuckled, "If your decision was so simple you would have done it already".
Rassa frowned. Then what did she want him to do to prove his decision was made.
"Alright, Rassa, I'll make it simple for you," Surai stated, "If you can blow out the candle, I'll consider your decision made".
Rassa took in a breath to do just that but Surai held up a hand to stop him, "But, when you do it, accept the consequences. All thoughts of Aegin, Ebony, Falla and whoever else you left behind must disappear with the light. Let it carry them away for good, so that the man you choose to be will not carry the burdens with him. ".
From the look in her eyes, Rassa knew that Surai was serious. That this had to be absolute. It was one life or the other. Rassa stared down at the flame between he and Surai, watching as it flickered between them. She was giving him exactly what he wanted. What he'd asked for. He'd wanted to give Aegin and Ebony and the others a chance to live on their own. A chance for them to live their lives without his shadow forever following them. Surai seemed to see the indecision in his eyes.
"You're the only one in this illusion, Rassa, the consequences are yours to bare alone," Surai said.
They were his, yes. But if those consequences meant he could live the life he'd always hoped for, the peaceful one where his parents were still alive and his friends had never abandoned him...then he'd throw aside the burdens that had always been on his shoulders in a heartbeat.
Surai saw the decision in his eyes as Rassa took a deep breath, and as he released it, the candle flame extinguishing between them, he could have sworn he saw her eyes turn sad, as if he was passing his burdens onto her. Her words echoed in the darkness, following him all the way back to his bed and into his dreams.
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"So be it".