Master of Reality

The shadow was ever present now, a cloud of darkness that seemed to forever be on the horizon, an ashen smudge that called to her, that whispered her name from some inscrutable distance. Amidst the chill of the New Year, she stood alone and lifted her head to the clouds above, searching the heavens for some sign, some answer as to the mystery of her identity.

The recent conflict with the heirs of Crystalia, the instructions she had received from their distant Emperor, and, at last, the weight of the glistening granterstone in her hand; all such things were part of a pattern she knew, yet she could not discern how they were joined to one another.

About her, there was the chill of the wind, the crisp touch of the season beneath the firmament of this as yet unpolluted planet. There was still so much to be done before the Emperor might manifest himself fully, she thought; so much to be done before she might know the truth of her past, those moments that she could no longer recall, the life she had lived before her service to Yodonheim. It irked her when Carantula inferred there was something she did not understand about her identity, that there was something she could know, and she loathed the way in which he looked at her and addressed the Emperor in improper tones, as if she was nothing but a conduit, and the Emperor was so knowable that a grub such as Carantula might speak to him thus.

She turned her gaze down to the stone in her grasp, the early morning light glinting upon the surface, a cavalcade of colours in which she took no delight. If such a stone could empower illusion, she thought, then could it not also reveal truth? Was there no hint of fact in fiction, was there only the cruelty of unfulfilled dreams and self-delusion in the charm of such a thing?

Hastily, she turned away, uncomfortable with staring too long at its glistening surface, with dwelling too readily upon it. In truth, she knew that there she had no place here, beneath the blue skies and the dim morning sunlight, and yet there was something in the wintery season of this world that called to her heart, that reminded her of the past, the dim recollection of the way things had once been, the thunder of hooves amidst the darkening clouds, the summons of the Åsgårdsreien.

The shadow felt ever present now, yet she was sure there was more than this, that there was more to her identity than that which Carantula inferred. She folded her gloved fingers about the stone, crowding out its light, looking again up at the bright sky, and the silent city beneath.

There was truth in every story, she had been told, and there was no smoke without fire, so the people of this world so oft proclaimed. Her hand tightened about the stone. She was more than just the mouthpiece of her master, more than just the vessel of his commands.