Disclaimer: I am just playing with Clamp's world, I do not claim to own Clef and Magic Knights Rayearth, adorable though they may be.
A Matter of Heart
It seems so long ago, and I suppose was, that I was truly a child, not the caricature of one I am now. It seems even stranger that I actually remember that time of my life. But for one such as I, maybe such memories aren't so strange at all…I cannot remember a time when I was not aware of myself, the people around me, and perhaps most importantly, Cephiro itself. I have always remembered the burden of this country resting heavily on me before I could even speak or stand on my own power. Before I could even understand it. That was the substance of my childhood.
From the moment of my birth, Cephiro called out to me, haunted my dreams, caressed me when I was sad. For a very long time, all I had was Cephiro and my own will. Will and this country are inextricably linked - Cephiro is dominated by will and will dominates Cephiro. Of this I was constantly aware. This was a fact that was carved into me, one I cannot forget, even should I want to, even if the burden weighs down on me and threatens to crush me.
But that is not something I can dwell on for long. I was telling you about my childhood, yes?
As all matters are in this land, birth itself is a matter of will, completely dependant on the strength of the heart of an individual. I never knew a father; he was killed by a monster in the Forest of Silence before my birth and never laid eyes on me. After this, my mother gave all of her will, all of her heart to me.
….But she kept none for herself…
And as I said, in Cephiro, birth is a battle of wills between mother and child. They said my will was too powerful for my broken mother to take. Not even her own child could revive in her the will to live. Maybe she was too selfish to live on, or perhaps she wasn't selfish enough.
I cannot say for sure.
In all the knowledge I possess, I lack even the simplest knowledge of the most fundamental of relationships. I can summon creatures at a word, but I am unable to summon even the most fleeting memory of ever being held by my mother, can not recall her scent, even her face. I never knew my father or my mother - I could merely see their wills and hearts reflected in my own - but to a child, that is not much to take comfort in. And of course, I was aware of this. In a child such awareness is a kind of a curse, leaving you to be perpetually conscious of things you lack.
Even as a child I was prone to being silent and often sought solitude, being more in love with books and learning than the rambunctious activities of other children. I told myself then that I was alone, yes, but not lonely. I told myself that Cephiro was with me even then. In this world, what you believe becomes reality. That was my only comfort.
Perhaps it was this odd silence, even at the age of twelve, which caught the attention of the Guru. I imagine I was horribly short and unimpressive then, and perhaps rather shy. Maybe "shy" is not the word though. But that is quite beside the point. The Guru sometimes brought me books, but we seldom spoke more than a few words. His presence was the first real companionship I had ever known. Being so young, I didn't understand his importance, or the great responsibilities on his shoulders, or even the wonder of the power of one's heart over whatever you could desire. I was only aware that he, too, could feel Cephiro's call, its love. It was comforting knowing that someone else knew this feeling. Someone else could understand it. He looked like the child I was, and he became the first person to try to reach the silent creature that I was then.
Soon, he made me his apprentice and taught me the power of my own heart. He was quiet, with a kind smile, and a gentle unassuming nature. He seemingly lacked pride and ambition, and tried to instill humbleness in me in my less than graceful moments. I suppose the way I smile at my students now is reminiscent of his smile, a small and subtle inheritance from my mentor. If I were to be sentimental, I would say that he was the closest person I ever had to a parent.
Eventually, I grew tall and powerful, some would even say handsome. Around the age of 200, under the Guru's tutelage, I rose to the rank of Ile. Lightning spells, the most difficult variety to cast, came easily to me. Even now, those spells always fascinate me. Storms are foreign things in Cephiro and every time I felt that electricity course through me, I gained a little more understanding of the power of the secretive, hidden places of the heart. I was powerful enough to bring into being elements that did not naturally belong in our world.
When I was approaching 300, my mentor smiled at me, and quietly faded away. I did not weep, I knew that 2,000 years is far too long a time to hold such a position, no matter how powerful your heart is. The world, even my precious Cephiro, eventually wears all of us thin no matter how strong one's heart and desire are. Looking back now, I think without him I felt almost lonely.
There was never the opportunity for that sort of thought though. When he had gone, Cephiro called out to me, insistently, urgently, lovingly. I answered it, that beautifully haunting cry of my country. I took on the mark of the Guru, - the body of a child and the horned crown – marks of the burden those with powerful hearts must carry, for everything in Cephiro is a matter of your heart. I find it funny, its almost as if that burden keeps us from growing fully, leaves us stunted in some ways in order to care for others. As a Guru you must give your will to the Pillar, for the Pillar is Cephiro. That is the purpose of the Guru's heart; some would say that that is its only purpose.
It's strange that even then, my own personal happiness had never crossed my mind. I fully realize that happiness means different things to different people. Maybe my happiness is entirely encompassed by my duty to Cephiro. Maybe my happiness is as simple as seeing others happy.
…And with Emeraude, I failed.
She came to me, reminding me so much of the child I had been – without the memory of love from her parents because of the path she was doomed to walk, knowing only the burden of Cephiro's call - and alternatively blessed and cursed with a matchless will and heart.
…but I couldn't stop her tears. I couldn't even stop my own tears…
In all my long life I don't once remember crying, not for my father, not for my mother, not for the Guru, and certainly not for myself. But for her, as I held Mokona and witnessed her heart being torn apart by the conflict between her own desire for happiness and her duty to Cephiro, I cried. I could merely look on as she sent the events that would lead to her own death in motion. She knew what happiness was and she could not pretend otherwise. I think she thought that she was not meant to be happy, not in that way. Against that will and that duty I could do nothing but weep. I could not give her happiness. I could do nothing but watch. It was a foreign feeling to me…the feeling of utter helplessness.
And that isn't to speak of Zagato or Lantis, both of whom were caught up in that horrific situation, and both of whom had paid a price. Both consumed by the weight of the Pillar. My will, indeed my heart, had never faltered before in my life. My desire to ensure their happiness could not be stronger, but for the first time I knew absolute failure. I, charged to protect Emeraude from that fate, failed. I, supposedly the greatest magician in Cephiro, supposedly endowed with the strongest will besides the Pillar herself, could not even protect the happiness of a single girl. There is no happiness for anyone in that story.
The only personal happiness I had ever known - seeing the happiness of the ones I love – was shattering.
And my happiness only splintered further when the Magic Knights were summoned. Umi, so impudent, so brash, so completely selfish, was correct…they had nothing to do with this tragedy. But that was not something I could tell them.
My heart was breaking…these were just young girls, charged to do the unthinkable…and I could not even bring myself to tell them the truth, to take their innocence from them. It was my last, foolish and misguided effort to keep them as happy as I could. But again, I could not protect their innocent hearts, and for the second time in my life, when I felt those girls recoil inwardly at the task destined for them, I wept. I wept alone, knowing that it had been my responsibility to lead them to accomplish that sad mission. It was my duty to ensure the Pillar died at their hands.
My will, my desire, my heart had failed me again. They had all fallen in the face of that grim duty. The only wish I knew, the happiness of others, I had let tarnish and fade. Beyond that simple wish, I am not sure if I have ever known anything else that I would call "happiness." For a while, besides duty, I could find little to replace that happiness. It is something I have never contemplated, maybe because I lack the time, or maybe because I fear the price I would have to pay to achieve whatever my happiness may be. The Guru is meant to be alone, but not lonely. The Guru must serve only Cephiro, no matter how crushing of a weight the burden becomes. I must remain frozen as the silent, pensive ten-year-old that I was more than 700 years ago.
But perhaps, for all my knowledge, I haven't learned what it is to be lonely. Or perhaps I have always known loneliness and merely lack an understanding of it. Even Cephiro, with all its haunting beauty and mystique cannot compare to the mysteries of the heart…but I learn from more than dusty books. I am learning to understand loneliness. Yes, because of them I can say that.
Or maybe just because of her.
I suppose the first time I truly understood loneliness, and even, to a very small extent, happiness, was the night Umi came to me with something she by no means owed me…an apology. She asked me if I would like some company. My surprise at the question was evident, the weight and seriousness of my responsibilities are well known and people do not trouble me with matters they think I would view as "trivial." No, only when the matters are complicated and difficult do they come to me, never for simple human problems. So, I have grown accustomed to being alone.
But, she was concerned for me and for my happiness, things that I, due to the sad situations of so many around me, had not even dared to contemplate. It's my duty to fix others' problems, my own come after their problems are solved.
But for all my failures, for all the pain I caused her and her friends, she was apologizing to me. I do not think that any apology I gave those girls would ever suffice. But even when I tried to explain that it was unnecessary, she wouldn't hear of it. In fact, she went on to thank me. In response, I could do nothing but take her hand and explain what I wished Emeraude had understood.
…It's alright to be selfish, to want happiness for yourself, to chase your own desires…
I'm not sure if it was the girl herself, or merely the realization that I myself have never followed my own advice, but after she left, I felt truly lonely. Perhaps even unhappy…
I, for all my long life, knowledge, desire, and strong will…do not know what that sort of happiness is. I do not understand it. I know that my heart can be used towards the perpetuation of duty and responsibility. My heart can be used to protect the hearts of those I love and assure that they can find their own happiness.
But I do not know happiness for myself. I do not yet know how to use my heart for that purpose.