Path of the Divine Soul
A collection of drabbles and shorts responding to the challenge posted by 100-series. (Theme Number 10: Eternal Recurrence)
The final installment of Path of the Divine Soul!!! (rejoice) Chock full of sadness and such!
Ahem. So, corrections have been made to the previous chapter; once more, apologies for my various flubs. (Hopefully this won't be like the last chapter; if it is so, I will, of course, make corrections as need be) Apology in advance for some OOC later on from a particular character.
Also, I would like to thank the Glance Reviver community and 100-series for making this contest! (cheers)
The following quote is from Naruto said by Tsunade.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Valkyrie Profile or related characters
Chapter 8: Beyond the Sky
All things that have shape eventually decay…
You've said that…
Only this feeling will not decay…
How long has it been?
One year? Ten? A hundred? Thousands?
The mortals would always talk about what it would be like to be a god and to be able to live forever, but Rufus knew better. He knew all about immortality and the brutal reality that he had to face with every breath.
Death would be a release.
Rufus grunted as Freya bellowed next to his ear. "Wha…? Whatever it is, yes. Unless it's a proposal to strip me of my powers. Then, no."
Rufus rubbed his hands over his eyes drowsily while Freya snarled a nasty retort under her breath. The halls of Valhalla—the throne room in particular—had a gratuitous aura of brightness and nobility that stung his eyes. He barely dodged a blow to the head as Freya resumed her tirade about…something…
"My lord! I am trying to instruct you on how to act when we go meet with the Vanir, but it appears you would rather make a fool of yourself and the entirety of Asgard."
Nonchalantly Rufus waved a hand. "Yes, Mother."
Crossing her arms, Freya said "Don't call me that unless you're planning on marrying me."
Rufus rubbed his nose impatiently and stretched his arms out in a half-hearted attempt to clock Freya in the head. With a distortion of air she transported out of harm's way to teleport to the steps in front of him and set her feet upon the ground.
Uh-oh. Freya condescending to the ground was a bad sign. She had only done it twice in the entirety of his reign. The first had been when, after many days of attempting to take his life, she had acknowledged him as the All-Father. Then second had been when he had stumbled upon her next to the throne, a despondent husk of the mighty goddess, hunched over the arm-rest.
"What is it that you desire, my lord?"
Snapping back to reality, Rufus scratched his chin thoughtfully. "That things were easy? I know! Why don't I make you in charge of everything and I'll just prance about merrily in Yggdrasil for a few millennia or so?"
Freya's face relaxed from a scowl to a frown. "And that would be different how?"
Rufus feigned a blow to his heart. "Ouch. That hurts, Freya. In case you've forgotten, I'm pretty fragile on the inside."
"No, I have not forgotten our ruler's greatest weakness."
"Call it what you will. I've given up trying to get your feelings to surface."
Eye twitching, Freya's voice transformed into an icy monotone. "And I've given up trying to tell you of the traps of emotions. You just seem to have trouble grasping the concept that life will be less difficult for you if you forget everything."
"Hmmm, nope. That would be giving up entirely on what Alicia wanted."
"And have you figured out what exactly your lady love wanted?"
Rufus bit the inside of his lip as Freya hit the nail on the head. "A world where the gods don't interfere with the lives of mortals—unless they need bailing out, of course."
Rufus stood up abruptly, unsure of how things would progress since he brought up Alicia, but Freya's steady gaze locked him into place. "Yeah, what else is there?"
"Just because I'm not prey to emotional faults like you, don't think I don't understand how you feel, how badly you wish to see your…mortal."
At first Freya's consolations sounded rather odd, but as Rufus thought about it, Freya was considered to be the Bringer of Life/All-Mother (and he was all-too-familiar with her Bringer of Death title as well.)
Freya was suddenly at his side; like him she was vacantly staring anywhere but his face. "You've said it before—nothing gives the gods the right to toy with human lives."
A brief shrug of his shoulders relayed to Freya his gratitude. With that he strode out of the throne room, the doors leaving a resounding boom behind him.
For Rufus, there was a startling difference between being awake and dreaming.
When he was awake, he would aimlessly wander around Valhalla, Asgard, Yggdrasil, tracing and retracing the steps he took with Alicia. Visions of her would cloud his mind, chew at the backs of his eyelids until the gnawing in his stomach crippled him and he succumbed to his dreams.
Dreams were the only ways he could stop her from going away.
Rufus guessed that it was a natural side-effect of becoming a god—losing his mortal memory, bit by bit until it faded away to a dim slide-show that would sometimes chance his thoughts. When he felt the details of Dipan Castle float away, he was tempted to kill himself (well, he was the crown King and best ass-whooper in all of Asgard, wasn't he?) and join Alicia in the cycle of rebirth.
Whenever that happened, he remembered their first trip to the Forest of Spirits and how Alicia had implored him to keep going, that he was her only hope. He didn't give up then, and he wouldn't now.
Sometimes Rufus wanted only to dream, for he knew in his dreams, he would be with Alicia again, throughout eternity, two entwined souls in the Eternal Recurrence.
If only for a moment.
He tried for years to think of the world that Alicia had wanted. She may have needed to be with Silmeria, but when she kissed that ring, Rufus knew that she wanted to be with him.
He didn't really know if that what's got him through the night.
Maybe Freya was right—maybe he was a softie.
For decades, the memories of Alicia burned as brightly as a furnace in his heart, the smoldering flames beckoning him to revel in the lost bliss. But, like the others, the memories of Alicia had begun to decay into imprecision.
He could never forget Alicia, how she made (makes, will make?) him feel, day after day. It was impossible that Rufus would be remiss in the way Alicia had grown into one of the finest individuals he would ever come across. The insidious corrosion of his memory could never touch those feelings locked in his heart.
Rufus knew that one day he would probably forget the exact hue of her eyes or how her hair shone in the sunlight. All the finite details of her would fade away to leave a dull impression on his heart.
But for now all he could do was close his eyes and think of his hours with her and the feel of her palm against his.
After all, Alicia would always be with him in his dreams.
The warm, orange rays of the sun that preceded the true light of day broke through the silk curtains of a well-to-do house in Crell Monferaigne. A young woman with sea-blue eyes and silvery-blond hair gave a great yawn as she sidled up to the eastern windowsill and flung open the doors.
The woman turned at the sound of her name and smirked as her older sister Maria flopped around the bed in a state of dreamy delirium. After a long night of partying, Maria had staggered up the steps to Leah's room, ranting on about boys, getting a life and being alone. Even though they hadn't shared a bed for years, Maria had insisted that Leah not leave her alone again, and didn't she love her anymore?
Leah shook her head. Maybe she really needed to start going to these shindigs that Maria attended, just to stop Maria from intoxicating herself into saying such strange things.
A gentle breeze wafted in and drove Leah's eyes out to the scenery before her. As usual, her eyes sought out the clouds among the sky, a bird flittering about to join its mate in the tree, the merchants prepping for the day. Her eye caught a young man and woman strolling about the path in front of her home and a dull ache made her heart twinge.
They reminded her of him.
Throughout her life, Leah would have the same dream every night. Maria would tease her, and she had even tried all the techniques available to dream about something else, but they all failed (mostly because she only gave a half-hearted attempt in the first place.)
Dreams of a lush forest at night, a man with hair like the moss decorating the trees and eyes the vivid green of the leaves. From the moment she drifted into sleep he would be there, smiling, waiting. He would take her hand and lead her into the sunrise every morning.
Even thinking about it brought a flush to her cheeks.
When she stopped to think about it (which in reality, was quite often) Leah found that she would feel guilty around her boyfriends since she only had dreams about one man that she never even met.
Perhaps that's why she never dated.
Her eyes drifted downward to the outer paneling of the window-sill and saw the flower that greeted her every morning without fail—a lily with translucent petals that carried the most appealing aroma she had ever come across.
When she and Maria were younger, they had attempted to stay up all night to catch whoever was leaving the flower for Alicia. Just as dawn began to break, a powerful urge to sleep overcame them, but Leah grasped a shadowy figure of a woman in green with piercing blue eyes appear at her window.
Leah surmised that the woman was imagined, like her love life.
Leah flinched as a ferocious snarl erupted from behind her. In her musings, it had slipped her mind that whenever Maria woke up and she wasn't within arm reach, Maria got a little cranky.
She sauntered over to the bed and gently lowered herself onto it, tenderly stroking the soft tresses of her elder sister's golden hair. Leah blinked as Maria's mouth opened into a roar of unpleasantness.
"Leah, for…what evil possessed you to get up at this unseemly hour?"
"Maybe if you'd go to bed like a normal person then this wouldn't be so unseemly."
Maria's face scrunched up like that of a puppy when its master returns home. Leah hid a chuckle behind her hand.
"You dream about him again?"
Leah's face heated up at the mention of the man in her dreams. It had been an unspoken taboo between the two of them for years, ever since they had erupted into a virulent argument about it. "Yes."
Intently studying the hem of Alicia's nightgown, Maria played with the fabric until she spoke. "I hope you'll find him some day. He must be somewhere."
"Yes," she softly echoed, emotion catching her throat. Maria's deep-blue eyes found hers and the two giggled quietly. Leah resumed the tender stroking of Maria's head and watched as her sister's breathing deepened and she nodded off. Leah found her eyes turning once more to the painted brilliance outside of her window and her thoughts drifted once more to the man she knew existed, that she hardly knew yet…
All she knew was that he was out there somewhere, a shadow of her heart.
Somewhere beyond the sky.