2. Contemplation

"I thought we might end this evening with a discussion of the soul. All of the greatest religions speak of the soul's endurance before the end of life.

So what then does is mean…

To die?"

I jolted forward in pain. Someone's broken onto the path I've made into Cephiro, so much will, so strong it's staggering.

I stood mesmerized for a passing moment that seemed as long as an eternity. Despite the pain from my sickness, the sheer exertion I just put forth to impede the other invading countries, for a brief second all of that was gone and all that was before me was…


Brilliant, swilling, warmth.

I zoomed in my field of sight on my eye shield, to get a closer look at this looming Mashine before the NSX. 'A spirit, a red spirit.' A shadow of a cape swirls within its heart, such a small silhouette, I look closer. Long hair, braided, tosses in the vortex of flames. Armor poorly hides the gentle ascending curve of young girl's form.

I'm stunned, 'A girl?!... but she's so small, she can't be any older than Zazu…but then this is Cephiro…who knows her true age…This girl…The Legendary Magic Knight…' I realize there are eyes upon me and gaze upward. Lantis once said the Magic Knights come from another world, I wonder if that means she's as young as she seems? Suddenly, there she is. She looks almost close enough to reach out and touch. Red, red, red, so much red, everything a fiery red, even her eyes.

I don't know what I had expected to see, a veteran solider perhaps, someone hardened by years of war and fighting so they were able to bear the burden of the title Magic Knight. But no, just a tiny girl with enough will power to pierce the road I've made. No, looking into her gaze I see young eyes, not ones hardened by years of war, innocent eyes, but innocent eyes that have been scared, scared beyond all repair.

Is that what becoming a Magic Knight does to you?

She seems as stunned as I am her own ruby eyes bore right back into my own gold ones. She's here to stop me and whatever her reason I can not allow it. Using the last of my strength I force her out, I hear her scream as she's shoved though the pathway. Flinching, I grip Geo's shoulder in agony, I feel like I could die, but I can't not yet. I have to complete the test.

'She entered the road I built…Cephiro's Pillar must travel the Road to the Pillar and face a test…that's what Lantis said…that girl, that Magic Knight…she might be able to…'

I shake my head; I must deal with Fahren and Chizeta first. I shove away from Geo and he protests, saying I'm pushing too hard, that I should rest.

How little he knows, I've already pushed too hard and that's why I can't let go. If I let up, even a little, I'll slip away and it will all be for nothing.

I know I'm running out of time and I don't believe in a life after this one, I believe in what I know. I believe in pain, I believe in the fear of something unknown and I believe in death. I don't think there's something after this because if I do then dying means absolutely nothing and there's no point in dying and no point in trying to leave something of yourself behind in this world.

I could be wrong, I'm not that arrogant, but I don't like pondering it because if I am wrong…then what does it mean…

…to die?