Intro: After the One Sin: a division
To my readers,
Ran a spell check and tweaked a few sentences for clarity. No major changes beyond that. Expect the other chapters to be similarly fixed during the next week and a half. Once that's done I will add the "complete" tag onto this story.
It was empty, would always be so. For sake of money, to avoid complication, the sky was inviolate, untouchable. Winds would stir, rains would fall, the eyes of malevolent mad gods would peer down… But beyond those cosmetic touches of the real, the sky was empty.
He'd been told this after his request. Some alternative had been offered. A skill outside his base made permanent perhaps. When he'd ruefully shaken his head, smiling all the while, they had offered a status boost. Orca, never one to be finicky, had happily accepted that offer.
"Think of where we can go, Balmung! If only we were stronger!"
He'd laughed at that, but hadn't conceded the point. Looking Lios in the eye, Balmung simply smiled, shook his head, saying no without words.
And with words, he confirmed his stance, though it really didn't need any more stating.
"It's what I want. All I want. If you can't give it to me, then I'll understand."
Golden eyes met his own, unblinking, their owner unflinching as he faced down such an absolute demand.
"Why? Even if we did it wouldn't alter things statistically. It'd just be a more grandiose substitute to walking."
To that Balmung shrugged, still smiling.
"It'll be empty. We can't install flying monsters just for you, you know. The limitations on other players… It'd upset the balance of the system."
"It don't want that, wouldn't want that." Balmung assured. "Order must be maintained after all."
And to that the stern lines around the portly administrators' face eased. He smiled then, a wry grin shaded with something like wonder. They were, in a way, kindred spirits. To that rarity all the walls came down, and Lios smiled, and warmed.
"I'll see what we can do."
He spoke to a fracturing image however, and was unsure if he'd even been heard. The man before him wavered, solidarity flickering into green frames. Then, even those broke down into a viridian haze sprinkled with ones and zeros that winked out like stars before dawn. One blink later, and even that suggestion of the man was gone.
Blowing a quiet whistle of amazement, Orca shook his head.
"Those big kahunas sure know how to make an exit don't they?"
"Well, I'm off. Gunna catch me some dinner and bed."
To that Balmung nodded, the gesture set the silver locks of his hair to shivering. With a noise that conceded that h was going to do the same the silver Knight pawed through a few menus, his avatar digging through non-existent pockets in his plate mail armor. A few moments later and he found his sprite ocarina; a quick look up told him that Orca had already found his.
"Tomorrow?" Orca pressed.
"Of course." the Knight agreed.
Each lifted an ocarina a head. Their motions were much like a toast taken in the real world. Their eyes met, a smile shared between the two, then the golden light swept them away.
He lay on his back, the softness of his bed at his back, the models of planes and birds hung above his head, suspended by colorless, gossamer threads. Besides him, on his bed stand, almost complete, was another model. He rolled the complete wings in his fingers, and dreamed while awake.
Angular shadows chased each other above his head; the wind let in via an open window set the models to shaking. Pseudo steel struck artificial feathers. There was… something almost primal about the soft, continual clatter.
When are you going to make something of yourself Satoshi? All you do is read, or play games, or dink around with your stupid models! So what if you're someone important in that game-world of yours. It'll all blow over in a year or two. You can't be thinking to actually make a future of it…
And so on and so forth, such was the lecture that intruded on his dreams
He closed his eyes, deciding that sleeping dreams were safer than the "awake" variety. They would do him best; distance himself from the harrowing shame of a lecture best forgotten. Such dreams were his final shield against such hard headed realism, and he fled, always fled, first in dreams… than more recently in the World.
At his side, still unopened, contents unread lay C.C Corp's letter. Their response to his request of wings and other things… He hadn't the courage to open it, not after the protest of both parents, and honestly he didn't want too. Not with Mother and Father's complaints sounding loud in his head and skewing his sight. Scrunching his eyes, clenching his hands into firsts, he willed the dreams to come faster, to take him away.
"Satosh'?" Tentative came the name, his name, his door creaked open a little.
With the barest of crackles the wing snapped in his hand, shattering subtly within.
"I don't want to talk now Mother." Rolling over so she couldn't see the tears in his eyes, Balmung of the Azure Sky curled into himself. Such were the depths of his cowardice, so deep and dark that they made him… cold. "Please." He beggared. "Not now."
Cradling the broken wing to his heart he shivered as the first tears took him, sneaking past closed eyes to tease his cheeks with wet fingers.
"Not now." Though choked it came out firm, suiting… this other self… the Knight of Fianna… more than the half grown man before her. Mother didn't know that though, she only started in shock, knowing something was different but unable to tell what. "In the morning, we can talk about it, but not now."
To that, his wishes, Mother folded. The creek of the door closing, the murmured "sleep tight" all confirmed this. Once sure he was alone, confident she wouldn't come back, his front of courage broke. Shaking, shivering, he sobbed into the pillow, wishing so fervently that it bordered in feverish that he wasn't so... Alone…
"Hubris divides, power corrupts, evil is ultimately stagnant because of this. The lines between heroes and villains are a fine one, cast in intent, lost in cause, and only reclaimed in the perspective of others."
He wished he didn't know who'd said that. It would have made it easier to hear, easier to dismiss when those familiar words rose in his head. A detached commentary, some subconscious babbling before sleep, that's all it could have been. But it wasn't. How could it be when the words were his own, and yet were not?
"Shut up Balmung." He whispered into the pillow, still shaking.
The silence in his head was blessedly complete; the dreams that fowled were bitterly empty, utterly dark. Thus he slept, till dawn.