The height of fear brought me nothing but frozen panic. It'd been prone to giving others great gifts of sudden grace and fluidity, or shocking amounts of strength. I hadn't ever been truly afraid before. I'd never been crippled or gifted by it. The most that it had ever tainted me in the slightest had been moments of exhilaration. In the heat of leaping off of great heights or being faced with odds that would and should mean my death, I was always filled with adrenaline, excitement! I would smile at the challenge, sneer in its face and conquer it!
It was such things that caught Aries' eye, caused warlords to challenge me with armies, and have petty crooks run screaming for the hills. I was the beacon of all that meant fearless. I was the shining idol of strength and courage. I became legend far before I died the first time. Stories spread far and wide of my deeds, both good and bad. I had a reputation of being the best, heartless, and cruelest warlord to walk the earth. But I'd slowly began overcoming that title with a better one, a stronger one that spoke of justice and kindness.
I have done the impossible more times than I can ever hope to count. A lot of said times I don't even consider impossible, as others would. But, I will admit I've done things I have not seen others capable of. Some have come close. Some can achieve one or two, but I've never see anyone but Gods attempt the things I do. Speaking of Gods, I have killed Gods. I have done the impossible by defying the Gods and killing them. Such things only earn me more whispers, more tales to be told by firelight.
But fear… That is something that is truly my strangest foe. Fear never ruled me, never fueled my drive. Fear had been nothing.
Then She came.
I will admit, I was not exactly fond of her to start with. She was a handful and a half to keep out of trouble. She was reckless, excitable, and too innocent for the darkness that surrounded her. Oddly enough, that innocence has persisted, even now. She knows darkness. She's seen its face. She's always come close… but never did she tarry. I have striven very hard to keep her this way. She is… all that I could not be. She lived the life I was first thrown from, and then ran from. Once I tasted darkness, I yearned for its touch as if it was a lover's kiss. Each new wave of tainted sin led to euphoric bliss. I was always seeking a higher climax. It drew me better than any moth to a flame.
Then, I was brought back to earth. I was woken from my blinded high… and I saw truth for the first time in many, many years. It horrified me. I had become that which I had hated most as a child. It was all I could do to force myself to change what I had become. It was a pitch black void I'd been hiding in, writhing with unholy bliss. Seeing the first glimmer of light in… ages, nearly made me run in anguish.
At that moment, it was still hardly the touch of fear that held my body quaking. It was the feel of pure and utter self-loathing. I knew what I'd become, and I hated it. It disgusted me in a fashion that was both a relief and disturbing. It was this self-hate that made me crawl up from my void, willingly clawing past demons, Gods, wraiths, accusers, hatred, and pain. This hate made me push harder, last longer, and dare to do the impossible yet again.
At first, I thought it would be something that could never be achieved. I had done so many horrible things, I was certain there was no way I could ever account for them and hope for redemption. I was certain I would die as hated and punished as I deserved for doing so many terrible things.
Yet She told me differently. It was like her very presence was a soothing light begging me to stay the course, that it was possible to redeem myself. I didn't believe her. Not really. I'm sure she knew that, and I'm pretty sure that was one of the main reasons she tried so hard to stick around. The other main reason was pure foolish childish adventure seeking recklessness, of course.
However, she didn't go away. I'd tried quite a few times to ditch her. I was always careful about never actually telling her my plans; she usually only figured it out after everything turned to manure and fell right into the well laid setup I created. It drove her crazy, I know. She always wanted to know what I was thinking, but I would just stare at her and then walk away. Eventually she started figuring out my tricks, building a pretty accurate account of what my next plot would be. She gets kind of cocky when that happens. She likes to think of it as an odd game, I guess. Not that I can blame her. The only other person who has any idea how my mind works is Aries himself, and he still tends to get it wrong because he can't think past the clash of blades, of war.
Anyway, she was quite the strange creature. A creature of such innocent light, stubbornly tying herself to a warrior of darkness… it was something you'd hear in a story as a child. It really felt like one, some days. As much as darkness tempted her, she had an odd immunity to it that I could never fathom. It slowly made it more appealing for her to be around.
Her light was often the only thing that kept me from my darkness, from letting go and falling back into my void because it was easy, because I wouldn't have to face the hatred that stared me in the face every single day.
No, I shouldn't say often. It should be always. She always was the one keeping me from becoming darkness.
I've come close to falling just as many times as there are probably stars in the sky. The temptation for darkness always feels to be lurking in the back of my thoughts, in the muscles in my sword arm. It always dares me to take that final step, to push that moment too far, to cross that line… And then I think of her.
Eventually, I told her what she meant to me… kind of.
Hey, words are not my forte. She is the wordsmith. I can be blunt and intelligent, but I cannot lay words in any fashion to seem poetic. It doesn't help that such words are filled with emotions, with things I can't quite name or comprehend anymore. I think I used to know, when I was a child. I lost such, though. They lay squashed and dormant for so long, I no longer understood their uses or their meaning. I could not speak them either, as baring myself to myself was hard enough, but to do so to someone else…
It got a little easier, after time. I could tell her how she kept me from the darkness, how she was saving me from myself. I put all the emotion I could into that because I couldn't figure out how else to show it. Mind you, it didn't sink in for the little blond. She misunderstood a lot of what I've said over the years. Not as often anymore, but every once and a while I catch the confused pucker of her brow as she cocks her head at me. It's rather adorable when she does that, not that I'll ever say that aloud.
She started to feel it, but she didn't understand it then either. I think only outsiders could see what was going on. How we behaved, interacted… it was not the normal fashion. We were slowly becoming far too intimate for mere friends. Our touches were innocent, but we were not behaving like siblings either. There was an emotion, an intimacy there that was so intense… it was like stepping into the sun itself and grasping it with defiant hands. There was a bond that was so focused, so blinding, so strong that normal words and actions could not describe it. It was so overpowering that we could not help but yield to it. Many tried to split us apart, come between us. They would tempt us, taunt us, challenge us… but we would prevail.
It was a shocking thing to recognize. When I finally saw what we were becoming, I tried very hard not to say anything. I didn't want my darkness to taint her. I did not want to chain her to a life she didn't want to lead. I truly thought I was not good enough, that I didn't deserve it. But I couldn't walk away. I couldn't abandon her. It had reached the point that she became the very air that I breathed, the water that I drank. Without her, there was no light to see, no earth beneath my feet. I had begun to need her.
That was when fear was born within me. She gave birth to it, fanning the flames of life into its brittle corpse. It roared without abandon, charging through my chest and limbs like red hot iron. It made me want to scream in a fashion I'd seen others do but could not reciprocate.
It was the day I learned true pain, true horror.
The very thought of her being taken from me sent such a chill that I swear I'd been frozen alive. It took all my strength to fight that coldness, that roaring yet quiet stillness. I could not let her be taken.
So I fought harder. I became more daring and desperate. If anyone, even Gods attempted to take her from me, they would have no such luck!
It was that fear, those moments where she was so very close to being gone, taken… I learned the truth of fear. It chained me with burning shackles. I choked on the sweltering miasma of horror it spewed. My very body, which had always done above and beyond expectation, betrayed me. I became weak and jittery.
I became human.
Human… fear is only an emotion that humans could feel. Gods are immune to such things. I had been a shadow of them, with my lack of fear for quite a while. To feel it now was devastating.
I could not handle fear.
There was nothing for me, were she taken. I knew that. I was nothing without her. I feared what I would become without her. I feared what would become of her. I could not emotionally deal with either scenario. Both were larger than life. I knew it was utterly selfish, but I had to have her around. She could not be taken from me. I would lose myself, go berserk. I needed her.
Fear so crippled me, I had to relearn how to fight. I had to reteach my body how to function, and how to think. I was so consumed by it, it sent me to such frenzy I became nothing but a creature of fear. I made the irons it chained me with into weapons. I used the sweltering heat to bring blood boiling through my veins. I used its scream to chill the very hearts of any who dared take her from me. I became fear itself, and I brought fear to the very GODS themselves!
She thinks I fear nothing.
I think I told her the truth. I'm almost certain I've admitted to her that my greatest fear is losing her. She's flattered, I know, but she hasn't quite seen what I mean when I say that. Loving her is all-consuming, so it makes the fear of losing her all-consuming. I have never been more deadly, more accurate before in my life. I have done a great many impossible things, but being with Her has raised me to a level that is utterly human… and yet nearly godly.
It is only recently I begin to see the thoughtful looks, the lingering stares. Well, she's always done those, but they're more intense now; there's more meaning, more understanding behind them. She's finally seeing the truth.
My hands still from sharpening my blade.
I had been sharpening it for quite a while. It let me hide behind a pretended focus so that she didn't realize I knew what she was doing. She'd gotten impatient a bit ago and decided that playing with the fire seemed more entertaining. I hadn't known what to say to her.
The abrupt silence draws her attention. She looks over her shoulder at me, squinting into the cloak of night. I use her momentary blindness to stare openly at her, admiring her sitting in the firelight.
When her eyes adjust, I'm caught staring. She gives me a half smile, a playful scolding.
I look to the fire, eyes unblinking. "I don't have the words you need." My voice is rough, but quiet.
The fire pops, making her startle. She glares at it a breath in accusation before turning back to me intently.
"Why do I need words?" she asks. She's faintly smiling again.
"Because I never say them," I state. I slide my sword back into its sheathe.
We both stare silently for a while, my focus the fire while hers is on me.
"What if I don't need them?" she asks, her voice soft.
"Don't you?" I say. The emotion in my voice is heavy, intense. "Were you to have them, you could have chosen long ago."
She blinks a few times before her smile spreads into a warm glow. "You know, for all the things we've done, the people we've had in our lives…" She gazes into the fire now, green eyes sparkling like embers. "I think we needed the time. I was very young, when we met. I had no idea who I was or where my life was going." She looks at me, eyes still glowing. "I had parts of me I needed to mold, parts that were unfinished. I could not yet see what truth was." Her serious face falls into one of enchantment. "For all the poet I claim to be, for all the things I have claimed to see, there were things I was blind to. When truth finally became unveiled, it took me longer yet to embrace it, as I could not fathom the entirety of it." She chuckles. "I think you forget how much emotion you bear with your eyes. They are usually what I use to understand what you are thinking, as you have never been very good with words." She gives me a meaningful look.
I roll my eyes. "You never needed to know 'the plan'. You always ended up in the right place."
She scoffs. "Please! Do you know how many times I thought I was going to die because you were using me as bait and I didn't know it?"
I smirk. "You were very good bait."
She huffs and mutters something under her breath while poking harshly at the fire.
I stare at the orange flames with her, thoughts tumbling down random tangents where most of them are tangling with previous adventures.
Movement gains my attention, and I turn to find her coming to kneel beside me. Her hand drifts up and slowly caresses my jawline, eyes never straying from mine. I feel the overbearing weight of love and fear pressing down upon me, smothering me and making small tremors pass through my hands. It is all I can do to pour it from my eyes as an outlet, as my mouth is yet again locked in silence.
Her smile is breathtaking.
"There, you see? You don't need any words."
Her following kiss makes the world explode with light.