The Holder of Ruin


A woman lay on her bed, scanning her surroundings. The moonlight danced tantalizingly on the marble pillars and the tile floor. Her gaze shifted to the ceiling, her eyes slowly passing over the intricate frescoes masterfully etched into the glazed granite. She knew these carvings down to the last, most minute detail. The wind rushed through an open window, rustling about playfully, as if curious to see what treasures might be kept within this spacious abode. It carried the faint scent of lilac, the same kind her mother kept on the living room table when she was a child. Its curiosity satiated, the breeze flitted out as quickly as it came. The woman heard the faint grumble of a car travelling a distant road.

She knew nothing of what she, or her very existence, would become. Everything seemed so real to her then.

She thought nothing would ever change.

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She remembers well the first one that came to visit her bedchamber. He was a bright-eyed youth, barely in his twenties. He reminded her so much of herself in those long past days; that determination that sparkled in his eyes, the way he carried himself with an air of unwavering confidence. He sought to change the world, much like she did. When she looks back on that night, she realizes that she might have taken it easy on him. She softened her words for him when she told him what must be done.

It was the same thing she'd done, for Michael and Lawrence and all the other children that had gone to war and never returned.

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A woman lies on her bed, scanning her surroundings. The moonlight dances tantalizingly on the marble pillars and the tile floor. Her gaze shifts to the ceiling, her eyes slowly passing over the intricate frescoes masterfully etched into the glazed granite. She knows these carvings down to the last, most minute detail. She waits for the wind, but the wind lies still, as it has for so long. The stagnant air is ripe with the stench of dust and decay. The only sound is that of her own heartbeat, loud and cacophonous. To block it out would require too much effort, a mental willpower she no longer has.

She still knows nothing about what she, or her very existence, has become. She knows none of it is real.

She knows nothing will ever change.

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"Father," she said across the cavernous living room, the single word reverberating on the marble walls, growing softer with each repetition. He had never been the most open and receptive of men, but then he had seemed even more cold and distant, responding to nothing and no one. Not even his own daughter.

The sound of her voice died, and he did not stir. He was too lost in his own thoughts to acknowledge the presence of his child.

"Father."

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She bestowed upon him the staff, and he accepted it graciously (how the young man resembled her, how uncannily so). She slept easy for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. For several days, the torturous agony that had plagued her existence was replaced with calm. She could not remember the last time she had felt such peace and serenity. She considered her duty done; all that remained now was to rest.

How little she knew then.

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A woman lay on her bed scanning her surroundings (all thats left everything else is gone). The moonlight danced tantalizingly on the marble pillars and the tile floor (taunting teasing maddening) her gaze shifted to the ceiling her eyes slowly passing over the intricate frescoes masterfully etched into the glazed granite (how did it spiral so out of control so horribly out of control) she knew these carvings down to the last most minute detail (and yet still so much more to learn) the wind rushed through an open window rustling about playfully (for that is all it knows) as if curious to see what treasures might be kept within this spacious abode (all the more space to fill with broken dreams) it carried the faint scent of lilac the same kind her mother kept on the living room table when she was a child (but never again its too late for that now) its curiosity satiated the breeze flitted out as quickly as it came (it knows what has happened and wants no part of it) the woman heard the faint grumble of a car travelling a distant road (it all seems so distant so why wont it stop oh god please make it stop)

she knew nothing of what she or her very existence would become (for how can one fathom the impossible) everything seemed so real to her then (but in the end it was all a lie)

she thought nothing would ever change (and it never will change)

(unless it can)

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The bliss was shattered in an instant. There was the staff, resting on the nightstand, as if it had never left. The sight of it was like a dagger to her heart. She knew she had nothing to do with his fate, yet she still felt like it was all her fault.

Deep down, she knows it is. None of this should have happened, yet she allowed it to. The guilt is her prison, and now she must serve her penance within it until the bitter end.

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Her father walked out the door, her brothers in tow, all eager for glory and triumph. She cried out to them, tried to stop them, tried to enlighten them that it would all amount to nothing. "No! Stop!" she yelled. "You are only advancing towards destruction!" But, as sheep are bound to the whims of the shepherd, never questioning, never wavering, even as their master leads them to the butcher, so too did her brothers mindlessly follow the man she had come to despise so much as he herded them to their slaughter.

"Go forth," he said, "sacrifice yourselves in the name of victory. You know what is expected of you; it is your duty to live up to those expectations, so that all shall praise your name, even as your bodies crumble to dust."

She should have wrenched them away, bound them in chains, locked them away in the deepest, darkest cellar, kept them away from their doom at all costs. But in the end she stood there, powerless, helpless, unable to lift a finger, for the fear her father instilled in her mastered her and disabled her even as she strove to overcome it.

She was a sheep, no different from her brothers, and there was nothing she could do to change any of it.

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Now comes the second. A young mother, she set forth on her perilous journey before her infant son even knew who she was. The staff changes hands once more, and then the bliss returns, though diminished from before.

It lasts for three days. Then the staff returns, and with it the grief.

So comes the third, and then the fourth and the fifth and the countless others. All so optimistic. All wanting to change the world. Each leaves her a fragment of their life; the fragments pile up into a chaotic mountain of false hopes and shattered dreams. And she tells them what must be done; the same story every time, now as much a part of her as her heart and lungs.

And every time the staff returns. The peace of relinquishing it has long since abandoned her; the grief of its return has only grown more poignant, to the point where it threatens to snap her mind in two.

Yet it cannot, for the cycle must continue. It cannot change.

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The buildings explode and she keeps running and the spires tumble and she keeps running and the guns fire and she keeps running and the widows wail and she keeps running and the bodies pile up and she keeps running and the last soldiers fall and she keeps running and the invaders march through the streets and she keeps running for she knows how to make it all go away, how to make the horror and tragedy and despair and death go away, go away forever, if only she can make it to the one who holds the staff and get the staff and then all the others, then she can make it all end and she will finally know true peace and she doesn't yet know how but she knows she will, for it's all she can do now, and she knows death looms around every corner and she cares not in the slightest.

Because dying's not so bad if you've got nothing left to live for.

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Come, little children. Come to me with your hopes and dreams. Leave them behind and hear my story. My story of someone much like you, who sought to change the world and yet changed nothing and now has to sit and watch the world pass them by, everything changing at every instant and yet nothing changing at all. Then let me give you the staff, number 217, and go forth on your journey. And I will watch you leave, and I will smile, even as I weep inside.

And then I will wait for the staff to return to me, and then I will start it all over again, for in the end nothing changes.

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The things we call "changes" are but illusions, temporary disturbances in our perception of reality. They give us the impression that we can shape the world around us, even though we are powerless.

For to truly change something, you have to break the very rules of existence. To break such timeless, ironclad rules, you need to possess a courage the likes of which the world has never seen.

She had never cared much for rules. Perhaps this is why she had come to loathe her own father, he who abided by the rules to the letter and did all in his power to force everyone around him to do the same. When she reflects upon the day her new existence began, she wonders if it was all to spite him, to tear asunder the precious rules he existed to guard. With the limitless power she would gain by gathering all 2538, she could erase them forever, and from their smoldering ashes craft a new universe, one unbound by the arbitrary laws of men, one that would only know peace.

She wanted so badly to break the rules, but she lacked the courage to do so. As a result she is now trapped in this new existence, forced to counsel countless others like her who want to break the rules but lack the resolve. She is forced to see her own failure reflected in the hope-filled eyes of those who come to visit her. She who once sought to break the rules herself is now bound by the rules of an entity unfathomable, those invisible shackles that imprison her even as she struggles to break free.

She wants to tell her visitors to just give up, that their endeavors will ultimately end in failure, just like hers. But to do so would be to relinquish her last shred of hope, that dream, however fleeting, however unattainable, that someone with that indomitable courage will finally come forth, take the staff, and with its help do the unthinkable; that which she was unable to do herself.

Until that day, she will lie on her bed, scanning her surroundings, tracing her eyes over the frescoes, telling the story, relinquishing the staff and waiting for its return, repeating the endless cycle unto infinity. Amen.

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I will pass through the inferno and I will pass through the cascade and I will pass through the storm and I will pass through the earth and I will pass through the aether and I will open my mouth as though to scream and nothing will issue forth but the story and so shall I remain until it all crumbles away to nothing and then I will

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Last modified on 2013-02-23 22:19:01Average Rating: 3.67 / 5 (3 votes)Viewed 6332 times

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