I know you probably hate me now Aneira.
Or perhaps, as the descendant of the noble white-winged clan, you harbour no such vulgar emotion as hatred.
Kind and gentle as you are, perhaps you have forgiven me. Perhaps you have accepted what I did, and now you pity me for being trapped in the prison of solitude again.
But still, good, kind Aneira, I insist on making one last, selfish request:
Please hate me.
Please hate me for eternity.
If I know that you hate me, I can remain connected to you.
If I know that you have not forgiven me, the pain of that will enable me to feel you close to me.
Are you laughing at my convoluted reasoning?
Then let me say it more simply.
I am lonely.
I fear eternal solitude.
That fear has been with me ever since I killed you with my own two hands…
Nine hundred years have passed since we first met.
In the conventional way, I took a husband. Even more conventionally, I gave birth to a son.
Soon after naming the baby “Sed”, my husband died in an epidemic. At his bedside, of course, I cursed the fate that would not let me die.
Had you not been with me, Aneira, I would never have been able to find the strength to raise Sed by myself.
You said to me, “There is no greater joy than for a child to be born and to grow up healthy.”
Fitting words from you, sole survivor of the winged clan!
You also said to me, “You will be all right, Seth. You are no longer alone. Now you have Sed. You will never be alone as long as he is with you.”
I nodded to you in tearful recognition of the truth of your words, and you went on with some embarrassment:
“Leave Sed to me, I will train him to be a full-fledged man of the sea. If anyone should dare to threaten him, I will protect him with my life.”
How kind you were, Aneira!
How truly kind!
Even now I can recall the carefree smile on your face when you were playing with Sed.
He was such a frail little boy, but you steeled your heart to train him sternly, and on those days when he had cried himself to sleep, I often caught you in profile, watching him in sleep, your face sutured with ineffable gentleness.
How glad I am, Aneira, that fate brought us together!
In my long, long, endlessly long life, I can declare without hesitation that you were my finest companion.
So why, Aneira, did events play out the way they did?
To this day, I have no idea why.
Do you know?
Did you know why those things were happening to you?
This is what I would like to know.
All the more so because I can no longer learn the answer. I desperately want to know it
It happened thirty years ago.
I said goodbye to you and Sed, and made my way to the Tower of Mirrors.
For the memory had come back to me: the mission on which I had come to this world; The task I had been sent here to accomplish and the reason I possessed: memories of a thousand years spent in this world.
I was a pirate who prized freedom above all. And what I enjoyed most of all was living widely on open sea. Exactly why I was so drawth to freedom, I myself did not know.
But, that was when I learned: deep in the heart of one who desire freedom lays the pain of freedom denied.
It was you, Aneira, who first taught me the expression “prison of solitude”.
And it was true: I was trapped in a prison of solitude.
Not simply, however, because I was confined in a cave on a desert island. For me, being in this world was itself a prison of solitude.
When I came to realize this, I headed for the Tower of Mirrors in order to return to the world I had come from.
Nourished by my thousand years of memories…memories of having lived in this world…I would return to the world where I belonged.
In the Tower of Mirrors, he was waiting…Gongora, the man with who I was supposed to return to my original world.
I had no way to knowing, however, that this was a trap that Gongora had set for me.
I can never forget how he stood there, spread legged and defiant, before the Tower of Mirrors, laughing that arrogant laugh of his. My stomach turns when I recoil his hateful face, and my flesh creeps when I think of his cunning, fearsome trap.
Gongora had no intention of returning to our former world. Instead, he hatched a fiendish plot to make himself ruler of this world, and anyone who resisted him, he crushed without mercy.
I was one of those who stood in his way.
As soon I learned of his evil design, I flew back to my pirate ship.
Of course, such a monster could not be satisfied with merely waiting for me there.
I felt a terrible foreboding.
“Sed! Aneira!” I screamed as I leaped into the ship.
In the next second, I was with a gasp that my foreboding had been correct.
Both Sed and you where there, Aneira, on the deck.
Sed lay bleeding.
When you became aware of me and slowly turned in my direction, you had a strange gleam in you eyes.
And there was something in your mouth.
I was Sed’s leg. You had ripped it from his body.
All sound faded.
Sed lay there in a sea of blood, his leg torn off, trying to cry out to me.
I couldn’t hear a thing.
I could read in his sorrow filled eyes, however, his plea: “Don’t blame Aneira! It’s not his fault!”
I’m sure I must have said something.
“What happened?” or perhaps “How did this happen?” or “Calm down, Aneira.” Or “Be strong, Sed.”
But Then again, I may have simply screamed, too rattled to produce coherent words.
In any case, I could not hear my own voice.
You were glaring at me, Aneira. Your eyes shone horribly.
You were no longer the Aneira I knew. You had been possessed by some wholly other being.
Why, Aneira, why?
You spit out Sed’s leg and let it drop onto the deck.
And then you came after me.
Sed’s voice broke the silence when he shouted, “Stop!”
Was he screaming at you, Aneira, or at me to stop?
The whole scene became enveloped in a white light.
When I regained consciousness, I was lying on the deck.
As I slowly opened my eyes and raised myself, I realized that my sword was gone. I had only an empty scabbard at my worst.
I looked around with a shock, and there you were, Aneira, lying on your back.
My sword had been plunged into your chest and stood there like a grave marker.
“Aneira!” I screamed and ran over to you.
I started shaking you, but your eyes were shut tight, and there was no sign they would ever open again.
I shouted at you to wake, to come back to me.
Then I shouted to Sed, “Hurry, Sed! Come here, Aneira is…”
But there was no reply from Sed. Having lost so much blood, he was unconscious.
If only you had been merely unconscious, Aneira!
If only you had been badly wounded but alive!
If only you could have started breathing again!
But my sword had done its job to horrifying perfection. It had pierced your chest exactly where it needed to in order to take your life.
I stared at your corpse uncomprehendingly.
O, Aneira, lone survivor of the proud white.winged clan!
Tell me…please tell me…what happened?
Was I the one who killed you?
I sense someone approaching from behind.
I turned to find Gongora staring at me, expressionless.
“You killed him,” he sad softly, his voice devoid of emotion.
I shook my head, winding.
“No. . .”
My voice was hoarse, trembling. . .
Gongora went on, as if slowly pressing his words into my ears.
“It was you. You killed him.”
“No! I would never do such a thing!”
The trembling of my voice spread to my entire body. To think that I might have killed you, Aneira, with my own hands…that could never be! This was what I wanted to believe, but the reality before me was shattering such hopes.
Gongora threw back his head in contemptuous laughter, all but proclaiming his victory over me.
“You see now, Seth, what you have done…killed the one you most loved. You are on your way back to the prison of solitude!”
Again he laughed aloud.
And he was still laughing as he left the deck, this man who, knowing I could never die, set a trap for me that was crueller than death itself.
I collapsed where I stood.
Looking up at the sky, I felt the tears pouring down my face…tears of blood.
Again I was plunged into eternal solitude, never to be released from it by death.
Gongora succeeded in locking my heart in darkness again, sealing in my memories with it.
I wept uncontrollably.
I screamed until it all but ripped my throat to shreds.
If my heart…my mind and soul…were something lodged inside my chest, I would have torn it out.
Help me, Aneira! Help me!