So what do we do now, and how do we go on?
Who even knows where we should go?
What if at the end we don’t see angles?
What if at the end we don’t die…
(The Jews, Mortal Fear, War Bell)
Once, one by one, they would come. Once, those who denied and rebelled against society would call this their society. Once, those who had no respect would come to show their respects. Once, those who were alone would come to take comfort in others. Once, those who hated each other would come to put their differences aside for one night.
Once, one by one, they would come. They would assemble at the fires, bask in their heat and try to fend away the chill of the night.
Once, she would also come, loyally at the side of Billy Oblivion. The Horseman. The Demon Slayer. The Legend. Once, she would stand there with eyes wide open, eager to learn everything she could from Billy Oblivion, her master, her teacher, her love. Once, they would stand there, two dark figures on the background of the night. They would just stand there, keeping their distance, there, but not really belonging.
But tonight, she was just perched there on the rooftop of an abandoned building, scanning the gathering below her, like a queen surveying her kingdom. Or like a predator, stalking her pray. She stood there on the edge of the roof, inhaling the sticking air of the city. Exhaling slowly, she let the memories wash over her as the sharp taste of the polluted air burnt her tongue.
A certain feeling of urgency accompanied this gathering. Maybe it was the cause, maybe the consequence or maybe just a coincidence, but in the year since Oblivion’s passing, the city was afire. Old treaties were broken, and new blood feuds were born. Violence begot more violence as those who chose to live in shadows struggled to come out to the light of day and to leave the others not in shadow but in an endless night. But between all the mayhem, the fires lit and the blood spilt, this one tradition held strong. During this gathering, no weapons would be drawn. During this gathering, mortal enemies would put aside their differences for one night and come to show mutual respect to friends long gone.
Memories washed over her, as the flames from the central fire climbed higher. Memories of the last time she was at a gathering, Billy by her side. Memories of loosing blood. Memories of drawing blood. Memories of a Billy smiling at the sunrise as his life slowly left him. Memories of feeling real sorrow for the first time of her life. Memories of a nameless evil forced upon her unwilling mind, to carry for the rest of her life. Memories of feeling real hate for the first time of her life.
“It’s not worth it, you know.” A disturbingly recognizable voice came from behind her.
“Don’t worry,” She answered “I’m not going to jump. I’m just… reminiscing.” She slowly turned around to see who else found comfort on this lonely rooftop, and froze as her she recognized the slender Elven woman behind her. “You don’t belong here.” Her voice lashed out like a Satan’s whip.
“No, I don’t” The elf completely missed the icy tone in her voice, a tone she should have known all too well “I came here looking for someone. He used to come here every year.”
“Did he?” Her breaths were short and sallow, every ounce of her concentration needed to stop herself from ripping the throat out of the woman who’s name Billy would yell when one of his nightmares woke him up.
“Every year,” she said, oblivious to the concealed threat this human bore. “His name was Allen, but I think he used to call himself Billy when he came here. Maybe you know him? He’s quite hard to miss. Tall, pale, metallic eyes. He has this tattoo with a flaming skull on his…”
“Yeah, I used to know him.” She cut the Elven woman’s rambling off. “But he’s dead.” She charged down the stairs, biting her lower lip.
Midnight had come at last, and as by an unwritten law, they all assembled at the central fire. Without a word, a goblet was filled with dark wine and passed around. Each person who got he goblet pronounced a name of a fallen comrade. Each name was answered by a horrifying cry by the rest of the circle.
The goblet eventually came to her. “Damn. CJ. Mad.”, she uttered the names of his fallen friends, who she never met but felt as though she had known all her life. A fourth name lingered on the tip of her tongue, but she could not bring herself to pronounce it. Biting her lip till it bled, she passed the goblet on.
Names were uttered and the goblet was passed, until reaching the hands of an Elven woman she had met for the first time only hours ago. “Billy” was the only word she said, before sipping from the goblet and passing in on.
On it went round the circle, until it came to a tall and dark figure, who uttered names older not only than all the people around the fire, but from the city itself “Aina. Ehran. Alachia.”
A gun roared, and he raised his head with a smile, to see which mortal would be stupid enough to try and shoot him. His smile quickly changed to an expression of surprise, and then pain, as he slowly realized that the bullet was not lead but silver, and that his life was quickly leaving him.
Without a word she turned around and walked away. Behind her, weapons were drawn and blood was spilt. Blades, bullets and magic were put against each other in an endless spiral of violence, hate and blood. Now that the gathering was breached, nothing could contain the violence. Behind her, the city burned, and she calmly walked away.
She didn’t know where Billy’s soul had gone after his death, and she didn’t know if he could see her. But she did know that if he could, he would be horrified at the senseless violence she had triggered. At the last chance of coexistence being thrown into the wind. At the sight of his city burning. She also knew, that even if he wouldn’t admit if, a small part of him would think it is the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.
And A Brand New Beginning