"I lost my soul a long time ago."
Bitter words of defeat spat into the slight mist that hangs around a craggy cliff. Jutting out of a coastline into raging waves of an ocean that reflects the inner turmoil within the words. Wind whips the long hair around so that it hangs like a banner, flapping in the wind.
"I shouldn't say I lost it, I knew what I was doing… I gave it up."
Old sadness tinged with regret and anger pour out with the sentence. Hazel eyes darken, so that only the barest edges are green, as old tears from years of pain threaten to fall again. No! I swore I wouldn't cry. They stop, and recede.
"Impossible… no one can give up their soul…"
Disbelief comes out sharply, and slams into the sadness, trying to get through.
"When did you become the ultimate authority on impossibility?" Mockingly, the question hangs in the air. "I did… and it hurt." More than anything.
"Why?" A strangled whisper mixed with anguish, sadness, and something else, something indiscernible by the keen ears near the hazel eyes – now more green than brown. Something strange, that has never been encountered before. No words answer. I can't tell…can I?… No, no one would believe I would do it.
Brown pools fill with worry. "What use is your soul to anyone?" An alternate question, an evasion to the previous one, gratefully taken.
"Most people never really look inside themselves deep enough to find their soul. Some come closer than others. I always knew where to find mine. I knew what I could do with it, what I could change, what I could make. I could heal just by closing my eyes, bring fires to life by blinking." Bittersweet memories well up, nostalgia brings tears back up. NO! I can't cry!
"I never knew…" Brown eyes cloud with confusion. "There's no way you could ever keep a secret that big from the world." Disbelief is back, risen from the ashes.
"That was the idea, to keep a secret from everyone." Amusement is perceptible, it lightens the moment, and pushes disbelief back a little further. "Besides, it's not that hard to keep something from someone when you're the only one who knows." A grimace paints itself beneath the hazel eyes, but is wiped away almost immediately.
"Prove it." Disbelief won't be shaken away, not this time.
"How?" A sharp note comes out to slap the face with brown eyes, hardness creeps into the tone, "I gave it up, I don't have it anymore." All because I decided to be a goddam hero.
"Oh…right." Chastised, an apologetic tone weaves itself in. Heavy silence falls between them for a moment. "Didn't you ever want to tell?"
"Of course," humor has come back, wryness enters the voice, "but when you have an incentive to keep quiet it's somewhat easier to resist the temptation."
"What incentive was that?" Curiosity has taken hold of the brown eyes, a puzzling mystery set before them.
The hazel eyes freeze and stare out at the raging sea, troubled. That question wasn't supposed to be asked, nobody was ever supposed to dream of asking that. Maybe because I imagined I'd never have to say.
"What was it?" Worry is evident in the air.
I need some bullshit reason, any reason, something, anything. The mind behind the hazel eyes races frantically, furiously. Suddenly, the graceful shoulders slump in defeat. There isn't anything I can say… apart from the truth - but who would believe that?
"Why won't you tell me?" Insistence and frustration spill out and swirl around.
"Would you believe me?" Cynical doubt comes from the hazel eyes. "What the hell… I did it to save the whole lot of you from getting killed, all right?"
The figure with the long hair and hazel eyes whirls around to face the one with brown eyes. Mist hangs between the two, but the angry defiance that springs from her eyes is stronger than the haze amidst them.
Bitter, self-mocking words spring out, "Ironic, isn't it? The one person none of you trust turns out to be the one who cares the most. Oh, you thought I never noticed?" An ugly laugh escapes her. "It's not hard to tell – boys are so transparent. You all think I'm some sort of traitor, a spy of some sort." When out of all of you, I'm the one who has the best reason to be above suspicion. An undercurrent of her thoughts must have seeped out, or she must have said her thought aloud; a frown forms on his face, a penetrating look is cast at her.
"And why shouldn't we suspect you? We've only got your word for it that you've done any of this stuff you're talking about." A challenge hangs in the air, earning him an angry glare.
"We?" Seizing upon his wording she scours the area around them. "How about the whole lot of you just come here where I can see you, instead of sulking around like a bunch of thieves."
Shuffling steps are heard, and several more boys step into view, their faces slightly obscured by the mist that hovers all around, but she knows them all the same. The ringleaders, obviously.
"Great job, idiot," a sandy-haired figure mutters, elbowing the brown-eyed one in the ribs, knocking him off balance, covered by reiteration of the challenge: "Why should we trust you?"
"Why should I trust you?" The question is shot right back at the group, a perceptible invitation to a fight. "If the lot of you aren't going to trust a single thing I say then why the hell should I bother explaining myself to you?"
She glares around at all of them. "You all believe I'm not to be trusted, why? Because I came out of an enemy fortress." Disdain drips from every word. "In case no one remembers, I jumped over the wall to get out – I nearly killed myself doing so. But no, immediate conclusion: it had to have been some kind of setup so that you'd trust me." Anger is tangible now, so thick you could cut it with a knife. "The whole lot of you have known me for years, yet immediately you assume I'm some sort of spy because of certain circumstances." She looks around at them sighing. "The whole lot of you can go to hell for all I care anymore."
She turns around towards the cliff again, walking closer to the edge. Quietly, anger, sadness, regret all jumbled together she continues. "I gave up everything I had to save the lot of you. I've taken bullets for every one of you, almost dying so that none of you got hurt. I let myself be caught so you could get away. And of course," she turns to face them now her pained eyes looking into every one of theirs, "I gave up my soul, my magic, my essence, for a promise that you would never be harmed." Tears that can no longer be held in check stream down her face, through gritted teeth she spits out the rest of her words. "I tore it out myself, I put myself through more pain than you could imagine to keep you safe; to find myself alone, despised by the very people that I tried to help…"
Silence drops in and stays there as she looks at them with a tearstained face and hard, unforgiving eyes. She breaks the silence after a minute.
"They always tell glorious stories about heroes who give everything up for their country, who die to save someone… they're usually the people who took the credit for someone else who died doing so." She walks slowly away from the cliff, walking away from the group of boys at the same time. She stops, turns around again, a wry, mocking smile on her face, "I won't blame you if someone decides to take the credit for what I did and be the hero – I'm dying anyway, so I won't be around to see it, go right ahead." She walks away slowly, swallowed by the mist, as behind her the group of boys stands watching, some with tears, others with none, in a heavy atmosphere of remorse and sadness as her words drift out of the mist:
"I lost my soul a long time ago … I should probably try and find it before I die, don't you think?"