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The Door Closes: Part Seven


by ellbot1998

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PART 7: THE DOOR CLOSES

     I awaken to a crackling fire of blue in front of my face.

     "Ah, fire. If only I could make it in orange… the way fire should be."

     A man breathes heavily across from me, audible even from beneath a mask of loose grey cloth. A swath of worn fabrics wrapped up and down his figure encloses him. He wears different patterns, colors and materials, but they are all faded and fraying, as though he has had nothing new to wear for the past hundred years and must make do with the pieces of an old wardrobe. He has a few patches of scruffy feathers visible, a stretch of dusty red fur on his arms, but other than those exceptions, his tired crimson eyes are all I can see of the person beneath.

     "Who are you? Where is this?" I ask. Even when he crosses his legs, I can see they are tall and immensely thick.

     "I wish I knew, little girl."

     Scarlet wind howls above us. The world is so hot, so hard. But it is so much more real than the library I left behind.

     "All I can tell you is I have wandered these deserts for longer than can be imagined, in a body that has barely felt mine. I have seen others come and go while I could never leave. I have found no hospitality. No settlements. No life that belonged in this wasteland. I never know anything about myself for very long."

     "I'm… I’m so sorry."

     "But, little magic girl, I have found doors. Two so far, but there may be more. And with you falling from the sky, you may very well be the key to at least one of them."

     "I… fell from the sky?"

     "Out of nowhere."

     "Was there anyone with me?"

     Hope builds within me. Maybe Lacy and I made it. Escaped.

     "Not a soul."

     I exhale. His words flash through my brain again, though, and I realize something.

     "I have magic? You can tell?"

     "You do. I can."

~

     "I suppose it’s time to tell both of you," Creator says, "That I lied."

     "About what?" Manor and I ask in unison.

     "You don't need a heart in dire love to open the door. You need one to close it."

     "And tell me, does it consume the victim?" Manor replies. "We were never clear on that."

     "I never found out."

     "It doesn’t matter, just take me," I interject. "I'm just one person. You both have worlds to care for."

     Manor starts, "Now, my world doesn't rest on me! I could–"

     "You can't, Manor. We can't lose another element." Creator buries her face in her hands. "Oh, Faith…"

     "Creator…"

     "Didn't I tell you my name is Jewel now? It… It always was. Inside." Creator closes her eyes and smiles, her frame shaking with tears.

     "I don't know how to call you anything else."

     "You have to. We are far from Creation. I am the creator of nothing now."

     "But you created me."

     She pulls her face from her hands.

     “Even if I could barely be considered one of yours, you were the one who made me into a person. I was a shell before I knew you. You have given me a very high honor in being your Messenger, however.

     Creator’s eyes are brimming with tears again. "Oh, Faith…” And then, violently: “Oh, Faith!”

     Manor turns around. "Ladies,” he says, adjusting his tabard: “We’re here.”

~

     I have been walking through the landscapes of death and fire all day now. He's stopped short sometimes and randomly went in circles other times; snapped his fingers to make a spark, or waved his hands for cool air; all for no reason. He has light and dark, earth and sky, all in his control.

     I tell the man, "We need to talk."

     "Yes?" he thickly grunts.

     "Have you always had your powers?"

     "My powers?" His long arms shake. "Little Shoyru… my, you're smart. You know that some of these things don't belong." He turns away from me, chuckling shamefully. "Some of the people who came and went during all these years… left me souvenirs. After all, they didn't need them where they went."

     "But transferring magic is unusual, isn't it? I mean, I've heard of taking magic, but nobody's been able to complete a willful giving–"

     The massive form shudders, as though he's taking in a breath.

     My eyes widen. "Forcefully, was it?" I ask. "Or did they go easily?"

     "Some of them!" he bellows, sinking to his knees. "Some of them fought, and some of them didn't, and some of them – some of them died in my hands!"

     "Monster," I huff. "Think what you've done to yourself if one of them was this key you've been hoping for."

     "I… I was careful, little girl. I tried nothing until after I took them to the door. Then I'd take what I could."

     "You're a robber. A criminal. You don't care about people after they stop supplying your needs."

     He sobs underneath the rags. "Little magic girl – they weren't going to escape! They were never going to find a way out – if they didn't work, that was it! They would have died a much worse death from starvation! I swear, I was doing them a favor!"

     "And will you do this favor to me, when I do you no good?"

     He is quiet. I look up at his loosely-wrapped face.

     "You could be the key. Don't back away from me."

     I close my eyes and let out a breath. "Fine. If you really think the way out from this wasteland is to try every mortal who falls in, at least don't take my powers right away. Give me some time to figure it out on my own. Maybe I can do what you can't. After all, that's the reason you're taking me.” I stop for a second. "It’s the reason I'm going with you."

     He steps away from me.

     "You know," he whispers fearfully. "You know you're stronger than me."

     I close my eyes and try to feel it. I put my palms together and wave my fingers, one of my old exercises.

     I don't feel it.

     "Sometimes we lose sight of our powers. But they're always there… It just takes some work to find them again."

~

     "If we need the heart in dire love to get back…" Manor pauses, to chuckle dryly, "I should work. I loved the brother I came here for."

     Creator and I look at him. My heart wrenches, cramps. He came here for something. But it didn't go his way, and now he's willing to leave with literally nothing just to fix this. It makes me… it makes me sick.

     "Quiet, Manor. This place is making you madder than you actually are. Like it or not, you have populated a world that wouldn't survive if you vanished off the face of the universe. Your world may be more independent than Creation, but in the long run, more lives would be lost."

     "Creator is right. We're going to use me."

     Jewel wipes a bead of sweat from her forehead and sighs deeply. "I'm sorry, Faith. I never meant for your life to turn out this way."

     "Don't worry, Creator. We don't know yet that I'm really going to… you know. And even if I do, that's okay. Consider it my repayment to you for, well, everything."

     "Faith…" Jewel drifts off. But then she finds herself. "Did I not tell you again to call me Jewel?"

     "You told me."

     "Then why are you…?"

     I look off into the distant winds. "I'm sorry, Creator. But it looks like you managed to give me one order I just couldn't obey."

     "My Messenger…"

     "It's okay." I smile, crying. "I feel like you made me into a real person. No matter what happens, that can't be changed."

     A new figure appears against the winds.

     It's the Door Back.

     Manor is observing Jewel. "You've lied about the heart in love an awfully long time."

     "I was hoping it would discourage you and others, but it obviously wasn't effective enough."

     "Nothing would discourage me from our any of our companions. Not your eon-long grudge on Fact, least of all, don't ya know." Manor hums a line of his and Creator's song, feeling good humored for the last time. He begins to lead the way down the last stretch to home. "Come on. We have a door to open."

~

     "There are people down there!" the man exclaims. "And… they're opening it!"

     "What? You're… you're right! We have to hurry!" My stomach twists in a knot. If we can't get to them, who knows when the door will open next?

     "No… No, there's no time. I… I can't run. But there is a way you can go without me."

     "What?"

     He picks me up. I struggle in his grasp. "Fly!" he shouts. "Fly!"

     I hear a single finger-snap behind me. I feel a wing of flame where my left wing would have been, if I'd been born with one.

     The wind whistles in my ears as I soar towards the open door. I struggle to look over my shoulder at him, but see nothing but red fire. I open my mouth to call out to him, but I never found out his name.

     He waves once and vanishes in the winds of change.

~

     "Now, how does this work?" I ask, touching the door.

     "Ask her." Manor nudges Jewel.

     "Just open it. Once it goes all the way, we can begin closing it."

     "That's it?"

     "That's it."

     I put my hand on the cool knob, and twist.

     Nothing happens.

     "There's a keyhole," I notice.

     Jewel furrows her brow. "I don't remember that."

     "It's okay. After all, I have a key."

     "Alright, alright… Just be careful.”

     I don't know how.

     I remove my key from around my neck. Thou of the Creator, it still reads. I put it in the keyhole. The door yields and I immediately feel a cramp in my chest. My heart.

     "Be strong! Keep opening!" Creator yells.

     I push against the wood with my whole body, not because the door itself is heavy, but because of the sudden pain in my heart.

     "You're doing it!" Manor shouts.

     I look up. I see a sunrise over the ocean, with a land mass off in the distance.

     "Keep pushing!" Manor continues.

     "I have an idea!" Creator yells, over her shoulder.

     She slips through.

     I suddenly feel alone. She was my anchor. My friend. But I have to keep pushing. There isn't enough space yet for Manor to cross.

     The Creator comes back into sight. She's floating, arms engulfed in light; her powers are clearly back. Also, she wears a golden circlet on her head that fits perfectly. "I'm going to possess you," she says calmly.

     The words hit me like a wave. Immediately, I let go of my strength. Hers replaces mine as the door opens further. My body is full of heat and magic. My vision is laced with gold lights.

     "Manor, go!" Jewel shouts through my mouth.

     "No, I'm staying until you start to close it!" he replies.

     Something whizzes through the open door – a blur of brown and scarlet, with a wing of flame off to one side.

     "The heck was that?" Manor asked, bewildered.

     "It doesn't matter. Go now, Manor! Faith, I'm right behind you!"

     I still feel the coolness of the knob in my hand as Jewel has me edge back. Time to begin the closing.

     My mind wanders home. I think of those two people I love and need to get back to, for their sakes and mine. Rubia. Cerulean. Both of them. They're everything.

     I feel a sudden cramp in my heart, much harder than before.

     Jewel groans behind me. She's taking some of it for me.

     She narrows my eyes at something on the horizon. A… man? Taller than Manor. The figure raises one arm, and waves it once. He's too far away to talk to us, but I hear his voice: 'I'll use the other door out.'

     I hang on. The pain gets worse and worse, but I'm doing it. Keeping my heart.

     I have done it.

     Jewel steps me back onto solid ground that Manor must have created in the few seconds he had. I see Rubia and Cerulean in front of me, along with Amadeus and… Dromiay? Different cliffs – remade cliffs, smooth and sculpted – stretch out beneath us.

     Creator releases me.

     I feel Anders scamper down my arm to Cerulean. He always was Cerulean’s pet. I stumble forward into Cerulean's arms and match his gaze. One last, brief second of contact. And then the world around me fades into darkness.

~

     There is peace in the morning.

     “I thought I wasn’t going to get you back, Dromiay,” Amadeus says, clutching the brown Shoyru’s hands in his own. “I guess that you made your own way back.”

     Dromiay went off and spoke to Manor spoke alone for several minutes before they return. They had reached the definite conclusion that the man Dromiay met was Fact.

     "So close! I knew I saw somebody!" Manor puts his face in his hands and sobs theatrically. And then he begins to swear. First in words I know, and then a few I don't (Rubia scowls), and then finally in terms that baffle Rubia.

     Dromiay has another story to tell, though. One of a library where she was trapped with Benjai and a Faerie Ixi. Manor and Creator exchange a suspecting look for the a few seconds, before Creator says, "Do go on."

     "She was wearing a tattered blue dress," Dromiay confesses, surprised. "And–"

     "That's what Lacy was wearing!" Creator exclaims. "Tell me; was it very sparkly and airy anyways? And were her eyes grey, and did she look like a child?"

     Dromiay's nods solemnly. "She… she was practically mute. Didn't seem to understand much of what I told her. Benjai said she went insane from reading for too long."

     Creator stares at her in shock. A crestfallen look slowly settles on her features.

     "Insane?" Manor frowns.

     "Insane."

     Faith mumbles something in her sleep. It hurts me to look at her, knowing that years will pass before she wakes up. Creator said that, if we leave Faith's body in her domain instead of with us, her sleep will pass sooner. It will be different never seeing her even asleep.

     Creator says at last, "One’s mind is a horrible thing to lose.”

     Manor massages his temples. "I've got to look for Lacy, as well as the other door. I bet my skin they're in completely different places."

     "I could never come with you--"

     "I know. Especially not now. Your world is weaker and has fallen out of restoration. But I won't be alone this time, I’m sure Kitty or Quar could accompany me. Or, maybe even a lesser immortal..."

     Dromiay, perched with Amadeus on a boulder, stares at Manor long and thoughtfully, strangely silent. "Manor… Jewel… I still have magic, don’t I?"

     Amadeus sits up a little straighter.

     "I can't tell, can you?" Manor asks, glancing to Creator.

     Creator sighs. "I have no idea."

     Manor explains, "Mortals are not meant to travel the dimensions and other places. You could have lost your powers entirely, or maybe they've been amplified a thousand times but nobody will ever be able to access them. Maybe you could use them again. Or you may have visited a few too many places, and been away from wherever your true home is a little too long, and will never use magic again."

     Creator stares thoughtfully at Dromiay, deeply. Manor wrinkles his brow.

     Creator says slowly, "I don't think she has useable magic left, but I do think she's immortal."

     I jerk awake. "What?! That's absurd!" Dromiay exclaims.

     "No, not necessarily." Manor gets to his feet and investigates Dromiay in turn. "This is quite normal for somebody ripped from one dimension to another… let's see… at least three times, as far as I can tell. Not sure if it's immortality, but at least a few extra thousand years, and an awful lot of resistance against the elements."

     Amadeus' jaw has dropped. Dromiay meets his gaze and shrinks guiltily.

     "I don't get it. I'll… I'll never die?"

     "Not from age, and certainly not anytime soon."

     The waves of the ocean splash against Cutlass Hilt for several moments, across the shores but also across the rubble of the cliffs, gradually pulling chunks of dirt out to sea. The fallen door lies in the waste. I silently wonder what Manor's definition of 'soon' is.

     "Manor… this means I can come with you to look for Fact."

     Manor slowly smiles. He turns to look at an incredulous Jewel.

     "Alright, then I'm coming to look too." Amadeus stands up. "I'm immortal in my own way. I'm not leaving you. There has to be a way for me to come… wherever you're going to take her. If I don’t have her resistance, there has to be a way." He takes Dromiay's hand in both of his. Manor closes his eyes and nods solemnly.

     "I’m sure we can find a way. Well then. We leave soon. Just long enough to say goodbyes… and for me to fix the damage I've done, or as much as I can."

     We back away. Manor is beginning to feel the consequences. Creator stays with him and says something to him. He looks up and smiles. For the first time I've seen, his smile is genuine.

     "Not that many people for me to say goodbye to," Amadeus remarks. "But hey! I guess I could spend however long with my… family… before we go."

     Rubia gives Amadeus the same accepting smile she used to give me. “We'd love to have you."

     My heart soars. I glance to Faith one last time.

     In her silent, settled slumber, she clasps her hands over mine.

     The End.

 
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Other Episodes


» The Door Closes: Part One
» The Door Closes: Part Two
» The Door Closes: Part Three
» The Door Closes: Part Four
» The Door Closes: Part Five
» The Door Closes: Part Six



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