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01-08-2011   #17 (permalink)
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IGN: Hekutaa / Yaripon / Flins
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Default Chapter 7: Liminality

Heku stood, almost like an empty shell, while he saw the last of Erina run away from him. His armor and rapiers dissipated, transforming into feathers that evaporated into the air. Clad in a black, slim frock coat and a pair of slim, beige pants, he soullessly walked down the abandoned town of Roman to rendezvous with Cerise and the others. His heart broken, his mind shattered, and his will to live annihilated, he stopped on a stoned-over path in the middle of Roman. He looked behind him, looking at the ever open gates, then looked ahead of him, spying Flins and Shiro running away from him to report to Minit.
Heku was at a crossroads again; for once, he felt that choosing one path would lead to having one part of his soul broken. If he fled back to Serdin with Erina, his heart would be content with just the two of them together, yet his soul will down in a sea of guilt: a sea populated with the rotting corpses of those in Frostig. In another instance, should Heku follow the path of a righteous soul, he could be a savior to Frostig, but his heart would sooner die of the bitter isolation from the one he loves.
A chill ran up Heku's spine. Seeing how disgusted Erina felt from their fight, he did not peruse after her. He trudged unwillingly towards the disappearing figures of Flins and Shiro, as if his heart had been shot.
"What… did I do…?" Heku asked to himself. "What will I do?"
His stomach rose up while his heart and mind sank. His arms and legs shook in reluctant movement; he wanted to break down in anguish, yet something forced his weary body to move.
He limped past the empty streets, reaching Minit and the others, who talked in minor content.
"Mission… accomplished." Heku croaked, falling to his knees.
"Heku?!"Cerise exclaimed, rushing to his aid. "What happened?!"
He brought his lips closely to Cerise's ear. He whispered what happened.
"I, er- I'll take care of that wound." She said, hiding his true ailment. "For now, why don't you rally up the troops, Ms. Minit?"
"I'll get them. We can head back to Lumisade once Heku's alright." Minit nodded, running to fetch the other troops. She signaled to Shiro and Flins to assist her. Shiro followed alongside Minit, yet Flins did not run off.
Somewhat suspicious of Heku's sudden weakness, he asked, "Mr. Heku, what happened to you?"
"Just a flesh wound, kid. Go and help out your friend; I'll be fine with Cerise."
"Don't you-"
"Just go!" Heku barked.
"I… alright." Flins said, swiftly running to Shiro and Minit.
Heku grunted in anguish, staring at the stone floor below him.
"Now tell me what happened." Cerise said.
"Erina wished to return to Serdin with her, completely disregarding our task here. I said that I did want any part in her plans, then we began to fight. I nearly killed her in my anger, then I asked her to kill me. Instead, she ran away."
"My soul and heart have two opposing sides. What do I follow?" He said, with growing despair in his voice.
"That's for you to decide." Cerise replied, helping Heku stand.
Heku smiled wryly, then returned to his gloomy soulless disposition.
"You really care about her, don't you?"
"I knew her for six years, Cerise. And I have been entrapped in a bottomless pit of unheard affection six years. My chance to run away with her, my only chance that I could tell her of my innumerable affection, vanished."
He walked away from Cerise. Shiro and Flins, along with several Lumisian soldiers, gathered at the northern gate. Minit approached Heku with a more alacritous step, almost like he had been a dear friend to her.
"Ranković." She said with a sense of benevolence, "Shall we head back to Lumisade? We can discuss your alliance to-"
"Right." He said, disinterested with her offer.
Heku and the others exited the town of Roman, boarding a train for Lumisade.
Heku sat emotionlessly in a booth, leaning on the side like a mannequin. His vacant eyes gazed at the empty pair seats before him, whish soon became occupied by Flins and Shiro. Flins smiled at him, but Heku looked to his right, to Cerise. Heku sighed gloomily, then looked at the puzzled faces of Flins and Shiro.
"I suppose I must explain myself." He said without the slightest hint of emotion.
"No." Shiro replied, knowing well that a person like Heku held several secrets that he did not wish to divulge of easily.
"Yes." Flins said, growing curious about Heku.
"Then I shall," Heku sighed, "but in the guise of an allegory: The Tale of Liminality."
Cerise, Shiro, and Flins leaned towards Heku, all beguiled by Heku's mysterious nature. They all thought that this could explain his enigmatic mind.
"There were once three good friends: Kenneth, a gentile young man, the youngest of the friends, Adelaide, a silent young woman, in the median of the ages, and Clarice, an ambitious woman, the sister to Kenneth and the eldest out of the three."
"One day, Kenneth and Clarice received a mysterious parcel. A letter from their father, who they thought died from influenza twelve years ago. Curious, they told their news to Adelaide, who volunteered to go along with them to meet their 'father,' so that she may request to marry Kenneth. The three followed the return address, which led them to a small mailbox in front of a looming, dark forest. Nevertheless, the friends entered the forest, the shine of day soon transforming into a shadowy dusk below the shadows of the trees. Kenneth and Clarice constantly asked each other if they could recall any of this in their childhood, but neither could not think of any such instance. The three friends walked further into the forest, spying a small lake in the midst of the woods.
"Kenneth stopped. His mind flashed back to a memory, about twelve years ago, when he was at the age of six. A stalky man stood in the shallows of the lake, teaching his son how to fish. The child, however, did not catch any fish, but instead examined a ladybug on the base of a tree.
"His father slapped his son, roaring out, "Fool! You will never be strong if you waste your time!"
"Disturbed by his repressed memory, he caught up with his sister and Adelaide. However, a chill ran down his spine. Why did he forget his father?
"Down the trail, the three stood in front of a faded, monolithic, cerulean-colored rock. To make her friends laugh, in attempt to ease their tense feelings, Adelaide climbed up on the rock, making a pose. The trio laughed in merriment, yet a bittersweet memory flashed before Clarice's eyes.
"She sat on the peak of the rock, knitting a small green scarf for her brother. Kenneth napped near her sister, abruptly waking up when he heard his father's footsteps. Kenneth held onto his sister while Clarice cringed at the mere presence of her father.
"Haunted by her memory, Clarice urged the two to keep moving deeper into the forest. The once shining day above the friends soon turned into a dreary dusk, yet only an hour passed since the trio entered the forest.
"The three rushed deeper into the forest until they reached a clearing. A small house surrounded by dead weeds loomed before them. With nervousness rising in their stomachs, they began to walk towards the abode. Kenneth and Adelaide held each other's hand while Clarice knocked on the mold-covered door. It slowly creaked open, revealing a gigantic, stalky black shadow behind a small dining table.
"'Dad…?' Kenneth spoke, walking in with Adelaide and Clarice.
"The three brought up three chairs and sat in front of the shadowy, looming figure. A small cigarette was in his mouth while he breathed heavily to the rhythm of the creaking, broken-down house. The trio gazed at the interior of the room, spying an ant-infested sink, broken plates, unclean dishes, and a small portrait of Kenneth and Clarice's family twelve years ago: their gargantuan, muscular father in a grey suit sat in a chair with a young Kenneth sat on his leg. Their mother, petite and the polar opposite to their father, stood next to him with Clarice standing next to her.
"'Does… does this disgust you?!' The father roared suddenly. He stood up, throwing his cigarette to the floor. 'Does… does this frighten you?!'
"Neither Kenneth nor Clarice responded to him. Disgruntled, the father sat back in his chair, shaking out an old cigarette from a box. He lit it. Instead of smoking it himself, he offered it to Kenneth, gently asking 'Smoke?'
"Kenneth did not respond verbally, but slowly scooted back in his chair.
"'Smoke!' The father bellowed, 'Or does that disgust you, too?!'
"Kenneth's hand quivered while he reluctantly accepted the cigarette. He gazed at the wispy smoke emanating from the lit tip, then pressed the tip against an ashtray. He stood up from his chair, he glared at his father, and then he walked out of the house in protest with Adelaide. Clarice, however, sat alone, almost petrified.
"Her father rose up once more from his chair, in complete outrage. He used his strength to topple over the small dining table in front of him. His body curled in on itself while he gasped on his callous hands.
"Clarice ran outside the house, but peered though a small crack she left open on the doorway. Tears of anger and despair dripped down her father's face. Nevertheless, she ran to her brother and Adelaide.
"'I… I don't remember him. Do you, Clarice?' Kenneth asked.
"She nodded. 'Yes, Kenneth, he is Father.'
"Kenneth gaped in disbelief. He, unlike his father, had always been kind to everyone he met. Just the mere thought of being the son of a berserk, insane man shattered his mind. Will he end up like his father? Will he end up becoming a hermit in a small cottage to simply isolate his rage?
"Kenneth walked ahead of the group, his eyes wide open. He began to limp in his step, then started to run. Adelaide and Clarice caught to him the moment Clarice grabbed hold of his hand.
"A memory flashed before the sibling's eyes. They suddenly remembered his father. Torn at the death of their mother, their father flew into a blind rage, nearly killing Kenneth in twisted anguish. At the pall of dusk, the two ran away. They did not know where to go, but anywhere from the monster dwelling their father would suffice.
"Now, the story ends there." Heku said abruptly.
"Wait, what?" Flins asked. "There has to be an ending."
"That is the ending. But some storytellers have their own way of ending such an ambiguous story. Some say that Kenneth and the others lived their lives normally without any regards to their father, while others flash to their father's funereal, Kenneth the only one to bring a parting gift, lily at their father's grave." Heku spoke.
"How does that relate to you?" Shiro inquired.
"Maybe it doesn't." Heku cryptically replied. "Perhaps through a different perspective, it does. Yet one must have their eyes open to understand the relationship between this allegory and I."