The Land Called Myself
The entire remainder of the last day of travel was spent without the slightest bit of conversation. All knew they were so close to their target that they could not bear to think of anything else, nor delay it in any way. But especially not Genesis.
Their steps, a stride that had become quite lifelike over the course of their short life, had now returned to a robotic march as they hurried to their salvation. And soon enough, they came across it.
“Ha. Glad to see it’s still there.” Makara said, wincing a little as she clutched her wound.
Within a tiny cave hidden below a hill and concealed with thin draping vines, it lay. A red pillar made of a long-forgotten stone, shaped in the form of a double cross.
“To think I’d see one with my own eyes… honestly, I’m a tad repulsed.”
“Old men are so funny. You build up so much fear over the course of your lives just to give cheesy remarks when it’s convenient.” The troll teased. “Well, let’s get going then. Genesis, offer the blood.”
“𝕀𝕥 𝕨𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕓𝕖 𝕕𝕠𝕟𝕖.”
Genesis raised the vial and shattered it over the totem, dousing it in thin streaks of another red. All were silent.
“Alright. Let us in.”
Then, an unfolding of the senses. It was as if everything was collapsing, and yet rebuilding simultaneously. A flurry of thoughts and feelings. Urges and compulsions. Without their conviction, the three would have surely lost themselves in this red cyclone of emotion. For but a moment, all they had known was taken away as they began to reform somewhere else. It was an awful, distant, alien, and yet, familiar feeling. This complete shock as all was forsaken and violated by some unseen force. But Genesis’ determination alone was now enough to cleave mountains. They steeled themself for the worst of trials, and the waves of uncertainty soon parted. First, the screaming colors became an infinite black. Then, they found themselves there.
“Where… what is all this?”
“This must be the home she achieved. Interesting.”
A world inside the totem, where all its potential magic rested. This hellish, artificial domain was the one the vampiric sorcerers created, and would call upon to express their spells. As such, it flowed with magical energy- the ground bent as the three stepped across it, always changing around them as if it were alive. It felt like soft, tender flesh, red and smooth to touch- yet wrinkling up in many areas as it creased over itself, creating vast mountain ranges in the distance, that one could somehow see the outlines of despite the total engulfing darkness due to the outlines of many orbs wandering the air like birds.
“𝕀𝕥 𝕕𝕠𝕖𝕤𝕟’𝕥 𝕞𝕒𝕥𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕚𝕥 𝕚𝕤. 𝕁𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕝 𝕞𝕖 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕥𝕠 𝕕𝕠 𝕥𝕠 𝕘𝕖𝕥 𝕞𝕪 𝕤𝕠𝕦𝕝.”
All across the black sky there floated these orbs, spirit-like entities of many shades. They flew without reason, endlessly pursuing something they would never catch, like a dog chasing their own tail.
“Magical samples…” Makara deduced. “But we can’t be sure if any of these are souls at all. We’ll just have to talk to the ruler of the totem.” She called out into the void. “Count Hemagriel! I, Makara Qulgot, have chosen to return! I told you we’d only meet once, but it seems I’m just a liar… Still… please, come speak to us! I have someone you must meet! One very much akin to yourself… who seeks salvation in the same way you did! Please, allow me to see you once more!”
Even though there was no response, all three adventurers felt strongly that someone had heard them.
“Makara… why… did you lie to me?” The darkness responded.
“I try to keep my promises… but at the end of the day, I suppose I’m just a selfish princess. I do hope you’ll forgive me.”
“I want you to leave.”
“I’ll leave immediately if you can help me get a soul from this place. You said that’s what you wanted to do, right? Help others like you?”
“Yes… I did say that… And there are plenty of souls here your friend could take… but they musn’t.”
“Why… why not?” The Doctor burst. “Genesis has worked so hard to become a complete life! You’d dare take that away from my child?”
“No… only but warn against it.”
“Wha- why?” Makara reasoned.
A figure of darkness soon separated itself from the rest of the darkness, perhaps unwillingly. It at first raised high above them, and yet also lowered itself to gaze upon them at the same time, a massive and disgusting thing hanging from nowhere. A thing that was absolutely alive but which never should have been.
“It won’t do anything.” She said.
“Is that…” Doctor Redmond couldn’t help but be amazed. Yes, this was something to be stared at until the eyes bled in wear. It could only have been her. The brokenblood.
A vampire resembles a human. A human with darkened whites of their eyes, and a soft, moist skin capable of absorbing fluids- but nonetheless a human. She was more of a slug than anything else. What should have been limbs had folded into extensions of the torso, which itself was irregularly proportioned to stretch the length of twenty heads. Her head was typical only in silhouette. The details showed such stiff features she could seldom express an emotion, and she had far too many teeth- it hurt whenever she spoke, as they scraped against her throat. She wore nothing, as any clothes made for her would more resemble a bag than anything else, and as if a final insult to her identity from god, any signs of sexual dimorphism had been erased with the folding of fat, flabby flesh over her breasts, genitals, and shape. In her mind, she was well and truly nothing.
“Qulgot. I of course did not expect your return. I didn’t expect anyone to come here, ever.”
“Count Hemagriel… I hope you’re okay, it really is nice to see you-“ Makara was interrupted.
“𝐍𝐎𝐑 𝐃𝐈𝐃 𝐈 𝐖𝐈𝐒𝐇 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌 𝐓𝐎. 𝐈… 𝐀𝐌 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐓 𝐇𝐄𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐋.”
“Listen… what’s going on? Did you not receive a soul? You haven’t acted like this since we first met…”
“𝐈 𝐃𝐈𝐃 𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐄𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐀 𝐒𝐎𝐔𝐋. 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐈𝐍 𝐃𝐎𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐒𝐎, 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐅𝐈𝐍𝐀𝐋𝐋𝐘 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐋𝐈𝐙𝐄𝐃 𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐇𝐀𝐒 𝐁𝐄𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐌𝐄. 𝐈 𝐀𝐌 𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍 𝐒𝐈𝐌𝐏𝐋𝐘 𝐑𝐄𝐏𝐔𝐋𝐒𝐈𝐍𝐆. 𝐈 𝐀𝐌 𝐍𝐎𝐓 “𝐌𝐄.” The creature growled. “I cannot be… “me…” “Count Hemagriel…” “Maldolga…” to say it pains me. To say that name… nothing, no, nothing could hurt more… it is evidence of my existence. I thought I’d erase this feeling… erase that name, my existence… but you 𝐇𝐀𝐃 𝐓𝐎 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐄 𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊. 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐏𝐔𝐓 𝐌𝐄 𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊 𝐔𝐍𝐃𝐄𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐋𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓. 𝐌𝐀𝐃𝐄 𝐌𝐄 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐋 𝐀𝐆𝐀𝐈𝐍. 𝐈 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐖𝐀𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐃 𝐓𝐎 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐈𝐍 𝐒𝐈𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄.”
“You- you have a soul! Whatever pains you, we can fix-“
“𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐃𝐎 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐋𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐄𝐍. 𝐈𝐓 𝐈𝐒 𝐁𝐄𝐂𝐀𝐔𝐒𝐄 𝐈 𝐁𝐄𝐀𝐑 𝐀 𝐒𝐎𝐔𝐋 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐈 𝐍𝐎𝐖 𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐎𝐆𝐍𝐈𝐙𝐄 𝐇𝐎𝐖 𝐇𝐎𝐏𝐄𝐋𝐄𝐒𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐀 𝐁𝐄𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐈 𝐀𝐌. 𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊 𝐖𝐇𝐄𝐍 𝐈 𝐖𝐀𝐒 𝐍𝐎𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆… 𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊 𝐖𝐇𝐄𝐍 𝐈 𝐖𝐀𝐒 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐔𝐓 𝐇𝐎𝐏𝐄… 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐖𝐀𝐒 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐋 𝐌𝐄. 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐋𝐃 𝐆𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐔𝐏. 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐋𝐃 “𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐆𝐄𝐓.” 𝐁𝐔𝐓 𝐍𝐎𝐖… 𝐈’𝐌 𝐓𝐑𝐀𝐏𝐏𝐄𝐃. 𝐀 𝐆𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐓 𝐑𝐈𝐅𝐓 𝐇𝐀𝐒 𝐎𝐏𝐄𝐍𝐄𝐃. 𝐆𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐒𝐄𝐀 𝐈𝐓𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐅… 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐑𝐈𝐅𝐓 𝐁𝐄𝐓𝐖𝐄𝐄𝐍 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐋𝐈𝐓𝐘… 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐕𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐈𝐍 𝐌𝐘 𝐒𝐎𝐔𝐋. 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐑𝐈𝐁𝐋𝐄, 𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐑𝐈𝐁𝐋𝐄 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐕𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐏𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐃 𝐈𝐍𝐒𝐈𝐃𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐌𝐄. 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐄 𝐈 𝐂𝐑𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐀 𝐁𝐄𝐓𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐋𝐈𝐅𝐄, 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐌𝐎𝐑𝐄 𝐏𝐀𝐈𝐍 𝐈 𝐏𝐔𝐓 𝐌𝐘𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐅 𝐈𝐍… 𝐏𝐔𝐑𝐄𝐋𝐘 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐒𝐈𝐍𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐌𝐘 𝐌𝐎𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐒 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐅𝐀𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐒 𝐀𝐂𝐑𝐎𝐒𝐒 𝐓𝐈𝐌𝐄, 𝐈 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐄𝐍 𝐁𝐎𝐑𝐍 𝐒𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐁𝐔𝐈𝐋𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐒𝐔𝐅𝐅𝐄𝐑. 𝐀 𝐌𝐎𝐍𝐔𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐆𝐎𝐃’𝐒 𝐂𝐑𝐔𝐄𝐋𝐓𝐘.”
She ran her hands across her body like it was an object, pulling at it as she displayed it to all of them. A rotting mass of pale flesh, it bore no remnant of the natural state it was likely supposed to reflect.
“𝐁𝐘 𝐂𝐋𝐀𝐈𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀 𝐒𝐎𝐔𝐋… 𝐈 𝐒𝐀𝐖 𝐈𝐓. 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅𝐈𝐑𝐒𝐓 𝐓𝐈𝐌𝐄, 𝐈 𝐅𝐎𝐑𝐌𝐄𝐃 𝐌𝐘 𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐅-𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐄… 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐔𝐓 𝐌𝐈𝐑𝐑𝐎𝐑𝐒, 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐔𝐓 𝐄𝐘𝐄𝐒… 𝐘𝐄𝐓 𝐒𝐓𝐈𝐋𝐋 𝐈𝐓 𝐏𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐄𝐃 𝐌𝐄 𝐓𝐎 𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐈𝐍𝐄. 𝐈’𝐌 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐀 𝐕𝐀𝐌𝐏𝐈𝐑𝐄. 𝐈’𝐌 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐍 𝐌𝐄. 𝐍𝐎𝐑… 𝐖𝐈𝐋𝐋 𝐈 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑 𝐁𝐄.”
“HEMAGRIEL!” Makara ignited. “Pull yourself together… Now that you have a soul- now that you’re finally you, you can-“
“𝐃𝐎𝐍’𝐓 𝐖𝐀𝐍𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐁𝐄 𝐌𝐄… 𝐈 𝐃𝐎𝐍’𝐓 𝐖𝐀𝐍𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐁𝐄 𝐌𝐄… 𝐀𝐍𝐘𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆, 𝐀𝐍𝐘𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐁𝐔𝐓 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓!” The creature shrieked out in pain, crying for a mother she would never know. “𝐈’𝐌 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐌𝐄… 𝐍𝐎, 𝐏𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐒𝐄, 𝐍𝐎!” As her misshapen hands smashed against the fleshy ground, it ran like waves. “I just want… to go back… to forget…”
Genesis looked at this woman with their constructed visual receptors and saw in her an object it had always found great mystery in. “What was this object…?” They wondered, its colorless surface giving way to the world around it, the gold frame holding it a mere decoration to a magical item held in The Doctor’s hand as they saw someone else’s face trapped inside of it. “Myself? But this is not myself.” they thought. “This is… a tool… a tool to see one’s own image.”
In this monster, they saw that image, and despaired. She leapt up and screamed childishly at the three of them.
“𝐒𝐓𝐎𝐏 𝐋𝐎𝐎𝐊𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀𝐓 𝐌𝐄! 𝐈’𝐌 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄… 𝐈 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐄𝐗𝐈𝐒𝐓… 𝐁𝐄𝐂𝐀𝐔𝐒𝐄 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐒𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐔𝐏𝐈𝐃 𝐄𝐘𝐄𝐁𝐀𝐋𝐋𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑𝐒! 𝐈’𝐋𝐋 𝐂𝐔𝐓 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌 𝐎𝐔𝐓… 𝐂𝐔𝐓 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌 𝐎𝐔𝐓, 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐌𝐀𝐊𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌 𝐋𝐎𝐎𝐊 𝐀𝐓 𝐒𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐄𝐋𝐒𝐄!”
“ℕ𝕠… 𝕟𝕠𝕥 𝕟𝕠𝕨… 𝕀 𝕔𝕒𝕟’𝕥 𝕝𝕠𝕤𝕖 𝕞𝕪 𝕔𝕠𝕟𝕧𝕚𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕟𝕠𝕨… 𝕓𝕦𝕥… 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕚𝕗 𝕀… 𝕖𝕟𝕕 𝕦𝕡 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕙𝕖𝕣?”
A hand once again found itself on their shoulder. Then, another.
“Didn’t I always tell you one thing, Genesis? Have a little conviction, will ya? Hold onto it tight. Never let go of that boat of yours.” She said.
“That’s right, kid.” He followed. “You’re one of us now. A bonafide lifeform. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not even yourself.”
“𝕐𝕖𝕤… 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕣𝕚𝕘𝕙𝕥.”
They tried to place their feet firmly on the strange ground, despite its inconsistency. They then raised their hands… the one given to them, as well as the one they forged all on their lonesome… as they stared up at this girl, straight into her. Through her, right down to her soul. A soul, just like the one they’d soon have.
No matter what.