Last night, you crept into my thoughts again. I tried to drown your memory, but like you, my memories are annoyingly resilient. Whether my eyes were open or shut, all I could see was you, smiling the way you always did. I'm pissed because I can't get pissed at you. I can't shout you down for the way you smiled at damn near everything, even when -- especially when -- you shouldn't have been smiling.
I tried to sleep. I'm not sure if I ever did. I felt paralyzed. I felt my heart beat a million beats a second, and felt my forehead bead with sweat. I couldn't breathe. It was like losing you again. I wanted to forget, and yet, I wanted to hold onto those memories more than anything. I don't know if I had--if I'm having--an epiphany, or a crisis. Probably something in between.
For a really, really short time, I fooled myself into believing I could lead a different, new life. A normal one. I resisted at first, but when you're knee-deep in bullshit for months, you might lose your sense of smell. This isn't my world. These aren't my people. My world is a nightmare... moreso without you.
Have you ever woken up from a nightmare, and forced yourself to go straight back to sleep so you can at least see how it ends? That's what I'm doing. If I don't, the nightmare doesn't end. It just stays the way I left it, suspended in time, without resolution. I know the conclusion is probably one where I die, and I'm okay with that.
If I'm being honest, I think I've been trying to tell myself I wouldn't leave anyone behind anyway, but I know that's not true. Tempi survived the ambush, and he's heading up the Dusties. I owe him my life, but that's not a debt he wanted to let me pay. Truthfully, I'm pissed at him, just as much as I love him. I was going to avenge you, but Nui had other plans for me, I guess. Then, so did Tempi. He sent me off to Devigard.
You would have loved Haranya. Everyone seems so fucking happy, and carefree. Like you. Even when there's some darkness lurking outside the door, everyone carries their own fucking light around. Like you. You should have been the one to make it, not me.
I'm supposed to feel grateful, but I feel like I don't belong here. There are people I like, but I'm probably no more than a cliffnote in their busy lives. I felt like I was getting somewhere, but I wasn't seeing straight. It took a wake up call for me to realize these people are just humoring me. I'm a fucking idiot, Ari. It's humiliating, having the illusion shattered and standing among the shattered pieces like a fool. I lost sight of my priorities. It was weirdly blissful, while it lasted though. Remembering is agony...
So, yeah, I leave Tempi behind--a Half who is the closest thing to a brother I can imagine in the upside-down world we all came from. I leave behind some of the other people I believed I was forging something with, too. Jinreo, the chameleon of a guild leader who is a massive big-hearted fucking nerd, and merciless, cold-blooded killer. Angry, a strong, matronly Warborn who actually saw her vengeance through. Samaela, an icy-eyed Elf witch who I probably have more in common with than either of us wants to admit. Lysander, this awkward soft-spoken Elf who's probably still a baby by his people's standards, but with a razor intuition probably as sharp as yours was--the only person I've really talked to about you. Kora, a spitfire Harani who doesn't put up with anyone's shit--not even mine. Gale, a Harani with a fucked up past like so many Sallium, stuck in that same sort of psychological fog as Rain and countless others we knew who can't fathom freedom. Eujene--some young Half with Devigard who I'd bet in ten years ends up coming out of his shell. Shesmetet, a Cat who helped me feel normal for a while, before serving up this reality check, ice-cold.
Oh yeah, can't forget the countless Warborn women, who probably looked at me like some Harani, definitely humoring me out of habit, all who promptly vanished. Ari, were you pretending with me for some reason too?
All I know is that I need to go away. I've always been too chickenshit to self-redeem, but it's not off the table. I'll figure it out after one last task. I think I know of a grove where Slave Tears grow, if it comes to it. My final mission is to make good on all of that talk I kept you up with, late, late at night. Talk of Rain. She's gotta be sixteen or seventeen now, if they didn't kill her. I never went back for my sister, after I cut off my brand. I left her behind, and of anyone I can feel some remorse over abandoning, she's the one who needs help the most. I'm going to find the conclusion to this nightmare, good or bad, and if it doesn't happen during, I'll wake up when I'm done.