One More Step Chapter 2
Blue carefully tread the melted rock and piping of the tunnel floor.
The light he had previously seen had neither diminished nor intensified. He began to wonder if all the magic had not been drained from the region as he previously assumed. After the vortex and the violent magnetic and psychic upheaval, it was almost unthinkable that any of the uncommon energy could remain in the molested land of his heritage.
Blue halted a moment. That posed an interesting question: If magic still existed and the land wasn't rendered obsolete, then would he be obligated to revive it? If it had lost all of it's luster then surely the point would be moot; but what if the legacy of the gift still ran deep and thick as blood under the kingdom's very ground-flesh? How could he bring himself to reincarnate the dogma of the past, drag up all those old deceptions and facades.
Blue made a decision then.
He placed his hands tentatively against the wall in an attempt to steady himself as the rock was quickly becoming craggy.
I will not make again that terrible serpent they called the magic kingdom.
A shudder passed through him as the veneration of tradition and magic carefully instilled within him flaked away. He had been living for them all along. He had to do something with his life now that he had it. But what?
The boy ponderously stared at Blue for a moment before posing the query he had ran through so many times in his mind in preparation for this moment.
"Are you Blue?"
By this time Blue had regained his composure and managed to look calm and utterly without reproach. This look was one that had taken quite awhile to cultivate, hours in front of the mirror, mastering his own facial expressions.
"Yes," He said, in stifled wonder.
The boy sighed with happiness and his face transformed into an open and beaming visage of pleasure. He lunged at Blue and wrapped his arms easily around his neck.
Blue, who had been tensed and half-expecting a battle to ensue, stood rigid and wide eyed. His heart beat wildly, despite his efforts to control it. And the boy wasn't letting go. Beyond all reason, Blue felt his own arms moving to hold the person in his arms.
He sensed no imbalance in this boy's mind. He obviously wasn't insane. Blue's mind raced to determine how this scenario had come about. As he thought about this, the boy disengaged. He had been closing his eyes.
"It's been awhile "
Blue's eyes widened with sudden recognition. He sucked in a breath, his limbs tingling, his heart ready to burst.
"Seth," he spoke nearly below his own hearing range.
The boy nodded eagerly, his tongue slightly visible between his teeth as smiled.
Blue's own tongue was running across the perfect surface of his incisors, bicuspids, canines. It seemed it was unsure of what to do, a nomad in his mouth, clumsy and foolish.
No doubt it is eager to chant a spell of some sort because I have worked myself up so. It had happened before, and was prone to occur when young magicians in training became excited. It made him feel ashamed by his own lack of experience; though was the only time he had experienced quite a longing to use whatever spell his mouth wanted to cast. Steeling himself against the incantations humming through his veins, he motioned for Seth to sit. When he did, Blue put a hand up, one finger extended to the ceiling and moved to the anterior of the room.
Looking out the door cautiously in both directions and concentrating to seek out any nearby unexpected guests, he was relieved to find no one. He locked the door and turned to Seth.
A low rush of water was slowly but surely becoming audible. At first Blue thought it was merely his ears perceiving the minute changes on a spectral level, or worse, he was going mad, after all.
If that was the case, the irony wouldn't be lost on him. Having killed, in effect, himself, realizing his life as the sham it was, lacking purpose and reason, a paradox, and finally, traveling into Hell itself to save the Kingdom that had betrayed his trust from daemons with the countenance of the sweetest angels. All this, and it would be a never-ending tunnel that did him in.
But no, it was ground water of some sort, or, at the risk of optimism, surface water.
He suddenly came to an epiphany. Why has it been the Magic Kingdom to possess magic all this time? Why wouldn't any other have it to bestow upon its inhabitants?
Because not every other kingdom is linked to Hell.
Suddenly, with dreadful clarity, he understood. With this new understanding of his kingdom he became grim with certainty.
Defeat the Kylin, and you are the Lord of space, defeat the Time Lord, you are Lord of time. Defeat the Hell's Lord
Blue stopped in his tracks, pink lips parted, face dissolving into despair. Of course the magic in the land had not faded. It's progenitor still lived. As long as the legacy continued, as long as magician kept slaying magician and inheriting his powers, the Magic Kingdom would still live in the glow of its eternal power... or curse. It was not just luck that had instilled the gift in its sons. Oh how cruelly deceived Blue's ancestor's had been! It had been the Lord of Hell's plan all along, a gift for a hidden but treacherous price to pay. Soon enough, within a few centuries perhaps, the Patriarchs of the Magic Kingdom had discovered its plight and devised a plan to sate the demonic retribution destined to come. They needed a scapegoat. They needed someone who embodied all the things that the demons needed to quench their thirst. To appease the powers that be... they would grant them the finest of their sons. The theory was contrived, at best, but what if it were the case? Was he merely taking incidental facts and making a theory like a quilt? Perhaps. But if not
What had happened to destroy their plan? Were the demons not pleased by this offering? Were they aware of this?
For the first time in perhaps all of his life, Blue longed for what he could not possibly have. Answers. Absolution.
Blue became aware of the silence in the tunnel. The stillness. Still because he only wanted it so.
Seth was smiling up at him. What does he expect?
There was something that stirred in Blue, unnerving as it was un-identifiable. Just a moment ago, he was musing on how he and Seth shared more than anyone, even in their incongruencies. Although both understood they lived separated by a thin veil of formality, they also knew that the scrambling masses searching for immortality and prestige were chasing after an illusion and by doing so were becoming shadows themselves. Somehow to Blue and Seth it seemed more and more that they were the only real beings.
Now Blue was seeing a stranger. It had been eight years since they had last spoken each other's name. In that time an infinite amount of change had most likely occurred in them. How could they have anything in common? With a wistful certainty, Blue measured the difference in apathy and knowledge. Those were the only measurements he could go by. Physically, of course, they had both changed dramatically since the times when they were the same height and little differed the children to the headmasters but hair color and deftness. Shoulders wider, hips slimmer, muscular growth defying what little manual labour Blue had to perform. However, to Blue, who looked on his reflection every day with increasing dis-interest, none of things appealed. He had buried himself in study to avoid the depth of the emptiness that his new existence caused.
It was nice to exercise one's mind, and surely it wasn't the excessive assignments and training that bothered him. No. He was more abhorring of the hypocrisy of the Magic Kingdom. In a classic example of channeling his energies, Blue put all his feelings or disgust into his work and disregarded all else.
Now, finally, when his past did come back, it seemed too late; he was too deeply entangled with his compensative habits to ever return to the happy child he once was, long before the academy had defiled him with their corrupting lessons, making him a shadow as vacuous as anyone ever was who held glory a distant and unrequited love. How could he ever make his friend understand?
Seth was the same person as he ever had been, older, and most surely sharper and stronger, but he was not darkened or tarnished by the time that had past. Even now, he was smiling at Blue as if nothing was the matter. He doesn't even see it, Blue could have cried, though the tears that he had once had had long ago frozen in his throbbing ice box of a heart. He doesn't see it in my eyes, what they have made me.
Seth's eyebrows knit.
"Should I not have come? I can go. I suppose it was silly of me to think you wouldn't be busy, so "
Blue had surprised himself with his words. They had come amidst his torrent of thoughts and spilled out of him with equal passion. This was highly uncharacteristic. If any one of the professors at the academy could see him now
Seth stood. A bird sung outside, but neither boys turned to it.
"So much has happened, Blue. So much. I wanted to see you. I heard about how well you were doing, and I finished all my studies I have to leave the Magic Kingdom I couldn't go without seeing you one last time."
The shorter and more slender of the boys once more assumed his position of holding Blue, who then realized that nothing had changed in the circumstances of their lives. They were once more the two separated a thin, detestable veil, and destined to be torn from one another. But no more. It wouldn't happen again, Blue swore in sudden defiance of all the Magic Kingdom had instilled in him. No magician is better than this boy, this boy who has no magic. He may not possess anything that this academy could use, but he lives more fully and allows his emotions to clear the path of his life. He does as pleases, not as he is obligated.
And why should he be obligated? He has nothing anyone wants here.
Seth moved his head down until he could hear Blue's heart through the layers of clothing in soft and delicate colours. It was this moment of unadulterated instinct that touched Blue. At once he cast away his barriers and ran a shaking hand up the hollow of Seth's spine until it met the tips of his long hair, let down without any styling. Blue's heart was beating wildly, though his lips stayed closed and his face showed nothing. The only action that might have revealed his intent was his fingertips tenderly running down the back of the young man in his arms.
As the bell tolled to begin the next class, Blue allowed himself a moment without his fortuitous walls. He acquiesced to the pounding of his heart and blood and the warmth that had permeated his entire body, turning his vision misty with light. Blue's lips moved down to Seth's and he experienced an unfamiliar throb of desire. This was not magic. This was something so much more pure
He made love to Seth. It was the only thing he never regretted in his life.