#1463

I can’t save the world. I can’t change society. I’m only one person, after all. I can improve the lives of maybe one hundred people on some miniscule level. Twenty-five significantly, in all the years I live. But one life, your life, I can change completely and forever. I can wake you from your nightmares. I can tell you you’re beautiful, even if you’ll never believe me, because you’ll still know I believe it. I can give you a cottage by the ocean or a farmhouse surrounded by fields surrounded by forest, and dogs to run in that forest, and vegetables to grow in those fields. I can show you a happiness you never thought possible for yourself and in that way I will change the entire world for you, and that will be a legacy worth leaving.

#1462

She says to write about myself but I don’t know how. If I try to look too deep all I see are the individual pieces I’ve gathered like a crow building its nest; scraps of sound, shards of sight, pieces of texture and taste and temptation. I lose my sense of self to the mosaic until I forget if I’m a girl or just sea salt and fog and candleflicker in dark windows. When I turn within myself and ask “who am I?” no voice answers. All I hear is the susurration of the ocean and the wind through pine boughs. When I turn within myself and ask “what am I?” all I feel is the heartbeat of mountains and the stars revolving overhead.

#1459

Some days I don’t want to be beautiful. Some days I want to be a monster, frightening and furious. I want to cover myself in armor and spikes, hide every bit of pink human flesh beneath ink and metal, grow claws and fangs and horns. I want to dye myself colors that warn poison! poison! so no one comes near. I want to be too strange, too foreign, too dangerous. Too different. Not beautiful. Not dependable. Not the good girl. Just wild.

(But on some nights, every night, I want to strip all that armor off and crawl naked into your arms. Be small and weak and unadorned; just a girl, neither good nor bad. Even on the days when I want to be a monster, I want to be only myself with you.)

#1458

If you must go away, at least leave me a trail to follow for the day my heart grows too restless to restrain; breadcrumbs, blood, tears, bullet shells, shards of glass or pieces of the moon, it doesn’t matter what; I’ll know what you have touched, so just leave me something and I will follow the day I can no longer bear to stay behind.

#1448

If my mind is a house with countless doors down endless hallways, and those doors have always been closed and locked, or maybe just closed and waiting to be nudged open, then now it’s as if every door in every hallway on every floor stands wide. I shrink from these open doorways, fearing what I will see if I creep around their corners; empty drawers, bare windows, layers of undisturbed dust on every surface. My footsteps would echo on hard floors and blank walls with no signs of life to dampen the sound of my passing. At least when the doors were shut I might peep through the keyholes or press my ear to the wood, gleaning in fragments the mysterious lives within. At least when the doors were shut I could wonder at what their locks protected from intrusion – or barred from escape. But open wide like this they hold no wonder and I am only too aware of the vacancies, the silences all around. If my mind is a house with countless doors down endless hallways, then whomever lived in these rooms is gone, vanished, removed.

#1447

[ My arch nemesis asked me to imagine what Mage's boss forms would be if the story were envisioned as a video game. Here's what I came up with! ]

1 – The Wanderer: A figure clad all in black, the hood of her cloak always drawn up to hide her face. Long black hair streams from the hood. No bladed weapons or jewelry save for a single silver ring on one finger. Carries a wooden staff topped with a clear crystal crescent moon. Solely uses far-range magic attacks, combo elemental spells involving wind, earth, ice, and lightning. Battle takes place in a frozen wasteland.

2 – Darkelvenmage: The Wanderer unhooded. Same outfit, though now you can see her face. Still solely magic-based, though the attacks are both long-range and close-range. Uses speed to close quickly and then back away, much like a game of cat and mouse. Circles patiently until an opportunity presents itself. Battle takes place in a fae forest which responds to her spells.

3 – Mage: The first incarnation with hair shorn at the chin. No cloak now, and her dress is more casual; black pants and corset, bare arms and neck decorated with silver jewelry. She uses a combination of magic and blade attacks, which have become more playful and impulsive. Battle takes place on a Sanctuary Island training ground. Is the battle serious, or just practice? Are the combatants friends or enemies? Hard to tell.

4 – The Dark Lady: Captain Mage; she wears a tattered black captain’s coat instead of the cloak, and carries a long rapier on her belt. Her ears, neck, and arms are covered in silver jewelry and charms. Some light body armor. Battle takes place on the deck of the Jolly Roger, which bucks in perpetual storm and over which waves frequently crash. Uses spells to summon monsters from the deep, as well as to increase the severity of the storm and control the thrashing of the ship to her advantage. Closes in with the rapier or hidden blade for final blows.

[ The name is a reference to the song The Dark Lady. ]

5 – The Trickster: Beast form. Mage assumes the form of a giant fox-like creature reminiscent of the kitsune, lithe and many tailed. Uses speed and agility attacks, as well as dealing damage with teeth and claws. Moves in shadows to hide her location, darting out to attack. Can also send out shadow forms as distractions. Battle takes place in the dream world, where nothing is as it seems.

6 – Shatterpan: The Mage we know best. Her outfit carries over from The Dark Lady, though now she wears a ragged cloak instead of the coat and more body armor. Uses the Hook to call down lightning and also as a close-range physical weapon for slashing/stabbing techniques. Also does double attacks using the Hook and another bladed weapon (either sword, dagger, or stiletto). Can call down darkness to partially veil the battlefield. Battle takes place on the shores of Sanctuary Island, pre breaking of the light.

7 – The Exile Queen: Final form. The original cloak and hood are back, veiling her features completely; it looks as if she is made of the shroud and nothing more. The cloak is made out of shadowstuff, which ripples and extends unnaturally across the battlefield, causing mild damage if touched. Uses control over the moon and stars to completely black out the playing field, attacking in the darkness with razor sharp claws (once the Hook) and magic. Battle takes place in the ruins of the Sanctuary lighthouse.

Mini Boss 1 – Tanim: Uses a single handgun. Main attributes are strength and firepower. Possible final form as The Sun.

Mini Boss 2 – Daren: Uses only bladed weapons, favoring small hidden blades. Main attributes are speed and agility. Possible final form as The Moon, or The Angel of Death.

Bonus Battlefield: The Starship Jolly Roger.