The Memory From The Days Of Team Eclipse
He descends the steps leading to the pool, wearing nothing but a simmering white robe. Bruises and blood painted his skin; air slipped between the new blank space in his upper jaw. Once, his hair had been neatly combed and parted- now, it was a haphazard cut with tufts of hair clinging to a bald head. As he took off the white robe, his bloodstained hands- one of which was still bleeding- tarnished the fabric.
The battle here had been half the journey.
He held his tongue as the crystal-clear water hit his sore ankles, and the open wounds on them. As he continued going deeper, walking to the middle of the pool, a voice boomed around him.
AXEL, YOU HAVE BEEN STRIPPED BARE OF ALL THAT YOU ARE. YOU WEAR NOTHING BUT WHAT WE PERMIT YOU TO. DO YOU WISH TO FACE WHAT LIES AHEAD OF YOU IN THE DEPTHS? DO YOU WISH TO RISK YOUR VERY SOUL IN SEARCH OF WHAT YOU ARE?
The bare, lifeless chamber around him held its breath. Lanterns attached to the sides of the circular room blew out. Iron doors slammed shut, and the only window was covered with a thick cloth. It was as if the world went hush in anticipation.
Axel did not hesitate to answer. His brown eyes closed, he raised his head to the skyless ceiling and took a deep breath. In that breath, he let go of his choice.
The waves yanked him under without a moment’s thought.
Down he goes into darkness without end. Down. Down.
There’s a light- it’s coming from him. As Axel lifts a hand, wondering what this light is, he sees a symbol: a circle with twelve points sprouting from its black center. A moon is eclipsing a sun. The light spreads over his body. The moon expands, soon taking over his entire arm. Soon, the light is blinding.
Axel lands in a heap on top of a thick bush. Decorating this bush are daisies, roses, and sunflowers. A crowd roars as the bush beside him- decorated with thorns and blackberries- is toppled upon by a slender, pale figure. In unison, Axel and the figure stand up. Axel looks at the palm of his hand. The sun has reappeared from behind the clouds. Axel looks to his body. He’s dressed in a pale-yellow tunic and brown pants. They dressed the figure in a white dress that flares out from the bottom, tiny black dots decorating the hem. All their wounds- presuming she had any before- are gone. The figure waves at him, and Axel’s jaw drops. Is that? How is she here?
He says nothing, for it is not his place to question the ceremony.
The mayor of Ormanton stands above their pedestals and gestures to the enormous crowd. “Our patrons have crowned the sacred two! Team Eclipse will fight in Ormanton’s name.”
The cheers expand, becoming louder and louder until-
A bell rings.
I’m gasping. I shoot upright in a dark room and fumbled around until I feel the pack of matches and the oil lamp. After lighting it, I lift it up and glance towards the clock on the far wall. Its gears tick as the minute hand moves forward. It’s after midnight. I haven’t had that dream in years. Centuries. When I descended into that pool, I made my choice. So did Aurora. I don’t regret it. Still…
On the wall above my bed is a poster of Aurora and me. We stand back-to-back, sliding into The Void, our bodies shining with two different color lights, one yellow, the other white. On my half of the poster, a sun shines. On her side, a full moon and a sky of stars. Night and Day- Team Eclipse.
The old days were good.
No- they were great. When they ended, when all was said and done, the world was safe and the day was bright, we went our separate ways. Aurora went back to her home on the east coast, and I found myself back north.
As I set the lantern down to crawl back in bed, a crinkling sound disturbs the otherwise quiet room. On instinct, I jump and snatch the lantern so I can cast its light towards the disturbance. Just the wind from the open window.
Just the wind and a few old memories.