Divergent Paths

There are some things better left unanswered don’t you think? The things we could have been, the things that can never be, the truth that our most feared mistakes are correct. And more importantly, where does one go with that knowledge afterwards? To feel such deep regret but no longer the agony of the unknown. I’m unsure which is the lesser evil… …

I step onto the blue glyph grasping the book so he can read it. “Ibatoran Hahm Put Halo Tahom Sois Oran de Ibat Fulos Kei Sei Fulos ibi Aran,” he shouted within the church.

-What sort of trust fall is this Kirsa? Who leaves their body vulnerable in Stragosa like this? Do you seriously believe Adrian isn’t going to leave you if shit starts rolling down hill in this room?-

The dark blue light darkens inward from my peripheral and I can feel my muscles give way under my weight. For the briefest of moments there is nothing just inky blackness and then I see her. My life progresses before my eyes just as I remember in such accuracy that this can not be some trick of the mind but reality replayed before me.

I leave my home at a young age to take up the blacksmith trade for my family and I sense my motivations are the same, to better our lives in the only way I can. As I watch myself grow older I wonder maybe if this spell has been cast wrong. That this version of me is simply going to be the same and the differences will be too minimal for me to see.

That is until she waivers in her conviction to become a knight. This Kirsa upon entry to the Black Guard lays down her spear and resigns. These people, the person I am, are too much for her. She recognizes them in a way I had pushed down and ignored in the same moment. That their monstrous nature would eventually consume her and their toxicity is not something she wishes to join.

My heart races and my chest tightens, terrified of seeing what comes next. The nights are nearly endless that I have laid awake thinking of what my life would be like if I had made this choice. That the worst decision of my life was becoming a knight to House Baines. That I should have said no knowing what these people were. It is too late and I am forced to see what truth surely comes next.

She rises within Blackforge as a blacksmith in a way that I am proud of. The path was not without its own injustices and trials but I am unsurprised of her ability as the sin of vanity pangs within us both. And I watch those injustices befall her, I feel the rage within her and a helplessness that strikes me too deeply. I pity her for I, in my life do not have to let people treat me in such a way.

Her injustices are championed by a knight named Thomas and I watch her fall in love with his kindness and support over time. My fondness for him is not in the way one might think. I recognize that Kirsa saw good in someone of the Black Guard enough to love them meaning, just maybe, there was a chance that I am the kind of knight he was. The weight of regret forces itself down upon me as he asks her to marry him. Her refusal that she will never marry resonates with me but he continues to ask her every year until it is simply a renewal of their dedication to one another.

I want out of this nightmare now, as my sole justification for my path is ripped from me. That I would find someone so capable of loving me that wasn’t Ulric. That this feeling of happiness still awaited me if I had just made one different decision.

Together she spends her time helping the children around her further their lives by teaching them. Protecting them in the ways she can. Their love for her obvious and her kindness unending.

Until everything stops. I can sense her there before me waiting but I don’t know what to ask her. Too shaken by what I have seen of her life.

There is a flaw with this spell, she has no concept of the life I live. I can not ask her what she thinks of me. So I am forced to ask her opinions on the things we both know trying to piece together the type of person she would want someone like me to be.

My eyes open and stare upward at the church ceiling and the tears my consciousness could not produce manifest now. Kaykavoos’s voice echoes out to me asking if I am okay and in that moment I hate him. The hubris a man has to inflict something he fears on someone else under the guise of betterment.

Adrian stands beside me in the cold and I do not have the humility to reach out to him. To press my tear soaked face into his gambeson and let out all of my regrets. Instead I slowly stifle them explaining what has happened, how I can not change my life now to be this person I yearn for. My hatred fades and my attempts at understanding how this new found truth will shape me begins.

I now know that I was not entirely broken by my experiences as a human but rather shared core beliefs with this other self. As I saw her distance herself from the people she loved, her strong beliefs in what was right and wrong, her vanity even. I knew we were the same person. While I had committed the atrocities she was unwilling to I gained the strength to help others. She had found a way to humbly help those she could. And while maybe both of these paths are valid… I just wish I had chosen differently.

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