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Just trying to make you feel what Im feeling this time // Electra, cont. {tm}
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WARNINGS FOR DEATH THEMES AND AMNESIA

Jack
And I will keep your warm, if you keep me grounded


She vanishes and he feels it like a second death blow.

He staggers to his feet, lungs heaving with the need to draw in air that his body no longer requires. He stares at the spot where she stood, beautiful and terrible in her anger with him, but no matter how many times he blinks, she does not return. The sudden absence of her glow leaves his vision somehow more colorless than before. And though its only in his head, his imagination is convincing when it tells him its too cold here now. He is once again, alone.

Not for long.

Jack clenches his fists and strides off from the riverbank. If magic is real, hes determined to learn everything about it he can. He cant be the only soul in this godforsaken place, he cant be the only know to know of its existence. While he may not remember any details from his previous life, someone here surely must. He will not stop until he finds answers.

He will not stop until he finds a way to see her again.

*****

Time is a construct only to comfort the disorganization of death. It is as liquid and loose as the river and as impossible to control. There are no hourglasses here. There are no sunsets. If he was to guess, Jack would say it was a week before he found the first notion of a town.

There, he find the first piece of paper he can get his hands on and sketches out Electras likeness. It takes more than a handful of edits before hes satisfied enough that the portrait accurately resembles the woman. Every so often, he takes it from his pocket and unfolds it greedily, desperate to see if he remembers. Each time she comes back to him in an overwhelming flood of beacon-bright gold, brilliant and shining and the only reprieve from the grey. Jack sends a grateful prayer to any god who might be listening.

Its another three days before hes directed to a shabby excuse of a library where the accounts of the recently deceased are kept. He gets to work. He learns not all souls lose their memory, at least not at first. He learns souls can die a second death. He learns one soul remembers Electras name and hes giddy to have found a small, however insignificant, connection. Most importantly, he learns he too, has magic. He is not strong enough to command it. He passes out many times in his attempts, regardless.

In a month, hes read through every death account scroll, and he throws the last one across the room with a frustrated howl.

A corpse who has chosen to work in the library takes pity on him, and leads him to a vault where several hundred scrolls depicting encounters between the living and dead are hidden. These documents are forbidden to the common public, Jack is told. To linger between the realms is to linger in the past, which is discouraged for a dead soul. It is impossible for the dead to return, and so crossings require powerful magic that is hard to acquire. Communication with benders is a job for Lieutenants only, and they train for years and years to handle the strain of such magic.

He learns about Lieutenants of Death that day and he does not forget.

****

He finishes the final scroll in the vault in another week. Electras name is there again, but this time it makes him uneasy and he is quick to bury it in the pile and leave it.

He decides to start taking first hand accounts of dead souls who newly arrive in the realm.

They take to calling him The Death Scribe.

****

Its another three months before Jack records enough accounts to get a handle on mediumship and all the ways it could affect individual fairies. He learns there are places where the veil between the realms thin and stretch. In theory it should be easier for the magic to seep through and hook onto the opposite side. He does not discover the reason why Electra can see him as if shes peering into the Realm of the Dead. It has never been recorded in any of the accounts hes found thus far. Most connections between ghost and medium are audible or through dreams, wisps of forms and feelings attached to abstract figures of once-living beings. There is an overlapping pattern of light and water being conduits for the energy the magic requires, but no one has admitted to being able to tangibly see a living fairy. Beyond the Reaper herself.

He does not know what to make of this puzzle. He just knows hes thankful it exists. He pulls the drawing from his pocket and gives it a once over. Just to make sure it was real.

Hes beginning to question if it was.

****

A new stash of scrolls if found, discarded in a room of the Angel Academy as unnecessary rubbish. Jack catalogues them all in the newly deemed Hall of Memory and learns what he can from them. Its very little. Except one that has Electras name scratched repeatedly into it, the ink colorless but tacky-flaky like blood. Her name has been crossed through violently each time. Jack starts to tear it to pieces, but thinks better of it and tucks it away in a drawer in his office instead of filing it with the rest of the scrolls. When it starts to make him queasy with prolonged exposure, he locks it in a hexbox and orders it to pipe down.

****

He learns that magic is a construct to the dead much like time. It has to be retaught and the rules of using it that applied when he was alive are no longer valid or relevant. But he also learns, if he focuses until his nose bleeds, he can refract light enough to pop the iridescent thin places at the veil between realms and hover as a phantom presence, a heat mirage, for just a little while.

It takes everything out of him and they find him unconscious and pale more than once as he attempts to master the act.

****

At the six month anniversary of their initial meeting, Jack sees her in mirage form. Shes staring at a cup of tea, and he tries to intensify the glint of light off the swirls of steam. But hes too weak to pull that off in addition to holding his form, and he disappears with the last of the steam as the beverage cools, her name on his lips.

****

He attempts to work the shadows as well, finding the holes in light to shape it around the dark to form three dimensional configurations. At this, he is slightly more successful. He has to train his mind to think of it as painting onto a black canvas. After three months, he can craft a respectable imprint of himself with light.

****

He sees her again in the courtyard. The moons reflection turns the fountain aglow and he situations himself within the bubbling water, hoping she might sense him and tap a connection through. She does not see him, thought she appears to be searching. He later chalks it up to wishful thinking. He will just have to try harder.

****

He bares down, gritting his teeth in focus and pours fill into the blurred outline of his form. With the saffron light of the candle, he strains to paint himself into existence. Feathery brush strokes to brush silvery highlight along his forearms and chin and the spots of his eyes are countered with broad strokes to illuminate the sheen of his hair, the tapering in of his waist below broad shoulders. Like misplaced graffiti, he uses every ounce of power he possesses to stamp himself onto the canvas of her wall. And even then, its a fragile and gossamer-thin apparition, dancing in and out of focus with the ebb and wane of the candlelight. He trembles from the effort, unable to compensate for the magic fatigue. Its slipping from him and the grey fights brutishly to swallow him back down.

But by some miraculous fortune, its then that the familiar tendrils of her own mediumship spike the hairs on his body, reforging their connection and Jacks sigh of relief is visible. His shoulders slump as he surrenders gladly to her superior power, allowing it to seek and tether him in place.

I feared you were a dream. The admission is quiet, sheepish. Instinctually he goes to reach for her, hands outstretched to invite her in to him, but then he remembers her reaction last time and withdraws. He ducks his head in apology and waits instead for her to take the first step forward. You are so much lovelier than I remember, he murmurs, caught off guard by the shine of her bronzed skin and the movement of her nightgown like angel wings trailing behind her. For a moment, he bemoans how faulty the camera in his head is. He has drastically undermined the downward slant of her eyes, the aquiline curve of her nose. He vows to remedy his error immediately upon his return to the Hall.

Yes, I know, he reassures her, hand raised to soothe her worry and stem the rush of enthusiasm. He cannot help the bashful smile from taking hold as he hears the tint of desperation to help him, for him in her words. I found them, my lady.

They have helped me regain a sense of purpose. I help others remember now. I dont remember what green means, no. That has not returned. But I remember you, he sighs, lovingly.

And thats why Im here. His face tightens suddenly, mouth going grim. Im not the only one. I think there is a soul here that means you harm. I regret I have been unable to find out who that may be, but the messages are tainted with powerful death magic and they are centered only around you.

He shifts minutely closer, torn between the urge to move as close as he can and to respect her space. Hes not sure how long their connection will last this time and his protective streak is screaming to keep it open just long enough to pass along the warning and not a minute more. He does not want her exposed to this realm any longer than necessary.

Do you know of anyone who has passed that might bear you ill will?


We will never burn the light out
Luke Stackpoole


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