A Conversation About Being
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"Time is a terrible thing to waste. Do you plan to wait there all night?"

She froze, holding her breath while remaining completely motionless.

"I know you're there."

She had lost the element of surprise, but just because he knew she was there didn't mean he knew exactly wh-

"The rock shaped roughly like a pyramid, the one closest to the edge of the cliff. You're crouched behind it and trying to watch me indirectly by looking up at shifts in the reflections on the roof of the cave."

"If I wanted to fight you I wouldn't be talking to you like this and I definitely wouldn't be making dinner as I did it. So are you gonna come out here or not?"

Damn. Well since he knew where she was…

"If you're not looking to fight, why do you want me to come over there?"

"Because I'm not gonna serve food to someone hiding behind a rock? Also it's much more comfortable to sit over here."

"Do you really expect me to believe you're willing to share a meal with someone sent to kill you?"

"No, I don't expect you to believe it. But it's still true, regardless of what you think."

"Oh please. Were you willing to have a friendly chat with all of the other psychopomps sent after you?"

"Yes actually. Of course most of them never gave me a chance to offer, and the ones who did never took me up on it. But I really would prefer to simply talk."

"About what?"

"Do they still call me a heretic? Or have they started calling me something else?"

"… The Divine only refer to you as 'the enemy'"

"Oooh, the 'Enemy' eh? I actually like the sound of- wait, am I just an enemy to them? or am I the Enemy?"

"You aren't often discussed."

"Ah. I would hope that means they're finally forgetting about me, but considering you're here, I suppose that is too much to hope for."

She emerged from her hiding spot, and slowly approached the figure sitting beside the small lantern. The description she had been given was accurate: tall, old grey cloak, hooded with a featureless mask. The mask seemed to be composed of some sort of dark stone, and…

"How did you see me?"

"With my eyes of course."

"What? No, how can you see while wearing that mask? It has no gaps for your eyes to see through."

The figure bowed their head forward, and their face was obscured by their hood. A hand reached beneath the hood, and came away with the mask. The inside of the mask was turned towards her and-

"Wait, where did it go?"

"My mask? Its right here."

The figure turned their hand back forth, illustrating that the mask was not disappearing but was in fact transparent, yet only from the inside. With that established, the figure donned their mask once more.

"You said I'm not often mentioned?"

"You're not often discussed. The Divine only speak of you to prepare warriors like myself, and hearing them speak of your betrayal is more than enough."

"My 'Betrayal' hmm? And what, according to your masters, was my betrayal?"

"Oh spare me. You know exactly what-"

"Put it in your own words."

"You resisted the course of nature itself. You rejected the holy cycle! You spat in the face of the Divine who uphold all creation! Your eternal soul was offered salvation everlasting, and you chose damnation."

"So choosing to continue existing is damnation? No wonder the psychopomps they send are so deranged, if that is the dreck they are feeding you."

"How dare you-"

"I don't want to die."


"That's what they tell you isn't it? That I was afraid to die, and even though they offered me a chance to be 'reborn' I selfishly chose to continue living?"

"Yes, but-"

"It's true. I don't want to die. But I don't fear dying. What I fear is oblivion. I do not resist growth or change, in fact I relish the freshness of new experiences. But I refuse to willingly embrace the void. I refuse to become nothing."

"But you don't become nothing! If you know that your soul goes on, why do you-"

"NO! You don't simply 'go on,' you reincarnate. Rebirth, renewal. Reset."

"I… I don't follow."

"What is it about your soul that makes it yours? Is it a special color? Is it shaped to look like you somehow? No. Your soul is like any other: radiant, sublime, ephemeral, mercurial, and fragile. But above all else, it is malleable. Who you are, your identity, it is carved onto the face of your soul by memory. The decisions you have made, the things you have experienced, the concepts that you believe in. It is not merely the soul itself that forms your self, but the landscape of memories that have been constructed on top of your soul too. If you strip that away, if you wipe your memory clean in the fires of rebirth, YOU cease to exist. Your soul will go on, but YOU will be negated."

" … "

"That was my grand 'betrayal'. I refused to sacrifice my identity so that the gods could fashion me a new one. That is all."

"But… but the Divine say that… it is written that our spirits are eternal! That the gods shall preserve us, so long as we have faith in the cycle!"

She suddenly felt the pointed tip of a blade against her throat. The figure was now standing, holding the sword to her neck. When did he-

"So tell me: if the gods can truly be trusted with safeguarding who you are, you have nothing to fear from death right? Or, if you truly want to be, if you want to continue to be as you, then the only way to avoid oblivion now would be to ask me to spare you. So?"

She opened her mouth to speak.

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