Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ever The Same

Cristoph Asahina of the Anti-Cliche and Mary-Sue Elimination Society found himself in empty blackness. There was no light, no landmarks, nothing for as far as Cristoph's eyes could see. Normally, Cristoph felt fine in the dark. It surrounded him, cloaked him, gave him a sense of invisibility. But this was a different kind of darkness. It was impermeable, impenetrable. And it scared him. Well, not so you'd notice, because his cowl was over his face.

Aster did say the door took them to their own worlds, yes? Then why was he here? Was this where he was created? Well, how's that for a letdown? This primordial darkness was where he had been formed.

Then, the voices started.

"You no longer have rights to him."

"Who's there?" Cristoph pulled out his ninjato, looking around the darkness.

"What utter...he is mine, you hear me? Sure, I gave you to him for development, but he's still mine by right!"

"You signed those rights to Us when you gave him to us. And now he belongs to Us."

"You son of a b-oof!"

The second voice was cut off, as if he had been punched in the stomach. Who was that? And the first one, why did he say "Us?"

"We are willing to compensate for your loss."

"I don't want anything to do with you. Give him back to me, or I swear I will kill you."

A pause.


There was the sound of a phone being dialed. And then, a mechanical voice said two words. "STANDING BY!"



Henshin. The Kamen Rider transformation phrase. What was going on? But before he could find out what was going on, he heard a door open, and he more or less fell into the Library...or what looked like the ruins thereof. And the one who had opened the door was none other than Tash, his superior, well, one of them anyway, looking as though she had seen a ghost, and the red eyes...

Oh no.

He looked around at some of the other Agents, some of them who had come through the door: Doug, Drake, Aster, to name a few. And all of them looked particularly somber.

"Lady Tash? Doug, Lord Drake, Aster...what happened?" Cristoph asked, completely confused.

"He's gone, Cristoph," Doug shook his head. And then...

"Adrian's dead."


He was gone.

That was the only thing that he knew had happened when Cristoph finally came back. And it absolutely shook him to the core, even now, after a full day had passed since he had entered through the door and come back.

"He's… really gone, hasn't he?"

Karissa nodded ruefully. "Yeah…he is."

Cristoph, Karissa, Pete, Doug, Drake, and Rhia were in what used to be Adrian's office. Unlike the rest of the Library, which had pieced itself together following Adrian's final stand, the late Librarian's office, for once a place that was sparsely decorated, was now an unqualified mess. Scattered sweets that had once been hidden in various places amongst the bookshelves were now all over the place, scattered across desk, floor, and books alike. Tash was still in mourning, so Harriet decided to send a few of the less affected persons, namely Cristoph and Doug, to clean up the office "so that it could be used by anyone who needed to use it," but it was more like it was a memorial to Adrian than anything. A testament, if you will, to one who had given his life for many, many more.

The five Agents slowly walked in, some with feelings of nostalgia, others with a sense of reverence, like the place had become hallowed ground. Cristoph was somewhere in the middle, caught in his moments of when Adrian was alive, receiving missions and savoring the look on his face when he found out he was the true culprit behind his pilfered tabasco sauce. He never used the stuff anymore, the powder mix he had gotten from Rhia's habaneros made it just as effective and cut down on the weight. But he was also deeply sobered by the sight of such a place as it was now. It felt cold. Empty. A memory, and nothing more.

There was a small clink as one of his boots touched something. Looking down, he noticed that it was a small bottle, broken in half by the neck and colored a rather reddish orange. Kneeling down, he picked it up in one of his gloved hands.

It was an empty bottle of tabasco sauce.

And for about ten minutes, all Cristoph was just look at the thing in his hands.


It took about an hour until the office was finally restored to its usual pristine condition. It looked unused, rather ordinary, the way Adrian always liked to have it because it helped him maintain focus, in a way that Cristoph found strangely familiar. But without the usual sight of the Librarian hard at work on his other pieces, it felt strangely like an echo. It was there, and yet, it was not. It was all so... very... why, Cristoph couldn't even think of the word to fix it.

They all stood there, just looking at their handiwork, each with their own thoughts and prayers, before they peeled off, one by one, to go about their business. And Cristoph was last to leave, still just staring at the door, before breaking off and heading back to his own room.

He hadn't known Adrian that well. Sure, he did steal the tabasco sauce from him one time (twice), but that was it. And yet, everyone who he had worked alongside still treated him like a friend, an equal. The ninja wondered why he wasn't feeling the same kind of things they were. Was it because he only viewed his relationship with the late Librarian as strictly professional? Or was it something, something about his own being that prevented him from doing so?

He finally entered his room, where Algazdun was on his perch, just staring at the ninja as he stood in his room, which, like Adrian's, wasn't that decorative. There were a few things, like the incense that was on the shelves to facilitate his mediations at night, a table nearby where he worked on all his weapons and the ones not in use hung on the wall. His yari stood out in particular, which was still missing half its blade from his first mission. He'd been meaning to fix it for a while now.

Cristoph pulled back one of the panels on the floor, where he kept the journal he had received from Rhia at Christmas. Pulling out a paintbrush from the nearby ink bottle, he began to write.

We finally cleaned up Lord Adrian's office today. It didn't take us that long, just had to clean the office of the scattered sweets he'd been keeping hidden from everyone. The mood appears to have picked up slightly, before we were too listless to do much of anything. Now we're starting to pick up the pieces that… well, whatever helped rebuild the Library, or perhaps the Library rebuilding itself, failed to do so. The Library is clean, for the most part, now. The scars of its destruction, and with it, Lord Adrian's final blaze of glory, will probably never heal.

Are we all so truly fragile? If I could be likened to wood, then perhaps Lady Tash was so much glass in face of it all. And that woman is probably the strongest of us all. Prehaps it would've been sweeter, or maybe a bit more justified, if she died at Adrian's side. Kami know she would've agreed to it. But alas, where Lord Adrian's gone, she cannot follow, and the effects weight heavily on us all. One day for him. An eternity for her.

Pausing from his thoughts, he let the tabasco sauce bottle roll out of his hand onto the floor before him.

Am I fragile, too? Was I ever fragile? It becomes too hard to think on these things, and now my mind is starting to wander all over the place, passing through the fog that is my memory time and time again. I must know. Is my destiny so much the same? To give my own life so that many more can live on? But why? I do not wish to cause such undue pain like this, it's…it's just not right. Is this normal for me? For everyone, anyone at all?


Is any of this normal?

Is it? And why?



By this point, the kanji were starting to become warped as Cristoph's hand started shaking until, finally, Cristoph's body acqueised and the ninja collapsed into tears.

Why is it so much for me to take?

And it wasn't until the brush fell out of his hand that he felt someone embrace him from behind him. Donning his cowl so not as to compromise the image of the stoic, breathe-in-his-greif-and-let-it-go ninja, he felt himself suddenly stand stock still.

It was Rhia. She appeared to be suffering the same way he was, but it wasn't until Cristoph began to feel his body shake again that she said only one thing. "Let it go, Cristoph."

And let it go he did as he returned the embrace, not caring for the tears that were staining his cowl or his shoulder as he held on to her, his shelter in the emotional storm.

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