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Saulius Tomas Kondrotas was born in 1953 in Kaunas.  He graduated from Vilnius university. In 1986 he emigrated to the West. During the years of 2001-2004, he worked as a journalist for Radio Free Europe. Since 2004, he has been living in Los Angeles, California (USA). He published three collections of stories and novels A Glance of the Serpent (1981), And the Faces in the Window Will Cloud Over (1985). His works has been translated into 20 different languages around the world.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Virgilijus Šonta, Clouds of Spring, 1984. From the MO Museum collection

Translated by Medeinė Tribinevičius

 

Three short stories from the book „The Collector“

 

 

KAOLIN

For Kristina G.,
a story about another Kristina.
Only the names are the same.

We imagine the people who lived at the turn of the last century as naive. This idea has been suggested in old films where the people walk around making strange movements, leap comically, and waddle about. It would be a mistake to laugh and imagine this was how they really behaved. In actuality the thoughts, feelings and experiences of those people were not lesser than our own. We should not forget this. We should not put such faith in silent films.

The exact dates of the events to be relayed shortly is no longer known. It seems they happened before the First World War. So it seems.

Back then the homestead was already at least a hundred years old – if you were to guess by the trees growing so plentifully around it, encompassing the house in a huge shadow year-round, just like the shade of a forest. The maples, birches, oaks, and larches, nearly a meter in diameter, were all very old, the latter dropping their small cones all over, coating the ground and the roof. The individual who first settled in that place must have loved trees very much if they planted so many of them, breaking from the Lithuanian custom of allocating the largest plots to the gardens. However, they would not have lived to see the day when, awakening in the early morning, they could listen to the larch cones descending from on high, clattering on the roof and against the window panes. It would be several lifetimes before finally a woman was born and grew up who had the good fortune of being able to listen to the falling of the larch cones. Every morning, especially in the autumn when the mornings were cloudy and warm, upon waking she would also listen to a murder of crows cawing.

Autumn. Amongst those tall shady trees in small cloudlets spread the smell of rotting leaves and mycelium, something akin to the sharp odors of a grocery shop. Also,those tall shady treescaptured spiderwebs in small cloudlets, withdraining from the morning dew, like small silver dirigibles or multicoloured discarded bat skins. And those spiderwebs, collecting falling leaves and larch needles, actually were cast off skins. They were dead spiderwebs, dead because not a single one of them had housed a spider for a very long time. Autumn.

Kristina has already lived alone for several years in this hundred-year-old homestead. If anyone were asked to briefly, but accurately, describe her, one phrase would suffice: "a woman in eternal mourning". You should not understand this phrase to mean she was designated to mourn for all of eternity. No, she was granted only as much life to live as anyone else. But there have always been such women, pale faced and full of misunderstood and incomprehensible heartache, a kind of weariness (the face of a wearied person can be right in front of you but at the same time very far away from you), a weak radiance, like people whose faces lit up when dedicated to an unnecessary mission (and this fact was understood not only by others). Those women were always quiet, even their clothes were quiet, always dressed in black from head to toe, a bouquet of eternal asters in their hands rustling quietly, incomprehensibly. Time does not touch those women. Time comes and, right in front of them, takes someone here, another one there, carries them off. And those women remain to mourn. That is their mission, it seems. Only to mourn. To mourn. To mourn. Time is for other people. They watch its harsh passing with limpid fish eyes. The ritual of mourning is remarkably slow. It is not governed by the logic of common life. Sad, mourning, young women quite unconsciously become withered, mourning old women. Their bloodless skin grows waxen, their eyes even more deadened. Only the mourning clothes and the asters remain the same. A tribe of mourners. A joyless, passionless tribe.

Having lost all the people close to her, Kristina lived alone, and not only in the literal sense. All the people in her memory fused together and the faces and bodies of the living joined with those of the dead, becoming one indistinct silhouette. Unlike other people, she could no longer find a way out of this solitude; she couldn't speak to the people in her mind, she couldn’t laugh alongside them at funny things, recite long, monotonous monologues of her own experiences. At night, she slept and dreamt nothing. She understood herself as merely a plant, a wilting flower. Only wilting.

If Kristina would have needed, like most people normally, to tell someone that something had happened after one event or another – “it happened after a big storm", for example – she would not have been able to do so. There was no storm raging around her. All her days were the same. And if there had been a storm it is unlikely she would have even noticed it or, moreover, remembered it. Not unless it was the only storm of her life. She didn't have any of the usual milestones by which she could orient time; you see, these milestones are always based on an event that came before, or one that came later. These events need to be committed to memory. Absolutely. And during this time Kristina's days were all the same.

She would wake up the same way. Upon opening her eyes, for the first few seconds of awaking all the things around her appeared remarkably large, enormous. Then they would retreat, go back to their actual size. All of this happened in complete silence. Afterwards, for maybe a half-hour, Kristina would lie with her eyes wide open, her hopeless attempts at remembering who and where she was reverberating on her face. Every morning she was surprised by the cawing of crows and then afterwards the short, rhythmic sound, "tap, tap, tap" (the falling of the larch cones). Slowly, slowly she would comprehend that she is Kristina. She would remember the hundred-year-old homestead, the huge trees, the spiderwebs, and her mourning – her entire essence. Those few minutes were the only time in the whole day when she smiled. A smile full of wonder.

On this particular day, her awakening efforts were disrupted by the fact that in the duskiness of the room she saw the outline of a person's body in the doorway. On all the other mornings there was nothing there. This morning, there stood a man striking a strange Watusi tribe warrior pose, and behind him, through the trees, the edge of the distant rising sun. Kristina could not figure out why this man was standing there, in the doorway. He should not be standing there. And she smiled, and her face likely appeared full of amazement because the visitor also began to smile. Finally coming to her senses Kristina shivered and her smile disappeared just like any other morning, and the door gently closed and the person disappeared.

At this point it's may be useful to skip ahead.

At the hour when the narrow afternoon rays of sun penetrate through the tree branches, the trunks, and through the window, striking the wall of the back room, they illuminate a photograph in a narrow carved frame. A wedding photograph, somewhat yellowed. Depicting a man and a woman. The man dressed in a black jacket, a white shirt, with a playful bowtie under his chin. The woman in white wedding garb. The man stands a bit to the side, his head bowed a little, and gazes at the woman with unspeakable longing. He's strong, that man, and his dried-out face looks determined, the narrow wrinkles around his eyes bearing witness to his love of laughing; even when photographed on his wedding day he cannot manage to neatly comb his hair. The kind of man who'd visit a woman in her dreams, stand before her with his hand outstretched, saying: "Come, let's go!" and that woman, trembling like a newspaper in an old man's hand, reaches out her hand and then awakens, walks around stunned for the whole day, insisting it's due to the sun or the change of weather, and then lying down in the evening is unkind to her husband – so ordinary and tired-out – believing that she will dream another dream, but all in vain. This is the kind of man who is in the photograph looking at the woman in her wedding garb. The woman's face is oval, somewhat flustered, her lips just barely smiling, her skin pale, possessing the only defect which, sadly, disfigures any beauty. She was… pockmarked. And the unknown photographer could not conceal this. The sun's rays even highlighted the woman's imperfections. It was a picture of Kristina and her husband Peter. What connected those two people? Why did this man, so nearly perfect, gaze at his bride with such desire? Why?

There are other photographs on the wall as well. Examining them you'll see the man's longing was not fleeting. Two photographs are very important. In one, the man and woman hold a newborn, swaddled in so much cloth you cannot see the child at all. The man is looking at both the mother and the baby with a happy smile. The joy in his face outweighs all other emotions, and in this photograph he appears almost foolish. Because when a person is so captivated by someone they forget, they look like they are sleeping: the lower lip droops, the mouth opens a little, a barely discernible smile appears, and the eyes get an expression as though the person is not there at all. This infatuation, as you can see from the other photographs, does not disappear in the ensuing twenty years. A picture of an even more gaunt and grey-haired man surrounded by children of all ages gazes longingly at an ugly, aged woman – his wife.

Alright, time to come back to the present.

All day long, Kristina wondered, was he or was he not an apparition? The visitor's silhouette had deeply etched itself in her consciousness. She was already inclined to believe that thieves had come in the night, but after looking over everything carefully she realized she was not missing anything, and since the man's figure in the morning light had not been very clear, she busied herself ascribing him to those other faceless silhouettes held in her memory. What difference did it make whom she mourned? And even if he was only a ghost, arising from the depths of her own unconscious, that day was stuck in her memory. And in it was born the weak shadow of a feeling that she had never before experienced. Not fully understanding, she made peace with the memory, as though something she experienced in a dream could happen in real life. Maybe not to her, but to someone. And that was new, like a small azure flower in the bottomless grey of indifference. Kristina didn't wonder if she wanted any of this to be real or not. This thought didn't even cross her mind. She only felt something feminine inside herself. However, the shade of the larch and conker tree compelled her unwittingly to forget everything.

But Kristina was mistaken. The man she thought she'd dreamt up was alive and real. He was an ordinary hobo with green eyes, wandering the roads and fields without any aims in life. That morning he had come to the homestead encircled in trees believing that an early-waking housewife would offer him a cup of milk.

Looking around and not seeing a living soul he opened the door.

Now, as he waded away from the homestead through the wet autumn meadow, Peter remembered the vision he had seen and was unable to calm the gentle tremor he felt in his body, as though invisible fingers were worrying a row of rosary beads. Opening the door, he had seen a wide bed covered in white linens, and in those linens a slender woman whose face, against the background of her dark hair, shone with a clear, liquid light melting into the half-light of the room. The woman had looked right at him and smiled, just barely parting her lips. Peter had never seen anything more beautiful or sacred in his life. He was terrified by that beauty. He hastily closed the door and ran away, secretly awaiting the shot in his back as he didn't believe there could be no one there other than her. Those kinds of women were never alone. That is what he thought.

Not paying any attention to where he was going, he reached the next farm where he joined a collective group digging potatoes. That night, he lay down in the hay with the other helpers who had come from afar, and he asked if any of them had seen the homestead in the trees and if anyone knew who the woman was that lived there and who her husband was. The man lying closest to him raised up on an elbow and suspiciously inquired:

"Tell me, brother, are you planning to rob the place?"

 "No," Peter answered, surprised.

Those men could not understand how anyone without bad intentions could be interested in Kristina. Peter explained everything but they did not believe him and it was only afterwards that it came to mind to some of them that everything was to be blamed on the half-light, which must have prevented Peter from seeing clearly. That must be it, they reasoned, and ridiculed Peter and advised him to go and see her in the daylight. But it made no difference, Peter would have gone back no matter what to have a glimpse of that woman one more time, even from a distance. He would have loitered around that homestead like a dog chased out of its home.

Kristina saw him standing in the grass, about twenty paces away. She also stopped and watched how he leaned against a tree. She saw the man look away and cover his face with his hands. She understood then that she was not dreaming, and for the first time in her life thought about her appearance, about her face. She remembered she had such an ugly one, so ugly that the man had not been able to bear looking at her. Why did he come back here? She turned around and quickly strode away.

When, several hours later, she needed to go back to that same place, the man was still there. He sat under a tree and looked at her without averting his gaze. Then he stood up and shyly came closer. Kristina paused. What was he after?

 "Maybe you need some help with something?" he asked, "Maybe I can chop some firewood or something?"

"No," Kristina answered, "No, I don't' need anything." The man's face and eyes implored her quietly.

"Maybe you want some milk to drink," she offered. "Come inside, I'll think about your offer."

He's hungry, she thought. He's hungry, that's why he came.

Peter did not dare raise his eyes while he ate. It was the same miraculous woman. It wasn’t a trick.

"For God’s sake," said Peter quietly, "I'm going to be in the area for a while, I’ll come back in a day or so. Maybe you'll find me a task to do?"

He could not sit any longer. He carefully set the cup on the table and hurried outside. Kristina watched as he grew distant and then disappeared beyond the trees. Then, maybe for the first time in her life, she cried while feeling sorry for herself and not someone else. She heard how her tears splattered against the feather pillow and felt the waves of heartbreak in her chest, one breaking after the other over many small dams. Inside her there waited a woman no one had yet loved. She just needed a man to look at her once.

But Kristina was mistaken. She was loved. When Peter came back the next day he was determined to overcome, even just for a short while, his fettering shyness. He did not believe this woman could love him, but in a corner of his heart, before leaving this land forever, he wanted her to have a memory of him even just a little bit different from everyone else.

Sitting down on the door-step he gave Kristina a penetrating look and began telling her about his wanderings. It was hard to describe what Kristina felt in that moment. The fact was that no one had ever spoken to her this way. Nobody said anything just to her. How much more does a woman need to awaken? Everything was new and unexpected. Slowly in her a shyness began to spread, blooming like the queen of the night.

Peter saw the change but he didn't understand what it meant. He told her about the time that he had once been a member of a sect of dancing brothers, somewhere in the Volga region.

"Did you know that they believe a person dancing comes closer to God, and this is why they dance. It's their prayer."

And then he rose from the doorway and showed her how they danced. Kristina watched him spellbounded, she watched as he danced and danced, his face beaming. She understood that his soul had lifted from the ground and was straining higher and higher but what she didn't understand was that in that moment she was what Peter was reaching for. His soul was straining towards her. She watched him, bewitched: his strained face, his dancing figure. He kept dancing, and no longer knowing what was happening, he came close to her and put his hands on her shoulders. Then he felt a strange thing, it was as though someone was pulling on his suspenders with all their might. He knew he was not wearing suspenders, but something pulled him backwards and he had to overcome the force, not understanding how he kept moving forward. He only saw the woman's eyes, transfixed on him, and he raised his hands and then lowered them again, feeling her shoulders under his palms.

Suddenly, he disappeared from Kristina's view. Everything disappeared. She felt as if she were sinking into a thick, white nebula. A white quagmire was pulling her deep inside. A white silt of love. She didn't understand it but she felt that if it were fired it would turn into porcelain. White kaolin clay.

But why? What happened to that man that he remained in that homestead amongst the larches forever? Why was it that even twenty years later bottomless desire still shone in his eyes and he still felt that pull?

The fault really does lie in the half-light. Only in such light could he see the woman the way he saw her his whole life. For you see, that man always saw things the way they appeared to him the very first time.

 

 

Mr MARŽENOVIČIUS

Grandfather was a stout man with large bulging eyes, an ever-red face and brown whiskers that were always poking into his mouth. He walked like a knight, legs bowed wide, with his hands shoved in his pockets, which always jingled full of things. Grandmother would warn him not to get caught hiding any coins from her. She forbade him, saying that he could ask for a bottle of beer or a glass of wine from her if he wanted one, that it was impossible for her to keep a home when anyone living there was holding money she didn't know anything about.

"Show me," she'd say. "Turn out your pockets."

Because of his bulging eyes one would easily think that Grandfather always looked surprised, and this was why, even though he'd shake his head and tell her he didn't have any coins, Grandmother would not believe him. She'd make him hold his hands out to the sides and would empty out his pockets herself. Having unpacked everything onto the table, she'd look through it all. There would be buttons, nails, little screws, and all sorts of other objects, even sometimes a shard of coloured glass.

Grandmother would carefully examine all the things but never found what she was looking for. Grandfather would look on guiltily and then would watch as all those little objects were angrily swept into the rubbish bin. And then, not even a day later, he'd be walking around jingling again. Eventually, Grandmother forbade him from keeping his hands in his pockets and he walked around waving them about, but the minute he detoured into the garden or somewhere else a bit further away from home, his hands would find their way back into his pockets once again.

They called Grandfather Mr Marženovičius because he was born in Poland. Of course if he'd lived in a city where, according to him, no one kept a garden and everyone travelled by tram he'd have been simply called Marženovičius. But because he was the only resident of Rasnalis born in Poland they called him "Mr".

Grandfather was born in 1902 in Sulechow, western Poland. When the Germans occupied Sulechow in 1939 he was devastated, but he was already grieving this loss in 1920.

Grandfather spent the first three or four years of his life like all small children. He ate, he napped in the afternoons, he broke his toys, he whined and laughed, he learned how to say “mama”, “papa”, “table”, “nose”, and when he was left alone in the dark he was terrified, afraid to make a peep, and wet the bed. When he got a little older he played with the other kids in the street and down by the river, but by the time children were required to start attending school he had become increasingly quiet and sullen. His parents worried about what was happening to him, but that did little good. It became clear he was losing his memory. Not all of it, but some of it. For example, he could remember the first seven years of his childhood brilliantly, but when his parents wanted him to learn music they were disappointed because he'd immediately forget everything he'd been taught. He could do arithmetic just fine, but would always forget other random things, like that he was supposed to go down to the river to swim or to visit the sausage dog show. It was as though someone encouraged him to only remember what was absolutely necessary and to completely forget the things that, under duress, it was possible to live without. But as you know, the latter is what makes the world go round. His parents, most likely out of curiosity, would assign him many tasks and he'd do all of them very well, but he seemed to forget the other joys or curiosities of life completely, without any chance of remembering them.

One time when my grandfather was twelve years old he was working at the workbench (at that time his parents had decided to teach him a trade), and out of the blue he regained part of his lost memory. Or maybe all of it. At first it was uncomfortable because all the images that appeared were foreign to him. Grandfather thought the visions, which had come over him as he was using a plane on a length of board, were just a reverie. But in fact they were the truest of his memories.

Grandfather remembered a scene when the master carpenter who was teaching him had stopped by the workshop to examine his work. The master wanted to light his pipe but his hand trembled and he singed his whiskers. To Grandfather Andreas, standing at the workbench, this seemed to be happening at that very moment. Then several minutes later the master came into the workshop and leaned against a pile of boxes by the wall; he lit a match, wanting to light his pipe. His hand trembled and the master singed one side of his whiskers. Grandfather became scared and started to cry. And no one could understand why the boy, who was always so quiet, was crying for no reason.

These kinds of things began to happen more often. Grandfather would “remember” events that were going to happen five or more years in the future. The further into the future the event, the more faded the “memories” were. But he knew all the details of events that would happen the next day or in a week's time. For example, it was clear to him that he was going to be married on a bright day in August 1932, but what was less clear was who his wife was and where the two of them would live. He knew that when he turned twenty he would travel to Rasnalis, to Lithuania, and that his wife would be from that place. But at the same time he could also accurately predict that in a few seconds he will cut his finger or have a drink of water. This caused a lot of misunderstandings, so Grandfather did not dare to say anything to anyone. Truth be told, sometimes his mother could not understand how he knew something before she did. This is how it was the day when Andreas began to weep and immediately someone arrived with the news that his father had suddenly died. But his mother calmed herself, attributing it to intuition.

But Grandfather could only “remember” up until around the year 1952. The closer it got to that year, the more faded the memories became and Grandfather didn't know what was going to happen afterwards. He couldn't "remember" anything. So he decided that was when he was going to die.

He told this to his wife Agnes. She didn't believe him. It was then that he explained to her where he got all the news from, but she insisted he was lying. Though she did sense something.

About a year before his imagined death, Grandfather's memory began to fade and Grandmother finally believed his stories. She bought Grandfather a black suit and ordered him a casket. All the villagers gaped, wondering why she was doing this—the man was still alive. Grandmother didn’t want to talk about it and Grandfather had gone completely silent.

“Mr Marženkovski, are you feeling unwell?” asked the pharmacist one day when he was passing by. “Why have you not seen the doctor? Come see me sometime.”

But Grandfather had forgotten that he knew the pharmacist and only started at him foolishly with his bulging eyes.

“Mr Marženovičius!” The pharmacist winced when he heard the sound of Grandmother's cold voice behind him and quickly left.

In the fall of 1951 all Grandfather did was sit on a bench by the house and stare at one spot. He could longer even remember who he was.

One day Grandmother was feeding the chickens and heard a strange sound from inside. It was as though someone had pulled a cork from a bottle. She spread the last crumbs and hurried inside. Later, Grandmother would say that she was as amazed as when, at the turn of the century, she saw her first airplane droning above the trees. Grandfather was sitting on the bed drinking from the neck of a bottle of vodka. One bottle was already empty. Having finished drinking, Grandfather looked at his wife, turned his back and fell asleep. He slept until he remembered every single tiny detail of all his fifty years and Grandmother thought that now he'd be like a normal person.

But Grandfather explained:

"No, my dear, now I have to experience everything I've forgotten for so long."

And if only he'd started from adolescence, sighed Grandmother Agnes. But of course not. You see that youthful force he had not used earlier had lain dormant inside and now governed him. Sometimes, in the evenings, Grandfather would tell his wife that he felt the weight of his years, but he could not escape his memories. He remembered his childhood and all the years past with more clarity than the present and this was why he was powerless to behave in a way suitable to a man of his years.

Grandfather, along with my future mother and other children, would spend long afternoons catching butterflies and flying kites. Given the choice he'd have done no work at all, but Grandmother forced him to. Later, according to Grandmother, he even experienced something like first love. Grandfather denied it but Grandmother Agnes told us that he used to blush like a cherry when greeting one particular twelve-year-old girl. Mother would absolutely refuse to talk about this with us but we heard that one day Grandfather was escorted home from an outing where he was found dancing with strong young girls while someone played the harmonica. At that time he was already over fifty. And when my brother and I grew up a little we accidentally found out that Grandfather was caught in the hay with a twenty-year-old woman. For a long time he tried to justify it, but everyone who saw them agreed that he was without his braces.

Still, Mr Marženovičius was a man of strong nerves because later on he fell in love with his own wife again and even regretted that he could not marry her a second time. And now already for many years the casket, purchased way back when, has been used to water the animals.

 

 

CHIMERA

I'm talking.

I'm an ant. Dust. A nothing little speck of dirt at your feet. I am a weak creature, the lowest of the low, and I dare to speak. I beg you! Don't push me aside. Don't shoo me away. Listen to what your slave will tell you.
        I’m fainthearted by nature and I've suffered my whole life because of this. My weakness is visible to all. My mother couldn't stand me. I haven't met anyone who could restrain themselves from aggressively teasing me. I haven’t met a single dog who hasn’t barked at me. Even the birds try to peck out my eyes.

I could never find a place for myself. There was nowhere I could settle because people would hit me and throw me out by my hair. They showed me to their children and taught them how to hate me. They were healthy and strong, and I was humpbacked and mangey, reeking of wet feathers. How could I argue with them? I walked from village to village, from town to town, taking the most desolate roads so I would not meet anyone. Winter and summer I hurried, running here and there to the places where no one recognized me.
        And so what? You can't shake off your shadow.
        Patience, Master, patience! I won't speak for long.

Battered and humiliated I would lie at night and listen to the flow of water underground. I'd think: Why? Why is this my fate? I understood that I was necessary to people. Otherwise they would not pay me any mind, would leave me alone. The world needs equilibrium. My weakness, my unhappiness balanced out their strong will and good fortune. This is the way the world is organized, this is how it is built. It's not up to me to change it. The more people degrade me the better they look to themselves. The more unhappy I am, the bigger the distance between my misfortune and their good fortune, the happier they will seem to themselves. This is how the world works. But why me? Why not someone else? 

I never had anyone to complain to, to speak to. At night I'd fall asleep alone in the silky rustling rain. I was envious of the birds, flying high in the sky into the west, and then, later on, to the north.

And now, Master, having gathered all my weak will, I have created a vision. A chimera. I summoned into existence a woman. I modelled her head from my dreams. Formed her golden breasts from my longing. I turned her narrow waist from my reveries. I created her arms and legs in the most pleasing proportions. I put lightning in her eyes. I borrowed her movement from the wind. I dressed her in the most beautiful clothing, bejewelled her neck with precious stones. I thought: I'm not so weak after all, if I can create a beauty that will make me the envy of everyone. I thought: I'll no longer be alone. I lived with her, understanding she was a chimera, a vision. I didn't fool myself into thinking she was the daughter of a father and mother. I was satisfied with what I could have.

Master, people hit me, they teased me, but it was easier to bear when I had someone to offer me consolation. Only it didn't last for long. She was ashamed of me. She avoided meeting my gaze and trembled when I touched her. One day, some people shouted to her: "Hey you! Come here! Live with us! Leave that gloomy thing." And she heard their cry and didn't hear my cry. She went to them without a second thought and I saw her laughing when the first stone was thrown.

My weakness is so vast that my own creation betrayed me. My own vision turned away from me. What was left for me to do? Simply die. I tied a noose but I didn't have the courage to put it around my neck. I whetted a knife but I didn't dare to use it. I found poisonous plants but I lacked the will to pick them. I am too much of a weakling.

Patience, Master, patience!

I went into the desert and lived alone. But even that kind of life was bitter, I didn't want it anymore. Day after day the cancer of my memories ate at my soul and poured poison into my heart. I could not forget my weakness.
        And then, gathering the shards of my despicable will I started to create one more vision. A chimera. I called it forth from the ether, invited a man from the emptiness. I gave him superhuman strength and agility. I modelled his heart from my nightmares. I forged shining armour from my despair. I armed him with my swords of pain, the sharpest in the world. I put into his eyes the darkness of all sleepless nights. I taught him nothing but the art of killing. Now I live with him and wait for him to betray me, for him to take my life, for him to do that which my weakness prevents me from doing.

Master, that man is you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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