Ignorance breeds nothing but stupidity…
The Courtyard was white with a blanket of snow, the fat flakes the only movement in the silence. A gust of wind pushed them to their feet as she passed, making them dance round and round before letting them fall to the ground. Some would call the scene serene, angelic. Peaceful.
All Sophie saw was madness.
And Stupidity can bring nothing but ignorance…
This was mankind’s curse, Sophie knew. How many times had she seen it? That tell-tale sign of deathly grey that hung about a playful smile like a cloud. Mischievous, disastrous. Yes, humans were ignorant. Humans were stupid. Their faults brought famine and illness, their flaws the heralders of death colored white like so much snow.
Sophie turned down Pillar Avenue, leaving behind black patches in the endless white as she hurried towards her destination. The air here seemed thicker, darker somehow. It hung like a curtain, shielding something from sight.
Blocking the truth from sight…
Reaching out with a single red gloved hand, Sophie touched the space before her. The image rippled like water beneath her fingertips. Closing her hands, she drew the curtain back, revealing the scene behind
It was not white here, but red. Bright, burning red that spread and spread until it consumed everything. And there, at the center: the void, the white, which stared at her with large black, knowing eyes. Weeping eyes, crying and crying. Weeping red.
The beast opened its ma, a long howl escaping its lips only to echo in the waking night. A scream for help, filled with pain and torment that shook earth and sky alike.
Sophie stared forward, undaunted. She’d seen many of this kind-the lost souls, the Nobodies. This was the price of going against nature, of remaining on earth past your time.
A human soul without a body was destined to become nothing more than a monster.
Of course, each was different, just as every soul was different.
Just as every taint was different.
Like a mirror, the Nobodies showed the warped images of the people they once were; only their reflection was marred by cracks and mud.
“Do you know their pain now, Nobody?” Sophie asked it. The beast gazed at her, still dripping red. “Do you see what this world is now? Do you know the truth?”
The truth: the pain. All Demons who were once human shared in this knowledge, just as Sophie did. They could feel the pain in the air- the broken hearts and broken dreams. And, like Sophie, they absorbed the emotions like a sponge, further tainting themselves until they became something horrible. Or, in Sophie’s case, until she turned into a demon herself, and was sent straight to the Underworld.
Stepping forward, Sophie eyed the corpse lying between her and the beast. It was a young man, no more than twenty: in the prime of his life. She didn’t recognize him, though he was probably a student just as she was, connected to the soul before her somehow. Perhaps a sibling, a friend, maybe even a lover.
It didn’t matter now, he had paid his price. Now he lay cold and red against the snow, eyes open wide in fear. Within them, his soul was still screaming, trapped in the agony of death by the hands of the one he had loved and mourned.
Of the one who now mourned him.
“Now do you see the cost?” Kneeling, Sophie pressed her hand to what remained of the boy’s body. Immediately, a black fog rose from his flesh, swirling before disappearing into the sky. The creature moaned again, bleeding more red. Just like all the others, it longed for release, for peace. But it was beyond peace. It had had its chance, but now only pain awaited. Unlike the man beneath Sophie’s fingers, this soul was not bound for happiness.
“Be at peace, friend.” Sophie whispered, before pulling away and standing. She then turned to the Nobody, eyes narrowing.
“You have committed an unforgivable crime: leaving your collector and choosing to remain on earth. As a result, you have damaged your soul beyond repair, and tainted yourself with murder”. Lifting one hand, Sophie pulled a dagger from her pocket and drew it across her palm. Red beads swelled into a river, dripping down her wrist. Unperturbed, she flipped her hand, letting her blood fall to the icy earth and disappear into the ground. Where the droplets fell, white vapor rose, swirling madly before solidifying to form a blade.
“The Sentence for these crimes is an eternity in hell, if the verdict determines fault.” Sophie wrapped her bloody hand around the sword’s handle. The blade began to glow softly, emanating a violet light.
“My judgment: Guilty.” Lifting her weapon, Sophie jumped, bringing her blade down across the creature’s neck. The last thing she saw were its eyes- always the eyes- filled with the agony of truth.
Landing, Sophie sheathed her blade, turning just in time to see the Nobody’s body burst into violet flames. Black smoke formed a tear in the grey sky, as if the entire world were weeping. Another lost soul, forgotten among the many and left for nothing.
Left to become nothing
“But sometimes ignorance is better than truth.” Sophie whispered, watching the flames lick at the horizon, sending up ash alongside the snow- spinning, spinning before disappearing into oblivion.