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[personal profile] masked_god
One forgets, quite often, how much time passes in the Inquestors worlds, in comparison to those of the community.

After a week of chasing his shadow through the false city, Karakael is worn and tired. His lips are chapped and his cloak travel stained. The once proud Inquestor now slumps against a broken wall, cradling his head in his arms. Yet, when he looks up, there is not defeat in his red eyes. A little yellow-eyed boy with dashes past, beginning the familiar taunt of "catch me. catch me. catch me if you can." The former Inquestor's arm blurs and catches the boys tattered clothing, holding him tight. Rahula squirms as Karakael stands.

"I think this is just about enough of that, boy." The rags begin to tear as the young child struggles. "You are one of those Shadows, right?" A nod.

"You have imprisoned me here in this memory that I loath, deprived me of those I care about, and challenged me to a game.

"Well. I have heard your challenge. And I accept. History there is, and no history. Let us fight this out like Inquestors."


Fabric rips, and the boy crashes to the pavement. He sits there stunned, staring up at the looming man, before beginning to laugh.

The sound reverberates across the city, the echos becoming louder and louder even as the landscape twists and becomes something completely different. A throne room, masks lining the walls, the throne a cascade of water frozen in stasis. A voice speaks, apparently coming from the boys mouth, but deep and resonate and completely unlike the taunting child's voice.

"So? Shall we fight it out now? Do you not hate me Kaaree? Do you hate this weak, sniveling little child? How ever could the great Ton Karakael have come from this?" The boy winces as if receiving a blow, and a black eye grows underneath one eye. "But you can't deny it, can you? Can you? This weak, pathetic creature is you. Your history, your fetter. What ties you to the past you so desperately try to forget."

The laugh returns, even as Karakael fingers the Mask of the Crying Child fixed to his face. The laughter stops, however, when the mask is removed then discarded, revealing a face wrapped in burlap, eyes tired and worn, face deeply lined. Karakael advances slowly, even as Rahula inches backwards in fear, only to be stopped when the Inquestor lightly caresses the scarred half of the boy's face. When Kaaree speaks it is to the child, but the former his eyes dart around the room, looking for the source of the echos.

"You are right. This child is pathetic and weak, damaged and broken. He is everything I tried to once hide about myself." A remembered scream echos around the chamber, brutal and chilling, the sound of a child loosing everything he held dear. "But I can hide it no longer. Not as a result of one pathetic virus or another - but because that choice of concealment was taken from me."

"The breaking of joy is the beginning of wisdom..." The remembered words echo, along with the sound of the mask hitting the floor once again, this time in ancient memory.

"I had no choice in the matter yet...yet how can you deny that past when it is before you, written into your very flesh?" Rahula glanced up, meeting Karakael's eyes for the first time.

The look only lasts an instant before the boy fades into sand and the echo screams. "NO!"

The yellow fog congeals into the figure of The Harlequin. His mask is twisted in anger, and his marionettes dance in agitation around him.

"How dare you? How dare you accept that worm! I am nothing like him!" He attacks, puppet strings flying from his fingertips, slicing through the air to strike the older man. "I am the true you. The real monster. I do not need your sympathy!"

Karakael stands and turns, ignoring the strings shredding his shimmercloak. "Was I really so arrogant when I was young?"

"Young? Young!? I am you, Hokh'Ton Karakael z Karakit Karun! You wish that you could be alone, be free of the world that demands your help, even as it demeans you. You need no connection to others. I am everything you could be, if you only threw away your worthless connections!"

The strings tightened around the older man, binding him completely. Yet the calm expression had yet to leave his face.

"Are you afraid, Kaaree? Afraid to tell the truth about what you are. Can't tell your precious little friends how many people you've killed. Can't tell them how many worlds you've destroyed. This place doesn't exist anymore, does it? Because you destroyed it. Destroyed your home, destroyed your family. And you loved it! The destruction, the chaos. The people bowing to you in fear, never again being a threat." The Harlequin laughed, and pulled the strings tighter.

"No." The word was whispered.

"No? No!? No what, Hokh'Ton? No, you aren't like that? Say it then! Say you're not a monster!"

"That would be foolish, correct?" Karakael spoke softly, but with a smile in his voice. "I've seen the community, Harlequin. A Shadow gets its power from the denial of the self." He continued before The Harlequin could speak. "I have many things to be ashamed of, Harlequin. And many things I have not told my 'friends' about. Yet that is simply because they have not asked. I know the consequences of repression just as much as you. More so, perhaps."

There was a pop, and the former Inquestor dropped from the strings, then relocated his shoulder. The Shadow was glaring at him angrily. His manikins searched for their weapons until Karakael began to move forward, then they skittered to the edges of the room, frightened.

"Hatred and anger is tempting. It is so easy to lash out in pain or shame. But we both know the results of that. I have tried to live up to your ideals, and I have failed. One cannot live alone and in anger for eternity. The pain is overwhelming at times, but it is something we must endure, not ignore and let build." Karakael stopped infront of the frozen Harlequin and held out a hand. "I accept you. Is that so hard to believe?"

For the third time a mask clangs to the floor and The Harlequin collapses, sobbing, into Karakaels arms. His form shifts, and it is Rahula again, burying his face in Karakael's shimmercloak.

"Shh. Shh. Its alright." The former Inquestor holds the boy close, rocking him slightly. "You can cry all you want."

"Inquestor's don't cry...

"Yes, I know. But we are no longer Inquestors."
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Karakael

May 2016

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