Wind on the Lowest Plane, Part 3

It’s been a long time, so, here are Part 1 and Part 2. Or if you want to wait until the last part is complete, I’ll be posting the whole story on its own page, so you can read it all at once. Fyi. 😉

The shadow gazed at the woman, and she gazed back. After a moment, the shadow spoke to her. Its voice was low, and surprisingly gentle. “Hello, little one.”

The woman swallowed, and stuttered as she responded, “H…hel…lo…”

“Hmmm,” said the shadow. “Well, first of all, you should probably stop sitting on him.”

“Wha–!” The woman blinked, then looked down at the ground she was sitting on. Except… it wasn’t the ground. She had fallen on top of the dog-like creature. It had turned its head, and was looking at her coldly with one glowing yellow eye.

With a pathetic squeak, the woman scrambled off the canine and backed off about twenty feet, before bowing in a panic. “I-I-I’m sorry!”

The creature gazed at her for a few moments more, before shutting its eye and laying its head back down. “It is not a problem.”

“Yes, don’t mind him,” the shadow assured the woman. “He’s simply awaiting the proper moment.”

“The proper… moment… for what?” asked the woman tentatively. The shadow didn’t answer, and after a moment she said, “Ex…cuse… me. Are you… the Gate… Guard…ian? Over…lord… J’Kell?”

The shadow gazed at her with unseen eyes. “In a technical sense? No.”

“No?” said the woman, surprised. “Then…”

“It is due to the nature of this place,” explained the shadow patiently. “At another place and time, I would indeed be known as J’Kell, or Overlord, or any of those other titles that just passed through your thoughts. But this is not a place of names or titles, but of concepts. And, although I do represent the concept of guarding, and though I exist at this place, the Gate of Tragedy, I am not precisely Tragedy’s guardian. Context,” said the shadow with emphasis, “is everything.”

“I… see…” said the woman heavily. “But… can you… help me? Give… advice?”

“Of course,” said the shadow cheerfully. “I can’t lift so much as a finger to help you, but advice is always free! For instance: may I ask why you are talking like that?”

The woman blinked. “Because… I am… old. And my… throat… is dry…”

“You’re not, though,” said the shadow. “Old, that is.”

The woman blinked again. “…What?”

“I told you, this is a conceptual plane. While it contains many things, one thing it lacks is a concept of Time. You have become confused, because you have never been to a place that lacked duration. But I do not believe,” said the shadow with an unseen smile, “that Age is a fundamental piece of your concept. I advise you to set it aside.”

“How… do I… do that?” asked the woman in confusion.

“Just tell yourself — no, remind yourself, that no time has passed since you first set foot inside this place. This is the very same instant you stepped outside the rational universe, and you simply haven’t had Time to accumulate age. Hmm, if I were to be blunt: wake up, little one!”

“Oh!” said the woman, startled. She closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them again, the once again held the glow of youth. She looked at her hands, and touched her face; they were once again smooth and healthy.

“Well done,” said the shadow happily. “Honestly, you should have noticed yourself, though. When was the last time you ate or drank, after all?”

“Not since before I entered the lowest plane,” said the woman. Her voice was once again strong and confident. “But I had been told beforehand that I wouldn’t need to eat or sleep after reaching this place.”

“Mm, but you weren’t told the reason,” said the shadow with understanding. “Reasons are important, after all. Not as important as context, of course, but nearly.”

“Thank you. I understand now,” said the woman. She hesitated, then asked, “You… read my mind earlier, correct? So you already know what I want to ask?”

“Well, something like that,” said the shadow. “However, as I never get tired of saying, context is everything. Why don’t you go ahead and ask your question, and we can work from there.”

“Alright,” agreed the woman. “Well, my name is–”

“Ah, stop right there,” interrupted the shadow. “I mentioned it before, but just like me, you don’t have a name, not here. You are not the person you think you are — no, sorry, I misspoke. You are who you were, but only in concept. The real you… Well, it’s hard for me to say this, but you have ceased to exist.”

The woman felt a jolt, and she took an involuntary step back, shaking her head. She nearly stepped on the canine creature’s tail, but he twitched it out of the way without so much as opening an eye. “That… that can’t be true! You mean I… died?”

The shadow shook its head. “No, you didn’t die. If you had died, you would have entered the cycle of reincarnation, or a god would have plucked you up, or something like that. Hmm, it’s hard to explain without the proper context, but… you ceased to have any effect on any other existence from that point on. Well, to explain it further, I’d have to explain the true nature of the soul to you, but that would be a long explanation that would probably confuse you a lot more than it clarified. Long story short, you don’t have a name right now. Leave it at that.”

“Uuu,” moaned the woman. “If I don’t exist, does that mean I will never get home?”

“Seriously, it just means you don’t have a name right now. It doesn’t imply anything else,” replied the shadow somewhat impatiently. “I’m sorry I brought it up. Just don’t try to claim to have a name, and things will be fine. Get back to your story.”

Author’s notes:

  1. It’s still Wednesday, right? This was certainly ready on Wednesday, and I said I would post something on Wednesday. Thus, today must be Wednesday. Logically. 😛
  2. Next will be the last part. This will be a short story to the end! 😡
  3. Once I’m done with the last part, which should be soon, I’ll post the whole story on its own page. Actually, I should mention this at the top, in case someone wants to wait to read it when it’s complete. …And, done. 😉

7 thoughts on “Wind on the Lowest Plane, Part 3

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