The Old Man
Ishaara sat before the lake. She had no shoes. Her toes nervously scrunched the sand between them as she steadied her fishing pole. Her hard glare rested on the water’s surface for a while, but something was distracting her. What was that noise? It tapped lightly against her eardrums from some far-off point. Above her? Behind? Perhaps not. She couldn’t tell.
She glared harder at the lake, trying to focus. Why was she staring? The pole had moved, hadn’t it? In the lake, something had pulled it. The lake was empty, though. There were no fish. Were there? She remembered that once there was.
The noise tapped a little louder. Once there was. She thought. Was there? Was there fish? Where? Where was there fish…
Her toes scrunched more sand as she absently dropped her fishing pole to rub her eyes. Where was there a fish… She finished rubbing her eyes, and rested her hands behind her, in the sand. She leaned back, holding herself up as her hands sunk into the warm, wet sand. She looked up to the sky, and saw no stars. There was only blackness.
The noise tapped louder, tapping against her skull now, ever so softly. It was getting harder to hold a thought. What is that noise? Where am I?
A cold drop of water tapped her nose. A drop of rain? The raindrops hit the sand around her, in time with the tapping. She shook her head and looked back to the lake, but the fishing pole was gone. The fish… how will I catch it now? She felt fear, sadness. Tears welled in her eyes, and she couldn’t think of why. Her gaze fell to the sand, and she remembered.
He… he found a worm in the sand and caught the fish…
Her heart beat faster, becoming one with the rhythmic tapping of the rain. It pounded against the inside of her chest, pained with each thud. The noise danced within it, beating against her skull with every raindrop.
Why? Why has he done this to me? She wept.
She felt soft wriggling against her hands, and she jumped up, her heart jolting.
The rain fell faster. Her hands were covered in blood. Small punctures riddled her skin all the way up to her elbows. Tiny worms wriggled out here and there, squirming in and out of the punctures. She could feel them swimming underneath her skin.
“No! God, No!” Thunder cracked, and the deluge continued as the rhythmic noise pounded against her mind. The worms! Gabriel found them. Gabriel, no! She closed her eyes and shook her arms violently and ran. She screamed, and the rain stopped.
She opened her eyes, and she looked down to her arms. They were clean. Weren’t they always clean?
She glared at her arms as if they were lying to her. She looked them up and down. All around, but she couldn’t remember what she was looking for.
She sat down at the nearest pew, and began to pray.
Chrom, please… please help me remember.
She looked up at the statue of Him, His hand outstretched, and wished that he would take her away. Anywhere. Somewhere… She had a home before. Some time… some time ago she had a home.
Her brow scrunched, and she focused every fiber of her being. She needed to remember why she was here. Whoever she was, she needed to remember. Chrom will help her, if she has faith.
Chrom. She was a priestess. She was a bride of Chrom. That was it.
The noise began tapping at her mind again and she began to cry softly, her head held in her hands.
No! No, I will remember! Damn you.
Damn who? The man. The evil man. The… He…
She looked up again at the statue of Gabriel. Gabriel! She felt guilt and dread wash over her, as one guilty and with the hangman at the door, pounding.
Pounding against her mind. Her head quaked in pain and she shook it, rubbing her eyes again. When her gaze lifted the room was as black as the starless sky. The statue of Gabriel was gone, replaced with Chrom, whose gaze was pinned on her. Her heart beat faster, and her mind pounded along with it.
Chrom’s eyes began to burn, and his skin began to lift off of his body, revealing the bloody organs beneath. Chrom’s heart beat as fast as hers.
Or was it…
It was her heart within Chrom. It was being devoured by the worms. She could feel them inside her, tearing at her heart, both within her chest and within Chrom’s. She fell, clutching at her chest and quaking in pain, but nothing was below to catch her. She opened her mouth to scream, but she could not make a sound.
She fell for an eternity, holding her chest.
No… She fell, and she knew the arms of Chrom would not catch her.
Her eyes opened, and she stood in the temple again. She stared at Chrom, and he stared back. His eyes were golden orbs.
He left me here. Where… Where did he leave me…?
She focused her mind. The noise tapped against it, but she ignored it.
The old man…
The noise tapped her mind in response.