symbolism_egg: (Protective Rhode ; 365daysafter)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Like a spider, like a god, Rhode will make the paths that save her family.
Prompt: 05. Abyss
Disclaimer: The D.Gray-man series and characters don't belong to me.


There was an abyss, the uniform black of endless nothing, under their feet. Wherever they walked it was there, but they never saw it.

Rhode could see it. That is, she could make out its shape in the absence of dreams. People carried their dreams with them in their waking hours, and lived them as they slept. Dreams made the world colorful. But Rhode hated the weakness of the humans teeming over the world's surface, and their dreams made poor toys, besides. She didn't care if they vanished and took the images with them into the black, where there were none—in fact, she'd happily send them on their way.

But those close to her also walked over the abyss, and when Rhode saw the nothingness waiting beneath them, she turned her mind towards preventing their fall. Where they traveled, she would build paths, narrow and steady surfaces stretching out beneath their feet.

For all her knowledge, Rhode didn't know what happened after death. She had never been there, though she'd died before, and cast off bodies like cicada shells. She didn't know, but trusted that if she ended in an afterlife she'd be Queen that unknown country as she was on Earth. Let the humans go there, when it was their time. Or let their souls be called back from wherever-it-was to power her weapons. Or let the abyss erase them.

Then came the question of greater powers even than hers. Maybe there was a God, and maybe there wasn't, but if there was, he allowed Rhode to play her game of destruction. She had no complaints.

Or maybe there was a God who would drop the walkers into nothingness as easy as cutting the filament of a spider’s web. But nothing could be done to spiders who'd snapped the line themselves.

Nor to demigods. Through the haze of the past and in distant memory, Rhode had been human. Part of her still was. But she was nothing like the rest--most of them. Besides, she would praise another human who had the audacity to chain their human self to another being, one that could travel the paths from antiquity to the present world without tumbling into the abyss. Such was the nature of her fellow travelers. Outsiders might see a monstrous laughing thing behind their human faces, but Rhode saw the future, the whole, and the generations of human dreams, all in a single one of her family. Despite many rebirths, the essence stayed the same, and Rhode's companions did not plummet from the safe paths she laid for them.

Oh, there were times. When Tiki had stumbled onto the verge, Rhode's heart had stopped. She made it go on beating, though she'd thought that he would become too human, and vanish, and leave her for all time. She'd taken him in her too-thin arms, because there were times when dreams and plotting failed her, and the fragile human body was all that was left. Holding him close had its own comfort. But in the end, the inhuman thing had pulled Tiki back. He existed still.

Worse memories remained in her mind. There had been a new companion who would not walk beside the rest. Quite the contrary—he'd tried to set the paths aflame, and send everything tumbling down, but he hadn't succeeded. Rhode had survived. The smoldering fire had died, allowing her family to rise again. So slowly the flames abated, and Wisely’s awakening delayed, but now they were nearly all assembled. The rogue among them, having scuttled off, hid himself in a corner and waited, and the ground beneath them was steady again. Rhode and hers would meet and outmatch him, extinguish his flame.

The Earl of Millennium stood with them, after all. Rhode had first encountered him standing on the side of the paths, watching her. He was an architect if she'd ever saw one.

So Rhode would strengthen the path. She would keep them alive, every one of them. Even Jasdevi, whose childish erratic steps threatened to stray from safety over and over, and Skinn, whose rage had clouded his judgment and sent him through another death. Sherril, her father despite everything, and Lulu, ever-changing in body but not mind. Foolish Tiki, who walked often with humans. Yes, except for Wisely, they were still too foolish to let go of their human memories, but their stubbornness had grown endearing.

Until the waters rose above the abyss and flooded the paths, Rhode would step at the center of her family with zigzag lines radiating all around.

Rhode would never admit that she didn't know where they were going. There might be no destination. As an Arkbuilder she disliked this thought, but even if the deep waters never subsided, the ship would make its own path. She would steer it.

And, whether or not there was an arrival, they would not be alone.
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February 2011

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