Kings of Fortune

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Episode Thirty Nine - Waking Life

“Well, I’m tired.” Kitsune enters the motel room without looking back. Catching the door, Renzo glances back to Juniper and Zylo, “You guys are a mess. Rest up.” He tosses them a key to another room, then closes the door.

Another day goes by and it’s time to sleep again, except Zylo walks past their room to the staircase.

“Where are you going?” says Juniper, already fiddling with their door.

Zylo stops on the first step of the stairway. “I wanna go to the roof…”

“Okay…?” her single eyebrow raised, she reluctantly agrees.

The air feels warm but humid under the rising sun. They spent all night in the city, and the next day is already beginning. Zylo steadily treads across the open roof and looks out into the city.

“What’s up?” Juniper steps beside him and turns to follow his gaze. Her sight trails to the tall obsidian building of the Citadel.

’King Kuro is there, scheming, plotting, strengthening…I wonder if he’s staring back at us right now? Waiting for us to fight him, waiting for the chance to kill us.

After all of this, what will happen to my life?

Zylo exhales a deep sigh. “I don’t know… just feeling weird…”

She slumps over her elbows leaning against the railing and digs her chin deep into her folded arms. “Me too. So much is going on. Who knows how this will all end.”

’This life. Everything I have. Will I lose it all? Will I lose her? I’m supposed to reincarnate, but...’

Zylo leans over and kisses Juniper’s soft cheek. She smiles.

His body is exhausted, but his troubled mind is more stressing. “What do you think about us? Could this ever work?”

“If we’re both willing to, I don’t see why not…” she steps closer, placing her hand softly against his waist.

“I spoke to Vetus Fei. She told me that hunters are meant to reincarnate, to start over fresh and live new lives without regrets,” Zylo explains, and his voice grows quieter, somber. “I don’t think I can handle that. Not after all this.”

“We’d lose each other.”

“I don’t want to delve too deep, and have to lose everything.”

“I know…” she leans her head close and rubs her cheek against his. Her face is warm and her natural scent, comforting.

“I wanna lie down.” Sitting himself in a comfortable position on the floor, he lies on his back careful not to irritate his open wounds.

Juniper follows and lies beside him, placing her head softly on his thigh, and together, they stare upward.

The sun is ascending but a large wave of melancholy grey clouds approach from the distance. The bright rays pierce through certain sections of the gloomy barrier, blessing certain parts of the city with its divine grace.

The golden light is inspiring.

Zylo’s eyes wander the vast sky comprehending the incredible distance.

’The sky, the great limit. If only I could… I would bring reality to the impossible and destroy the boundaries between me and the sky. If only I could… I would feel the freedom of the wind lift and caress me. I would soar through the clouds and realize the insignificance of my life when I look down with my eyes, if only I could fly.

I would start a new life and end this one on a note. From way up high, I would plummet down toward the ground, see the world approach me until crashing in a cataclysmic collision erupting a myriad of colors and dreams written across the sky. In the center of the chaos I would lie, fulfilled, motionless without a single care but the satisfied smile of a well-lived life. If only I could die.

My life is slowly coming to its end. I can feel it. Is this premonition? A wisdom I don’t yet understand? Vetus Fei, what else was I meant to do with this life before it’s over?

I follow the road under the calm shade of the trees covered in cherry blossoms. This feels—

“Zylo, it’s you.”

The familiar old lady speaks to me from the rich grass field, sitting calmly with her legs crossed and eyes closed in tranquil light. She wears a thin smile on her face, almost as though she is hiding a festival of music and dance within her mind.

“Fei. I’d like to know…”

“Yes?”

“About life.”

“What would you like to know?”

“What happens when people die?”

Her smile widens and she is eager to tell, “Their life force returns to the Well of Soul where it is mixed and recombined with the rest.”

“How does resurrection work?”

“The individual’s Soul is transferred to a body identical to the previous one.”

“I see. How does reincarnation work?”

“Normally, a portion of Soul is retrieved from the Well to create new life. When one is reincarnated, the same Soul of the individual is retrieved, with a few changes.”

“What changes?”

She is quick to answer. “Often, when the individual’s Soul is retrieved from the Well, it drags along additional Soul—another’s Soul. This means the individual reincarnates with slightly more life force than before. But also…”

“Also?”

“On occasion, tiny traces of the other’s Soul exhibit themselves from the reincarnated individual. These could include memories, or attributes. That is why sometimes the reincarnated remember small events of their past lives, and others’ lives even. Other strange phenomena happen as well, but those take a little more time to be realized,” she chuckles.

“I see. Then I’d also like to know…”

“About what?”

“About my life.”

“Is it always the same tune with you?”

“If I reincarnate…I will lose all of this?”

“That is the idea.”

“But why?”

She exhales a breath, but her smile remains. “It should be your life’s goal to live to the fullest. If you lived correctly in this life, you will be reincarnated with the same joyous life force in the next. That is how we grow. Keeping the memories of the previous lifetimes only creates unnecessary burdens on this process.”

“But I like my life now.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t die.”

“But I’m stuck as a hunter living in this strange realm between life and death. I can never truly be human.”

Her eyes open wide, emanating a sudden gleaming light shrouding everything in pure white. Amid the blinding light, her voice continues to say, “And what makes you human?”

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