Chapter One: Memories
I have begun to remember.
The first of the memories came back when I woke this morning, in the same instant that the pain in my chest flared and then began to fade. That constant steady pain that I have known for all my life – it is dying and grows less and less with each passing moment. And as it falls away, in have rushed memories that cannot be mine.
I don’t know how this story ends, only how it begins – on a night like tonight, in the light of a summer moon. I’ve been fighting ever since I came here, a frightened girl with holes in her mind she couldn’t understand, bruises and scars she couldn’t explain; but I’m running out of time – I’m forgetting even the pieces that I managed to hold onto, and I need to get them back. I’m grasping at them even now, but they pain me and I want to shout in frustration at the half-remembered scraps.
Is it even possible? The part of me I’ve hidden, the part I think of as the madness, whispers to me to go on, tells me that he’s still watching.
I came in from the fields tonight scrabbling for parchment, and now I find myself writing these words in a combined paroxysm of agony and ecstasy, reveling in the knowledge that I remember enough to tell the story, and yet, still not enough to know why any of it matters, or even if it’s real. Watching these black marks appear like slim soldiers on the page, marching one after the other in carefully marshaled lines ... my heart races in my breast.
I can’t stop now that I’ve begun – perhaps I never could.
There are some things you go through that change who and what you are – they remap you in a fundamental way; they redraw the boundaries of your soul. They change your purpose, if there is such a thing in the collection of heartbeats we call a life.
He was that thing for me. He was that thing for all of us, all of his children.
I remember … more is coming back. How long has it been? I can feel the fever ghosting over my limbs even now … how long since I’ve felt that? How long has the coldness in my chest kept it back? But the cold is gone now – somehow it’s gone, and the memories are returning.
I have to remember it all – I have to!
His children: that’s what he called us, and what we called ourselves after we knew. I don’t think we ever knew how many of us there were, and I don’t know how many remain behind. But I was one of them. As a girl, as a frightened, urchin girl, I was one of them, and now as I woman I look back and cannot seem to grasp …
Maybe my sanity has finally cracked. Maybe my mind is filling in the gaps with false memories, like water rushing in to fill an empty space, but I do not think so. No – this must be real. I remember it so clearly –
But why? Why do I remember only now?
And why do I feel there isn’t much time? It doesn’t make sense, I know that, and I know too that most of what I do remember doesn’t either. But I will not stop and start over; if I do, it will be lost forever; I feel that in my blood, my heart, my bones. The madness is forcing me on, I can feel its pull, can feel the fever shivering through me, heating my mind –
No more. We begin.