A graceful warm wind blew across the night in the forest. Ljus’s door opened quietly, spilling soft yellow light into the darkness. Början stood still on the ship, looking out into the peaceful landscape. His home was only a few feet away.
He hadn’t seen it in five years, but it was just as he had left it. The wooden porch with old and dark wood, the slumped hay roof bound by twine, the swinging paper lanterns and tangled green vines that grew alongside the door. Quietly, he walked through the hot and humid night to his front door.
His hand closed on the doorknob and he felt an overpowering mix of relief and dread. He had made it to his house, now he had to step inside.
Years of battle had taken its toll, one can never be bright and true all the time. In those cases, when things seem dark and there is no guiding light, one must make his own; from pictures, from memories… Början stole a glance at the staff in his other hand. How many memories and pictures had it taken from him? How much had he sacrificed? Five years brings a lot of dark times, a lot of sacrifices. How many people wouldn’t he remember when he walked into his house? How many pictures would be foreign? How did his mother look? Had they ever gone to the park together? When was the first time he saw a sunrise?
All this to bring light where there once was none. Början closed his eyes, turned the knob, stepped inside, and slammed the door behind him.
The paper lanterns danced outside, swinging on the energy spent. Outside, the wind seemed to have picked up, Början ignored it. Framed pictures and notes of all sizes were pinned to the walls. Some people he recognized, others he tried his hardest to avoid. He stomped over to the end of his house, where a wooden workbench lay, the instruments haphazardly scattered just the way he left them five years ago.
He sat down on the roughly carved wooden seat and got to work. Sparks flew, metal was bent; things began to twist and take shape under the watchful eye of the adventurer. From a small wooden box, he took precious jewels. Rubies and sapphires and diamonds that glinted and refracted the fiery light shining from the red paper lanterns outside, all were taken and placed carefully in the skeleton of what Början was building with frenzied ferocity.
Things stirred inside Början. They stirred at the same pace as he worked, he was trying to overpower them.
Memories and emotions. He remembered a face, it was dark, with sparkling eyes as green as a summer leaf. The man clearly had curly black hair, but his smile was blurred. He threw a child up in the air and as he caught him, looked as if he child was his pride and joy. He remembered a woman, his mom, definitely, she had to be. She was slender and tall, with long blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes. She sent a child off, the kid had curly brown hair and a red backpack.
Början tried not to think about the same red backpack hanging in the corner of his room.
He saw a flash of a woman with purple eyes being taken away, and denied the tightening of his stomach. A small baby with black hair and his same blue eyes was lowered into the ground, Början doubled his work pace. Fire, fire all around him, then ash. Black, horrid ash against the pure white snow. What did the faces of those children look like? The ones that weren’t charred to a coarse black powder.
What was their raw gratefulness like? What did his mother say when she pushed the kid with the red backpack on his adventure? What was the green eyed man’s smile like?
He could not remember.
Början pushed back his seat. Lightning struck outside his window. He was finished with the first part, he had a weapon, an extremely powerful weapon. But that would not be enough. The crystal staff leaning against the window was also a powerful weapon. This gun before him needed to be more than that.
Början was breathing heavily now, a drop of sweat fell from his forehead to the floor. The red light coming from the lanterns outside only added to his fervor. He hurriedly stood up and stumbled over to a large wood and metal chest in the corner.
With clumsy fingers, he undid the clasps on the chest, and then dumped the contents on the floor.
An entire life spilled out. Pictures of a small pink baby with clenched fists, proclaiming its space in the world with a cry. Pictures of the same baby with bright blue eyes and curly brown hair standing shakily on his chubby legs. The shining face of a mother and the overwhelming pride of a father as they held their smiling child up. Början traced the outline of his father’s face and looked at a different photograph. A two year-old dressed up as a ghost, a four year-old eating a far too large slice of chocolate cake with zeal. A man with shining green eyes and curly black hair standing on the front porch of his old house, with a six year-old boy by his side, looking at that child with the eyes and smile of someone who knows what a miracle feels like.
Början turned his attention to notes. “I had my first kiss with Frida! 1-2-32.” “I finally beat my dad at chess! 5-12-34.” “You’re the smartest and strongest person I know -Micke, my ally in the hospital. 27-3-41” “My little bastard, you’re a gift from a prince on a journey, do something I’ve never been able to do -Mamma, the one who gave me life. 13-5-35”
His hands sorted through the mess, he pushed some pictures and notes aside, and then picked up a picture of some kids, pale and huddled, reunited with the adults who survived. They looked exhausted, but the relief and gratefulness on their faces and within their eyes was so stark that Början bit his lip and felt his breath catch.
He remembered now.
He sat at the workbench again.
Now he knew what he was building. Now his hands worked not with a panicked frenzy, but with solid purpose. All of the people in his chest, they had given him everything they could; they had nourished him, protected him, died for him. He wasn’t just putting together a weapon; he was building hope. In this golden gun lay the hopes and dreams of every single person inside the chest, and even those of the people in the future.
He focused as he continued to work. He remembered how his heart fluttered and his knees felt weak that snowy day that he approached Frida. He remembered her smile and his sparkly joy when she leaned in for a kiss. He remembered Micke, the beautiful blond man from the hospital, who, with a cheeky smile, stole oranges from the trees and encouraged him to do the same.
Emotions are weapons. Those who say otherwise have clearly never felt them. They cut deep into you, make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. People steal, they abandon friendships, they commit murder, all because of envy, hatred, and rage. Push a few buttons here, pull a few strings there, really get to know someone, and if you can trigger all the right emotions, a few words and looks will be more effective than a gun.
Början’s hands worked tirelessly and his heart hammered into his chest.
Emotions are powerful. They restore and repair. People build families around them, people create other human beings from them. They are behind every sacrifice, and they follow every blessing, every gift, every miracle.
Now it was finished.
The red light in the room gave an air of urgency. Början stood up to his full height, took his new weapon, some leather scraps, and a few other materials, and headed out the door.
Pictures fluttered around on the floor from the force of the door slamming. The faces and notes swirling around, moving even when, according to all laws of physics, they should have stopped.
Början stepped outside into the night, his new gun sinking the right side of the jacket with its weight. He walked back to his ship, a walk much different than the one he had made a few hours ago. His steps were firm, his eyes were determined and fierce.
He was ready.
Ljus took off into the hot and stormy night, breaking through the planet’s atmosphere in five seconds. Inside the ship, Början stood at the table in the pilot’s cabin, watching the stars flash by, white streaks against black velvet.
He walked over to the pilot’s seat next to the controls. He sat down, and in one smooth motion, set his gun on his lap, took out the silver compass, and waited for the needle to stop spinning.