CYRUS OF THE AFFECTIONATE FLAME
How long had it been since Cyrus had spoken to the Elect? Too long, he suspected, far too long indeed. The thought that he had made a promise to her echoed through the back of his mind- but what had that promise been? The memory bounced around his head, refusing to enter the foreground of his thoughts, as if aware that it was not truly his memory.
Ah. "Not truly his memory." Was that the case? Mahadeva did not think so. Mithra did not think so. Helle, certainly, did not think so. But as Cyrus grappled with something as simple as his own memory, the weight of what he had cast aside seemed to press onto his shoulders once mroe. Oh, there it was. Perhaps that very thought was what had rung the bell to call his memory back. He had assured Niflheim he would assist her however she might need, had he not? But had that promise not been made of his misguided affections? Those very same feelings that had, perhaps, made him all too willing to take the burdens of the world upon himself.
Even so, as he made his way to the Elect's room with quick, purposeful steps, Cyrus knew that he did not regret his decision. That, even if he could never be the man he had once been, he could at the very least operate as he had promised his friends. That he would operate, in whatever small capacity was feasible, as a man rather than as a god. Though it pained him in every sense of the word to do so, the divine Quincy allowed himself to recall the full extent of what he had once felt for the Elect. Those emotions certainly existed no longer, forever annihilated by the void of his divinity. He did note, however, that some similar affection had taken its place. He did not have the time, nor the capacity at this moment, to consider this any further, for there were more pressing matters to attend to.
Cyrus had once loved Niflheim, he would not sidestep this train of thought with any minced words. His reasons had been poor, he knew that much, and he would freely state the truth of it. He knew certainly that he did not love her any longer, and this was not simply a matter of his divinity crushing such feelings. It was, if anything, a consequence of the man he had become, that he had realized the Elect was not so universally respectable as he had once held her to be. That her impersonal facade and detachment from others was destructive, counterintuitive even. But was that not ultimately every bit the same as his own sacrifice? All of these considerations were profoundly painful for Cyrus, unspeakably so as the core of his divinity rejected the emotional considerations outright. But he pressed forward regardless, each step toward the Elect's room more painful than the last.
What was she to him now? He loved her as he loved all living creatures, but in no greater capacity than that. No, that was not true. She meant more to him than that, for she had given him the opportunity and respect that no other could have. Yet, at the very same time, there was an undeniable disdain that seemed almost to mitigate that greater emotion. She reminded him so very much of himself as he once had been, and he did not relish that thought. He wondered if, perhaps, Niflheim and the Cyrus of old would not have been a natural fit for one another. A union he could never conceive of, in any hypothetical, as "blessed."
But all of these side tangents were nothing more than distractions. No matter what he might wish to say, the love he had once felt for her was what had pushed him down the path he now walked. Perhaps that was why it so deeply upset him that he had not managed to support her as well as he might have. He knew it would never have been practical, that he never would have come to her side when so much work for the greater good was yet to be done. But the knowledge that he could not have was, in its own right, unpleasant.
"Niflheim, I will enter, if you permit it."
Cyrus had scarcely even noticed that he had arrived, truth be told. So many excruciating thoughts echoed through him, and he wondered if they should have been so difficult at all. If he had not made this infinitely harder than it needed to be.
END POST | HEARTFELT THANKS