Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Watershed -- Mana Khemia fanfiction (1159 words, spoilers)

Just a little exposition-y thing about one Mana's fundamental place in the cosmos. Inspired by Vienna Teng's "Watershed" and Moby's "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters".

It started out just backdropping/laying out my personal canon, but on the way it kind of turned into a creation myth/fairy-tale-like mini-epic, and you actually don't have to know Mana Khemia to appreciate it. Although it is one giant spoiler.


It had been there since ancient days.

Still it was the youngest of the Mana: Wind and Water, Fire and Light, these things had defined the universe since before the first-born monster had placed a foot upon the Earth. (For humans had come from the love monsters made with Mana, though they did not like to admit it.) But wishes could only live with a wisher to dream them, and so it had been that at the first sincere wish, the first time a creature had ever looked to the newborn stars and longed for something more, the last of the primal forces of the world had been born into being.

A spark, at first; a tiny mote of hope, and then, like a pearl formed around a grain of sand, its heart had grown with every wish, a fire that became a furnace, a furnace that birthed a sun.

In agony and sweet rapture it roiled and swelled behind the curtain of the universe, a power that ached with every wish not yet fulfilled and rejoiced at those that, through loving hands, were granted. Yet for all its power, it alone could not bring its own form to fruition. For while earth and water, air and fire, were necessary to run the world, and light to grant it hope, wishes were not necessary for the beginning of things. They existed only for endings, for completion, to raise what had emerged imperfect into heaven's hands. And if humans, beastmen, and their variant kinds wanted heaven, they would have to build the bridge there with their own hands.

It was not spite. It was not a challenge. It was only the way things were: the rule of paradise, that the oldest of the alchemists had received in a vision and engraved on an emerald tablet, whose words were still passed down today in the halls of the greatest institutions of magic. That what was Above and what was Below must act in unity to achieve perfection: the mortal and the endless, the heavens and the flesh. So man must build a bridge, and the heavens had played their part, offering down that vision whose knowledge had informed the actions of many a seeker. So far, the earthly team were doing well, and the heavens held hope.

But it was one man, caught in the throes of a desperate longing, who at last wielded the Art of Kings to form a mortal body, and bound to it that ancient power which had itself so yearned to escape. He named it Vayne, meaning a kindly one; and then he forced it to kill. But it was alive in the world, and no manner of cruelty could wash existence free of that truth.

That night, the little creature, afraid of the dead man and driven out by his lover, sheltered in the woods near the alchemist's house, and shivered for want of love. And that night, a storm rolled over the land, like no storm that had ever been known. Warm and heavy, it crept like an army's advance, saturating each inch of the ground in turn before moving on to the next. Vayne had no memories, and no cover but the leaves' canopy; he did not know that the heavens displayed in his honour, a tumultous sorrow for those who would twist goodness to poor ends. But he felt no pain from the elements, and when the storm had passed, bringing with it the morning and the company of one disgruntled, rain-soaked cat, a new lightness had settled over his heart.

The joy did not last long. For as mentioned, in his newborn form, thinking for the first time as one small life and not the wishes of the multitudes, he had in haste wished to escape all that he had known in those first grisly minutes of living. Now he knew nothing of his nature, and he had forgotten why he had come. In time, from curiosity, he ventured out into the towns and cities to mingle with the things that looked like him; unknowingly, they taught him human habits, and that all his impulses were strange and alien, and should be buried deep in his heart. So he ate food, because he feared death, and drank from the streams, and became humble and afraid of the lesson they all too knowingly inflicted, the lesson that those who are different will be mistrusted and loathed.

He was feared for his power; suspected for his ignorance; hated for the look in his eyes, the glimmer of alien sapience that he could not hide. At his core, he never understood why, for when he stared at his reflection in rivers the strange aliveness in his gaze was always a comfort-- one of the few truths to which civilisation's tides had not numbed his tender heart. Animals affirmed it, for they, if almost no others, would meet his eyes with curious affection; no others, save the occasional alchemist, who would remember passing Vayne in the streets many years after he had left the mainland.

It was one of those who had passed on the word, the story of the boy with the life in his eyes, life unlike that of the average villager or even the alchemists themselves. He was something different, they knew, and so they told of him, and eventually those words reached the ears of she who remembered him, and had tried to forget. She had hoped he would fall unconscious to the truth, but as time went by she became fearful that even the small, stifled expressions of that once-great power would be damning, and sought to contain even that last bit of life.

But the time would come when Al-Revis Academy, far from swallowing up the Mana's potential, would bring his heart to full fruit once again. It was there in the cauldrons' crackling song, there in the shadows and the pale morning light, echoing through hallways on the footsteps of the hopeful. It was there in the anticipation that swelled within his three-year term, there in years that passed resonant with rare beauty, staining memories golden in retrospect, crafting sweet revelations from simple friendships. Those who knew him felt the movement most of all, but it lived in the school as a whole, something everyone felt but no one knew how to say.

The waters would rise. A sleeper would wake. The storm would come once again, and the rains would nurture the land and bear forth a new Eden. As that day dawned closer, their dreams were thick with it, hazy summerlight spilling into waking life; time seemed to slow, circling around that perfect moment when all would be undone, to be reborn sweeter and anew.

The sound of the world holding its breath was alive in everyone's ears.

One blissful moment, one bright peal to split the heavens.

Since ancient days, the world had been waiting.


Re: the union of monsters and Mana creating humans, I'm actually really pleased with this creation myth. The unity of great heavenly things and small, earthly things bringing about creatures who can do alchemy, the art of unifying the spiritual and the physical, seems fitting to me. The rather neat yet tragic thing I've decided about my canon as of all of five minutes ago is that contrary to popular thought, "beastpeople" are actually more strongly derived from the Mana side than the monster side of the equation, since the first monsters were gelatinous, furless things. People think they're more primitive, but actually their "bestial" characteristics are evidence of divine heritage. Lorr is probably actually awesome at alchemy.

I'm using this etymology for Vayne, btw: "a well disposed person". Although I rather like this meaning personally. It doesn't say who the bearer belongs to: like Vayne himself, they simply belong to everyone....

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