The Cycle

One task. Reach the shrine. But it isn't as easy as it sounds.
One shot- may possibly become a full story at a later date.

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2. Rebirth

 

 

   Lenora woke feeling incredibly strange. The cycle was often disorienting, but usually it didn’t feel so weird. She opened her eyes, already knowing what she would see. From the ceiling, skulls grinned down at her. She was back in the Temple of Bones.

    She sighed, closing her eyes. She had hoped that maybe she would get close enough to the shrine to stop the cycle, but no. Apparently she had to actually enter the shrine to end the cycle.

    “Why…” she groaned. Her voice sounded strange. It was lower and deeper than her past voices had been. She frowned and sat up. She looked down at her hands. They were too large as well- more square and calloused instead of slim and delicate. She frowned, and ran a hand along the side of her face. She was more squarely built this time. And her hair… when was the last time she’d had short hair?

    She stood, and studied the floor. Where she was lying, another tombstone had appeared. It read: Lanora Kyrenzi. Age: 20. Cycle: 21. Method of death: Dragon. And at the bottom, the same words were inscribed. She had seen them so many times that they were burned into her memory, but she looked at them anyways. Quest failed. Cycle restarted. She sighed, and stood. Bracing herself, she turned to face the wall of mirrors.

    The first thing she saw was that another mirror had been added. There were twenty one in total now. The most recent held the image of a redheaded girl with wild hair and bright blue eyes. Lanora studied her past life with envy. That body had felt strong to her- stronger than some of her past lives. She felt strong this life too, but in a different way. She braced herself, then turned to stare at the empty mirror- the mirror of her present life.

    She caught her breath as she saw her reflection. Now she understood that strange difference she had felt. She felt that way because she wasn’t a she.

    That explained everything. The deeper voice. The stocky build, and squared hands. Lanora was a he.

    He stared at himself in shock. He hadn’t had a male life for a long time. He looked along the mirrors. Life seven had been male. But the rest had been females. He cursed under his breath. When he was female, he had the experience of all those past lives to help him. But not this time. He just had life seven.

    As he grew more aware of his surroundings, the figures in the mirror began to blink, looking around, moving, yawning. As expected, life 10 spoke first.

    “You’re a boy.” Life 10 had a skill at speaking the obvious.

    “You look weird.” Life 13 had no filter, and was highly opinionated.

    “Quiet.” Life 21 spoke firmly. The other lives shut up. It’s tradition to respect the most recent life. And besides, life 21 had made it the farthest. She had seen the shrine with her own eyes. All the new Lanora would have to do was touch the mirror and he would see life 21’s memories. They had already faded from his head. But he knew who he was, and what he had to do.

    “I made it almost to the shrine,” 21 continued with a firm voice. She was a confidant life. She would be good for the cycle later on. Her memories would be helpful if he was reborn with a female form next time. “I have the best memories that could help you.”

    “We haven’t had a male form in a long time,” 10 pointed out.

    “Ask 7 what he knows.” Life 20 had been a child. She stared at Lanora with wide eyes.

    Lanora is too feminine. I’ll have to start going by Lauren.

    “Just get memories from all of us and get on with it!” 13 snapped. “We don’t want to be trapped here forever.”

    “Forever or until we crumble,” a quiet voice said from the end of the chamber.

    Everyone fell silent, and all eyes settled on the farthest mirror. Life 1- the very first in the cycle. Everyone respected life 1. She was the one who had first been told about the cycle. Her memories were the freshest and the strongest. Lauren knew that most of the lives hadn’t dared take memories from her. She saw too much.

    “What do you mean?” Life 5 was curious. That curiosity had been what got her killed. She was always the first to ask a question.

    “None of you remember the day we were assigned our task,” Life 1 continued. Her voice was soft and slightly hoarse- she hadn’t spoken in years. “I’ve never shared the memory with anyone. But I was told… No, it will take too long to tell. Newlife, come here. I’ll show you.”

    Lauren hesitated. He respected Life 1, and the thought of taking memories from her terrified him. He hesitated, and life 8 spoke up.

    “Why’s he special? You never gave memories to any of us. Besides, he’s male, you’re female. How will your memories help?” 8 was arrogant. She’d died after disregarding a warning from a passing merchant, and venturing into a cave containing a malicious spirit. Her death had been incredibly unpleasant.

    “Just tell all of us!” 5 protested.

    “Just because he’s the a male life doesn’t mean he’s special!” 13 agreed.

    All the lives began arguing at once, shouting their opinions so loudly that the ceiling began to shake. Lauren figured he’d better restore order if they ever wanted to get anything done.

    “All right, everybody SHUT UP!”

    All the lives fell silent. No one contradicts the current life. They could be the one to finally break the cycle.

    “7, explain your experience,” 1 said calmly.

    “It was easier being male,” 7 spoke in his usual soft voice. “People treated me with more respect. When I asked for directions, people gave them. They didn’t scorn me.”

    “Maybe a male life has its benefits,” 1 spoke calmly. “Newlife, come here. I have memories to share with you.”

    Lauren took a deep breath, and crossed the room to her mirror. He hesitated just a moment, then reached out and was swallowed up by a memory.

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