They say eyes are a window into a person’s soul. If that’s so, then I don’t like what I see in mine.
They got in my head, changed how I thought. I did things under their control that I regret.
I betrayed my friends, I betrayed my allies, I betrayed myself and my ideals.
I am haunted by my own eyes. They stare back at me with accusation and pity. They stare back at me with heavy lids and bloodshot corneas. There is a great and terrible weight behind those eyes.
The mask doesn’t help. The false identity I took on so I could do some good defaced by the marks of the enemy. A sign of my betrayal painted in brilliant gold onto the mask that represents who I am in this world. It stares at me as well, the gold reflecting the waning light as if in accusation – not letting me forget.
Who am I now? What am I now? Where do I go from here? How can I fight knowing what I’ve done? How can I not fight knowing what they are and what they will do?
Maybe it’s time to put down the mask. Maybe it’s time I walk away. But I don’t think I can do that yet. Not while… not while they keep stepping up.
The question is… how do I do this now?
Photo by Oliver Facey
It’s just one of those things.
Life and death. You think you’re prepared for it. You think you know what’s to come, and how you’ll deal with it when the time comes.
It’s all a lie, though. No one is ever really prepared for it.
Staring into the face of it, knowing you’re going to die if something isn’t done, it changes you. It makes you realise things you might not have known about yourself.
It makes you realise that you would choose death over slavery. It makes you realise that you would choose the lives of others over your own. It makes you look back at your life and see all your misdeeds anew. It makes you realise what you’ve been missing out on.
It makes you regret not realising sooner. It makes you regret not being able to say anything as it’ll make it harder to let go – to have others let go.
It’s just one of those things. You can’t know what it’s like until you’ve been there. You can’t know what you’ll do until you’re there. But once you’ve been there, it changes you and it’s hard to go back to where you were before.
It’s just one of those things that makes life interesting, right? Right?
Shit. Now what do I do?
Photo by Beth Dooner
Sweat beaded on his face, the clang of steel against steel ringing in his ears.
The hammer came down again and again, folding the hocho-tetsu to free it from impurities. The nabe-gane is heated, and quenched, broken and purified. Then the metals are combined: tamahagane, hocho-tetsu, and nabe-gane layered and folded together to form the blade. Folded together again and again, in more and more complex layers, extended and shaped until the lumps of metal resemble the blade they will become.
The yakiba-tsuchi has already been prepared, and the clay mixture is applied to the blade before it is heated and then quenched. The hot metal bends as it cools, taking on the signature shape as the yakiba-tsuchi leaves its pattern in the steel.
The blade is set aside while the second is forged, and the process begins anew.
With the blades forged, there is still much work to be done. Polishing and sharpening and polishing once more, taking several weeks before it is ready. The crafting of tsuba and koshirae take time as well, the complete process being more akin to art than Telmark smithing.
But finally, they are ready, new blades to suit the Empire he finds himself trapped in.
Photo by Jeff Kubina (CC By-SA 2.0)
These garments are alien to him. He has seen others wear them but he is not comfortable in them yet. They are easy to get wrong, easy to make social mistakes by wearing them wrong.
They are strange, but it is a strangeness he must overcome. It is not the first time he has had to wear the clothes off a culture alien to him, and he will overcome his discomfort.
His home world is a galaxy away, as is the world he was growing to know, and all he knows is so far away.
But he can overcome this. He will overcome this. He has tasks that must be done, there are changes that must be made, and they begin by him getting used to these clothes.
But they are still alien to him.