Title: Soul in the Mirror
Notes: Theme and feel of the story based on the song "Mirror, Mirror" by Candlemass (lyrics donated by BB). The lyrics follow the story.
She was beautiful. Bright and brilliant, her yellow flames licking at the edges of her figure, she was the most beautiful creature I knew and I desired her more than anything. To take her and possess her, to caress that lovely body and hear her tinkling laughter, to see the fire not just in her eyes but in her soul as well, to have her love only for me. I wanted her. I yearned for her.
But it was not to be. She was a Fire Demon, and I was a Capiem Demon -- so far below her that those of her class simply referred to mine as "one of the lower demons." How that galled me, yet it was truth. Truth of a certainty that I could not overcome. She was beyond me, and would never see me as anything more than a minion to be used and discarded at whim. I had not the Power to be recognized by one such as she.
Yet Power beyond our own can be gained. It is hard to do so, for Power rules our land, and those with Power are usually the ones who gain more. Those without are those whom it is taken from. But my desire for her pushed me into a bold move that I would have never made elsewise.
The search was long. I was a demon, I had only to fear death by another, not of age. Yet my status in the lower groups meant that that fear was always a breath from being realized. I feared my dream to be impossible, yet I would not give up. I kept an eye on her and three eyes on my search for that which would enable the dream. Finally, after a hundred-odd years, I found it. That which would allow me to command Power beyond my own. The Mirror of Utter Darkness.
... ... ...
I studied the Mirror, and I read of its history. There was a price to be paid for the granting of Heart's Desire. A price beyond measure, yet one that was not written anywhere. A caution... but I had no caution left. The Fire Demon was nearly beyond my sight. A hundred years had advanced her rank and her peerage, and I rarely saw her, the lowest classes being so far beneath her we did not even serve anymore. The fire that poured over her body, I still had to have, and so on a moon-filled night I took out what I had found. To have her would be worth any price. Any at all.
... ... ...
"Mirror of Darkness, Mirror of Power,
The mirror lit with an iridescent light pulsating deep within its heart. An eerie green glow swirled in misty tentacles on the surface, showing nothing clear. A chuckle echoed through my mind that loosened my soul from its anchor of my body. Grimy fingers dripped through my thoughts and memories and poked into the untouched realms of my heart. I steeled myself against the advance and when the thought of the Fire Demon was touched I advanced it to the fore. This was my Heart's Desire, and I would have it done. The Mirror was only a tool.
"This woman, to make her love you is your Desire?"
"And you will pay the price of the Mirror?"
Not a shiver did I give when I spoke those words... and yet, on that instance, the cold dark soul of the Mirror flashed out in a brightness the opposite of its darkness, taking my soul, my rei, my Power, and flying out upon the wind with all that I was contained within its claws. It found my brilliant Fire Demon and it used every drop of Power that was mine to twist her mind and her soul and implant my image and knowledge of *me* within her. Screaming, she dropped the sword she held and ran as fast as she could to the open plain where I had worked the spell to invoke the Mirror. As if in a dream, I watched outside myself as she dropped to her knees and scooped up my body in her arms, crying and kissing my face, pledging her love and her fire. Her relatives gathered 'round, watching this scene in horror, 'til they would not be shamed any more. A sword was unsheathed and wielded expertly. Her body fell over mine.
Laughter echoed through my soul as I screamed. "Beware of what you wish for, it might come true." And then the soul of the Mirror twisted around and stuffed me within the Mirror. "I am free at last!"
I screamed for a very different reason, and fought with all that I was. But my wish had taken my rei and my power from me (what little there was) and I could not escape. I was forced to obey and my soul slipped from my control into the Mirror.
The other soul, I saw no more. Instead, I was trapped within that swirling green light, buffeted and bowled through nothingness until I thought I would surely go mad. But madness was not the escape left for me.
Eventually, I regained my balance and set out to explore this new realm that was now me and not me. Formless, shapeless, I was still defined and could even sense something beyond myself. It took me some time to figure out how to use this new sense, and when I did, I found that the Mirror had traveled from beyond where I had dropped it. It was hanging on a wall in some magician's chamber. I found that I was the Mirror.
The realization wasn't unexpected, but it rocked me deep. I had been a lowly demon. Now I was a mirror. Yet not just any mirror, but The Mirror. The Mirror of Utter Darkness. And I had Power. More Power than I had ever dreamed of. Power that would have burnt me crispy just to touch before, yet now I bathed in and played with to make pretty pictures to pass the time. It had captured my soul in truth as well as reality.
Gradually, I learned the rules. I was the Mirror. I had the Power. But it was not mine to use freely. I could see clearest in the moonlight, and I while I could read the souls of those who held the Mirror, I could speak to none. The Power was trapped with me within the Mirror. It was the Mirror, it was me. Power could only be released with Heart's Desire, yet Desire was formless. I was there to give Desire form and function, to be the embodiment of a wish. Only with a wish could I be free. For the release of the Power meant that I could do what had been done to me. A life in the Mirror, not to be mine anymore. Release. How I longed for it. And feared it.
... ... ...
Years went by. The Mirror went from the magician to a demon to a child to an imp to others. It slipped through the realms of darkness and light, from the underworld to Earth. From hand to hand it passed, all in awe of such a powerful Treasure, yet none willing to pay a price they did not know. I examined the minds of those who came near and watched their Desires. Some Desires were strong and bright, easy to identify. Some Desires were nebulous and weak, easy to twist. I would make the form of the Desire, and I amused myself with the thoughts of how I would treat the Speaker of the Spell as I had been myself. Desire twisted into a form they did not expect, they did not want, a wish granted... but not looked for.
And then... tragedy. An ogre won the Mirror in battle, and gave such a Power to the Gods. The Gods saw the Power and proclaimed the Mirror to be a great Treasure. And hung me on a wall in a museum where all could see me and none could use me.
... ... ...
A thousand more years. Or something. Hard to tell time, and even playing with the Power amused me no more. I wanted out! But there was none to invoke me.
... ... ...
None. Until... A dark night, a shattering of bones, a harsh rebuke as an alarm sounded, and a slim hand that held me tightly. I swarmed through the mind and soul of the one who held me, restrained to the Mirror yet eager to know the one who would call me forth.
A Fox Demon, reshaped to a human form and living on Earth. And his Desire... was to save a human's life. How odd. He even knew the price that I would take from him, and was willing to pay it. His life. For hers. It was a good trade, he thought. But he did not know the truth behind the price, and what form the price would take. Enslavement to the Mirror was the true price for a wish.
He carried me around with him for days, and I watched. I watched the one he called 'Mother' and I watched his heart. It was not simply a Desire for her life, but for her love, for her understanding, for her hugs and her meals. It wanted to see her smile and to relieve the pain in her heart for the coldness of his. The Desire was not as clearly formed as it seemed at first, and would be easy to twist.
There were others in my sight. A young Power, burning bright, yet tempered. An older Power, darker than my own Mirror and resembling in nature my old love; and well aware of me. Either of them could have taken me from the Fox that held me. Neither did so. And finally I had my chance.
... ... ...
"Mirror of Utter Darkness, I invoke thee."
"This woman's happiness - it is your Desire?"
"You will pay the price?"
His voice was firm and steady as he spoke. And I poured out my Power, taking his within my grasp, prepared to enslave him even as I freed myself.
And then the young Power broke in. Not even knowing what he was doing, he reached between us and offered his life for the Fox's Desire. Images flashing through his mind of crying mothers weeping over broken bodies. Living on when Death has taken the other. He was right, it would be no happiness for the woman if I took the Fox's life. I could delay. I could wrap the bonds and lock the chains. Once invoked, I was free to do what I wanted, in the time that I wanted.
I looked out to the Fire Demon who stood upon the roof of a nearby building and watched expressionlessly as I played green fire over the bodies of fools. I looked out to the stars and the moon which I had not seen in truth for many thousands of years. And I sighed.
With the Power of the Mirror, I pulled Power from the youth and the Fox, and I fixed the poison within the woman, making her healthy and hale. Fit to live her normal life-span, and a bit more. And then I pulled myself back within the Mirror, shutting the screen but not the door as I chose to remain within my prison, yet not so tightly locked as it was before. I was the Soul in the Mirror, for good or evil, and while I had thought to do evil, it pleased me to do this instead. I wanted to see no more women weeping over bodies.
/You are a fool./
The voice was deep and toughed the edge of my soul with dark fire. I laughed, for I could see the soul of the voice, and while the words were scornful, there was puzzlement behind the thought. I made no answer to the Fire Demon who watched.
I was the Mirror. Once, I learned the rules, and learned them to my sorrow and grief. But now, the soul in the Mirror was mine, and the Power was mine, and I would do what I wanted to, and not be bound by rules not set by me.
... ... ...
The Mirror, my form, my prison, my sanctuary, was passed onto the youth. He tossed me in the air and laughed lightly, never knowing how close he came to eternal damnation. I could have taken the Fox's life, I could have taken the Youth's. Both had made the offer, and in the end, it was I who decided. Was I ever as young as this one?
... ... ...
Another battle. Between Young Power and older Power. I watched all, for my bonds lay lightly upon me. It was not nightfall, yet the moon was within me. Power for a Desire had been taken, yet not claimed and so it was mine. The youth was an innocent in the ways of Battle, yet his Desire was to defeat his enemy. And in the instant he formulated his plan, I knew hope and despair in the same tangled web. My prison, my sanctuary. I could foil his plan, or I could aid it. Either way, I was dead. I decided to aid it and as his bolt of rei struck upon my surface, the surface of the Mirror, I corrected his aim and poured into the rei the Power of the Mirror. The Power cracked the surface and I edged out among the shards, no longer the Mirror, yet still formed by such.
And then I saw his eyes widen. Purple eyes within green skin, the jagan eyes on the back of the demon watched the bolt of rei as it reflected off my broken self. There was no need for the Fire Demon to turn his head to watch destruction move towards him. And plenty of time to move away. But I wanted to see this last Desire made true and I took the Power of the Mirror and reached to hold the demon still.
Black fire snarling fierce. /Keep your filthy power off me!/
His Power, while strong, could not touch that of the Mirror. He was no match for me. But I was curious, so I paused time while I thought.
Purple eyes narrowed and eyed my unsubstantial form warily.
I probed deeply into the soul of this Fire Demon who reminded me so of the one I knew before. His Desires were defined yet cautious. A jagan-barer, he spent enough time in the Void like unto the one I lived in to know how twisted Truth could be. His Desires. The Young Power. The Fox Spirit. A Young-Old Power of Gods. Death. Death by Power. He hadn't planned on moving out of the way of the bolt of rei.
I decided I didn't feel like granting his last Desire and I removed from the bolt of rei all the Power of the Mirror I had put in it and some of the Power of the youth. And released time to move again before the Fire Demon could react.
... ... ...
As I swirled out from the shards of the Mirror, free, I didn't know what to do. It had been so long... A figure in robes perched on the side of an oar flew down to me.
"Please come with me."
I looked around uncertainly. "I am a demon. I do not return to Enma's domain."
The young lady looked uncertainly to where a blue-haired Goddess sat next to a human. The Goddess caught her glance and nodded to me, dividing her attention. /You are the Soul of the Mirror. You changed from the soul of a demon long ago. The Ruler of the Dead has noted your name within the Book and calls you back./
How very odd. But I went with the young ferrylady for I had nothing better to do.
... ... ...
A child not a child. A young but old Power and a God. This, then, was the other Desire. But what had he to do with I?
"The Mirror of Utter Darkness is bound to its own rules." He fixed me with a steel-eye baby blue gaze.
"I am the Mirror. I make the rules."
He grimaced, "Nobody does that." With a sigh, he pushed aside some papers and played with the shards of broken glass on his desk. "Do you even know why the Mirror cracked?"
"The focus of rei---"
"Bull. You didn't use the Power when it was released and it built up around the edges and shattered the frame." He sighed again. "Like I didn't have enough to deal with... Anyhow, back to your case." The blue ogre handed him some papers, another held out an open book. The child-God looked at them both and shook his head.
"Another balance. How the hell do I end up with them?" Pulling a fresh paper to his desk, he scribbled upon it, looking between me and it. "Okay, here's the deal. You get another chance. But because you've meddled with Power, your chance isn't that simple. Come with me."
We walked down many miles of corridors. As we walked, ogres and ferrygirls continuously rushed up to him with questions and cries for directions. Impatiently, he barked orders and stamped forms with barely a pause to look at them. I wondered if the pacifier in his mouth ever fell out. The child-God glared at me.
A blank wall. Solid, dark... not quite there. I shivered, without knowing why. The child-God reached into the wall and brought out a tiny yellow glow that fit within the palm of his hand. It pulsated and seemed... familiar.
"You started this Mirror thing for desire. So you'll make your choice of the same."
If I had breath, I would have drawn it in. My Fire Demon! The Lady I had admired for so very long and had wanted so much. I wanted her still. I fixed my gaze on that little yellow light.
The wall changed to the view of Earth and its human inhabitants. The child-God raised his hand and blew gently. The yellow flame passed into the picture and drifted to a woman. I watched as it moved into the child within her womb. And I blinked. "The child... it's a man-child you have placed the Lady's soul in."
The God smiled grimly, "Was it the soul you loved, or merely the body? Let's find out, shall we?" He took out his pacifier and blew a breath towards me. I felt the wind, the shock of the transition to another plane... Earth it was, and another woman. Then I was within the new body of a child as well, snug within a womb. A green light pulsated deep within me.
Another life. Choices. I was no longer the Soul within the Mirror.
So be it.
... ... ...
Koenma shook his head, "He got to mess with somebody's life twice and they call it a balance. I do the same thing 800 times a day and they call it my job. Sometimes I hate this life."
Turning back to the corridor, Koenma skipped some space and got back to his officer quicker than the walk had taken originally. He sat down at his desk and stared gloomily at the broken Mirror. "What in the neather-reaches of Hell did I do to deserve this? By the Gods..."
Jumping out of his seat with a squawk, Koenma spun to face the enormously tall figure coming in through the door. His face pale as death, he whispered, "Father..."
Enma wasn't looking at his son. Instead, he was studying a sword he held. "Son of Enma, would you care to explain why Ghost-Slayer is covered in rust?"
"Rust?" Koenma glanced at the sword where there were noticible red speckles over the blade. "Spirit Blood, oh damn Kurama..."
"And I see the Mirror of Utter Darkness is no more." The voice was mild; the smoke around the tall figure was not. "Dare I hope the Orb is intact?"
Koenma reached into a desk drawer and handed it to his father.
"Well, that's something." The true Ruler of the Dead moved to the desk and sat down in the chair, which somehow didn't collapse under his weight. "I'm waiting for what you might possibly consider an explanation."
The dark bushy eyebrows rose, "The jagan-bearer?"
"I wasn't ready! He's early this century -- I won't be 700 for another 30 years!"
"So..." Enma propped his feet up on the desk as he picked up a mirror shard, "You let yourself be directed by the games of a minor fire demon. No wonder he got bored before a thousand years."
"I was not directed!"
Enma tilted his head to one side and stared at his son and then pointedly at the sword and the broken mirror.
"So you left your post here to deal with the jagan-bearer."
Finally secure in an answer he knew was right, Koenma refuted the statement, "No, I gave the job to Yusuke."
"Yusuke? I haven't heard of that demon before."
"He's not a demon, he's..." Koenma suddenly realized something he hadn't considered, "ah, he's... he's my Spirit Detective."
Enma swung his feet back to the floor and sat upright to stare at his son. "Your what???"
As Koenma started to babble, Enma waved him silent. "Start from the beginning, and make it coherent."
"Yes, Sir." Koenma spared a longing glance at the door, then started to tell his dad what had happened while he was out.
... ... ...
"So be it." Enma unlaced his fingers. "A spanking for not retrieving the Treasures in perfect order. As for the rest..." He stood up and tossed the Orb from hand to hand, and then put it in his pocket. He picked up Ghost Slayer and looked regretfully at the shards of the Mirror. "It will have to be enough. You have the desk again. I have to go back, and it will be harder without the Mirror."
Koenma gulped, "Father, you can't leave me here again..."
"You didn't do so badly. You won't fall for getting trapped into a pattern of movements again and Hiei is in jail. And your Spirit Detective sounds like he'll be interesting. Carry on." The tall God gave his son the smallest of smiles and then left the room, taking his Power and Silence with him. And leaving that of his son's behind.
Slumping against the desk, Koenma put down the shard of Mirror that he'd been playing with through the recital. And looked at the blood upon his hand without regret.
Mirror, mirror upon the wall
Speak the ancient words of mages
The battle of minds
Iridescent pulsation light
Green mist swirling deep within
Enchanted with powers to conquer your soul
Feel the presence, the voice of the dark