(Don't) Let The Fire Die

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I can still vividly recall the first time I met them.

I was absentmindedly wandering the wilderness as usual and barely even noticed the two of them. They were so small and so fragile, looking as if a meager wind could shatter them into pieces at any moment. Unmoving, with fear painted across their faces. Compared to me, they were like ants. Yet, they did not attempt to flee or strike, as one would expect when faced by a being, a god, of such superior might. Instead, they simply held each other in their arms, seeking to comfort and protect each other. It was a selfless compassion displayed against what they could only imagine to be their demise. Like a gentle flame standing in the face of a hurricane.

You could say that it was love at first sight.

Back then I was so much younger. So much younger and so much more foolish. But even in those days, I was alone, so some things stay the same I guess. Unlike now though, I chose my own loneliness. While my fellow divine brethren were fascinated by the Old Yeren, showering them with gifts and fortune, I never found them to be of much interest. Oh, they were certainly great, have no doubt about that. Greater than any who came before or after. Yet, perhaps it was that magnificence that I disliked, so dull in their greatness that they were tiring.

And thus I retreated into the wild, seeking for entertainment in the insignificant. For years I would simply watch as the world around me grew and changed. I witnessed the growth of individual leaves, studied the shading of insects, followed the journies of waterdrops. I would compose beautiful poems of the small wonders I witnessed, sharing them with the others during the brief times that I emerged from my self-imposed exile. Pangloss of the Woods they would call me, a trickster of a thousand songs.

And then I met the two. Then I met humanity. I was charmed beyond belief. Such insignificant creatures, barely more than monkeys, who dared to emerge only during the day, when the Yeren slumbered. But in spite of their meager existence, they would laugh and dance and sing and weep all through their lives, which to me seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. And that pure joy in their humble existence, lacking any higher purpose or meaning, overwhelmed me and overtook my every waking thought.

Their lives held so much potential. A loving future, filled with wonder and laughter. So much promise for a future I knew they would never see. After all, while some of them had formed their own communities to defend themselves, most were fenced away by the Yeren, carefully kept under their strict watch. I knew that, in their current state, that future they could one day reach would remain forever unkindled.

And so I decided to light their fire.

I helped them burn away the old world. I helped them turn the magics and technology of the Old Yeren against their own creators, until not even the memory of their existence remained. All for a faint dream motivated by nothing else but a selfish desire of curiosity.

And here I still remain, watching over the children that I helped rise up so long ago. I had imagined that they would bring an age of wonder, an unparalleled joy never before see. Yet they have only drenched the world in the blood of their own kind, fighting each other in meaningless wars. All that potential dashed away by hatred and jealousy.

But who am I to blame them? I, who slew my own to fulfill my foolish dreams. I, who have witnessed countless more of my brethren killed or locked away. Most of the surviving ones shun me, cursing the name “Pangloss” with their every breath. And as I witness the suffering and death caused by humanity, who can I blame but myself? I gave humanity a role that was never meant for their kind. I lit a fire that has consumed the entire world.

I truly am Pangloss of the Flame, of a wicked flame that even devours itself until nothing remains.

And still, as I look upon humanity, I cannot bring myself to let their flame die. Looking at them, I still remember that compassion I witnessed so long ago. Among the acts of hatred and jealousy, I can occasionally spot an act of kindness, a small gesture of compassion and love. And even as I see and learn more, I cannot help but hope that maybe, just maybe, they will eventually grow tired of their endless fighting. That they will learn to love each other as I love them all.

I can only hope and dream.

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