Lightbearer

Lightbarer

Part 1: Rebirth

I've been through hundreds of rebirths, and this one was no different, or, at least, it was no different in how it felt. Lingering waves of pain from my last 'death', followed by a peaceful, black numbness that would last a varying amount of time, never more than three years, and which would allow my psyche to heal and mend from what ever battle had caused my physical demise. Over the years I had grown to enjoy those brief flashes of nothingness, relishing in the peace that was never to be an end to my reoccurring lives. It was only upon my rebirth that I realized that this last session had been a little longer than the previous ones.

How long, I could not yet say, but I knew it had been longer than was customary. I felt more refreshed, more ready to face the Dark Ones, than I ever had before.

It felt more than a little unnerving.

Forcing open eyes that were still new to me, I gazed about my surroundings, somewhat disappointed to find myself in a rubbish laden alleyway, next to a large, metal box that was emanating pungent odors. It had been my experience, through the ages, that the measure of a society could be taken by the amount of waste that it generated. If what I was currently seeing in this dim alleyway was any indication, then this current society had come exceptionally further than the one I last experienced.

Too far.

My body was still stiff and cold, not yet shaking off the throws of death from its previous occupant, and it was with more than a little pain that I stood up. My clothes were of a design that I had never seen before, another indication that more time than usual had passed, and I noted that there were three small holes in my shirt, the edges blackened and the entire cloth caked with dry blood. The damage was unfamiliar to me, apparently caused by a weapon developed since my last death, and I thought it would be in my best interests if I learned what changes had taken place, and quickly.

Part of the strange clothing was a coat, which matched, in color, the pants that I wore, and I quickly buttoned it up to cover the obvious damage to the shirt. It would not do me any good to draw attention to myself, the Dark Ones would undoubtedly already be aware of my return, and be searching for me.

My first course of action, as always, was to find which life I had been given, and to see what resources I now had at my disposal for the war against the Dark Ones. I felt about my new set of clothing, hoping to find some personal papers for this body, and quickly found a folding, leather pouch within a pocket of the coat.

Personal papers, for identification or authorization, had become a constant standard that I could count on for learning what my new identity was, and this time was no exception. My last few incarnations had also allowed me to become comfortable with paper currency, a concept that I still thought was flawed, but it did prove easier to carry around than gold and gems.

The leather pouch did contain currency, though it was much smaller than I had previously seen, and was only in shades of green, but Lightbarers can't be choosers. The other things in the pouch, though, they were far different than anything I had ever seen. Made of some kind of hard material, emblazoned with the most detailed, most clear portrait that I had ever seen, was an item called a State Of California Driver's License. Not only did it provide me with the name of my new life, but also with a street address that was my apparent domicile, and other things that I did not yet understand.

One of the aspects of a rebirth is that you immediately absorb what we term the basic learning memories, the standard, repetitive knowledge that the host had seen, and learned, over and over again. In other words, language, both written and spoken, and it made us instantly able to attempt to blend into what ever society we had been reborn into. Other memories, such as the personal ones that went with the host, would come to us over time. Little bits and pieces, seeping in for the next few weeks, until the host was a complete part of us, their previous life feeling as if it had been one of our own.

Some things would come to us right away, while others… Well, it might be weeks before we were comfortable with, or even understood, other aspects.

Plastic!

I wasn't sure what, entirely, the word ment, but I suddenly knew that that was what the hard material of the Driver's License was. Plastic. It seemed strange that such a material could be developed, and put into use, in just a few years. And though I had seen stranger things happen during my previous rests in limbo, it was yet another sign that too much time had passed. Too many changes could prove distracting, interfering with our duty as Lightbarers, and was one of the reasons we were never allowed more than a few years respite from the conflict.

How could a Lightbarer perform his, or her, duty if they had to adapt to an entirely new world?

Such thoughts were pushed from my mind as I sensed a feeling of dread envelope the alleyway, washing over me like a veritable wave of emotion, and I knew that one of them had found me already.

One of the Dark Ones.

"You okay, buddy?" called a voice to my left. A human voice, though I felt the darkness that tinged it, already tainting it from the light.

I turned, a bit sluggish as I was still unfamiliar with this body, and my vision fell on a male, dressed in strange, dark blue garments. A silver shield adorned his chest, undoubtedly the crest of which ever family he served, and was placed just below another strip of silver which read Potter. A club dangled at his side, hanging from a black belt that also held a short sheath, but no sword.

What type of warrior was this?

"I asked if you were okay," said the Dark One, slowing in his advance.

It was not wise to call energy to the body that you were recently reborn to, but I knew that I had little choice if I was going to best this being. Strangely, there seemed to be an abundance of magikal energies, almost as if no other beings were drawing from it, and it came more easily than I had expected. My hands began glowing a pure white, and I had to concentrate to contain the energy that had so readily leapt to me.

"What the hell?" whispered the warrior, halting his progress and dropping his hand to the small sheath at this side.

"You aspire to become a Dark One," I said to him, judging his power to be only that of an underling, a minor demon working to prove himself worthy.

"Hold it right there," he commanded, pulling a small, shiny black item from the sheath that I had thought to be empty.

Images flashed through my mind, showing me what the item was capable of, and I knew what had killed this host. Memories of another man, a man with a twisted and scarred face, and a weapon identical to the one now facing me, flowed through my memory, and I nearly jumped as the scarred man fired his weapon into my host.

A gun. A deadly weapon indeed, as the memories of my host's death revealed, and a thing to be wary of.

Keeping his gun pointed at me, the warrior reached behind him and pulled out another device, an oblong, black and silver brick of plastic that he held to his face. Keeping his eyes focused on me, he spoke into the brick of plastic, asking for something called "back up", and I was amazed as new voice issued from the brick.

"On my way, Potter," said the new voice.

"What do you know of the Dark Ones?" he asked, returning the brick to where ever he had pulled it from behind him.

"I am a Lightbarer," I said, confident that my statement would send him running in terror. Underlings were no match for a Lightbarer, and they often turned tail and fled unless in great numbers, or with an actual Dark One.

"What the hell's a Lightbarer?"

That was not the reaction I had been expecting, and my mind became thick with questions that I knew he would not answer.

"Hey, you deaf? What's a Lightbarer?" he demanded, a heavy click coming from his weapon as his thumb moved some part of it.

I unleashed the power that I had been holding back, certain that if I hesitated any longer then things would only get worse. The twin bolts of white spilled from my hands and lashed out at the warrior, striking him in the chest and knocking him a good distant back down the alleyway.

The bolts had left his chest with a smoldering hole in it, wisps of smoke curling upward to fill the alleyway with the odor of charred flesh and clothing. I watched as his essence drifted from his corpse, its black haze dispersing like smoke caught by the wind, and I knew that he had been successfully banished.

A wail invaded the alleyway, a loud, angry scream unlike anything I had ever heard before, and a white carriage with glowing blue orbs came into the alleyway. A carriage without the benefit of horses, and my mind once again attempted to grasp what types of magik were at work here.

"Freeze," yelled the warrior that had been the passenger in the carriage, leaping from the vehicle to stand behind its door and point his own weapon at me.

Things were rapidly slipping from my control, and I knew that I had to get away, to find someplace that I could sort out what was happening. This new warrior was not tainted by the Dark Ones, he was only a mortal, and that ment that I could not kill him. I had to be very careful with how much magik I gathered, especially in light of how abundant it seemed to be, and I pulled in only the tiniest bit of it.

With the flick of a finger, I unleashed a tiny bolt, the energy striking the warrior with just enough force to render him unconscious. He crumbled to the ground, groaning ever so faintly, and I smiled at the first thing that had gone right since my rebirth. My joy was short lived, however, as I soon heard the same wail as had accompanied the arrival of this warrior, and I knew that more would soon be upon me.

Turning, I fled down the alleyway, hoping that I would be able to get lost in the crowd, and that neither underlings, or Dark Ones, were with the advancing warriors. The alleyway turned twice, a veritable maze of brick, stone, and glass, and I found myself wondering if perhaps I should have gone the other way. That doubt was replaced with amazement as I finally emerged from the alleyway, stumbling to a standstill at the fantastic sights that greeted me.

Buildings, taller than any I had ever seen, stretched into the sky as if reaching for the very sun! Bright colors were everywhere, glowing seductively, and proclaiming what the building they were attached to contained. Dozens and dozens of people traversed the walkways along the avenue, bustling about without concern to their fellow man, and I felt a great sense of apathy about them all.

And the carriages!

Hundreds of the carriages, which somehow moved of their own accord were rolling along the avenue, advancing in short bursts of motion that seemed both awkward and slow.

My sleep in the oblivion had definitely been longer than three years.

To Be Continued…