Eternal Burning

The town burned slowly in the night as the smell of smoked wood and burning bodies filled the air. I watched it all from the hilltop. I tried to warn them about it but no one listened, and now they pay the price with their lives and the loss of their loved ones. Everywhere I go the flames follow, ever on my trail, aching and longing to burn me alive again. I made a vow to never let those vicious and insidious flames touch my skin again. I vowed to run until I died, which would never happen since I’m immortal.

My name is Amadeus, and I’ve been punished by the Gods. What have I done exactly? I myself am unaware. I woke up to a burning house one afternoon. The screams of my wife and children still haunt me to this day.

The Flames have chased me through every city. They’ve pursued me relentlessly in their attempts to consume me again. The punishment of the Gods is called the Eternal Burning. A fate much worse than death for transgressions they deemed detrimental, not to the world, but their own interests.

On that day, when my family was burned alive before me and my own body consumed in purple flames, I heard a voice say, “you’ve committed a most deadly sin! And for that, you will be punished!”. The townspeople ran past our settlement in a frenzy. Only five men stayed and tried to put out the fire. My wife and children didn’t scream long, but the sound of someone being burned is something that stays with you. Forever.

I got out of the flames because of the necklace my wife made for me when we first met. It was on the nightstand, the only thing the flames didn’t touch. I grabbed the necklace and the flames left me. My wife and children were already dead, leaving me no choice but to flee. When I got far enough from the settlement, I heard another voice, “From this day forward, you are an immortal. You will live on forever within the flames! Such is your fate for your transgressions.”

“What was my transgression?!” I shouted to the heavens. “Please, tell me! What sin have I committed to deserve such a fate?”

The voice didn’t answer as the flames left the house and began chasing me, taking the form of a bounty hunter and then a wolf.

I ran through the woods for five days without rest. Each day I felt the intense heat and every night the flames would light the way behind me in their relentless pursuit.

It’s been three years since this chase has begun and I don’t know where it will end. If it will ever end. I’m currently in the Himalayan mountains, in a cave whose average temperature is zero degrees. The burns from that night still haunt me as I can’t feel the frigid air as it washes over me. My body is experiencing hypothermia, but, since I’m immortal, its an irrelevant tidbit. I’ve tried to kill myself multiple times while on the run. I’ve tried drowning, jumping from high altitudes, slitting my wrists, slitting my throat, hanging. I even went into one town and had an affair with the Mayor’s wife and was sentenced to the guillotine. When the executioner cut the rope and the knife fell, my head rolled to the end of the platform. I watched as the executioner picked it up and held it up for the crowd to see. Their cheers and roars of excitement were deafening, but, soon enough, those cheers turned to screams. The screams of my wife and children as they burned and suffered a quick but painful death. I was still able to move my body despite being decapitated, so I willed it to stand up walked up to the executioner and asked for my head back. He screamed, dropped my head, and ran along with the rest of the crowd. The mayor ordered his knights to seize me and put me in the dungeon to cut me to pieces. That never happened. The flames made their way to the town and consumed it looking for me. In all the confusion and hysteria, I fled.

I feel nothing as my body is being frozen stiff. I make my way to the back of the cave where its coldest and assume a meditative equipoise to await my frozen slumber. I close my eyes and simply breathe. I do not sleep. I do not dream. All I hear is the frigid wind blow and the crackling of ice as it surrounds my body. Then, I’m enmeshed in complete nothingness.

I’m unaware as to how much time has passed when I start to feel again. At first, I hear crackling, and think it to be ice surrounding and crystallizing my body. No. This crackling is different. This crackling. . . is warm. My eyes shoot open, and, standing over me, is the Spartan warrior I saw that first night when my family burned. He had his hand atop my head, melting the ice from my body. The ice melts and the frigid winds cease. We look at each other. His eyes are a fiery purplish-blue and his body as well. I have nowhere to run. No where to hide. I’m an immortal punished with Eternal Burning for a transgression I know nothing of. The Spartan warrior takes off his helmet to reveal himself. I recognize him immediately. The one sent to punish me. . . is none other than my own father.

“Amadeus, my son.” He said.

“Father.” I respond. “What is going on? Why are you here?”

“I’m here to punish you. . .” he put his head down in shame. “I’m here to punish you. . .for my sins.”

“What. . .”

“Two years before you were born,” he began, “I was speaking to the Gods in the mountains. I wanted to ask whether I would have a son or daughter for a first child. The Gods told me to consult the Oracle who lived at the base of the mountain. The journey took three days, and, when I made it to the base I came across a cave,” He looked around, “much like the one we’re in right now. I entered the cave not knowing what was to come. When I got to the center, there was a crystal ball floating in mid-air. I walked up to the ball and asked it whether I would have a daughter of son. The Oracle said I would have a son. However, it said that my son would kill me unless I struck a deal with the Dark Immortal. I protested, yelled, then pleaded with the Oracle that it not be true, but to no avail. Unless I struck this deal, my own son would kill me.

“I traveled from the mountains to the darkest and southernmost part of the woods, where light leaves all who enter and touches none who thrive there. My journey was filled with mental anguish and despair but I persevered until I got to the cave of the Dark Immortal. Upon meeting him, he said he was expecting me. He told me the conditions of the deal will be revealed when my son became a man, and all I need do is shake his hand and swear to fulfill the duty no matter what it entailed. I agreed.”

“So,” I looked at him with rage, fury, and helplessness at the same time, “you struck a deal to save your own life, not knowing what the fate of your own son might be?” I asked. “What would possess you to do such a thing?”

“To explain would be too much,” He extended his arm and it came alive with purplish-blue flames, “I’m sorry, Amadeus,” he paused and the flames became larger, blocking the exit of the cave. “but your time has come. . . to pay for the sins of your father. Your terrible, terrible, father.”

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