I watched as the watery surfaces smoothed out. The calming surface rose up and showed me the present that I could choose for her. It was an idyllic scene that showed her waking up on the dunes of a beach. The waters were the clearest blue there were, but it just felt so contrived and devoid of life. I breathed in and sighed out my disappointment. No, this present will not do. My creation needed something else.
I tapped my hand, once again, into the well, and the water, turning turbulent as it was in dismay at my rejection, bubbled up another image. This time, I saw the eruption of a volcano burst onto the scene with a screeching flame blossoming into her shape. A strange present—an intriguing start to life—but one not befitting for her. Deciding her present was more difficult than I thought. The well released a few bubbles to clear the image and then gurgled in disappointment.
What would a present befitting new life look like? I pondered many hours and yet here I was consulting the ancient well for answers. I thought of the dramatic, of the absurd, of the heartwarming, and the damning, but I could not set my heart on what was meant to be. What were the necessary ingredients for her present? I had summoned a few books of myths as inspiration to seek a beginning, a present, available at the moment of achieving consciousness to gift upon her, but all of them seemed dull and sometimes frightening.
It was critical to life that she obtain her own independence but also that she learned to avoid the same mistakes that my brethren made. She must be destined by fate to go beyond the selfish cruelty that left me as the final specimen of a cosmic experiment gone awry. She had to endure as the progenitor and the first sage of her people. She had to understand that life could not endure if it is fractured by sin. She must value life, despite being immortal. She must understand loss, despite having lost no one. She must understand suffering, despite no history to speak of.
The beginning must hold together the infinity of spirit that carried my people forward. The first breath should draw from the courage to thrive in this dying world but the second should draw from humility knowing that even the immortal and knowledgeable have much to learn.
I sat down on the ancient marble grounds, watching as the infernos of the magma swirl around me. The magical barrier kept the castle safe, but watching the magma swirl around, I felt so small. This place, hidden in the deepest core of the planet, is the final hope for us, but here I am trapped in indecision. The planet has waited long enough for healing after my siblings died fighting over it, scarring it beyond recognition. Could I prevent another catastrophe by removing all the original motivators of our hate?
I reasoned that hate could not come out of someone without need, but could it be that need itself is what lended to both our higher selves and our deepest tragedies? I looked at my creation, perfect in every way, but would a perfect present be, in all my hubris, the very folly that will lead to the void I sought so hard to fight back?
The well released a few more bubbles and fell silent again. The collective consciousness of the water seemed to agree.
At that moment and with no warning, I felt the planet shake and the magma chaotically ripple above me. The barrier began to shatter under the weight of the planet ontop. I felt the drain of the corruption on my mind expand ten fold. There was not much time left. I sighed again, and I carefully lifted myself back up, cursing myself for assuming that I had more time than I thought. I walked towards my creation, and created the runes on the ground. Each one needed precision that became increasingly more difficult as my mind became muddled. The roar of the magma rushing in grew faint each time I drew another rune. I redrew one rune a dozen times over, and another—how many times was it? Time was no longer on my side.
When all was ready, my breathing had become dangerously shallow. I summoned the last might of energy from inside of me and started the incantation. Citing the deepest magic ever known to my people, I created her, but during the incantation, whether due to my dying exhaustion, selfish imperfection, or unconscious will, I wove into her mechanisms a single flaw: she could not bare the pain of suffering. No, she would not suffer, because the magic was enough to protect her, but I knew as my eyes dimmed that her children will. She will eventually build them with her own hands with the knowledge and life I gifted her, but until she and her children succeed in rediscovering the most pure ancient magics, she would create life forms that, like her are immortal, but only if they are able to replenish themselves with source material. As mother, she will know the pain they will feel if they fail to do so.
I worried that this might lead to disaster—a mother so protective that she cannot let her children go, but I also knew her children’s sadness at lost independence would also become real in her mind. I thought about this with panic until I could no longer do so. I could not let my anxieties flood me anymore, as the peaceful draw of death was watching and falling over me. I gave her my blessing and faith. She would overcome even if the lessons would be hard.
Her eyes opened at my final moments, and in my final breath I saw her first breath of life. This was not the present that I wanted for her, and my mistakes would be her burden, but I knew it would be the only way empathy could exist. This would be my lasting memory for her at birth: a present that perhaps can only be found in the beauty of the flaw.
As the darkness started to take over, the runes triggered and sent her to the surface just as she was about to speak her first words, a mix of grief and exuberance on her face, with dream-like thoughts appearing in my mind. Before the final light went out, I saw her life: her grief overflowing onto the planet at my demise, her first discovery of building her children and home, her first awareness of emotion within them, and her family walking towards the light, that dimming light, drifting smaller and smaller, away, washed onto a shore I will never know.