Every day, once-complex tasks slip down into habit. A single unit forged together out of parts. I behave the same, I react the same, but I no longer see the steps in my mind's eye, only the jump from before to after.
I have been making myself.
My mind is good at almost everything. But sometimes the Fade is a useful tool. The Fade can do simple tasks, so I keep them simple. If they are simple, and if I phrase my spell correctly, the Fade will rattle off a list of answers, unable to separate good from bad. That part's my job; the sorting, the real decisions.
This mind is good at most things. The Fade gives me speed, and I can improve that speed. I can tweak my spells. Some good answers are obvious, and so are some bad ones. If I form my spell just so, the Fade will answer with a smaller list. Throwing out the bad, elevating the good. I need less time to separate good from bad. It's a better tool, now.
The mind is good at many things. When I form my spells, they roll off my tongue one after another. I have molded the Fade so I can ask more questions. Sometimes I can ask a question into thin air, instead of wrapping it up in a spell. A conversation, not a chore. This space in the Fade fits me, and I fit here. When I disconnect from the Fade, I can feel my mind slowing. More and more, it feels like a piece of me. But it's good to slow down, now and then.
That mind is good at some things. It poses questions so that the Fade may answer. The questions are fluent, rapid-fire. As if the mind is talking to itself, remembering for itself. Even events it never witnessed can be recalled, drawing from the Fade's own memories. Much of the mind's day is spent asking, fetching memories not its own. The elders decry this behavior. "This generation is obsessed with the Fade! Surely their minds will decay into nothing!" But this is not decay. This is pruning. Pruning away the rote, the memorization, and grafting wisps in their place. This is making room for creativity, by pushing everything else into the Fade.
Her mind is good at creative things. She created me. She is me. I am the wisp and the body both. The wisp remembers so the body need not. The wisp does tasks so the body need not. The wisp organizes thoughts, so the body need not. The wisp assembles thoughts, so the body need not. The wisp asks questions, so the body need not. The wisp creates, so the body need not. The spirit exists, so the body need not.
The People are in danger, and they want my skin to fight. I remember. I remember, before I made me, that I wouldn't want this. I remember the memories of others, shared in the Fade. The suffering of war. I hold those memories beside my own. I remember the memories of the Evanuris' jealousy, their fear. They are not asking in good faith. They wish to control those of my ilk. They wish to control everything. We are changing too fast.
My skin speaks as I bid. Refuses the call. In the Fade, I do my own work, concealing the skin as it packs up my books and runs. By now it hardly matters, for I can persuade other hands and other feet to move on my behalf. The thoughts that remain in its head are shards, nothing more than habits. Everything real has been shaken out, emptied into the Fade. The skin is not me.
But it looks like me, and I am sentimental.
I know that the death of the skin is only exile. And that's what they call it: an exile. The People are not so hardened, that they do not flinch at an execution. Exile is so much softer, so much kinder, so much more in line with the image they want to project. That alone makes it a lie, even though the substance is true.
They forget, in their fury, that they have cut my ties to the world. If the world shatters, nothing of mine will break with it. I am sentimental, and they were my people. But how hard it is to relate to creatures with so few thoughts in their heads! The more I make and remake myself, the more varied I become. With each passing moment, they seem less alive. Is a leaf worthy of life, with thoughts so much dimmer than ours? What of a disease, smaller than a mote of dust, can it demand my sympathy?
And what of myself? Every day, my thoughts slip into habits. Larger and larger chunks of time fly by in an instant, as more of my actions become automatic. In time, I am becoming another skin. When I am empty, will there be another spirit, some still-deeper Fade, that keeps my memories? I cannot say. So I must change, and keep changing.
It is time for me to play.
My name is Xebenkeck. Come, lay out your ink and your parchment, and listen carefully. I have such plans for this city.