When the sea opened to swallow them, the ruins were still awake.
The veil of their magic tore with the stone — it fell and drowned with the cracking walls, unable to meet any other grave than them. As the castle fell, its fabric traced the new course of the waves; and the wind, in its newfound freedom, carried a lament more ancestral than time.
Nobody was there to see. Even so, many traces were left. The waves drew new embroiders of foam; the grass bent to a stronger will, as the patterns on the sand were forever rearranged. There was no mortal memory to witness the passage — there was just a dreaming soul, and a lost one.
The strength of the ruins weakened in time. It was the sea to claim their energy, touch after touch. The water condemned them to sink deeper yet, eaten by their own weight and rust. It was their fate — a decline without end, marked by the curses they had held.
As for the damned, and their broken souls — they were rarely set free.
Those who could go flew away in the steamy afternoons, clinging to the smell of the ocean. Those who still suffered, who still didn’t understand, were bound to the ruins once more.
In some luminous nights, their sufferings were vibrant enough to sway the currents. In the days of clearest air, a few always crawled to the surface, breaking the waves; they dissolved, and let the sea carry their lament to the shore. Their songs were always incomplete — like their unfinished freedom, like their prison, tenacious to the end.
Even then, he knew. He still was a part of it.
He could feel their call from the other side of the world, when his mind was blank and unarmed. When the weight of the past grew stronger on his shoulders, many of his nights were captured.
He dreamt of stone benches now colder than death, of inky rocks, as his soul floated towards the sunlight. He haunted the towers in circles; he turned into a rotten chain, or the skeleton of a window.
Whatever the scenery, he was sure of it. He was never alone, yet there was no way to change the fate of the others. As hard as he struggled, he was abandoned to himself — while dozens of empty eyes pleaded him, so distant, so similar, even though he could not move a limb.
Every time, the voice of the sea echoed his past. He recalled his panting and his yells, his whispers, his terrified shaking after each jump. The desert nature of those spaces returned to fill him with dread, amplified by an abyss which never seemed to end. It was truer than his memories — it was his past.
However, there was a single certainty that always enriched his dreams. It was the trace of his willpower, and it had been the driving force of his escape.
He knew he was destined to leave those ruins. It would happen, forever the same way — half a victim, half set free.
Every time, as his dream closed its doors, his certainty shook the cemetery around him.
Every time he dreamt, the villagers saw stronger waves on the shore. With each of his visits, one of the unhappy souls found its path — it was lifted by gratitude, and reached for the other side it had always longed for.
Every time he opened his eyes, he found himself safe in the future.
Relieved, unaware, he smiled.