Stepping into the Library, Blazer did not follow his usual route. He did not pause on the grounds to spend a few moments in quiet meditation, did not check on any of the Radiolari soil samples he had obtained from Chaya, nor any of the burgeoning gardens he had raised from seeds brought from the original Librarium. He did not stop to practice on the archery range. He did not look over any of the books that were being transcribed by his clockwork elementals. And he did not even glance at the tapestry, only partially restored, that he had brought from his rooms in the burning Librarium, the one that had always given him the answers he had needed whenever he had taken a while to reflect on its teachings.
Ever since he had inherited the design specs for his sanctum from the Solar he knew only as Yukiri Tavon, he had not hesitated to experiment and explore its capabilities. At first, being able to call up status, reports, and diagnostics at simply a word had thrown him for a loop, but it had not taken long before every return to his Library was becoming a flurry of pop-up screens, vocal status updates, and progress reports on his laboratories. But this time, the Library stayed quiet, as Blazer himself uttered not a single word.
When he entered one of the rooms of his laboratories, the door sliding shut behind him, that all changed. He passed a small experiment he had had going for about a week now; sitting up on a shelf at shoulder height, it was a water filtration technique that would, upon completion, produce safe, cool drinking water at a rate six times faster than anything even the Librarium had had access to. It would save lives, and give people who had never known such the sort of basic start they needed to pull themselves out of squalor and down the road towards self-sufficiency. He had been intending to ask Harbinger’s advice on ways to improve its design – he had no idea if she was interested in the same things, but as the first Twilight he had encountered, it seemed only natural to put their heads together. That was the way of it, wasn’t it? That was what he had always learned at the Librarium, that working together….
Putting his hand on the globular beaker that served as the central unit of the experiment, he cupped it in his palm, and then flung it across the room. It hit the opposite wall and shattered into a million sparkling shards of glass. What need was there for subtlety and quiet, peaceful methods? They were no longer humans: they were Solars now. The remaining pieces of the experiment followed suit shortly after, sailing off of the shelf one by one as his hand grabbed at whatever was nearby. What need was there for cooperation, for mutual understanding? Solars did not bargain, did not compromise with each other: they decreed, they issued orders.
Another experiment, this one on food preservation, fell in the way of his arm, and met the same end as the other, as did everything on its shelf. The other circle had been mistaken in a few ways, but overall their aims were noble. No civilization that Blazer had ever studied had changed from warlike and infighting to peaceful and prosperous overnight, and never without some sort of painful, deliberate, gradual transition. They could have taught that circle to be better, could have learned much from them in return. All that was required for people to become more than themselves was for someone to teach them. But that didn’t matter. A lifetime devoted to research was wrong in its conclusions. A gigantic repository of knowledge dating back thousands of years was wrong in the lessons it taught. Solars did not teach, and certainly did not learn: they ruled.
At least three more experiments ran afoul of his wrath, but he hardly noticed, and wasn’t even able to tell which ones they were. If people could not live next to those they disagreed with without fighting them, then how were Solars supposed to? Had he been wrong all along? Every time his circle had encountered someone who did not share their point of view, it was time to be suspicious, time to be convinced that this new group was up to something sinister, and, if the situation was even or his circle held the advantage, time to fight. The Guild branded as unequivocally evil and in need of erasing, even when it was doing business with Tambreet and making it prosperous instead of overrunning it. The Solar circle in Zarrith ousted, and a Solar manse destroyed, because they were doing things “wrong.” And there was little doubt in Blazer’s mind that if the Walker in Darkness had seemed even a hair less competent and prepared, that the circle would have found an excuse to attack him, as well. They were already convinced that the Green Lady was up to no good purely for being a Sidereal, even beyond the bounds of healthy skepticism.
That memory of the Lion’s Roar wreathed in flame flashed in his mind again, and he gripped his head, staring down at the floor. How much of that was actually his memory? How much of it had his mind already superimposed over the scene at the manse? Did it really matter, either way? “We are glorious shining god-kings,” he found himself muttering before he even realized he was speaking. “And we will tear apart Creation with our own hands if it will not bow to our desires.” For all of the talk about noble motivations going around on both sides, Venomous Spur and Red Lion had started that fight out of self-righteousness and personal slight. And Invincible Sword Princess, Obsidian Hawk, and Adamant Prayer had answered their aggression with more aggression. Why could none of them see that there was no sense in fighting each other? Gideon, Snapdragon, Sweet Emerald, and Harbinger had tried to stay out of it as long as possible. Was he seeing things? Was he missing something that he should have caught? Or had Prism of Truth mentally checked out for the same reasons why Blazer himself was so angry that he could barely even think straight? He didn’t want to fight them. He had been forced to destroy so many lives when the Librarium burned, and that was the devastation of a single Solar. If Solars fought other Solars, what would happen to the people caught in the crossfire? What would happen to Creation? A Solar manse, an incredible specimen from the First Age, had been destroyed because of hotheadness. What more would be lost?
The image of the man he had come to recognize as himself from millenia before, silhouetted against a towering inferno, returned to his memory. It hit him so hard that it literally knocked him to his knees, and he clutched his head again, shaking it from side to side and digging his fingers into his scalp. Why was that one memory so strong? Was it trying to warn him? There were too many signs, too many hints. A storm was building, and everything in him was screaming that the Solars had to stick together, had to learn how to work with each other, or the entire world would be that inferno. And they had just added a flame of their own.
“Why? Why won’t they listen to me?”
His head pounding, his laboratory floor scattered with the remnants of so much work, his chest on fire with the anger of so much potential lost and the fear of so much more devastation in the future, Blazer dropped back against the wall, and slid down onto his bottom, letting his head droop between his knees. When he had Exalted, he was supposed to have increased a thousandfold in what he could accomplish. With the other Solars, he was supposed to have been capable of righting the world. But every step since his home had burned to the ground had told him that the world did not work like the Librarium had. Even among those who were tasked with making it better. He was so sad that every part of him inside ached. He was so angry he could have bitten steel in half. And he was so disappointed that he had not a clue how to fix any of it. It was several minutes before he even realized the tears had come. And the worst part was that he could not figure out how to make them stop.
“…Blazer? Blazer, are you there?”
His communicator blinked on a table across the room, and there was the voice of someone in his circle coming out of it, but he could not tell who, and at the moment, he could not force himself to care one way or the other.
“Blazer, we’ve got a problem…there’s a giant beast heading for Zarrith….”
Pulling his arms around his knees, Blazer shook his head, and refused to look up. There was nothing he could do. Not a thing.