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Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

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Jean Valjean opened his eyes. Where am I?

He, who does always have a kind of habit, a natural habit practiced but not so evident: to observe. When arriving a place unknowing of, the first question he puts out will always be: where am I?

The silence here was different from death. The first thing Valjean felt was comfort, which opposed to the origin of that habit, thus finally made him uncomfortable: he has, from the beginning, two motives of mind, the fear of uncertainty, and the desire for stability. It was the latter not being short of, making him confused anyway.

The sky painted pink with orange like afterglow spilled over, and, not too deep. Valjean had no enough time to think of more than he had walked for too long, whereas the skylight seemed never darkened, this gathered his confusion. It might be days already since he stamped on here, or probably only hours; the time, collapsed in front of the eternal motionlessness, became unthinkable in the space of expansion, warmth and cease. It was still bright upon him, that brought Valjean to think, the daylight here would be endless.

Sound came to him, through distance, rough and thick.

He was reminded of what Toulon once taught him. The resistance toward wisdom, cultivating anger and hatred, arising prisoners’ fear and awareness of the hit from the guardians, which might come whenever it wanted; however, for the prisoning, Toulon only brought them numbness. Up to now, Valjean was feeling like becoming the unknowing young man to be sent to his penalty, unable to confirm his location, unable to find his orientation. Once the pocket of galley-slave emptied, the prisoner wouldn’t know where to be.

The only solution was to put out the second question: how did I come here?

Valjean found a rock nearby to sit on.

The way he came had an unthinkable length and the scenery he was facing was the square of that. Tendering light shed from everywhere, impossible to find the origin. Windless, only peacefulness like consoling from a giant palm, soft and firm.

Which strengthened Valjean’s confusion, again.

The brimming sky made him annoyed, he should find the way out. But whom to seek for? (He was unaware of that, he by himself fell in the attempt to find someone.) He reminded that he made only few acquaintances during his lifetime, the blood spilled over the stone and rock had already run dry and, he finally gave out all the hopes and expectations for his beloved. The poor old guy had, eventually, ended his- ah, so I am dead now- consequently, the man died alone, like when he was just born.

At least I won’t suffer more! Much to his relief.

Jean Valjean looked up. If the sun also exists here, I must be inside it now. He thought in sudden, maybe it was the treatment for deaths like him: no one being beside him, only endless daylight.

But that’s unfair after all! Valjean raised his arm, forcing his thumb to forehead. And the motion, completely out of unconscious, brought him to something attached to his back occasionally.

Well, he thought, with pair of wings as present!

Regardless of the wings, he came back to the questions.

What to do, whom to seek for? The duty of mine I’ve already finished, thus the duty for me should have finished as well. Doesn’t it mean that, there actually won’t be anyone accompanying with me?

The sound, thick and threatening, always existed there, like vague flashes on the horizon. His fear and anger had disappeared long before, but suddenly he trembled through his entire body, like hit by the lightning. He started to search.

To search, same as to observe, is the wisdom derived from his defective mind. Stray birds could tighten their wings while staring onto the ground, he almost had forgotten that he could use his wings. But what he knew more clearly was that, the one he wanted to find- didn’t exist on the ground he stamped on, wouldn’t appear from the nothingness at the distance of his sight- where would he be? Valjean couldn’t find any existence of life here, even trace of shadow. He was, surrounded by thickness of solitude, nearly out of breath. He isn’t here.

So, where he is? 

The anxiety inside Valjean’s heart turned into inevitable anger without an outlet, rolling and overwhelming in his chest. Scratching his head, he yelled out, “Javert!” but, how could it be any response here!

Ah, ah! finally he looked down.

The sound approaching him again and again, bursting out in his head, if comparing to the description of thunder, it seemed more like the shock came out from the storm throwing fierce wave onto cliffside. Once he thought it was the threating from the shadow of his past: a man like already dead was thrown into swallowing sea from a vessel, he could see in fatigue that the ship was passing on towards its dawn, and he himself, overboard between the end of night and the beginning of the day, no way to go on.

He never thought of the sound could be any sort of calling, until seeing a piece of shadow standing in its straightest.

-

Valjean wrapped his wings into rough clothes. He found that he was with hood and cape when coming here (but, why these?) and then put them on without hesitation. That made him like a fugitive as well as a beggar; he shouldn’t be afraid though trembling, and nearly biting his lip into bleeding. In fact, it was difficult to say that he had accustomed to this, even probably he had exactly this kind of indescribable peculiarity, and it was not the memory finally caught him up but he himself voluntarily raised his hand to carve the memories on the skin, turning everything into a mess. Meanwhile he felt that he should disguise as a more normal passer-by. And soon he rested assured, for the night was so fit for him, which was the same feeling as when realizing no one would pay attention to the costumes of prisoners in Toulon. Once he thought of that inspector, two of emotions rose up from his chest: extreme shame and extreme respectfulness. He gripped his fingers into a fist like a good-natured bear, challenging his endurance to adapt to the rubbing cloth. During the previous aimless searching, did he ask anything? No response between the silence, and he himself, of course, would forget all instantaneously. Those questions only derived from a nature of mankind, the curiosity, or to call it observation; however, how could mankind know the way destiny and the God leading them, the way of hearing their question and the way responding with answer? Jean Valjean knew nothing of that. There used to be a bishop, who regarded these should have their philosophers and researchers to think about, Valjean must agree with him.

He only felt that, he was nearer and nearer to his Javert.

And by all means he wouldn’t have imagined that he would be cast down onto a stone along a river, so roughly.

-

River runs through, transforming the weight pushing riverbed into roaring voice, thick, rough, threatening. Valjean struggles to rise up from a stone not too slippery, luckily not injured. (How can a dead man be injured? He laughs by himself.)

It’s not an unfamiliar place, for he had been with Cosette staying here for such a long time; despite more frequently going to parks rather than this river, now, out of nowhere, Valjean does feel a sense of acquaintance.

But the next second has Valjean’s realization: it’s night now. 

Jean Valjean has his unnecessary ability to adapt. No matter how being pulled up or cast down, finally could he fit into every place- at least the verbal meaning of that. He would be dazzled when facing the eternal daylight, however, even only an instance of darkness would be his most comfortable nest. He squeezes his right eye, fallen a mixture of dust and tear.

It does no matter what time in the night it is now. Maybe it was rainy yesterday, his cape becomes muddy. The roar of river, once he regarded as terrifying and faltered his heart, only brings him sense of emptiness when coming face to face, stirring his chest; waterflow forms whirlpool then sinks itself in; spots of light floating on the waves, at the distance of too near and too far, lanterns lifted by darkened wind, guiding his direction in faintness. The deepening cloud pushes over his head, refusing starlight in the height, any light could be called as beautiful and twinkling is warmed not to pass over, only several read lights reflected on the stones near the river, declaiming what in front him is the depth of dark. Valjean realizes here runs the fastest part of the swallowing Seine, he almost drowns himself into staring at it, forgetting to go on.

Which reminds him of Javert.

Before this, he has heard of lots of those, who also lowered themselves and stared at the depth beneath the bridge, at the night or the hours near the dawn and even the second before sunrise. Some fell with determination, some faltered only because of the appealing of the darkness; some left out of unwillingness, some wakened by the sunrise. Javert was one of them, however he was also stubbornly an inspector with unchallengeable faith, which is aware of by Valjean, thus leading him to the conclusion that Javert should not understand that kind of person.

But the fact seems to say, it’s him who doesn’t understand Javert.

Jean Valjean paces out a step. Javert uses one of his eyes glaring at the guy in front of him.