Author's Notes: This song was sung by Emmylou Harris; I do not claim it.


Prayer in Open D

By Aeanagwen


There's a valley of sorrow in my soul
Where every night I hear the thunder roll
Like the sound of a distant gun
Over all the damage I have done


No one can understand it.  I wish, sometimes, that I did not have to understand it.  As much as a god can desire anything.  Things are as they are.  I know that.  There is no way around some things.  Sometimes, the happiness of the few must be sacrificed for the good of many.  I have a country that I must protect.  It is, and must be, my first priority.  For its sake, the souls of seven innocents were selected, chosen for their strength and courage, and moved into place to enact their destiny.  Seven human beings, who should rightfully have been under my care, were born into places, lives, from which there was no escape.  The Seiryuu shichiseishi.  My shichiseishi.  It seems foreign, in some ways, to call them that.  Surely no one has hurt them as much as I.


And the shadows filling up this land
Are the ones I built with my own hand
There is no comfort from the cold
Of this valley of sorrow in my soul


I know that it had to be done.  I am the god of war.  My methods are not kind; they are not enacted without suffering.  But they brought about the change needed to stir the foul depths of a society rotting from the inside out, to abolish the threat to Kutou.  It's own Emperor.  He disgusted me.  Whatever happened to the warrior-kings that had served me so many centuries ago?  They at least had some semblance of honor; they lead their armies into battle personally, rather than sitting back on a throne and forcing others to die for their sakes.  He had to be removed, for the sake of everyone in Kutou.  If others had to suffer to see that realized--then so be it.  War breeds nothing if not practicality.  There is no time for doubt, no room for mercy.  You fight for your cause, and the losses are something to be tended to after the battle.  I understand that.  And now, it is over.  So there is time to grieve.


There's a river of darkness in my blood
And through every vein I feel the flood
I can find no bridge for me to cross
No way to bring back what is lost


The damage done their souls was irreversible.  What was once bright and innocent and full of hope has long since suffocated and died.  Nakago.  Soi.  Tomo.  Suboshi.  Ashitare. Miboshi.  Amiboshi was perhaps the only one who escaped with any remnant of normalcy.  And even that was planned.  His "death."  The ends to which it drove his twin.  Their separation, their grief and their pain.  All executed in accordance with the divine plan to purge Kutou of the cancer destroying it from within.  Other humans would have suffered, had they been responsible for the actions of some of my shichiseishi.  But they--they are mine.  No god will have any say in their fates.  It has always been such.


Into the night it soon will sweep
Down where all my grievances I keep
But it won't wash away the years
Or one single hard and bitter tear


Gods are not supposed to feel regret.  Weakness is a human trait.  Apparently, then, even gods have the essence of humanity within them.   I didn't understand that at first.  My brothers, when I saw the pain in them for their "children," tried to tell me.  But it is not something that mere words can convey.  There are those who would say that no one can bring a child into the world, and not be colored by it.  And there are those who would laugh such a thing off.  Many of them are from Kutou.  And some of them did spawn children.  And left them alone.  Just as I did.  Another facet of the divine plan.  But they, my shichiseishi, have altered me.  Subtly, but not insignificantly.  Enough that it hurt--still hurts--to see what had to be done to them.  Even though I know I had no choice.


And the rock of ages I have known
Is a weariness down in the bone
I used to ride it like a rolling stone
Now I just carry it alone


They were my children, my chosen.  And their father abandoned them to cruel fate.  Even my miko.  The chosen maiden to summon me, to exemplify the salvation of my country.  She was twisted, exactly as the rest, cursed to suffer in order to fulfill her duty.  There is no one to blame for this.  I did what had to be done.  But that did not make it any easier.  I am a god.  There is no one to help carry such a burden.  We are not expected to need the aid.  But I understand now, why the humanity to feel pain is within us.  A deity who cannot grieve might as well be an executioner.  I wish I had understood that sooner.


There's a highway risin' from my dreams
Deep in the heart I know it gleams
For I have seen it stretching wide
Clear across to the other side


They died.  And what was waiting for them?  Certainly not a glorious arrival in the halls of their god.  They were none of them fools.  They had no choice in what they were born to become.  They acted as they believed they had to.  A hero is not a man who follows the path planned for him.  For some of them, there were family waiting, or lost lovers.  For some, there was nothing.  Nothing to ease their suffering, only a period of rest.  Sleep.  That much, I could grant them.  I wonder if they might have understood me.  It doesn't matter.  Even if they did, there can be no forgiveness.  An interesting thought.  Who would have thought that a god would ever desire the reassurance of a mortal?  But now, perhaps, they can find some peace.


Beyond the river and the flood
And the valley where for so long I've stood
With the rock of ages in my bones
Someday I know it will lead me home


Not in heaven.  Not with me.  Not even in this world.  No, it is to Yui's world that they have been sent.  Perhaps to heal their wounds.  For my miko was as injured as they.  The guilt in her is still very strong.  Only a reunion will soothe that pain.  She has been given a second chance.  One of Suzaku's shichiseishi said once, "Wherever the miko appears, the shichiseishi will gather."  There is no reason for that not to be true for my miko as well.  It will not be easy.  The antagonism between my brother's children and mine is deep-rooted, and nothing that can easily be forgotten--or forgiven.  But they are Suzaku's followers, after all.  Forgiveness has never been difficult for them to find within their hearts.  The shichiseishi of a god--any god--are in their proper places at the side of their miko.  This world was never their home.  Now, they are in that home.  They will find her again someday.  Only then can I begin to hope--a strange thing, for a god, and nothing to which I would admit--that they will forgive me.


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