Paris, in modern times, was known as the City of Light. No matter where one travelled within its spacious bounds, there would always be a light somewhere; a streetlamp, a candle burning in somebody’s window, the warmth of two human beings sharing in their own togetherness. A painful thing, then; for on the night of June the sixth, eighteen thirty-two, one could have stood on a low-hanging cloud and watched as the lights of France’s capital flickered out one by one. These were the lights of people, candles, and lamps alike; shot after shot rang out through the nearly-abandoned streets, and the gutters ran with darker liquid than ever before; the blood of young men, who stood for freedom, liberty, and were extinguished with but a wet thumb and forefinger.
If there was light left in Paris, it was to be found in the souls of those who had survived the barricades; it may have surprised any passerby to know that one of those souls was that of Inspector Javert, of the first class.
The good inspector had gone through something of an emotional upheaval at the hands of Jean Valjean, whom he had left in a confused daze at the house on the Rue de l’Homme-Arme. His mind, usually crystalline and simplistic, had several deep cracks running through it, which skewed the once white beam into a crazed rainbow of color that Javert could not make heads or tails of; he struggled, as some men are prone to do, within his own mind; yet some of it showed on his face. The great brow drew tight, his lips pursed upwards towards that flat nose, and he raised a hand to clench in his whiskers, which he pulled in aggravation as he stared down into the void that was the Seine. That abyss seemed to grow darker with each passing minute, and, not for the first time, but certainly as a rare thing, Javert began to feel a heavy despair tugging at his hair.
Perceptive as the inspector was, he was not all-knowing; if he were, he would have been superhuman; and despite common misconception, Javert was, at his core, a man, the same as any other. Even so, this despair was not entirely of his own creation; had he known that, he may not have been inclined to go through with the plan formulating in his mind.
The hopelessness of those trapped within the city walls on that night of anguish might have been painful to those involved, but it was as honey to other, more powerful bees; and these insects swarmed with a greed unknown to those on Earth; they sucked at distress, made tea of wretchedness; misery was a fine wine, and there was no better place to partake in that drink than Paris.
Despite the shrouding cloud gathering overhead, Javert continued to look down; he climbed up onto the parapet, hat at his feet on the stone wall, and swayed over the water. Wooden heart at last being forced in two, unable to reconcile his view of the world with his new knowledge, the inspector bent, arched up, and then fell. He hit the water, was held up for a moment, and then passed through. Nothingness swallowed him up.
-If this was dying, Javert was incredibly displeased.
He floated through an inky blackness, unable to truly move; he was weightless; in fact, he hardly existed. He had the sensation of drifting ever downward, but it was a slow and removed process; this was certainly not the Seine, so it must have been the afterlife - at least, that was the conclusion that the inspector had come to. The farther he floated, the more muddled his mind became; he clung to his own name, to certain important moments in his life; other things vanished into the black without a trace, and though Javert worried as to ever getting them back, he carried with him the notion that they were not lost, but rather, they had become invisible for a stretch of time which he would not be privy to.
How long he fell, Javert could never say; however, in passing, he became aware of a lightening below him, a gentle breeze turning him upright. His previous conception that this was not the Seine faltered; light was filtering down, and he knew that this was the effect that water had on the sun; but it was white, and clean, and Javert could still breathe. In his peripheral vision, there was a gathering of color; the rainbow created by the rifts in Javert’s crystal was forming for him a platform of sorts. The inspector turned, and, upon doing so, found that his course had changed; he was certainly still moving downwards, but this downwards was not the same as before!
In a minute or a lifetime, Javert had crossed the space to land lightly upon the platform. He knelt, taking note of the fact that he was still in his greatcoat; his hat was gone, probably left upon the parapet from which he had jumped. His cane, too, was missing; but, checking his coat over, the inspector felt a hard lump in one pocket; he removed from it the card stating his name and rank. This, he read once, then returned to its proper place; yes, he was Javert, Inspector of the First Class in Paris, France. He had been assigned to infiltrate the barricade on the Rue Saint-Denis on the night of June sixth, eighteen thirty-two. His cover had been stripped away; the “incriminating” evidence - his card.
As more of the night returned to him, Javert frowned to realize that he had odd holes in his memory of the events that had taken place there; he had arrived, gone out for the day under the guise of spying amongst the gendarmerie; returning, he had been pointed out by a gamin whose name he could not recall, and tied to a pole; whilst there, he had had a conversation with the leader - his name, what was his name? - and had been left alone upon the arrival of… somebody. Afterwards, there was a stretch of blankness, leaving only the moments before his tumble from the bridge. What had brought him to that bridge? What had spurred him to jump? He could not say; and as he puzzled over these missing pieces, he saw two small pedestals rise out of the corner of his eye. The inspector spun about, but had to lift a hand to block the sudden flash of light. It faded, and Javert beheld two of the strangest weapons he had ever laid eyes on.
Oh, they were weapons beyond the shadow of a doubt; beautifully crafted, with sharp edges and strange hilts; from each hilt dangled a chain, with some symbol on the end - one, pitch black, held a crown; the other, white with shades of blue and yellow splashed upon it, was gifted with a… star? It appeared to be a star, yes. A pressure built at the back of Javert’s skull; he had a feeling, deep within his gut, that he was to choose one of these. The dark one felt familiar, safe; but it also carried with it an aura of foreboding and sadness; the light one, on the other hand, caused him to shy away due to its brightness; yet part of him craved the warmth and security that it whispered of. The inspector stepped forwards, and, ominous nausea swelling in his stomach, grasped both by the hilt in one swift move.
The platform beneath him cracked in two, and, once again, he was sent plunging into darkness; save for the heat radiating from the handles he clutched in either hand, he felt nothing.
Javert opened his eyes to a blur of browns and golds; the stars swam dizzyingly overhead, and he had to swallow back bile threatening to spew forth from his mouth. He went to clutch his middle, but found his arm weighted down, fingers stiff. Glancing over and uncurling them, a metallic clang resounded as the thing he had been holding fell to the ground. His lips parted, breath whizzing into his lungs; there, on the street (it was a street, this much he knew; and not so different from those in Paris) lay one of the weapons that he had grabbed up in his dream: the white one with the star at the end.
Had it not been a dream? Was he still dreaming?
First things first, he decided, standing and almost falling; for, in his other hand, he still held the black sword. Damn, these were heavy - or were they? He picked up the other, examined it, and found it light as air; strange, as it had certainly made a racket when he had dropped it; and not a scratch lay on it from the drop! How peculiar, but Javert accepted it and continued to do a check of himself. The black (sword? key?) was exceptionally weighty, and he struggled in keeping it up; however, as soon as this realization reached his consciousness, the weapon vanished.
Head spinning, the inspector kept a tighter grip on his remaining… key. He would have to find out where he was, and leave the mystery for when he had gathered more details. The alley he had woken in opened up onto a square; two lamposts stood at the center, and it was mostly lit by the signs all around it, on the storefronts. What kept those lights glowing? There was no fire that he could see, they glowed on their own. Yet another puzzle, and Javert, decidedly, detested puzzles creeping up on him; he was a man who valued both control and awareness. One either side of the square were enormous doors, and several people loitered about them, causing the officer in Javert to shake itself at last and rear its head; he acknowledged that he probably had little to no authority here, and that he did not yet know the law of this land; it was not France, for the signs were all in some strange, foreign language. Still, he balked to see such laziness, and had to turn away, continuing to scan the area.. How had he come to be here?