Before, Now, and After
“I had brothers once,” I say. My voice is an echo of the ancients. A mourn. A scoff. “But…I betrayed them.”
I shift inward when the darkness folds itself around me. The darkness I’ve summoned for myself. “My brothers…their wings were more…magnificent. The first brother’s were fashioned of gold, but the weight was nothing to hinder him. They…rippled in the city. Like a banner proclaiming the way of Elyon. He was the only one with golden wings.
“The second brother’s wings were like shimmering sapphires threaded with silver. When I asked him why he would not give up his wings for those of Elyon’s Son, he scoffed.
“And I…the only one with wings fabricated of ash and smoke. The one who would indeed give them up. Or try to.”
I pause, allowing my cold breath to kiss the darkness around me. Darkness…my friend and my foe.
“I betrayed my brothers for my own form of beauty and for my own ambition.”
The thought sinks into me and shifts my wings.
“Tales of war and bloodshed come from the Between Realm, that which lies between Caelae and the Realm of Shadows. But what most do not know is that the wars of Caelae were far…worse.”
Yes, I can see it now, just as clear as when they were first fought.
“Broken wings dripping crimson about shattered cities of starlight. Bones like diamonds, the foundation of a ruinous place. Caelae was once beautiful, but also…brutal. Brutal because two of its princes fought for its throne. One to defend it in light and honor with wings burnished of gold. And the other…to capture it with beauty and cruelty. With wings of smoke and ash. And when princes battle, they wear their crowns. Their regalty become but instruments. And in the end…one must lose.
“We fought three battles once Elyon had designed and placed the heavenly bodies. He had named them after us, his favored creatures of Caelae. To the brother with golden wings he gave the sun, to the brother with wings like the sea he gave the moon, and to me…the one who would betray him, he gave the stars. Of course, the stars do not belong to me. Even you, as a human, would never begin to think of them in my likeness. They are a reminder to me…that I will never be as numerous, as loved, as brilliant and adored.
“That is what we named the battles: the Battle of the Stars, the Battle of the Moon, the Battle of the Sun. A war fought in three parts for each of its participating princes. Both my brothers fought against me, and so you must know how it ended.
“I lost, but, human, I am still fighting. The wars you see in your own world, in the Between Realm, are birthed of what I have already fought. The wars you encounter are but shards of the ones I have summoned. And even while the battles in Caelae were far more brutal than you shall ever witness, the battle over your souls is somehow even more valuable. To everyone. To my Enemy and to myself.”
I pause to stare at you. “Yes, you. I am speaking to you. You see, in this world, it is Elyon that writes your story, but I am the one to tell it. You see, just as Elyon gave me the stars, he also gave me the Between Realm. The Realm of Shadows is where I dwell, but it is the Between Realm in which I roam until it is brought to utter ruin.
If I am to be brought to ruin, so will you and your home. Yours truly,
Lucius, Prince of the Between Realm and Traitor of Caelae
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