Trembling exhaustion crinkled the corners of the emperor’s brow, his hand gliding aimlessly over the black span of the rich Egyptian cotton that made up the sheets of his bed before he knelt down at its edge and quietly unbuttoned the clasp of his jeweled cuff link.
Setting each one to the side and onto the granite stone of his bedside table’s top, he moved to the buttons at his wrists’ sides, ensuring both were loose.
One by one he unclasped the buttons that ran the length of his abdomen, all the way to his chest until his shirt fell open and revealed the white t-shirt beneath. He left that before shrugging off the cloth of his dress shirt.
As it hit the ground, he tugged insistently at the bottom of his white tee, generously flashing the black display of the windows the marbled line of his Adonis’ belt before he finally allowed himself the chance to crumple into the endless pillows and all encompassing might of his bed.
Ruby was back and this time, more powerful than ever after he’d gifted her with her new armor. He had lied.. he always lied, though it was his way of protecting her from the truth. He had no idea what was coming, only what would happen. He knew what he needed to do but it made his bones ache and his eyes warble beneath the frustration of having to do it.
Chaos was an old friend, a welcoming party to his sinful nature. It had always been that case, from the very beginning. He only wished he had known that sooner. Then things might have been easy.
He brushed his hand over his head, teasing fingers through the thick curls of his black hair before he bent down to grab hold of the covers and pulled them up and over his chest as a gentle, but cool, breeze shuffled in through an open window at the edge of the room.
Unbeknownst to him, upon that breeze drifted a peculiar energy in the form of a tendril, a tendril that snaked through the room, over the floor, up the bedside table, over the sheets and finally, just as he closed his eyes, into his ear.
He felt the darkness ebb through him, the sharp desire for sleep as the sun rose. And in that darkness, he slept… And as he slept, he dreamed.
He stood at the copse of a long forgotten cavern, the endless bottom beholden by the darkness that curled around each and every corner. In that darkness, it was hard to see the shape that maneuvered its way through the unfathomable terrain.
It was there, though, he could feel that. It called to him like a drum beat. Bumbum… Bumbum… Bumbum, though he imagined it was just the way his heart beat against his chest. For a moment, just a split moment, he turned to peer at the wall behind him, a mirrored surface that bled into an alternate reality.
Before him stood a figure that was familiar but not at the same time. It was as if everything about him that made him who he was had been made perfect. Scars were illusions, illusions that no longer mattered. Gold ringlets curled at his wrists, his chest bare of clothing. A scar he’d gotten from fighting Romulus all those years ago, when he was mortal, was gone.
So too were the blues of his eyes, replaced by a brown that very closely resembled the shade of dark chocolate. His hair was straight, though it came down to his shoulders in thick waves, his shoulders broad, his abdomen lean, his torso so defined that it could have been called godly.
The only real difference here was that he had no belly button.. that was hidden from sight. Out of sight, out of mind…
He wore a shawl, one that kept his bottom half hidden, though he could still feel his legs so nothing there had changed. Instead, though, he could feel a power within himself that was unchanging, forever growing even then but eternal in its strength and prowess. He turned to face the chasm once more only this time when he did, he found himself face to face with a stranger.
Immediately, it was as if all his worries and woes had disappeared at once. Sudden peace was brought upon him and the worries of his mortal soul were cloven from his being. He fell to his knees.. The stranger stood at the pinnacle of existence, there but not quite. His eyes were like cinders, moving mirrored surfaces that showed every planet, every light in this reality and the next.
When he looked at him, all he could do was look away, his eyes falling to the floor before he allowed himself the brief opportunity to look up and at the creature that stood before him.
“Father,” he said, his voice trembling.
Wings sprouted from his back as if on cue, each one hefty enough that they nearly brought him back against the floor, though he held himself firm before his king, his god.
“I don’t know what I’m doing.” Around him, shadows sprouted as if from nothing, lacing over his arms in intricate designs, forging their woven path over his existence till it was rather apparent that they were simply trying to console him. “The humans, they don’t listen. Neither do the gods that were born from our darkness.”
“They choose to ignore what has been given them and crave more than what they deserve,” chastising them was all he could do for he knew no better. They were not of his making but of his nephew’s.. He was just one of the few infected by their unholy need to prosper and grow to the ends of the world where they were not wanted or needed.
The figure, the figure of darkness who’s skin was as black as obsidian but never quite the same when you looked at him one way and then the next, turned to face the chasm once more, his back turned to the man who knelt before him.
When he spoke, it was as if all the voices in the world spoke at once. Monotonous, chaotic, even disastrous, he was the only one in the world who could understand the pain in his subject’s mind. “THaN eRasE thEm fROm YouR rEAlMS,” the creature said. All at once, the voices faded and one above them all stood out.. it was his voice, Gus’ voice. “Become something you’re not for what you could become.”
The man stood from his kneeling position, his fingers curling in the shawl that bound his lower extremeties. His wings creased and then disappeared into his back, hiding away under each shoulder’s flaps of flesh like a curtain being drawn back.
When he stepped back and toward the mirrored surface, he turned his head just for the briefest moment and as he did, the creature before him popped like a popcorn kernel, only he didn’t become a buttery treat but instead, splashed all over the cliff that overlooked the chasm.
“ReMEmBer Who yOu aRE..” it urged, “REmEMbEr me.. ReMeMBer Chaos..” It drummed in his head before a face rose from the depths. “Remember yourself, Erebus.”
He could only nod his head, golden crown of shadows forming at his brow and in that long, unkempt traipse of brown hair.
“Yes, father,” he replied.