This was initially going to be my novel. I’ve long since forgotten about it entirely and it’s been gathering dust in my writing folder until I actually did some work today on my current novel. I figure it’s decent enough to put up somewhere.
For a long time, everything was dark. The silence shrouded the darkness and plunged it further upon itself so not a single light could purge it. It would be lonely if he had opened his eyes just then, but he didn’t.
The tiny winged beast was unaware of any of it, but a war was throwing the world he was to enter into wretched chaos from which there was no escape. Screams of terror fell upon deaf ears. Blood stained the walls and soaked into the floor. Pleas for mercy were cut short in the middle.
Already, before he even truly existed, his life was in shambles. But he remained ignorant of the turn of events and just kept sleeping, kept waiting.
Centuries passed as he remained drifting in the void, pleasantly cradled between reality and the nothingness. The war ended with the victor being death. Nothing could be heard as the halls and homes remained empty in the vast kingdom. Those who still resided inside the castle would give no noise to suffocate the silence; Death came where it had to, but it never cleaned up the mess.
It happened fast. The warmth of the emptiness turned bitter cold, bright light pierced the belly of the beast that had swallowed him up, blinding him in the process. It ripped through the membrane and bled him out onto cold marble.
The first breath of air surged through him in a violent sweep, chilling his insides and choking him until his lungs discovered themselves. All at once, the darkness had abandoned him to blinding light. Confusion and fear wrapped their fingers around his throat, forcing hard swallows as he gasped and coughed.
Being brought into existance was harsh and cruel, but he didn’t know that yet. He didn’t know much of anything as his coffee-caramel eyes opened and looked out to the world. He had freshly greeted this place, but it did not offer a welcome in return.
In fact, it was quiet. Very quiet. Not in the same way it had been before; this was different. This silence felt sad. Sad and empty. Those were the first two things he felt after being pulled into existance. He touched his stomach, so easily overwhelmed by it all.
Oh…? Oh! He looked down at the hands he had just discovered he had and flexed the small fingers at the ends. Just below he found tiny feet and toes and wiggled those too. He hugged his belly and took a few steps forward, eyes glued to his feet as they traversed the cool, dusty marble beneath.
A twitch at the little one’s shoulder blade forced his hand back in reflex, fingers probing for the source of mild discomfort. They glided over smooth, warm skin until they bumped into silky feathers. More curious touching identified his wings, though still fragile and utterly useless, they were firmly attached to his back and were quite sensitive to his poking, giving off a tickling sensation.
That was how he learned to laugh; in the first five minutes of life he had found joy. He pet the feathers again, repeating the joyous sound. It came as a whisper at first but soon became light and soothing, travelling the space around him and lingered for a moment or two before disappearing again.
The brick house he had been ‘born’ in was in shambles. The roof had begun to cave in, the front wall and door had fallen over and glass littered the outside where a window had sat some time ago. He knelt down and picke up a filthy bundle of cloth. As he unravelled it from itself, he realized it was a cloak, though in poor shape. He pulled it on, frowning at the way it fell limply over his bony figure. One last glance was given to the room before he made for th exit. He carefully ducked beneath a fallen wall and crawled on his belly through to the other side.
As he stood he patted a thick layer of dust off of his clothes, grimacing as it stuck to his hands.
“Eugh..” He jumped, startled by his voice echoing over the walls.
Finally he was able to look at his true surroundings, not just the four- well, three- walls of the room he’d been in his entire life thus far.
Dark, musty corridors loomed at each side of him, towering up into pitch black ceiling. Or at least, he thought there was a ceiling up there. Surely there was, the walls couldn’t simply extend up forever could they?
As he pondered this the revelation of just how little he actually knew hit him hard. He had been alive for such little time, but he felt as though he ought to know more. He thought by now he would have had all the information he needed come flooding to his mind. Instead, he was stuck here with a mind still trying to develop, all alone.
If he knew so little, what did he know?
The boy sat down on a pile of rubble and stared down at his hands. He knew that he was a boy, knew his skin was pale and soft, that he was alone and- his wings twitched and shuddered as if to scold him for not knowing- an angel.
A noise travelled from the darkness to his right, startling the angel onto his feet and then to his rear as his feet hit uneven marble and sent him off balance.
His heart began to pound loudly in his ears, deafening him to all else. He quickly scrambled to his feet and took off in a sprint in the polar opposite direction from the noise. The more he ran, however, the closer it seemed to get to him.
So the next emotion he became familiar with, was fear.
“Stay away!” He yelled, squeezing his eyes shut as he punctured the darkness with his tiny body and became swallowed up by it.
The corridor seemed to last forever with no turns or doors to open and hide with. It just kept going and going and going.
Now it didn’t matter which direction he looked, it was all dark everywhere. Fear was slowing him and soon it cemented his feet to the ground, leaving him frozen in place, drenched in a cold sweat. All he could do now was just stand there and wait. The noise began to grow louder and more frequent as whatever it was grew near. The angel grabbed at his garb and held it tightly in his small fists and uttered a small prayer. “Please just go away.. please just leave..”
It was so loud now that it rang violently in both his ears and all he could think was that he was about to meet his end, so soon into his new life. The sound came to a stop as it neared and closed the distance between itself and the boy, then it was replaced with a weight on his left shoulder.
He opened his eyes, despite the little voice in his head warning him not to; Why would he want to see the face of a demon about to kill him?
To his surprise and relief what perched on his shoulder was not the hand of the beast that wanted his soul, but a tiny white dove.
Its bright blue eyes blinked over at him expectantly, white feathered wings tucking into place on its sides. Tiny yellow talons gripped the shoulder strap of his cloak and a gentle chirp left its beak. It almost seemed to be glowing, with the darkness surrounding them both.
“Oh.. Hello.” He whispered, tentatively reaching his hand up to the bird. It didn’t flinch or show any sign of fear. It allowed him to put his fingers through its feathers a few times in gentle strokes and chirped its satisfaction.
‘Even a bird is braver than I am.. go figure.‘
“I don’t suppose you know what way I’m supposed to go, do you?”
It had been meant as a joking question- after all, the bird couldn’t talk and probably couldn’t understand a thing he said, so why would he genuinely expect an answer out of its little yellow beak?
However, with a tilt of its head, the bird departed his shoulder and took to the air once more, hovering just in front of him. It squeaked a cry to him and turned away, flapping its wings once to soar gracefully through the air and go further down the corridor.
He stood there for a moment in shock before quickly rushing after the bird. “H-Hol on, wait for me!”
He trudged after the bird for some time with the corridor not showing any sign of ending any time soon. He fell several times as he stepped into broken marble, low dips in the floor and sudden half steps too. Every other slab or so seemed to be severely damaged.
Actually, most of this place did. From the building he had been in when he was born, to the outside road that lead to it. He didn’t know what had happened here, but he was certain whatever it was, had not been good. It must have happened a long time ago too, considering the dust. Had no one come back to fix it up and live here again? Was there anyone to come back here?
He looked up to the bird, still flying as happy as could be in front of him. “Do you know what happened here?” He asked, this time most certainly expecting a response from it. But there was no chirp or movement to answer him now. The dove just kept moving forwards, guiding him through the eternal hallway.
Then, like the first light had, brightness erupted from in front of him, blinding him for just a moment. Instinctively, he raised a hand to shield his eyes, slamming them shut as well.
After a few moments, he carefully opened his coffee hued orbs and dropped his hand. They had exited the unending corridor and come out the other side of it. Now they were in an open courtyard where he would have once marvelled at statues now headless or crushed entirely. Dried up and still dying plants sat in pots alongside many doorways that lead elsewhere and upon a closer look, he found two settled on either side of the doorway he had just went through. Vines littered the marble. They probably once climbed up the walls and slithered beyond but now they were lifeless and eerie. A fountain sat in the center, its water murky and cold to the touch. Whatever statue that had sat inside was like the others, destroyed and unrecognizable.
The dove fluttered down and sat on his shoulder once again. It had done its job of guiding the lost little one and had decided to rest. Its feathers twitched and shuddered nearly in time with his own wings doing so.
He walked around the fountain to look at the single statue that had little damage to it somehow. Gently petting the ruffled feathers of the dove with two fingers, he looked up to the smiling face the statue held. Whoever it was, they seemed determined but still gentle, though how a rough surface like a statue could come off as gentle he wasn’t sure he could explain. Still, he liked it.
The gold name plate set in stone beneath it glinted in the faint light the courtyard held, naturally drawing his eye towards it.
The angel leaned in to read what was etched into it, his eyes squinting slightly in effort to make out what was written.
‘Alisx the Blessed One’
“Alisx..” It sounded sweet and stuck to his tongue as he whispered it. He straightened and looked up at the statue’s face once again. “Alisx.” Placing his palm on the cool surface at the bottom of the statue, he took a deep breath. “I wish you were here so I could ask if it’s alright, but I think I’m all alone. I’ll try to live up to your legacy. Please accept my wishes to take on your name.”
He drew two fingers up under the dove’s chin. “Alisx is a nice name, don’t you think?” The bird responded with a gentle nibble to his index. “Right, we need to name you too huh?”
‘Alisx’ took a look around in desperate hope of finding a statue with birds he could borrow from, but as he assumed, there were none. He frowned and sat carefully at the edge of the fountain. “Well.. We met in the dark and you lead me here by glowing so I could find my way out of there.. why don’t I call you Dazzle?” This time he was answered with a softly sung song. He took that as a yes.
With a name to his being and one for his companion, Alisx felt a strong surge of determination. He didn’t know much, but he could learn. He would learn. He wasn’t alone anymore either. Dazzle may just be a dove, but she was there and that was all the little angel really wanted. Then again, he wondered if she really was just a dove. After all, she could glow. Was that normal? He shook the thoughts from his mind. He could always figure that out later.
He stood up again and stretched, his feathered wings twitching in disagreement with his movement. It caused him to wince, but he held back starting tears and started walking again.
“Which door should we go in, Dazzle?” He questioned her, but didn’t wait for an answer, choosing a doro himself. If they got lost, he was certain the bird would know where to go to get back.
It was a funny notion when he thought about it. He was putting a lot of trust into a winged creature he couldn’t even properly communicate with.
Twisting the rusted doorknob, Alisx put his shoulder to the wood and forced it open. Ash and dust cluttered together, creating a thick layer of grime on the floor. He grimaced as he stepped into it and it slithered between his toes. There was a bit of light cast from a hole in the ceiling, but it didn’t exactly illuminate the place. Dazzle caught him spying at her, but made no move to help this time. She was keen on taking a nap it seemed, so he left her alone to her pleasures.
It looked as though the room beside this one had crumbled into pieces; chunks of stone were scattered everywhere and a wall had collided into one in this room, smashing them both. The rubble cut off half the room; bricks, marble and other rough stones created what almost looked like a fallen pillar.
Something in his gut told him to stop there, but the little angel had not yet learned the importance of listening to that feeling.
He carefully put his hands at the top of the pile and hauled himself up onto it. His arms shook slightly as he held all of his weight with them, but with a bit of momentum, he was able to pull one leg up and ease the pressure on his hands.
His toes brushed against softness as he brought his other leg up and with horror and heartache, he laid caramel eyes on what could not be mistaken as anything else; a shattered wing, dusty, nearly featherless at this point and painted a dark brown tint. As he followed it to the pile, he came to the stomach turning conclusion that what or whoever it was attached to remained beneath the pille he stood on.
Shaken, he dropped down onto the cold marble floor, accidentally startling Dazzle from her nap. The bird took to the air while the angel collapsed on the other side of the destruction, clutching his hands to his stomach. He quickly crawled away from it, terrified to look upon it again in case he saw another vicious scene. He found his way to the full wall at the very back of the room and leaned against it. Alisx brought his legs to his chest, hiding away in the darkness of his knees while hot tears wet his cheeks.
He felt Dazzle’s talons on his arm but didn’t raise his head. He wept against his knees until he was sure there were no more tears to be cried.
Hours passed him by as the two stayed stationary and the angel had to cry out all of the emotions that had been thrust upon him so quickly.
When at last he felt he could move from his spot, Alisx stood, carefully moving his arm so the dove would not be scared. She ran her way up his arm and to his shoulder once more, perching there with a fierce grip on his shirt while he climbed back over the half-wall.
Fatigue had begun to set in, but he would not stay in this room. He couldn’t. Knowing there may be other horrors buried there and that the dust and ashes he stepped in were not simply from an untended fire or due to the room never being used, it was too much. If he stayed in there any longer, he feared he may lose his mind.
It was all too much. Just too much for him to handle. He was small and fresh to the world around him. This was not the way he was supposed to experience life. This was not the welcome he ought to have had. Only, he didn’t know that.
Alisx didn’t know that he should have been greeted by arch angels. He didn’t know that he should have had a little room all to himself; with his own clothes and personal affects. He knew nothing about what the world was supposed to be like.
This was his world. This time right now, as he was experiencing it, was the world he had been given.
He shut the door to the room tightly and put several large pieces of marble in front of it. He would mark any door that had such nightmares inside of it. That way, if anyone else came through..
He slid onto the ground in front of the fountain. Dazzle hopped onto the side of it and blinked wide eyes down at him and he tried to give her a smile but couldn’t find the strength.
“We’ll go explore some more tomorrow, ok?”
No answer, but she looked content so again he would take it as a yes.
Curling into a ball with his head resting on the cold floor, Alisx shut his eyes and fell asleep, welcoming the unconsciousness and the darkness that came to visit with it.
Pain erupted from Alisx’s back, ripping him from the dark claws of dreamland. His eyes shot open and though a scream wished to leave, nothing came out from his parted lips. Hot tears surged down his face in fast paced streams, soaking his chin on their way down before dribbling off that and onto the marble beneath him.
Gasping for breath, he rolled over onto his stomach and rose to his hands and knees, staring with blurred vision at the ground his palms were pressed flat against.
Another explosion of searing pain came and this time the scream came with it. He yelled out sharply, shutting his eyes tightly and gritting his teeth. The hands on the floor tightened to fists and pounded on the ground in desperation.
The feathers that were gentle and sensitive the day before had turned into sharp knives and unbearable ripping.
Large membrane covered bones began to pierce through the skin on his back and with it, many bloodied feathers were breaching the surface. They bent and curved as they pushed and pushed against his flesh, eventually beginning to form the true wings the small angel was to don.
Alisx was dizzy and lightheaded and clearly held no tolerance for pain. Saliva had collected in pools at the corners of his dry lips and no matter how many times he licked them, no relief came. His body shook and trembled and each jerking motion, each jolt of a muscle relit the anguish of the wing growth.
Above him Dazzle flew in circles, emitting loud screeches of panic and he so desperately wanted to tell her it was alright, but he didn’t know if it really was.
Was he dying? He’d only been here a short time, was it really the end already?
The room spun in circles, forcing him to keep his eyes shut once again. He slowly sank into the cool marble, flattening on his stomach with his cheek to the ground. The idea of curling into fetal position came to him but he daren’t move.
When at last he was able to breathe, able to unclench all his tense muscles and allow himself to weep freely, he shakily stood.
“I… ‘m okay Dazzle..”
Alisx smiled up at her as best as he could manage. He took just a single step towards his companion when every cell in his body was lit up with ungodly pain and the floor rose up to meet him on the way down. Before it all turned black, he saw waves of light emanating from what seemed to be him! Ripples as if someone tossed a stone into a pond. He reached his hand out, fingers brushing one of the bursts of light. It was warm and almost comforting for the brief moment they connected. Then the world faded into darkness and he fell into sleep.
The marble disappeared underneath him and soon he found his hands pushing plump, fluffy white cloud instead. It held his body gently and coaxed him into a relaxed state.
“Where… am I?”
“You’re okay, Alisx!”
Startled by the voice, he whipped around, heart in his throat.
A winged girl stood just a few feet in front of him. She was shorter by a foot or so and much smaller. Her bright cerulean eyes stared at him, lit with excitement which showed clearly through her entire expression; a wide set grin and dimples on each side. She had bright blonde hair that to Alisx appeared white instead, wrapped in a tight bun. Her little dress stopped at her knees with a lace trim and she clutched a matching parasol in one tiny hand.
“I… who are you?”
The girl twirled the parasol and then came running to meet him, throwing down her toy and throwing her arms around him instead. “I’m so happy you’re alright!”
Alisx stared in disbelief, unsure of what to do. “Who are you?” he repeated, gently urging her to let him go.
“It’s me silly! Dazzle! Or at least that’s what you call me.”
“D-Dazzle?” He gaped in disbelief, staring at the girl with a mixed expression. “That’s.. not possible. Am I dreaming?”
“Does it matter if you are?” She asked, now sounding much older than her appearance gave away.
“I suppose not but.. wait a minute. You said that’s what I call you. What’s that mean? Do you have another name?”
Sitting on the clouds next to him, she played with the stray bits of hair that were poking from her bun. “I have my name and the name you gave me. They’re both nice.” Cocking her head off to the side she looked at him from the corner of her eye. “My old name is Rue.”
“Rue?” He let it roll around his tongue a bit. It sounded soft and innocent, certainly like she seemed to be. “Should I call you that instead?”
“If you want to.” She replied, wiggling her toes.
Alisx sighed and began to lay back before he bolted upright. His wings! He reached back but felt nothing there. In horror, he bent his body in strained positions in effort to see or feel the entirety of his backside. Still, he felt nothing.
“My wings!” he gasped, looking to ‘Rue’, “They’re gone!”
“You made them go away.” Rue replied matter-of-factly. “When you sleep, whatever it is you want will appear in your dreams. You were wishing you didn’t have wings so you wouldn’t be in pain. So your dream gave you what you wanted.”
Alisx frowned a little, laying back fully despite how odd it felt not to have feathers cushioning him anymore. At least there was no more pain from them. “So you’re not real? I just made you up?”
“That depends on your own definition of real. In your mind, in your dreams, I’m very real.”
“I don’t understand..” He mumbled, rubbing his head.
“This is a manifestation your soul created when your heart cried out in loneliness and fear. Whether you want to see me as your dove or a stranger, it doesn’t really matter does it? You were alone and now here I am.”
“Suppose I do believe you’re Dazzle- er.. Rue. Why are you here? Why are you with me outside of my dreams?”
“Every angel has a beast that shares the same kind of soul. Kindred spirits. They’re supposed to stay with one another. The beast protects the angel as best it can and vice versa. It’s like we’re soulmates but more of a literal best friend for life kinda deal, you know? We’re supposed to take care of each other.”
“Where are the other beasts then? The other angels? And how come you can’t talk to me outside of my dreams?”
Rue shook her head and put a finger to her lips. “There’s not enough time for me to explain everything right now. I’ll try to soon. The reason we can talk when you sleep is because our souls are only as bare as they can ever be, when we’re asleep.”
Alisx sighed. “Why did my wings hurt me so bad?”
“They were becoming full fledged angel wings. The itty bitty tufts of feather you had when you first awoke wouldn’t help a fly fly!” She laughed at her own joke. “Normally you’d be in bed for a few days after awakening. You’ll develop a fever and be sore and tired for a full day or so. Newborns are kept in bed so they can be taken care of. They also have remedies for pain there. Unfortunately you’ve been awoken in a time where..”
“I’m all alone.” He finished, defeated.
“Yes.. I’ll do my best to help you, but my physical form isn’t much aid. Just try to rest as much as you can until the fever breaks. There should still be a room in decent condition around here. Check the rest of the doors when you wake, ok?”
“Alright.. Will you at least tell me what happened here?”
“That’s too long of a story. I’m sorry Alisx. Alisx.. by the way, that’s a lovely name. You chose well.”
He smiled and closed his eyes. “Thanks Dazzle… or rather, Rue.”
She opened her mouth to speak but what came out of her mouth was only a shrill screech-
Alisx sat up with a groan. The cloudy ground he had been on before was just a dream and his stiff body was reminding him of that.
Tentatively, he reached back and his fingers bumped into some very sensitive wing bone, sending a sharp jolt of pain through him in warning.
Daz- Rue had been right, his body was burning up and despite his (though unplanned for) nap, he still felt exhausted.
The tiny dove cooed at him once it noticed he had woken. She timidly waddled over and sat on his shoulder as he stood.
“Hey Rue.” he greeted, leaning on the statue next to the fountain to get his bearings. His knees were still a bit weak from the pain of his wings growing in, but he couldn’t just stand here forever. Well, he could, but he didn’t want to.
He looked around at the remaining unexplored rooms and slowly meandered over to one of the doors. He was nervous in twisting the doorknob to open it, scared he might discover more tragedy. Though, he supposed this entire place was a tragedy; so alone and in shambles, no longer mighty like it once was.
When the door finally gave way to his pressure, it swung open to choke him with a wave of dust brought up from the breeze. He coughed hard and rubbed it from his eyes as he blindly stumbled in.
Gently rubbing his face semi clean with the hem of his cloak, Alisx took in the sight before him with a slacked jaw and parted lips.
Bookcases stretched into the ceiling and poked and prodded at it as if to demand more room for themselves. They sat shoulder to shoulder with one another, leaving no space between the soft oak. There were a few empty spots between the tightly packed books but he could only count them on one hand. Otherwise, there were book, books and even more books. Though dust covered most of the spines, some he could make out still, despite their faded lettering too.