Not since the Gods had broken the eternal silence with their great and brilliant light had there been such darkness.
Far from his scarred, twisted body and the strange machinations of handmaidens, Tiberis lay, lifeless and deep within its eldritch flow. His eyes were closed to all but exhausted sleep, yet, there would be no rest here for the broken and bloodied king. For in the furthest reaches of this empty haven, there seemed to come a noise; a voice as if spoken by the darkness itself.
“You think yourself a powerful man, O great King?”
Then another came, a female voice, a counter to the gnarled, masculine bitterness of the first,
“You think yourself a man at all, O little Monarch?” It hissed, seemingly coming closer to Tiberis, prone and unmoved in his dream like state.
“You believe your words could bow a nation, paper god?” The male voice bellowed in from the edge of Tiberis’ imaginings to the very pit of his soul.
“You think your rage could be made manifest, made believable to the common muck you fool yourself into believing you lead?” Spat the female as her words slipped into his ear, her breath cold on the quivering Kings neck.
“Who are you!?” Screamed Tiberis, his body straining for motion, for action against these mad and impertinent interlopers, “You dare!? You dare to mock your King!?”
He listened as his voice echoed, again and again into nothingness. The silence it left in its wake seemed to hang thick, as if the shadows themselves were drawing their breath. Then suddenly, a growl, as if dragged from the pits of hell rose all around the King, his skin quivering, an instant sweat coating his entire being as the darkness broke about him and in that terrible light he beheld two beings. The first hovered a few metres from Tiberis’ feet, a man wrapped in the form of a demon, his skin black and glistening; his eyes red like the blood of the newborn. The remaining shadows clung to his skin, like oil on water. His body crackled with power, his muscles twitching, wired and eager for terrible action. The other, the female floated above the king, still prone upon his back, floating now in a burning, white hot light. She smiled, a deathly grimace that carved across her face, alabaster white, her eyes black and gleaming like anthracite coals.
“Are you too proud to know you’re a slave?” She whispered, the shadows dancing upon her body, her mouth, a breath away from Tiberis’.
“I am no ones slave.” He replied, his rage bubbling at his lips, his paralysed form trembling beneath her.
The female that hovered above him made no motion. No sound. She simply stared, deep into the heart of the man below her, into every corner of his being. Tiberis felt her presence throughout his body, his mind, every fear, every failing exposed to her. His entire history, the very essence of the man was laid bare beneath her, like a corpse upon a table. Tears welled up within his eyes, yet they held back by sheer fury, pure will.
At last, when satiated upon his soul, she spoke,
“Do you know who we are, little king?” Tiberis made no sound, “I am Nyx and this… this is my beloved brother, Erebus.”
With that, the eldritch demon, Erebus flew, his speed defying imagining, his clawed hand at Tiberis throat. He pulled the kings face close to his own and as he did, Tiberis smelt death upon his breath.
“We are the darkness.” He bellowed, “We are the absence of all things. We are Gods to all who cast a shadow.”
“And we are the shadow itself.” Added Nyx as she gestured to her brother to release Tiberis.
The king fell into nothingness, his limbs moving again, his lungs releasing a scream beyond his permission into the burning light into which he now tumbled. As he fell, he heard Nyx voice, thick and viscous in his head,
“Before all there is, there was darkness, thick and glorious. It covered all with its touch… its beauty. This was our realm, my brother and I, our kingdom and it was beyond imagining. From its ebony borders, we ruled, with absolute power, in absolute ecstasy. Then, in its infinite wisdom, the universe saw fit to birth… Her, and when she saw fit to bring… this. This terrible light and with it, she razed our kingdom to the ground. It was she who burnt it from the minds of all that was, all that will be until we were forced to scurry into the corners of this new world… To forever trail behind the living. Yet we did not diminish… we did not go into that good night... no.”
“Erebus and I, we wore our humiliation… suffered every indignity of this new world whilst all the time gathering our strength, until we could find a way to destroy her, the she that had brought this accursed light…”
Continuing his fall into an endless ocean of blinding absence, Tiberis broke his scream to howl at these, these gods in defiance,
“Gods!? Gods you call yourselves?!? If Gods you truly be then why would you waylay me here, when all I seek is the end… the demise of the cow, Gaea herself? Why would you distract me from a purpose which fits itself to your own!?!”
Tiberis’ fall was halted, suddenly and violently. His body snapped back as an unseen force grasped Tiberis frame with much force. The light about him began to fade, to dim as the darkness reclaimed its hold, a wave of piceous terror engulfed his vision before, within its folds, the strained and furious face of Erebus appeared before him.
“You… GNAT!” He barked, his voice like razors. “You would have meddled in the pursuits of Gods and YOU WOULD HAVE FAILED! In your vain pursuit of petty and selfish interests, you would have been crushed, your pathetic life smeared into nothingness while the goddess’ name would become legendary, reinforced in the fires of your stupidity!”
Beside her brother, the silken, smoke like form of Nyx appeared,
“Did you not feel the power beneath your words, little king?” She sighed, “As the great sword, Tartarus hovered above you, as the whip of Attrition fell against your skin, finding bone, did you not feel us creep within your soul? Your words… our words filled the ears of your people, chained them to our purpose and held them in thrall of your shadow. That is our domain… the shadow of the soul and it is with us, our guidance, our power, that you would have found the victory you had so naively sought.”
Tiberis felt the shadows creep into his spirit, the pain growing with each barb as he left the realm of dream and passed back into the realm of the living.
“But… nnngg… why do you speak as if it is undone…” He said, “Why do you speak as if this had passed?”
“Because you, as with all of your kind,” Spoke Erebus, his voice fading into the darkness that lay on the other side of sleep, “make complication by the simple act of existing.”
“Yet, why?” Shouted Tiberis, feeling the bed beneath him, the searing burn of his wounds returning to his senses, “What have I done? What would you have me do to have the power returned to me!?!”
The question hung in the air, Tiberis back in the cloistered air of his kingdom, His face hung, locked in one of confusion and dread, his mind spinning. Within his head ran the last words that Nyx had whispered through the smoke and the shadows of that dread other place.
"“It is you who have sired the daughter of the goddess, Gaea, little king.” She said, the venom still working its way into Tiberis’ very being, “And it is you who must kill the child.”
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