Fairy Files: The Genealogy Of Lucas Ballanheim

Originally, Lucas' physically appearance was based on Isaac from Golden Sun. As of now his exact appearance is a little up in the air, but he still wears a scarf, though it's more reminiscent of Lightning's clipped-on side scarf from Final Fantasy XIII

Originally, Lucas’ physically appearance was based on Isaac from Golden Sun. As of now his exact appearance is a little up in the air, but he still wears a scarf, though it’s more reminiscent of Lightning’s clipped-on side scarf from Final Fantasy XIII

Fairy Files is an attempt for me to get down in one place all of the ideas for my novel. It isn’t an official guide, or a companion that would be accurate to the final book, since the book is still to be finished. The novel itself, called at different times Fairy Tale, The Fairy’s Awakening, or having no title at all, has undergone so many changes that not all incarnations of the story were lasting or best for the story, but I want them to be recorded for my own memory as much as anything else.

Lucas Ballanheim has been the central character of this story from the beginning. The entire story began when I was watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and was really fascinated by the character of Hohenheim. I really love it when a character is so superior in magical ability that they can create earthquakes standing in place or do other incredible feats with their vast unseen reserves of magical power. I started to think about a young character who would have similar power to Hohenheim, and initially I called this character Hohenheim, mostly brainstorming about him in the shower. Eventually I decided on a first name of Lucas; I was reading a Star Wars novel called Outcast at the time and I had the sudden realization that obviously George Lucas must have named the character Luke after himself, a fact that I’m sure even the most casual Star Wars fan must have already observed, but one that slipped by me. A lot of really obvious things get past me in life because I’m usually looking for deeper meaning and missing things on the surface; I think this is the reason why I’m often caught by surprise by incredibly inane plot twists that are easily foreseeable and surprise no one else. It’s also what had discouraged me in the past and made me think I’m no good at coming up with plot twists, I think as I’ve grown I’ve learned that the way I twist a plot is more subtle and detailed, so there aren’t as many huge reveals, or at least I don’t know that there will be.

Lucas Hohenheim was initially my main character, and I had given him a best friend named Hephaestion and set him in a kingdom called Alexandria as the prince. I chose the name Alexandria because of my inspiration with the city of Alexandria in Final Fantasy IX, and of course that fictional city is named after the real city of Alexandria set up in the real world by the conqueror Alexander the Great. When I was a teenager I remember my brother watching the movie Alexander, and I was really interested in a character named Hephaestion played by Jared Leto who had been Alexander’s best friend from childhood and was also his lover. I was even more interested to learn that this is in fact based in history, and that there is a lot of evidence that the real Alexander was indeed Hephaestion’s lover, so I wanted to have a parallel there in my story. I like to try and recognize gay romance when it occurs in history in places you don’t expect it: apart from Alexander and Hephaestion, my other favorite historical romance is King David (yes, that King David, the one from the Bible) and his lover Jonathan, whose sex scene is all but spelled out in the Bible itself, but Biblical scholars trip over themselves trying to explain it away as a close friendship. And this dealing with a character as notoriously romantic and sexual as David.

Anyhow, I had very little in the beginning apart from some names and some ideas. I knew that Hephaestion (for the first couple of years I erroneously spelled his name “Hephaestian,” and then kept it that way for a while after discovering the correct spelling, before finally converting) was Lucas’ romantic interest, and I had a vague concept of the two being joined by a forest goddess in a kind of faux-wedding ceremony bonding a guardian (Hephaestion) and his charge (Lucas). At this early point in the story not much else was concrete, and I had to mull over a lot of ideas before the plot came even a little bit into focus.

Eventually I decided that it would be too obviously derivative to keep Lucas’ last name Hohenheim, so I modified it to Ballanheim, which is what is has remained. In various versions of the story, Ballanheim is either not his true name or a name he’s adopted, but that’s the name that’s stuck with him. Often I get ideas for characters based on small details: Bronwen’s entire character seemed to be formed around her name and then around the idea of a red coat similar to the Red Mage outfit from Final Fantasy, Lucas was inspired by the name Hohenheim and it’s connections to the magical abilities of the alchemist from which I borrowed the name, Imogen’s entire inclusion in the story at all came from the fact that when I briefly tried to write the story using RPG Maker, I liked the character sprite of a witch, and so I made her a party member. Small details end up creating complex characters. Hephaestion’s entire identity was simply based on the fact that I wanted Lucas to have a gay relationship with a naming parallel to the Alexander and Hephaestion of history.

In one early concept scene, I attempted to switch the focus of the story to another character named Oliver. Oliver comes from an entirely separate story centered around vampire mythology that I began when I seventeen, and the original version of which is now lost. I also tried to combine Lucas’ story (at some times called Fairy Tale or The Fairy’s Awakening) with yet another story I never really finished called Jared and Cornelia, and early concept scenes show these connections as well. At one point Lucas was going to be a member of the main cast with Oliver at the center of the story as a human dealing with mages, vampires, and gods. This idea never really continued after the initial scene I wrote with Oliver speaking to Lucifer in the underworld (in fact I barely remembered the scene at all and had to go back and check to see just who the narrator of the scene was, I’d forgotten it was Oliver and assumed it was an unnamed protagonist).

I can’t say exactly how Lucas evolved at exactly when, but eventually I wrote the first version of my opening scene, which has been re-written several times. I wrote it by hand in a notebook and I don’t actually know what happened to that notebook but I’m hoping I still have it somewhere. The scene primarily consisted of Lucas standing, naked in front of a mirror, in his own room while he telekenetically whirled flames around the room and around himself. I got the idea for him closing his eyes and reaching out with “mind fingers” to grab the flames from reading Anne Rice’s depiction of how Akasha and other vampires in her story used an almost physical extension of their mind to set other vampires aflame. I remember it being important to me that Lucas was naked in that opening scene because I wanted to describe him in intimate detail: the light blonde hair covering his stomach, his penis and his testicles, his thighs and of course most importantly his face, the eye and hair color associated with which have been changed a hundred times and even now I’m not sure what exactly Lucas looks like. He probably has dirty blonde hair and blue or green eyes (they can’t be brown because one of Hephaestion’s defining characteristics is that he has brown eyes to match his curly greek-style chestnut hair). As for his reason for being naked, it’s because I like to describe things that I don’t often see described in other books, things that make scenes feel more realistic: you don’t ever really read about a character idly scratching their nose for absolutely no reason relevant to the plot, or pulling their undergarments out of their but, or masturbating just because they wanted to masturbate and not to drive a specific romance. I’m drawn to the idea of a naked and beautiful prince in front of a mirror more than I am of a clothed prince, so that’s what I went with.

I knew from the beginning Lucas was a prince, but a comment early on from someone pointing out that a blonde-haired blue eyed prince with magic powers seemed incredibly cliche, and that comment has stuck with me and always bothered me a bit because it’s absolutely true, but if I alter something about Lucas I want it to be because it’s true to his character, not just because I was following a (valid) criticism. He’s remained royal in some fashion or another, and only incredibly recently (within the last two days) did I consider changing his status to that of a governor’s son. It’s important that he be wealthy and a little spoiled because that’s an important part of his character; he has to survive in a wild and untamed world without the comfort he’s accustomed to, and he has to be continually surprised by the new places and people he discovers, so that I and the reader can continue to be surprised.

Lucas parentage has been pretty consistent. I knew that my villain was going to be a character whose name I still haven’t exactly pinpointed, but he started as Braeg Ballanehim, then became Elliot Varner, and sometimes a reversal of Varner Elliot. I still haven’t decided what his name should be but for the most part I refer to him as Varner. Varner is some kind of important figure, the de facto leader of Alexandria, because the royal family has no power. He’s also Lucas’ abusive father, but this fact is concealed from everyone with few exceptions: Hephaestion is the only person Lucas has ever told, and if Varner knew he would probably have Hephaestion silenced in some way or at least threaten him to keep him quiet. Lucas is the prince, but there is no king and queen. Why this hasn’t made Lucas king, when he’s been of young adult age for the entirety of his character’s development, I couldn’t tell you. He’s just the prince. His mother died in childbirth and his presumed father the king has died in a number of ways and never been important to the story, because his real father is Varner.

In the version of Varner’s story that I like best, he was a councilman for Alexandria who began an illicit affair with the queen, whose name I’ve never decided on. The queen had never produced an heir for the king, and as these things go it was of course assumed that she was barren, when in fact there were complications with her own body as well as the kings, she had become pregnant once before but lost the child quickly, and had never conceived since. She also didn’t have sex with the king often because she wasn’t particularly interested in him and only consented to it when he made an advance on her. The queen has always been a good-hearted character, though I imagine her marriage to the king was done without her consent and she’s lived a troubled life because of it. She and Varner began an affair and she became pregnant with his child, which delighted her and quickly became news, everyone assuming that she and the king would finally have a son. Varner, though at this point not quite the angry psycopath he would later become, was unhappy with this turn of events for a few reasons: first, because he had great plans in mind for Alexandria and hadn’t though about bringing a child into the world before but would be completely against it if he had not already transformed Alexandria into the vision he had for it; second, because he did not want his child being assumed to be the son of the king, a man he loathed. Though he felt guilty about it, he convinced himself that the most prudent course of action was to terminate the pregnancy, but didn’t want to directly hurt the queen in the process, so he sought out a potion from a witch that would kill an unborn child.

As it happens, the witch who gave him this potion would turn out to be the adopted mother of Imogen (a character later to become one of the main cast but at this point not yet born), an old woman alternately named Phoebe or Samantha, and she agreed to his request without much disapproval. Varner slips her the potion and to his surprise it has exactly the reverse effect on her: the queen is invigorated by the potion and the baby is more healthy than ever. The queen also exhibits some slight magical ability, such as making flowers bloom or bringing life to things she touches. She may also have exhibited the fabled White Magic (or healing, life-giving magic), which is something that will be important elsewhere in the story, but which I’m going to assume parents of mages can perform a limited amount of while growing the life of a magical child within them. Furious, Varner goes back to the witch, and after threatening her he learns from her that the only way the potion could have failed would have been if the child itself was magical being, capable of absorbing the magic within the potion that would ordinarily have killed the child. Not knowing about the history of a group known as the mages, Varner assumes the child is a descendant of witches, and though it’s within Phoebe’s power to make a potion that can kill an unborn witch, she at first refuses, but relents when Varner threatens to kill the children she watches over in her secluded home in the forest. Phoebe weeps when giving him the potion, confessing that for a witch to kill another witch, especially an unborn, is a sin of the highest order, and he mocks her hypocrisy by pointing out that she had no problem giving him a potion to kill an ordinary unborn child with no inherent magic. Phoebe attempts to dissaude Varner from using the potion by reading his future against his will, seeing that his child is a son who will become a great leader one day.

Varner feels conflicted about slipping the queen the potion. He was unsure of himself the first time, but this time, upon seeing the effect of the last potion, and wondering exactly how this new one might affect the queen herself, as well as learning a few details about his unborn child, he can’t help but feel love for the baby and doesn’t want to kill it. He steels himself, believing it’s his duty not to bring a child into the world as it is now, and gives the queen the potion. Rather than killing the child, it causes her to go into labor with the child early, and Varner hides himself in a wardrobe in the queen’s chamber as he witnesses the birth of his son. The queen begins slipping away during the birth and her handmaids go to bring a physician, but Varner bars the door and prevents entrance to her room, going over to the bed and speaking with her before she dies. She smiles and asks Varner to take care of their son. He attempts to confess his actions to her but is too late even to tell her he loves her, and she dies. Heartbroken and enraged, Varner slips out the window as guards and physicians break into the queen’s room. A wake is held that night for the queen, and afterward Varner sneaked into the king’s chamber and murders him, refusing to allow the king to raise Varner’s child.

Varner soon after meets the baby for the first time, and witnesses the child exhibiting faint magical ability. Feeling conflicted over his love for the child, he considers the baby to be the cause of the death of the woman he loves as well as a forestalling of his own plans to become ruler of Alexandria. Conflicted by a mixture of innate love for the child, his grief over losing the queen and his further love of the child for being all he has left of her, an anger at the child for ending it’s mothers life, and ultimately profound anger at himself for bringing the whole situation to pass, Varner offers to adopt the child in his capacity as a councilman and the offer is seen as generous and selfless, so it’s allowed. The prince remains living in the castle but Varner is to be his surrogate father (though he is of course the child’s actual father). He is allowed to name the baby and gives him the name Lucas, and begins to hate the boy as a means of covering up his own guilt. Lucas is given the last name of Ballanheim, the name of the fallen king.

more to come…

The Vampire and the King of the Underworld

Veritas lumbered forward, breathing dry, heavy breaths, his eyes fixed on the figure draped in black.

The figure in black smiled kindly. “It has been a long time.”

Veritas’ mouth contorted to what someone may have perceived to be a smile, had their been light enough in the grand, open chamber of the Earth to see. When he spoke, his voice was ragged and tired, as though he’d just been dragged across sharp stones and it took all of his effort to speak. “Lucian, my friend. I have waited many long years for this day.”

Lucian smiled, the youth in his face a sharp contrast to the decrepid wrinkles of Veritas’ sagging skin. He raised a hand to touch the face of the vampire tenderly, as though admiring a work of art. “And look what time has done to you. He is an enemy of mortals, time.”

Vertias kept his eyes fixed upon Lucian, the slight smile still spread across his aged skin. Though his body and his face seemed to be sagging relics barely glued together by the aged veins and muscles, his eyes were bright and sharp, even through the cloudy haze that covered them. “You know that I am not mortal.”

“You should be,” Lucian said in an almost pained voice. “I look upon you and feel shame at my work.” He stepped back and looked Veritas up and down. “This was once a young, able human body, transformed into a graceful creature of darkness. Pitiful, but beauteous. And look now.”

Vertias seemed to straighten slightly, though he could not reach his full height, and he certainly didn’t compare to the towering figure draped in the black cloak.

Lucian continued, pacing around Veritas, circling him as he spoke, “These supple sinews have aged and degraded, but the curse of immortality keeps them from dying. These cells have grown weak and long to be transformed, to return to the earth, but not a hair nor the tiniest grain of skin can move on. They are bound eternally to this weak skeleton, made into a monster by the hands of a dark god.”

Veritas remained silent, and Lucian continued.

“Those eyes are the same that gazed with wonder upon my world eleven hundred years ago. Those lips are the very same that pleaded with me to unleash a hellish power upon the world. Tell me, in that slowly, still-beating, tortured heart, does there exist remorse? Remorse for what has happened both to this world, now filled with magic wars, or for the torture placed upon your frail human body, which could only survive so long as a dark instrument of godly power? Remorse, anywhere?”

Veritas spoke slowly, each word drawn out to it’s full length, each word a representation of the heart within that beated and felt and longed. “I have not sorrow nor remorse for what has become of this world which I presume to call my own. I have given it life.”

“Indeed you have, my friend,” Lucian replied, standing before Veritas again, and towering over the pitiful figure. “Eleven hundred years ago you gave me your life, and I spun it into a wellspring of magic, and bestowed that gift upon the world. A reckless and dangerous bargain the two of us struck, and the gods were furious with me for it. But I saw what became of your world.”

“It was…” Veritas choked the words out, as though his dry throat could no longer allow him to speak, “Too late. My sacrifice was for nothing.”

Lucian stretched out his arms wide. “Nothing?” He smiled as he asked. “But my friend, up on the surface the people do wonders with your magic, with your very spirit! They heal the sick, they move the mountains from one place to another, your spirit was strong enough to give them hope to achieve any destiny they choose, so long as the strength of their hearts is great enough! The very essence of the magic the world now holds is a reflection of your spirit! You are an integral part of the Earth!”

“Then, my friend, let me return to it.” Veritas’ voice sounded pleading. “Let me leave behind this empty, broken vessel, that it may rest at last and return to the warm bosom of the Earth in which we now stand. Take back into your realm at the heart of the planet this body that so long ago brought me here to ask of you that ghastly favor that would render me a slave to my own existence for a hundred and a thousand years!”

Lucian closed his eyes. There was a long silence, and a sound as though the crackling of a fire in a hearth could be heard somewhere in the distance, echoing along the corridors through the damp Earth. “I do confess, my human friend-”

“Vampire!” spit Vertias, teeth clenched, the word hissing through his teeth.

Lucian smiled, his eyes still closed. “Yes, then. Vampire. The creature which I made you. I confess that if you feel no remorse for unleashing this power upon the world, I do. For I see now the terrible price you have paid to see your beautiful green world furnished with the power of magic. I see now the flesh that longs to release it’s grasp upon those tired old bones, but cannot, and must stay forever bound together, aging and aging and aging. Tomorrow,” he whispered, “And tomorrow… and… tomorrow…”

Silence, but for the distant sound of what must have been the fire.

“Seeing you in this state,” Lucian continued, his eyes still closed, “It pains me. And to strike pain into the heart of a god, the god of the underworld no less, where all pain meets with the love of the great mother Earth, is an achievement.”

“I care not,” Veritas mumbled, “for achievement anymore.” And he stared defeatedly at the ground.

“The price has been paid, my friend.” Lucian opened his eyes and walked over to Veritas, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Look now.” And with a sweep of his arm, he opened for them in the dense earth a chasm, in which swirled the colorful soul of the planet, the magic that had once been released. “The spirit of the Earth that I weaved into magic with the spirit of Levi Stanley.”

Vertias’ crumpled mouth turned up again into his deformed smile. “I had forgotten my old name,” he sputtered, “Lost, it’s been, for at least a few hundred years.”

“Old friend,” Lucian sighed, “Your debt is paid. I will now release you from the mortal body your spirit has been eternally bound to. I alter the terms of our bargain. I see now that there is hope in this world for the magic of your spirit to be weilded by humanity with the fruitfullness and righteousness of the gods, with the love and the compassion of the Earth and of the underworld. What you have done for the world was good, and your payment has been made in full.”

Vertias closed his eyes, and as the skin on his face became moist and began to loosen, almost as though it were about to slide off, a watery tear fell from the eye that had not shed water for eleven hundred years.

“Return now to Her bosom, for she welcomes you, and I, Lucian Incarnum, who stand guard by her very soul, keeper of the underworld and shepherd of the dead whose position it is to lead all life from one existence to another, grant you permission to die to this body and to this existence, and to be reborn in another, as dictated by the great cycle of the Earth Mother.”

In the great, vast cavern where the king of the underworld dwelt, all light vanished, and even the colorful spirit of the Earth Mother that swirled in the chasm at his feet was covered by a darkness too dense to perceive. In the darkness could be heard the sound of one flesh slamming against another with great force, and the anguish and relief blended together in the cry of a man who had lived eleven hundred and twenty-two years, and for a moment a light shone in the darkness, the small, twinkling light of a heart that had not stopped beating for all of that time, clenched tightly in the hand of the shepherd of the dead. And then the light was extinguished, and within the dense pool in the Earth the colorful spirit of the Earth could be seen glowing with new life, welcoming home the spirit of the man who had exchanged his life for hope.

“Because I could not stop for death,” the king of the underworld whispered, “He kindly stopped for me.”

Jonathan’s Spirit Returns To The Earth

He wasn’t quite materialized, he felt like he was something less than solid, some kind of vapor held together by a material he didn’t know the name of. He wasn’t sure why he was here in this dark place, but he didn’t feel afraid, he felt oddly comforted, the circular shape of the cavernous walls made him feel safe and protected, and the light eminating from all around him was warm, and he felt still even now that he was connected with it, connected with his two lovers.

But still, the questions began to form in his mind as he began to remember who he’d been, but had he really been that person? He knew that his lovers were real, he remembered their names, but had the terrible things been a dream? Had he simply been sleeping all this time, and imagined that they lived in a world where their hopes had been snatched from them, a world where their lives were nothing but sorrow, longing, and unfulfillment?

And the thing that he really felt most all was the guilt. The guilt for what he’d done in the dream, it had been so real, the feelings of remorse, of terror, the biting, burning pain that threatened to rip his chest apart and send his soul flying out of his body in terror. The man who he had killed, his precious, living blood splattered across the gravestone of the young soldier boy who had kissed him on the far off beach.

“Jonathan, be at peace,” a soothing, comforting voice echoed off the walls, and he stared ahead into the darkness as a figure stepped forward into the bright light, his eyes a sparkling grey, his skin tan and his hair pitch black. He wore a tailored coat with a cloak fastened to the shoulders, all pitch black with silver buttons. He was smiling. From him Jonathan felt such immensity, as though this figure had all the power in all the world, and that he in fact was the world, that he was the creator of all life and that he was a part of the great, white light to which Jonathan was connected by shining tendrils.

“Why have you come?” the figure asked, “Only those who have not found peace come here, those who need guidance and answers. Have you not already been reunited with those you love? Have you not yet found peace?”

“I…” Jonathan began to speak and was surprised to hear his voice, familiar yet strangely unfitting, as though it were someone elses voice, a voice belonging to someone from the dream. But he still knew even now that parts of it had been real, and he knew that the guilt he felt was real. “I feel… sad.”

“Why?” such concern, such a maternal tone with which the black figure asked, the patience, worry, and most of all love evident in his voice. Jonathan couldn’t help but wonder if he knew this man, if somehow he was this man and he was speaking with himself.

“Who… who are you?” Jonathan asked shakily.

“I am the oarsman, I am the gatekeeper, I am the one who opens the doors to earth.” He responded with a gentle smile.

“I don’t understand.” Jonathan felt himself crying. Tears were streaming down his face, though they were just a luminescent as the rest of his body, and it felt strange to know that in this state he was still capable of crying. But oh, the relief of crying, how good it felt to finally bring his pain out into the open. He stood before the confessor surely, and how he had sinned. He wanted to be forgiven.

“You stand before me because you are not ready to move on, you are not ready to rejoin the Mother, Jonathan.” The black figure moved closer, nonthreatening, powerful but gentle, and Jonathan knew that though this man possessed power over all the earth, he would never allow harm to come to Jonathan. “What troubles you, sweet child? I see in those eyes such pain, and yet I know that you are filled with relief of the many pains you experienced in life. Is it not enough to be with your beloved David and your beloved Helena again?”

The tears burned at the sound of their names spoken aloud. So it had been real, that was truly their names, and the images flooding back into Jonathan’s mind were of things that really happened. He felt unhappy to be reconnected with that life, as though he knew intimately the man who commited those atrocities but could never understand what it was like to be him, because he was not that man, he was not the killer who splattered the blood across the gravestone. He was not the soldier who kissed the young boy on the beach, he was not the wounded man who was nursed to health by the strange tribes in the jungle. That man had finished his journey, and his lot had been of sorrow, regret, and all of the pain that had been so poorly repressed was flooding Jonathan now, an ocean of sorrow too great to swallow and too powerful to swim in.

“Poor, tortured thing. Listen to me now, for I have seen the life of every living being since the creation of the Earth, and I have known their struggles and hardships. You were blameless, a white lamb led to the slaughter, a child abused by his parents, a lover torn from the arms of his beloved. You did no wrong, you only sought to free yourself of the pain you felt, to reunite with she who you loved, and now you have that and more. You have them both, the two lovers who brought you the only joy you were ever to know in those short years of your life, Jonathan. It’s over now.”

The black figures words were comforting, and Jonathan felt soothed by them, but he would not be able to move forward until he said it aloud, until he confessed the great sin.
“I killed a man, Demetrius.” Jonathan said it aloud, and the relief flooded him just to have it said, to admit it, because he’d never admitted it to David or to anyone, not even to the one for whom he killed. And how the name of the black figure had flowed from his tongue so effortlessly, as if he had known Demetrius his whole existance. He felt that he had known Demetrius every day and spoken with him often, that Demetrius was in fact Jonathan’s inner consciousness who lived within his body and spoke to his soul. And now, by some twist, he had been reunited with himself. None of these things made sense to him, and they were the beginning of a flood of strange information and thoughts he could make no sense of.

“I see such confusion in you, child.” Demetrius spoke gently, stepping closer again, the light fully illumating his face and shining splenidly in his bright, grey eyes. “Such things that fill your mind you cannot grasp because you are thinking with a mind, something only mortals use, but it’s time to give up perception and return to your source, return to your Mother. I give you permission, I forgive you your trespasses, love.”

“Please,” Jonathan begged softly, “Let me say it. Let me say what I’ve done.”

“You may say whatever you like, child.” Demetrius breathed gently.

Jonathan filled his vaporous lungs with rich, cool air, air that felt filled with life and emotion. “I was an assassin, Demetrius.”

The black figure nodded knowingly.

“I killed many people. Men and women, some the same age as myself. Those were the hardest for me. I did it because a horrible creature promised me he would bring Helena back from the dead for me, that he would make it so that she never died and bring us together again. I wanted her so badly that I trusted him, and I did what he asked. I killed sixty-eight people, the number he said was holy, the number he said would give him the power to do the thing he had promised me he would do.”

The black figure nodded again, and as Jonathan began to remember the faces of the people he’d killed, other figures like he appeared, materializing, connected by tendrils of light to the force behind him, the great warmth where his two lovers waited for him to return. Those who appeared were reflections of the people Jonathan had murdered, their bodies and faces the same as they had been in life, and Jonathan’s sorrow began to erupt as he felt their presences and saw their faces.

Through tears he choked out words, “I wanted to be with Helena, and the worst of it was that I lied to David about what I was,” he sobbed and gasped for a moment before continuing, “And… and when I looked in his eyes, I saw something there, I thought he knew that I was lying, but he was hiding the same secret from me, and what irony that we were deceiving one another for the same purpose. Oh, Demetrius, it hurts!” Warmth bubbled from inside his chest and flooded out with the stinging tears, tears of light vapor that fell to the ground and soaked into the earth on which the black figure stood and above which Jonathan seemed to hover.

“But of all the people I killed, the most terrible for me was Feris. I don’t know if that was his real name or just the name that they gave me, but I found him praying in a graveyard to someone he’d lost, and I thought I’d send him to be with him, so that I could reunite with my lost Helena. But…” he sobbed again, oh how miserable it was to say the shameful thing aloud, in front of the strange black figure who already he knew he loved and had missed

Speaking With the Dark God

Lucius sighed. “Magic, as we know it, is divided into two cateogires: Earth Magic and Arcane Magic.”

I nodded.

“Earth magic is what a human like yourself would wield, were you magically inclined. Magic is an extension of the spirit, and like the living body, the living spirit is different for each living being. Some people or animals may be capable of performing magic to some degree or another, and some others may not. Do you follow?”

I nodded again.

Lucius took another deep breath and continued. “Your friend Lucas is descended from a powerful line of Archmages who excelled naturally at Earthen magic, but who developed their abilities through mental and spiritual means to become even stronger, and as such to have a deeper bond with the Earth. That bond passed down to their descendants, and it is because of their labors to become closer to the Mother,” he paused, “the Earth, he is naturally gifted.”

“But Lucas develops his abilities by learning,” I interruped, “He’s learned from their writings, and from other cultures as well. He’s even developed his own techniques.”

“He has,” Lucius agreed, “And he is right to do so. That’s how humankind bonds closer with the Earth, through the efforts of noble people like himself who seek to help one another with it’s power.

“But let me go on, Oliver. This ultimately has little to do with your friend Lucas. What it has to do with is the two divisions of what we refer to as ‘magic,’ and those divisions are Earth Magic, as I said, and Arcane Magic.”

Lucius knelt down to one knee and placed his hand open-palmed on the soft dirt floor of the cavern. His fingers slid effortlessly through the ground and he pulled up a handful of soil that seemed lighter and more colorful than the ground from which he pulled. He held his hand out and the soil cascased down his palm and through his fingers, leaving brown dirt all over them. “Earth Magic draws from the Mother, from whom all of the elements are readily available in plentiful and endless supply. No Magic user could ever be powerful enough to draw from the Earth more than She is able to give, do you understand?”

“I would think,” I offered reasonably, “That anything is possible, and maybe someone could have that kind of power.”

“True,” Lucius agreed, “But then we wouldn’t really be talking about the phenomenon you and I, as well as the ancient civlizations, have referred to heretofore as ‘magic.’ As I said, Earth-based Magic uses the five elements of the Mother. You know those elements by now, correct?”

Of course I did. I recited them easily. “Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Spirit.”

“That’s correct. Interesting that you didn’t question if Spirit was an element, many philsophers have refused to believe in it’s existance.”

“I am standing in the halls of the Underworld, aren’t I?” I replied.

Lucius smiled a bit and withdrew his hand, not wiping away the dirt. “Your point is well-made. But now, let me continue. There are those who use this ability of their spirit to control the elements in such ways as they are able. Though this kind of magic can be a destructive force, it is ultimately rooted in the connection between the Mother and the living being, who make up one another and sustain one another.

“But there is another kind of magic that needs to be understood in order to understand why vampires exist. Arcane magic is seperate from Earth magic in that it doesn’t draw power from the Source, it draws power from what is already created.”

“So,” I asked, “Arcane magic uses living things to draw power?”

“Yes.” Lucius placed his hands into the pockets of his black trousers. “Arcane magic could be thought of as a deritive of Earth magic because it does use the elements, most specifically it uses the element of the spirit, but it uses elements that make up living beings that came from the Mother, rather than from the Mother herself. An Arcane mage will normally draw from the spirit of a living being, it could be himself or someone else, an animal or a tree, and casts magic using those materials.

Because of this, Arcane magic usually involves suffering, loss and death. It is based upon the principles of siphoning life out of living things to further one’s own ends, and rather than rearranging the elements in a healthy way that can be returned to the Earth, it disconnects the elements from the Mother and steals Her resources. Are you beginning to see parallels between Arcane magic, which draws life from a living creature to perform magic, and vampires, who draw life from living creatures to sustain themselves and their magnificent abilities?”

“Yes.” I said.

“Arcane magic is a profanity.” Lucius said with contempt in his voice. “Vampires are a profanity. They walk and talk as though they were living creatures, but they are cursed, quite literally. They draw life from others because they have no permanent life in them, and their bodies and spirits do not die and return to the Earth as living things do, instead they walk for eternity, trapped within their fleshy prisons, until the light of the sun or the heat of a fire destroys them entirely.”

“So, are they dead, or are they cursed?” I’d been wondering this for a very long time.

“They are both living and dead, but they are most certainly cursed. Vampires exist because of a very ancient Arcane curse that was placed upon the original brood of vampires.”

“Then that curse can be broken,” I interrupted excitedly. “You yourself told Lucas that any magical curse can be undone.”

“Oh, of course it can broken.” Lucius said matter-of-factly. “The problem is that no one is powerful enough to break the curse.”

“You’re the god of the Underworld,” I said, “Don’t you have the power to do it?”

“I am the keeper of the gateway that leads living spirits back to the Earth. If there is any magic I am proficient in, it is Earth magic, and most certainly not Arcane magic.”

I felt my excitement drain. “Oh,” I said defeatedly. So maybe there wasn’t any hope for Wolfgang.

“You’re thinking of your friend, Wolfgang, aren’t you?” Lucius asked knowingly.

“I thought you didn’t read minds?” I asked.

“I can sense emotions very well, I’ve felt enough of them, guiding every living creature into the Earth. Let me explain what I mean about the curse. It’s unbreakable because it was originally brought about by a powerful and ancient Archmage who is belived to have been one of the original gods.”

“There have been different gods?”

Lucius smiled, it seemed he was smiling to himself and not to me. “There have been many things in the history of the Earth, Oliver. Most of the gods do not even remember their birth or how long they’ve existed. But knowledge of the vampire curse has been passed down amongst the gods as well as humans. Some legends say the original vampire was one of the creators of the world. I can safely assume that is just a superstition, however.

What I do know the be fairly true was the that original vampire was someone of immense power, whether he was a god or a human, and he placed the curse upon himself. He must have been an extremely power Arcane mage, to cast such a potent spell. You see, what he did was impose the very principles of Arcane magic, a profane and unnatrual practice, onto a living being, and turn himself into the personification of the Arcane. The vampire does not die, but without draining life from living creatures, he fades and becomes a shadow. Only through the Arcane practice of draining blood does he come to life, his many abilities to travel with invisiblity to the human eye and life great weights with gargantuan strength, strengthened.”

“So then,” I began, “Wolfgang…”

“When your friend Wolfgang was given the curse, he became a vampire. His body was drained and he was given blood touched by the Arcane curse to drink, and when his body had drank the same amount that was taken it began to change. His body died, but his spirit did not, and his body came to life again in a new form, one powered by Arcane magic, and infused with the many strengths of those who came before him in the vampire geneology: strength, swiftness, intuitiveness, abilities that humans do not under normal circumstances ever possess.”

“And now Wolfgang is trapped in a dead body.” I think I whispered the words.

“Oliver,” Lucius said comfortingly, “Wolfgang is trapped in a cursed body. When he does not drink, he grows weak, and when he comes into the light of the sun, which nourishes and provides to the Mother, his cursed skin is burned by light and truth. His cursed body is seen for the profanity that it is, and his poor living soul remains trapped within that body. Only when that body has been entirely annihilated can his spirit ever finally find peace within the Earth.”

“So… Wolfgang has to die to be free.” I tried to hold back tears that began to sting my eyes.

“Yes, Oliver.” Lucius said softly. “This is the unfortunate and harsh truth, and I offer it to you with great sympathy and love. And I love Wolfgang too, he was cursed and became a killer because he had little other choice. He probably couldn’t have died even if he wanted to because he was made a vampire by one who is old and powerful and has much of the undiluated original vampire blood within him.

“As you may know, the transformation does not always work. Sometimes the spirit or the body is something else entirely within the living being is too weak to accept the Arcane magic, and they mercifully die before it can take place. Were enough blood to be given, any living creature would become vampire, but sometimes the initial blood is not enough, and the person may die. Death is ultimately an important and vital part of the survival of each individual spirit and the Earth itself, because we are all one, and our spirit energy must commune with itself to remain whole. Vampires steal spirit energy from the Earth and cause it to very slowly die. If the vampires were to make all the world into what they are, and keep living humans alive only to breed for sustanence, the Earth would wither, because it’s materials would be drained, and eventually the Earth would die.

“This is what Arcane magic does. It drains, and takes without giving back. It steals from the Earth to create unearthly abominations that wander in torment and pain, no matter how great their endowments and abilities. Arcane magic serves no real purpose, because it’s practical uses, such as healing, are innefective in comparison with Earth magic. One might use Arcane magic to stop the death of a living being, for instance by pulling spirit energy from one person who is alive and well to another who is wounded and dying, and the dying person may be healed. But the cost of the healing was the life of another. Arcane magic upsets the balances of the elements within the Earth and destroys, rather than creates. People and other living things are manifestations of the Earth, but they are not the Earth Herself, and so they do not offer elements the way She does.”

I remained sitting on the dirt floor of the open cavern. I’d been crying through Lucius’ explenation and I didn’t make any effort to hide my pain, I just wiped the tears from my face. “Is there no way at all to heal a vampire then, without destroying their body?”

“Unfortunately, Oliver, once a vampire is old enough, even destroying their body isn’t enough, becuase it will reform. The matter that has been scattered will reform and become the vampire again, and always their soul will be locked to it’s pieces.”

I felt horrified and panicked. “So, once a vampire has lived long enough, they can never, under any circumstances, die?”

“Not without my help,” he said simply.

There was silence for a moment. “How can you help?” I asked.

“I can take apart the cursed body, I can release the soul from it and return it to the Earth. I can do this because I have a closeness with the Mother that no other living creature does, and it is within my power to destroy what has been cursed. When the spirit leaves the cursed body, the body evaporates.”

I sobbed again and wiped the tears from my cheeks. “So you’re telling me that you could release Wolfgang from the vampire curse…”

“But I would kill him in the process, and his spirit would return to the Earth. Likely he would want to rest for a long time before rejoining living beings in a new form.”

I took a deep breath and tried to stop crying. I felt so sad, so overwhelmingly sad.

“Take your time, Oliver.” Lucius said comfortingly, “This is a lot to take in.”

I sighed resolutely. I remained silent for a long time.

There was quiet, but for the gentle wind that echoed through the caverns of the Underworld. Lucius made no movement or sound, I could tell he was patiently waiting for me to speak again.

Finally I did speak. “I will not allow Wolfgang to die.” I said resolutely.

“Then you will find a cure for him?” Lucius asked.

“Yes.” I responded fiercely. “I love him.”

Lucius closed his eyes and sighed in a sad manner. “Love is the very essence of the Mother, Oliver. The Mother who Wolfgang is seperated from. Though his human spirit still feels emotions, he is trapped within the body of a monster. He can only be released through death. Don’t you see that if you love him, you should accept that this is what’s best for him? Bring him to me, Oliver, and I will release him. You can bid him farewell and I can set him free. It’s what the humanity left within him would want.”

“You’re wrong,” I said defensively, somewhat angrily. I looked up at Lucius and stared into his bright grey eyes. “Wolfgang wants to live. He wants to be human. And he wants to do it in this lifetime. He feels so much shame for the things he’s done as a vampire, but what he wants is to be human again, while he’s still himself. He wants to be human Wolfgang, and no one else, and then die naturally when death comes to him as a human being.”

“Of course he does,” Lucius responded patiently, “And so have a thousand other vampires before him. But unfortunately Oliver, no one is powerful enough to break the curse placed on him. There aren’t even any Arcane mages left in the world. Knowledge of it’s existance has passed away, but for those gods who still remember it, and even we may someday forget it.”

“I don’t care.” I said resolutely. My tears had stopped now, though they still remained dry on my cheeks and the wet spots on my pants were still there. I felt relieved to have heard it all and understood it, to finally understand the truth of what Wolfgang was and how he could be freed. I knew that if the worst happened, he could always come to Lucius and be set free. But that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to make him human, like me. I wanted to hold him in my arms and let him relieve himself of all that responsibility that comes with being eternally powerful and graceful and perfect and terrible. I wanted his skin to shed away the layers of darkness that covered it and be truly bright and human again, I wanted his body to be able to sustain itself and take in food and water and I wanted him to never have to taste blood to survive again.

“There is nothing, my beloved little child, that you can do.” Lucius said simply.

“But I will try.” I said, and I stood up.

“You will fail, headstrong boy.” There was no anger in Lucius’ voice, only sadness and pity.

“Tell me, please, what is my first step? I know you have to have an idea of how to break the curse.”

Lucius sighed once again. “In theory, if you wanted to break the curse, you would need to find someone so skilled in Arcane magic that they have the ability to unravel the intricate spell that was placed upon the original vampire by himself. As you know, magic is sometimes available to be used whenever knowledge of how it can be created or has been created exists within the mind and heart of the user. The mind connects to the heart and the heart connects to the spirit, and the spirit summons magic. Someone would need to understand the principles of Arcane magic, and have done enough Arcane magic to know it intimately, and be able to take apart, piece by piece, the masterfully woven tapestry of vampire covering the body of the human.

“But you know, Oliver, I can’t predict what would happen if the curse were to be lifted. Wolfgang’s body has lived for far longer than it would have as a natural human, and when the Arcane magic giving it sustanence lifts, his body might wither and die on the spot.”

“He would die as a human, at least.” I said, feeling a jab of panic in my stomach at the idea.

“Essentially, what Wolfgang needs,” Lucius said, “Is for his cursed body and maligned spirit to be purified. He needs something pure to break the curse. This is all very philosophical, but that’s what it is that he needs: purity. Love is pure, but your love for him alone may not be enough to break the curse. You don’t have magical abilities. If you did, then perhaps you could innately trigger some kind of magical reaction that would heal him, but those abilities are far beyond your grasp.”

“They’re not beyond Lucas’ grasp.” I said.

“Lucas does not love Wolfgang with the passion which you do.”

And then it came to me. The terrible idea that might save Wolfgang.

It could kill Lucas, it could kill me, it could hurt any number of people.

“Lucas has performed Arcane magic.” I whispered, my eyes wide with wonder at the awful thought that had occurred to me.

“Accidentally.” Lucius said.

“Still, he is capable of it, because he is magically predisposed.” I said it with a cocky tone, the words sounding like the words Lucius might have used.

“What do you intend to do then?”

I knew what we would do. It might take years, but we would do it. Lucas would help me. He was my friend.

“Lucas will switch our bodies. Place my spirit in his, his spirit in mine.”

Lucius sneered. “That is unholy and ridiculous. Only an outside mage could switch your bodies in the first place, the moment his spirit left his own body it would die, and the same for you.”

He was right.

Unless…

“Unless you do it.” I said.

“I will NOT perform Arcane magic.” Lucius said with an angry tone. “And furthermore, I do not lend my abilities to humans to help in their endeavors. I usher spirits from one life to the next, and I live here in the Underworld.”

“But you could do it, Lucius.”

“Do not dare speak my name, little child.” Lucius’ tone was of warning.

“You could do it. Please.” I felt tears beginning to come on again and I didn’t want them to. “Think about it. You know better than anyone how to move a spirit from place to another. You could keep our bodies alive while our spirits switch. If I’m inside Lucas’ body, I can use his magic.”

“His magic comes from his spirit as well as his body, it’s just as possible you wouldn’t be able to do a thing.” Lucius said.

“But what if I could? What if I gained his abilities because I was in the body that belonged to him? What if I could use his power to undo the spell and heal Wolfgang?”

“What if I failed and you both died in the process?”

“Then you have my permission, should Wolfgang ever choose it, to release him from his curse and let him die. But until there is no breath left in me, whichever body I’m in, I will not let that happen.”

Lucius took a breath and seemed to be trying to steady himself. “If I did this for you, there would likely be no way for the two of you to return to your original bodies. And I have not agreed to help you, nor will I.”

“I think that you will.” I believed what I said, and I didn’t know why, but I just somehow believed that Lucius would help us.

Lucius was silent for a long time.

“You will go back to the surface,” Lucius said with finality.

“Will you help me?” I asked.

“You will return to the living world, and I will think on what you have told me. I want to see the vampire curse broken as much as you do, for I have seen the pain it has brought the human race and the Mother herself. I don’t know if I can do what you ask. I will see what I can learn. But there is much on the surface that concerns you. Nations are plotting war against one another, using your friends as the tools, and your lover believes you are already dead, and that he will never see you again. Return to him, and to your friends. Tell them what you’ve learned if that’s your desire, but never attempt to come here again.”

“Will you at least give me a yes or no?” I asked.

“If I find that there is nothing I can do, and there is no way for your naive scheme to work, I will make you aware of it.”

“How?”

“I have many ways of sending messages.”

“And should you find that you CAN help, and there is hope for Wolfgang, and for other vampires?” I asked.

“I will notify you then, as well. But you must also understand that my duty is hear. Spirits need guidance, and it is my place to guide them.”

“I understand.” I said calmly. “But please, come and find me when you learn what you need to learn.”

“I will notify you, should you still remain living.”

I found that statement cryptic, and I wondered if he meant that he wouldn’t find me and tell me what he’d decided if I were made into a vampire. But I didn’t want to be a vampire, I wanted to stop the curse and heal the person I loved.

“Now go.” Lucius said simply.

I nodded, and for some reason I couldn’t help myself, and I walked forward, and in silence and strided over to the Lord of the Underworld. Tears began to well up in my eyes again, stronger and more powerful emotions than the ones before, as though the closer I stepped to him the more emotions I seemd to feel. I closed my eyes as the stinging tears began to fall again, and I stepped close to him and wrapped my arms around him and laid my head against his chest. He was warm, he smelled of damp earth, but to touch him felt like I had found someone who understood everything I had ever felt, and through my mind flashed all of the death I’d witnessed and all of the pain I’d felt, for myself and for others, and a wave of comfort came over me.

I stayed there, holding close to him and crying for what felt like a few minutes, or possibly hours, I couldn’t tell anymore. But he didn’t move, he didn’t try to push he away, he just stood there, and I had the sense that he didn’t mind me being there, and that he understood why I was doing it. Even I didn’t know why I’d done it, but it felt right.

Eventually I stepped back and wiped my eyes again, feeling full of life and energy and determination, and I nodded at him again, wordlessly. He kept his hands his pockets and quietly nodded back at me knowingly. I took a breath and exhaled, and then I turned around and faced the mouth of the cavern, and walked back toward it, on my way back to the surface, to my friends, to my lover, and to my world. The world that I wanted to help heal, now that I knew about the curse that plagued the people of the world. I wanted to help Wolfgang, myself, and the Earth itself. I knew that Lucius wanted to help too.

I’d walked right into the heart of the earth with the intention of meeting the God of the Underworld and asking him for advice, or help, or I don’t know what else, and I was leaving surprised and happy that he’d agreed to at least try and help us. I felt that if I could convince a god to listen to me, meet with me, and even help me, maybe I had enough determination in me to help stop the wars that were about to break out back on the surface of the Earth, and to help the people who lived there.

But ultimately my goals were selfish. I was in love, and I wanted my lover to be free, to be happy, to be healthy, and to be alive the same as I was, so that we could live together as equals, and so that we could be happy together. I wanted those vampires I’d met who I knew somewhere deep down wanted to be human again to have that chance to be redeemed, and not slaughtered like a monster. I wanted to extend mercy to those who showed little, because a vampire had shown mercy to me. I wanted to make things right, and break the dark spell that was placed on those living beings who had become vampires. I wanted to heal the wound that had been inflicted upon the Earth, and heal the same wounds that had been inflicted on the one I loved. I wanted to heal myself, and to heal Wolfgang. I wanted to bring peace to a suffering world.