“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood, like a hundred golden urns pouring out the sun.” -Madeline Miller, “The Song Of Achilles.”


Message to Readers

I had to republish this so my original message is Gone! That’s terrible, it really truly is and I’ll probably find another mistake and have To Do It Again! Anyway, I know I said I’d give you Destan but he refused to work so instead you get to experience him through Asmund’s eyes! Make of that what you will!

What? You’re Saying That This Dying Boy Has Memories? And He Wants To Share Them? Impossible!

January 11, 2020


The sun is pulsing in the sky.

It looks like its beckoning him outwards, away from the palace. Asmund scoffs at it, and then his chest lurches because it is a pathetic and desperate sound that he makes.  He’s determined to be at least a little bit difficult about this though. Serepthys would just have to wait a bit longer.

“You are not bigger than any of the rest of them!” the sun god bellows and Asmund’s heart beats feverishly in his chest. “They are your equals! They do not deserve your disdain!”

Acutely, he becomes aware of how cold his crown is against his head. It is bitter in his fingers as he takes it off. Destan had never really liked how constantly he had worn it anyway. That didn’t stop the boy from flinching when Asmund threw it at a wall. 

“You cannot slay a dragon and keep a crown on your head all at the same time!” Destan tells him one day, when Asmund had nearly gotten them all killed. Beside them was Adoni, with her arms elbow deep in the beast’s entrails.  Neither of them were exactly sure why she was searching through the corpse.
“What?” Asmund said, “would you rather me look like her? would you rather me look like a scavenger and a wretch?”

There’s a mirror in front of him. He knows there is because he’s been in this room a million and one times. Quite frankly, he’s terrified of the thing. It’s ornate and it’s sun warmed and it is completely and wholly normal, showing him in all his golden splendour but he’s just so afraid that it’ll happen again. That he’ll be looking at himself, when suddenly, something terrible sees it fit to lay claim to his eyes, to swallow him up in darkness and mark the inside of his head. Nervously, he itches at his wrist. The skin there is rubbed raw.

It hurt him terribly as he tries to dig the shards of glass out of his hands. He had not meant to punch and tear at the mirror until it was lying sideways on the ground but it is not easy to react in a calm manner when your reflection warps itself to that of a monster.
“You are alone in the world with this affliction,” Asmund says to himself and suddenly he is not sure if it was his own consciousness that thought it up.

“We could go wi-”
“Oh don’t talk!” Asmund shouts, slamming his hand on the table. “Don’t talk to me before I go out and throw myself away for you!”
It’s just him and Destan in the room. Destan with his damned prophecy hands and Asmund that’s just been gifted a death sentence that came all dressed up in pretty words. He takes out his sword and eyes the blade. “What if I don’t do it?” He asks and his voice is molten hot and silky soft and desperate. “What if I left all of you to die?”
Destan looks at him. Destan looks at him and not the sword in his hand. “I wish I could have helped you more,” he says and he is pure and water born and soothing. “I wish I could stop this now,” he says and he is the boy who used to be Asmund’s best friend.

“I don’t like the look of him,” Asmund says to his father when he is meeting Destan for the first time. His voice is full of high born arrogance and apathy.
“You’re  no looker either,” Destan bites back and Asmund nearly knocks him to the ground there and then. 
“Boys!” his father had exclaims, “you must learn to respect each other! With your line of work, you have no choice!”
They eye each other up, Asmund focusing on the pleasant blue sheen of Destan’s skin and Destan wondering how anybody  could have eyes that golden.
Later on, Destan pushes Asmund into the sea and it is terrible and horrible but then he sees Destan laughing as he climbs out and he thinks that they could be alright.

Eventually, Asmund decides to stand up before he can lose his nerve. The edge of Serepthys’ patience will have worn off by now and even Asmund can not afford to keep a god waiting. “It is time,” he says to himself and it helps him believe that he never really would have abandoned them. That he never really would have abandoned Destan. Perhaps it is not the truth, but nothing ever is and Asmund is about to die.
Destan stays behind in the armory, in the end not really wanting to taint the prophecy event, and so, Asmund is alone. The only sounds that ring out through the hallway are the shriek of his sword grazing off the marble floors and the harshness of his own breath.
Sickeningly, the courtyard presents itself to him and it’s wavy with the heat of the day.  He stops, feeling a headache form right behind his eyes. With him, shining like a spectre in the sun, he asks the sky; “can I do this for them?” and his eyes hurt in his skull, “will they let me do this for them?”

Rivin was shaking and small and  refusing to speak to the crowds again. Asmund shouldn’t have got so angry with him, that is true, but these terrible, desperate impulses of his have become uncontrollable. A war has started in his mind and it is between the way that shadows have taken to twisting through his veins and the way that sunlight has always sunk into his eyes so readily. Asmund is constantly confused, yes, but now he is doubly confused over whether he is more angry at Rivin’s unwillingness to sacrifice himself to save him, or his unwillingness to sacrifice himself to save the world. So, in all his borrowed cruelty, he grabs him by the scruff of the neck and screams at him that he is worthless until he cries.
Adoni, being the moral, if not also angry, person she was, eventually sees what is happening and pulls Asmund off of Rivin before punching him in the face so hard that he falls backwards. Raiden catches him as he stumbles if only to purposely drop him a second later and this is the moment where Asmund starts to understand that nothing is divine and nothing is perfect. And thusly, no one can say that he didn’t sob there on the floor for an hour.  

A spark of pain lances through his body as he thinks of the memory. Rivin had been gone for a while now and all Asmund can think off are the empty stares Adoni gave the fireplace on the days after his death. Grief had never been an easy thing for him but it snakes over him now and that is why  he allows himself a few dry sobs as he walks. No one is around to hear him which is just as well.
All of a sudden, the desert sneaks up on him and on the horizon, he can see the damage.

“Your Highness, what should we do?” asks the frantic guard with his watery eyes and shaky knees. “The blight, it’s encroached upon the border.” 
Asmund grits his teeth. “We do nothing. There are no prophecies here. We must simply move on to somewhere else.”
“All due respect Your Highness, but people are dying. We cannot simply move on,” replies the guard and just for a moment, Asmund feels his chest spark.
The evil thing, the shadow thing, wants him to kill this man where he stands. “We are self preservationists, are we not?” It whispers constantly and forever. 
Vaguely, it is understood though, that if you dig a little deeper down, past the skin-deep rot of Asmund, you will find gold. Which, maybe does not mean a thing, because a colour, perhaps, should not be the universal thing for the good and the brave and yet, here we are. And yet, Asmund is full of the stuff.

The city is ghostly and the sun is bristling and so, Asmund decides this is the best time he will ever have to shout at the world, so he opens his mouth and screams “I can do this!” And wholly, he does not believe it to be true but the sky flares brighter at his words and in the palace, Destan lets out a breath, as new light hits his eyelids.
His first few steps across the sand and immediately he’s aware of the sand getting into his boots and in a fit of humanity and sadness he shirks them off. Possibly, it’s his last chance to feel the burning sand beneath his feet and so he runs towards the blight  of his land and his sword, it hums in his grip.

“It’s a rather pretty thing, isn’t it?” Adoni says, right near the start of their timeline when Asmund still laughed out of  joy and wonder. Her eyes are bright as she traces the contours of the blade, taking in the engraved sun, the golden sheen of the metal.
“Much like you,” Asmund tries, an easy smile plastered to his face. 
Adoni’s mouth quirks up. “oh, don’t go saying things like that.”  Her hair makes a halo around her head.
He shrugs, “it’s nothing but the truth.” 
Strangely, he does not try telling her this again though. She knows well enough that she is beautiful.

And this is the stain that has pervaded Serennium for the last two years. It is a monstrous thing, forcing Asmund to crane his head back just to look up at its full height. Behind it, in the gaps of the decay, he can see the blackened remains of the outer desert. The sand looks slick, like it’s covered in oil.
“You were not meant to come this far,” he says to the thing and within it, these figures keep forming, all manners of dragons and figures and horrible flighty creatures. It’s an amalgamation of everything wrong with shadow wraith magic and it is squirming, climbing, writhing over itself in an attempt to grab at Asmund. Across his cheek, the sunlight makes a rainbow.

Asmund is six years old and his father is standing at the edge of the desert with him. His younger brother had stayed back at the palace, too young for piety just yet.
 “The emptiness of the desert is a promise,” the King Of Serennium says to him, “It is a promise from Serepthys to us, that one day this land will have a purpose.”

Asmund decides that unequivocally and entirely, that this event right here, is not a good enough purpose for the desert, so he tries to disregard that memory and instead chooses to focus on what he should do next. A stray erratic arm takes a swipe at him and in his panic he lashes out with his sword. The arm twitches on the ground before melting into a liquid that seems entirely too animated to be natural. Bile rises in his throat and his head feels cloudy. He leaps into the fray. Destan’s prophecy flashes in his mind.

“And I know you have been damaged for an awful long time and that your laugh has been hard on the ears since you were fifteen years old but you’ve still got the glory-seeking gene in you, my boy. You’ve still got that sense of self no matter how far down it has been buried. That’s why, when I say that the deserts of Serennium must be eradicated of this monstrous thing, I mean it. You’ve got your sword and you’ve got your bleeding heart, why don’t you just loosen up a little and take one for the team? This is the dusk of your life and if you need to break the world in half when the time comes, then so be it.”

He’s in the middle of all things bad with the world right now and maybe he’s just having some pre-death illusions but he swears that Serepthys is there in flickering images and bursts of sunlight. The god angers him with his star fire eyes and bloody grin and so he starts to hack away at the bits of rot that show his form. It does not do much. Every time a shadow dragon or a figure or a horrible flighty creature is cut in half it just reforms itself. This is Lazarus and this is hell. 
And yet and yet, Asmund still screams his anger and he is still this shiny gold martyr, this saving grace, even if he is fuelled with hate for all things deified. This is a squalid and acidic battle and the sand is not his friend, but the swing of his sword feels sweet and the burn of his lungs is sweeter.
It’s a pity that all is well ends well does not apply to prophecy children.

“You saw him in a river?” Asmund practically guffaws and Destan’s heavy brow settles over his face like a rain cloud. “You saw him in what basically amounts to a puddle and you think he’s back?”
“You know you don’t have to be such a dick all the time, right?”
He’s not sure why it hurts so much. It may be the way Destan sounds when he says it or it may be the way he knows he’s projecting. He’s projecting because he is already aware that  Ramura’s back, and that Destan is completely and intrinsically right. In fact, a sliver of Ramura is laughing away in his brain right now, pouring more poison into his neurons and dancing on his happy memories with every chance he gets.
But, since Asmund was angry and hurt, he reacted in the only way he knew how. 
With abject cruelty. 
“It’s possible that you were never made of strong enough stuff to be a ForeTold, my friend,” he said and he placed his hand on Destan’s shoulder, digging his fingers up and underneath his collarbone. “Surely, you cannot be so afraid that you have started to imagine things?”
He is not a good person relishing  the way that Destan’s face falls as he says this. He is not a good person for how he  walks away without another word. Presumably, the sun got sick of all his bullshit though because as it streams through the window, it hits him like a tinny wake up call.
“Although, I did see something strange in a mirror once.”
The wake up call is not enough.

Asmund’s arms are seizing up.
He feels like he’s trying to swing his sword through a vat of honey. His movements are getting slower and his reflexes infinitely less sharp. A blightish silhouette scrapes claws down his face and it stings, Oh Serepthys, it stings. He feels the tears coming and then his vision is blurring because he has been sent to fight a war by himself and, yes, this is what is done with sun wraith ForeTolds. This is their trademark, their brand. The big strong ones with swords and the hearts of valour but there is a sickness in the prophecy system and there is a sickness in Asmund.
And yet, he can’t shake the feeling that it might be okay to grieve one’s own death.

Asmund is lying face down on a bed.
He could hear the rest of them out in the living room, laughing, talking, trying their hardest to be generally merry even though the reaper gets closer to Rivin every day. When they eventually file in here, he will pretend to be asleep, refusing to acknowledge any one of them. But for now, he just listens.
“Destan!” Adoni shrieks and Asmund can imagine her cheeks glowing magma red. “Do you remember when you brought me to Elened for the first time? I set his moustache on fire!”
Immediately, Destan starts laughing and it is an awful horrible thing but Asmund still aches when he hears it.  Picturing him, he is lying lengthways, sprawled across one of the couches like an eel, spilling too much of what he’s meant to be drinking as he tries to stop and catch his breath.
“He was so mad!” He manages to finally gasp out. “So inexorably mad!”
There’s a resounding smack sound next and yes, that must have been Raiden, clapping Destan on the shoulder all hearty-like.
“That’s a big word Destan! Well done!” He teases and they’re all sent off into giggles again and if Asmund strains his ear, he think he can even hear Rivin.
Eventually, their laughter dies down and the room’s atmosphere changes. Vividly, he can imagine Rivin turning to stare at the fire.
“Guys,” Rivin says which is infinitely weird because Asmund actually just was not sure if he could talk. “When I die, will you give me a proper funeral?”
Oh dear.
The room goes completely quiet and it stays that way until Adoni tersely says “yes.” He’s surprised not to hear anything smashing on the ground. Adoni’s almost more of a hot-head than he is and all of them have picked up plenty of fragile knick-knacks on their adventures.
The others must have nodded their assent and so, Asmund curls himself up in a ball and he tucks his face up and over his knees and simply enough, he pushes back the strange feeling in his chest.
See, the thing is, Rivin is getting a massive funeral already. There is no getting around that. He is a ForeTold, a prophecy child, and he will have public memorials in his name and so, he shouldn’t have to ask for a “proper funeral”? Isn’t the world-wide mourning enough?
Asmund’s already been so terrible to the boy and as such, he does not have any right to question him. He should know that it is purely about the intent behind the grief for Rivin  and of course he’d want his friends, (no, his family,) to remember him in a more concentrated and genuine way.
It is possible that Asmund just feels peculiar because he knows that he has messed up way too many times to be able to ask for the same thing.

There is a clearing in the middle of the infection.
Asmund does not have a chance to breathe what with the intensity of these creatures. His fingers are bruising he is gripping his sword so hard. There is blood leaking into his eyes and it is making the blurriness problem exponentially worse. As such, this clearing has to be some sort of blessing. Some way to regain strength. The sun is putting a spotlight on it and it looks like holy ground.
But is it? Could  it not be just a place to end this wretch of a battle? To end this mess of a life?
Something flies over the path the path that he cuts for himself. It drops black oil into his hair, staining the solid gold of his head. The flashes of Serepthys start to suggest that time is running out.
It comes to him, all at once, that this really is the end. He steps into the clearing and when he looks up, the sun streams down perfectly and nothing is divine and nothing is perfect but his skin is singing and all of his worldly woes have lined up perfectly inside his chest.
The figures cannot get in here. They scrape and claw at these  invisible walls like mad and ravaged things. A dragon unhinges it’s jaw in an attempt to swallow him. It smashes into barrier and dissipates into the coldest kind of rain. They begin to riot and Asmund thinks of the bloodshed that would sweep through Serennium if they reached the city.
He looks at the sword in his hand. It glints cheerily in the harsh light.
“And if this is to be the end, let us take half the earth with us,” he says to himself before gripping the sword with two hands again, facing its point down and towards the ground.
To be perfectly clear, it’s been debated for years whether ForeTolds fulfil the prophecies or whether the prophecies fulfil the ForeTolds and depending on your viewpoint, perhaps what Asmund is about to do should be impossible but it is also pertinent to remember that he is a boy filled with pools of regret and that he is sun born and that he was made to shake the earth so why shouldn’t he just go the extra mile and break it as well? If you were spurred on by the sun, himself, I’m sure you would do wonderful and implausible things too.
The coating of sand was rather thin here and the point of his sword hit rock soon. It sunk in slowly at first and he watched it, almost inquisitive as it kept sinking down, more and more. 
A crack started to spider outwards. It ran like a current and suddenly and remarkably, a rift was forming. The sand spilled into it and Asmund was only urged on by this.
With this new pyre of gold lit in his stomach, he began to push harder.

It’s a Few Decades Later and A Myriad Of Things Have Happened, I Will Admit That, But I Am Not Obligateted To Give You All The Details. (Just Yet)

“I actually refuse to wear some guy’s death flowers in my hair,” Oran says and he takes a step away from Neiryn’s outstretched hands. He is not used to Aurelion just yet and this is too much.
“What? They’re not his death flowers! They just grew near the place he passed away!”
“Exactly!” says Oran and he does not take another step back if only for the reason that he would bump into someone if he did. The memorial is busy today and he does not feel like starting a fight. “They’re probably fertilised by his remains or something!”
Neiryn takes a few deep breaths. He refuses to lash out at Oran. That would be unbecoming of him.
“It’s just left over magic that’s causing the flowers to grow. Come on Oran,” he pleaded “ put one in your hair!
Oran scrunched his face up so tight that his eyes disappeared. “That thing is glowing! I am not putting it in my hair!”
“Fine,” Neiryn says. “Although, I wished you had said that before I picked it.”
In all honesty, Neiryn was expecting some response like “yeah, yeah, whatever, magic boy,” but when he next looks over at Oran he is surprised by the look of pain on his face.
“It must have been horrible,” he says, standing way too close to the edge of the Rift. “Falling all the way down there.”
“Yes,” Neiryn agrees, looking down to the bottom. “Absolutely terrible.”
Oran shoves his hands into his pockets. “Do you think you look like him?”
Neiryn thinks about it for a moment. And then for another moment.
Finally he settles on something to say. “I don’t think I really want to.”
Oran nods as if that’s completely understandable without a further explanation. Neiryn is glad for this, he doesn’t think he can bear to explain how much he hates the emptiness behind Asmund’s eyes.

Real talk, Asmund’s not a good person but he sure is fun to write about. New Year baybee, let’s go!
If you wanna read about Adoni, who is a doll and an all around super star, click here.


See History
  • January 11, 2020 - 3:48am (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

  • Dmoral

    since this piece is so long, the review is going to take a while. just a heads up. nonethless though, i like what i've read so far

    9 months ago
  • jaii

    i started reading this, ran out of time, never finished and i am very disappointed in myself. i wish i would’ve allowed myself to be blessed sooner because pots this is absolutely breathtaking!!! adoni is still my favorite (i’ve married her btw, i’m allowed to do that without your permission right) but dear god asmund is extraordinary. i love falling in love with characters who aren’t good people.
    jesus christ, you’re such a brilliant writer. your words, they’re breathing and thriving and just... alive.
    you’re the best and i will tell you that until death claws at my throat and silences me. please stay godly

    9 months ago
  • A Breath Into Silence

    I first read this piece a week ago and I still can't get it out of my head ... something about your writing and imagery just made the scenes so real. I could have sworn I saw Asmund at the end, in the sand, surrounded by gold and fighting to the end. I love this piece so much. It made me cry and laugh and I keep coming back to it again and again.

    10 months ago
  • Anha

    oh my god neiryn and oran are in the same universe as adoni and destan and rivin and all those kids?? (i am so hyped for whole-ass novel about all these characters. if you ever write one. plss i'm begging you, let me into your novel. i wanna examine all its nooks and crannies and praise you til kingdom come.)

    this piece made my heart hurt?? like, gods, your style is impeccable. the way you made me hurt for asmund - he's not a good person and he knows that, and all this self-reflection, leading to his eventual end - it's just so poetic and so human and so painful. fuck. profanities take the place of words i no longer have.

    i can't tell you my favourite lines, because in all honesty, it's all of them. thank you for writing this. you are my favourite writer by far. (just exceeding madeline miller. seriously, you write better than most ya authors.)

    either way, i'll wait an eternity for destan, no rush!! you're a blessing, a divinely inspired writer. i think you need to make a timeline.

    11 months ago