• Prologue
    Sean Garender collapsed in bed, his unfinished homework piled high on his desk across the room. He put a hand to his forehead, trying to force the headache out of his head, but trying to use psychic powers he couldn’t possibly posses hurt his head even more. He was, unfortunately, normal. Maybe if he wasn’t so normal he would actually fit in at his school. Of course, at school he wasn’t exactly normal. It seemed nothing went right when he was away from home. At school he was unnaturally clumsy, riding his bike home he usually somehow ended up with a few bruises, and even on vacation he always seemed very unlucky. Yet, at home he felt safe, innately knowing nothing bad could ever happen to him while he was home…or, at least safe in his room. Outside of his room, however, he always ran the chance of running into his parents, which was never a good thing. They mostly stayed out of his life, except he could never be sure when they were in a foul mood, from either drinking or life, and they became somewhat violent when one of those moods overtook them. They never ventured into his room, he didn’t even know if they had ever set foot over the threshold. As a baby, his crib had been in the living room, and only when he turned 7 had the room became his.

    Sean sighed, crawled under the covers, and closed his eyes, letting his thick brown hair lay over his eyes, blocking out the light from his window. The soft whine from the wind finally lulled him to sleep. He flew through his dreams, all the torments of school condensing into a rapid series of flashes, each almost physically wounding him. Finally, they faded away, and Sean was left with the comforting ambiance of nothing.

    Chapter 1

    Sean opened his eyes lazily, staring up at the cloud-filled sky. He thought something was a little different about it, but he just thought his mind was playing tricks on him since he had just woken up. He was still too tired to get up, and so he turned over on the ground to go back to sleep. Then, it hit him. He wildly sat up, noticing that he was laying on what seemed to be dirt, but he couldn’t really tell. He didn’t really care, what concerned him more was what color the sky was. To his horror, he stared up at a rapidly darkening green sky. As he looked around him, the shadows surrounding him grew. The almost tendrils of darkness crawled ever so slowly towards him. Panicking, he scrambled up from where he slumbered and searched in vain for somewhere to run to, somewhere the darkness wouldn’t dare follow him to, somewhere he would be safe from the groping maw of blackness. His spirits lightened, for he saw off in the distance, a spot of light. He madly ran towards the light, as he felt the darkness grow ever nearer him. When the darkness managed to touch the back of his legs, a cold clamminess overtook them. The light was growing steadily closer. He dared to look behind him, and saw dirt, stained with unnatural green light, and beyond that, the shadows. He could not let it swallow him, he somehow knew that. He turned his head back, and saw the light was much closer. Too close. He tried to stop, but still slammed into the door of the building. He felt for a doorknob, but his search was in vain. He dared look behind him once more, and saw the tendrils of darkness, yes, defiantly tendrils, draw ever closer. He looked closer at the door, sure he had missed something. He saw symbols inscribed into the door, all sorts of magical symbols. Glowing moons, golden swords, fiery pentagrams, and more, nigh incomprehensible symbols, all inscribed upon the wood. He banged his hands upon the door, now screaming his plea of help. His cries seeming futile, he turned, at least wanting to end facing his enemy. The black tendrils lazily swished, stroking his body. The darkness spilled over his tennis shoes, swallowing the trendy red and white, brand-name footwear. He closed his eyes, unable to face the terror. His whole body trembled with each beat of his heart. Suddenly, he was launched into the abyss. He screamed, sure of his end, but strangely, something caught his hand, and held on, something warm and soft, almost like skin. He was pulled back through the door. He stumbled, and fell onto his back, staring at the wooden ceiling above. A young woman, no more than a year older than him, swam into his view. The world above him dimmed, and blackness eclipsed it all.

    Chapter 2

    He was swimming in a lagoon, a lagoon that was slowly pulsing... Sean surfaced from his dream, but had trouble opening his eyes. His whole body slowly throbbed, and his skin was clammy. He remembered what had happened to him, but couldn’t accept that it wasn’t all just some strange dream. He dared to open his eyes a sliver. He felt that he was in a bed, and he saw ceiling above him, and he continued to slowly open his eyes. He felt his stomach drop at what he saw. The ceiling was made of a light terra cotta colored wood, nothing like the crackled plaster ceiling he had in his room. He sighed, wondering where he was now. He heard something move next to him, and the face of a young boy slid into view. He was quite the sight, with spiky blonde hair and a single, silver earring in the shape of a crescent moon. Sean almost didn’t believe he could be a little kid, but for the boy’s small stature. A smile spread over the boy’s face and he flung open the door across from Sean and ran out. He heard the boy run down a flight of stairs, and then Sean heard no more. Sean sat up, noticing that whoever had gotten him into the bed had changed his shirt to a dark green t-shirt, but they had thankfully not changed his jeans. He heard footsteps again, and the same girl that had rescued him walked into the room, the little boy trailing in her wake. The girl smiled at him, “I guess you are awake. I’m lucky I got you in here when I did, if you had stayed in that darkness any longer…”, she trailed off, “Well, some things are better left unsaid. Anyway, I’m Karen, and this,” she said, pointing to the boy, “is Tyler, my brother.” Sean prayed for his mouth to work, “I-I’m Sean. Um, what exactly is that ‘Darkness’?”

    “Well, my older brother, Michael, whom you’ll probably never see,”, she said the last part with gritted teeth, making it obvious what she thought of his “absence”, “he calls it the Well of Nightmares. I guess if you stay there too long you become a living nightmare, haunting people’s dreams. Of course, not everyone dreams. I think we humans are the only ones that do, at least in the sense that we have no control over what we dream. Of course, I can’t really trust that half-drunk…things…know what they’re talking about.”

    “Wait, what? What do you mean by ‘half-drunk things’?” Sean asked, puzzled.

    “Heh, you’re not probably going to believe me unless I show you what I’m talking about.” Karen said, “Are you up to getting out of bed?”

    “Yeah, I think. Maybe.” , Sean replied. Sean slid his legs off the bed, and hoisted himself up. He rocked back and forth for a moment, fearful he was going to fall over. Karen, concern all over her face, stood ready to catch him. Sean steadied himself, and turned to her. “Okay,” he said, “I think I’m all right.” He followed Karen out into the hall. The room he had been in had been at the end of the hall, and as Sean looked, he saw dozens of other rooms lining the hall. The one that he had been across from was very interesting. The door was painted black and red, with all the other doors lining the hall just being colored the same terra cotta that had been in his room. The door also had no number. Sean guessed that the room probably belonged to Karen’s aloof older brother. Sean turned, and followed Karen down the hall. He heard many voices, some sounding normal, others sounding very strange indeed. He carefully tread down the stairway, the voices getting louder, and followed Karen in what appeared to be the main floor. What he saw made his eyes widen. He gasped…

    Chapter 3

    ‘A tavern. It looks like a tavern.’, Sean thought, as he stared into the crowd of…beings…sitting, laughing, and above all, drinking. He turned to Karen, almost asking if this was real, but before he could, she simply nodded at him, anticipating his question. Right then, it struck him how pretty she was. Light, feathery, blond hair framed a round, pale face. He forced himself to look away, and stared again at the patrons of what could only be called an inn, but an odd inn it was. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he heard Karen’s voice, “Come on, you can help me in the kitchen.” Her hand slid down his arm, he surpassed a tremble, and she grasped his hand and pulled him along. He tore his gaze away from the menagerie of things, and followed Karen through a door at the back corner of the inn. It looked like a restaurant’s kitchen, like one you would see on TV, but Sean knew that all those creatures out there couldn’t have the same tastes as humans. He noticed that Tyler had stopped following them. He asked Karen, “Where’d your brother go?”

    “Oh, he serves the food and drink.”

    “Surely he’s a bit young to be serving alcohol. Right?”

    “Oh, he wouldn’t dare drink any of it.” Karen said, her countenance darkening, “He wouldn’t like it anyway. Now then, to get you to work.” She pulled him along, pulling a knife from a nearby rack. “Your job is going to be chopping up some stuff. I have all the stuff that you need right there.” She pointed at a square wooden table, piled high with various fruits and vegetables. They all looked normal, but Sean just couldn’t believe that creatures that looked so weird would eat the same stuff as humans. He decided not to voice that opinion to Karen, since he was more than glad to work with stuff that he already knew. Karen handed him the knife, smiled at him, and turned and walked back out of the kitchen. He turned to get to work. Sean decided to start with a simple potato, and was about to pick up his knife when he heard a voice say, “Hey, Sean. Pssst!” Sean turned towards the door, and saw Tyler’s head poking into the kitchen. Tyler grinned at him, and waved his hand, beckoning him. Sean, puzzled, followed Tyler out of the kitchen. When they were out, Tyler shook his head in mock disappointment. “I can’t believe Karen was going to have you do that. You don’t seriously believe we actually feed any of that stuff to the people here? She was just having you do that because she thought you were scared or something, I don’t know. I guess she doesn’t really know what to make of you, or your sudden appearance. Anyway, she went upstairs, probably to talk to Michael about you, and I was just going to introduce you to some of the regulars.”

    “Oh, you don’t need to do that,” Sean said, already imagining how mad Karen would be. Just seeing her after suggesting that Tyler would drink the stuff she served told Sean that she was not someone to take lightly. “Besides, I’m sure Karen will do that eventually.”

    “Heh, you don’t know my sister very well, she won’t be mad. Well, too mad.” Sean really didn’t want to know what Tyler thought was ‘too mad’. He reluctantly followed the boy to behind the bar. There were several things sitting, or just on, stools in front of the bar counter. Under the counter were taps for whatever kind of drinks all these things enjoyed, and mugs, some with handles, some without. Sean dared look up at some of the patrons this young kid was serving. One Tyler waved to, and Sean looked more closely at what appeared to be a him. He was humanoid in appearance, donned in a long black cloak. He had ram-shapped horns curving outward from his temples, and his nose was more like a snout. It looked as if someone had stuck a ram’s head on a man’s body. Unlike both a ram and a man, however, the thing was red in appearance. His eyes were bright, and he snorted, and even growled, at Tyler’s wave. Sean took a step back. A beautiful voice spoke to Sean, “Don’t be afraid of him, he’s just anxious for drink. He’ll be better after a few.” Sean turned to look at this being, and he almost gasped. The woman radiated a pale light, from her blue skin, from her long navy hair tied in a ponytail, and even her earrings, dangling orbs from her ears. Her elliptical eyes searched into his soul, and she graced him with a smile. Sean timidly smiled back at her. “Tell me your name, child. Don’t be afraid.”

    “My name is Sean. W-what’s your’s?”

    The woman laughed, it sounded as if a thousand bells had all tinkled at once. “I am called many things, child, but you may call me Celia.”

    Tyler, satisfied with them having that short conversation, pulled on Sean’s hand. “I don’t care how much she likes it, but you can’t stand there ogling at Celia all day, we have more people to meet.” Sean stumbled after Tyler, and turned back to look at the beautiful woman again. He raised his hand in an attempt at a wave, and she gracefully nodded back at him. Sean didn’t remember the other strange, exotic, and wondrous people, if they could really be called that, which Tyler introduced him to, his mind was on Celiea. Tyler didn’t notice this, however, and just continued carting him around like some kind of toy. He was always introduced as, ‘Sean, just a guy that turned up yesterday night.’, with replies ranging from ‘Oh, I thought I heard something…’ to just looks, which of those Tyler said were psychic communications. Sean wondered at the parenting skills of Karen, who would let a young boy touch minds with who-knows-what. Of course, Sean reasoned, who knew if Tyler was really telling the truth? The night wore down, many people coming and going, out into the night. Sean almost wondered what lay outside, if the ‘Well of Nightmares’ receded at any point in the day. For now, though, Sean was content with being at the inn. Even for having known them for such short time, Sean could see that Karen and Tyler were such nice people. Sean wondered what they’re older brother was like. Suddenly, he heard someone come up behind him. Sean turned to see a infuriated Karen, her pale skin a deep shade of red. She grabbed Tyler by the coller of his shirt, and turned him around to face her. He quickly broke out into a smile at her. “Hey Karen! Sean here just got done chopping stuff up, and I was-“

    “I don’t care what you’re doing! He isn’t done, and he wasn’t supposed to leave the kitchen!” Karen said through grit teeth, clearly exasperated. Karen suddenly looked up at the door, expecting to see someone. Sean looked at her, and then the door. Three hooded men, although probably not men, stood in the doorway, their black cloaks sweeping across the ground. They slowly walked towards Sean, although Sean supposed they could have been walking towards someone else, but something told him that the men were here for him. They stopped before Sean, and the person in front took off his hood to reveal an ancient looking face. The man smiled, “So, you must be Sean. Michael has told us so much about you.”

    “Might we continue this up in my room?” inquired a deep voice behind Sean.

    The old man’s smile broadened. “Why certainly, Michael.”

    Chapter 4

    Sean and Karen sat on the edge of Karen’s bed, waiting for Michael to say that they could come in. Karen explained who the old men were, “They call themselves The Wise Men, and they’re the only people Michael ever comes out of his room to talk to.”

    “Wait, like the three wise men that gave Jesus gifts when he was born?”

    “They seem old enough that they could be, but somehow I doubt it.”

    Sean looked about the room. It looked almost exactly like his, except the blanket on Karen’s bed was pink, with some simple lace lining it. Sean sighed, and laid back on the bed, not sure how to continue. Karen looked back at him, and shyly smiled at him. Sean decided to voice a question that had been bothering him, “So, how did you and your brothers end up here?”

    “Oh,” Karen said, sighing,” we’ve been here as long as I can remember. Everything about our life with humans Michael told us. I don’t know how he remembers, because if I don’t then he must have been young when we came here. I don’t even really know where we are exactly, I just know I don’t want to leave. It’s so simple, and fun. We all get to meet new people, I can safely say that Tyler is getting an education, though probably not the best kind.” She laughed, and continued. “I never really wondered how I got here, till you came along.” She looked down at the floor, “Why, till you came along I thought I was going to be alone here. I mean, Tyler and Michael are nice, but they’re family. I don’t have anyone else but them. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to either of them…” She trailed off, and stared at the ground. Sean didn’t want to know what she was imagining.

    The door opened, and Tyler’s head popped in, “Michael says he wants to see Sean now.” Karen scowled, “So he doesn’t have time for his sister anymore?”

    “Hey, I don’t know. Don’t kill the messenger.”
    Sean got up from the bed and followed Tyler down the hall to Michael’s room. The three old men were standing outside the door. The leader smiled at Sean and said, “Go on in, Michael has been expecting you. Why, we’ve all been expecting you.” Tyler opened Michael’s door, and motioned Sean to go in. Sean stepped into the pitch black room, and the door closed behind him.

    Sean couldn’t see a thing. Suddenly, red candles all lit themselves, all around the room. The walls were black, except for the far wall, which was a blood red. Michael sat in a black chair, ‘a throne’, Sean thought, against the far wall. The chair was a rich black, with spikes protruding from it on all sides. Michael studied Sean for a moment, and then began, “Well, well well, Sean. I guess you probably need an explanation for everything. I can’t just pull you out of your world and not tell you why, now can I?” Sean’s eyes widened in surprise. “Yes,” Michael continued, “you need to know the forces at work here, and the part you play. You’re a lot more important than you think. But I suppose I should start at the beginning…” Michael closed his eyes and leaned back and continued, “Eons ago, the polyverse was formed-

    “Erm, don’t you mean Universe?” Sean asked.

    “No. Universe would imply that there is one. There is not one, but many. Now then, the polyverse was formed from chaos, and that polyverse was imbued with two defining forces. Light, and Darkness. They worked like a set of scales, yet with every scale there is a fulcrum. Somewhere out there, there is a fulcrum, which has the power to turn the fate of the universe into everlasting darkness, or everlasting light, or preferably, not use the power at all. So much power in one thing is not good, especially since there are things that seek this fulcrum, which want to use it to their advantage.

    Sean felt the need to interrupt, “What exactly does this have to do with me?”

    Michael sighed, “I guess nothing really, I just delight in telling that story. I doubt that the fulcrum exists anywhere around here though. No, I’ve just been watching you, mostly because I can. You see, I have power that normal humans don’t, and some of that includes being able to sense things through certain objects, namely, that desk of yours.

    “What’s so special about my desk?” Sean asked.

    “Why, because it’s also mine.” Michael slyly grinned, and pointed next to Sean. Sitting there was a desk that looked exactly like Michael’s, down to the stack of books on it, though Sean doubted those were school textbooks. “So, why did you bring me here?” Sean asked, cocking his head.

    Michael sighed, “To put it simply, because you were going to die.”

    If Sean had been sitting down, he would’ve jumped out of his chair. “Die?”, he shouted incredulously.

    “And if you leave here, you still might. You need to bind yourself to this world.”

    “And how exactly am I going to do that!” Sean was still in disbelief that he had been saved from a fate of death. Although he could guess how he would die, probably would be from a bully choking him at school, or one of his drunken parents beating him to death.

    “You will have to travel into the midst of the Well of Nightmares, and find the temple of wishes. There, you will put this,” Michael pulled out of his pocket a wooden pyramid-shaped block, “into the altar there. Then, you will stay here forever, until you take the pyramid back out.”

    “And how exactly am I supposed to avoid, you know, turning into a nightmare?”

    “Oh, did Karen tell you that? I just say that to keep them out of it. I’m afraid what Karen would do if she knew she could leave this place. Anyway, in reality, it’s just a place for spirits of nightmares to roam. There’s so many, that they all bound together, around the Temple of Wishes. I find it kind of poetic, that a true wish is surrounded by nightmares. Anyway, you won’t be hurt by them.”

    “How do you explain me passing out after almost being submerged in that Well.”

    Michael sighed, “If you must have some kind of protection, take this,” Michael reached to hand him something, and his face finally came out of the shadows, into the candlelight. His hair was as fine as his sisters, but it was black, and most of it over his face. It looked freshly combed. Michael handed him a gem, it was black, but there was a pulsating light coming from the center. “It’s Holy Obsidian,” Michael said, “and I like to think of it as my personal trademark. A sliver of my soul is bound to it, and if I sense that you’re in trouble, then I’ll appear at your side.” Sean looked into Michaels face, white as snow, but with deep black pools for eyes. “Thank-you, Michael.” Sean whispered.

    “You’re welcome, now go, and good luck.

    Chapter 5
    After saying goodbye and being wished luck more times than he could remember, Sean stepped out of the Tavern into the green night. He saw the swarm of blackness that had wanted to take him before, but this time it sat still like a shadow. He cautiously walked into it. It was cold, and he felt the shadows constantly brush across his body, like they were beings. Tendrils of darkness slid across his arms and legs, and even face, like they wanted something from him. He felt them pull harder and harder, and Sean started running, always forward. Always further into the nightmares.

    Michael sat on the floor of his room, meditating, keeping his inner eye upon Sean. ‘The boy is scared.’ He thought, ‘Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to do this. I shouldn’t meddle with the human world like this.’ He heard a knock on his door, and it opened. Karen stood in the doorway, clearly nervous about something. She walked in and sat down in front of Michael. “Are you sure he’s going to be okay,” she said softly, almost whispering to him sadly, “I mean, he shouldn’t be out there, something bad could happen and…” She trailed off, and tears welled up in her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I just thought I had finally found a friend, and I don’t want to lose him.”

    “It’s okay Karen, I’m looking after him. He’ll be fine.” Karen smiled, a single tear sliding down her cheek. She got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

    Sean didn’t know how long he had been running, all he knew was he had to get out soon. Suddenly, he broke through the darkness, and stared at what he saw. It was a large structure, with floor to roof columns. The roof was a pearly white dome, and Sean could see inside, in the middle of the floor, sat an altar. He walked cautiously up to the place, and saw someone leaning against one of the columns. It was Celia. She noticed him and smiled, “Have you come to the Temple of Wishes to make a wish?” she asked, “That’s what I’m here for at least. I wish that the world could be painted in light, and that everyone could find beauteous love. But that’s all it is, a wish. It could never come true.”

    “Why not?” Sean asked.

    “Why, you should know. Darkness is winning, and with darkness, no good can there be. You can clearly see it in your Universe. Why do you think that space is black? It’s because there’s not enough light to combat the darkness. It’s so sad, for the world would be a better place if there was always light.”

    “There would always be light where you were.” Sean said, walking closer to her.

    “Why thank-you, kind sir, but I cannot span the Polyverse, I can only be in such a small space, combating the dark.” She reached out and took Sean’s hand. “Oh,” she said, surprised, “there is much power in you. Why, I could tap it for you. You could help those you wanted, and destroy those that could hurt you. You would never have to die. Would you do it, for me.” She said the last, looking deep into Sean’s eyes. He was mesmerized by her beauty. He said, dreamily, “I would do anything for you, Celia.” And so she pulled him closer to her, and kissed him. Sean felt a warmth flow through his body, such comfort it was.

    And then it began to burn.

    Sean tried to pull away, but he couldn’t. He wanted to keep his lips locked forever, but he felt fire, furious fire, coursing through his body. He began to sweat, he wanted to let go, but her power stopped him. He was under her spell. Finally, she let go of him. Sean fell to the ground, feeling as if he were burning. A raging inferno. He lay on the ground, weak. He knew he needed power to stop her. He needed power. He tried to stand up, and the pain increased tenfold. He screamed with anger, and pushed himself towards the altar. He knew what he needed to do. He plunged the pyramid into the altar, it sunk into the pearly stone. He screamed for his wish for power, and the burning stopped.

    Michael sensed something was wrong. Sean was in pain, yet he was out of the Well of Nightmares. Something had happened, something bad. Michael put his hands apart, closed his eyes, and leaned his head back. A blue light flashed behind his eyelids, and they flew open. He looked, and saw he was at the temple. Celia stood by a column, and Sean leaned heavily on the altar. Michael was worried, “Sean, are you okay?” he asked cautiously. Sean turned around to answer, and Michael saw what was wrong.

    Sean’s eyes were red.

    Chapter 6!

    Karen was pacing the kitchen, fretting about how Sean was doing. She trusted her brother to help, but she didn’t trust that he would be able to. She decided to make a snack for him, if only to have a reason to check to see how Sean was doing. She quickly put something on a plate, she wasn’t even sure what, she was so distracted, and hurriedly took it up to Michael’s room. She knocked on the door, and when there was no answer, opened the door. There was nobody there.

    “What have you done to him” shouted Michael at the woman.

    “Why,” she laughed, the bells of her voice seemed different, “I’ve just done something that you’ve wanted to do for a millennia.”

    “You witch,” Michael snarled, and he lunged at Celia. Suddenly, a voice rumbled, ‘Sean’s voice’ thought Michael, “Do not touch her.” Michael looked, and saw Sean, but it wasn’t Sean anymore. The siren had done something to him, changed him somehow. Tears of frustration welled up in his eyes, for that he had done so much to keep the boy safe, and now he had suffered a fate worse than death. Sean spoke again, “She is mine! If you hurt her, then I shall you.” Michael wasn’t scared. Whatever the siren had done to him, he hadn’t grown any stronger. Instead, his soul had just been smothered by the false love Celia had invoked in him. Michael turned away, and drew out of thin air a sword of glowing blue metal. “You will pay for what you have done, foul witch.”

    “And just what have I done, fair Michael. You do not know what has transpired here. You have no proof.”

    “I don’t need proof.” Michael said through grit teeth, and thrust his blade through the siren’s breast. A look of surprise flashed across her face, only for a second. She softly whispered, “Kill him,” and slumped to the ground. Michael turned to Sean, for he was sure the spell was broken now. Sean’s face contorted, like some beast, into a look of disbelief. “You killed her,” the beast within him softly said, “you really did it.” Sean grinned, “You fool, you think she had a spell on me? Hah, only the spell of a simple siren, and now you’ve destroyed that! Why, she just awakened me from my slumber.” The beast continued, “You see, this wretch of a boy was only a ploy, only a vessel until I could find you again, and finish what was started eons ago. It’s so sad that I have to face you alone. I thought you had tried to kill me long enough ago that now I would be facing three little children.”

    “No, I killed you once.” Michael growled, finally realizing who he was facing.

    “And you failed miserably. Isn’t is sad that all your mother died for was in vain?” The beast laughed, it’s chilling sounds striking into the very core of Michael’s soul.

    Tyler sighed. It might have been funny for a while, but his sister’s running around was driving him nuts. Every five minutes, she would run in and ask if he had seen Michael, and each time his answer was no. Apparently, Michael was missing from his room. Karen ran up to Tyler again, “Have you seen Michael yet?” she asked. Her hair was a mess from constantly running.

    “Nope, not yet.” Tyler said, tired of being asked. Karen ran back out, and Tyler turned back to Ramsy, “So, I don’t suppose you’ve seen Michael?”

    “Nope. Listen, I hope I didn’t scare your friend earlier today, you know how I am before I get a few strong drinks in me.”

    “You might have,” Tyler said, laughing, “but he got over it as soon as he saw Celia.

    “Hmph, he should stay away from her. She’s a siren you know.”

    “Ya, I know.” Tyler and Ramsy were the only one’s left in the tavern, both of them sitting on top of the bar. Tyler swung his feet up and laid down. “Ramsy,” he asked, “why do you like me so much?”

    “Why, I had a son like you. A nice, strong, lad he was. He lives with his mate now somewhere far away. I miss him every day. I miss being a father every day. You give me the chance to relive some of that.” Sean smiled, and crawled up towards Ramsy, and rested his head against the ram-man’s arm. “Could I come and visit you sometime? I hate having to wait every day for you to come. I mean, I know I have Michael and Karen, but it’s almost a chore to be around them. You’re the only real friend I have.” Ramsy turned his head and looked down at the young boy. “I would be honored to have you. I’m surprised you haven’t asked before now.”

    “I’ve wanted to, but…I don’t know. I think Sean coming here has changed everything a little. I used to at least have Karen to go to, but I think she’s, like, infatuated with Sean. I hate listening to her talk about him. I know it’s probably because he’s the first ‘open’ guy that she’s had any interest in, but I’m afraid she’ll forget me.” Tyler’s eyes glazed over, and Ramsy tried so hard not to hug him, to comfort him in some way. He didn’t succeed.

    Karen ran into Michael’s room, hoping that he had come back in the 30 seconds since she had last check. He hadn’t. She sat down on his bed, and put her head in her hands, and cried. Her body shook with her sobs. She was so worried that something had happened to either Sean or Michael. She couldn’t afford to lose either of them. She lifted her red-rimmed eyes out of her hands, and saw one of Michael’s black gems lying on the ground. She picked it up and held it close to her heart. She whispered into her breast, “I wish I was with you, Michael.” Karen felt the wind woosh around her.

    Chapter 7

    “Why did you come here? Why can’t you let us live in peace?” Michael said to the beast. It laughed, and replied, “Why, you’re the one that didn’t let me live in peace. Every day I lay in wait, having to listen to that stupid boy’s thoughts, his soul. I just decided to have a little enjoyment, if I had to be there. You don’t think you’re the only one that messed with that boy’s life, do you? I felt your power from that desk, trying to keep him safe. I thought you’d never bring him here, so I would just have to kill him. You’re so easy to manipulate Michael, you know that don’t you?”

    “What do you want from us? What more can you take!” Michael shouted at the beast.

    “Oh, there’s so much I haven’t taken yet.” And with that, the beast drew from the air a rapier, black as the shadows. The beast lunged at Michael, and they started to fight.

    Ramsy held the little boy close, almost smothering him in his arms. They lay on top of the bar, both of them almost asleep. “Ya know,” Tyler’s muffled voice said, “Karen hasn’t been in here the last 5 minutes. I better check where she is. Tyler swung himself off of the bar, and went to investigate. Karen wasn’t in the kitchen, and not in her bedroom. Finally, Tyler cautiously stepped into Michael’s room. Nobody was in there. Tyler was about to leave, when an envelope on Michael’s desk caught his eye. He walked over, and picked it up to read it. The front simply said, “To be opened when I am gone forever.” Tyler decided, that even if the time he had been gone hadn’t been forever, it still needed to be opened. Tyler ripped the flap open, and took the letter out.

    Dear Karen and Tyler,

    Karen opened her eyes, and saw that it looked like she was in the gemstone, except that it was moving, hopefully towards Michael.

    One day I will not be here to take care of you, and for that I am sorry, but The Wise Men refuse to tell me any secrets of immortality.

    ‘He is stronger than before.’ Michael thought, ‘How could he be stronger, if he’s using Sean’s mind and body?’ blue and black sparks flew whenever their swords clashed, and Michael knew he wouldn’t, couldn’t, win against the beast.

    There are things you need to know, things that I haven’t told you before, things about our past life. It has been hard to keep these secrets from you, but it was a necessary evil. I didn’t want you both to be hurt. I’ve done too much to prevent that.

    Karen could see outside the gemstone. She saw it fly past Ramsy and Tyler, laying up on the bar. It flew out the door, and into the blackness.

    You probably both wonder why we don’t have any parents. There are a few things I could tell you, but I need to tell you the truth, because this may be my last chance. I guess I should start with Mother. Our mother was beauty incarnate, and from her you get your morality, among other things. Oh, I wish you could remember her, but I couldn’t let you remember anything about our past.

    Ramsy let his hoofs dangle over the bar, as he sighed and tried to remember his son. It had been so long ago that everything had happened.

    Our mother was no warrior though, and she died, trying to protect us from evil. I miss her love every day of my life. I was old enough to know her…

    “Well now, you’ve improved your power since we fought last time.” The beast said, laughing. It intensified its blows, forcing Michael back further and further. The beast was just toying with him, it was enjoying seeing Michael struggle.

    The evil that killed our mother is known by many things. The one name you should know is Father. Yes, our father is the one that murdered our mother, but I murdered him. It is from that beast that you each get a power, to be unlocked by sadness, love, or rage. Mine was unlocked from the rage at our father, and I managed to slay him. I hope his soul burns in hell for what he has done to us.

    Karen flew through darkness, always towards something, but she could not figure out what. It was possible, she thought, that her wish had been granted by the gem, and that it was taking her to wherever Michael was. She hoped so.

    I didn’t want to ever tell you this, but if I am gone, you have to know. We are incarnations of the original life of the Polyverse, we are eons old. We are the spirits of Power, Love, and Freedom, the orginal building blocks of all, with our parents being Good and Evil. Our mother’s death is why darkness is always prevailing against the light. I think her soul is still somewhere out there, or else we would all be cloaked in the shadows by now.

    Ramsy’s son had been strong, yes, but arrogant too. His father had warned him about his overconfidence, but Ramsy’s son hadn’t listened. Now, Ramsy only had Tyler to look after. He missed his true son every day of his life.

    Karen, if you’re reading this, do not try and avenge me. I will be happier wherever I end up, I know that. Tyler, if you found this, and you’re alone, go with Ramsy, to live with him. He will take care of you. Maybe you will be able to stop his wife’s grief. I know you’ll stop his.

    Michael had his back against a column, the beast had nearly won. Michael put his sword up, and tried to block the beast’s flurry of blows. His knees shook with the effort of standing. Michael so wanted to end this, but he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Michael sensed something was coming, and turned, his back to the beast, to see what came out of the shadows. He beheld his sister, standing there, looking so relieved. Michael saw a flash of black sprout out of his chest, and he fell onto his back. “Karen,” he sputtered, “Leave, you cannot help me. You’ll only get yourself killed.”

    Karen screamed at Michael’s fall, and saw who behind him had done the deed. It was Sean, yet it was not Sean. His eyes glowed with fire, and a grin was set on his face. “Sean,” Karen gasped, and her vision blurred, “what happened to you?”

    “Sean?” the beast laughed, “I am not your pathetic boyfriend. Oh, I am so much more. Come to me Karen.”

    “You killed my brother,” she screamed with anguish, “and you taken my friend. What have you done with Sean?”

    “Oh, he is still here, unfortunately.” The beast continued in a mocking tone, “I can feel the love he has for you, my dear. He would so love if you could kiss him.” The beast grinned at her, and motioned her to come closer.

    “Karen,” Michael weakly said, “don’t do it, run. You’ll only get yourself killed. Please, don’t leave Tyler alone.”

    “He’s a big boy,” she said, walking closer to Sean, “He’ll take care of himself.” She threw her arms about Sean, and kissed him. She felt warmth radiate through her body, and she took her lips off of Sean. She saw that his eyes were blue now. “Karen,” he began, tears starting to stream down his face, “I’m so sorry; I-he was controlling me. He still is. He wants to kill you, Karen, and I don’t have the power to stop him. Please, run away, I don’t want you to die. I don't want to kill you. I love you.” Karen felt power course through her body, and she knew, the one way she could banish the beast that controlled Sean, was to release all the power she had into its soul. She kissed Sean again.

    There is one last secret I must share before I go. You probably wonder why our last name is Courier. I don’t know for sure myself, but I like to think that someday we’ll bring someone something, whether it’s unconditional love, or perhaps a chance at happiness again, or bring guidance to those that need it, or protection to those that would otherwise die. I like to think we all have something to deliver, to everybody, a gift for every person. I brought to you two, all the love that I could give. I’m going to miss you both.

    Your loving brother,

    The beast knew that if he killed her, it would let forth all the power through Sean’s beating heart, directly to the beast’s soul. He knew the only way he could save himself, was to kill them both. He drew Sean’s hand with the sword up to Karen’s back, and the beast thrust through her heart, and Sean’s, with one hard push. Their souls would be bound in love, and the beast would have to find another host, till he could finish off the last of the children. He drew away from Sean, so that his fleeing soul would not catch the beast’s and take it with him. The beast’s soul flew into the shadows, and realized too late, that it wasn’t regular darkness. The spirits of the nightmares surrounded him, and trapped him there, forever to roam, only as a dream.

    Sean felt the beast leave, and he felt a hole in his chest, but as he stood with Karen in that moment, he felt the hole close. He heard a voice in his head, “Sean,” it was Karen’s voice, “This is my power, the last of it, healing you. You need to go back to your world, and stay there. The beast is trapped within the Well of Nightmares now, and he cannot touch you again. Go now, with my love. I shall always remember you, wherever I end up.” Sean felt Karen’s body slump in his arms, and he gently laid her on the ground. He dragged Michael’s still form next to her, and with a little of the leftover magic of Karen’s, he wrapped the stone floor about them, their body’s laid with the altar in between them. With one final push of magic, he drew their hands together, so that they could be together. Sean walked out of the temple, and saw one of Michael’s gemstones on the ground. He picked it up, and whispered into it, “Take me to Tyler”.

    The news was going to be hard for the boy, but for Sean it was going to be even harder. In reality, he was still dreaming. He would forget this place, all that happened, and he would live a normal life, without the influence of either good or evil. His life would be a perfect balance. I had seen to it. The wind wooshed around Sean’s ears, and he felt himself flying towards the inn.

    Sean was taking the news to the boy. He was a courier. He was one of them, Sean, the spirit of Balance. He is the scales. I am the Fulcrum.