The Worst Guy
PROLOGUE In a land far off from others, there existed a town that touched the heavens, and the town that reflected them.
It was believed these towns, once upon a time, were close until the king of one saw a beautiful woman in the clouds. This king had all he ever wanted, loyal men, allies in the forest, and in the other town; however, he couldn’t find a lover among them. When he wished to join her, he held a crystal that was collectively forged by his kingdom's residents and his neighbors, and it shined a brilliant pink glow before it forced the earth to grow; ascending the town to the clouds. Here, with his love, he was happy, and they named the town Golden Sun on behalf of its golden luster when the morning came.
The town below them, like the creatures that dwelled in the forest, were saddened by this sudden parting but noticed how fitting Golden Sun looked in the light of the sun. Though they could not agree on how to deal with the loss, the heavens, perhaps by coincidence, blessed them with an equally bright moon that bounced off the sea. Those glassy waters cleared the dark of night for the happy king, who made it tradition to look over the mountain with his people to see the moon in the ocean. The now happy people below the mountain named their town Sky Moon since those in the sky looked down and marveled as they did in the morning.
For centuries both towns lived peacefully but developed different traditions, values, and beliefs that were once shared. Unlike Sky Moon, Golden Sun held a king every century, a kind king who looked out for both towns and altered the failings of the one he ruled. These kings were called Uranos, and their offspring, Urania, due to their noble blood. It was a tradition that the queen would rule if the king passed before his terms, and that a princess or prince would only take the throne once they were married. One of these kings was close to his end, a generous king who was driven to dark thoughts by the death of his wife, the views of his father, and the hardships endured by his late mother. In this period, his warped thoughts came to light, only witnessed by the two he summoned to his throne room.
“ My lovely daughter” He croaked, “ she is reaching an age to marry soon. I cannot let this be, since I was foretold we would lose everything. Go upon her in the dead of night and take her beauty; then we shall have no worries.” The two magicians bowed and took a crystal ball from the king when they went to do his bidding. Why they needed it, or how they used it was unclear, but being trusted with the mythical orb-which was said to reshape how they lived-meant that this was serious. The two, hesitantly loyal, snuck into her chambers and withdrew her beauty until she was old and ugly. Once they had, the orb of enlightenment lost its color, morphing grey once they returned to the twisted man; who refused to take it back.
“ We must be quick.” He said changing the subject, then got up to his feet in order to guide the two through the castle. He led them into a slumped patch of flat land right behind the castle where they came to a stable fitting for royalty. Io, a bull the size of an elephant or a bear, stood withered with glossy eyes in the harness room; a sight that shocked the pair similarly. She was kept here, alone for who knew how long, chained by her neck and legs; too exhausted and disheartened to fight.
“My king,” The enchanter stammered as he caught her colorless eyes, “ this matter is not the fault of this creature. I beg you to give it your mercy.”
The ruler reassured, almost instantly, “ I promise to. Once my girl finds love beyond her looks and blood. Now, fill the bull with rage so we may maintain harmony.” Very strange was what he said, yet the conviction in his tone convinced them both there was a method to it; and so, the enchanter pressed a palm to poor Io’s head and changed her mood. While his back was turned, and his spell was cast, he too was taken by a spell, cast by the enchantress, and spouted fiery red feathers. Surprised and furious, the enchanter became a plump red bird with the voided orb of enlightenment in his wings. On top of that, the madden cow had its own blaze in its glare-a desperate glare-enough to snap those constraints about its neck and gobbled the bird whole in a mighty chomp.
The once kind and composed king bore a wicked smile at this sight, his wrinkled face morphing more malice while the cow got redder and redder. She had been tricked, but moreover, the enchantress was terrified. Not of just Io, but her king, and even herself. The fear and guilt and grief in her heart led her to vanish right before their eyes. To this day, the enchantress was never seen, in Golden Sun, again.
Sky MoonMany years later, the enchantress gave birth to three sons in the new shade of sky moon. Ever since that day, the sun stopped shining anywhere else but in the town that touched the clouds, and the moon’s light reached neither. Sky moon was much darker and colder, now than ever; the shadow of the mountain eternally settled upon them. Whilst the people wondered all the day as to what became of the moon-less concerned with the sun-she told her boys stories of her old homeland, but never mentioned why she left. A sea with no moon drove the exclusive fish from their shores, and somewhat the ocean as well. All of a sudden, Sky Moon’s main means for trade and consumption had gone; even more so when a mysterious fog formed in the near-by woods; which, (on occasion) wailed and shook the earth.
No king lay claim to Sky moon, instead, they bickered against each other; blaming one another for this cruel curse.“She is in half, this is why we suffer!” Some said, “ She is too full, we must empty her!” Another shouted, and would continue to debate the phase of the moon or lack thereof. To them, this was a blight caused by switching phases, but the enchantress knew better, also knew enough to not speak on the issue. She spent her days as a herbalist, though the inhabitants claimed her a shaman for her proficiency with nature. Animals, plants, the state of the sky; it wasn’t much she couldn’t do when it came to nature, but many wouldn’t make the trip to her small home. As of late, the plants withered day in and out from absent shine, causing a deep sadness to stick to her face. That is, when she was by herself. Her sons, only knowing these dark days, were naive, competitive, and optimistic in her company, prone to searching for scraps of life and fish to outdo one another. The one thing these brothers never did was fight and never understood why many were eager to. They were also too young to know a world beyond darkness-adapted to it- like it was an extension of themselves.
One day, after school was done, they ventured along a bumpy stone path in a single file when a few men- who smelled fishy- came up to the three, with daggers in their eyes.
“ Be careful, boys” The one who had teeth of gold and silver said, “ Those who taint the moon are deceivers, they wish no good to befall you.” The youngest brother covered his mouth, the middle one sucked his teeth, but the oldest brother smiled and laughed from what the man told them.
“Thank you for warning us.” The respectful boy said, “Me and my brothers are grateful, and we will take heed as we travel home.” The answer brought great joy to the men’s souls, who smiled and wished no harm to them on their way home; allowing them to walk the path… but why were…they?
The three brothers lived in a tiny white house where a little square window displayed the kitchen. Every time they came home, they would wave to their mother, and every time they looked, she would be cooking something.
“See how blessed we are?” The oldest brother beamed when they sat to eat, “ To be eating deer when the town bears no fish?”
“We tried, mother.” The middle brother hung his head,
“We’ll try again tomorrow!” The younger brother assured them.
The enchantress thought, how lucky am I to have them.
“My brave boys,” She would smile, lines beginning to appear in her face which looked smooth all before. “ I am blessed to have you three. Eat up. We each have a long day tomorrow.”
To that, they smacked their lips and licked their fingers until their stomachs and eyes weren’t interested, and all went to bed in the lingering dark around them.
“Where did he go off to?” Their sad mother sighed early the next day.
The dependable brother was gone.
They searched the house under candlelight, in it and around it, but no traces of him could be found.
Her eldest son was gone.
Only today were the boys reminded of their proximity to the fogged woods near the house. The house sat on the border between Sky moon, and the ominous woods near-by. The woods kept the residents from following the trio home, in addition, they rang with the cries and screams of those within. It took a short time to adapt, and yet, the mystery that stuck to it still haunted them.
“He’s still here. Don’t worry.” The boy’s older brother insisted while they went to and from school, where they continued to search for their brother.
Sky moon became infamous in this era for their disappearances and as the week went by, more and more people weren’t coming to school or standing along the paths. The sum that wasn’t gone appeared oft in the well-lit temples around the town, but the skeptical brother insisted,
“Don’t believe a word they say.” And persisted, “ we’ll find them, we’ll find him.”
On a dark day that mirrored when the eldest was there, a single man with ornate metals in his mouth called to them. The youngest started his way, but his sibling held him from coming near.
“What’s the matter?”
“ You know as well as I.” His voice was much deeper, worn, and tired this time. “ Those evil full moon worshipers are to blame.”
“ How so?” The doubtful brother said rather mechanically,
“ THEY ARE!” He shouted at them, though his voice seemed to scrape audibly on its way out, sounding like nails on chalkboards. What little light there was beamed on his tired face, glimmers of dampness around his lips sparkled in the absence of the moon. “They just are…they took your brother you know. They need to be punished.”
“You don’t know that”
“They are evil! They drained the life from this world. They took our mother moon away…”
He slunk closer to the pair smelling of rotten fish, his eyes rounded with dark circles, yet bulging nearly out of their sockets. The man breathed so heavily, his jaw was so loose that his saliva dripped-dropped over his lips and off his chin.
“Let’s go.” The older brother said with his younger’s hand tightly in his, continuing forward. Down the ever-darkening path, the youngest could hear the raspy warning,
“Stay away from them!”
Inside his small home, he could still hear it.
“Hey,” His cynical brother gripped him by the shoulder, “ he’s just a stranger.”
“A stranger?” The enchantress asked over a steaming pot.
“Yeah, a really scary lookin’ and smellin’ guy.” The youngest said
“That could be many, honey.” She laughed, he ate, and together they had another fruitful night…with an empty chair at the table.
The enchantress thought, What is becoming of this town, as she blew out the candles, and right before she slept, the smallest boy asked:
“ Is it really on top of the mountain? The Golden Sun. Is it there?”
“Of course it is. And one day, when this all clears up, you’ll get to see it.”
“We all will…”
That place, the place where the sun still came stuck with him from the day he was told. Yellow, green with fruits and vegetables, filled with big creatures called cows and horses and large houses called castles. It was too good to be true, his brother thought, but the oldest fully believed with all his heart. He believed every tale, no matter how tall, so maybe he did climb the mountain…
and maybe that’s where his other brother went too.
In the morning, his skeptical sibling went missing, and though they tried their best to look-until their candlesticks were candlenubs- a similar result awaited them.
To say the town never felt emptier was an understatement. The wind was the most vocal thing to grace him-the last son- in that long, lonely week, and his imagination often came to life. In the vacant schoolhouse, his teachers taught him slow and wearily, mostly being skin and bones with lack of pigment anywhere skin was present. A wrong question or answer would earn him a mouthful of unfocused fury, so he made sure to conform-as his oldest brother would-in the house. Footsteps, a hand on his shoulder, someone lurking in the dark? These were things that kept him company, besides his mother, who hadn’t smiled the entire duration. Their talks were shorter and shorter, and his mother took to thinking more.
I can feed him, I know I can. The enchantress thought, and every day they managed to get by, to eat, somehow. Indeed, the enchantress had a way with animals.
Before he knew it, he was alone in the schoolhouse. His regular teacher, the students, anyone and everyone was gone; however, he had to be sure…He had to know for sure. The boy took a deep breath and went wandering the spacious wooden halls, calling out for someone that only replied in his mind, tricking him into opening closed doors and stepping back to forgotten halls.
There was no one here.
The curious boy decided to go home early since he’d given up on looking for anything else. A cruel joke then, that he heard the breath of another along his lone journey home. The temples? No, they were bright. No one was there…hiding, right? No one he could see at least. The whistle of the wind made it hard to hear. His casual pace started to stall once he came close to that spot-the spot- where his brothers met those men and smelled sour scents. The scent vanished, the men vanished, and his brothers vanished, but the sound of cloth, lazily dragging against the road, hit his ears. It was close and growing louder, his legs were trembling, his heart shaking his rib cage, and his own breath was reflecting that he heard all week.
A heavy, wet, thing dropped close to him…who was there? He couldn’t see.
Darkness swallowed the flickering wicker, whipping from wind which wasn’t hollering hard enough to cover that...haunting...annoying...breathing. A yellow sheen shined before the boy’s bulged eyes, a nasty, rotten smell like he’d never smelled in his life struck him; likewise, he heard a whisper say,
And so, the little boy ran, and ran, and ran through Sky moon, a town mutated by screams, twisted men, shadows, and lack of resources. Those bigger, famished footsteps rang in his ears, joining the place his heart was to motivate his tiny legs to keep on going, and going, and going.
Then he collapsed.
Salty water trailed down his cheeks.
A runny nose and hard to catch air all affected him.
It was clear to him, on his knees, that Sky Moon was cursed;
it didn’t have to do with the moon.
Shivering, he looked up from his knees to see the obscured Fickle Forest towering over him. Dark, misty, and as ominous as it always was. The house-his house- wasn’t far from here.
He could just go home, tell his mom, eat some food…
He could… and considered that until he saw life. A large wolf with bright yellow eyes stood at the edge of the woods. Silent, still, and patient.