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miais ere wo hopa, vermore a versease, whou oeher yvuria i moa r’h

There were two kindred, Evermore and Nevercease, who together conquered the world.”

- surviving line, transcribed from oral to written form, from Dark Elf historical records


The Dreamer felt her touch on his dream as if knocking on a door. The remembered vibrancy of their bond shivered through him though he had no body, barely a soul of which to feel it. He witnessed her sphere float toward his; a golden, lively halo opposite his defunct, charred blob of ash, together sharing a literal galaxy of other Dream Spheres.

The Dream Spheres floated and moved about like stars, all unique to each animal, kindred — anything capable of dreaming. Even a few sentient plants. Different colors and images within, but always the same size, except for the Dreamer’s…and hers; the only two suns in this galaxy of Mortal Earth-sized spheres. Also unique, R’th granted her and the Dreamer the only ones with the ability to exit their Dream Spheres, access others, and pull yet others into their own. All spheres, however, had bridges.

Even his and hers, though they’d both attempted to break them, but a bond so powerful that immortal hands must have wrought the bridges held them in place. Her sphere advanced. Like two attracted lodestones, her bridge connected to his. Both their spheres floating in the endless expanse of the Dream Realm reminded him of something else he had seen, the image of two stars floating in a vast universe—

A memory slashed through his conscience. He fought to latch on, to understand the connection between the stars and the two Dream Spheres, the answer he knew, knew, rooted the core of his being, but the memory snapped closed as if a heavy door slammed, cutting it off, and he thought no more of it.

Though still without a body, still, without, a distinct form, he stood as the woman from her glowing sphere crossed the bridge toward his burnt one. She stopped halfway and waited.

Unlike his ashy, blurred-edged mass of darkness he distinguished as his body, she stood full human, on two legs, two arms folded beneath two plump breasts. Her black hair she kept short as a man’s, though for a long bang sweeping across her right eye like a raven’s wing.

The Dreamer walked across the bridge to meet her. He stopped. For a long moment neither spoke. What proper words in any language could end an eight hundred-year-old absence?

He crossed charred resemblance of arms. “At least you cried after you shoved your sword through my chest.”

“And I’ve never stopped.”

Her soft words cut into him with remembered sting, filling him with rage that she could be so damned regretful, apologetic, sorrowful, and yet still carry out his death.

He wanted to explode that rage onto her, make her taste the betrayal she delivered to him with the tip of her sword, but just like she could not rejoice for having killed him, he could not rage at having died by her hands.

“How did you spend your life, while we’re on the subject?” he asked. “Did you get married? Birth children? Die at a fulfilling old age?”

“We don’t die, remember?” Her tone betrayed her hostility. “Which is why we are both still here, including you.”

“And here I thought we’d share a joyful reunion, sharing dreams we made for each other. Like we used to.”

She shook her head and turned her back to him.

“You’re ashamed of me.” No anger. Just sorrow.

And hurt.

She unfolded and refolded her arms, still facing away. “I am not ashamed of you,” she whispered quiet enough he barely heard her across the three feet separating them. “You…you’ve done terrible hurt to everyone.”

Rage rose above his hurt. “Don’t exclude yourself. I couldn’t have killed without you.”

She turned with clenched jaw, an action he could not do himself in his smoky state. “I’ve changed.”

“Have you?” If he’d had a body image, she would have seen him tilt his head toward her glowing, vibrant sphere she had just vacated. “You’re in someone’s head right now feeding off their dream, otherwise you would not have been able to create your Dream Sphere so elaborately, or your avatar. You should be getting close to creating a physical body for yourself. I wonder, though, do they know you’re there? Did you get their permission, or did you force them…like you used to?”

“A lot of things died with you. Including that.”

“Oh, but you used to do that indiscriminately.”

“Have you not yet, in eight hundred years, figured out why I drove my sword through your chest?”

The hurt returned. They remained in its stinging embrace, starving for the other’s igniting touch, their soothing caress.

He broke the silence. “I’ve changed too. I don’t want any kindred to die. I want willing loyalty.”

“So you’ll leave them be if they refuse?”

“Every new dynamic needs time.”

“Your followers don’t share your patience. I know of the lives they have taken to force their ascension into your made-up ‘paragonial birthright’ sooner. In your name.

“I have no body, so I have no control over them. Which is why I need to gain my body and leave this dream prison so I can stop these misdirected killings. The human’s individual identities have been suppressed for so long they’re reacting in sporadic and shocking ways, and though I can’t blame them, I don’t condone that behavior. Help me gain my body sooner and I will stop these killings.”

“The killings will stop if you let go of this goal you chase.”

“Or you can take over for me until I’m able to.”


“Where on Eloshonna are you?”

“I’ll tell you if you tell me.”

He clenched a jaw he did not have. “I never wanted to be your enemy.”

She swallowed. He saw the physical force in her throat. Her avatar eyes welled with tears. “Th-then ch-change.” Her stutter betrayed her emotional duress. The Dreamer always thought her stutter mimicked a star’s flicker. “P-p-p-lease.”

“Join me.”

“Y-you…” She pointed, closed her eyes, and inhaled three times to control her stuttering. “You want… to make… humans kings. I won’t support that.”

“No. According to you, the Paragons intended them to be slaves.”

Servants,” she corrected. “Servants to the other races. The humans need to serve, otherwise, they will conquer and kill to fulfill their instinctive need for praise.”

“You can’t be both a servant and a king. You’re ignoring the most obvious evidence of all: humans are direct descendants of the Paragons. Humans are supposed to be praised…as a king. This damning equality has upset the structure the Paragons intended for their human children so now the humans have stagnated as a species: they no longer dream, invent, or create. And the animals, instead, are advancing. If this stagnation continues, the Paragons will remove the humans’ social coherency and they will literally become mindless animals. We have both heard of this happening before. The race of centaurs? They stopped contributing to the whole and the Paragons turned them into mindless herds. They’re extinct now.”

“You talk as if you know so much. You’ve been buried for the last eight hundred years.”

“I’ve visited many minds since my unearthing. I’ve seen what they have recorded in memory. I seem to know more than you now.”

“No one knows what race the Paragons are.”

“You say that? You used to kill with me in support of that.”

“You and I keep feelings on matters no other mortal questions. Someone locked our minds and I feel that the only way to understand these things we believe is to drop this mortal skin and advance to Eternal Earth.”

“There it is! I knew you had a real reason for seeking me out. You came to convince me to die with you.”

“I want to die, and, as we’ve belatedly discovered, we can only die if both of us die at the same time.”

“I will not die before I make right again the Paragons’ intent. If this gross imbalance does not change, humanity will cease.” The races on Eloshonna forced humans to become their equals. Equal. There wasn’t a more derogatory word in any language. Equality raised the sloven and lowered the ambitious onto a single, blind line, tying down everyone’s ankles so even an upward burst of exaltation could not exceed the height of those too affronted to lift their heads.

He knew this truth as deep as the marrow of his bones he would grow again. He could not explain where this powerful instinct came from — no more than she could explain hers, though their feelings matched in strength — but still this instinct is what held his fibers together, kept him clinging on to this charred, burned form without fret. He felt this was his sole reason for existence, a reason only the Paragons could have blessed upon him. To stop his task would damn his turn at eternity.

He didn’t dare let himself think what he would do if she, at the end, still refused to ascend with him. Sometimes the cost for eternity was too high and he remained conflicted whether he was willing to pay.

“You won’t reason with me?” he asked.

“Will you?”

A long silence.

“Don’t you feel it, Nevercease?” he said. “Feel we’re more than this mortal frame? Like we could transcend gods? Don’t you feel that someone has put a block on our minds so we won’t remember who we once were in our premortal existence? Who? The Paragons, perhaps? And why? Because we’re greater than them?”

“Our Dream R’th gives us that complex. I feel once we die, that block in place will be removed and all our questions will be answered.”

 “That’s what they want — whoever put the block on our minds — because dying will stunt the greatness I feel we had once and will get again.” They stood close, so close if he had lips, he’d brush them with hers.

He lifted his smoky arm, pressing an insubstantial, charred hand against the invisible barrier she alone kept active from her bridge. Didn’t trust him to cross. Didn’t trust herself to cross onto his. “I love you with more power than two crashing stars.”

She hugged herself. Remembering as he did. “I didn’t,” she said.

“Didn’t what?”

She opened her eyes, the irises glowing with R’th to match his own. “Marry or birth children. I lived until I died of old age. Alone.” She sat on the bridge. Eyes wet with eternal sorrow. “Will you sit with me for a while, Evermore?”

He obeyed. He didn’t have a choice. She came to him. He couldn’t leave until he built his dream R’th enough to float his sphere around the Dream Realm by his own power. Wasn’t yet strong enough to disconnect from her bridge.

But even if he had the strength and a glowing Dream Sphere to rival her own, he wouldn’t have moved. Would have done more; pulled her into his sphere and created fresh galaxies for her pleasure alone. Would have made her taste stars and embrace suns which for both brought suppressed memories of similar passions neither of them had ever experienced, could not fully remember, could not completely kill.

“The R’th spit a sword up at you,” Evermore said. “Tailored to kill me. That’s what you used, wasn’t it? Did you know it would set my Dream Sphere on fire?”

She looked up, hair covering one eye. “I knew nothing of R’th weapons until it delivered itself to me. How do you know…” She stopped. Understanding through blinking tears that no one ever considers themselves the villain.

“How I know the R’th will sometimes build a weapon tailored to kill a specific threat? Will deliver itself into hands best suited to use it? How I know it’s sentient? Names itself? Changes shapes? Seeds R’th in the back of your mind so you’re forever connected to it, always knowing its physical location?”

“Stop,” she said.

“Do you want to know its name?”


“Dreaming Ash. I didn’t pick it up. I left it in the dirt and walked away.”

She bowed her head.

And wept.

They sat together so intimately close, except for that sliver of space separating them by miles.

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