Two men stood in mid-air, facing each other above layers of sparse clouds, illuminated by the gentle colors of a setting sun.
“Brave of you to come”, spoke the first man, and his words slithered through the air like shadows stretching as the sun falls. He was garbed in tendrils of darkness, wrapped around him like dark snakes and unfazed by the setting sun’s rays, as if to challenge them.
The second man laughed before he spoke, and his laughter filled the air like the heat of flames would fill a furnace. This man was dressed in silken white robes, his long blond hair floating with the wind, and his eyes were green like the verdant jungles.
“One world is not big enough for the both of us, Madred. You know this, and so do I; why delay the inevitable?”
The shadow man snickered. “Time is a mortal constraint, Phaethon; and yet, you have become so awfully enamored by it. You abide by its passing as if the endless years are more than mere drops in the ocean.”
“You are a fool”, the sun god laughed again. “Nothing is limitless; little by little, even dew drops can form an ocean.”
But in response to the sun god’s loud laughter, the god of shadows sneered, and his wicked smile was filled with malice. “You speak of fools, and yet it is you who tries to trick me. You cannot escape my eyes, Phaethon. Your soul is burdened by mortal concerns and now, more than ever, I can see that; as clearly as the ball of divine fire you claim to serve.”
The blond man’s eyes were inscrutable, his face was still, and he did not reply. Madred continued.
“What attachment have you formed to the mortal world, oh god of the sun? Is it that little new immortal, the one they call Flood Bringer? Insignificant he is, and human. His years will pass like dust is carried away by the wind, until he too becomes dust. Is that young yet crumbling man your lingering attachment, then? Have you fallen so far? Or is it something more,” he smiled crookedly, and his treacherous eyes shone with triumph as he savored the word, “intimate?”
The sun god snorted, and his eyes were hard; gone was his laughter, gone was his patience. He took a step forward and as he did he grew, shedding the limitations of the world, convoluting the material and immaterial. The mortal senses become meaningless around gods.
No longer was this god a man.
His robes were now made of hope and the hearth’s warmth; his hair carried the morning sunlight, his eyes the safety of home and a lover’s embrace, and his gait brought with it the roar of fire as it burns through cinder, the patches of happiness that are survival. He was heat and fire, he was the peacefulness of spring’s first wind, he was the flowers blooming, he was a mother’s love.
He was life.
The sun god raised his arm and sunlight gathered around it, forming a lance of pure heat. “The arc of the world bends towards light. You will perish”, he spoke again, and now his words were commands that even the heavens would not dare disobey.
The god of shadows also took a step, and he too was unshackled by the forces that bound the world to its form. He enlarged and deepened, and his eyes were pain and violence, his form carried the need to feast and breed, the unrelenting battle that was life. He was truth, brutality, and strength, he was a father’s strictness, he was hatred and hunger, he was despair and envy and selfishness.
He was survival.
Two curved daggers appeared in his hands, like bloody tongues made of the world’s struggle. “Your gift will not survive, Phaethon. After you perish, it is that which I shall slay.”
The sun god roared in rage as he rushed forth, light and darkness colliding. The world shuddered, quaked, and retreated, the clouds vanished and the sky cracked. The massive continent below shook with the force of a world almost getting ripped apart.
Almost. And yet, it did not.
One god died, and the other was gravely injured; he fell into the continent below, sealing himself away as he slumbered for centuries. And so he remained, trapped in a tomb of his own making.
Until, finally... He stirred.