Chapter 42 - A Dark Romance
June 11, 1645
The Island of Djinn, Virlinn
Plenty of wars have always been fought over a woman...
Countless ships have sailed. Countless warriors have died. And countless amount of blood has been spilled on battlefields which turned grasslands or wheat fields into red. And all of these are for the love of one woman.
I guess some people would never understand the depth in which love can drive people, even Gods, to do things like start wars. Love is a rare emotion. When you feel it, it consumes your entire being. It blinds you to some things. It makes you do things you’d never do in a normal state.
Truly, love changes everyone...
And that is what happened to me.
I, Azrael, the God of Darkness fell in love...
It all happened thousands of years ago...
During one of the Summit of The Gods that King Rashad summoned every hundred years. I was there, as were all the other Gods. Of course, except Sylvan, the God of Darkness and Chaos who was exiled to the realm of Xathos.
A dark, evil-filled realm that once worshipped me.
And now, they worship the chaos that Sylvan brings.
My green eyes hardened to steel as those thoughts occupied my head. Xathos is mine. I am their patron God. I have blessed that realm for centuries. I have guided its citizens, shaped most of its lands, brought more magic into it and many more! I was the one who taught them how to fight! And how do they repay me? They turn over and worship another God!
I am Azrael. Though I am a minor god, and the God of Darkness, I found my purpose in Xathos! I did everything I can for that realm and now I am suddenly cast out? No! This can’t happen! The realm flourished under my guidance! And now Sylvan suddenly usurps my position?
I could not allow it due to many reasons! First of all, I wanted the added power and the sense of fulfilment that came with being worshipped. I am a God and I thrived on being worshipped by the citizens of Xathos. But now, all of it belongs to Sylvan.
Eight years ago, I amassed an army in Xathos to fight Sylvan. But the King said that someone reported to him that I was gathering an army to fight him and take the throne of Ilyia from him. And so he sent his then new commander of the Golden Army, Aiken, and the entire army to Xathos.
Without even asking for an explanation, they eliminated my people. They wiped away the last of my loyal followers...
Now, eight years later, during the first Summit since that humiliation, everyone still does not know the truth. They still look at me as though I am a traitor. And they look at Aiken as if he is a hero. As if he saved all of Ilyia by killing my loyal followers! Others look at me with pity. Pity for a minor God who thinks he can defeat one of the Primordial Gods and even become King.
I clenched my fist behind my back and made my way outside of the King’s Golden Palace. I cannot do anything to save my name. As much as I want to go in front to speak and tell them the whole story, I cannot.
For in their eyes, I am nothing but a traitor... Someone not even worth their time.
I walked and walked until a beautiful voice stopped me in my tracks.
“Somewhere over the rainbow...
Way up high...
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullabye...
Somewhere over the rainbow...
Skies are blue...
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true...”
Every note she sang was perfect. Her voice was so beautiful! It even rivalled that of a Celestian! She sang so beautifully that I even stopped in my tracks just to listen. I pressed myself against the wall and closed my eyes. And then I just let her beautiful voice wash away my sorrows...
“Ah... Damn it! I can’t do this! I can’t sing well enough like my mother! I’ll just end up embarrassing father in front of the whole summit!” the screams of frustration were followed by the sound of feet stomping on the grounds.
I heard her clear her throat and then she began singing again...
“And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on that same bright star...”
Then, I heard a long, drawn-out sigh.
“I just can’t do this.” I heard her say. Finally, I can’t take the mystery anymore. I opened my eyes and stepped away from the wall. I walked in the light of the sun and followed the direction of the beautiful voice.
I emerged in the gardens of the Golden Palace. Today is the first time I’ve seen it and truly, it was beautiful. But it was nowhere near as beautiful as the radiant figure in the middle of the garden.
She wore a long, white gown embroidered with gold. She was standing in the light of the sun and it made her brown hair look like it was spun from gold. She also had a glow from her skin. For a moment there, I truly considered her to be a Celestian, maybe here to provide entertainment for the Summit of the Gods.
But when I looked closer, I realized she is not a Celestian. She had her own power which radiated around her. She also had the ethereal beauty of a goddess.
And that was when I realized who I was staring at...
It was Selene... King Rashad’s daughter and the Princess of Ilyia.
My heart sank for I knew right then and there that I could not have her. She was too far out of my reach for I was only a minor God. I was not one of the primordial gods. I used to be proud of Xathos... But it isn’t mine anymore. So I really have nothing to offer.
Suddenly, her head whipped towards me and her eyes widened.
“Sorry... Princess... I did not mean to startle you. It was just that I heard your voice as I was walking and I simply couldn’t walk away. You sing very beautifully.” I commented with a small bow.
I walked closer towards her just to be able to gaze at her lovely features. She truly was beautiful like her mother Elune. She had her mother’s grace but she also had her father’s aura of power. She tilted her face towards me and frowened. Right then, I realized that she was a force to be reckoned with.
She was beauty and danger all mixed into one...
“I am Azrael, princess.” I introduced myself and bowed to her formally. When I straightened up, I stared at her again for I couldn’t take my eyes away from her. I smiled in a friendly manner and she started to smile to.
“Do you think that I will embarrass my father if I sing later?” she asked hesitantly.
I shook my head. “You will never embarrass him.”
After those words, she smiled again and her light glowed until I had to shield my eyes from it. She turned around and clasped her hands in her back.
“I’ll just keep on practicing then.” She told me with a smile that took my breath away.
“How old are you, princess?” I asked her.
“Sixteen.” She replied with an incline of her head. And after that, she started to sing once more...
That was the first day I met Selene.
And I would never forget that day for it was the day that my life changed forever. Because of her, I wanted to become better. I wanted to deserve the love of a princess. But even if she wasn’t a princess... Even if she was just an ordinary mortal, or a nymph... My feelings for her wouldn’t change.
After I met her, I found ways to go back to the King’s Golden Palace more and more often. I just wanted to see her and talk to her. And because I was in the palace often, the Gods talked again. They said that I was there to look for weaknesses in the King. They said I befriended the Princess to gain her trust and to also turn her against her father.
But I did not mind all those rumours. As long as I got to be with Selene, I was happy.
For the first time in years, I also forgot about reclaiming Xathos again. All my time centered on Selene. I truly wanted her. And this time, all my planning went towards having her as mine. All my dreams became about her. I wanted her and I dreamt that one day, we will become bonded.
Years passed and Selene and I became the very best of friends. I was always there for her and no matter what the rumours about me, she never believed them.
We even toured all of the Nine Realms and we had so much fun throughout the years. Because she was with me, time passed in the blink of an eye. During the times that the Princess was gone with me, there was talk that I kidnapped her.
But all this changed during the day of Selene’s 96th birthday.
I came to the palace with plenty of gifts under my arm. I was in a good mood today for it was Selene’s 96th birthday. I scoured the entire mortal realm just to get her these gifts. And I am pretty confident that she’ll love them.
Today is also a special day. For today, I will ask her father for her hand in marriage.
I reached the entrance of the Golden Palace and I saw a flash of white and gold before I was tackled to the ground. I heard Selene’s giggles as she let go of me and began digging through the parcels I brought.
“Sometimes I think you like me just because of the gifts I bring.” I teased. She flashed me the grin I loved so much and stuck out her tongue. Then it was replaced with the look of awe as she saw one of the bracelets I brought for her.
“It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Open the others.” I urged her.
She nodded and we both settled ourselves on the grass for she could not wait for us to go inside the palace to open her gifts. She opened them one by one and I was glad that I predicted it correctly. She truly loved her gifts.
Her smiles and her exclamations were ample payment for all the troubles I went through just to be able to find the best gifts for her.
“I am glad you liked them, Princess.” I told her.
She hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek. My heart stopped and then it jerked and restarted. And after that, it started beating very furiously inside my chest.
“Thank you, Azrael! You’re the best!” she shrieked.
I stood up and then helped her stand.
“I’ll find you later, Princess. I have to go talk to your father.”
She nodded, picked up her gifts and dashed off into the palace. I chuckled and shook my head while I walked to the King’s throne room.
I bowed to him as I approached and he nodded.
“What brings you here, Azrael?” he asked me. His voice held a tone that said that he did not trust me one bit.
I decided to avoid beating around the bush and just to answer him directly. “I love your daughter, your Majesty. She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I came her today to ask you for her hand in marriage.” I said slowly.
When I finished speaking, the King raised an eyebrow and then surprised me when he threw back his head and laughed. He pounded his fists on his golden throne while he continued laughing. I grit my teeth together and clenched my fists to avoid saying anything inappropriate.
“So the rumours were true then... You are very predictable, Azrael. They told me you were using my daughter against me. And now I know that you plan on using her further by marrying her.” He spat.
“No! It isn’t like that! I truly love her! I shall drink a truth potion and speak to you again of this so that you’ll know I am telling the truth!” I answered.
The King shook his head.
“And what does Selene feel about this marriage?” the King asked. He sounded as if he was stifling his laughter.
“She doesn’t know of it yet. I decided to ask you for her hand first.” I replied through gritted teeth.
Again, the King howled with laughter. He raised his hand and wiped tears from his eyes as he muttered something I could not understand.
I waited for him to calm down and awaited his answer. I kept my temper in check and stood there calmly.
“You’re really serious about this, then?” he asked.
“Yes, your highness. I am.” I answered with as much conviction as I could muster.
“Well then, the answer is no.” The King declared. I didn’t speak for a long time for I did not trust my temper not to burst. I really wanted to shout at the King but I doubt that would help my cause. It would only make his wrong judgement of me increase.
“Your majesty, I love Selene. I will give her the best I could. I will take care of her and I will be a good husband.” I said to him calmly.
“The answer is still no.” King Rashad replied. His eyes flashed with fire as he looked down at me.
“Why not?” I asked. It was one of the great mistakes I ever did.
“You are asking me why?” the King spat. I nodded.
“First of all, you are a minor God! What do you have to offer my daughter, eh? Second, you are a traitor! You have planned to take my throne. Third, I think that all of this is a lie just to be King! You are only using my daughter for your own selfish purposes!” the King bellowed.
I flinched from his words and I wasn’t able to stop myself.
“The army I amassed in Xathos all those years ago was to fight Sylvan! I wanted him out of there! I wanted Xathos for my own again! It was not to take the throne from you! If Aiken only listened to me, he would’ve understood. But like a true lapdog, he heeded your orders right to the last word!” I shouted.
The King shook with rage. “I have forgiven you for that yet you come here again and lie to my face. You will never have my daughter! She holds more power than you in her entire body! And I will not allow you to use her! You shall never be allowed to see her again. Never again!” the King bellowed and he waved his hand.
The doors to the throne room were suddenly opened. Another wave of his hand and I was violently thrown outside. Before I could say anything, the doors to the throne room were shut with a loud bang.
I quickly straightened myself and went off to find Selene.
I found her in the palace gardens and I quickly took her hand and placed it on my chest.
“Selene, run away with me.” I said breathlessly. A look of confusion crossed her beautiful features.
“W-what?” she whispered.
“I love you, Selene. I truly do. I have loved you ever since I saw you singing in the gardens. I truly love you and I am not using you for anything. When I am with you I forget all my troubles. Because of you, I even forgot my quest for vengeance on Sylvan and Xathos. You’re all I need, Selene. You’re all I want... Run away with me and become my wife...” I poured out all the contents of my heart in those words.
She reeled back from me as if I’ve slapped her. She stepped back and tears started to pool in her lovely eyes.
“B-but Azrael...” She whispered.
“What is it? We don’t have time! We should go now!” I exclaimed.
“I’m sorry. I can’t!”
“Why not?” once again I found myself asking that question. And like the first time I did, it was one big mistake.
“Azrael... You are my friend. I have loved you as a brother ever since. We had great adventures and I never believed what anyone said about you. But...” her voice trailed off and she looked away.
“But what?” I growled.
“I don’t feel the same way, Azrael... I’m so sorry... I have loved you as a friend and as a brother... But never anything more.”
The King’s words broke my pride...
But Selene’s words broke my heart...
“Selene... Please... Come with me now. I’ll give you everything you could ever want for! Maybe some other time you’d grow to love me too!” I pleaded. I even went down on my knees for her. She sobbed and then pulled me to my feet.
“Please don’t do this, Azrael!” she sobbed.
“Selene... Please... I can’t live without you. Come with me.” I confessed and begged
She shook her head. “I am sorry, Azrael. I can’t.” She replied softly.
“What does this mean? Do you love someone else?” I asked.
Her eyes widened with surprise and she quickly lowered her head.
“When I was only eight years of age, the day father gave Aiken the control over the Golden Army... That was the first day I saw him... There’s just something about him... Something I can’t explain. Every time I see him it’s as if I am being pulled towards him. It’s something I can’t explain...” She whispered.
“No!” I shouted.
“I’m sorry, Azrael. Maybe if I met you first?” she said with a smile even amidst the tears in her eyes.
“No! Selene, no!” I bellowed, my world crumbling around me.
Suddenly, I felt a change of power in the air. The temperature increased and the sun blazed brighter. When I looked towards the palace entrance, the King was standing there with a look of fury in his eyes.
“I told you to stay away from her!” he bellowed. The ground shook with his fury and I felt the heat increase further.
“Father, don’t!” I heard Selene shout to her father. Without warning, the King flung out his hand and a huge wave of flames engulfed me. I screamed in pain and then I felt that I was lifted into the air and thrown out of the castle.
That was the biggest humiliation of my life. And since that day, I’ve never been the same again.
After that, I met Argyll. And he offered to help me bring Ilyia down. I accepted his help and he asked me to name him the general of the Golden Army once I was king. He said that he was tired of being second to Aiken.
I vowed that I would never be humiliated again. I also vowed that I would gain the King’s throne. The rumors said that that was exactly what I was doing. It wouldn’t hurt if I actually did what was thought of me, right?
For years, I planned and conquered. I also failed many times but I didn’t allow my resolve to waver. One thing hasn’t changed though: I still wanted Selene.
And I did everything I could to have her. But she was only second on my agenda. The first was becoming King. If I am King, I could have her very easily. I tried to have her kidnapped but she always escaped.
And then over the years, I got tired of my failure. This time around, I truly succumbed to the darkness and turned against my own. I used my power to claim other gods’ powers and that was when I started to win battles against the King. That was the time when the tables started to turn.
Argyll told me to get the Silver Dagger, the only weapon, which could kill a God from the Ten Gods of Justice and that was what I did. I drew the powers of Gods and Goddesses I’ve captured. And when they were of no use to me anymore, I killed them and sent their essence back to the Cosmos.
I felt no remorse with their deaths for it is them who tarnished my reputation. They are the reason why I was branded as a traitor and my offer for marriage to the Princess was rejected by the King. Now, their tongues shall never wag again and their words will no longer have a power over me.
Over the years, I became a hardened shell. I kept my emotions deep inside me and lived only to reach my purpose: become King of Ilyia. But one day, my buried emotions returned to the surface.
I thought my heart was broken when Selene rejected me... But one event proved that it can break further until nothing was left.
And it was the day that I’ve heard word that Selene was about to be bonded to Aiken. What added salt to the wound was that rumors said that Selene and the God of Warriors was very much in love.
That day was my breaking point. The day of Aiken and Selene’s bonding ceremony, I wanted to go there and thrash everything! But I can’t for the magic that secured the Golden Palace was too tight! I can’t do anything!
I sat in my castle, helpless, while the woman I loved became bonded to another!
I never thought I’d be hurt again. But that day, the pain was so intense that for the first time in my entire existence, I cried. I cried and cried for the love I lost.
And after that, I called Argyll and told him to use his powers on me. I asked him to take away all other emotions until only fury and the need for vengeance was left. He obliged and he created the best version of me: one that had no feeling. No remorse, no mercy... A killing machine who only sought to reach his goal and become King of Ilyia.
One day, I heard that King Rashad chose to fade. It was said that he gave his throne over to Aiken. He gave Aiken the powers of the Sun and crowned him King of Ilyia. I hated Aiken because he was able to have Selene. And now, I hated him more because he became King.
And since then, I vowed that one day, I shall kill Aiken. I shall kill him and I shall become King. Then, I will take Selene and it shall be the best kind of revenge I can bestow upon them...
And I almost triumphed...
I captured Aiken and slowly drew his powers from him. He was so powerful that it took me a few days before I completely drained him. And then I sent Argyll to get Selene. And she was so predictable. She came running to rescue her husband!
She even had the audacity to fight me after everything we’ve been through. If I was still able to feel, I would’ve felt pain because of that. But no... I felt nothing else...
I almost triumphed but right at that moment, Selene chose to sacrifice herself to the Cosmos so that I would die...
I felt my essence slowly slipping away from me. The first thing that left my body was the power I have accumulated over the years from the other Gods and Goddesses. It left my body and I decided to direct it towards Argyll and give it to him so that he may continue what we both have started.
It was my goal but I couldn’t continue pursuing it...
I am to go back to the Cosmos but he can continue everything...
Before I finally slipped away, I chanced a glimpse at Selene. She was looking at Aiken with all the love in the world in her eyes. There was also a look of apology in those beautiful eyes.
And then before letting herself drift away, she looked at me.
Our eyes met and everything came flooding back. I remembered hearing her voice as she sang in the garden. I remembered our adventures on the Nine Realms. I remembered her look of rapture every time I brought her gifts.
Suddenly, it was as if a lock was broken and my feelings were released again.
All the love I had for her kept pouring back. And that love made me feel guilt over everything I’ve done. I killed my fellow Gods just to be King. Many lives were ended because of me... I caused all of this...
Tears pooled in my eyes again. But I didn’t close my eyes. I wanted Selene’s face to be the last I ever saw...
“I forgive you for everything, Azrael... Forgive yourself... And I hope you forgive me for this too...” she spoke in my mind.
And then she looked at Aiken once more and she fell onto the floor...
I wanted to shout my despair but I was so weak.
Selene was the only thing I ever wanted but I was not able to have her. She was the only thing that brought me joy and took away all my sorrows... But she belonged to another one...
And before I finally succumbed, I looked towards the heavens...
“Cosmos... I know I have made a grave mistake. I ask for your forgiveness for letting the darkness rule me... I know it’s too much to ask but please grant me another chance. A chance to start over...”
Then I remembered Selene’s words to me long ago:
“Maybe if I met you first...”
“If we’re given another chance... I hope that this time I get to meet her first. I want a chance to prove myself. I want a life devoid of my past wrongs... I want a chance to completely start over. I want a chance at loving her... And I hope this time I’d have it all...” I prayed to the Cosmos.
I felt the air change and I heard a voice inside my head.
“I will grant this wish. You shall have a new life... A chance to start over... But no one truly has everything. Some things are truly not fated to be yours... But I will give you this chance. And I hope you make the right choices this time... For now, come to me... It is time...” a soothing voice whispered.
And that was the last thing I heard before I completely faded away and my light went back to Cosmos...
And now... Look at me... Look at where I am today...
I am right back where I started.
It is true that I met Selene as Adrienne first in this life. I met her and she fell in love with me. Everything was perfect and in this life. I had a new face... A new body... A new personality. I had power, prestige and fame as the Captain of the King’s Guard in Amaranth. And I fell in love with Adrienne and she fell in love with me too. She has also agreed to become my wife. She loved me truly... But again, she was snatched away from me by Aiken, known as Seth, the King of Ivaris, in this life.
Once again, I was not allowed the one thing I’ve ever wanted.
But no worries... This life isn’t over yet. I just came back.
I just remembered everything.
I still have the chance to get her back...
“Azrael, are you ready? We shall be going to Ivaris now. We shall start our preparations for the war.” Argyll whispered.
I nodded to him.
“Ready to fight again, brother?” he asked.
“As ready as I’ll ever be...” I replied.
And with that, I released my power and both Argyll and I shot off into the heavens to fly towards Ivaris and prepare for the upcoming battle.
1. Selene first met Aiken when she was 8 years old. It was the day that King Rashad made AIken the commander of the Golden Army. King Rashad asked Aiken to lead his army and it was a mistaken report against Azrael. This was what Azrael was lamenting about. The King ordered his army killed because it was said that he wanted to take the throne. The truth is, it was a war with Sylvan that he wanted. (Chapter 20: The Sun and the Moon)
2. Selene met Azrael when she was sixteen.
3. Azrael asked for Selene’s hand in marriage to King Rashad when she turned 96. King Rashad rejected it. This was the time Azrael started to truly go bad. Other stuff that happened before were just falsely spread rumors.
4. Selene started to fall in love with Aiken when she was 98. This was the time when Aiken rescued her from being kidnapped by Argyll and Aiken was assigned to be her guardian. (Chapter 22: The Land of the Gods)
Just placed this little timeline here so that you guys won’t be confused. :)