All things must have a beginning; every journey starts with the first step taken. Some beginnings are a breath of new life, some a death instead. Some stories start upon a spoken word, others with a song or with a dance. This story, the very first of all stories, begins with nothing.
Nothingness, as beginnings, comes in many forms. There is the flat colorless nothing, the heavy and suffocating nothing, the nothing that is comfortable and soft. This story starts with none of these nothings. This nothing is deep and black and has only a feeling of loneliness. This nothing is blinding without brightness, deafening without sound. There is no up and no down, no joy and no suffering. This nothing is the worst kind of nothing.
There is no center of the nothingness because there is no end or edge of it to judge one by. The nothingness stretches on and on and time that passes within the nothingness is not marked by seasons nor by day and night. Time is nothing.
Time, alone in the nothing with no form and no soul, screams and cries into the nothing and makes no sound. It writhes and thrashes; it is chaos that causes no disturbance. It is nothing.
Time wants and wants for something to come of the nothing for so long that something does. Time is given a body, a soul, and the ability to feel. His skin is deep and dark, like the nothingness it was created from, and it is infinite within its limits as only divinity can be. His bones are strong and his will is even stronger; he will never break and he will never stop.
Time opens his eyes and they glow with his majesty, but what they see is nothing. He hears nothing, touches, tastes, smells nothing. He has nothing to do but exist, and so to occupy himself Time gives himself a name: Jularian. He likes the way it sounds and speaks it aloud until his lips and tongue grow tired and weak. He closes his eyes and he sleeps.
When Jularian opens his eyes he opens them onto nothingness. He repeats his name over and over again. And he sleeps.
Each time Jularian wakes he is greeted by the nothing. He says his name each wakeful moment until sleeping again. Eventually, Jularian grows tired of this and is silent. Soon after he stops saying his name, he forgets it. His body, with all its senses, hates the nothing even more than he had hated it before. To see nothing hurts his eyes. To hear nothing hurts his ears. To smell nothing hurts his nose. To taste nothing hurts his mouth. The confines put on his mind by his own wishes to have form crack under the strain of his misery, and he begins to scream again, furious at the nothingness for causing him such pain.
In the deep darkness of the nothing, after Jularian has fell into silence again, three tears fall from his violet eyes and form into three goddesses, created of the essence of his emotions. Hopeful at the prospect of company, Jularian decides to name each girl.
The first he calls Rahlei and he gives her his pain. She wears it as dark lines cutting through the paleness of her skin, and as an eeriness in her silver eyes. Jularian's pain runs rampant all throughout his body, and so Rahlei's hair is long and wild and black just as her marks. Her eyes are large that she may better see where best to hurt, her features delicate and beautiful that she may disguise herself as just a girl.
The second goddess Jularian calls Citeo and he gives her his madness. She wears it as a blue and brown pattern over her body. Jularian's insanity is muted with the misery that caused it, yet severe in its completeness, and so Citeo's hair is a dull brown but so straight it must surely have an edge. Her eyes are small and overly bright and her smile stretches over her face always, for she has no cares.
The third goddess Jularian calls Cyrepine and he gives her his anger. She wears it as deep red skin, with eyes to match. Jularian's fury burns his insides, and so Cyrepine's hair is bright and hot. Her bones are sharp and strong and her eyes are fierce: they do not miss a thing and they do not forget.
The three goddesses torture Jularian as their gifts had tortured him before they took each into themselves. They use him as he used them to hold the things of himself he could carry no longer. And yet, he revels in their touch, lets them do as they will to his body and to his mind and to his soul, and he gives them any pleasure they demand of him.
Soon, all three goddesses feel life in their bellies. They each grow heavy with child in tandem with one another. Rahlei's child comes first. He has dark skin like his father, pale eyes like his mother - paler. His ears are long and their tips come to a point in two places. He is quiet and serious, and the blood from his birth sinks into his skin. Rahlei names him Aeon, and he blinks his bright eyes away from her to land his gaze solidly on Cyrepine and his younger brother is born under his power.
Cyrepine's son is dark like his father as well with long ears like his brother's with one point, but when he opens his eyes they are a shock of lively green. His mother gasps in surprise and he laughs. She cocks her head to the side, wonders at his strangeness, and names him Lir.
Aeon turns his eyes on Citeo, and the third brother is born. He has his father's skin like the others, but also eyes similar to Jularians - almost purple but lighter, and with a warmth that does not burn. His ears come to a point too, but they are not long. He clings to his mother, looks on her with adoration. She gnashes her grinning teeth in appreciation of his love, and names him Aim.
Father and mothers love their children and the children love their parents. Aim lavishes attention on the women, adores them and shows them his affection easily. Lir is happy and cheerful and his laughter is contagious to all. Aeon stays separate from the rest but keeps his eyes on them always, unblinking. His gaze is heavy and it begins to crush them until they all bleed from their eyes and ears. The blood flows through the nothingness and mixes all together, and under Aeon's power it forms into another god.
This new god's skin is pale like Rahlei's, though it is gently kissed by a soft goldenness that she is lacking, unmarked and smooth and perfect. His eyes are green, like Lir's, with dashes here and strikes there of a deep indigo blue. His hair is long like Rahlei's but smooth like Citeo's and bright like Cyrepine's. It falls over his shoulders and obscures his face as he dips his head in shyness, and instead of his features they see two small tan horns on the top of his head. Aeon tells the others that this god's name is Bel.
Jularian takes one look at Bel and feels an urge to create that he has never known before. He roves his eyes over the nothing all around him and says to himself that something would look much better there. He gestures expansively, his arms encompassing all of the assembled whatever their distance from him. Rahlei, Citeo, Cyrepine, Aeon, Lir, Aim, and Bel gather all around Jularian and he tells them they should make a place to live.
"But we already live here," they say. "What is wrong with this place?" Only Bel agrees that something better could be. Together the two pull together as much something from the nothing as they can get and they pack it all into a neat ball. They smooth the ball here and rough it there until it meets with their satisfaction.
"It will need a name," Bel says, but before Jularian can find one the ball they made shrivels and dies and only dust is left. Jularian is heartbroken. His tears fall down and mix with the remains of his failed creation, making it muddy and sticky, but also giving it life. It bubbles and writhes until it becomes a beautiful woman and stands defiantly, with no gratitude and no humility.
Her skin is a deep black, darker than Jularian's, darker even than the nothing all around them. Her hair is a deeper color still. It falls about her shoulders and shines ominously with its blackness. Her face is round and soft, but unmistakably proud. Her lips are plump, dry and cracked and bleeding black blood sluggishly. Her eyes are big and would make her look innocent and inviting were they not just as dark and unfathomable as the rest of her body. The air around her is cold and unforgiving, and with a shiver Jularian names her Sekarhi.
Sekarhi watches uninterestedly as Jularian and Bel try again to make a place for them to live. They gather up all they can from the nothing and press it together into a ball, smooth it here and rough it there until they are satisfied. With a stifling kind of silence, Sekarhi gives Jularian a pitying look, bends at the waist, and brushes her lips against what they have made. It crumbles under her kiss and dies. She steps back and watches with a smirk as they stubbornly try again.
The more times this happens the more upset Jularian becomes. Cyrepine is drawn by his anger and takes a place beside Sekarhi. Jularian's frustration heats her insides and her skin tingles with his rage. Rahlei is drawn by Jularian's grief and she stands on Sekarhi's other side. The two goddesses are curious about their new sister. Cyrepine slips a hand into Sekarhi's and the two women curl their fingers together. Cyrepine's touch burns, and Sekarhi's bites with cold. Rahlei drags her sharp nails down Sekarhi's arm and cuts through the skin. Sekarhi's black blood stains the tips of her pale fingers.
When next Sekarhi steps forward to kiss Jularian's creation to death, her wound drips on it before her lips can descend. The surface of the dusty ball convulses, and where the rough patches are trees and mountains sprout and the smooth parts become deep chasms, expanses of potential waiting to be filled by some new thing.
One by one the gods and goddesses step onto the earth Jularian and Bel have created, and one by one they see that the trees are tall and the mountains are awesome and the smooth places are vast. The gods wander around and explore their new home, and when they come to the tallest tree on all of the earth there is a child waiting for them there. His skin is the same dusty brown of the earth, his hair and eyes as well. He glares up at Jularian. His lower lip is sticking out and his arms are firmly folded. He turns his head sharply away with a huff, and then shrinks down into a tiny sapling. He is the only dash of green in the world's brownness. Smiling indulgently at this new god's petulance, Jularian names him Daeik.
Jularian then turns to his companions and requests that they each make a growing thing to add color to the world. Gladly, each one sets to work. From the soft skin on the palms of his hands and his sweet breath, Aim makes a beautiful deep red flower with an intoxicating smell whose petals curl around each other in layers like an embrace. The stem is dark green, hard, and has small thorns so that none can disturb the intimacy of its bloom. He names it Virya.
With help from Rahlei and her nails, Lir shaves off gently curled strips of white from his teeth. He places them together, circling around each other until they form a small bud. He plucks the strands of grass growing around Daeik and braids them together until they are just strong enough to hold up his flower. He names it Rikse.
With tears, blood, and dirt, Jularian makes light red ruffled petals that crowd together. He pinches them into shape between two fingers and a thumb and the edges are ragged where his clay runs out unevenly in his hands. He makes a little green bowl to hold together the densely packed petals and attaches a strong stem to the bottom of it. He names his flower Kera.
Cyrepine rips out a clump of her hair. She folds the bundle in half and then ties it together in the middle. The top half fans out and the bottom droops toward the ground. Cyrepine makes her flower a strong stem from bark that she strips from the surrounding trees. She admires the yellow flower's brightness, and names it Pel.
Citeo laughs wickedly into her cupped hands and in her palms deep purple-blue petals unfurl around sharp lighter blue spikes and a sickly yellow center. Prickly vines curl over her fingers and wrap around her wrists, making her skin raw and itchy. Her mismatching eyes flash in pride, and she names her flower Mavi.