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Underworld

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Will became the physical manifestation of Nature itself, cruel and benevolent in equal measure. His own true nature did not manifest of its own accord, although given enough time, it might have. He began his life as most life begins; innocent. He was a heartfelt gift to the world from a void that for so long seemed to be heartless and apathetic. Born in a meadow from fresh flower petals, he existed to provide balance against pain, cold, and death, and life began to flourish in his presence. By his mere existence, he provided this balance, and eventually humans were able to grow clever and powerful enough to completely tip the balance in their own favor.

There was also a balancing darkness within himself. Will's body was the light to the natural world, and his own nature cast a shadow. It showed on his face more and more as life went on, as he grew bored with the happiness of others while discontent grew within himself. There were those who worshipped him and drank to him; they usually called him "Persephone" or "Demeter". Those prayers began to dwindle, as they have never encountered a cold or dry spell, because people are forgetful when life is good. Often he was pursued. So gorgeous was he that the very air around him seemed to emanate a rosy light. His beauty caught the attention of men and women of every occupation, age, and status. However, his only friends were the woodland animals, and his family was the wind and fruits and plants. He quickly tired of the company of mortals, he reclused himself, and he became as famous for his bristling abrasiveness as he was for his beauty and gifts.

Despite having no royal blood or monetary wealth, Will was the perfect image of a prince to every mortal who saw him, for he was a god. It would seem wrong somehow for him to be without a crown, so he often returned to the meadow where he had come into existence to pick flowers to weave into a flower crown. This particular meadow is the only one he knew of that grew daffodils, his favorite flower. Each time his flower crown began to whither, which took far longer placed on his head than it would on any other head, he made another, and so it was for many years. One warm and perfect morning, which most days were for every day of the year, his life changed forever.

This day, he leaves his home of sticks through a circular tunnel created by deer through the deep brush, and heads towards a valley a few miles away. He makes a habit of moving from place to place in order to avoid the people who hear of him and come hunting. However, this particular valley he is visiting today happens to be the same valley that he woke up in for the first time. It was here that he began to learn who he was. It will probably be the valley he will die in, if ever he will die. Flower seeds are sewn into each bare footstep he touches upon the soil. A year would pass an area that he had visited and travelers would marvel at the colorful tiny wildflowers that sprouted in a human gait in the outline of feet. As he nears the meadow, he sees his old footprints from the last time he was there, and the ones from the time before which had expanded themselves further.

A particularly vivid and brilliant white patch of daffodils catches his attention, and as he steps near, he senses eyes. His neck prickles as he looks around for the source of his unease. He is beginning to scan the dark overhanging leaves of the forest on the edge of the meadow, when he spots movement to the corner of his sight in the tall grass and flowers in front of him. It is a child, and she watches him intently with dark eyes. She had been picking daffodils and setting them in a neat pile to the side. Her small and unasuming form is deceitful, for he can tell that she is a survivalist. There is something in those wide blue eyes that lack childlike innocence, and her body is tensed to fight, not to flee. Will might have turned tail as he usually does when a mortal invades his space, but she does not seem to be there to stalk him. Rather, she seems to think that this is HER space, not his.

"You're trespassing," Will states. "Leave."

"Excuse you?" she replies. "This is an open meadow. You leave."

She doesn't seem to be the type to back down. Will isn't the type either.

He sighs with annoyance. "I'm a god. If you don't leave my meadow, I'll curse you and you're entire family for eternity."

"Liar," she accuses flatly.

He glares at her. "I do not lie."

"Something a liar would say. If you're not lying, prove it."

"You want me to curse you? I'll do it." He hasn't any clue whether gods can actually curse.

"Show me that you're a god. It seems doubtful. Gods are supposed to behave more benevolently, aren't they?" She questions suspiciously.

He suddenly notices that she grips a knife, slightly hidden behind her hip. Then his eyes are drawn to satin black fur and small sharp hooves poking from beneath her white gown. She is a satyr, not a human.

"Only to those who deserve it," he says with a glower. "You're a trespasser. Those footprint flowers over there? They're mine."

"I've always wondered about that," she says, but her tone remains unimpressed. She looks him up and down, then states, "I'm not leaving. You have no right to make me leave when I was here first, and I'm simply picking flowers. I did not know that flower picking comes with permission. If you're really a god on earth, can't you act a little less angry that others live here as well? Besides, it's not like gods are forced to stay in the mortal world."

Will is irritated, mostly because he's never been to any other realm but this one, and even if he could leave, he wouldn't. THIS is his home, and it always has been. How dare she imply that he leave? However, she has a point that sticks into the logical part of his brain, so he yields to her victory.

"I, uh, came here to pick daffodils. If you don't mind." Picturing her as being no more than a rabbit, he decides to ignore her presence.

"I won't stop you," she says to deaf ears.

He sits in the middle of the daffodils that he had picked out when he first arrived at the meadow. After several minutes of silence, the only sound being Will plucking stems, the girl shows barely any sign of relaxation and she still grips the knife. Will eventually tires of being suspiciously and covertly watched.

"If you're going to just sit there and stare, you might as well go, after all," he says with gruff annoyance.

Her eyes quickly dart away. "I wasn't staring!"

He raises an eyebrow at her pile of flowers. "You've been half-heartedly fiddling with the same plant the whole time."

She looks down at the stem in her fingers. "Who's been staring?" she says to his further annoyance. A few more moments go by while she pretends to care about whatever she's working on. Will shakes his head, sighs loudly, and quietly curses mortals under his breath. He scratches a small hole in the stem of a daffodil with his nail, and pulls the stem of another through it. He hears the girl mutter "so rude for a god..." and he rolls his eyes.

Finally deciding to break the tense silence again, for whatever reason that he fails to pinpoint, he says, "you know, those flowers." He feels like he's bragging but doesn't care. "They wouldn't exist if I didn't visit here as often as I do." He has no idea why he's trying so hard, but the small swell of pride feels good.

"Hm," she sniffs. "So they belong to you. I think a good god would choose to share their gifts with the world. Any good being would do that, as a matter of fact."

"Isn't that what I'm doing?" he says. Then adds, "what is it that you share with the world?"

"Giving company to bitter, salty hermits."

He gapes, affronted. "I am no hermit! I choose not to engage in the company of others. All you ever do is plague me with terrible thoughts!"

She squints her face in a baffled smile, laughs, and says, "what?"

Will simmers for a few moments in silence, but eventually begins to realize that he may be sounding a bit ridiculous.

In an attempt to clarify himself, he mutters, "I'm an empath, and simply being near someone else can invite their unwelcome feelings into my heart."

She looks at him, surprised. "Oh," she says, and leaves it at that, but Will can tell that now she is wondering about him.

They go back to their activities, and Will begins to feel a bit of guilt about his rough attitude towards this stranger. She has such large eyes, and looks so fragile. Even her hooves look like they could break if caught under a tree root. This feeling is his alone, he is sure. Still, he blames, "this is what I'm talking about. Feeling crappy right now."

"Jeez!" she has loosened the knife, apparently starting to feel bad for him now. "Have you got issues?"

He rolls his eyes. "YES, I do, thanks." He knows he's being an ass now. "Sorry."

"Pardon?" she says, shocked.

He glances at her with his eyebrows raised, says "sorry", and looks down again.

His familiar creeping lonliness grows stronger at this particular moment of remorse, and he awkwardly attempts to engage his company in conversation. "Not used to company. I guess because of that, I haven't met many people. Not much of a variety. You seem different, which is good."

She regards him a bit haughtily, but it seems some of the coldness might have melted between them.

"Abigail," she says.

"Huh?" Will replies.

"My name is Abigail. Nice to meet you?"

"Uh, sure. I'm Will." He allows a small smile, and she returns it.

"So," Will says, carefully choosing another daffodil, "are you a regular to this meadow?"

"This is my first time here," she responds, and her interest is clearly piqued by Will's crown-making ability. She tries putting a couple of flowers together the same way as him.

Noticing her struggle, he holds his up. "Want to learn?"

She shrugs, and says "Um, just how do I get it started?"

The lonliness retreats, which is a good thing that Will likes, and they keep talking.

 

The sun moves across the sky between the cloud cover, as the two visitors in the meadow enjoy the light breeze and swirling winged insects. Will learns that her name is Abigail, and they warm up to eachother's company throughout the entire afternoon. He finds that after remaining isolated for so long, he rather enjoys speaking to another. The sun takes its steady descent to the horizon. When the tips of the tree's shadows on the edges of the clearing have stretched themselves almost to their feet, Abigail looks down silently, troubled.

"Is there something wrong?" Will asks.

"You'd better leave right now."

"What? Was it something I said?" Will knew the time to say their goodbyes was near, but he did not expect such abruptness.

"I...should tell you. Leave before the sun sets." Her voice is quivering slightly.

He stays in his spot, questioning. She looks up and their eyes meet directly. She has such wide eyes, and they are filled with troubles. "Leave if you don't want my father to come back here and kill you, just like he kills every friend I've ever made."

Will feels a bolt of shock strike through him. He stays rooted in place, mouth agape. Of course, a voice in his head tells him. Mortals do nothing but betray. "Your father...kills your friends?" He stands up in slowly dawning horror. "Were you...baiting me?"

"Just go!" she shouts. She's fighting trembles. "You're...unique. You deserve better than becoming some common creature's dinner."

Will is smart enough to not continue questioning the warning, especially with the last of the sun about to go below the line of trees. His heart pounding, he retreats backwards a few steps, and just as he turns to leave, he hears Abigail scream his name and a pair of hooves thundering upon the ground. He leaps forward and gets into a good run before daring to glance behind. A huge shadowy beast with massive antlers is bearing down upon him, and an arrow zips past his ear, piercing the air where his face had been a second before. It embeds itself in the ground nearby and Will changes course for it. He can feel the satyr's breath behind him, blowing into his hair, as he nears the arrow.

Excrutiating pain shoots through Will's shoulder, and he feels caught like a fish on a hook, unable to run any further. Feeling the pain continuing to burrow through his shoulder, he looks down at the red spike tearing through the front of his outfit, emerging from the front of his shoulder. The satyr hauls Will off his feet, letting him hang briefly from the antler tine, and Will sceams in agony. He then tosses him to the ground, the tine slipping from the hole it created. Will reaches his good arm forward for the arrow, wraps his fingers around the feathered end, and feels dirty red hands attempt to drag him up by his clothes. He doesn't relinquish his grip, so the satyr tugs harder, and the arrow comes unearthed as Will is stood on his own feet. Will finds himself facing a gaunt face with dead eyes and a haunting, black-mouthed grin. A drop of blood drips from the antler that had impaled Will and lands on his cheek. Eyes like open windows, Will stares into him and feels his inky blackness seeping into his soul. Filled with a quiet anticipation that Will doesn't believe stems entirely from his own self, Will breaks all hesitation and drives the satyr's own arrow into his heart. They both crumple to the ground, and when Will turns his face to the satyr, their eyes meet once more. Will gets the insane impression that the satyr is a reflection of himself.

"See? See?" he whispers at Will, and dies with a ghostly grin frozen on his face.

Shaken, Will needs a moment before he remembers Abigail, and he looks over. In the middle of the clearing, a dead body lies, and Will's heart feels squeezed by a vice. He stumbles to the body, half crawling over it to look at the face. It isn't Abigail, he is relieved to see, but it was a girl who had looked just like her. He sees a dress like hers fluttering out of sight, and he hopes she will be safe. He lies upon the ground, too weak to do anything but breathe. The rush of what he has just done ebbs to a slow pulse. Will feels darkness coming over him. He no longer has enough conscious thought left to tell whether it's the kind of darkness from inside his own head or from the growing night outside, and then it envelops him completely and he blacks out.