Once upon a time, a god with no name fell in love.
Love. A brutal fate. I pitied this god who fell prey to the lies, who damned himself with Love.
The nameless god dedicated his life to his love. He created plants to please his lover. Magnificently tall trees with bright red, sweet fruits, flowers soft as clouds, and as bright as the yellow sun at midday. He didn’t just create flora. He created Peace and Wisdom and told his lover to do with them what he wished, for he trusted his lover implicitly.
That was the problem, you see. His lover was not to be trusted with such gifts. His lover was Darkness, his lover was Evil, and his lover was Death. He was the god who decided when to take a life. He was the god lurking in the corner licking his lips and palming his crotch as men beat their wives and abandoned souls slit their wrists.
The nameless god couldn’t see the Evil god’s flaws. It mattered not how his siblings warned him, or what methods they developed to keep him away from the Evil god. None of the other celestial beings in the realm trusted or liked the Evil god, and they couldn’t fathom how the nameless god could stand to be in his presence for very long.
The Evil god lived in the farthest reaches of the realm, across a boundless meadow in the heart of a treacherous, acidic forest where naught but the vilest of creatures could survive. Demented hybrid creatures - a mix of snakes and panthers called the Sublime Ones - guarded the Evil god’s palace. Blood-drinking flowers and vines twined over the walls of the palace. The only colors permitted in the realm were black, sickly green, and lifeless gray. Except for the fruit of course. Brilliant red berries like drops of blood hung from bushes, and vibrant green apples and royal purple plums dangled from the trees, juicy and tempting.
Unfortunately, none of it was edible. Every fruit in the venomous forest was poisonous, unsurprisingly. Some caused hallucinations of your deepest desires, trapping you in an unbreakable fantasy until you died of hunger or thirst. Some turned your bones to ash. And some had seeds that took root in your stomach, eventually punching through skin and bone and slowly, ever so slowly, paralyzing and killing the victim, who upon death would look no different than one of the many fruit-bearing trees scattered across the land, tempting others to join them in their fate.
The Evil god had been born in this lifeless, twisted land. He taught himself how to survive there, and eventually created his palace in its heart. When he first emerged from the forest and met the other gods, they shied away from him, from the fear that his very presence caused, and the sick attraction they felt for him.
Yes. The Evil god was uncomfortably beautiful. Long hair like black silk flowing to his waist, skin like porcelain, eyes as red and liquid as freshly spilled blood on pure white snow. He was lithe and moved seductively without even intending to. It was hard to look away from him.
Knowing that he was new to the world, a few brave gods attempted to welcome the Evil god, unaware of what he was created for. They introduced him to the others and showed him the rest of the realm. They showed him their glittering white, gold, and blue palaces, their vibrant gardens, and their edible fruits. They invited him to a gathering of the gods where brothers and sisters embraced each other, lovers tended to one another, and fathers and mothers kissed their children. It was a gathering of Love, Light, and Life.
And the Evil god was intensely, horribly, monstrously jealous. He didn’t understand why these gods were born into such paradise, while he had been coughed up into the realm’s dumpster. And though the gods were initially kind to him, when they discovered where he was from, he was grabbed by the hair and tossed back to his empty, venomous hell.
The nameless god was the only one who disagreed with this treatment. He sympathized with the Evil god, and his heart ached at his beauty. Knowing that the other gods would try to stop him, the nameless god snuck away in the night and entered the venomous forest. He wanted to talk to the Evil god, to bring him back to his paradise, and convince the other gods that he was worthy of living among them.
A noble goal, certainly. But one doomed by fate, by the universe itself, to fail.
The nameless god stumbled through the venomous forest. He was tripped by oily black vines, stalked by shadow creatures with bulbous, misshapen silhouettes, and pushed into inky green water that burned his skin. But he kept going, kept pressing on through the dangerous forest, thinking only of the eerily beautiful Evil god, and how haunted and sad those blood-red eyes had been as the other gods banished him from paradise.
He couldn’t help sobbing when he thought about the Evil god growing up here, in this heartless, abandoned wasteland. He cried, and his tears became precious gems as they fell from his cheeks, landing with soft thumps against the ground. A trail of beauty lay in his wake, shining and magnificent against the reeking soil.
Finally, the nameless god could go on no longer. He was tired. He was starved, he was thirsty. He felt hollow like something had scooped out his insides and gobbled them up. He collapsed at the base of a large, sleek, black rock that screamed as he rested against it with the agonized voices of damned souls. But he couldn’t find the strength to lift his head and give them peace.
As his vision was dimming, unconsciousness about to claim him, a shadow stepped into his line of sight. He blinked weakly, a shred of survival instinct hissing at him to get up, but he couldn’t move. His heart rate slowed dangerously, but just before he lost the battle and fell prey to sleep, he saw a pair of glowing red eyes looming before him.
When he awoke, he was warm. He was resting on a soft bed, a blanket was pulled up to his chin, and his many wounds were cleaned and bandaged. The Evil god sat next to the bed, waiting for him to wake. He gave the nameless god water and food that tasted like ash and told him to leave his domain immediately.
Dumbfounded, the nameless god refused. Now that he had finally met the Evil god once more, he wouldn’t give up on his mission so easily. He told the Evil god he wanted to bring him back to paradise and told him he would help convince the other gods that the Evil god was not evil.
Foolish. It was a fool’s errand, and the Evil god told him so. But the nameless god would not give up and refused to leave the Evil god’s palace until he agreed.
Though annoyed, for some reason the Evil god tolerated the nameless god’s presence but told him that once he was fully healed, he would have to leave. The nameless god decided that he would just have to convince the Evil god before that time came.
He followed the Evil god all over the palace. When he could find him, anyway. The palace was a twisting, ever-changing labyrinth of corridors that the nameless god simply could not navigate without the Evil god. The Evil god ignored his presence as much as possible, but the nameless god was particularly good at being annoying, and the Evil god often found himself snarling at him, which only seemed to make the nameless god breathless with joy. He was ecstatic to get a reaction, any reaction, out of the stone-cold god.
Eventually, drained from the constant presence of the nameless god, the Evil god gave up on trying to avoid him. He was unused to talking to other people. It was exhausting.
As they spent more time together, the nameless god became irrevocably infatuated with the Evil god. He fell in love with the Evil god’s strange mannerisms, his beauty, even his anger. He soon realized that he could not leave the Evil god. When the time came that his wounds healed, he would not be able to part with him. It would feel like cutting off a limb.
But every day, his cuts and bruises faded more and more. The broken arm he sustained fighting off a shadow creature was mending. Soon he wouldn’t have any excuse to stick around.
Now panicked at the thought of leaving the beautiful, depressed Evil god, the nameless god confessed one night as the Evil god was changing the bandaging on his broken arm.
“I love you,” he’d said, breathing the words out like a prayer, watching the Evil god’s face carefully, but it never changed, remaining blank with a hint of annoyance.
“Love?” he said. “What is that?”
True, Love was relatively new to the gods, just as everything was new. And for the Evil god, who lived in a wasteland, completely alone, it was even more unknowable.
“It is what I feel for you,” the nameless god explained. “It means that…that I would do anything for you. Anything to see you smile.”
The Evil god, who had never once in his life smiled, raised an eyebrow at the nameless god. “Smile? Why would I do that?”
“Because something has made you happy.”
Even more confused, the Evil god ignored the nameless god, retying his bandages rather roughly. “Sleep now. You will be well enough to leave tomorrow.”
He left, and the nameless god cursed himself for blurting that out so indelicately. But he couldn’t help it. It was how he felt, and he wanted the Evil god to know it. He fell into a restless sleep, desperate to make the Evil god understand, to make him see how much the nameless god loved him.
But the Evil god did not come to see him after that. No matter how the nameless god searched the shifting hallways, he could not find him – and he could not find his room again either. When night fell once more, he curled up against a wall to rest and woke up in the morning to the Evil god standing over him with his arms crossed, unimpressed.
A bit sheepish, the nameless god hurriedly stood. The Evil god had told him time and time again not to leave his room without him. He could end up walking the halls forever, lost.
“It’s time to go,” the Evil god said. “You’ve healed. I have a way for you to leave the forest safely. Follow me.”
The nameless god wanted to protest, but the Evil god was already moving, and the nameless god had to scramble to keep up or be swallowed up by the halls.
The Evil god took him to the lowest level of the palace, a dimly lit basement with dirt floors and a few flaming torches attached to the walls. In the center of the basement, a circle was cut out of the floor and filled with shimmering, silver water. The Evil god beckoned the nameless god over to the edge of the pool.
The nameless god hesitated, however. Something about the pool was very off-putting. Though beautiful, it seemed to have an aura of danger. Although, the Evil god was also beautiful and dangerous at the same time, and somehow the nameless god was in love with him, so he swallowed his unease and drifted to the Evil god’s side.
The pool’s surface was so incredibly still and reflective that it was like looking into a mirror. The nameless god peered down at his reflection – and gasped. His own reflection stared back at him, but the reflection of the Evil god, who stood just to his left, was nowhere to be seen. The nameless god looked at the Evil god at once, just to make sure he hadn’t vanished without him noticing.
The Evil god was still there, giving him a bored look.
“The water does not reflect me. No water does. Nor do mirrors,” he said.
The Evil god shrugged, but he would not meet the nameless god’s eyes. “I do not know.”
How curious, the nameless god thought. And how sad, that the Evil god cannot witness his own beauty.
“Jump in,” the Evil god said. “It will take you to paradise.”
“What? How?” the nameless god breathed, looking at the water with fascination.
The Evil god shrugged again, stepping away from the pool. “I don’t know that, either. But I do know that it will make you very weak. When you emerge, you may not remain conscious, but it’s important that you stay awake at all costs as you are traveling through.”
The nameless god gave the water a wary stare. “What will happen if I don’t?”
“What else?” The Evil god sighed. “You’ll drown, stupid. Now go, before I kick you in.”
The nameless god didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay here with the Evil god. Sure, he missed his siblings, but he knew they were safe. The Evil god was in danger here, in this cursed realm. The fact that he’d managed to survive this long was a miracle.
“Will you not come with me?” he asked, desperate. “You are too beautiful, too sweet, to remain in this cursed land. I will convince my family to let you stay in paradise.”
The Evil god scowled but hesitated. He’d only spent half a day in paradise before he’d been tossed out like trash, but he remembered how warm it had been. He remembered being amazed that he could walk the well-tended paths and not fear flesh-eating plants nipping at his ankles or snakes dropping on his head from the trees. He had wanted to stay. More than anything, he’d wanted to stay where it was bright and warm and safe.
But he knew he would never be able to stay there peacefully. He didn’t belong there.
“You ate one of the cherries on your journey here, didn’t you?” the Evil god asked, inexplicably.
“I did,” the nameless god replied, confused. After hours of trekking through the forest, he’d been unable to resist the lure of the cherries he spotted on a tree nearby. They looked just like the cherries he ate all the time in paradise, except brighter, juicier. He was so very hungry. He plucked one, just to taste.
And it had barely hit his tongue before he vomited, heaving so hard something ruptured, and he spat up blood into the grass, which drank it up eagerly. He had been so weak afterward, that he lay curled on the ground for hours. It was only fate that kept some other monster from stumbling across him in that defenseless state.
The nameless god told the Evil god about this incident after he ended up at the palace, curious why the cherry had made him so ill. And in return, the Evil god told him that everything that grows from the soil of the venomous forest was poisonous. But why was the Evil god bringing it back up now?
“I am just like the cherries,” the Evil god said finally. “I am temptation. I am beauty. But I will also make you sick to your stomach. You say that I am too beautiful, too sweet, but you have not tasted me yet, and once you do, you will regret it.”
The Evil god stepped back from the pool, gesturing for the nameless god to go in.
“I have no place in paradise. I was born in this cursed land, and here I will stay.”