Did you ever wonder about Sleeping Beauty? There she lay for a hundred years waiting, I always wondered what she dreamt of. Were her dreams cursed as she was? Did they shake and frighten her? I used to lie down on the dirt and pretend I was Sleeping Beauty. I would close my eyes and imagine me waiting. Did Sleeping Beauty know whom she waited for? Did she recognize him when she saw him? Did she look for him in his dreams, escaping the horror of her own? I used to wonder if anyone ever asked her about the hundred years sleep, I wonder what she used to say. You’re not looking in the right place…
Candace’s gray eyes were wide anxiety, lips pursed, and the deep, dark thing within her continued to ache and tug. Aon ní fluttered her right hand towards Candace’s body, and slowly, Candace could feel her feet touch the withered grass.
“Why, a soul too tightly wound,” and Aon ní gave the chilliest of giggles. “Why we must help her brother,” Aon ní supplied coldly, right hand still fluttering and twirling in front of her. Candace kept silent, wondering if she could think, maybe become something with flight. All she had to do was think, and…
“Ahhh,” and Aon rud stroked Candace’s cheek. Candace choked out, feeling a lance of pure pain shoot up from her cheek straight into her brain. The rivers of eternal red swarmed upwards, before exploding down around the perimeters of the mask. “A magical queen,” Aon rud breathed out slowly. Aon ní giggled lowly, stepping closer towards Candace.
“Aon rud, just look at it, look at her soul, look at the way it surges and shapes. Oh brother, we must have it,” Aon ní said gleefully.
“Get away!” Candace screamed, taking hold of her thoughts and jumping quickly back into the magical circle, feeling the rough texture of the oak tree behind her. Except its leaves did not shake in comfort this time, nothing seemed to hold comfort within her childhood backyard. Candace thought harder, tried to think of becoming a bird, of becoming anything with wings to just get away…to get away.
Aon ní bent her head curiously, with Aon rud inching closer, his left hand whirling out before him. “Look brother, how she still fights. But magical Queen, a soul that is too tightly wound, is a soul no one wants around,” Aon ní said in sing-song, making Candace shudder disgustingly. Aon rud stepped closer towards Candace, intruding upon the magical circle. Candace watched in horror, as the white shadowed figure drifted over the magical circle. Candace not only saw but felt the shimmer of protective magic dissipate, as Aon ní followed in her brother’s shadow steps.
“A peak, just a peak,” Aon rud breathed out steadily, rivers of eternal red running rampant through his white mask. “We’ll only move the wound parts, why it won’t hurt magical Queen, not even a smidge.”
“Your soul won’t even understand the pain, but better pain than becoming like them,” Aon ní spat out, writhing her hands in disgust, “Givers, feh, they are so selfish. Undeserving of the title.”
Candace’s gray eyes went wide, as she lay her hand against her heart, unaware of the movement, “What?” she gasped out, her brain sputtering over this new information.
“Just a peak, magical Queen, only a tiny peak,” Aon ní let out on a breath. No, Candace had to think, just had to become something mightier than what these beings were, whatever they were. She just had to think, had to be. Aon rud laid a finger atop Candace’s hand, which still lay pressed against her heart. Candace could almost feel them staring, could almost feel the endless, absolute white of them consuming and destroying her, recreating her, reshaping her. And then she could feel everything, everything and anything emanating from Aon rud’s absolute white. Could feel every atom, every neutrino, every quark, but this was not Creation, this was not West.
Candace yelled in abject terror, feeling everything and feeling it all move, how she was shifting, her whole being becoming something else entirely. She could feel their breaths on her, could feel how everything moved towards them. The deep, dark thing within her, her soul, tugged and pushed from one plane of existence into another. Candace sobbed, her whole body racked in convulsions and her mind trying so very hard to keep thinking, to think of becoming. The absolute white began to consume her peripheral vision, soon becoming the only color she could see, she could realize. Candace could feel every axon, every dendrite, every muscle fiber struggling to fight, instead only moving towards Aon ní and Aon rud. She could feel the eternal red spilling onto her body, the fluttering whites of what were their hands swirling over her body, her neck, her cheeks, and her dark brown hair.
Candace gasped out, crying, her tears scarring her cheeks as they moved frighteningly fast towards Aon ní and Aon rud. “To be eternal,” Candace sobbed out, so softly that she wasn’t even sure she had said it. “Beyond west,” she finished, and absolute white consumed her being.
There grew a physical wind against the two and Candace. Aon rud and Aon ní breathed out in a collective hiss, rivets of eternal red stilling against their white masks. They were pushed away from Candace by the fierce, rough western wind. West stood beside the shell of his Queen, eyes the darkest of eternal reds, his cloak billowing of its own volition, hands stained in pigments of absolute white.
“Cardinal,” Aon ní breathed out pleasantly, “Sweet Cardinal. We did what you ask, we were so hungry,” Aon ní says with vicious glee. Rivets of eternal red seem to spill from her mask, creaking and groaning against the absolute white of Aon ní.
“We must move her soul, oh Cardinal. That is what we do,” Aon rud supplied, eternal red pooling into two sets of mismatched red eyes. West’s eyes spilled into the registers of deepest maroons, thin lips set firm.
“You defied your Cardinal, Aon,” West said simply, his voice darkening into the lower registers of sound, inaudible to humans. He walked slowly towards the two, his cloak of Creation swirling all around him menacingly. The Aon hissed and wheezed, the absolute white of them shuddering between realms of existence.
“We would never defy our Cardinal, why, we were only hungry,” Aon ní crooned. “So very hungry and we are so old, Cardinal. No one remembers us from Before, no one sees white holes. All but forgotten, what would you have us do, oh Cardinal?”
“You would do well to remember who brought you from Before,” West said, voice so low as to be beneath sound. He flexed his hands, the pigments of absolute white slinking off his fingers towards the withering earth, leaving nothing but emptiness in its place. He stood beside the body of Candace, cloak shadowing most of it from view. “You have defied the rules of my realm, Aon, you have moved when I did not tell you to, and you set others upon me,” West explained, before his eyes became absolute white. The rivers of eternal red shuddered against the masks of the Aon, quickening and whirling ‘round and ‘round their white masks.
“We came from Before,” Aon rud whispered icily, mismatched eyes widening, eternal red swirling maliciously. “We are beyond your Realm, Cardinal, and we will move as we so please,” Aon rud finished breathily. Aon rud whirled from one plane of existence into the next, before appearing right before West. West bent backward, hands alight with pure energy, eyes falling into the spectrum of lavenders and crimsons. He pushed away Aon rud, cloak billowing close beside Candace, who lay unmoving and unbreathing.
Aon ní moved, following close behind Aon rud. Masks set in a hideous scarring of mismatched, gleaming eyes. West’s ash blonde curls and billowing cloak whirled and swayed, taking in nearly the entirety of west of the universe. Aon rud moved, hovering above West, ready to strike with the entirety of his white hole, of what remained of it, when a surging light began to bathe Aon rud. Aon rud did not notice it, as West watched patiently, absolute eyes becoming a vivid, summer blue. Aon ní popped from one plane and into the next, coming behind West. But then she heard Aon rud scream, the eternal red of his mask becoming a hideous, never ending mouth set in horror.
The light crushed and separated every neutrino, every positron, and every electron, shifting it into something else, something new, something younger. The one born of a white hole became something else entirely; mask slowly draining of eternal red, being filled with other spectral colors north of the universe. A dark shape hovered above Aon rud, before consuming what was left of him, a whirling mass of pure energy and matter. West watched silently, while Aon ni watched in terrified wonder, hands whirling and shifting around her. The cloaked shape fell to the withered earth, whirling eyes becoming hues of dark emeralds and deep mauves.
West turned, facing Aon ní’s terrified form, his hands coming upon her face, and consuming the rivers of eternal red out of her mask. Aon ní hissed and screamed in horror, whirling, fluttering hands coming up to scratch and claw at her Cardinal. “I am your Cardinal, Aon, and you defied your Creator,” West whispered, slow rivers of red falling from his angular face as Aon ní continued fighting and scratching vainly. West clawed at the mask, unveiling the absolution that created Aon ní, his mouth firm, crazy colored eyes filtering into a determined jade green.
And Aon ní could not believe it, so this, this is what it meant to be unmade. Creation had happened so very long ago, and she suddenly felt so old. She felt all of eternity, all of time, all of matter and anti-matter, dark matter and white matter, the entirety of what lay beyond the majesty of her white hole; she felt infinity just beyond her whirling, fluttering grasp. She witnessed Creation and the Destruction of West of the universe. She witnessed again and again and again, recognizing her white hole as it birthed her from the remains of a black hole. So many black holes, made and unmade, so much energy shifted and reawakened. She felt the whisper of time, and she felt it turn away from her. She could hear herself scream, could feel the whisper of Creation leave her moving perpetually in the darkest of dimensions, unmade and unwhole. Aon ní became shifted and disfigured forever, her being forever separated across the darkest of dimensions, agonized quarks fluttering in and out of existence the only sign Aon ní had ever once existed.
West turned to face the dark shape that was North of the Universe. A northern wind pulled against that childhood backyard icily, seeming to frost over the withering, decay of the once-green foliage. West inclined his head, eyes shimmering into vivid, summer blue once again. North glanced towards the fallen figure of West’s Queen, crazy colored eyes dipping into the spectrum of chilling greens and harrowing blues. “And yet she appears dead,” North stated deeply.
West smirked softly, the gashes left by Aon ní widening, causing rivets to creak and crack against his skin. West’s cloak billowed wildly around him, the shadowed fabric seeming to tear and rip from seam to seam. “You best get that checked, Cardinal,” North advised, before turning away and seeming to disappear back within his realm as the sun set ‘round the childhood backyard. A chilling wind from the north the only sign he had ever been here. West exhaled shakily, feeling the ripples against his skin, against his corner of the universe. He turned towards the Queen of Being, breathing slowly as the expansive oak tree shook weakly against the northern wind. He knelt down beside the fallen Queen, exhaling slowly, just as he heard Candace take a shuddering breath.