Anodyne descended from the skies, landing next to a burnt tree.
“Enadrome, why do you reside outside the Darkness? If you are out here, nothing is stopping those who wish to travel to other worlds. That was your purpose, to guard the Darkness, ensuring that this world cannot be invaded, and none can escape.”
He turned to his left to see another tree move, branches taking the form of arms and legs, a head emerging from the jagged top.
“I reside on either side of the portal; Oculi stays within.”
Anodyne scrunched his face in confusion.
“What the fuck is an Oculi?”
Enadrome marched to the edge of the burnt tree, scraping his bark against that of the tree. The tree peeling away to reveal a door.
“Enter, witness the guardian of the Darkness, the Oculi Seraph.”
Anodyne grasped the door, chilling his hand as the handle twisted. The door opened inwards without making a sound, revealing an environment of pure darkness.
“Why can’t I see through this? How did you get it so black?”
“Wander in, meet oculi. It has been yearning to meet you.”
As he stepped through the door, he could feel the ground change; where it was once rough grass, he was now a smooth stone. Ahead, Anodyne could see a new door, light seeping through the cracks.
“That is no more than two hundred meters; even if I was human, I could run that in seconds. I hope your angel knows what it is doing.”
Anodyne started to run at human speed towards the door when he felt something wrap around his legs, dragging him back to the door he started from.
“Alright, round two.”
Again, he sprinted at the speed of a human; this time, he avoided using a straight line. Darting about the Darkness, he could feel the presence of the angel nearby. Anodyne darted for the far door, his fingertips caressing the curves of the handle, just to be once again grasped by cold tendrils. This time the tendrils wrapped around him, binding him. The Darkness seemed to lift around him, revealing the true form of Oculi.
“By the stars, you are beautiful.”
Oculi’s tendrils were tipped with eyes, all colors and shapes. Its tendrils seemed to be endless, all amassing around one central eye that stared deeply into Anodyne.
“So you are the one creating this darkness.” Anodyne examined Oculi thoroughly. “I see; you absorb the light into that gorgeous eye of yours. These small ones stink of Earth; what do you do to those who pass through?”
Enadrome emerged from the Darkness into sight, petting Oculi as he walked to Anodyne.”
“It claims the eyes of those who seek to travel. With no eyes, they lose the way, falling prey to the vast Darkness.”
Anodyne laughed, breaking the grasp of Oculi. He turned to the black.
“They wander till they die in this black; it is an interesting punishment. I like it, slow and cold. Punishing those who wish to escape, thwarting those who seek to attack.”
Enadrome gave an earthly chuckle; he snapped his fingers, bringing back the Darkness.
“Can’t you feel it, Anodyne, the sensation of timelessness? This realm is void of time; those who wander do so forever. Exiting the door, or stopping the heart, is the only way to escape the black. Furthermore, the longer they reside here, the colder the doors get; they all run from the cold eventually.”
Anodyne felt his breath getting heavier, exhaling he could see it disappear before him.
“I am done with this place, but know this Enadrome, I am glad you were the first Deity I made. You pleased me this day.”
Anodyne walked back to Hollow, the light from the doorway enveloping him before he fell from sight. Oculi amassed its tentacles around its central eye, slowly taking a smaller form. It began to take human shape, its back turning red before standing tall. It now he, tall and strong, adorned in a red cloak. The Darkness retreated as he stood, allowing Enadrome and Oculi to view one another.
“Did I do well? I hope I pleased you.”
Enadrome turned from Oculi, leaving the Darkness behind him.
“Enadrome, I need to know. Did I do well?”
Occuli ran after Enadrome leaving the Darkness behind him, to be met with a barky grip.
A thunderous voice boomed into his ear.
“You leave when someone breaks through. Otherwise, you remain in the black. You wait in it, you breathe it, or I will craft another to do it.”
“Did I please you?” Oculi choked through Enadromes grip.
The grip tightened, draining all oxygen from Oculi. His face started to turn blue.
“You please me when you do your role; I made you to ensure this job was done right. Now do right.”
Enadrome threw Oculi back into the door, closing it behind him before returning to his resting place. Weeks passed, and Enadrome became restless, slowly making his way back through the portal.
Enadrome snapped his fingers once again; this time, there was no response. Enadrome walked deeper into the Darkness.
“Oculi, bring forth the light.”
Ahead a dim light appeared around a little girl crying, huddled in the fetal position.
“Oculi, I had to do what I did. Anodyne was watching; if he sees weakness, I never see it again. I have seen him kill hundreds of gods because they served wrong. I won’t lose you.”
Oculi sat up, staring into the eyes of the Treant god standing before her.
“Your words hurt, your hands hurt more. They are so rough and jagged.”
Enadrome knelt beside the crying form of Oculi. His hands growing a deep layer of moss, creating an inviting hand.
“Come, Oculi, you know I love you. I need you if I am going to survive this world; let us share the Darkness.”
Oculi retook its original form. The masses of tendrils wrapping around Enadrome as he gave embrace to its central eye.
“I love you too, Enadrome, but I love obedient slaves more.”
The tendrils wrapped tighter and tighter around Enadrome; he felt a strength bear down on him like never before. The tendrils became fewer, and Anodyne appeared in form, holding Enadrome.
“I knew you had gotten soft, but it was not until I ripped the last eye stalk from its body that it screamed its love for you.”
“No, I left it living; I need a guardian in the black. You are, as of now, the doorkeeper.”
Anodyne forced Enadrome from the Darkness, placing his hand on the barky face of Enadrome.
“I am taking all emotion and free will from you; you are nothing but an AI for me to control. You will do your role, and you will not question.”
The cries of Oculi sounded from behind the door.
“You shall silence those whimpers, or I take your mind too.”
The cries stopped, and Anodyne finished clearing Enadrome’s mind.
“Who are you?”
“What is your purpose?”
“To ensure that none use the door, also to ensure that none create another door elsewhere.”
“Good, now, man your post. I do not have time for weakness; a storm is coming. We all need to be prepared for when it does.”
Enadrome marched to the door, closing it. Behind, Oculi screamed.
“I will find you, Anodyne; I will travel a million worlds till I find a way back. I will claim your eyes, blinding you to the universe as you blinded Enadrome.
Anodyne had already started flying off towards his next location.
“I can feel your hate Oculi, but you are nothing more than a worm under my feet.”
1 year earlier
Enadrome ran from the darkness, pursuing a traveler attempting to cross from Hollow to Earth. The Holite made his way through the portal and onto Earth, but Enadrome was fast enough to grapple him as they both collided with the soil of Earth. Using his powers, Enadrome sent back the escapee; lying in the mud around him, he let go a sigh of relief. Turning his head, he spotted a worm turning in the freshly disturbed mud. It had been partially squashed by the tussle that had just occurred; Enadrome felt sorry for the poor creature that had been injured because he failed his job.
Outstretching his gnarled hand, he touched it, imbuing it with his power. He attempted to heal the worm but was not delicate with his touch. Surging far too much power, he made it grow, deforming as it went. A large central eye developed as it reached its final size, its form completing itself as tendrils tore through its back and become a part of it.
“You are my new friend; you are my Oculi Seraph.”
The memory surged through Oculi’s mind as it swam back into the Darkness, searching for a way back into Hollow.