Elara’s Journal: The Collected Series
The following are excerpts from the journal of Elara, guardian of the Pale Moon Sanctuary.
First Entry: The Space between Good and Evil
Once, Ael’s infinite light stretched in every horizon, pure and bright. Stories of its warmth and wonder have been etched upon the ages, though we do not tell them often. Remembrances of his radiant kingdom, Valaen, are as tender a torment as could exist in this world, aching as only memories can.
Ael was all that was good in creation, but he was not perfect. For eons, he lived in despair and loneliness as he roamed the infinite emptiness of the universe; the fears in his soul crept into the fringes of all he made, including Valaen. These shadows clawed their way forward, devils bathed in darkness. To cast their evil out of his kingdom, he confined them to a hellish prison he called Bezda.
Our home, Nala, grew in between Valaen and Bezda. Light and dark. Creatures pulled in both directions emerged from the soil, and Ael watched in curiosity as they grew. He saw shades of himself flickering in their faces. Some were wise and winsome. Others were sharp and curious. And a few rare beings expressed exceptional powers that rivaled his own.
Those who abused their powers were banished to Bezda, lost to the light for eternity. Those pure of heart were invited to enter Valaen and became his Faithguard.
I wonder sometimes if distancing himself from darkness was Ael’s great mistake. Had he not denied those qualities as wound into his flesh as skin and bone, he may not have been so blind when one of his own Faithguard betrayed him. Ah, but it does not help to think what might have been. All that matters is what is, and what – or rather – who was born from it.
All that matters is Kavel and the blight he’s sown across Nala.
Because of him, I’ve watched the faces of my brethren turn sallow, their skin slack and eyes filmy. I’ve seen their poor, shambling skeletons dance in graveyards they once called home, gnashing their teeth on honeyed nothings and rattling their bones like husks of leaves in a dead winter’s wind.
If even Ael could underestimate the patient, scheming evil that burned in Kavel’s heart, what chance did I have?
Fortunately, Ael taught the rest of us patience, too.
I have waited a long time for you, dear Devilian. You, who have held grip to humanity in the face of endless despair – awaken. Shake the dust from your limbs, feel the cold air burn in your lungs, and rise.
Second Entry: The Blind Eye
The old stories speak of a divine innocence shared among the souls in Valaen – as if between the Faithguard’s trust and Ael’s purity, there was no room for foresight. These ancient memories are passed down like whispers from the afterlife: harried ghosts pleading the same wide-eyed astonishment at the Great Betrayal.
Now, after witnessing the hellscape that Nala has become – and knowing that Valaen, Ael’s looking glass to creation, lies just beyond – I am not convinced the tales are true. Perhaps it was not innocence, but willful, blissful ignorance instead. What if the Faithguard were happy simply basking in Ael’s radiant light, not realizing that in turning away from the dark, they missed everything that happened in the shadows?
One thing is certain: they were blind to one of their own who refused to limit his gaze. His boundless thirst for knowledge stretched past Valaen, far beyond Nala, and into the depths of Bezda itself. He saw everything, from the toiling workers struggling for survival to the tormented devils burning in the fiery depths, and he grew curious about the being who created them.
He was curious why Ael granted life freedom if he punished those who exerted any of it for themselves. He was curious why Bezda need exist at all if Ael was so powerful and great. He was curious why his fellow Faithguard heaped praise on Ael, when he saw so clearly that Ael was cruel.
So cruel, in fact, that he had not bothered to name a single one of the souls he created. This particular soul was forced to name himself.
Thus, Kavel was born.
Though darkness festered in Kavel’s soul, he continued to walk amongst the Faithguard. Day after day, as the others readied their blades to protect Ael’s kingdom, Kavel sharpened his to destroy it.
Third Entry: The Devils Rise
Kavel roamed humanity, insinuating his dark will into every being he touched. All he needed was a whisper of dissent – one disappointed sigh – and he could orchestrate an anarchic opera loud enough to deafen titans. Over the centuries, he grew seeds of dissent into a festering forest.
Gathering together all of the hatred and resentment he had so painstakingly nurtured amongst the people, he forged a fearsome weapon powerful enough to destroy Ael. The blade was as sharp as Kavel himself, and so steeped in shadow, it brought anguish upon all those unfortunate enough to feel its aura. It was the pride of Kavel’s creations, and he named it Skybane.
In nightmares, I’ve seen myself among the Faithguard the day that Kavel enacted his dark plans. Such fear must have gripped their hearts when they looked upon Kavel striding through Valaen, cloaked in darkness and eyes crimson in the blood-red gleam of Skybane. Just the thought of it freezes my heart. Being there – with the clamor of war pounding in my ears, staring into certain oblivion – would be too much to bear.
Too much even for Ael, perhaps. It is said that at that moment of confrontation, Ael stood still as stone when Kavel thrust the blade. Even with Skybane burning in his eyes, Ael refused to believe that his beloved creation could betray him.
No longer are any of us so naïve.
It is fortunate that Ael’s power was greater than Kavel could have anticipated. May humanity never again need to be so grateful for hubris! With an explosion of radiant light, Ael shattered Skybane and forced Kavel from his realm.
Yet, weakened as he was, he could only watch in despair as the shards of Skybane rained down upon Nala. The fiery fragments split the earth and corrupted the land. Their dark influence seeped into the soil like blood from an open wound.
Ael looked once more at what he had created, the mirror of his own bloodied soul, and turned away.