Christopher sits upon his chair which has become a throne carved with the bone and rose pattern. This goes well with the black velvet tunic and leggings he wears, the same attire he wore when Damian pulled him out of the darkness, an event he’s never been able to let go of, an event which defined him as Christopher. No matter whom else he might be, or how much his eyes swim with the purple, ruby, golden, silver, red, and blue colors of their memories.
Those eyes fix themselves upon the young man sitting opposite, a young man wearing the very same black velvet tunic and leggings as himself. This young man keeps his dark head bowed, his pale face downcast, his emerald eyes fixed upon something at his booted feet.
Christopher: So. You’ve come to me here.
Leiwell: (for it is Leiwell, the youth who Danyel and Tayel know as their older brother) Do you want me to beg for mercy? I will even if I have no right to.
Christopher: Why would I ask for that? (The colors swim in his eye, gathering in a single rose-purple tear.) I’ve felt your hunger, your desire to exist. And you, you ought to feel exactly what you’ve taken from me.
Leiwell: He took himself from you. It would take more than me than to swallow Damian Ashelocke’s existence entirely.
Christopher: Damian gave you existence as much as he gave it to me. As much as I gave it to Danyel and Tayel.
Leiwell: Please don’t hurt them. They’re innocent. You above all others should understand that.
Christopher: Should I? Is any creature of shadow innocent? We feed on memories, emotions, the very energy of those whose company we keep. We consume everything which makes a person whom they are.
Leiwell: Even when we ourselves become substantial, finding our footing in a tangible world, we still hunger. We still feed on others and we feed on each other.
Christopher: It’s not Danyel and Tayel’s fault. Is that what you’re trying to say? Nor is it mine. Nor is it yours.
Leiwell: Who do you blame, Christopher? Whose plight do you require to satisfy your hunger, a hunger to fill the emptiness where Damian once was?
Christopher: Perhaps no one but Damian himself can, the Damian who pulled me from the shadows. Perhaps I blame him as much I need him.
Leiwell: He gave you this existence as much as he gave it to me.
Christopher raises his head, eyes glittering in fury, but not with the silver triangles which sparkle in Tayel’s when Leiwell’s little brother is enraged. No, these are swirling silver curls mingled with the gold and bloody rose in the other youth’s remarkable orbs. Leiwell can see his own face drenched in those colors, caught in the spiral.
He doesn’t look up to meet his own tiny warped reflections caught in those eyes. He keeps his head bowed, showing no sign of defiance.
Leiwell: I’m not sure if I can give Damian back to you. What I carry of him inside is yours. I’m willing to feed you. Just don’t harm my brothers.
Christopher: Damian could have been my brother or my lover. He was everything to me. Everything. I never expected him to feel the same, yet he never expected him to fall so easily.
Leiwell: What makes you think he did? Dyvian and I were his prey as much as he was ours. I’m convinced that what happened was part of his design.
Christopher: Poor little shadow. Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?
Leiwell: Think twice before you feel too sorry for him. He laughed at me when I came into existence, gloated as if he’d won. I can still hear his laughter ringing in my mind every time I dream.
Christopher: There are consequences to feeding or taking. Your own master told me that. Damian wanted to be stronger than Duessa Ashelocke, stronger than any arachnocrat whom might choose him as a Marriage Feast.
Leiwell: Or you. Perhaps he preferred to give him power to us than to the ladies of your garden.
Christopher: Did he, now?
Leiwell: I could be lying but I’m not. He wanted vessels with whom he could invade the Garden.
Christopher: And he chose you.
Leiwell: He couldn’t bear to take you. Take a look at his art, Christopher. It reveals Damian’s true heart.
Christopher: There’s something sickening about hearing about Damian’s true heart from your lips.
Leiwell: It’s equally sickening you look at Danyel with those eyes…or you look at him in some other form. Tayel, too, but Tayel at least has some sense of whom and what you are. Danyel sees you through the prism of his own innocence.
Christopher: As he does you.
Leiwell: (convulsing as if in pain) Don’t. Don’t torment me with this.
Christopher: (lowering his own head and smiling sadly) Don’t torment me with your closeness to Damian and his heart. (He hugs himself, the mist coming to wrap itself around him a blanket, swallowing him and his throne.)
This time it’s Leiwell who’s left alone in the mist, staring at the empty space where Christopher was. He hugs himself, mirroring Christopher’s own action.
Leiwell: I understand, I truly do. Talking to me is almost too painful to bear, yet who can understand us better than each other? We’ve each taken a hostage, someone dearer than anyone, yet we’re not indifferent to our hostages. I just hope you care enough about Danyel and Tayel to leave them alone. (He raises his head slowly, green eyes bright with tears.) I’ll tear you apart if you harm them, even if it tears me apart.