Stars Don't Have to Fade Picture

It had only seemed to be a simple act of kindness.

Exiled from Rome with his mother, Deusericus had come to Athens as a young child. Adapting to the new land and language hadn't been difficult, and his intelligence had steadily won over his new neighbors until he was treated as one of their own. A life begun in disgrace had become pleasant and rewarding.

Deusericus enjoyed the peace of the summer winds lightly swirling around the columns of the temples' steps, distantly watching the worshipers come and go, his friends and colleagues as they passed by through the streets, the amusing hops and squawks of the birds as they appeared to dance and sing for a bit of bread. He took interest in the black hawk with the missing wing and more and more often, he would see it walk toward him on pale talons. It showed no fear of him and was soon coming almost close enough to touch its feathers. Deusericus wouldn't risk alarming the bird like that. He spoke to it, instead, of the city, of the people he knew, of what little he remembered of Rome. The hawk would cock its head as though it were listening intently. It seemed fond of berries and sweet things, and Deusericus never failed to bring along a treat.

The young man had been drifting deeper into Athens' political crowd, gaining ground and respect as a voice of reason and compassion. Through ordinary talk of injustice, he'd spoken of the wealthy Roman family that had banished him and his mother years before. His colleagues took his side and expressed their own displeasures of dealing with the same family of merchants. The outrages and indignations were turning towards talk of refusing the family's business, perhaps even forbidding them from entering Athens' borders.

That had only been mere weeks ago. Now, as the first stars sparked to life in the summer evening, a sickly damp blotch of a muddy red was spreading around a newly torn hole in his chiton. Although he hadn't recognized its owner, Deusericus had noticed that the dagger had been Roman. A final message from his father, undoubtedly.

As the world began to blur, the black hawk alighted on the temple step next to the young man's shoulder. An odd thing; he'd never seen the bird fly before. A pale foot grasped at his clothing. Within the span of a slow blink, he found himself stolen away from the city and lying in a field, already drenched in the waxing moon's light. Beside him, the hawk remained. The bird spread its single wing, farther and farther, to impossible extents, until the feathered limb could easily enshroud Deusericus' entire body.

Attached to the wing was no bird, but a man. Young, strong, more beautiful than handsome with pale skin and long, silvery hair. A son born of Selene, a god of the growing darkness, of the blooming night. Sephiros. Touching the captive black star around his neck, glowing violet from the power within, the god told him that his mortal life could not be saved, but if Deusericus would swear his heart and soul to the one-winged angel, he would not die.

It had only seemed to be a simple act of kindness, to bestow a gentle love upon an incomplete bird, to choose to admire its survival rather than pity its fate. Tonight, it was an act that would grant him immortality.


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