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Thousands of years ago, the witch, Victoria, attacked the Hall of Wingéd, turning the reigning Seraph into a Demon, resulting in the quick extinction of the Griffon Wingéd. Attempting to put a stop to the destruction, her twin sister, Margaret, sought to purify her and failed. This act created the foiche Dé, living humans marked with magic and doomed to be forever reincarnated. In her despair, Margaret begged three Dragons, against Wingéd law, to put an end to her life and continue the long battle in her stead. While they agreed, this was not without its consequences.
Cassius lost his wings, becoming the first to be named Wingless. He was saved by the second, Emmy, a Moth. She gave up her wings using forbidden magic to free a Demon from his pain, and in the most controversial verdict to have ever been given in the Hall, Seraph Lerion decreed that the Dragons, Daisuke and Gabriel, should join the ranks of Wingless as punishment for their aid of Cassius. Although it sought to put an end to the chaos, the verdict only added to the unrest. But what has been done cannot be undone.
Every night, it was the same. When Cassius closed his eyes, he was locked in an evil ritual, afflicted by visions of his worst fears come to pass. They would start out as variations of the past, but each one led him to the same place, a desolate field. The ground was in such a parched state that the grass crumbled under his step into a trail of dust. He was always running, searching. “Emmy?”
Then, he’d finally find her. She was sinking in a mixture of mud and blood, surrounded by a ring of black fire. “Emmy!” he would yell again, but she could not hear him over the whipping wind. Pieces of her soul ripped from her, burned in the fire, and the ashes flew off into the sky. And through the smoke came a voice. “She will Turn,” it would say. “You cannot stop it. She will Turn.”
The heavens would darken until the sun was no more than a ring of fire in the sky, and an ominous red star shined in its stead. “No! I won’t listen! Emmy!” He reached out to help her, but his feet were petrified, mercilessly holding him to the earth.
The thunder would drown out his words, and Emmy would look up, her eyes red and her soul barely visible, shrieking like a Demon. “She will devour them, Wingless,” the voice would say. “She will devour them all. And you will have to slay her.”
Cassius awakened, shaking from the fear of his nightmares until he realized it was morning again and time to start the day anew.
Snow fell upon the Hall of Wingéd, the soft and silent flakes blanketing the sleeping mountains in its cold embrace. It looked peaceful from the single-room house the Wingless now called home, a couple of miles from the Hall proper. Hours before the sun rose over the peaks, Cassius pretended to be asleep as Emmy snuck out of their modest dwelling and ran out into the white. After the door creaked shut, he rose from his mat on the floor and looked out the window. His palms rested on the sill as he sighed deeply and shook his head. “She said she wasn’t going to do this today.”
“Let her go, Cassius,” Daisuke grumbled from his mat and pulled the linen over his head. “She does the same thing every morning. We can’t stop her.”
“She’s not allowed out without one of us. What if one of the Phoenixes sees her?”
“If you’re so worried, why didn’t you stop her when you heard her creeping around?”
Cassius shoved his feet into his boots. The truth of the matter was it was much easier to get Emmy back from going out alone than it was to stop her from doing it. “She should have honored our agreement.”
In a few hours, the first Leap since the verdict was to take place, and Seraph Lerion had specifically requested the Wingless’ attendance at the event. This meant that Emmy wouldn’t be allowed her daily rituals to control the pain that overwhelmed her, and she had agreed to this. It was most important that the Wingless remain in the Seraph’s good graces as their fates still rested in his hands.
Everyone in the Hall now walked around on tiptoe, sensing the strong undercurrent Lerion’s decision had created. They’d become a people divided into those in favor of the verdict and those who believed it immoral. The dissent had started out as a whisper and evolved into a hum, but now, the Hall was buzzing with the angered voices of the Wingéd. So, Cassius needed Emmy back here as soon as possible.
He opened the door, but instead of being able to charge off into the snow, he stopped short at the presence of a skinny Bat Wingéd whose hands shook as he removed his hat. “Wingless Cassius? I am Bat Devram. I have a message from the Seraph. You are needed in the Hall.”