“Let me ask… if you were in a neverending nightmare… let's say… lost in a labyrinth. A maze where every dead end could hide your death. Where every turn only leads you back to the same place. Where you swear you can see sinister eyes in the darkness of the long path... would you take the first offer out? The price? Lying to yourself… and everyone else… for all eternity. Could you do it? Could you live forever on a lie? Could you sleep at night knowing you’ve deceived everyone you’ve ever known like gullible bastards? To you it may seem like an easy trade. A few lies here and you get to live free again. I know there’s people in this world who’ve built their entire lives on lies. But stop and think, try to understand just how long forever is. Keep such a horrible lie for that long… and it would eventually eat away at you. Inch by inch, fragment by fragment. Until there was nothing left but a void built entirely on mind numbing guilt. If you can understand all of this. Then you have a fraction of an idea of what I'm going through. Who am I? I use to be important, I use to mean something to people. I used to be free. Free from the horrors I never knew. From the fear I never had. From the broken shards of my life that I never walked on like sharp glass. There was a time where my lungs were never empty of breath from running away from trust… from fear… from everything. But that all changed… Stornheime. Eight months ago. My life wasn’t the shambles that it is now. I was loved. Praised. I was Suzura, an Angelic who was well known for being a fighter with determination that everyone around me proclaimed, ‘unbreakable.’ For being as headstrong as a hurricane. No matter the challenges I faced. I was looked well upon for being as sharp as my wings. For guiding many men and women of the world below us to be just as determined and unshakable as I was. Ready to face anything. Ready to fight to the end for what they believed in. All of this gained me a high amount of recognition. And through my success over my life, I attracted eyes. Piercing golden eyes that will now haunt me for the rest of my years… Oczandarys. If there was ever such a thing as a viper in lion’s clothing, Oczandarys would be it. Standing so tall, so proud, seemingly without any trace of evil in his blood. Little do you know... That underneath the flowing golden mane there’s a yellow eyed snake, a viper flickering its black forked tongue to memorize the scent of any prey that dares look it in the eye. Posed to strike with hollowed fangs filled with the most lethal venom that absolutely nothing escapes once bitten. I was one of the prey… I felt the fangs in my skin. And the worst part of it all? The viper still hasn’t let go. In the centuries that followed Oczandarys and I… we got close. It wasn’t much at first. A few sought out conversations here, a sideways glance or two there. But it progressed. While others felt tense and intimidated around him. I felt calm, peaceful. I didn’t care if he was scarred, to me it only added more depth, something different. He couldn’t intimidate me like he had the others. And I knew he found it amusing. I knew that if there was anyone in this world I could trust. It would be him. Eventually, I began to realize certain… emotions. Feelings I never thought I would have. It was here he had grown accustomed to my admiration. I knew he wanted the attention. But surprisingly I kept my inner feelings to myself. There just… wasn’t a time or place I could grasp that would allow me to tell him properly. Back a few years ago, I had found another mortal to guide. A Jacorian man named Marcel. Such a strong, noble soul, and wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line for those who couldn’t defend themselves against the harsher threats. Immediately I could tell, he had the potential to be something greater. I took heavy interest in his life. Making him stronger, making sure he knew which was the right path. Knowing that he was destined to save so many innocence. I was proud of him. I knew he would achieve what he wanted most. To be a better person in this cruel world. However… one night. Marcel was moving through a village. Stopping briefly to rest for a while. He heard a shaking whine in the shadows of one of the buildings. He narrowed his eyes trying to see through the darkness. In the corner was a huddled shape. Curiously Marcel made his way over to the shape. He found a man. Wrapped in a black cloak. Most of his face was hidden in the shadow. But it was clear that was distraught. I watch Marcel try to talk to the man. “Are you alright? What are you doing in the shadow of a building?” The man didn’t speak for a moment. Then lifted his head to look at Marcel. His eyes held so many mixed emotions in them it was hard for even me to pick out much. But there was one that was more prevalent than anything: Guilt. “... Can I ask you something? How long could you live knowing you have so much blood on your hands you didn’t ask for? It seemed like we were kids then… what did we know about anything.” The man finally spoke. Marcel blinked, a bit taken aback by the man’s shaking tone. "What do you mean?" It was then that the man took a hand from underneath the cloak and ripped away the fabric. Marcel’s eyes widened. There on the man’s back, was tattered, broken wings. It was then that we both knew. We had found a banished Angelic. And this is where my nightmare begins. Marcel was at a loss for words. And the Angelic took the opportunity. And I'll never forget the conversation. “You mortals think we’re perfect… that we know everything, that we see everything. That we’re unable to do something wrong, or make misjudgments. The truth? We’re no better than all the rest of you. The only difference is that when we screw up… there’s nothing that can save us.” Marcel listened with visible interest, kneeling down with more just concern lighting his gaze. “How did you get like this? What happened to you?” The Angelic paused for a few long heartbeats. Then looked at the ground, I could see that he slowly stopped shaking.. “How long as it been now? Years… centuries... an era? I honestly don’t remember. Maybe… maybe it's time.” I was surprised at how quickly the Angelic’s voice changed from being a quivering grunt, to coldly calm. It was almost, spine chilling. Like something changed inside him. Like he finally accepted some unknown notion. I’ve seen that type of change before. It's the same ice cold acceptance of those who were sentenced to death. Those people who first felt denial and fear when the sentence was passed, but as the minutes slip away and they near the hour of execution, the mind goes numb. And soon all the shock wears away and the only feeling is the complete absence of feeling. A void. A cold, dark, silent embracement of the inescapable. There was something wrong here. There was something very wrong. And it was after these few long heartbeats, that we finally found out what. Over the course of the last draining minutes… the Angelic began to recount something that at many times I wish I never heard. He slowly began to speak of speak of something I had rarely ever thought about. The prison. A highly secluded facility that was used to jail the captured the rebels of the Angelic Civil War so many years ago. Or… so it seemed. At least that’s what they told everyone. In reality, however. The cruel… sad… reality, is that prison isn’t exactly a prison. Its a terrible eternal purgatory. Meant to do nothing but sadistically punish our own people. He spoke of how it was technically a black hole, meant to hold and perpetually crush the souls of our own slain brethren. Always deathly silent, because their dreadful screams and wails can never pierce through the pulling blackness. It's a void of horror, and darkness. An endless torment. And as if that wasn’t bad enough... he then in a lower voice mumbled that it was more than just a endless torture to those of the civil war. It was the fate of every Angelic that was or ever will be banished. For if and when they die, and they… always… die, their soul is pulled into the prison and they become stuck in the endless torment as well. Marcel was speechless. His eyes held nothing but utter shock and disgust. The very idea that the most pure race was capable of such cruelty, it was almost to much to process. I have to give him credit. Because he wasn’t nearly as shaken as I was. No… I was frozen. There aren’t any words in any language that could describe what I felt. The best way I can put it into anything understandable, was that it was like part of me shut down. It was far beyond shock. A mind sensory overload that was too much for my body to contain all at once. Marcel was silent for a long while. Until he stammered out, “Who-...Who would be insane and demented enough to do such a thing?” The banished Angelic lifted his head and stared Marcel dead in the eye. And uttered a name that made all the blood in my veins run cold. Oczandarys. No… that can’t be right. It's not possible. At first I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t. He wouldn’t be capable of such evil… could he? The more I thought about it. The more the realization creeped over me like water becoming ice when exposed to just the right temperature. I realized that maybe...I was the fool. And there was a reason that he instilled so much uneasiness around everyone. Maybe it was instinctual. Like the instinct in prey that gives them their keen sense of danger. Whether they’re aware of it or not. Oczandarys was the one who called the prison to be built. He would have had to know what it truly did. And more importantly… He would have had to be the one to keep it from everyone else. Everyone knows how vicious he can be to those who get in his way. Is it so much of a leap that he would banish anyone who couldn’t hold the lie, just to keep them quiet? Marcel seemed to swallow and tilt his head. ‘And how do you know all of this?’ He spoke so quietly it was almost a whisper. The Angelic’s eyes were full of pain. And with one finally sentence he breathed: "Because I helped build it…" There was a silence in the air. Like the calm before lightning strikes in a storm. Then by some unseen command a woman screamed as in the moonlight shined against blades lathered in scarlet. Marauders, a pack of them filtered through the buildings like rats. Awaking the village, and panicking everyone. Marcel quickly shot up and snapped his head towards the chaos unfolding around him. The village was beginning to burn. Houses were being raided. Things stolen. People young and old were dying. His head seemed to snap back to reality, and he drew his sword ready to fight. The Angelic beside him stirred. “Don’t bother fighting.” He spoke, standing up. “It’s not you they’re after. Save yourself kid. I’ve had this coming a long time.” There was a glint of water in his weary gaze. He looked older now. Tired. “It’s too late for me. Dammed if I know what’s right anymore.” Marcel and I watched as the broken and defeated Angelic walked out into the open. Step by step, slowly lifting his arms and holding them outward. The leader of the gang turned to view the oncoming sight. And a twisted grin fell across his face. The Angelic walked toward him. “I can’t live like this anymore…kill me.” The gang leader seemed like he stiffened a laugh. And I watched as this, rat forced the Banished to his knees, lifting his head by his hair, and holding up his own sword. The Angelic didn’t resist. He just gazed up into the sky, a silver tear falling from the corner of his eye. “Oczandarys, if you’re watching this… you win… I hope my end brings you joy, monster.” And with those last words. The sword was swung across the Angelic’s neck. Slicing his head clean off. Marcel screamed in a rage I had rarely seen in him. And me? I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do. For the first time in my life, I felt as helpless as a human child. Watching the crimes committed before my eyes, unable to do anything. Marcel took his sword and rushed the leader in a blind rage. But before he could get close, his wrist was caught and he was yanked violently backwards. Two of the Marauders had come to aid their leader, and restrained Marcel. Twisting the sword from his hand and kicking the back of his legs to make him buckle under his own weight. Marcel was now on his knees. About to face the same fate he just observed. The leader’s grin only grew. I watched as the mortal I was suppose to protect struggle and writhe to yank himself free. His eyes soon began to yield to the fear as realization of death set in. I felt my heart lurch. I felt every piece of my core screaming at me to do something. Anything, but stand there. At the very moment I saw the sword glitter in the moon’s ray as it was lifted to inevitably strike. The spark inside my stomach ignited into a wildfire. And I roared with such fury I forgot myself completely. I felt myself surge into action. Coming down to the mortal plane and made the dirt fly when my feet hit the ground. Everyone was thrown backwards. The impact broke windows. And when the dust settled. I stretched out my wings and glared at the lead Marauder. “Don’t you dare lay a hand on him!” I snarled fiercely. Before the leader could react I turned toward Marcel who was staring up at me with round wide eyes. “Run! Run far away from here! Don’t turn back!” I shouted. I knew Marcel wasn’t a coward. But how could he deny my orders? Without another moment he picked up his sword and took off. Running past dead bodies. Running past all the blood that stained the street. I knew I couldn’t leave these bastards alive. Justice had to be served. I swung back to the leader, who looked no better than Marcel had. I took him and his sword, to save a bit of time, justice was indeed served. Each Marauder laid in a pool of their own blood. And the leader? Impaled on a burnt house by his own sword. Once back home I collapsed at the foot of my bed, tears streaming from my face. I felt so sick to my stomach. Like my insides were clenched by a vice. My whole body shook, and for a long while I was thankful nobody could see me. I feel like I cried myself to sleep that night. Because sleep was the only temporary escape from the flood of emotions that dared to tear me apart. However my nightmare was only beginning. And that sleep was the last time I would ever sleep fully again. For when I opened my eyes, I was met with a piercing golden glare staring back down at me. Cold, harsh... and downright terrifying. Oczandarys had come for me. I didn’t know how long he was there. Watching and waiting until the moment I awoke. I can only shudder at how much time I’d given him to think on what to do. To give myself more dignity than I had, lets just say there was an… argument. My room had become a warzone of words. “What you did went beyond the council. Those men, their death, and the intervention!” His tone made me flinch with each word. But I didn’t shrink away so easily. “Me? What about you!” I had growled, thankfully my voice didn’t reveal how much I was shaking on the inside. “What that Angelic said was true, wasn't it? About the prison. About the cover up, about how you purposely cast out those who can’t hold the guilt. It all has to be true. And those Marauders. That was to much of a coincidence for you not to be involved in it. You want to talk about going beyond the council? You caused the deaths of innocent people in that raid! They didn’t have to die. Marcel would have been killed by those rats! As if it wasn’t enough just to end the banished. No. You had to destroy an entire village! Do you even understand how much it hurt me to observe that? To see them die so meaninglessly? Begging for help. Begging for them to stop. And all of it was because of you?” My words got softer, more broken, tears once again starting to fall from my cheek. Oczandarys stood silent for a moment. His angered posture seem to change. He lifted his hand and used his gentle touch to wipe away my tears. I felt like embracing him. Wanting to believe it was just a bad dream. That all of it meant nothing. “I should have known I could not hide anything from you. You were always smarter than most. It's no wonder you pieced this together so quickly. It would be a shame to lose you.” His last few words were unnaturally cold and for the first time in a long, long time, I felt uneasy. “So my dear Suzura, my lovely Sparrow, I will give you a choice. You can either forget what you heard last night, forget you saw the raid, and stay within Stornheime, with me. Or you can refuse, and be brought before the council for your rash, impulsive intervention. And we both know where that will lead.” That made me freeze. Remember what I said about carrying the weight of a lie forever? About sooner or later it will consume you? Well, I thought about that. How could I call myself a force of good, and be sleepless at night knowing the rest of my people are being lied to? Knowing that somewhere in our holy realm there’s a titanic structure of pure cruelty and madness? How could I live with myself, let alone keep the lie suppressed within me for all eternity? I would be someone desperately trying to convince herself of something she knew wasn’t true. No. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I gave my answer with as calm of a voice as I could. Oczandarys leaned back, and gave a sigh. “And here I thought I could trust you.” Next thing I knew I was being hauled into court. I thought I had a chance, if I had to tell the council so be it, they’d have to listen. Trouble was, things didn’t quite work out that way. Turns out the council knew about it all. Imagine my surprise. Here was this Angelic thinking that her home wasn’t tainted by the grasp of evil. “Suzura, It comes to our attention that you have committed an act against the will of the council. And against the name of balance itself. Is there anything you’d like to say in your defense?” I could hardly grasp what was happening to me. After all this time everything I had was crumbling before my eyes. I remained as unmoved as I possibly could. After all, I'm losing everything else, why lose my dignity. The last thing they haven’t taken. I swallowed back my fear. And spoke solemnly. “No words can defend me now. For every shred of hope I had that the council would understand my situation and denounce the horrors I’ve bore witness to, have left my soul. If I gain anything from this, it's the understanding that no race is immune to the lure of secrets, lies, and betrayal. If forfeiting my right to call myself an Angelic among my race, means I leave with a clear conscience and an untainted soul. Then it is the only option for me.” The council shared glances. Oczandarys on the other hand never moved a muscle. Nor did he ever take his eyes from mine. “Very well then. The council agrees your refusal means liability. No matter what you may think, everything we do is for the greater good. As a pity as it is, your sentence will be the very prison you detest so much.” My eyes shot open. My breath caught in my throat and for a few moments, the sensation of pure fear stunned my limbs. But then Oczandarys lifted a hand and shook his head. “No. She’s held herself well enough. To still stand while everything collapses around you. It takes ample amounts of courage after such an ordeal. Let her walk among mortals. A gift of mercy, for such bravery.” I suppose I should’ve been relieved. But the fact his eyes still bore heavily into mine, unmoving, unreadable, told me there was something else other than my bravery behind his decision. It scared me. The rest of the council took heed of his word, of course. And so I was banished, sent down to the world below. Cut off from the very light I depended on for protection and rebirth. Without it, I was just as helpless as a mortal. As bad as it all seemed, I tried hard to move on. My mind just wouldn’t let me give up. I wandered for a few weeks. Foraging and learning how to hunt for my own food. Until I found a village. I found a family there. So kind were they that they offered to take me in for a while, at least until I could find a solid grip on myself. I don’t know if they thought taking in an Angelic would somehow protect them from dangers, I don’t blame them if they did. But still, they were so generous. A loving couple with their two children. I may have been banished, but to be fair, living with this family, wasn’t all that bad. My food wasn’t cold, I no longer slept in the dirt. Best of all, for the first time in a while, I actually felt like I was needed by someone, to look into those children’s eyes and see pure innocence. That by far, was more precious than anything. At one point those children, a young boy and girl, had gifted me with a white overcoat that had once belonged to their grandfather. It was a beautiful piece. And I cherished it. I wore it everywhere. And it made their eyes gleam with pride. Then, one day. I was cruelly reminded, that everything I clung to… was an act. A bandit horde filtered through the village, just before dusk. Raiding whatever they could. Immediately fragments of that dreadful night flashed across my eyes. It was happening again. Except this time, I was mortal. I picked up the nearest weapon and tried my best to fight back. But being far weaker than I was, it wasn’t enough. The last thing I remember was being thrown backwards so hard my head hit a nearby building. When I awoke it was morning and I couldn’t believe the sight before me. The fragile village was decimated. Houses laid in ruins. Everything was quiet, still, lifeless. Then I remembered. The family. I picked myself up as fast I could and ran all the back down the road to their farm. The house was burnt. But I just refused to believe they were dead. No, they couldn’t be. Until I got closer. I halted and stared. There in the rumble were two small bodies in the rubble. Their faces frozen in a look of terror. A morbid depiction of their last moments. Not far off where the bodies of the parents. The mother and father who so kindly took me in and helped me find some sliver of peace. I felt the worst grief crash over me. And I collapsed, crying like the fool I was. Clinging to the beautiful white coat all the while. The last thing I had left of them. I buried their bodies that day. And the bodies of the rest of the villagers I could find. And then reluctantly left them behind. It was from three months after my banishment that I started to just drift. But I started noticing things. Somehow no matter where I went trouble always seemed to find me. A few bandits here. A creature there. All of them out to kill. All of them finding me. I started using the overcoat to hide my wings. They were thin enough that I could fold them inward and suppress them against my back. And drape the coat over me. It was a drastically uncomfortable position, but I learned to live with it. I had suspicions about what was happening. But I never truly made any assumptions. Until one night when I was out alone, I started thinking about everything. Feeling the full weight of my banishment and how much I had to fight just to stay alive. I broke down. It was then I felt a presence behind me. I turned… and saw...him. Cold, calculating golden eyes staring down at me. It was Oczandarys. We stood in silence for a few heartbeats. And he asked one simple question. A question that would make me understand everything. “Have you had enough?” It was then I knew. All the trouble, all the fights, the village… the family, It was all because of him. And I finally understood what the banished Angelic on that horrible night felt like. To know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of Oczandarys’ anger. He told me the offer still stands. If I was willing to put aside my morals. I could have everything again. In my rage, after figuring out he was responsible for the death of that family. I refused. His posture never seemed to change. But I swear I saw a glint of amusement in his eyes. Like watching me struggle entertained him. He left me. And I was alone to cry once more. After that I became somewhat of a nomad. Never staying in once place for very long. Always on the move. Because the longer I stayed, the more of a chance Oczandarys had to drag up something stronger. Everyone knows a moving target is harder to hit. As long as I could travel, I could handle the smaller things he throws onto my path. But they never stopped. After I'd kill one threat, he’d send more. And there’s always… more. And when I feel most alone, when I start thinking too much about what I lost. I’d see him again. The question always the same. At some points I’d cry in front of him. He’d try to seem merciful by holding me. Letting me breath in his sweet scent to calm me down. But I knew it was only a lure to get me to say yes. To give in. It had to be. It would be just like him to use my feelings against me. And every time I’d refuse it would be a waiting game until the next time. Now here I am. Hunted, toyed with by the one man I thought I could trust. And there’s not a meeting with Oczandarys that doesn’t go by when I think maybe it would be better for myself to say yes. If there’s anything I learned from this experience, is that if there’s such a thing as fate, she’s a fickle little whore. I write this to remind myself, a reminder that even the purest of races, can hide dark evils. Who am I? I am Suzura. The Wrathful Sparrow, the Betrayed, The Hunted…. The Banished.” - Suzura’s Journal, Page 1-27 Suzura is a Banished Angelic with long blueish sliver hair, violet eyes, pale skin, and wings of white with royal faded blue tips across her primary/secondary feathers and coverts. She wears black and gray clothes, she keeps the white overcoat with her at all times, and is an extreme sentimental item to her.