A/N: My first Hellboy fic, so please be kind.
In the beginning, there was the Sun, the Earth, the Sea and the Sky. Between them they made a glowing jewel of a planet; gave it rich waters, fertile lands, vast skies and warmth to light its beauty. The three sisters – Earth, Sea and Sky created all the races, mortal and immortal, male and female, animal and sentient being alike, created equal. They filled the forests, the oceans, and the atmosphere with every creature imaginable. Their brother the Sun left his family to take his place in the heavens, watching the world from afar.
Knowing that their world was too vast for them to protect as fixed beings, each sister made the sacrifice to give herself to her creation, merging her spirit with that of each element, to govern and defend for the rest of time. They had but one respite; for one year in every ten thousand, one of them would return to her form, to walk over the surface of the earth and guide more directly their creatures, to exact revenge and shield with protection where they saw fit. Only once in every million years could they rejoice in this freedom together, and each sister had independence only once every thirty millennia.
Yet in her heart, Earth mourned for her beloved brother, trapped for all eternity in the endless emptiness of space. Forced only to watch the world he had helped create, and never to touch it. It was as this grief burned a hole in her heart that she created humanity. They were imperfect, incomplete souls, she knew, but in her sadness she could do no more. Time passed, and the next time Earth was allowed her time as a living, walking creature of sensation, she saw that her young creations would always be searching, could never find rest. Realising that the humans needed more teaching and guidance than she would be able to give in her short time above ground, Earth created a new race. With her grief dulled by the passage of time, she was able to make them perfect – like the humans and yet not. The same emotions, the same passions and the same strength. None of their weaknesses. Yes, the Elves would be the perfect teachers for the humans.
If there was ever a time of great need, her final act was make a Father Tree; a shelter and last defence for any being to use. Lest he should be forgotten, she named it after her brother. Abling.
But Earth's belief that the humans would recognise and defer to the wisdom of the Elves was unfounded. Man had been created with a hole in his heart – this she knew. But this was a hole that no possession, power or knowledge could fill, and in his infinite greed, man dreamt of expanding his dominion over the entire earth; forsaking and forgetting his creator and betraying the earth itself. Only the magical creatures, who remained loyal and true, stood in his path.
The blood of many an elf, ogre and goblin was spilled in their war with man, and King Balor, the one-armed king of Elfland, watched the slaughter with dread and despair. But one day, after many years and a million deaths, the master of the goblin blacksmiths offered to build the king a golden mechanical army. Seventy times seventy soldiers that would never know hunger, and could not be stopped. Prince Nuada begged his father to agree.
"Build me this army," the king said.
So a magical crown was forged, that would allow those of royal blood to command the Golden Army if unchallenged.
"I am King Balor, leader of the Golden Army. Is there anyone who would dispute my right?"
And in his throne room, no one challenged his word.
So the world was changed, and the next time the humans marched, they felt the earth tremble beneath their feet, and saw the sky darken with monstrous shapes. The Golden Army had no remorse, felt no loyalty or pain. And King Balor's heart – hearing the cry of Earth against any more bloodshed – grew heavy with regret. So he called a truce, and divided the crown into three pieces; one for the humans and two for himself. In exchange, man would keep to the cities and the magical beings would own the forests. This truce would be honoured by their sons, and the sons of their sons until the end of time.
But Prince Nuada did not believe in the promises of man, and went into exile, vowing to return the day his people needed him most. So, the Golden Army lay dormant, locked inside the earth, waiting… Awaiting the day the crown is made whole again, but until that time, silent, still, and indestructible.
The year is 2012, and for the first time in a million years, the three sisters are allowed to leave their confines to become women once more. In two of the sisters, anger – more than that, rage – has festered over time at the careless, callous destruction of their creation by man. Hundreds of species that once swam in the sea, gone, hunted to extinction; the skies choked and polluted with noxious poisons. For the last million years, Sea and Sky have tried and failed to stop this endless, infinite annihilation by destroying as many humans as they can in their brief time of direct control. For the last million years, their efforts have failed. The humans keep breeding, keep multiplying until there are vast numbers of them – far too many to ever control.
In their unconscious state, at one with the oceans and the heavens, they rejoiced at Prince Nuada's reawakening of the Golden Army. Mourned at his failure. Now they are together; their powers can be united, and they can bring destruction at last to mankind.
It is to this end that the two sisters meet each other deep underground – in the midst of the ruins of Bethmora, in the chamber that four years previously, the crown had been melted by Elizabeth Sherman, and the Golden Army shut down forever. But they are not here for the mechanical behemoths.
It is Sea that materialises first; she knows Sky will not be far behind her. Her hair is a shade of the deepest blue, and falls straight down her back in navy ripples to her waist. It is difficult to differentiate between her hair and the robes that adorn her slender body. Robes at first glance, yet at second she wears water, wrapped around herself in a cool cocoon, the ripples that chase across its surface hiding and revealing her body underneath. Her skin is also tinged with the colour of the ocean, that on any other being would look unhealthy, but instead radiates vitality and power on her. She looks almost slick, ready to slip through the water with grace and ease.
Suddenly a breeze springs up from nowhere. This far underground, such a thing cannot be natural. Sea smiles, recognising even after a million years the wind that heralds her sister. Within seconds she is facing almost an exact replica of herself, yet different. Hair of the lightest blonde where hers is blue, robes of white cloud drifting across her flesh, and skin so pale that it gleams in the half-light. Unlike Sea, she appears very frail, almost translucently light. It is deceptive.
The two women embrace for a long moment, revelling in having the ability to touch after so long. "It has been too long, seler," Sea whispers.
"Far too long," Sky agrees, her own voice muffled by tears.
After a while, the two draw apart. They stand in silence for a while. "Must we do this?" Sky asks.
"You know we do," Sea answers, her voice hardening. "If we are ever to be rid of them once and for all."
"Then why cannot we do it ourselves? Why involve the elf?"
"Sky, are you having second thoughts?" Sea asks, fixing her sister in a glare with sapphire eyes that flashed dangerously.
"Of course not, sister," Sky said, her own opal-coloured eyes returning the gleam with one of stubborn resolve.
"If something should happen to either one of us, the planet would fall apart. Neither the oceans nor the heavens – nor the earth – can exist without a living spirit, you know this!"
"Then why can we not use a demon?" Sky asks. "The Elves have never betrayed us; they still know our teachings. Why should they suffer?"
"They will not! When the humans are gone all magical creatures, elf, goblin and troll alike will be free to prosper on this world the way they always should have been! They will treat this planet with all the dignity and majesty it deserves. All that we deserve!"
"Our vessel will suffer," Sky points out quietly. "Unless we choose him," she says, pointing to where the splintered remains of what was once a proud and noble prince lie.
"You know I would if we had the power; we do not. Only Earth does, and she will never agree to this, though Abling alone would know why."
"Because humans are her creations. No matter their flaws, Earth will never believe that they are beyond redemption. And because of that, we must use the innocent," Sky says, her voice trailing off sadly.
Both sisters look up, past the powder of Nuada to the whole form of Nuala, captured in perfect marble to weather eternity. Though they have no complete power over any form of earth – including rock – together Sea and Sky should be able to resurrect the Elven princess. They will make her their vessel. And she will bring down the human race for them. Still, both sisters hesitate. She looks so peaceful. Can they really turn a being of light and purity into a harsh, violent weapon?
Sea makes a derisive noise in her throat. "Do you hate humans, Sky?"
"What? Why do you need to ask?"
"Do you hate humans?" her sister repeats, more slowly. More forcefully.
Sky lifts her chin. "Yes."
"Then let us begin. Earth will sense our location soon, and guess what we are doing. We must do this before she arrives."
Hand in hand, the two sisters move toward Nuala's monument. They kneel, one either side of her head. Without needing to speak, they stretched out their hands. Sky's crackle with lightning, and Sea's fingertips are already beginning to secrete water. They place one hand on each of Nuala's temples, the other on her chest. At an unspoken command, they both begin to pour their powers into her. Not all, for that would shatter the princess into as many pieces as her brother lies in, but enough so that stone gives way under the power of lightning, life rising up like water once more. When it comes to free her heart from its marble prison, Sky forces her power a little deeper, and lightning shoots into the core of Nuala's breast.
The princess opens her mouth for the first time in four years; to utter a scream. Sky is more accurate than she had known when she made the prediction – being awoken like this is terribly painful, and it will get worse. In the first few, fatal, seconds, Nuala's mind is chaos, and she reels blindly in the dark, not knowing who, where or even what she is. The severed connections where once there was her brother's mind are frayed and torn. For the first time in her long life, she is utterly alone. It is into this moment that the two sisters force into her brain their hatred for humans. Ancient memories of the war and blood and the destruction of the world she loves so much burn brightly in her head once more, and rather than choosing to fade as she once might have done, Nuala finds there is only one choice. She knows only the hatred of Sky and Sea. She knows only that the humans must be stopped. Her body arches up off the floor, and her scream this time contains wrath mixed in with the pain.
Sky and Sea look up at one another triumphantly. It cannot be undone now – the elf is their vessel. Power over the sky and the water. Nothing the humans have can fight against nature itself.
The triumph disappears when the ground begins to shake. Nuala is so wrapped up in the tortuous pain wracking through her that she would have no idea if a hydra reared its head. But Sky and Sea know what it means. Their sister is coming. And she is angry. Quickly, the two sisters grasp the shaking princess between them by the upper arms and pull her upright.
They're gone within a fraction of a second.
It was only after no more than ten seconds had passed that the form of another woman materialised in the chamber. Her robes, hair and skin were all dark – the only things that gleamed in the darkness were a pair of glowing emerald eyes. Like her sisters, she was tall, had a toned physique. Unlike her sisters, she had voluptuous curves and a glow about her skin that radiated fertility, bounty. Life. Though she knew they were gone, Earth scanned for Sea and Sky anyway, then let loose a curse that hadn't been uttered in a million years when she did not find them.
The cavern around her began to tremble with the force of her rage when she looked to where Nuala's body should have been. "Oh please no…" Not her. Not Nuala. She'd tried so hard to help humanity. Tried so hard to stop the Golden Army from awakening. Tried to be a true princess among all Earth's children, let alone the Elves. And she had been.
Earth sank to her knees, dark green robes made of interwoven leaves spreading out in a pool of forest. "Why, sisters? They are my children; these are my mistakes…" Two tears fell from her eyes, with tiny, fragile-looking flowers blooming at the place they splashed against the floor. They would continue to flourish there until the end of time. Knowing that there was no time to wallow in self-pity, she rose once more, wiping her cheeks, the trail of moisture being brushed over dark skin, and then swept waist-length hair the colour of mahogany to one side.
There was only one thing to be done now.
Her bare feet took her five steps toward the only other thing now left in the chamber. Stood over the pile of ruined marble, Earth sighed. "If there were another choice, I would take it," she whispered to the wrecked kingdom. As much pride as she had felt in Princess Nuala, she felt an equal disappointment in her twin. Time had not healed the wounds in his heart because he had not allowed it to. Rather than mend his soul, Nuada chose to splinter it further, to become human, and in the worst possible way. Having him living deep in her domain, Earth had felt his hatred like a white hot brand pressed into her heart. She knew she should not have favourites, but humans and Elves had always been so. To have them war once was bad enough. The earth would never have been fertile again had Nuada succeeded.
He was never meant to have been a warrior anymore than his sister, yet there was a darkness in him even from an early age. Earth had thought that by linking the twins, it might be chased away by the light emanating from Nuala. She had been wrong. It seemed she had spent most of her eons-long life being wrong. She'd created Elves to be healers, to be teachers. To spread peace, not war. It was devastating at just how adept they had proven to be as warriors. Her perfect race…
She knelt. Reaching out, she picked up one of the lumps of marble, still holding its shape and recognisable as a hand. Her thumb caressed the cool stone, but it was distraction only. She knew what had to be done. Placing the hand upon the floor, she exuded a little of her power. The jagged pieces of rock began to reform, to knit back together flawlessly. Even the bits that were only now powder drifted to join the shape together. Working stone was easy for her; it was, after all, only a part of what made up the earth. In almost no time at all, a flawless marble statue lay stretched out on the floor, Earth's palm laid on his chest. With her other she touched the cool face. Prince Nuada. In perfect, ageless form. Lowering her face to his, she whispered.
"Forgive me, Silverlance. But your world needs you."
She had never given the dead life before, but like many things, resurrection was something she knew she could do, yet had no idea how she knew it. She knew what would happen, she knew what the consequences for her would be. Earth shifted slightly, and laid her lips on cold stone ones.
A deep, throbbing, life-sapping pain.
His heart. His mind. Both broken.
It was the last thing he remembered.
Now, though…where was she? Silence – why was there silence in his mind? The connection wasn't there. Was he– alone? Alone for the first time in millennia? The idea was not as horrifying as it might have been. Instead he felt…safe. Warm. Protected.
Still wrapped in fuzzy sleep, nothing mattered outside of this blissful cocoon. Dimly, awareness came that he couldn't see because his eyes were closed. That the warmth was not emanating from inside him, but from his mouth. Because another mouth was on his. A kiss. He was being kissed. It did not matter who by, or why. It mattered only that it kept happening, because with every second that passed he felt more strength flow into his body, more energy in his veins. He didn't remember kisses being like this. But then it had been so long since the last… In fact, he was enjoying it so much that – not even aware he was doing it – he did the only thing that made sense.
He kissed back.
A/N: Review please! Reviews make my muse happy and therefore more productive! Thanks!