"We took out our heavy revolvers (all of a sudden there were revolvers in the dream) and joyfully killed the Gods."
-Ragnarök, Jorges Luis Borges

I have little time to spend with old acquaintances, though I know they often spend their time with me. I prefer not to spend my time with old ghosts. My hands are filled with their dried blood; why should I lose more time than I must? There are wars, miracles, realities, fantasies—all worlds to fill my time. I have saved only one (chosen only one) and that is enough for me. It must be enough.

I believe they would protest if ever they were to read this. I burn everything I don't intend to keep. I am the illusionist: I only play at power. I am not God (though sometimes I fear I am becoming him). This will be in ashes by the morrow and she will never read a word of it. She has only seen the final draft of her own work, the work that brought her back—she has not seen the years of crumpled paper that kept the fire alive.

I believe that I would find them arguing, thinking I still care, that I still watch them and control their fates. They place far too much omnipotence in me; half their plot is their own doing. I am only the master of the words, those shaded puppets: nothing more (but nothing less, either).

It's not Siegfried's fault. He does try. He sits in his palace with his crown upon his head and he truly does believe that he is a good king. He was chosen by the gods, after all. He does not realize that he still belongs to my grandfather's tale. The tale doesn't stop in the words; it seeps into the bones. He is a good man, if he is a man at all—because in the end he was born to be a lesson, not a person. I do believe that he has yet to realize this.

I see them crowded in their chambers, her with the red eyes his with the gold. They look at each other and try not to think of their curses. She, the witch, he, the demon: it's in their blood and they have both tried to bleed themselves dry. Crow's feathers are everywhere and I fear that their kingdom is doomed.

He is still the bastard, beneath that smile. He is still the rapist, murderer, liar, thief. He thinks he hides it well because his face is so carefully blank. Perhaps you fool them, but I am not them and neither are you. You know what waits in the night, in the shadows, in that dark cracked corner of your heart.

Not all sins are forgiven, my friend.

What were you before you took that sword and shattered your heart? A prince who loved everyone and was loved by everyone, you tell me. And what is that Siegfried? A lover, a friend, a monster… Even in your raven's feathers you still followed those guidelines, vague and self-indulgent as they are.

Siegfried decides to play a game as he sits across from his wife, his hand on her pale hand, his eyes on hers. He thinks about the other princess, whose name always slips his mind; he thinks about her red hair and her strange blue eyes. Strange, he thinks, what I feel when I think about her instead. With Rue, it is rawness. It is seduction, terror, fear, and protectiveness, and something he thinks might be love. He has forgotten what the other princess means to him. He left her beside the lake, and sometimes he thinks he might have killed her in the end.

He had given her his heart shard, and then he took it back as if it meant nothing. It did, he thinks.

He thinks about me, oh yes, I am in his thoughts at times. He thinks that there is a strange coincidence. That he started to forget, that she began to slip, only when I picked up the pen. She was already lost to you, Mytho. You had already condemned her to death in one story; why would I allow you to do it in another?

Some things, some actions, are unintentional yet are not regretted. I do not regret what influence, what unseen intention, guided my pen. I do not regret that you chose Rue instead and left that forgotten girl with me. Perhaps it is not the same for you. But honestly, I doubt you care enough to ponder it for long.

The truth is that you were never real to me. You are the story. Nothing more. Even in your own tale, you are the improbable cursed prince, and they treat you as such. You have no more substance than that.

So with your raven's blood, your black magic, your bruised hands, and your battered eyes you dared to summon me. Like some court magician you once knew, you called upon your wizards and your witches to summon me into your world. As if I owed you something.

There are crops to plant, curses to lift, fortune to bring… So many things must spring forth from the writer's pen. I am not your friend, Mytho, Siegfried, whatever you may call yourself. I also am no illusionist or wizard. I stand above them, and you know this. I invented their art; their magic flows from my ink. Try not to forget this.

I am not God, though sometimes I fear I am becoming him.

There are reasons why I have never entered your world.

The tale is finished now, though, and I have cast the first of the pages into the flames. I won't wait this time. Perhaps I am afraid you'll come back for her, that you'll remember you once loved the white swan more than life itself. Though I doubt it.

The pages are curling in on themselves and through the red-rimmed ashes I see the portal between us drawing to a close.

The story must end somewhere…