AN: For those of you who haven't read Roots of a Legend, I highly recommend that you do before reading this! If you don't feel like that, that's okay too; this chapter isn't too relevant to the rest of The Legendary Couple's plot line, it just is fun for those of you who wonder what happened to our old pal Cueraça...
Mze smiled contently as he stared at his golden complection in the enormous, profusely decorated mirror in front of him. Many thought he wore a mask, even his faithful legions of demons did believe there was a human face behind that shiny depiction of the Sun, but there wasn't, for Mze was the Sun himself.
The supreme God roared with laughter as he caressed his shapely, bullion cheek. He was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous, that was out of question. He was a freak too, though. Probably the biggest freak that had ever roamed the Island, the biggest freak that had ever reigned over the Neragua...
A body of flesh and bones, liquor for blood, a face of gold and a heart of steel, that was how he was built, literally. Yet, despite his inhuman consistency, Mze was no cruel man at all. When he had ruled over the mortals of Piñata Island, he had never done deeds more horrible than Cueraça's, Terah's, Bulan's or Afoti's. Never had he tortured his mortal nationals for entertainment, neither had he ever released mysterious virusses on them to watch natural selection save his strongest vavasors.
He definately made sure that his loyal Priests granted him his every wish, but he never went further than the occasional kill of a traitor. According to Mze, there was no point in sowing misery and corruption when surrounded by luxuriance and wealth.
He was the one for who the most outrageous sanctuaries were built, he was the one to reside in the Island's capital and he was the one to make love to the most charming temple dancers and Priestesses... Yes. Yes, he was good for his people, he had even showed them mercy during that awful phase called the Religious Revolution...
The Sun God heaved a deep sigh. Sometimes, he missed the Ancient Days. Now and then, he longed for his beloved city of Luzia and once in a while, he would travel back to the placid port town to indulge its modern-day inhabitants with his warm, sublime presence.
It never rained over Luzia. Although its citizens had betrayed him that crucial time a few centuries ago, Mze still was there to maintain his capital's greatness.
He was over the pain he had felt that night the 'Revolutionaries' had sent him back to the Neragua. Why would a God, living in an opulent palace with marble walls and floors, golden taps and divine statues in every single chambre nourish hatred towards something as trifling as... an Island's human population?
Suddenly, a loud THUMP on the relievo bedroom door startled the Sun God. ''Mze! I want to talk to you!'' a raspy, ill-omened voice sounded from the other side.
Mze heaved a deep, incredulous sigh. Cueraça had finally come to paying him, his brother, a visit.
That discomfiture with the Ameena-girl still bothered him, Mze could tell by the way the God of Death snarled and banged on the door. Cueraça usually was a quiet one, a malicious gentleman of good taste. He bought his fellow Gods the finest vestments and accessories, his diner parties were top notch and his residence was almost as mindblowing as Bulan's...
Of course it didn't even come close to his palace, but even Versailles, the palace of the his mainland equivalent, wouldn't.
''Cueraça,'' Mze groaned, ''it has been a while. Come in.''
With a finger snap, the Sun God opened the heavy, light-colored sandstone door. In the mirror, Cueraça's terrifying mask appeared, redder than ever as an angry flush lingered on its cheeks.
''You!'' the God of Death hissed, slithering further inside the flamboyantly furnished room. ''It is all your fault, Mze! The Cosmos has chosen Good above Evil, Day above Night, while you could have averted this!'' The skeleton shook his head, aggrieved with the way all the effort he had put in the Religious Rollback had gone down the drain.
Mze smiled at his fellow God's dejected reflection in the mirror. ''That is not true, my beloved brother. I could not have done anything to prevent that unfortunate overthrow. There are forces more powerful than the Cosmos in this universe, Cueraça, and Destiny will ever remain one of them...''
''You did not even try!'' Cueraça huffed. ''You could have come to the battlefield, that night. Everyone was there. Bulan was there, Afoti was there, Terah was there, I was there. We all courageously fought for our future, we dauntlessly championed our reign.''
''And I am very proud of you and my other dear siblings for that, Raç'' the Sun God said. ''I would have loved to have The City of Luzia back. A pity you guys failed.''
''The point is, you should have helped!" Cueraça screamed, growing more and more annoyed by talking to the mirror image of Mze instead of his actual face. ''That one night we really needed you, our Almighty Leader,'' he mocked, ''but you just stayed home, sitting your fat, lazy behind in one of your stupid, queer thrones instead of battling with us!''
''That may be true,'' the Sun God grinned, unaffected by the Death God's blustering, ''I might be a slothful rascal, but I do not see the point in you being cross with me, my best. You lads might have won the battle against Good if the Force of Coincidence had not played its part that night, if that stupid meteorite had not stormed past our planet at the, erhm... not quite right time. Even if I had partaken, I could not have guaranteed conquest for the True Gods.''
''You should have at least tried!'' Cueraça repeated dissapointedly, voice starting to sound smaller, more anguished and more desperate.
''Raça,'' Mze turned around, trying to console his companion. ''It is over, your tragedy occured weeks and weeks ago... Why did you not come to visit me earlier, my emaciated friend?''
Cueraça suppressed a sob. ''I had... business, in my part of the Neragua,'' he answered. ''There was some tumult among the Lizardi... Now that the portals to the Island have closed to never be opened again, some of their relatives are stuck on the other side... Another fact that bothers them is that they cannot hunt for humans anymore, they were among their favorite prey...''
''Shhh!'' the Sun God whizzed. ''The portals will open again someday, my friend, mark my words.''
''Yeah. Sure.'' Cueraça rolled his iris-less eyes as he grabbed a chair so beautiful that calling it just 'a chair' would almost be an insult towards the precious piece of furniture. ''We just will be stuck for another five or six centuries in this hellhole... Argh!''
''While you call the Neragua a hellhole, I prefer to call it heaven,'' Mze smiled, turning to the mirror again. ''Do you not think we are surrounded by more beauty than any of those braindead Islanders, Cueraça? Do you not think that, when all divine beauty starts to bore us, we have the fantastical opportunity to track off to places where perdition and bane rule? All we wish for we can find in our prodigious empire, Cueraça, and while I sometimes miss my fancy Island-city, the Underworld provides us with everything our hearts desire, not?''
Cueraça had to think for a moment, his abhorrent eyes focused on the underside of his blood-stained robe. ''I do not have a heart,'' he finally replied, his glance travelling up. ''Unlike you, I am dead, Mze! I live off the misery of the living... Here, in this stupid shadow realm, nothing really lives, breathes and loves like the mortals do... The closing of the portals might mean my demise, for I always have fed myself with damned souls... Even when Dastardos had taken my profession, I...''
With a sad wipe of his satin cleaning cloth, Mze removed a wash of smudged kohl liner around his eyes. ''You shall not die as long as I can maintain my influence over Luzia, my brother,'' he soughed. ''I will send you as many damned souls you need.''
''My thirst for them is almost unquenchable,'' the uglier deity whispered. ''I have felt myself growing feeble lately...''
''Shh,'' Mze tried to soothe his disstressed God-brother, again. ''The lost battle will not cause you to pass away.''
''Who are you to say that?'' Cueraça muttered. ''Who are you to know?''
''I am the one who was chosen to rule the Neragua, thou knows that,'' the massive Sun chuckled. ''You are wondering why me instead of you, Afoti, Terah or even Bulan, not?''
Cueraça made an approving little noise. ''I can grasp why Bulan was not elected for your function, though,'' he added to that.
Mze smirked. He knew Cueraça or Afoti would've probably done a better job being the Great Emperor or Empress. They did care about the wellbeing of the realm of darkness, all he worried about was whether he'd wear his brocade or his silken robe to the nth dinner party he'd thrown.
''Sometimes, I wonder why as well, friend. I suppose Fate is the force that tells us who is meant to play which part in the universe's playlet...''
Cueraça shuddered. He had been feeling cold since that scandalous defeat. His anger and disappointment seemed to be the only things that kept him warm.
''You look as if you could use a liqueur, my friend,'' Mze noted, hoping a glass of alcohol would bring their conversation to a lighter tone. ''I am sure it will quicken you.''
Cueraça heaved another exhausted sigh. He knew that Mze just wanted someone to get drunk with. The Sun God was no ordinary boozer, but more of a social drinker. ''Pour me a glass,'' he finally complied. ''I will drink with you, provided that you give me the souls of your Luzians, from now on... I know you do still have a major influence on the city.''