My life has been one of suffering. It began 18 years ago in the wilderness of the Blackroot Mountains, deep in the heart of Parcines. At that time, a demon or servant of Ravan, I know not which, and wish not to know, walked the earth. He raped and pillaged and terrorized many. But he chose one. A woman named Rachael. He chose her to bear his terrible seed. Not one, but two were misbegotten from that union, my brother and I. I was told once by my adopted father that, "For Every evil brought into this world, a Good must be created to stop it." He truly believed that I was this light, my brother the darkness. I'm inclined to believe him, from the way we look. My brother, of hair, skin and eyes jet black, yet Identical to me. I was the "light" one, light being the average complexion of a Parcine.
My mother died soon after childbirth. I'd think no woman would prefer life over death after what befell her. We were found on the outskirts of a town called Isolde, in the foothills of the Blackroots. We wandered the streets of Isolde in our youth, hungry urchins, always trying to find a place to fit in. I begged for my meals, my brother stole for his. I was often the one saving his skin from beatings or worse at the hands of angry shopkeepers. When we were eight, my brother and I came upon an old man named Phaeton. He was being attacked by thieves. At first I sought to run to his aid, my brother naturally to take whatever he could off the old mans' corpse. Yet we were surprised to see the old man fighting them off with his walking stick as if they were babes. A casual swipe to the head, one was unconscious. Another swipe, the next man fell to the ground, his leg broken. We stood there, jaws gaping at the spectacle for a good fifteen minutes before finally, he turned to address us. "Come with me." He held a piece of bread in his hand, and we needed no more encouragement.
Phaeton taught us the value of the statement, looks can be deceiving. He looked like an old beggar, yet he was learned beyond measure. He was able to impart much of this to me. My brother tended to ignore his wisdom and seek to make his own mistakes. Phaeton was one of the wealthier townspeople, and we were surprised to learn that he was once a Wardancer, unable to continue do to a crippling wound in his hip. He turned to teaching the ways of peace through the art of war, opening a school for martial arts and weaponry. He had amassed quite a following in Parcines, with many of those wishing to become Wardancers, even some of the legendary ones, training under him. Phaeton soon was taken by us. To this day I don't know what exactly it was he saw in us. I doubt I will ever know. He adopted us, made us the sons he'd longed for all his life. We went from nameless uncouth lads to X'Iphirael and Xy'Lirael Veritas, sons of Phaeton Veritas and blessed of the Tiger Clan. We wore our new names with pride. I soon began to work odd jobs to earn my way through life, grateful for Phaeton's aid but still wishing to walk my own path. Xylirael however, parasitically lived off Phaeton's generosity, sometimes seeking to steal from a wealthy neighbor should his needs, ever more growing, be unsatisfied. When we reached the age of twelve, rapidly approaching manhood, Phaeton then decided we should begin study in the art of war. Wishing to honor my father, I took up the study of his weapon, the Stave. My brother wished to learn the weapon of thieves and assassins, the dagger, much to my fathers' disappointment. I believe it was here where my father began to see our two opposing natures, and began to sense there was something not quite human about us. All my life I knew my brother and I were different, and it finally came to something we could feel when we were becoming young men. We could feel ourselves growing taller, stronger, faster, and smarter than even the best of our town. I worked to help those not as blessed, or cursed, with strength such as mine. My brother used his ability to gratify his lust and greed. We soon came to excel at combat. My brother and I were unrivaled at our weapons. I sought not to hurt, but to win. My brother however, was a blossoming sadist. He often maimed or crippled classmates, to the point where our father challenged him in combat, with the purpose of kicking him out of the Dojo. My brother sought to show his superiority at all costs. It was a long battle, the two fighting far into the night. Finally my father triumphed, but not without a heavy price. My brother, enraged at being stalemated by an old man, stabbed him in the same spot he was wounded many years ago. At this my father lost his temper, stopped holding back. My brother was beaten so badly it took the town healer a full week to get him walking again. Yet after that battle, my father was never the same again. He had difficulty walking, and only came to the Dojo to teach me and a few other students. I think after the betrayal by Xylirael, he lost his will to live. I think he honestly believed he could change my brother for the good. There was one student there named Alys'sa. She was the only student who came close to matching my ability. We often sparred, or taught the younger students when my father didn't come to teach. I'm not sure exactly when or how it happened, but we fell in love. We'd announced our decision to marry to my father shortly before my sixteenth year. Alas, it was not to happen.
It happened on the festival of the Tiger. He returned to claim his sons. I don't know exactly who or what he has. All I know is that he crushed everything and everyone I ever loved in his terrible grasp. One moment I was gazing into the eyes of my love, the next, we were running and hiding from the earthquake with everyone else. Everyone but my brother. He stood in the center of the town square with his arms wide open, laughing. Then I saw shadows fluttering around him. Shadows of terrible things. He turned to me with a wicked smile on his face. "Join me brother!!" I felt this incredible urge to go to him, but I stopped. I looked at my love and realized that to succumb to my brother would have been her death. "No. You stand for all I revile. You will not succeed. That thing you would call father would not walk this earth!!" I do not remember much of what happened the next Seven days. I'd not wish anyone to remember what happened. All I know is that Isolde was burned to the ground and I defeated my brother and natural father. And that my love and the father of my heart died saving my life. I remember my father saying to me with his last breath," Beware the Three! You must fight all that which has destroyed all you've held dear. Never be wicked, but keep vengeance in your heart. The time will come when you will need the rage and hurt of these dark days to defeat your Nemesis" I remember my love crying to me in my arms as she bled her life away," Live! Live life as if there were no tomorrow. Keep me in your heart, but find another! This life is too cruel to be alone. I love you always, soulmate, yet I implore you to live, if for nothing else than to honor my memory. Please". After those seven days I dropped the X from my name. The X was a symbol of honor. I felt I was a dishonor to my father by not being able to save his life. I was unworthy of the title he bestowed upon me. So I became Iphirael. I still feel reluctant even about using his last name. But I figure I should try to honor his legacy by bearing his name. And so I left Isolde. I ran. I didn't know what else to do. I had stopped my natural father from walking the earth, but my brother swore he would hunt me and kill me for it. Despite all the pain my brother caused, I loved him. I didn't wish for him to find me, because I knew killing him would be more than I could bear. So I left Parcines. I traveled from one end of Midlight to the next, always on the run. My flight led me eventually here, to Iridine. My brother followed soon after.
I found my brother two weeks after my arrival. He was in an alley, beaten and slashed and torn, something no ordinary man could endure, yet he still had the tiniest spark of life left in him. I could see it his dark, cold eyes. When he saw me standing over him, he spat at my feet. "Kill me. As you should. You have not won yet. Relish this victory. You will not, and cannot resist your birthright. Ravan will walk this world, whether or not these people choose to embrace him."
"I'd not kill you brother. It hurts me more than you know that you think I would be capable of that. Despite everything you put me through, I still love you."
"Bah! This talk of love. You know nothing of love. Not even with that little" He died without finishing that statement, although I knew who he spoke of. It hurt me that my brothers' last words were so venomous. Yet I still buried him and grieved like kin should. My brother walks with the shadows now. He is still there, plotting and planning and waiting. All I know is that I am here to stop him, and that I will not stop until he is thwarted.
If only I knew I wasn't alone...