There was that feeling again. He was used to it, after suffering from it for years, but it was so unpleasant that he still couldn't ignore it. It felt like his skin was pinched by thousands of hot, long needles. It always happened when it was time for him to wake up. The pain lasted only a second though, forming a mere fraction of the misery that already darkened him.

 

He stood up. He had ended up in the middle of a sea of grass, surrounded by blades that formed ripples in the wind. The pieces of his plate armour clattered softly against each other. Dark blood stained the otherwise shining metal, but it wasn't his.


He wondered why he always wore it; he didn't need protection. Getting wounded was something he didn't care about. Why shouldn't he leave it behind? That would make things easier for him. He started fumbling with the clasps while he looked at his surroundings. Only a few gnarled trees were scattered amongst the dull, monotone landscape. Their dark, twisted branches clawed at the sky and made the place look even more desolate than it already was. It strengthened his grim feelings. He couldn't prevent them from floating up to the surface any longer; he felt lonely, miserable, misunderstood... misused.


This was a good place to flee to though, despite its depressing effect on him. There were so few people living here that being detected by someone was almost impossible. He didn't want to be found, not now. He looked over his shoulder to the north. Even though he had crossed many miles, he could still see the thick smoke on the horizon.


That was my home. What have I done?


He wanted the tears to break free from his eyes, just to remind him that he was still human, not a monster. There was not enough regret to fuel them though - at least not for the fate of his home. The people there deserved this, but was this the best way to make them pay? He only wished he had made this choice much earlier, before his huge mistake. Being in control over so many had resulted a hooking rush. It was one of the few things that gave him a slight idea of happiness, a taste of life. It had completely blinded him for the things that really mattered.


I need a new name, he thought, while he walked away from the column of smoke. More than that; I need a whole new identity.

 

The mighty sorcerer was dead now. No one will look up to him any more, following his orders, obeying his will. He was stripped of his power. It was such an unfamiliar feeling. He was weak and vulnerable now, like every other normal person.


No, not normal. That's something I'll never be.

 

He would be happy if he was normal, or even a fraction of that; just plain and ordinary with a pinch of dullness, like most people were. But no, he had to be special, in a very, very awful way. The worst thing about it was that he couldn't get rid of it. There seemed to be no cure for him, no one who could help. Nothing. It had thrown him into a deep pit and he couldn't find a way out - if it even had one. He didn't know if his dark state of mind was also caused by that special 'gift' of his, or if it was simply a reaction to it, created by himself. Whatever it was, it had left him with Despair as his eternal companion and Misery as his friend.

 

He sighed. He wondered if he was better off dead, a thought he had often. He couldn't kill himself, despite how much he wanted it. Something stopped him, every time he tried. He had no choice but to go on, learning how to live with his 'companion' and 'friend' instead. But how? He did a good job hiding his problems from others, but he had no idea how to do that for himself.


I need a new name, he thought again.


He felt his pendant bouncing against his chest with every step he took away from home. He grabbed it, took it off his neck and stared at it in disgust. This was the symbol of the people he hated so much now. He flung it over his shoulder - but his fingers snatched the chain at the last moment.

 

He groaned. Despite having literally turned his back towards the atrocious system the pendant stood for, he was still trapped by it. He put the piece of jewellery back around his neck. He couldn't let go of the loathed thing, unless he wanted to be hunted down for the rest of his life. The simple object offered him protection and - though now in a much lesser way than he was used to - power. That was one of the strongest forces in the world, maybe even the strongest. Men were addicted to it; he had been addicted to it. He saw that now. The power he had, however, came with bounds. He had realised too late that he valued freedom more.

 

I need a new name.


The western horizon bathed in the greenish hue of dusk, but that last remnant of the sunset would be gone soon. It was getting darker every minute and the first stars had appeared already. The sky was so clear that it made him lose all sense of depth. The small, twinkling lights looked only an arm's length away, as if he could pluck them out of the heavens like they were flowers. One particular star caught his eye. It was still standing low in the east, having started its journey from one end of the horizon to the other not so long ago.


'Rigel,' he said softly, as if he wanted to welcome the bright blue light. He was so accustomed to its company that he almost saw it as a living thing, a real person, but one he had mixed feelings about. It wasn't his friend, it wasn't his enemy; but it was a part of him.


He let his hand run through his short, dark hair, while he gazed at other celestial bodies that illuminated the night's sky. Rigel might burn with an impressive light, but the other stars that shared its constellation did that as well. One of the corners of his mouth curled up, creating a crooked smile.

 

He had found a new name, a good name. It was a bit unusual, but he couldn't think of something that was more fitting. He walked on, with Despair and Misery following his footsteps.

 

 

 



Prologue

 

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