Toxic poison spread through the needle into the mortalborn’s bloodstream. It went fast with the hostile and invasive intention of the spirit, aimed for mutilation of mind and heart. The son of Edasha, in the land of spirits, would receive no rescue from his beloved Immortals who could not hear or see him, nor reach him in time.
Hart was at the mercy
of the tavernkeep and his winged partner.
Driven to the darkest depths of his troubled mind, Hart wished - not for death, not for granted release from the mortal coil - but for harm and suffering, for unending pain, and only then for destruction.
Yet, he already had enough emotional anguish to last him for centuries.
The Wishes unfolded, unspoken to the pair who witnessed what occurred next:
He Wished to hurt himself.
Hart bit his lower lip. It wasn’t a conscious choice. His body acted against him. He bit his lip until the teeth dug in. Blood welled to the surface, then dribbled down his chin. He rocked forward, then back, only constrained by the winged woman - if she remained on his lap despite his prior outburst - and the rope around his wrists.
But this was not mere physicality. It was not a simple mortal who’d gone mad from the poison.
Hart’s skin flaked around his face. The flesh peeled apart into raw thin strips as if he’d scratched his nails into his brow and cheeks though his hands had gone nowhere near the areas. Blood welled in his mouth, dripped from his nose, and trickled out his ears.
Though it could not be seen, Hart felt cramps through his muscles. His entire body tensed and fought against the unnatural pain caused by his First Wish. His stomach ached like the worst illness he ever had, and his guts twisted up while his heart strained to beat against dreadful pressure. Stars danced in his blurred vision. Cracked sounds of his joints, popped in ways they shouldn’t, emanated from him. Hart felt his ankles stab with sharp pain as if he’d twisted them both at the same time. He felt his wrists bend dangerously to near-breaking, but not quite.
Hart hurt. His entire body rebelled against existence.
His First Wish had been granted.
He Wished to suffer. To suffer. To suffer.
Then the Second Wish started.
Every memory of every wrong, every moment when Hart had done something, said something, decided something that caused harm to others, that caused pain to himself… it all played before him in rapid recapitulation. Hart saw himself for the worst of what he believed, the very worst of everything as if it’d been all confirmed…
…but how simple would that be for suffering? To know his worst beliefs about himself to be confirmed would only grant solace when the Last Wish would be granted. He intended to suffer.
So, Hart’s visions changed before his milky-white eyes as they clouded over with what only he could see. He saw the moments of good, now. Blurred with his regrets were his intentions, his hopes, and then he saw the people he knew - people like Wren and Faith - people he’d left behind to come to Melrath to be stopped.
He heard every single encouragement ever given to him from another person, every spoken support and compliment, whispered against his bloody ears. He felt every caress a lover ever slid over him, every affectionate kiss upon his lips, every arousal and embrace.
Hart saw the abyssal bed of his personal hell, but felt the sublime bliss of everything grand in life. He found himself unable to surrender to any objective inevitability that death was what he deserved. Even his suffering seemed questionable now. Nothing was certain. Any purpose he believed in, vanished. Every anchor Hart had, every belief and knowledge, unmoored and left him in not only an account of his entire existence but existential confrontation of what it was he deserved
or even was
. What was right? What was wrong? Would he ever find the answers? How could he ever know?
Thus, the Second Wish granted and though Hart saw and heard and felt all, the witnesses saw very little except the odd twitches of the mortalborn’s body, the blush of his ruined skin as it freely bled with the pulse of the memories as they drifted through his various physiological reactions.
In good time, the Third Wish fell into line.
He Wished, for himself, unending pain.
The First Wish had caused harm, but now these wounds of his would never heal and yet, he would never die from them.
The Second Wish had caused blindness in his eyes and deafness in his ears; for he could only see his greatest regrets and hear his perpetual doubts and feel the mocked presence of his closest loved ones encouraging him despite these regrets and doubts.
Ragged, ruined, and for something to be unending - it had to also be undying, that or follow the soul into death. No solace was offered, neither first nor second wish lifted from him.
Hart had wished himself into a bleeding mess made blind and deaf by his own actions and choices.
The Fourth Wish warred with the Third.
He Wished for destruction.
They traded blows, then came to words, and eventually compromised.
Hart experienced destruction.
He felt it in a way indescribable to any who would ever ask him about it.
For in the reality of Idalos, only four trills passed. For Soren and Navyri, all they saw was the wretch they’d poked into such feats over a mere cup of coffee. All Soren and Navyri saw was the misery of a broken man, slumped forward in the chair, bloody and blind and deaf.
But for Hart, it was as if four eons rushed through his soul and he "saw" so much more.
Every part of him separated. From his body, to his emean vessel, to his soul, to the particles and ether and everything that made up those things.
Hart, surely, thought he’d died at this point. After all, he rushed away from Idalos - and through Emea - and then out of Emea and into the Beneath - but he did not stop. He went past there, to the other worlds and places yet unexplored. In blurred colors and sensations - some of which didn’t even exist in the world he knew - he journeyed to the very edges against the border of universes...
…and he felt the thrum and hum of everything. Everything. It was more than a mere ant looking up at a great tree, or even a forest. Hart was a dust speck, drifted in universal space, to look upon the infinite spread of stars - each a sun - each with their own little worlds and moons and confused men like him, and monsters far from anything like him, and everything in between.
Then everything came back together.
Hart felt his particles, which had separated in every which direction, funnel back inward. He spiraled along the rhythm of the worlds as he traveled back through them. Hart heard the chime of bells and the ringing of otherworldly music. He heard the chants of mystics past, the primal mantra of an Aesir monk, and the dance of spirits through the fabric of Idalos.
When he returned to the broken bleeding body, it no longer felt like his. How could he have done something so needless? What were these feelings that roiled about? These thoughts were no longer his own and no longer made sense. It was almost comical how ludicrous his prior logic seemed, now. Every instinct he had before, detached. He was, after all, a mere dust speck and these were the thoughts of someone who didn’t understand that.
Hart turned his Wishes onto himself, to harm and cause suffering and pain, and in the final fourth trill of his Fourth Wish for destruction, Hart destroyed his ego.
His blind regrets disappeared and he could see again. His hearing returned as his doubts vanished. His skin remained torn up, to mend at a natural pace. But for as long as he lived, he would feel the deep ache in his muscles and joints as reminder of the trial when he Wished himself destroyed.
Ethereal light bled outward as four fracture scars made their way in various spots over his bloodied skin.