Gods & Monsters

Published Jun 13, 2022
Word Count 1,683

Chapter 3

A bright light flashed, and he could only watch as Scaramouche brought down a crash of thunder down on Lumine.

Childe wanted to scream, but the voice died in his throat.

He had awoken, his entire body stiff, muscles slack from the pain. It was hard to discern what was happening around him; his vision was blurred and he could not even sit up. All around him were flashes of lightning and the fighting grunts of Scaramouche and Lumine.

Childe heard her scream a sharp, piercing cry. Finally, finally, he could move his limbs, if only a little, just enough to sit up. Lumine was in a rage, beating Scaramouche to death with—wait, was her fist covered in Electro? Was she literally punching the lights out of him?

With every blow a wave of violet light flashed around her. His heartbeat quickened—first with exhilaration at the sight of her in a violent frenzy, and then something else. Panic? Fear? Childe couldn’t decide what it was, but he knew he had to stop her. This wasn’t Lumine.

He called out to her as loud as he could manage. Again and again Childe called out her name; it was the only thing he could do. His body would not let him move.

But she didn’t stop. Lumine continued her barrage, completely ignoring him. A heavy knot in his gut told him this wasn’t her, no, Lumine couldn’t. Not for all her talk about preventing death and violence.

Childe inhaled a deep breath and called out for her one last time with all the air from his lungs. “LUMINE!”

Lumine froze. Did she finally hear him? Relief washed over him, but only for a brief moment, because Scaramouche was still alive like a cockroach refusing to die, still a nasty little brat even in death’s embrace. Scaramouche struck the final blow, and Childe felt his heart drop.

Relief, then shock, horror, and rage. It all crashed through him like the torrential ocean waves, threatening him to drown. Childe tried to think, to strategize, to devise a plan, but his mind was blank. Nothing but violent and merciless thoughts of tearing Scaramouche to shreds. Childe took a deep breath, trying to smooth his composure, but it was difficult when he just witnessed what Scaramouche had done to Lumine. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to calm down.

Scaramouche turned to him, a cruel glint in his eyes. “You’re still alive, after all that?” He barked out a laugh, slowly approaching him with a limp. “You see how easily I crushed your little girlfriend?” he said, punctuating the last word with disdain. “She was powerful, I’ll admit. But still not enough. Pity.”

He hobbled towards him, except he was going the wrong direction. Instead, Scaramouche made a beeline for Childe’s right side. Childe turned and saw the Gnosis a few feet away from him.

Scaramouche saw that he saw it too, and he went faster, or as fast as his pathetic little limp legs could take him. Childe still felt weak, but he was closer to the Gnosis, so he crawled, pain stabbing him with every motion. He reached out and grabbed it, savoring the furious look on Scaramouche’s face.

All at once, power surged through him. It was a familiar sensation, like his Foul Legacy, but he knew this power was different. New but familiar somehow. His sight flooded with visions of the Archons, fighting a glorious bloody battle. He saw mirages of a civilization long lost to war and destruction.

And then he was falling.

He was fourteen again, falling into the Abyss. It was an endless night. As if he had fallen out of the world and into the vast nothingness that enveloped the sky.

Out there, there was nothing. Only darkness and emptiness. He was alone and untethered in the void, no gravity to pull him back where he came from. There was loneliness, and there was complete and utter desolation. Far, far away from anyone he ever loved and hated.


Fear draped around him like a coat, embracing him in total darkness. Fear that he would never see his family again. Fear that he would lose everything he loved, leaving him empty with a void gnawing at his heart.

And in the midst of that dark fear was light. Lumine, bathed in divine golden light. She looked so beautiful and ethereal and serene.

Lumine smiled at him, baring teeth.

Something’s wrong. That feeling of dread surfaced, lodged in his throat like a fishbone.

She smiled wider, blood spilling from her mouth. Her torso turned red, staining her silver white dress. Purple bruises emerged, sullying her creamy white skin. Tears bled from her radiant golden eyes.

And then he was twenty-something again—he didn’t bother counting after twenty—and he was back in Inazuma. Scaramouche stood before him, still looking like a banged-up little puppet.

Childe held on to that gruesome image of Lumine and closed his eyes, committing it to memory. His blood curdled with the powers of the Abyss. He embraced it, pulling his mask over his face. Raw Abyss power surged through him, stretching and pulling every muscle, bone, and sinew into a mutation of human and monster.

This, Childe thought, this is what true power feels like. Abyssal and Celestial powers fused in his blood, the purest form of heresy there was. And he liked it.

No, he loved it. No one could stop him now. No one could take anything—not his family, not his Lumine—away from him, as long as he had this power. Oh, the things he could do. The power and control he would hold over others. He would not need to answer to anyone, not when he can rip them apart with a snap of his fingers.

The corners of Childe’s lips curled into a wicked grin. His breathing was steady but his heart hammered in his chest, threatening to burst with obscene elation. Like a predator long starved, primed to pounce and tear his prey apart. He snapped his gaze at Scaramouche and it was his turn to look terrified, his face ghastly pale at the sight of Childe hovering before him.

“You should have ran,” Childe said, his voice guttural and distorted. “Ran like the coward that you are.”

With a snap of his fingers, Childe summoned an arsenal of weapons infused with Hydro and Electro, tearing apart the thin dimensional walls keeping them from the Abyss. He grabbed the bow and aimed an arrow at his target. He would love to get up close and carve him open with his own claws like a sacrificial lamb. But he would practice restraint; a puny thing like Scaramouche did not deserve the privilege.

Instead, Childe hunted him as Scaramouche ran—he really was running now—and he always loved it when they ran. He released the string; the arrow, along with his sword, spear, and claymore, came hurtling toward Scaramouche. The arrow hit him first, square in the spine, then everything else followed, piercing his limbs firmly to the ground. And with a wave of his hand, the weapons spread out in all directions, tearing Scaramouche asunder.

He licked his lips in satisfaction, admiring his work. Admired how easily Scaramouche’s arms tore from their sockets, how his greatsword ruptured his abdomen, severing his legs from his waist. It was bittersweet, almost, how quickly Scaramouche died. Childe did not even get to delight in his screams.

But no matter. His work was not yet done. He turned and hovered towards Lumine, laying unconscious. She looked beautiful like this, battered and bleeding. How fragile she looked. Childe felt a twinge of jealousy. It was supposed to be him, his privilege—no, his right—to break her, to let her come undone.

Childe gently caressed her arm and thought about how effortlessly he could rend her in two. He understood now what he saw in his vision. That bloody, lurid image of Lumine was not meant to strike fear in him, no, it was inspiration. She was his muse in matters of chaos and destruction. Lumine emerging victorious in their battles had become a matter of fact. The sun rose in the east, gravity pulled them towards the earth, and Lumine would always win, come out on top with her sword pointed dangerously at his throat, nicking his skin ever so slightly.

Another fact: he loved her. Wholly, thoroughly, completely. Childe did not know when it happened, if it was a particular point in time, or a slow erosion of a rock against the current. He wasn’t sure if he was capable of love, other than himself, other than his family, and family didn’t count because you were supposed to love your family. It was unquestionable. But someone else? He wasn’t sure his heart had the capacity. He was a monster after all, a literal one with razor sharp claws. The kind of monster children should be scared of at night. He felt his Abyss-contaminated blood running in his veins. A stain he could never wipe off.

But looking at her now, so tender and frail, he knew he loved her. Like a carnivorous flower swallowing an insect whole, bathing it in acid so no one else could touch it. His and his alone. His for his consumption and digestion. His beautiful little firefly—if fireflies glowed with holy fire and burned everything in their wake, even his carnivorous petals as he tried so hard to cage her and keep her his.

And now, Lumine slept, her chest rising and falling in small, shallow intervals. Any second now, she would heave her last breath. Childe let go of the Gnosis and transformed back into his human skin and bones. In an instant, his body withered into an empty shell of what it once was. No strength. No energy. He laid beside her, winding his arms around her in a soft embrace.

At least, if she died, he would die beside her. It was a shame she did not die by his hands, or him by hers. Childe always thought that was how it would and should be. But this—lying side by side in death’s embrace—would be his final consolation.

The last thing he would see in his hazy vision was a little pink fox scampering over to them.

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