They say the world was wrong once, all fear and pain twisted up under a leering sky.
They say a Watcher ruled over it all with cold eyes in a stolen face.
"Really Jon, I don’t know what you hope to accomplish here. I am King of this world. You should be grateful I’ve allowed this little rebellion as long as I have.” Jonah snaps his fingers in Martin’s direction.
Martin can’t move. Can’t speak. Can’t think. The only thing left in him—Is there a him?—is pure terror. He wants to scream but he can’t remember his body outside the white hot agony of every fear pain doubt shame he’s ever known.
The waves recede enough that he can see the floor beneath him again (When did he fall to the floor?). Jon has moved between him and Jonah, kneeling in supplication.
Then, Jon laughs.
Uncountable eyes open in the air around them both, heavy in their threat.
Jon gets to his feet. “I said, no. Because I've figured you out Jonah. You’re scared. You can’t control me. You made me to be the perfect avatar. You’ve been the golden child for 200 years, I think you forgot what our God actually needs.” His head snaps up to stare directly in Jonah’s Eyes. “What it demands. You’ve been so concerned with immortality and rituals and marks you’ve been neglecting your duty.”
Thousands more eyes open, smothering the old, all of them trained on Jonah. “You tried to be the Mother, making us all dance to your merry tune. You even let Gertrude all but destroy my Archives in service to your plans! Very sloppy.”
The Archivist’s own eyes are glowing now as he advances towards the throne. His voice is thick with power. “I think, between the two of us, the Eye knows which one could actually feed it.”
They say a Demon killed the Watcher.
“Jon? Jon! Jon, please tell me you’re still there. P-please.” Tears blur Martin’s vision as the thing of eyes in front of him stares stares stares. “Please Jon. You—you’re scaring me.”
Slowly, the eyes close. Slowly, Jon sinks to the floor as the Archivist withdraws, ever so slightly.
“Jon! L-listen to me, you need to fight it, you need to—”
“No, I-I can’t Martin, don’t you see? That’s the price. The world can keep spinning, same as it was before, as long as I make it—” He chokes. “interesting to watch.” His voice drops to a whisper. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I-I can't— It hurts.”
Martin’s heart aches. He knows he would follow (has followed) Jon anywhere. It’s hardly even a conscious decision to wrap his arms around Jon’s trembling (human) frame. He knows he can’t hold back the terror of the world with a soft embrace, but maybe, just maybe, he can make it slightly more bearable.
They say you should never make eye contact.
They say you should never go out unaware.
(where you’re alone)
(where it’s dark)
(where you could fall)
(where you could drown)
(where you could burn)
(where something could follow you)
(where something could attack you)
(where something could eat you)
(where the creeping rot might find you)
(where you could get lost)
(where the spiders live)
(where a stranger could find you)
(where you could die)
(where the Demon will see you)
They say a creature with long talons for fingers and a face like shifting sand and wings like a hole in reality and eyes eyes eyes will appear during your worst moments, just to watch.
They say if you’re lucky, it will let you die.
They say if it keeps you, if it chooses to rip every thought and fear and feeling and self out of your head, it will return to you every night for the rest of your life.
They don’t say that sometimes there is a man.
They don’t say that he will stand beside the Demon, hold its terrible talons, gaze into its unspeakable eyes.
They don’t say that he will kneel beside you and hold your hand as you die, and whisper “I’m sorry.” and “It had to be this way.” and “It’s over now.”
They don’t say that when someone has been taken, those who knew them will never be targeted again. (A small mercy, small enough to be allowed.)
They don’t say that when the Demon is finished for the night, when he stumbles back home where he is a demon no longer, and collapses sobbing to the floor, the man will hold him, and cry with him, and call his name over and over until he remembers why this must be.