Randale remembered when he was given his life by Huesic, member of the last pair, and the thirteenth demiurge to have been created from the Maker. Being number 67 of 777, Randal was one of the handful of demiurges to aid in the creation of the Heavens and the Earths from the very start. At that point, no one had a definite appearance; they were constantly changing, amorphous and incomprehensible, with nothing but mental attributes to carry them forward. Not like the present, whose forms reflected their own creations.
His participation in creating the heavens was appreciated, but where Randale excelled most was creating life on the Living Earth. The creation of different forms of life had been the best part of his new life so far. He enjoyed aiding the Seven Pairs in its creation.
He felt proud of himself.
Fredrick and Agathos, the King and Queen of Eden and First Pair, proclaimed today that a celebration was in order, and that each of the demiurges in Eden would receive a gift in exchange for their service. Randale knew that this announcement was substantial, especially since the king and queen were the ones making it. The only thing that’d make it more significant would be if the Maker itself gave it. However, that was not what Randale was keen on. He was focused on what was offered to the few who had proved themselves: training, directly from the fourteen rulers of Eden, otherwise known as the Seven Pairs; the first demiurges to have been created by the Maker.
Only a hundred will be selected, at least at first. That hundred would be able to collaborate with others, develop philosophies, and, perhaps, even surpass the Seven Pairs! The mere thought of it was almost too much for Randale to bear.
The Gathering Pit was alive with color tonight. The fires gave off a warm, friendly glow, and the fountains oozed black with sweet booze. No expense had been spared; the debauchery was ready to begin.
Randale had chosen a form that reflected his best and, by far, favorite creation: the stilted fox. Stylistically, his design seemed to bridge the gap between fox and wolf, but its figure quickly erased that thought. Though he shared the fox's fiery brown coat, his blackened legs allowed him to stand taller than the direst of wolves and the largest of foxes combined. His mane seemed to brush the skies when compared to either species, but among the many other demiurges, he maintained a proud modesty.
He didn't want to become muddled with booze just yet, not until the king and queen made their announcement. Anticipation rushed over Randale's thoughts until he noticed something off about the stage. Each ruler had a throne built for them, but Huesic had been sitting alone tonight. It was just like the Serpent, to leave Huesic there like that. What Huesic saw in the Serpent to be joined with them, Randale had no clue. The Serpent didn't contribute much to the construction of the Third World. They couldn’t even be bothered to name themself, they just accepted the titles of “Number Fourteen” and “the Serpent.” Yet, they were given the order to create the species that would rule the Living Earth.
It might have been fine if their design had had any intelligence to them, but the Serpent had it set in their mind that brute force alone could reign supreme. They might have been fine if they hadn't been so large, which meant more food was needed for sustenance. They might have been fine if the Serpent had not spoken ill of King Fredrick, which tempted him to test the Serpent’s design with a great ball of fire, but to be honest, the entire species should not have been eradicated from even that if it were designed well enough.
But, regardless, the Serpent’s design had failed. The Maker had intervened and simply inserted itself into the world. Not what any of the demiurges wanted; in fact, they saw it as vain for the Maker to base the world on itself, and not vice versa, but it was competent. And at least the Serpent brought up the concept of cold blood with that incident, even if it was Huesic who perfected it.
Randale snapped out of his thoughts in time to see the king had stepped down from his throne, in his signature, wolfish form. The king was a good king. Charismatic, hardy, fair, if a tad brash.
He began to speak with a smile a valley wide, and voice that boomed throughout the pit, "Welcome all! We hope you are all well on this night. This event marks a truly special time in history, one that deserves celebration!"
The crowd had roared in agreement, only settling when the king had raised his paw.
"This is a night of recognition. Each and every one of you is responsible for the Third World, and I think I am not misrepresenting my brothers' and sisters' beliefs when I say that we are all the proudest we've ever been. So, in order to show our appreciation, we have all decided to allow this, our gift to you all: ceaseless access to the fountains! Every place, anytime, anyone! So long as you are not at work, no more will there be a restriction on celebratory drinks! You all have earned this right!"
If the previous cheers had been loud, they were deafening now. The king continued. "But many of you have not come for that. Today, we have a very special opportunity for our most talented children.
Tonight, we shall select a hundred of our honorable children, and pass along our lessons to them, with the intent that they shall pass along their wisdom to their brothers and sisters… what is that?"
The king's smile deformed into a look of concern. The crowd looked in the direction of the disturbance to see one of their brothers distraught, and approaching the king, begging for his attention.
"Is there a problem? What's wrong?"
"Father, father, the humans, they broke the rule! They ate from the tree!"
"Calm down, calm down!… You must be mistaken, take me to them," the king said, then turning his attention to the others and lowering the volume in his voice "Agathos, come with me, this is important." He addressed the other pairs before alerting the partygoers, "try to calm everyone down when I leave. Everyone! I must go. Something has happened that calls my attention. In the meantime, please, enjoy the festivities."
And with that, he and the queen stepped down, and left, the murmuring crowd parting as he walked.
The princess spoke, "quiet, quiet. Now, continuing where our king left off, we'll begin to name those who we'll see first thing tomorrow!"
Only a few could stomach cheering. Randale could not help but to be nervous. There were so few rules in place, the only rule that would demand the king's presence was the one: the rule regarding the Tree of Knowledge. The Maker had forbidden any of their creations on the Living Earth to possess a certain level of intelligence, so to be sure it wasn’t used to such a degree, Agathos stored that power in a large tree and kept it Eden, far away from their creations. There was no way the humans could have gotten to it by themselves.
Many, Randale included, were in a daze when their name had been called. This was an honor, and Randale accepted it with the best smile he could force, but everyone could feel something wrong looming over them from the horizon.
At least there were drinks.
"You are all disgusting. Blazes to you all," the Serpent roared.
It was not a good day. The king, grey flames circling his head, stood at the gates of Eden with what used to be known as the Serpent under his claws. The king's form was so much larger than his was at the pit. It was not a design that could survive as a species, but it was effective as a show of force. Randale watched, keeping the crowd a safe distance away from the king and the serpent. The king had insisted that the only two to come close to the serpent would be him and Huesic, but they didn't want to see them, or “it" now, again.
The Serpent continued its cursing, "damn you, I swear that you-," the king crushed it under his paw, its bones snapping under his weight.
"Silence," he said, coldly. "Crafter number fourteen, it is the decision of myself, Crafters two through thirteen, and the citizens of Eden that you are to be stripped of your privileges, erased from all records, and expelled to walk the earth without end. You have given the humans the fruit from the tree of knowledge and sabotaged the entire design. Who knows what will happen now."
The Serpent's bones began to move back into place, repairing itself. "T-thirteen? Huesic? They agreed to this?"
"Yes, they did. And I know they have been doing your work for you as you took credit. I would say that I don't enjoy this. I would try to be sympathetic, but frankly, you have contributed too little for me to care. You chose to use your position to enhance only your own comfort, rather than the comforts of others. You are disgusting."
The Serpent piped up, “you know why I did it. Even you agree, we should not be told what we can and cannot do. Why do you defend that monster-"
"Did you not hear me the first time?" The king growled, now crushing the Serpent even harder. "It was an agreement that you broke. We had the final say. Now because of your jealousy, we all will suffer. Your design failed, so now you envy the current one, the Human. So, in addition to the mentioned punishments, I forbid you from abandoning your body, I forbid you to enact on any of your endeavors, and I forbid you from employing the gift of creation in all you do. Humans will fruitlessly desire your death to no end, and your only friend shall be fear."
The king lifted his paw and sat down. "Now leave. May your respites be few and far between."
The Serpent lifted itself again, bones reforming in its skin. It left without another word.
It felt like a lifetime since the Serpent had doomed them all. When it was driven out of Eden, the Maker had punished everyone, including the demiurges. While they still had eternal life and could not die, they now felt pain, and hunger, and disease. At first, the punishment had felt lenient, but Eden was not designed to provide enough food to support life on its own. Hunger soon fell over Eden as its citizens became increasingly divided. The king and queen became furious at the Maker for punishing them for something that they were not at fault for, but the other pairs were more concerned with what the Maker would do if they resisted.
After rallying supporters for a rebellion against the Maker, the king and queen had been labeled traitors against Eden, even when the overwhelming majority of its citizens had agreed with them. The only loyalists for the Maker had been the other rulers of Eden, and a handful of those who were deemed worthy of training. Much of those who stayed with the other rulers did so only to protect them, rather than defend the Maker. This included Randale, as he persistently checked on Huesic as they became more and more reclusive.
"Huesic? Are you here?" Randale said as he crept into Huesic’s room.
"Oh. Hello Randale… don’t you have anything better to do?"
"It's been days since I've seen you leave. I worry."
"I'm fine," Huesic mumbled.
"Huesic, you know you can tell me anything. You don't have to keep up your image around me. I care about my creator." Randale approached. "If it's fine with you, can I confess something? I… agree with more with Fredrick than the others. We should all be fighting the Maker, not each other. And our resistance against our own king? Labeling him a traitor? He doesn't want us hurt. We seem to be the ones hurting. It's not right. Why aren't we trying to reverse this curse? I don't want to hurt my brothers and sisters, I want things perfect. The way they were before… I’m sorry, that was rude. I wasn't-"
"No, no, it's fine. We all do."
"… I'll stop talking if that's what you want."
Huesic sighed and stood up to reveal themself. He changed his form from a small lizard to a small fox. Many demiurges abandoned any sort of reptile forms after what happened, just to avoid being associated with the Serpent. If anyone had the right to change theirs, it would be Huesic. "I'm sorry. I'm just in a bad state of mind. You can talk to me. I could have prevented Fourteen. They… ‘it’ just became so distant. It's my fault, I-"
“No,” Randale interrupted. "Don't ever blame yourself for what it did. That was its problem, not yours. The Serpent, and its envy and laziness was to blame, not you. Don't ever, ever depreciate yourself like that, you're so loved. You know this, right?"
"… I… thank you, my son. I needed to hear that. I never wanted any of this."
"I know you didn't. I know, It's hard, but we'll get through. I know we will."
"I-I think so too. It feels good, hearing you say that," Huesic said.
"Maybe we should go." Randale started after a pause.
"Go?" Huesic sniffed "Where?"
"Out of Eden. I mean, it can't be too bad on the Third World, can it? At least there are no wars there yet."
"I can't. I still have family here, I can't leave them."
"We can bring them. Think of what good we can do with our knowledge. Even if we can't cure the sick, we'd help so many just on knowledge alone! And if we are to be afflicted with things like hunger, going out of Eden makes sense anyways, wouldn't it? Let’s all leave, and make the best of it."
“Do you have a plan?” Huesic hesitated.
"We can work it out, that I can promise you, but, please? Come with me? Before there’s any more damage?" Randale stuck out his paw, "Deal? Parent and son?"
Huesic paused, only for a moment. It wasn't too long that they stuck out their paw to meet his, "deal."