Matthieu Calixte de La Croix de Castries remembers in the kind of odd waves that usually follow blackened wings of dreams. This is as life has always been for him. Gyeonggi, South Korea is a frenzy of children and elderly, of nuns and teachers and forgetting. An accident, a fire, glass shattering. The smell of burning bodies. The pain of tears and a voice lost from howling and screaming. Paris, France comes easier. London, England. New York City. Little places with memories that glisten and shine with the de la Croix de Castries family. Nobles. Real fairytale stuff: a noble man on his foreign horse (a car that reflected light so brightly in Gyeonggi that all the children swore he had been an alien) and his wife, dressed in finer silks than any queen had ever worn. They came to his rescue. They gave him the castle, the horses, the yachts, the glory.

They were, and are, his heroes.

Every lie that has been sold, Matthieu bought. The way he broke his leg at twelve. The way he went with his mother to a filming set in Los Angeles. The way his father has shown him the beauty of the world. These are his truths, flooding his reality like oxygen through the atmosphere. Who could complain about the luxury of a life that didn't belong to them? Who could care, when they were given the gifts that even some gods couldn't afford? Not Matthieu. Not as long as he was caught in the daze.

The forced dormant nature of the Eipiânari known as Xvastari was a constant struggle. Monthly visits to the doctor were really more about making sure that the programming was keeping all truth subdued; to Matthieu, these were just assurances that no lingering damage every cropped up, no troubles with family or genetics. As long as the original programming was down, they felt, they could continue to drain him. Of blood, of saliva, of semen — whatever could be turned into a serum for consumption and power. A constant living menagerie of personalities, histories, and truths, all cultivating like dreams Matthieu had more than truth. Never truth.

Until it was only truth left standing.


For whatever measures of life have come and gone (including top marks at his alma mater ENSBA and hobbies with friends across the continent) nothing matters anymore. The facade fractured the moment they forced his hand at murder, flashes of truth breaking through him until nothing remained but the terror of the truth. As they initiated a destructive protocol that turned on Rosalee, who — for better or worse — had become a source of affection and tenderness to Matthieu, everything changed. The Eipiâ chanted through every cell. The femtomites of the bodily structure came alive. Each one began to remember. To remember the debauchery. The abuse. The rapes. The wars. 2,000 years of battles and harship all triumphed in four years of daily disgust the humans put them through. And then this: the killing of a hopeless cause. The exact destruction of the singular Eipiâ truth that Xvastari most wanted.

The only person to bark orders at Xvastari was the only head to roll before the Eipiânari ran, destruction in its wake. The mansion collapsing with a blast of pure Zarâre. The world, a blurry, fading mess — sex and want and love and violence and hate and anger and and and, a thousand different emotions, reactions, colors all sounding off and shaking Xvastari to the core. They ran, best as they could. They ran, as far as they could, until there was only darkness, to try and make sense of all that was, including the blood on their hands that, for once, they couldn't be sure was not their own.