The beginning of time.


He picked up a ball of dirt hardened by time, space, and dimensional shifting and nursed it in his hands. This piece of land was a haven for him, a place where he could harvest the material to make his keys.

People called him Keymaster.

He didn't make just any keys. His keys unlocked sources of energy and power that all creatures in every world would kill for. He considered himself an artist in the key-making business.

He had come from nothing.

He didn’t know how he was created. He hadn’t had a shape, let alone a name. He couldn’t remember exactly when what he did had become his name, but he was more than happy to accept the name given to him by his clients.

As for his form, he had gone through some trial and error before settling on his now human shape.

He was a collection of energy.

His creator—whom he didn’t know—had made him for a purpose. When he’d grown strong and had taken control of his own actions, his creator was no longer important to him, so he had terminated him. It had probably been too soon to kill his master—he hadn't yet had a chance to discover his purpose, what he had been created for.

He’d wandered around the multiverse in search of a purpose and had taken many shapes and forms in many worlds. But in the material world, the human shape had appealed to him most, so that was the shape he adopted. He was attracted to the everchanging skin tone of the Eudaizians, but he did not like their minds. Some might look at them as innocent, but to him, they were simply too naive.

He had the mind of the underworld. Not only did he like it, he planned to keep his mind sharp for eternity.

The ball of dirt in his palms stared up at him. He transfused some energy into it. It looked happy, he thought. He had made several keys over the years, but this one was the most special. He chuckled at that thought. He’d thought the same thing when he made his second key.

“Damn!” He cursed when the ball melted and exploded in his palms.

He blew gently at the burns on his palms, and soon the skin returned to its usual light blue tone. Right now, that was his favorite skin color. In a few hundred years, when he was bored with this color, he might consider changing to another.

“Too much mercury,” he muttered to himself, shaking his head to clear his mind. This experimental key was a bad idea. He should return to his usual method of key making and look for the main ingredient—precious stone.

Hunger pains clawed at his stomach. Looking around him, he noticed a slight movement in a small shrub nearby. He sniffed the air and smelled the faint scent of flesh and blood.

“I'm stronger than you think,” he growled. He hadn’t killed his creator for no reason. He’d been a good student—until his creator told him he was weak and couldn’t resist the temptation to kill.

He made powerful keys and had saved thousands of creatures. He didn’t see the harm in killing just a handful of them. The multiverse would be less crowded for it.

He hadn’t asked to be created. Thus, if he killed, that was the responsibility of his creator. He thirsted for blood, and he needed to kill…now.

He strode toward the little bush, pushing away the weeds and tall grass.

In front of him, sitting on a soft nest of wild daisies and feathers and smiling up at him, was a baby angel. Her little angel wings were as tiny as the hand-fans he saw the goddesses at the Babylonian court use for no apparent purpose other than decoration.

“Aaa brbrb.”

The baby curved her lips and cooed, then made other noises that made no sense to him. She flapped her fancy little wings.

“You know I'm a predator, and I'm hungry, right?”

“Arrhh,” said the baby.

“If you want to fly, you’ll have to flap your wings harder than that. And if you want to communicate, you’ll have to use a different language. I don't speak baby…if that's what it is.”

The angel made more cheerful cooing noises and clapped her little hands.

He was about to leave but then saw what he had been seeking for a very long time. He shook his head and couldn't believe his eyes. Just behind the baby angel, a colorful piece of rock blinked up at him.

“What have we here?” he muttered. He reached over the baby and grabbed the rock, trying to pull it up from the ground. It was heavier than he’d thought. He shifted and looked at the baby angel.

“I’m going to have to move you aside for a bit. I need that rock, and you’re right in my way.”


“I have no idea what that means, but I’ll take it as a yes.” He lifted the angel gingerly out of the way and kicked up some grass and wildflowers to make a soft surface before placing her on the ground behind him.

“Don’t worry, I’ll put you back when I’m finished with this rock. Your mother will never know you’ve been moved. Okay? So keep quiet.”

“Ahrrr.” Clap. Clap. Clap.

He shook his head, turned around, and started digging at the base of the rock. He realized it wasn’t as heavy as he’d thought—it was just half buried in the ground.

He’d seen this material before. On Earth, they called it jade. He liked its light green color. It was extremely rare to see jade on this elusive piece of land. He pushed the tall grass and weeds aside, brushed off some dirt, and smiled at the jade rock.

He continued to scoop out the dirt along the side of the rock. It was much bigger that he’d thought.

Then he smelled it—the scent of fresh meat and blood. His stomach gave a hungry growl. He shook the thought and the temptation away and kept digging. When he pushed the next little bunch of grass away, a feathered wing dropped out.

Startled, he jerked back, falling on his backside.

Gathering himself together, he approached the bush again. He had seen many dead creatures before. He’d killed some of them himself. After all, he was a predator.

But something about this one made his stomach churn.

He finished clearing the bush away and found the body of a woman. He knew an angel when he saw one, and he didn’t need proof to know she was the mother of the baby behind him. He had never been on good terms with angelic creatures and didn’t know them well. But one thing he knew for certain—you never saw the dead body of an angel. They dissolved into light when they died.

The only reason he was seeing this dead body was that her death had been undignified. She had unfinished business—her child—and she would come back. He didn’t know what the angel had done, or what she would have to do to get back to the predator that killed her. And there was no reason for him to get tangled up in this.

Before turning back toward the baby, he inched over to the edge of the cliff and peered down. On the ground below was the body of a male angel, his body just as damaged as the female’s.

That must be the husband. Another angry angel spirit with unfinished business.

He shook his head.

He bent down, jiggled the piece of rock he had been working to loosen. The blood of the mother angel had soaked into a part of the rock, turning it an edgy amber color. Her white feathers and her milky skin had turned another part of the rock a shiny white.

He wanted the jade, but there was no time to break the entire rock to get to it. He didn’t want to be here when the angry spirits of the parent angels came back, or when more predators came to finish off what the others had left. He didn’t need drama in his immortal life. He heaved the entire rock up onto his shoulder and walked away with it.

Behind him, the baby angel clapped her hands and flapped little wings that would fly nowhere.


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