Written by Rejected Eldritch, and edited by Asger.
There once were two brothers, both from the same high-standing family, twins of the flesh; but not of the mind. The eldest of the two Camdyn Flynn Miller, ambitious and cunning.
And the younger Aurelius Fletcher Miller, was innocent and good-hearted who often befell his brother’s wrath. The Mill they ran was only a stone’s throw from the house, so they often left the brothers alone. Camdyn always picking on Aurelius, a hatred between them developed.
And as they grew, so did their feud. When they were Twelve Camdyn stole an apple from a local merchant, when caught he feigned innocence
“Please sir,” He cried. “I didn’t steal the apple.” He looked at Aurelius who was just pleading with Camdyn to return the apple. “It was my brother, but try as I may he wouldn’t give it back, so I took it. And was in the process of returning it when you approached us.” He held up the apple offering it to the merchant much to Aurelius’s dismay, and Camden’s chagrin, the merchant, impressed by Camdyns faux-honesty gave him the apple and dragged Aurelius by the nape of his neck to their parents who were a short distance from the twins, shopping for quilts. When they returned home the lashing that Father-Miller gave Aurelius haunted him well into his teens. As his teeth shook from the blow of the belt, the only sound he heard aside from the smack of leather against his flesh, was the crunch of an apple. Camdyn stood in the doorway, watching their father beating his brother he delighted seeing his brother in pain, that was the only time he liked seeing Aurelius at all.
At fourteen, during one of those secluded mornings while their parents worked, while fleeing from Camdyn, Aurelius's leg fell through a floorboard breaking it. He was bedridden for the next few weeks. And they were not pleasant in the slightest, owing to the fact that Mother-Miller used Camdyn as a fetch-boy to tend to Aurelius.
Even though they had it repaired Aurelius never felt comfortable walking on it again. So he always interrupted his stride when he reached it, much to Camdyn's amusement.
When they were seventeen, their parents took Aurelius to the market for a new shirt. His old one had burn-marks on it from when Camdyn was bored the night before. Camdyn took the neighbors dog out into the woods and came out half an hour later, blood dripping from a sharp stone and scarlet stained clothes. Only one thing befouled his plans, Aurelius and their parents had returned from the market much sooner than he anticipated. After finding the bodies of four raccoons and two stray cats, near the clearing where he killed the dog, they sent Camdyn to a reformatory school in the next village.
At twenty-two, Camdyn returned from the school seemingly changed but, after what they had seen, he would never quite be redeemed in his parent’s eyes. He acted as if Aurelius didn’t exist. After years and years of this unsteady balance, and Father-Miller’s slowly declining health, he named Aurelius heir to the Mill and the wealth that came with it. That was the breaking point, Camdyn swore, stormed off, out of the house and into the forest. Mother-Miller cried for most of the night, heartbroken.
Camdyn was absent for their father’s final days, he never returned out of the woods, and all of Aurelius’s attempts to find him failed. Camdyn wasn’t at the funeral.
At thirty-four, the Mill was thriving. Aurelius had buried Mother-Miller a year prior. It was night, Aurelius was doing a nightly sweep of the Mill.
That was when he next saw Camdyn. He stood, back to Aurelius, facing the Mill-stone.
“Hello, brother.” He drawled. His voice had taken a sickly edge.
“Camdyn,” Aurelius asked, puzzled. “Where have you been?” Camdyn grinned.
“Places you could never imagine.” Aurelius brought up his torch, and for the first saw the small leather book in Camdyn’s left hand. He turned, he looked almost like a skeleton, deep rings punctuated his eyes, his skeletal face framed with a long beard. “There exist more worlds than our own,” He opened the book and was flipping through it absentmindedly. “One of fire,” He finally settled on a page, and started signing his hands in a rhythmic loop. “And one of stone.” Purple embers trailed the areas his hand had been. “And in said places exist beings more powerful than you could ever imagine" He paused, and added contemptuously. “Have you ever seen a dragon, Aurelius?” Where his hands were looping a sign appeared in the air.
Purple fire engulfed the four edges of the Mill, and Camdyn’s mouth opened in a wolfish grin. “You see, after being cheated out of my Mill I fled into the woods to my old…” He smirked. “...Stomping grounds, and mourned my loss.” And took a step forward. “That’s when he spoke to me…” He took another step. “He called out to me, and I listened.” The fire had engulfed almost a quarter of the Mill now, Aurelius’s legs glued to the spot. “So I set off, boat to boat, horse to horse, following the sound of His voice. I finally found Him in a cave. Well, an idol of him right off the harbor of some market town. But it was enough for him to speak to me.” He took yet another step forward “The cave was empty, save for a small leather book.” He held it up. “I am chosen, only I can bring Him back!” Camdyn finally reached Aurelius. The two brothers stood, almost nose to nose. Aurelius' face marked with disbelief. They slowly walked out of the Mill not daring to take their eyes off the other.
“What have you done?” Aurelius whispered, disgusted. The building in front of him slowly caved in and with it the only remnant of their father’s life. No, not the only one…
Aurelius broke out in a sprint to the house. Camdyn pursued, but slowly. He felt no need to rush, this was the moment he had waited for after all. Once in the house, Aurelius looked to the fireplace where above lay, in its scabbard, the sword their father received as a gift from afriend. Aurelius hadn’t thought about it for so long…
“Brother dearest?” Camdyn called, tauntingly from outside. Aurelius unsheathed it, and it seemed to glow dimly in the dark of the house. “Brother…” He drawled.
The floorboards creaked, he had entered the home. Aurelius braced himself for a fight. The floorboards kept creaking until they reached the kitchen, which was only one room off from the one where Aurelius stood.
Purple fire flew at Aurelius, which he just managed to side-step. Camdyn rushed into the room and at his brother. Aurelius slashed the sword upwards, barely managing to slash him at all. Backing away Camdyn held out his arm, hand open. His other hand moved in a complex pattern that Aurelius struggled to keep track of, and suddenly, as though it had always been there: a sword appeared, summoned from purple flames.
Aurelius fought, his sword swinging panicked and wild. Camdyn however, had some experience. And though Aurelius had never used a sword before, Camdyn was having some difficulty with him. He was accustomed to fighting people who at least knew the basics of swordplay, whereas Aurelius knew only to swipe, dodge, or flee. His unpredictability made him hard to deal with.
"What do you think you’re doing brother?" Camdyn called, advancing forward. Aurelius walked backward, not taking his eyes off his brother. "There is no beating me! This is the day I've waited for, 'the blood of my flesh’ is all that’s left to complete my summoning of Him. Of course, I could use my own blood.” He smiled, wickedly. “But where's the fun in that? Nothing you can do will stop me."
"Oh yeah?" Aurelius replied, coldly. "I wouldn't be so sure…" Camdyn came down with his sword and-
His left leg fell through the floor, on the same board of wood that Aurelius broke his leg. He swore, and twisted, slashing his blade of purple flame at his brother. The shift in weight caused the board next to it, weakened by the firsts’ collapse, to fall. And Camdyn fell through to the basement, taking Aurelius with him.
The room was clouded by dust, both brothers disheveled but Camdyn more so, the majority of the rubble was on him.
“You fool!” Camdyn cried out, his anger made his voice warble. The dust had settled enough so that both of the brothers were visible to the other. Camdyn’s face was twisted up in a grimace of rage that was almost palpable. Aurelius struggled to his feet, Camdyn was struggling to get out but only managed to free his left arm. Aurelius looked down at his sword, he knew what he had to do but still, he pleaded.
“Please Camdyn,” Aurelius said, resigned. “Don’t make me do this…” Camdyn struggled more yet. There was something almost primal about it, it was like there was no humanity left in him, only rage. Aurelius sighed and walked forward. Camdyn looked up at him, then back to the ground. His demeanor shifted. No longer was he seething with anger, but the calm and collected version of himself that Aurelius had been reacquainted with in The Millhouse.
“Oh brother dearest…” He drawled lazily. “This is just the beginning.” At that last word, he lunged forward seizing something. A small leathery object. The book. “I hope you know brother,” He said calmly, holding out the book, the pages moved of their own accord. “That your death will not be in vain, when my Lord returns we shall remake the world in our vision.” The pages began to glow with a purple light, the smaller rubble and debris floated into the air. Camdyn’s eyes shifted from their previous brown to light blue shade. Tendrils of purple fire funneled into his head, faint at first but grew rapidly in seconds. He screamed in victory, though channeling the power into himself hurt him, it made him stronger. After a few seconds the rubble shifted, and he was able to stand up.
But he didn’t stop there, he kept channeling the power into himself. He raised his right hand, which was mangled with shattered bone, but if he noticed he didn’t let on. And sparks of purple fire shot out at Aurelius and knocked him back, slamming him against the wall. The glowing sword clattered to the ground. Aurelius lay splattered on the ground, his back at the wall. A warm trickling flowed down his neck from his head. When he looked up Camdyn was shuddering. He was trying and failing, to close the book. To stop the power flowing into his head, it must have overwhelmed him. He screamed in pain as the purple flames engulfed his head. The last thing Aurelius remembers is a blinding flash of light, and silence.
Aurelius awoke hours later. He coughed, sputtering blood, and sat up. Camdyn was still there, asleep. His clothes were ragged, clearly, he had received the bulk of the blast.
Aurelius walked over, to see if his twin was still alive. He was.
As Aurelius leaned down Camdyn awoke, and reached up at him and screamed,
“He waits, the stone of his flesh itches.” He let go of Aurelius and tried to stand, but failed. Aurelius backed away, confused. “The waters, they’re mixed with blood. Blood and bone.”
“Camdyn?” Aurelius whispered, but his brother didn’t look up, only muttered incoherently. Channeling all that energy into himself must have fried his mind, Aurelius thought. But ruined mind or not, he was still dangerous. Just then he flung a handful of purple flame wildly, near Aurelius. He ducked and walked back over to the wall where he had just been flung. He picked up his father’s sword, knowing that Camdyn was still too dangerous to live, especially if he were to regain his memories… But try as he might, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Soon Camdyn stood up and walked out. Aurelius too tired to follow sat down. Sleep soon befell him.
Aurelius awoke with a start. He had no idea how long had passed, but it was dark outside. He got up, his body ached. Sore with bruises where he'd been tossed, small cuts he hadn't even noticed in the excitement of the fight, and even a burn on his left calf. The basement was thoroughly wrecked from last night.
After walking up the steps from the basement Aurelius noticed scorch marks on the walls. That was when Aurelius truly realized how close he came to dying. He walked out from where the door once stood on its hinges and looked at the smoldering wreckage of the Mill. He had devoted his life to the Mill. He never married, never had kids. The Mill would have died with him anyway.
And that was the story, Aurelius died in that Mil, his funeral was held the following day. From then on out, he was no one. After one final trip to the house taking whatever money was left from last month's sale of grain, all the food he could fit in his bag, and finally, collecting Father-Miller's sword from the rubble of the basement. He set out to find his brother.
Ship to ship, horse to horse. Having only a vague idea where he’d be. And there were many harbor towns.
At Sixty-Seven, he found him. Aurelius, old and crippled walked off the ship, down the plank to the harbor. He had only walked twenty or so feet off the harbor before he found what he was looking for. A towering black beam of light shone up atop a hill, at the base of which stood a cave. He walked down the sloping steps to a dimly lit room, moss clinging to most surfaces and two stalactites that reached the ground. A rat scurried out to hiss at him, but Aurelius paid it no mind. He walked down clearly carved steps that led to a circular room, in the middle of which stood a stone giant with bat-like wings and tentacles drooping from its mouth. From which issued a black beam of light. A figure turned around to greet him. Shriveled and hunched, his long beard white, stood Camdyn.
“You dare enter the shrine of my master!” Aside from not remembering his brother he seemed normal. Maybe his mind had returned? Aurelius thought. Then he cried out random words, if they meant anything coherent Aurelius didn’t know. His composure returned. “Why, I’ve killed for much less. It seemed he had moments of clarity in between the madness. But he still didn’t recognize Aurelius. Whose hand had drifted to the steel sword at his side, before turning around and walking back up the stone steps. Though he traveled for almost a decade, he never once fooled himself. He could not kill Camdyn. But he had to die.
Years passed, Aurelius had lost count. He had settled on top of a mountain that overlooked the entire town, including the entrance of the cave. Every day he walked up there and waited. Father-Miller’s sword had been placed into a stone pedestal. Aurelius sat by the sword, waiting, waiting for anything. A Sign? For Camdyn to leave and attack the town? He didn’t know.
“Hello?” Called a voice he didn’t recognize. Aurelius looked up, blinded by the sun, at the dark outline of a figure. “The townspeople said a Hermit would come here atop this mountain,” The figure paused. “And that he had a quest.” Aurelius resigned to his fate, told the young hero about The Cultist…