Here, then, is the first part of Sel & Am's story, "The Downfall":
The burst of darkness disoriented him. Argyros was a bright place of shining silver and constant light that bounced off every surface to create a gray-white sky that never faded. But here, suddenly, was the nothingness that existed outside the sacred space.
He’d never been outside before.
The blue orb of the world floated below him. He was familiar with Durandios’ work, with the life on the planet, although he’d never before had any use for the animals that inhabited it. Well, he determined, he wouldn’t have use for them now either. They were the whole reason he was in trouble to begin with.
Just as he’d become accustomed to the chilling darkness, he felt the light and heat begin to increase rapidly. He gritted his teeth and prepared for what was sure to be a hard landing.
Long after the others had lost interest and turned away, gone back to their duties, Amaurodios still stood at the edge of Argyros.
“I don’t know what you’re hoping to see,” a voice behind him said.
Amaurodios didn’t even have to turn around to know who it was; he threw himself on his knees so quickly his forehead smacked hard against the slick silver ground. But because it was Argyros, there was no pain.
“Get up, Am,” said Durandios.
Am scrambled to his feet, flailing to keep his balance on the slippery foundation. It didn’t help that he seemed to be the one Ninata that lacked any kind of natural grace.
Keeping his head bowed so that the masses of his long, silver-white hair curtained his face, Amaurodios turned towards the Enduring. Durandios was the one colorful creature in all of Argyros, a flower in a crystal room. He wore a white cloak that was held on his left shoulder with a vivid red jewel, giving everything around him a rosy tint. He had skin the color of the human creatures he had given life to on the world below them, the world that Seladion now also occupied.
“Are you crying?” The question was not soft-spoken, but neither was it a rebuke. Perhaps surprise was the force behind the words.
Amaurodios looked up in confusion. “Crying?” he echoed.
But Durandios was nodding. “You are.” His expression was grim. “That kind of emotion cannot be tolerated in Argyros.”
Am still wasn’t entirely sure what Durandios meant, but he understood emotion. The Ninatat had access to a limited number of them. Love and joy were favorites, along with compassion and mercy. But Seladion had been cast out for harboring the kinds of feelings unsuitable in a Ninata. And now. . .
Another new emotion lit Amaurodios’ eyes. Fear. “Are you going to. . . ?”
Durandios shook his head. “No.” He sighed. “I wish you never had to know heartbreak, Am. Most of the others,” he gestured towards the center of Argyros, where the Ninatat spent their days praising Tithendion and Durandios and where a select few served special purposes, such as taking messages to the people of the world below, “will never know such a feeling. They will love forever without that love being taken from them. I wish it could be that way for you.”
Amaurodios knew that Durandios was incapable of lying. So he asked the question. “He can’t ever come back, can he?”
“He was tainted, Am. He was imperfect, flawed in some way.” Durandios’ green eyes darkened a shade, and he frowned. Such an unlovely sight on a god. The stone that clasped his cloak became the red-purple color of dark wine.
“Not was,” Amaurodios whispered. “You could fix him, couldn’t you?”
“You think I didn’t want to? Of course I did! I do! But that’s not for me to do. Tithendion made him; I only gave him breath.”
Amaurodios looked over his shoulder, out at the darkness beyond Argyros. A whole vast universe existed out there, none of it seemingly safe for orphaned Ninatat. “I want to go too.”
Without looking, Am sensed the complete stillness in the god that stood before him, a dangerous tension. There was a long exhalation of the precious breath Durandios provided to all living things.
“Amaurodios, look at me.”
Am slowly turned his head. Durandios could not kill him, it was not in his nature, but Amaurodios was frightened all the same.
Durandios placed his hands on Amaurodios’ shoulders and looked the Ninata in the eye.
“You haven’t thought this through,” the god said carefully.
“You haven’t thought this through,” the god said carefully.
“I want to be with Seladion. He needs me! He won’t know how to cope, being down there—”
Durandios chuckled. “Seladion has never needed anyone, and you know it. And how is it that you think you’ll be able to cope? No, Am, you’re much better off here. I promise you, the pain of his leaving won’t last forever.” He turned to go.
“I’m flawed too, aren’t I, now?” Amaurodios called as a parting shot.
Durandios whirled around as the Vital Spark began to darken to near black. “Amaurodios, do not test me.”
“But you said that this—this—whatever it is I’m feeling, it can’t be tolerated in Argyros.”
“You’ll get over it and everything will be fine,” Durandios replied tightly.
A couple of yards away, other Ninatat had begun to gather. It was no secret that Amaurodios was Durandios’ favorite, even if the god was not free to show such preference. The only being that seemed not to know this was Amaurodios.
“I don’t want to feel this way; I don’t like it,” Am said rather childishly.
“I know.” Durandios started towards the Ninata. “But it will pass.”
Amaurodios shook his head. “I don’t think it will.”
“It seems that way now, but—Am, what are you doing?”
The Ninata had turned back toward the wall of Argyros and was now exploring it with his long, thin hands, testing it for weakness. He pushed at it, willing it to break, but it was elastic, moving always to enclose him.
In three steps Durandios had reached him and pulled him back. “What are you doing?” he asked again, giving Am a shake. The watching Ninatat gasped softly; it sounded like a flock of pigeons cooing.
“Let me out!”
As the hand on his shoulder tightened, Amaurodios slumped in defeat. “Please,” he said, “let me go.”The grip on him relaxed, and suddenly all he knew was darkness.