Originally posted to Patreon on January 9, 2020
I’m not entirely sure what to add. I’m very happy with how the entirety of “In the Stars” turned out. It tackled some difficult stuff and pushed the plot forward and shifted the tone. I don’t regret removing these scenes especially that first one where some stranger saves Sylus. Fuck that, Sylus is his own hero. It kinda helps fuel his obsession with having to do things alone or not at all. Something it’s clear he has to grow out of.
Old Note from Patreon:
Hey all! As part of the plan going forward, I’ll be more active with exclusive updates beyond OG Q’taxians.
To start off the new year, the first entry of the new arc, Emerald Adagio, has gone live! “In the Stars” marks the beginning of the rest of the story. It’s filled with a lot of action and emotion. Of course, this means that there are a lot of deleted scenes were born purely out of an emotional response rather than taking the characters’ motives into consideration. These scenes, to me, changed the plot too much to be left intact. You’ll see why as you read on.
Sylus is saved by a stranger
If you’ve read “In the Stars”, then you already know how charged the first scene is. For some reason, I deviated from script and wrote in some anonymous do-gooder who saved Sylus from being abducted. The original intention was for Sylus to save himself. That’s how the scene was released, but before that, my brain did a stupid and ruined that moment of empowerment by letting someone else save him. Here’s that scene:
Another cab pulled up behind them. A large, burly man stepped out. He took one look at the situation before making his way over to them.
“What’s going on here?” he asked, his voice growling in his chest.
“I JUST WANT TO BE WITH MY SON!” Sylus screamed, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE!”
The giant of a man’s gaze turned to Vincent, narrowing as their eyes made contact.
“Mind releasing this woman?”
Vincent was dumb enough to try to stare him down, “She’s just crazy. Needs her meds, that’s all.”
Daniel leaned out the cab window.
“MY DAD’S NOT CRAZY! PLEASE HELP!”
With a nod, the man approached Vincent. Knowing he wouldn’t stand a chance, Vincent made one last attempt to drag Sylus inside. But he fought. He bucked and twisted against his grasp.
“You bitch!” Vincent grunted.
While the second scene is somewhat similar to how it was originally written, I realized I was having a bad time with monologing. Characters were talking way too much and not enough was happening to justify it. So I trimmed down the dialog and got right to the point. Something worth noting is that there was a lot of colored dialog that obviously didn’t carry over, but I’m not sure it matters since the entire scene was scrapped. Here it is:
Where do you think you’re going?
The all-too-familiar voice tore through Sylus’ mind as he careened through the Void. A missile on course to an uncertain destination. For a space named for being full of nothing, it was a massive expanse. Eyes clenched shut, Saari tightly in his arms, all he could do was focus on home. On Daniel. His son. His flesh and blood. It was the only thing tying him to earth. But the voices… Oh how the voices tried their hardest to derail him…
You can’t leave.
We won’t let you.”
Little broken Qataix. Home again. How long will he last?
You owe us. You owe Father. You failed us. Betrayed us… Pay for your crimes against the Void!
You should have never come here…
You will never leave!
With every word, he could feel something scratching at the back of his mind. Tugging and pulling on his consciousness. Interrupting his focus. Distracting him. No amount of squeezing his eyes shut could stop the voices from rattling around in his head.
I OWN YOU QAITAX.
A jolt shot down Sylus’ spine. He could feel himself slowly falling off course.
YOU WILL NOT LEAVE HERE ALIVE BETRAYER!
Thoughts of home were quickly fading. An overwhelming urge to respond to the voices crept up from somewhere deep inside of him. Yet he knew the second he gave in to their reality, he would lose his forever.
Home… Home… Home… Home… My… My son…
You have no son, Sylus…
My son… My son… He’s home… I have… I have to…
It was all a dream, Sylus. A dream Qaitax fed you. A lie. He wants nothing more than to devour another world. He’s using you, Sylus. Turn to us. We can lay you to rest and spare you the dreaded fate of being host to the death of your species.
It’s not true… It’s not true…
Let us spare you the pain so many have suffered before you. Let us spare your mortal mind the terrors of a dread god. You needn’t suffer, little one. We will rend the monstrosity that is Qaitax from your soul and you will be free to rest. Free from the dream. Free from the lies which Qaitax has fed you for so long.
Lies… It’s all lies… Leave me alone!
He clutched Saari even tighter. A stifled yelp came from the void witch.
She, too, has lived with the lies. Suffered Qaitax’s falsehoods. We can free you both. Rest. Rest and trust in us. We will deliver your mortal minds from eternal suffering.
“Do you hear them, Saari?” The breath that carried his words was torn from his lungs. The sound pounded in their ears.
Saari tried to bury her face deeper into Sylus’ chest, but her horns held her back.
Open your eyes, Sylus. Open your eyes to the truth. Open your mind to us. We will free you and Qaitax will finally pay for his sins against Father.
Sylus was wavering. Whether he believed the voices or not, he couldn’t help but feel the urge to give in to their demands growing within him.
All you must do is open your eyes and look upon us. It will not hurt. And you will be set free.
Is a lie. Fed to you by the betrayer.
A… A lie? But… D-Daniel…
He does not exist. There is no one waiting for you on your dying planet. All that is there for you is certain death. We can grant you a far more humane means of ending your life.
I don’t want to die…
It is too late to change your mind. The second you accepted the devil’s bargain, you were marked for death. We can lay you to rest here in the Void. Peacefully and calmly. You needn’t suffer the fate that awaits you on Earth.
Sylus closed his eyes as tightly as possible. He kept reaching for the memory of his son, but the harder he searched for it, the more distant it became. He was forgetting… He was forgetting his son… Daniel. His world, his everything… It was all leaving him… He clawed at the memories to return, but they continued to drift into darkness.
“GIVE THEM BACK!” he bellowed into the Void, “GIVE ME MY MEMORIES BACK!”
They are falsehoods. We will cleanse you of their deception.
“GIVE ME BACK MY SON!”
You have no son.
Sylus screamed with all his strength.
You have a son, Sylus. I’ve met him. He is real. A strangely calming voice filled his mind.
More lies! More deception! You would say anything to sway this mortal!
He is real, Sylus. And he is waiting for you. I know he is… You know he is. You can’t let them convince you otherwise…
Two separate voices bellowed as one.
You’ve known your son long before you knew me. He was a part of your world before I was even a thought. Your memories are true.
Yes… Daniel. Your son. He’s real. You have to get back to him…
DECEPTION! PURE DECEPTION! HE WISHES ONLY TO DEVOUR YOUR WORLD! QAITAX IS A MONSTER! A LIAR! A TRAITOR! ABOMINATION!
I may well be all of those things, I cannot say. But what I can say, is that your son is real. I did not create him. He is not a figment of your imagination or an elaborate dream designed to deceive you…
There was a long pause in thought as Sylus slowly gathered his wits. Refocusing, he found himself drawn back on course. At least, he hoped. He was too afraid to open his eyes in case one of the voices was staring right at him. Who was he kidding? He knew they were. He knew the second he opened his eyes, he’d be surrounded thousands of eyes staring at him.
They didn’t wait for you.
It was the same voice as before, but with a far gentler tone.
They moved on with their lives.
Sylus laughed, “And you were just saying they didn’t even exist…”
We only wanted to spare you the pain of knowing the truth.
“So doesn’t that make you the deceivers?” Sylus snorted.
Qaitax has still lied to you.
He said they would be there for you. They are not. We know they aren’t. We can tell you they are well and safe, but they have forgotten about you. Too much time passed. They couldn’t wait. And while they tried to kindle your memory, they eventually forgot. A truly painful fate for any being.
“I don’t believe you.”
To be forgotten is the truest form of death. You have no one back where you come from.
Didn’t you tell them not to wait if it took to long? Isn’t it better to know they’re away from danger even at the cost of your memory?
We can help you. Set you free from the burden of an unloving world and from the chains of Qaitax’s perverted will. All the shackles that bind you, can yet be undone. It will not hurt, mortal, for we are full of mercy for your kind. It is the likes of Qaitax that would see you and your world undone.
Please, Sylus… Please see through their deception…
How DARE you accuse US of deception! YOU are the deceiver!
Qaitax… I… Th… They’re gone… What… What’s the point…
They aren’t gone, Sylus. They’re there. And even if they did have to leave, they haven’t forgotten you. They’ll be happy to hear of your return.
Yet once they lay eyes on all that you have become, they will not see the being who left, but a monster returned in his stead. They will never accept you as you are now.
“They… They knew I was going to change…”
But that doesn’t mean they’ll accept you. The eyes give way to the truth of the heart. No matter what they said before, none of it will matter when they lay eyes upon the abomination you’ve become. Spare yourself such rejection. Let us save you from the cruelties of mortals and Qaitax alike.
“I… I don’t…”
Let us set you free.
Saari could feel Sylus’ grip loosening on her.
“Not here,” here voice shook, “I do not want to die here… Please…”
“I… I have nothing…”
“You have your planet. You can still save it. Unlike me and mine…”
“But… My family…”
Saari shook her head, her horns grazing Sylus’ chest, “You cannot trust what they say. You must see the truth for yourself.”
Sylus felt a million different sources of dread fill his mind. So many thoughts and fears flooded his thoughts. Old ones, new ones, ones he never knew he had… Were they his at all?
Focus, Sylus. You’re almost home.
What… What’s there for… me?
Hope. Do not let them cloud that. Saari is right. You cannot trust their word. See the truth for yourself. Survive to see this to the end and you will have your answers.
If I can’t trust them… “Then how can I trust you…?”
Something began wrapping itself around Sylus’ body. It started at his legs and slithered its way up around him and Saari. It squeezed them together tighter and tighter. Her horns cutting into his flesh. She was sobbing now.
“I could have stayed behind… I could have died in my home… With Yulia… I do not want this… I do not want to be here… Not like this…” she shook her head, “Please, My Lord, not like this…”
Rest now, Sylus. Let your tormented mind be at peace.
The words, the thoughts, dripped like honey in his addled mind. Soothing. Calming. Soft and gentle. Truly welcoming in the turmoil. Yet his mind still reeled from a never-ending spiral of despair. He reached for the voice as best he could. He wanted to be rid of this pain tearing his mind apart.
Yes. Almost there… Just a little more…
“SYLUS PLEASE!” Saari screamed, “DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM! PL-“
Her voice was silenced as a tendril forced its way between them forcing itself into her mouth.
Let the witch go. We will deal with her sacrilege in our own way. She is of no consequence to you.
Release her and peace will be yours.
Saari screamed around the tendril and sobbed into his chest.
Yes. Peace. Freedom.
Death is freedom for mortals. The truest peace.
It is all you have left, Sylus. Death is your only future. Be it by Qaitax’s treacherous hands, the hands of your fellow misguided mortals, or by ours, death is all you have to look forward to. And we can promise you that your death by our hands will be peaceful. In fact, you won’t even know it happened. You will simply cease to be.
“I… I r-really… D-don’t…” the tendril tightened its grip. He could feel it slowly making its way around his neck. “I… I…” tighter and tighter it squeezed his throat.
You don’t have to breathe, Sylus.
He knew that, yet he found himself choking anyway. His mind was still mortal. The expectations of his body were still mortal. As far as his mortal mind was concerned, he was suffocating.
Cut yourself off from the pain. Sylus. Cut yourself off!
Saari screamed with all her strength, but even she knew how futile her meager voice was against whatever Sylus was facing in his mind.
SYLUS! You have to let go!
“I…” he gasped and choked as he felt himself losing consciousness. He couldn’t help it. He opened his eyes.
In an instant, Sylus felt himself lose control of his body. His mind found itself taking a back seat to his own existence. It was here, however, that he finally came to his senses. The urge to return home was strong and clear, but he was no longer in control. Had they won? Had he given in to them? Was this… Death? The last thing he remembered was opening his eyes on the verge of blacking out.
He could hear a voice coming from somewhere outside the darkness. It was as though it was outside his very being. He forced himself to focus on it until something other than darkness filled his vision. It was as though he was looking out someone else’s eyes. Seeing someone else’s sight. It felt completely out of body and alien, yet the longer he looked through these eyes the more he became certain that he knew what had happened.
The vision was staring into countless eyes all staring directly at him. Small and dark they were like pits and holes in a large mass. Around them was a wreath of appendages like spider legs bent forward and down toward his body.
The view turned against his will. Another creature that resembled a featureless human face with flailing tendrils around its form was holding his body in place.
It looked down at Saari.
“I’m sorry, little one…”
The voice spoke as if it were his own, but it sounded foreign and alien.
“Yes.” the voice echoed around in Sylus’ disconnected space.
KILL THE TRAITOR!
KILL THE TRAITOR!
KILL THE TRAITOR!
Foreign thoughts invaded his already dim senses.
Though they made no real sound, they screamed in his mind as if they were real.
“Perhaps someday, you’ll have your way with me. But I’m afraid, that with such precious cargo, I must refuse your demands.”
Sylus? the thought was far more gentle than the others if you would be so kind?
I… I don’t…
Focus Sylus. Take us home.
Suddenly all of the screams faded into silence. Sylus was alone with his thoughts Qaitax closed his eyes.
In this pure state of thought, Sylus found no trouble in mustering thoughts of his son and his home. Of his desire to be there again no matter what awaited him. Home. Home…
A wave of energy washed over them as the putrid stagnation of the Void was swept away.
Showdown with Henley
This original run of the scene was very disappointing. The exposition and monologing was obscene. I’m really glad I rewrote this closer in line with the original plan. Henley deserved better than this. Here’s the scene:
Sylus rolled from the Rift with little grace. He released Saari as he fell. Landing face down on the dirt, he barely had a moment to regain his thoughts before the eerie sound of creaking metal filled his ears. Slowly looking up, he found a towering mass of yellow tentacles waiting for him. Atop their mass sat a humanoid figure with perfectly round, yellow eyes glaring down at him like headlights.
“You’re looking delightfully plump, my dear Sylus.”
“Y-you couldn’t even give me…” Sylus coughed as he staggered to his feet, “Five minutes?” He could feel his consciousness shifting rapidly between Qaitax’s and his own.
Haurex was quick to notice the flicker in his eyes. “So it’s true, then.”
“What?” Sylus gasped, “What are you going on about you pompous prick?!”
“You really took Qaitax’s bait,” Haurex shook his head in dismay, “You really, how is it you mortals refer to foolish gullibility? Drank the kool-aid?”
“Shut up, Haurex.” Sylus helped Saari to her feet, “I made this decision so I could beat your ass back into that hellscape I just came from.”
Haurex laughed. It sounded like a shrill shriek that came in waves of loudness. “Beat me?” he lowered himself to Sylus’ level, “The chosen one? Father’s own left hand?” he shrieked again, “You can’t do anything to me. Qaitax can’t help you. Surely you knew that?” Sylus’ eyes narrowed. “Surely you knew that not all Voidlords are created equal. That even were Qaitax at full strength he is still nothing compared to one blessed with Father’s grace. Once such as myself.” Sylus clenched his fists at his side. “Oh dear. You truly thought…? Oh well, there you go lying again, Qaitax. How very much like you.”
I did not promise you victory…
“Says the one who lies to destroy lives and worlds,” Sylus seethed through a clenched jaw.
“My lies amount to so much more than Qaitax’s short-sighted motives. He thinks only of himself and what he can gain from a situation. That’s just how he is. He’s using you, Sylus. I can still put an end to it.”
“Using me for what? I’m not strong. I’m nothing. He has nothing to gain from joining with me.”
“Freedom.” Haurex growled, “Freedom from his prison. Freedom from his past sins. You’ve released one of the worst things to ever be birthed from the Void.”
“Somehow, looking at you and knowing your intentions, I doubt that.”
A sneer crossed Haurex’s lips. “Where I am hated by mortals I am lauded by my brethren. Unlike Qaitax who is hated by all.”
Sylus threw his hands in the air, “What did he do, then?! Is someone gonna tell me? Or are you all just gonna keep talking shit about nothing?”
Haurex’s wicked grin faded into a frown, “We are forbidden from speaking of his crimes.”
“That bad, huh?”
“In the eyes of the Void, Qaitax has committed the gravest sin.”
“Do you even know what it is? Or was?”
“I do, but I cannot say.”
“Don’t you think I should know?”
Haurex shook his head, “All you needed to know was that a realm seeped in powers far beyond your understanding rejected him. That should have been more than enough to deter you from this foolish endeavor.”
“Well, apparently it wasn’t.”
The yellow lord eyed him up and down. “Apparently not, but do tell. Was it worth it?”
“Was what worth what?”
“Risking your life and very existence for a demon to grant you your most basic desire? If only for a few moments?”
“A few moments?”
Haurex shook his head, “Surely you didn’t expect to leave here without resistance?”
“Honestly, I was kinda hoping you’d moved on.”
“This is my home, Sylus. Just as it is, or rather, was, yours.”
Sylus glared at him again.
“You will not leave here alive. At least, not with Qaitax. I will allow your family to collect your corpse-“
“-but you will not step out of this place on your own two feet. But before I tear you apart and feast on your core, one last time, Sylus. Is this truly what you want?”
Sylus shrugged, “What alternative do I have at this point?”
“I have told you many times that I can separate you from Qaitax. This is your last chance. If you allow me to do this, I will allow you to return to your family.”
Sylus thought a moment.
What the hell did you do, Qai?
At this point, I truly wish I knew…
If I ever find out you’re willingly hiding something from me…
Sylus, my mind is an open book to you. You know what I know as sparing as that may be.
He looked up to Haurex who was slowly raising himself to sit upon his tendril throne once more.
“I haven’t the patience for this, Sylus.”
Why should I trust you when I can’t trust the things in the Void or Haurex?
Silence. Sylus could feel Qaitax trying to put an answer together, but in the end, none came.
I do not know. All I know is that my desires have been fulfilled. I am free of Q’taxia. That was all I asked of you.
What if I were to give you up to Haurex?
Do you trust that he’ll spare you like he says?
“Honestly,” Sylus spoke aloud, “I don’t. I’m not even sure I trust you, but here we are.”
Haurex’s round eyes turned to slats.
“I’m not some bargaining chip for you Voidlords to fight over. The one thing you could have won me over with, Qaitax has already given me. And let me be clear,” he thrust a pointed finger in Haurex’s direction, “I don’t trust any of you, but I’ll take my chances. You’re fond of colloquialisms, aren’t you?” Haurex snorted, “Then you should know this one. I’d rather deal with the evil I know than the one I don’t. I’ll take my chances with Qaitax. If he’s as weak as you say then what do you have to lose by letting him go?”
Haurex’s eyes flickered again. His hands clutched the sides of his heads as he groaned in agony. The tower of his tendrils collapsed sending him to the ground.
“The mortal is right. Qaitax is nothing.” He growled as he crawled onto his hands and knees. Shrieking once more, Haurex’s eyes flashed from yellow to a brilliant shade of pink. “TRAITORS DIE!”
With that, he lunged after Sylus. Taking hold of Saari, Sylus managed to dodge the oncoming tendrils. With a bounce in his step, he launched himself just high enough to vault Saari over the side of the Riftworks.
“Go!” he called to her, “That building with the lights! They’ll be there! Tell them I sent you! Go, Saari, g-“
Sylus was cut off as a tendril slammed against his head.
Clutching her staff tightly, Saari remained frozen as she overheard Sylus’ screams.
“And yet it surely wasn’t enough. I do hope my family gave you some trouble on your way back. Wouldn’t be a reunion if they didn’t try to murder the treacherous runt of the litter. Which…” Haurex’s eyes twitched. He hissed and shrank back a bit. “I know. I know!” he seemed to be screaming to no one, “I KNOW! I’ll… I’ll finish it. I…” he shook his head, “I promise.” All at once his attention was once more turned completely on Sylus. “I can still separate you. You can keep this lovely new body of yours, Sylus, and you can go home to your family. Qaitax, however, well…” he sighed, “He’s my problem. My mistake. I’ll take care of him.”
“What a shame.” Haurex lowered himself to Sylus’ level. “You would have both been so much better off were you to die on that wretched rock. I truly hoped your idiotic plan wouldn’t work. I neither wanted to face my disgraced kin again nor kill my favorite mortal. But alas. You are both fools. And I was a fool to ever give either of you any credit for intelligence.”
Qaitax speaks to Jeron
So this sequence was removed because not only didn’t it really fit in with the situation, but it was also a bit premature for Qaitax to be having this conversation with Jeron. It may yet manifest some other way in the story, but now wasn’t the time.
Here’s the scene:
“He is afraid.”
“Afraid of what?!”
“That he is not enough.”
Jeron leaned into the wall behind him. “Enough for what?”
“To be a father. A lover. A being worthy of respect. He is afraid that after everything, he is still not enough.”
“And he’d rather die than live to find out?”
“He loves you. He loves his son. You are all that matter to him. His last thought was of trying to save himself so he could protect you. Yet he felt unworthy of saving…”
Jeron’s mind was racing, “Why though?”
“I do not know any more than that. We speak in the silence. He will not speak to me now. I have said things I shouldn’t but I could not let it go unsaid.”
Jeron slowly stood up, “Thank you, Qaitax.”
“Please… No matter what he thinks or says, we do not want to die.”
“Can you hold him back?”
“His resistance comes in waves. Some stronger than others. I believe I can hold him back, but if it would cost him his consciousness, I will relent.”
“Why would he make you die faster? Why?”
This is just a dumb interaction between Daniel and Jeron I dreamed up. Sylus doesn’t actually have a car and he doesn’t know how to drive so this is just some fun fluff. I also haven’t committed to Sylus’ heritage. I’ll go into that a bit more at a later date.
“We should take Dad’s car…”
Jeron froze, “Sylus… has a car?”
Daniel shrugged, “He never drives it… To be honest I don’t think he can… Can you drive stick?”
They stood outside waiting for the garage door to open. Daniel pulled the cover off the vehicle within.
“Of course your fucking father would have a Jaguar…” Jeron shook his head, “I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Union Jack hanging somewhere in the house…”
“It’s in his bedroom.”
“Wow.” Jeron opened the driver’s side door, “Just wow. I had no idea he was so limey.”
“Henley bought them for him. I don’t know why, but he did.”
Daniel nodded as he got into the passenger’s side.
Jeron’s head was spinning as he sat in the drive’s seat.
“Any other weird tidbits or fun facts you’d like to share about your father?”
“He’s not actually from London. He uses the cockney affect by choice. He’s actually more posh naturally.”
“Wow. I almost feel lied to.”
“He also knows how to make a decent curry.”
“My heart!” Jeron clutched his chest.