Chael winced as he felt the pangs of the battle that took place far, far away. As good and evil went to war, ripples spread throughout the world of Objects, Holders, and Seekers. At the top of the tower, as the struggle came to its conclusion, he was suddenly reminded of the Black King and White King. But who had won? Out here, isolated somewhere in rural England, he couldn't be sure.

The raindrops beat down on Chael as he approached the estate. He walked without his umbrella, but it wsan't that he had forgotten it; he simply didn't mind the cold rain on his skin. The varnish on the large double doors that loomed before him was peeling slightly under the rain. The building looked like an antique, its old architecture and dark windows painting the picture of a haunted mansion.

He grasped the large bronze knocker before him and slammed it to the wood four times. As he waited, he scanned the skies above him, picking out each globule of water as it raced past him. The rain fell at nine meters per second, at an intensity of 7.6 millimeters of water per hour. A smile crept across his face as he took in the clouds above. The temperature of the upper atmosphere was fluttering. The rain wouldn't last much longer.

When he turned back to the doors, he detected them shaking by a minute amount, and a second later, they shoot again. Footsteps. When the servants opened the doors of the Estate, they found not a man, but a young child, smiling innocently up at them. Even if that - compounded by his bright red hair and freckles - was disarming, they didn't show it.

Chael knew why as soon as he scanned them; they were nothing but vessels, operating mindlessly on wordless commands. Their fa├žade of humanity was frail, but a thin veil of what lay within. Inside, they were empty. Almost as empty as his father. These Beasts would have no comprehension of what was to take place here tonight.

The boy passed between them and pulled an apple from his pocket, taking a bite. The Beasts that served his father let him pass; they knew who he was, even though they had never seen him before. They dare not stop him.

He wasn't familiar with this particular Estate, but his unique eyes harvested every ounce of information they could from his surroundings. Every object's properties were laid bare to him - mass, weight, density, and far beyond. In Chael's world, there were no secrets.

His eyes showed him the traps had been laid everywhere, both physical and immaterial. His father was always so very careful to protect his hidden treasures, and they would easily snare any would-be Seekers or Monsters. They might even be enough to stop Them. But, Chael sidestepped the traps with no trouble, veritably skipping and hopping down the halls unhindered. He thwarted his father's machinations, and the Beasts within stayed out of his way.

In the library, he found his quarry. Another young boy sat in an overly comfortable chair by the fire, pouring over some old journal. Chael's fingers itched when he spotted the boy. The thrill of what he was about to do washed over him.

He skipped to the chair opposite him and sat in it, folding his legs Indian-style beneath him. William started at the sudden intrusion, stiffening in his chair and closing his book quickly. But, he didn't make a sound, and Chael smiled innocently at him.

"Comfortable?" Chael asked, a cheerful tune to his voice.

William, unsure how to respond, alternated between watching Chael carefully and craning his head back toward the servant standing patiently by the library door.

"There's no need to worry," Chael reassured the boy. "I'm not going to hurt you." Unlike Jack, lying came so easily to him.

"How did you get in here?" William started. "Where's Jack? Are you one of us?"

Chael felt the sting of that last question, but let it simmer quietly inside. "He's away on business. I thought maybe we could play a game until he got back!"

Chael pulled an apple from his pocket and took a bite out of it. His eyes might have spoiled many of the wonders of the world for him, but there were many other wonders of which he could never tire, such as the crisp taste of an apple.

"Would you like one?" Chael asked, drawing another apple out and offering it to William. The boy hesitated, staring at the apple as though h were sure it was poisoned. Chael reveled in his fear.

He was so comfortable here, so pampered and plump. What did this human do to deserve a life like this? Jack treated all his boys with such care, and he loved them all equally. But Chael was better than them. So much better! These boys didn't deserve to breathe the same air as him!

Just as William began to reach for the apple, he tossed it in the air. When William looked up at it, it was more than enough time for Chael to cross the distance between them.

He grabbed the boy by the throat tightly, stifling the sound that began to escape from his throat. William barely had time to resist before his face was in the fireplace. Chael knelt on top of him, grabbing him by the back of the neck so hard that his fingers drew blood. Then, he slammed William's face hard into the firewood. Wood splintered, sparks and ashes showered them both, and the boy's scream was cut short as he inhaled the smoke of the fire all around him. The scent of scorched flesh then began to reach his nose, and he then took William by his hair and pressed him as hard as he could into the heart of the fire.

His eyes told him everything. The rising temperature of his burning skin, the frantic heartbeat, the volume of carbon dioxide filling his lungs from the smoke, even the thermal decomposition of his brain.

"I am not one of you!" he hissed at William, despite knowing his words were lost on him.

He had stopped squirming. His hair curled and disintegrated as the fire slowly consumed his head. Chael stepped off of the body to survey his work.

Humans. They died so easily.

Let this be a message to his empty father. Human children were the stupidest and saddest of them all. They were just morons, drowning and gasping for breath, barely knowing how to survive. He was doing them a favor by killing them. And, there was no need for Jack to collect so many boys, when he only needed one.

He stepped back out into the rain. It had lessened by a millimeter an hour now, and was probably going to end soon. He was done here, and soon, Jack would find out what had come to pass. He would be very upset, and it would be best if Chael were far, far away by then.

But where to go? Killing boys was by no means getting boring, but he still craved something new. Before he had started on this journey, he had collected a few Objects - not out of any sort of addiction, but simply curiosity. He loved collecting things that were interesting, Object or no. If he dared, he'd love to someday acquire Doom's apple, a dream he never intended to give up.

That's it! There was an Object he'd had his eyes set on for quite some time. One that had passed through many hands, and until extremely recently, was a major player in the war against Edo Edi Essum. What could Balance have done with it since then? Of course, he knew that there was only one way to find out.

He focused on a single point in the space ahead of him, and projected his consciousness into it. The rain slowed, and then stopped. Gradually, that point in space began to expand, and the rest of the world around him shrank into it. The entire world turned inside out.

He truly wasn't sure how this came to him so naturally. It was as if he had always known how to do it, and was only just discovering that knowledge. Jack had known something from the very beginning, but offered only smiles and excuses.

He stood in a barren wasteland. Before him, a great tower rose. At first glance, it didn't appear to be all that tall, but if one tried to focus on what they thought was the top, they would discover that it actually kept going further. Two-thousand five-hundred thirty-eight floors. His eyes - so great at giving him information - were confounded.

Something deep inside him stirred, causing his childlike smile to falter. Mixed emotions of fear and grief. Something horrible had happened here, he knew. The ground around him had been glassed, as if the sun itself had descended upon the sand. The exterior of the tower seemed scorched, but even he still couldn't see the top floor from here, where the battle had concluded. He would have to go inside.

He entered the base of the tower and looked up, where the ringing floors above him disappeared into nothing. As he began to climb upward, the discontent inside only rose. It was something primal, billions of years in the making. This was where they were separated, he knew. This was where They saw the Great Flame.

By the 500th floor, he paused to take a breath. He felt... weak. How did his father feel when he came to this place? Why did he feel so weak here?

He shook off the feeling. He was above the level of humans and Holders, and nothing could hold him back. Further and further, he ascended the tower.