Author's Note: golden ending to be released at a later date. Path leading to it has been marked as such and temporarily closed off. If you see any connection/continuity errors please inform me.

Your skin hurts when you wake up.

Your eyes are closed, but they hurt, and you're vaguely aware that you are lying belly-down. When you breathe in, dry, dusty air fills your nostrils.

Bright, painful light greets you when you open your eyes. It blinds you and leaves you squinting. You sit up with a groan, pushing yourself off the ground.

You are in a desert.

The desert is vast and flat. Dust rolls and sweeps off the ground like waves, blowing past you despite the fact that there is no wind. The air is completely still, but still the dust moves on. You look up and see the sky is clear and empty save for the sun. In the distance you can barely make out the outlines of mountains low on the horizon. They must be miles away. They could be hundreds of miles away. There's no road in sight.

You have absolutely no idea how you got here.

You get to your feet and try to think. Whether it's the air, or the sun, or the situation itself, but your mind feels hazy and disconnected, like a dream.

This can't be happening, you think.

"But it is," says a voice behind you.

You turn and see a man.

He is tall, much taller than you. He is wearing golden regalia, and brocade robes of maroon, black, and gold, so heavily embroidered with gold and silver thread that it's difficult to see the patterns at first glance. But at the patterns you stare. You have to. Your mind cannot quite process what you see behind the man, and so you're caught on his clothing until he crosses his arms, and you've no choice but to acknowledge it.

The man's arms are crossed in front of him. But above them, another arm is bent, its hand on his hip. Another arm on the opposite side is holding a long staff. Behind him are two shapes. As you look at them, you feel your mind trying to reject what your eyes are telling you; the man-- the four-armed man-- has wings.

You continue to stare.

The winged man frowns. He crouches down to get a better look at you.

"Your Name is gone," he says. "When did that happen?"

"What?" you want to say, but you can't. When you open your mouth, no sound comes out. You try again, and again you are silent save for the soft passing of breath.

"Your Voice is gone too," says the winged man. "But that's not important. You need to have your Name, or it's not going to work."

What? you wonder. What is this place? What is the angel? winged man? How did you get here? What's going on--

"That's not important," The man says, sounding a little frustrated. "None of that is. You want to leave this place? The way out of this world is across the Bridge. Meet me there when you have your Name. Your real Name."

Without giving you the chance to attempt any more questions, the man spreads his wings. With one, two, three powerful beats, and takes to the air. The force of the wind caused by the flapping pushes you back onto the ground and stirs up the dust. When the dust has cleared, the man is gone. The vast, empty desert stretches before you.

You pick yourself up.

"Winged bastard," says a voice behind you. "Been poncing around here for ages. All high and mighty."

You turn and see another strange man glaring into the sky. The man is dark haired and on the chubby side of average, and he thankfully only has two arms. He is wearing a suit despite the heat, and his clothes are immaculate despite the dust. He has a lit cigarette in his hand.

You try to speak to him, but, as with the angel, find you cannot. Your mouth moves, but no noise comes out.

"Yeah, keep flapping those lips," the man says. "Won't do you any good. I saw the one that slithered on over and stole your voice and you know what? Didn't stop 'em. I figured you'd be less irritating if you couldn't talk." He squints at you and scowls. "Fuck if I wasn't wrong about that. Just looking at you is irritating. God." He spits, then takes a long drag of his cigarette.

You want to ask who he is and what his problem is, but can't. You try mouthing the words instead.

"Don't bother with the mouth thing," the man says. "I honestly don't give a shit as to what you have to say. But I know. I bet you're confused, right? You were always confused by something. Always asking questions, getting into shit you weren't supposed to, breaking my shit. God damn, I don't miss those days. . . "

He trails off and takes another drag off the cigarette. Then, seeing your expression, rolls his eyes. What on earth is this man talking about? You're certain you've never seen him in your life.

"You haven't figured it out?" the man says with a sneer. "What, they take your memory too? Or did you forget on your own? God, you were a stupid fucking kid. Haven't changed at all, have you?"

He walks over to you and gets in your face. "You don't even fucking know me," the man says. "Why am I not surprised? You're a real piece of shit, you know? I should've hit your mother harder; there's no way you're mine." He blows smoke in your face. You cough.

You're confused and irritated. You aren't his kid, this man certainly never knew your mother, and on top of every other weird, impossible thing that's happened today, he's getting in your personal space.

-->[Shove him away]

-->[Get away from him]

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