When the Starless Night fell, war began. Inside and outside the clans fought- frightened, cold, and bitterly desperate. Yet, a few people retained their spirits.
The first of these was Meliodas. He saw that the old ways were not working, and the world’s domains fracturing apart. This was what had made Sky darken.
So he went to the whistling, barren plains first. Many goddesses had once basked there, or swept flight-shadows through its tall grass, but only weeds grew there now. On a high plateau he saw Elizabeth, the Flock-Voiced One. She walked gracelessly, and on her wings was the Mark of disownment.
“Your clan was great, once,” he said idly.
“So everyone says,” murmured Elizabeth, as if she didn’t believe it herself. “But I am not a goddess. I am not a daughter. I am nothing.”
“Come with me and you will have a family again.” Her gold eyes pierced him. “I have nothing to contribute. You will abandon me like all the rest.”
Meliodas shook his head. “These are lies the darkness has forced inside you. You will heal us when we are wounded and comfort us when we are weak. You will persuade Sky to take her proper place again.”
So warmly he spoke that Elizabeth believed him. She swooped down to stand at his side.
“I do not know how to heal a demon. I do not even know how to heal myself.” Her eyes blazed with a little of her clan’s former spirit. “But for a leader like you, I will try.”
They walked on, to the forest of fairies. Only ash remained- ash and pawprints.
Then a fox leapt out of the grey. Its teeth were bared, and its ribs stark. Though it was half as tall as a man, Meliodas walked up to it.
“Who are you?”
The fox growled. “I am Greed. I am a monster who ate this forest whole, and I will eat you too!”
They fought for hours, sword clashing against fang. Finally Meliodas’s blade slashed open the fox’s chest, and a glowing seed spilled out.
“Take it,” choked the fox. “The future of Life is too heavy for a sinner like me to carry.”
“Only because you were carrying it alone,” said Meliodas.
Elizabeth stepped forward and healed Greed’s body- his human body, not the mask shame had forced him into. He remembered that his real name was Ban.
“I trust you,” he said, collapsing into the first sleep he’d had since the seed was given him.
As the three left the dead forest, a cube blazed into existence around them. The trap’s caster emerged from thin air- Merlin, the last and greatest of Belialuin’s mages, whose family had died in the fighting. She pointed at them.
“Fire, Sky, Blood and Life… I will take your essences and heal the world with them.”
“You don’t have to kill us,” pleaded Elizabeth. “We are journeying to give of them freely.”
Merlin scoffed, eyes sharp with paranoia. “If immortals were interested in doing their jobs, the Sky would never have darkened in the first place! You only care about doing what you’ve already done, no matter who it hurts.”
“We are already trying new ways,” Meliodas said. He gestured at his companions. “Since when have demons, goddesses and humans all worked together?”
Merlin hmmed, and paced, and even teleported out of sight for several minutes. But Meliodas knew this is how mages consider things, and told everyone there was no need to panic. Eventually Merlin came back, popping the cube with a wave of her hand. “But,” she warned, “I will come with you to make sure you are true to your word.”
Days later they found a fairy and a giant, lazing on the edge of a river. This was a rare sight during the Starless Night, but the pair themselves seemed unaware of it. Where they were, the Earth was solid and broad, and Life was green- if not bountiful. They listened to the seed-bearers with only slight scepticism.
“Things are bad,” mused the fairy, “but they’re not bad enough that someone like me can help. There must be stronger fairies- I don’t even remember my own name.”
A wind stirred- a sweet, clear wind, alien to that time- and revealed the seed Ban was holding. He tried to conceal it again, but it was too late.
“That…is the heart of the great forest!” gasped the fairy. “What has happened?!”
They told him of the calamity that had felled the fairies’ court, and of Ban’s quest.
“I do not like it,” muttered the fairy, between buffets of wind, “but if my sister trusted you, I will too. My name is Harlequin.”
“What of the giants?” asked Diane. “Have you heard anything-?”
They said no.
“Well… I will go with you and Harlequin, then. And if I can represent Earth-” she clasped a mighty fist to her heart- “-then I will.”
Now in their journeying, the eight had felt that warmth increased the further east they went. By walking in that direction, they found the sun.
It was a man, a man lying between folds of Earth. He was either unconscious or sleeping, but Merlin woke him quickly enough.
“I am Escanor, the sun,” he told them. “Or I was, but the one who bore me through Sky is gone, and the one who says she is supreme let me fall.” He glanced at the valley around, which was gathering frost even as they spoke. “I see that the world is dying, but I cannot shine here. Doing so would only kill everything faster.”
“Traitors,” hissed a stranger. Enemies leapt out of the sky, a horde from all five clans. They had been good beings once, but war and starvation had turned them dark. Now they brandished weapons at their kin. “You betray the old ways, usurp the crowns of Sky and Flame. You feed off the death of a king!”
“Father is dead?!” cried Meliodas. Beside him, Elizabeth’s eyes widened in horror.
“Don’t play innocent. You want to destroy everything he ever stood for. We won’t let you!”
That battle churned the valley. Earth thrust stones and ramparts from herself, crushing both sides. Flame burned. Life strangled and ensnared. Sky snapped weapons like bones. And where these Elements missed, the soldiers of Flesh did not.
The Past-horde fought bravely. But though they fought on the same side, they were not fighting together. In the end, it was unity- unity of Earth, Flame, Life, Sky, and Flesh- that forced them back.
Purified by war, they lay defeated. “You are our rulers now,” they admitted. “Do what you wish.”
Elizabeth healed them, and the ten seed-bearers began preparations for a ritual- the Returning-Sun Ceremony. They knew this ritual had never been done before, but they also knew that with their new power, nothing was beyond them.
And this was true, as it still is today. Sky gave light and freedom to the world. Earth cradled everyone. Flame connected hearts. Life nourished and protected. And Flesh built bodies for all the clans. Everything was new, but everything was also as it had been before.
The monarchs did not forget each other. They stood distant, because that is the way of elements, but in their hearts they were still connected. Together they worked, renewing and balancing- and yes, even clashing sometimes- to sustain the world. They were kin.
And that is why the five clans live in peace.