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The magic wave hit when I was born, my mother used to say.

I used to accuse her of being dramatic, but apparently one of the nurses really did turn into a dryad in the middle of the delivery room. She took me back there when I was a little older and showed me the tree— and the little bark-skinned woman who stepped out of it with a friendly wave assured me it was true. I was about ten at the time, the government had fallen for the second (last) time, and I had daydreams for years afterwards that being born with the magic meant that I was going to Be Something.

It had to mean something, right? Right?

It doesn’t. I figured that out later- long after my mother, my bright, bubbly, malicious mother, took over the husk of that hospital and began telling other people about her miraculous magic child, born with the magic, who brought the magic, come, see my golden, glowing child, seek safety in our wonderful sanctuary. Turn over your worldly goods for safekeeping.

I will tell you now, my followers, I am no savior. I am no Second Coming. I am not the birth of a new God, golden, shining, merciful.

See the woman who birthed me, there on the floor? Is not her blood just as red as your own? Would a mother truly holy not bleed some other color?

I am not merciful.

My name is not Adam. My name is not Shiva. My name is not Balder. My name is Sidney.

The only thing I can tell you is to leave peacefully and forget the lies my mother told you.

The only thing I can do is unlock the door that keeps all your treasures imprisoned. Find them or leave them behind, I don’t care. She isn’t here to tell me no, and she’s not going to stop you.

Look! Look at my face! Do the bruises look the same on golden skin as they do on yours?

Would a god bruise green? Would a goddess bleed red blood?

If I had any power, I spent it when I was born, because all I have is this golden skin and a lying, manipulative, bitch of a mother.

All I have is this golden skin.

All I have is this golden skin .

All I want is freedom.

I don’t care what you do anymore, you selfish, jealous pack, because I have painted this golden skin with the red blood of the woman who birthed me, because the only one allowed to kill in my name is me.

Do you understand me?

This is the first order, and the last order, you are ever going to hear from my lips. Leave .

Gather your things, pick up the threads of the lives you used to lead, and leave.

Because if you disobey the only order I will ever give you, I will paint these golden claws with whatever color you bleed. Then I will step over your corpses and turn this chapel into your funeral pyre with the branches from the dead dryad’s tree.

So run.

Run.

Why are you not running?

Cult Leader, Followers Slain: Sacred Heart Hospital Burns

Authorities warn: Suspected demonic activity. Do Not Approach.

Sacred Heart Hospital, the gathering place of the local religious group known as the “Church of the Golden Birth,” burnt to the ground yesterday. Authorities are confident the fire was set deliberately by one of the group’s leaders, an enigmatic and mysterious individual known only as Adam. The group claimed that this individual was born at the very instant of the magic incursion and his birth, in fact, was the cause of the First Wave. In direct violation of the Post-Wave Magical Strictures Act, it is suspected that Adam himself was being used as an object of worship.

Evidence of explosives and advanced magical weapons were found on the premises. Authorities speculate the cult leaders may have been planning a terrorist act, but a violent falling-out occurred between Adam and his mother, Mary. Mary’s remains, and the remains of at least thirty church members, were recovered on-site. Authorities warn anyone who may come in contact with a young man of at least twenty years of age with golden skin to be extremely cautious and do not, under any circumstances, approach or otherwise interact with this extremely dangerous individual, as he may be the victim of demonic possession. Individuals belonging to the Church of Golden Birth are encouraged to seek shelter with police or authorized magic shelters. Anyone with any further information about the incident is encouraged to come forward.