They ran in fields of gold, bathing in the sunlight. Arcann always found himself just one step ahead, ever so eager, swinging his branch around without any form of finesse; Thexan's technique no better than his own. They had not started their training but it would come soon enough. They played and shouted, battling imaginary foes that melted away with the lightest blow. They let themselves collapse in the golden fields, breathless with laughter and exertion. Their eyes met and their joy only rose higher, stronger, shared and flowing into their bond, they were one. All the dirt of their games could be seen on Arcann's clothing, a stark contrast with the white, pieces of grass stuck in his hair. He looked wild, free; Thexan wanted him to be as such, always. Luminous, Thexan could not help but think with a slight wonder, as if the sun itself powers his heart. It was so fitting that he was the one to wear white, he shone so bright he could be mistaken for the light. They had been told why each colour was picked for them and so Thexan knew their character had not mattered in the choice but he was child still, a serious and mature one if compared to his twin but still innocent and carefree. And when it came to Arcann, the opinion of others was irrelevant – their souls were bound in ways no scions could ever understand.
“I'll name a star after you” Arcann said to him, a smile still hanging on his lips.
“After we conquered the stars,” he briefly lifted his left hand that still held his branch, pointing toward the sky, his eyes never leaving Thexan's, “once the stars are ours, I'll name one after you”
Thexan laughed lightly, without mockery; his brother's idea surprising but sweet as well.
“So even after we're dead no one will ever stop saying your name”
None in Zakuul was unfamiliar with the concept of death, even at a young age, all learned that none is eternal beside the Empire and the Emperor. They both smiled at each other because while death was known, it was not understood, neither of them had any sense of their own mortality. They were young, sons of a God, they felt infinite.
Thexan brought his hand to his brother's head, fingers threading through his hair, picking out the grass that found itself stuck there. It had yet to darken as his had and it was the softest thing Thexan had ever touched.
“We'll have to find twin stars then” Thexan eventually said.
“It'll have to be twin stars. So I can name one after you too. They can't be apart”
The smile Arcann gave him could have blinded any stars. He had lost a tooth recently; Thexan found the gap endearing. He let his twin know so; and the pure joy in their bond enveloped him, light and warmth and Arcann. Beyond them, the rest of the world did not exist.
“I wanna stay here forever” Arcann told him with a smile, bringing his own hand to Thexan's hair, caressing it gently.
“How do you plan for us to conquer the stars by staying here?”
Arcann shrugged, his smile never fading.
“We'll do it later”
So simple and so easy and why should it not be? They were always victorious in the imaginary battles they fought. The earth was pleasantly warm beneath them, the grass soft, comfortable enough to fall asleep. There was a light and cool breeze blowing, swaying the fields gently, brushing over their faces. The moment felt eternal as if time itself had stopped to let them enjoy it.
They should not be here right now, completely unsupervised, their mother was certainly worried and the knights were likely looking for them but Thexan could not bring himself to care. He did not understand these concerns adults seemed to constantly have. What need was there was them to be guarded among those fields? They belonged to them, Thexan and Arcann knew them by heart, even better than the Spire. Nothing there could harm them, and to roam here without any supervision, making up a thousand galaxies and a thousand planets among those fields... They felt so wild and free. So strong and invincible in the world they knew.
They were children who thought themselves already grown.
Thexan gazed at the sky above them. It was bathed in orange light, slowly turning purple as the minutes passed. Arcann was humming to himself, his head comfortable settling against Thexan's, his hand still in his hair, idly playing with the strands as Thexan did much the same. Arcann's legs kept moving, folding then laying flat down again, sometimes both legs moved, sometimes only one. It was not impatience on his part, or boredom, or even a lack of attention as their teachers seemed to believe, it was Arcann being Arcann. He always moved, hand, knee, foot, leg – the only time Arcann's body knew stillness was during sleep when he was tucked against his twin. Thexan knew it wasn't something he did consciously but for some reason, their teachers thought he should stop. Thexan didn't want him to; Arcann was never comfortable when he was forced to stay still. Thexan frowned. When he becomes Emperor, Arcann will never have sit still ever again.
Thexan's focus returned to the sky. It was almost completely tinted purple now and stars were starting to surface. They could never be seen when they were in the city but here, away from all the lights, Thexan could already start to count them. There were so many but could they find twin stars? It would not be easy but they could do it if it was a star his brother's heart was set on.
His twin made a soft interrogative sound, interrupting his humming. He moved his head away so he could look more comfortable into his brother's eyes
“Why do you want it to be stars?”
“Because they shine so bright, everyone sees them, even from other planets, even from very far away” he turned his face toward the sky where stars were now plain to see and all orange had almost faded from it, “Stars live on forever”
Stars burn out.
The thought came unbidden to Thexan's mind and he was glad Arcann's focus was elsewhere so he could keep it from him. He didn't want to make his brother sad with this truth: stars burn out. He remembered reading it in one of the scientific documents provided by their teachers. Stars die slowly, shedding layers, becoming white dwarves; eventually all white dwarves go dark and stop producing energy. A quiet death. However, twin stars may explode after gathering the excess matter of their companion star leaving a bright nova in their wake. A beautiful death but a death nonetheless. Either with a bang or a whisper, stars burn out.
Arcann's gaze rested on him once more, blue eyes bright and happy. Thexan couldn't bring himself to correct him, to see this joy crumble.
“We'll pick those that shine the brightest then”
Arcann nodded eagerly and Thexan's smile felt easier. When it was just the two of them Thexan too could believe that stars lasted forever.
It was almost completely dark now, soon they would no longer see anything. Their mother was probably looking for them right now and even though he would be happy to spend the night here with his twin, it was not an option.
“We should go back, its getting late”
Arcann's smile dimmed a little at that before turning playful. He rolled over, getting a few more grass stains over his white clothing, ending with his face above Thexan's both arms on the side of his head.
“Bet you can't run all the way back to the Spire!”
In a second he was up and Thexan was close behind. It was no competition, not even a race. There was nothing to win, the goal was the rush; the exhilaration that came with running as fast they could, long enough that it felt as if they were about to take flight. Like dragons. The fields had lost their golden shine, they were now much paler in the dimming light, the air was cooler against their skin. Arcann held out his hand for Thexan to take and suddenly it was as if they sped up, their strength combined. The branches were left behind, once again nothing more than wood out of the hands of children.
And they ran.