A common fear of humanity is fear of the dark; a fear of what cannot be seen, what might be close by and watching while its prey is unaware. It's a fear of being hunted, of being alone in the most spiritual sense, of being trapped and lost and never finding your way. Over the years I have come to understand this fear intimately, though I have long since stopped sharing it. There is a saying that the only true fear is fear itself, and I think that that is true, only 'darkness', for so many, is the embodiment of fear. The average person fears things that are real, and things that are not, and it is in the darkness that these things come together to create nightmares. Did you know that a nightmare could kill you?

Darkness, to me, is a comfort, a place of refuge where I can hide and soothe myself. Darkness is safe, and warm, and peaceful. In the darkness, I can tuck myself away and not worry about anything, I can be inside myself, and not fret about the daily grind of life. I can hear everything in the shadows, I learn things there that are hidden in the daylight, because no one will talk about them. It is phenomenal what kinds of things people refuse to talk about, trivial, childish things that only matter to them, and things so enormous that I cannot fathom why they would stay silent. Is it selfishness, or foolishness? Does it matter? I know all your secrets, and you know none of mine. I don't cry into the darkness.

But I do understand why some people cower from the night, why they will not enter their shadowy, cold basements and why they think caves have monsters in them. Sometimes caves do have monsters in them, sometimes there are vampires in the cool damp of your basements, and sometimes there are humans out there in night streets. I'm not especially concerned with any of that, I only exist in this reality, I live elsewhere. The dark things here don't frighten me, because I've seen the things that give wendigo nightmares, and those are things that occupy my attention. Humans barely know about the threats in their own world, they certainly don't know the threats I deal with. So, I suppose I can forgive them for their childish fears.

I tell you all of this because it matters, because darkness is the essence of my story, and my life. It started when the Inquisition executed my family, but that is not the story I'm telling today. Today I am telling you of how I keep the evil things at bay, how I protect you, the average person, from the things that no one else you know could ever protect you from. I am here to tell you why your choices and actions have had consequences, and I, who you would persecute, am keeping you safe from the ripples of those consequences. I am telling you this story because I want to break you, I want to taste your guilt and fear, I want you to know that I am the only thing standing between you and true terror, which dwells not in the darkness of alleyways or forests, but in your minds and souls.

Have you ever had a dream so vivid that even as you wake, you feel as though it was real? Nearly everyone who remembers their dreams has had a dream like this. Have you ever had the same dream as someone else? This occurrence is much less common, but it does happen. These are not just dreams, they're psychic astral projections into another dimension; this dimension is called the Ether, and it can be described in many ways, though I can't vouch for the accuracy of any one description. Some cultures view it as an afterlife, and in fact, I first entered it as I lay dying in a lake. It's also known by some as the fairy realm, and that's a good name for it, though the creatures that live there prefer to be called the faen.

The best way for me to describe the Ether is to compare it to a video game, or a very intricate hallucination. The Ether is an entirely psychic dimension, which means that things like physics and linear logic can go fuck themselves. If you've been visiting the Ether for as long as I have, you learn how to navigate and manipulate it, but if you're new, or not fully aware of where you are, you have little control over where you end up or what happens to you. There are plenty of places in the Ether that you think you recognize, but they're never quite right, and it's easy to let your surroundings lull you into complacency, or let the slight inaccuracies make you paranoid. This is the most obvious danger of the Ether, but not the only one. Many minds come together in the Ether, and the psychic power there is immeasurable; your very thoughts can create life in there, if those thoughts are powerful enough, and few things are as powerful as fear and sex.

This is where I come in, and others like me, though as I mentioned, we're not common, and frankly, most people like me either end up dead or have no interest in protecting your sorry asses. Even I don't do it out of any sort of compassion, I just like a challenge, I like the rush of adrenaline as I come close to the edge of death, the thrill of destroying what you created. But I feel like I'm just talking now, and you came for a story. I guess I'll move on, you know what you need to know to understand what happened.