The Eldest knew what he should have done. He was The Eldest, after all, his father's strongest and most reliable. His entire life, he had always been good at what he did. He had never complained or disobeyed, not even once. In fact, he even embraced most tasks. Until the mirror came into his life. Then, how could he, knowing what he was?

Eldest couldn't stand the thought of his father getting access to all these luxurious, beautiful things, yet stripping and degrading Eldest for longing to enjoy them. He couldn't stand the thought of Father preaching Her word but not following it. Then, however, he had this thought: perhaps Father wasn't being truthful. Perhaps beauty was okay in Her eyes, but only under the right circumstances. Eldest decided that those circumstances took place wherever Father went during the day. After all, he had to have gone somewhere. And so, without any sort of goodbye to his siblings, he broke out of his cellar and into the real world.

At once, he felt an unwilling, previously beaten out smile stretch across his thin, pale face, as he stared at all the brightness around him. A notch formed in his throat. How could this be real? How could a world so perfect be in existence? He felt hot sand under his bare feet, a soft breeze throwing dirt particles against his skin. He took a deep breath of fresh air, free from the smell of mold, mildew, or blood, for the first time in his life. He was surrounded by tall brown soldiers on all sides, green leaves bouncing sunlight off them, two winsome things he had never seen before. Mindlessly, he began carefully putting one foot in front of another, exploring this crisp and alluring world, finally his for the taking. He wiped the smile off his face habitually, but it always came back. After a while, he permitted himself to smile, but he must refrain from showing teeth or laughing audibly. A small smile was okay, though.

He walked, absorbing the perfection in the beautiful world around him, until his eyes caught hold of a red fleck in the distance. A lovely red fleck. He quickened his pace into a run, sprinting toward it as if his life depended on it. He finally grabbed hold of it, ripping it from the shining green bush that owned it. He was too happy, too excited, to dare notice the rivulets of blood staining his pale skin. He pressed it to his cheek, feeling the silky-smooth petals against his rough and beaten skin. It smelled just as luxurious, just as lavish, as it looked and felt. So sweet, so smooth, so soft, so...beautiful. He nearly cried.

As he sat there, on his knees, holding the flower to himself, softly so as not to hurt it, he heard a tree branch break in the distance. He got to his feet with remarkable speed, peeking through the thin forest he inhabited, analyzing every movement that came his direction, every sound, his muscles tensed and his position straightened. To his surprise, he heard laughter. A lot of it. A group, he had no idea how many, were laughing. They were laughing as if it was okay, as if it wasn't an outlawed thing. As if it were normal. He blinked. Perhaps it was...he was in the outside now, perhaps things were different. If beauty was allowed, why shouldn't laughter be?

They neared him, their pace slowing, their laughter shrinking. Eldest, terrified, watched as they approached him, their faces growing worried. He held the flower tighter, for it's protection, as he looked up at them. One of them watched him while the others continued to converse among each other, their volumes growing and sinking repeatedly. Eldest sat there, horrified and confused. He knew he should have left, gone anywhere without them, but these people were so...odd. They were all wearing colorful clothing that seemed to fit their bodies perfectly, garments attached to their feet blocking the hot sand and sharp forrest bedding. He was in awe. He wanted to be like them. At that moment, Eldest was clad only in a long, red robe, baggy and hiding his near skeletal figure. He had never hated it, exactly, but he had never seen anything else, either. Now that he had, he wanted out of it at once. Finally, one of them, a girl who didn't look much older than him, crouched down in front of him. She was a black girl wearing tightly-fitting blue pants, with slits on her knees and thighs. She wore a pair of the thick brown garments ending just above her ankles, and a black shirt without sleeves showing off cleavage, another striped shirt tied around her waist.

"Are you okay?" she asked, her voice soft and slow, something he had never heard before. He stayed quiet. Not because he didn't have an answer, but because he didn't understand the question. Eldest just blinked, looking down at the soft, stunning object in his grasp. She let her eyes follow his. "Is that a rose?" she asked softly. Eldest didn't answer. She moved onto another inquiry. "Who are you?" He looked back up, his bright green eyes studying her, visually picking apart every cell within her. The girl leaned back, her lip between her teeth and her hands crossed across her chest. Eldest finally looked away, putting the flower at her feet.

"Rose," he finally whispered, his eyes growing spacy.

The girl smiled. "Well, let's get you some clothes, then, Rose. Then you can tell us what's going on."

The group had no idea what that meant to him.