A/N: This is a prequel story set in the universe of Mirrorworld, a story which you can read on my profile. While reading that may give extra context and meaning to certain scenes, this story is designed as such that reading Mirrorworld is not a necessity to understand and enjoy this one.

A piece of me in your eyes

Reminds me of what's forgotten

I need to get closer to the fire

And feel my own reflection

A piece of me needs to die

-Broken Mirror, Trees of Eternity

Talvor was in Wonderland.

The dawn sky was piercing scarlet, its hot glare cast down on a field flooded with black and orange as far as the eye could see. Bodies, sundered through and ragged with a thousand morbid wounds, covered the field like dead sparrows fallen from the sky. There were thousands of them, many his beloved day-vamps who had given their life to see Noon's ultimate purpose unfold; the extermination of all those miserable night-rats in Dusk.

There was more black than orange, Talvor noted with pleasure. He couldn't exactly distinguish how many night-claws had been slaughtered. His followers had followed his instruction meticulously; not much was left except an abattoir stretched to the horizon, strips and pieces of bloody black meat burnt up and torn apart. Most of Dusk had to have been exterminated in this attack.

The only thing left was to hit the House itself. Their warriors had been wiped out. Their heart was gaping and vulnerable, now, and whatever vermin were left, huddling like cowards in their hole, would soon be torched in the fires of noon.

Talvor inhaled, deeply, his claws wide open and still black to his fingers, as though he'd dipped them in ink. His wings, long, black and batlike, the flaps spotted with blood and scars, were still wide open behind him. His hands were aching pleasurably from the strain of battle; he'd splintered his lance through a night-claw's skull some hour or so ago in the heat of battle, and spent the rest of the time cutting apart every night-claw he saw before him with his own talons. Some had attempted to fight; mostly tried to run. None of them had put up any semblance of effort against him. Not one had lasted more than a few seconds against his mad flurry. He licked his fanged lips to taste the blood, relishing the stink of extermination, the savory taste of a well-done slaughter.

"You'll be a hero for this," said one of his soldiers from behind him, with a hushed voice. "That's what this is about, right? Or am I mistaken?"

Talvor turned to face him. He and a few-hundred others, all still scattered around the field, were generally taking souvenirs from the carcasses of their quarries and scavenging to see if any still survived, drenched black like he was. They were the best of the best in his garrison, many wounded but none mortally so. They would have time to grieve for those who had lost their lives in this valiant massacre later, but now was the time to relish in the triumph. His soldiers were gleeful seeing their decisive victory, none of them paying Talvor any heed as they searched the fields for anything more they could kill.

The soldier who had spoken, though, did not seem to be sharing the glory. Avis, if Talvor remembered his name correctly–sometimes they blended together, he had to admit–his ruddy hair in a tumbleweed, one of his pointed ears torn half-off and his scarlet eyes fatigued. He was speckled with blood, but his claws were sheathed, no fire of battle left in him.

Or had it ever been in him? Talvor couldn't remember anything about Avis, except that perhaps he was representative of an unwelcome minority within Noon's ranks. Someone who was not committed–perhaps, though Talvor hated the term, adverse–to the mission. Avis' face was vacant of anything but a strange hatred, a kind of loathing Talvor couldn't comprehend.

"How many did we lose to make this happen?" Avis said, his voice wrought with horror, his balefully empty gaze on Talvor. "How many fires 'snuffed out,' as you would say?"

"Does it matter?" Talvor said. He was smiling, even relaxed, even in the violent aftermath. "All of us burned brighter than we ever have been or ever will be again in this glorious victory. We have truly lived in this killing. We are victorious."

"Against what?" Avis said. He was silent for a second, staring at the mangled remains of day-vamps and night-claws all spread for miles around. "...What have we won against Dusk? What have we achieved in doing this?"

Talvor smiled as though a father staring upon his naive son. A minority, then. "Avis," he chided gently. "You are Noon. You are of fire and the ray. You have this right. This is nothing to be ashamed of."

"Is that what you think I am?" Avis said. He stared back, seeing the remaining soldiers still ignorant of everything around them as they scavenged the fields. "Ashamed. I suppose so."

Talvor frowned, darkly.

"...Is that all?" Avis said.

"It should be obvious to you," Talvor said, earnestly, gesturing to the bodies as though they spoke for themselves. "Do you not understand?"

Avis didn't. He truly didn't.

His gaze returned to the author of this slaughter, but he didn't say anything else. Talvor knew there were many trivial things Avis wanted to say, contemplating a thousand questions Talvor simply could not understand.

"...This is something heroic," Avis finished. "I'm correct? You'll be a hero for this. You lived a hero, you died a hero."

Talvor opened his mouth to reply, and only managed a brief burble of blood, his throat suddenly opened up by Avis' crimson dagger. His eyes widened, and everything suddenly became as red as the sky.

"You'll be remembered with a great legacy," Avis said, with a sad frown, as though to console Talvor. "You even fooled me once. I can't change that. So I suppose that is what this must be. Heroism."

Talvor choked and gurgled, his wings stiffening, as Avis turned unflinchingly away, his back toward House Noon's brightest flame now going out. Another body on a ground of thousands he'd just piled up.

Not a single day-vamp noticed. As Avis had correctly anticipated, every other day-vamp had been too lost in the haze of their own lingering bloodlust to notice anything else.

Avis was alone in the crowd. The Red Dawn had come over Inoptica. Dusk was sure to die now.

And even in seeing with his own eyes, Avis simply couldn't understand why Noon had ever come to that conclusion. Everywhere he looked, he was lost. Everything he saw was senseless. Everything was, as far as he could comprehend, carnage for the sake of it.

"The commander is dead," Avis said as he approached the nearest day-vamp, a brawny specimen with his wheat-brown hair cut to the very back of his head, grinning ear-to-ear with a mouth full of his own blood. The day-vamp stared at him, the words passing over his head as he tried to understand them, his smile sinking. Avis' expression remained neutral as he stared back to Talvor, the life now bled out of him. "The Batlord has been extinguished. I... I found him like that, just feet away from some ravaged night-rats."

The day-vamp's face transformed in horror, broken out of the spell of bloodthirst. He ran over to Talvor, and Avis watched apathetically as he picked up Talvor's corpse and saw the light having left his eyes. Once more, the other day-vamps remained blocked out to the rest of the world as they searched for any remaining prey to kill, oblivious until the day-vamp broke out in despair.

"Talvor is dead!"

Heads turned. Savage looks faded. The price of the aftermath truly became clear to them. All Avis had to do was force their eyes open.

But it wouldn't be clear. Not now. Perhaps not ever. There was only one certainty to be had.

Noon needed to die.

"They killed him," said one of the other soldiers by Avis, his body more black than anything else–Kryce, if Avis was correct. "They took down Talvor. This can't be."

"It shouldn't be," Avis said.

Kryce hissed, spitting out night-claw blood. His face was hot with rage, simmering even though he had no more targets to take it out on. "The bastards. Those shadow-skin bastards. Those..."

Avis stared at Kryce, seeing hot tears in his yellow eyes with the blood. Avis' own face was mournful.

"...Who will become the Batlord now?" Avis said, staring at Talvor as more and more soldiers congregated around his body in disbelief.

"Nobody else was worthy to lead us," Kryce said, voice breaking. "Nobody else is fit..."

"...Then then all of Dusk dies," Avis said, as though for confirmation of something he already knew as fact. Kryce stared back at him, fury alighting in his features.

"All of them."

Broken mirror beauty divides

Though it's an illusion

It can cut like a knife

Don't try to give me

What I think I desire

It's mine to find