To the ground he fell. Unable to die, and unable to live. It was his fate. It was his punishment. It was the sentence he’d been given, and he was powerless to alter it. So on the ground he remained.
For 400 years, he’d been invincible. Kings, Emperors and Tyrants had all submitted to his majesty like beggars to a monarch. Dragons died to him, mortals ran in fear of him, and even Demons bent their knees to him. He’d bested death a thousand times, and had taken in stride countless trials that would strike dead lesser men. Lesser men, but not him.
He’d left the land and the money of the world to the weaker minds. He’d always known that magic was the secret to true power. He’d begun learning early, mere days after The Fall, and wasted no time becoming the master he was. Learning the secrets to immortality were daunting then, but child’s play compared to the tasks he’d undertaken since then. More than once, the fate of the world had changed as a direct result of his actions. The moon and the stars would fall from the sky if he willed it.
Even the “noblest” of mortal concerns had been simple for him. It was true that he’d known deep and lasting love, and also true that he’d had it taken from him before he was satisfied. He knew pain, and he knew loss, and he knew them both well. But, as with all things, he had found strength anew in his magic, and he survived even those hardships—as he always did.
He did not fear when the beast Endymion came for his Stone. He had taken all he could from the trinket, and it no longer offered him anything. Other, weaker mortals had questioned the decision (as if they could even begin to understand the world like he did), and called him a coward for letting a dangerous beast gain control of such a powerful tool. They didn’t understand—they couldn’t understand—how easy that insect Endymion would be to squash if he stepped out of line. They didn’t want to believe in his power.
For two months, the knowledge that he would soon be proven right was enough to keep him silent, and content.
But as he felt Endymion’s hammer connect with his skull, Zumeli realized that the mortals may have been right to question him. As he felt his cranium fracture and split, he realized that he may have acted in arrogance and callousness. And as he felt his blood and brains spill out onto the cold, white marble, he realized that this world was not his plaything, to treat and do with as he pleased. Too little, too late. Now, he accepted, was the time to learn what death was actually like.
But it never came. Agony coursed through his head and neck, and his veins screamed in protest as his heart slowly came to a stop, but the release never came. How could this happen? The Dragon Stone had been destroyed—he’d watched it turn to dust before him. Without his magic, he’d be as mortal and easy to kill as they come. So why wasn’t he dying?
His answer came as Endymion hit the ground. Through dead, unmoving eyes, he watched the Dragonkin warrior reach into his pocket, hold aloft a small, azure stone, and vanish it away. The magic had returned after all. The same magic that had given Zumeli strength all his life. The same magic that had never once failed him when he needed it. It had returned to him, and, ever his loyal companion, it refused to let him die.
But he was broken. His body had been damaged too much, and too quickly, for him to retain control of the magic. It kept him alive, but he couldn’t tell it what to do. He’d lost the ability to return to life, but he would never be able to die.
He yelled in his head as his dead eyes watched the Dawn Patrol, broken and battered, drag themselves from the room. He thrashed and raged and begged and screamed and wept with every bit of strength he had, but his body remained silent and motionless.
Unable to live, unable to die. His fate, and his punishment. Forever trapped in a prison of agony and impotence, forced to remain as the world passed him by. So, on the ground he remained.