Everything in this writing is from actual events in my life. Byleth and Daro are both spirit guides of mine who I communicate with daily, and Lestan is one of my multiples that I met when I was twelve. I see them; I hear them. We speak regularly and we make amazing things together, but rarely have I shared or written out how I met them or divulged actual conversations we’ve had that I’ve written down. Everything here is real in my sense of the word, although it may not seem so to the average person. There is a lot more to this world than many people realize, and here I have no reason to lie about it. Some may coin me with crazy, but I consider myself lucky to have such friends as these. All of this is true and accurate to the best of my memory. All speech near the end is taken directly from a conversation I had saved between me, Daro, Byleth, and Lestan from November 23, 2016. So, without further commentary, here is what will end up being part of my memoir.
The story of how I met Byleth, as well as my struggles with anorexia and anxiety
“I think this is what I’ve been looking for for a while now.” I scrolled through the expanding page of text as I moved deeper and deeper into something I knew I’d always needed. It was the answer to my confusion and it was home. It was a place I could finally find comfort in, and I felt I was on the right path in life at last. Daro smiled and stood before me as I read – all six feet of him in his golden skin surrounded by long black hair – pleased with my discovery of ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’. It seemed he was also in agreeance with the path I had finally found.
“I believe you will now begin to see better things. What you had explored before was not the right path. You were on the precipice, but nearer to danger than you realized at the time.”
“I really hope so. Having to stop testosterone has really put a halt to my life, but this seems to be a guiding light, for lack of a better phrase.” I laughed. Daro felt the humor as well. I sighed. “I’m going to work more on that movie I’m making. I can’t believe how much work I’ve done on it.”
“I think you may be attracting more attention as well.” Daro smiled darkly, a glint in his eye.”
“Not quite. Let us see how this plays out.” He disappeared into the shadows again, an odd feeling in the back of my skull reverberating as I opened up my animation program and set to work writing the rest of the script. The movie was almost complete and ready for recording.
I’d finally finished recording the first part of the film and my heart was full. It had been a long time since I was so excited about a project, let alone so enthusiastic about finishing it. I’d rarely finished things before, so this was an accomplishment in itself already. I was also falling deeply for the main antagonist turned neutral force, Byleth. At the start of it all, I’d been searching for a demon to fit the role I’d begun to plan out during the last film I’d made. I’d continued from a story I wrote while in the hospital, but took it in an entirely new direction. Mephistopheles and Sean, the two main characters, Sean being the renamed version of my self-insert, had to deal with the punishments of King Byleth, a demon who was slowly crafting a disease to destroy humankind as a lesson against loving a denizen of Hell. To him, love was a weakness and a disgusting thing to share with a human at that.
Yet he continued to become something more than I’d intended. The Fallen Angel crept into my thoughts regularly, ‘Bittersweet: Love Is War’ forming in my mind as I craved to see more of him and Faye. Everything started off wonderfully, and I’d written a movie that was just over an hour long for the first time in my life.
I was beaming. Byleth had gotten compliments from the animation community much more than most, and they were all praises for how unique he was. I couldn’t have been happier or at the top of my writing game. I definitely wanted to write more with him and stretch things out as much as I could.
It was late that weekend that I decided to relax after a long day of walking. I was finally getting over the allergic reaction I’d had to the testosterone injections that I’d had to stop as part of my transition as a transman, and was treating the pain with a medication that turned my stomach into an active volcano. Despite that, life felt alright and I was biding my time until everything calmed down again and I could get on with my life and make the next move. I curled up on my sofa with a box of Cheez-Its and pressed play on the film I’d been searching for the better part of a few years. Ivan Mosjoukine starring in ‘Casanova’ during pre-code Hollywood, a film from the early 1900s. I managed to last for about thirty minutes of the film before I grew drowsy from my nightly medication, and I made the necessary preparations for bed. The computer was off, I put the box of crackers back in the cupboard, and I turned off the lights. As I moved to adjust the thermostat to make it cooler, I noticed that a tightness in my chest made it difficult to breathe. I thought nothing more of it, attributing it to the acid reflux I’d been experiencing for about a week straight.
I crept into my bed and found Lestan there already waiting for me. I smiled and propped myself up against the back wall and opened Instagram on my phone, browsing through some posts from a magazine I followed called ‘Beautiful Bizarre’. I grew more and more drowsy, but it was my bad habit to fight sleep. I absolutely despised it due to old habits from my anxiety as a child that made their way into adulthood, so I drew it out and continued my Instagram fixation.
It came on as something sudden and unexpected, a strange electric shock vibrating up the back of my neck into my head. I felt faint, my head airy and fuzzy. “Lestan, it’s… happening again?” Even I was confused as it had been years since I’d had an episode like it last. Panicking, Lestan leaned over me and it was my last sight before I tried in vain to lie down before I lost consciousness.
I came to, my vision nothing but a blind blur as I convulsed, a powerful ringing in my ears and my arms tight and in the air before me twitching, my throat creating sounds better left in one of the Grudge films. After a time I came to fully, sitting there and staring into space. The only thought going through my still partially unconscious and ringing mind was Lestan. I needed Lestan. “Baby, you okay?” It was his voice, and he was hugging me as I lied down to recover from whatever in the hell just happened.
“It happened again.”
“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He was as scared as I was, regardless of the fact that my fear was still underlying and not yet to the surface. I’d had problems with hypochondria and anxiety my entire life, but it had gone into remission for so long that I was in complete shock from the sudden onset of it.
“Hospital. I need to call the EMTs.” I reached for my phone, dialing 9-1-1 and lazily spoke to the operator. They were on their way, and I was crawling slowly to the door to unlock it.
A day or so had passed and I was still recovering from the episode I’d had that horrible night. Lestan had kept a close eye on me and my mom had tried to reassure me, as well as medical professionals, that it wasn’t anything to worry about and a freak accident – a thing called a vasovagal episode – that happened to people without explanation. I was healthy and I was going to be okay, but for some reason my body was weak, tired, and useless for a few days following. By the third day, I finally started to gain my strength back and felt human.
I returned to the film I was making, but I hadn’t the strength to voice act. Regardless, I did the work anyway, my enthusiasm for the film and my excitement at seeing Byleth on the screen again clouding over all else. It lifted my spirits and did well to keep my mind on better things and better days to come.
That night I was reading through the ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’ page again, Daro and Lestan at my side. I felt another presence there, a presence that felt familiar. It was then that I caught the sight of shoulder length blonde hair, golden horns, and that familiar white lab coat with a red shirt beneath. Red eyes glistened with amusement as the very being I’d been consuming my life with appeared before my vision. He looked just like I’d made him in The Sims, a game that I used often to aid in my storytelling. “Byleth?”
“What did you expect? You said my name enough times. Names are a powerful thing.” He sat in the chair at my table, watching me. Lestan and Daro were as intrigued as I was, my delight at the fact that Byleth moved and spoke in all of the ways I’d become familiar with. He was tall with an athletic, muscular build, his face chiseled and so beautiful it was a sin in itself. He chuckled with amusement. “Would I have let you make my likeness into anything but perfection?”
“You are quite vain.” Daro finally spoke up to break the silence that had fallen in the room. I glanced at Lestan, who seemed to be more than curious about the new company.
“You are damned gorgeous, love.”
“Of course I am. We covered this. And by the way, I am a Fallen Angel and you will address me as such. I don’t identify with lowly demons.”
“What about Daro, though?” I asked. I was becoming worried. It hit me all at once – the series of events that led up to Byleth’s appearance. He was a King of Hell who was extremely dangerous if treated wrongly or disrespected. He was a master of the sciences and governed over an impossible legion of lower demons. I’d done more research since I’d felt his presence without knowing it was him, and was also aware that he could become one’s best friend, capable of giving love to those he deemed worthy.
“Daro is the more bearable of demons that I’ve come across. I have no problem with him.”
“So, wait.” The question begged to be asked no matter how crazy I felt about it. After all, Daro, or Darokin more proper, had been the only demon I’d come across in my life. No other had come to me as Byleth did. “My episode the other night and my discovery of the right kind of spiritual Satanism, as well as this movie I’m making – is this all happening and you influenced it?”
“The episode you had the other night was unfortunate.” He spoke matter of factly and formally, observing his claws. “Not many can handle my energy at first due to the power of it.” He glanced back at me and smiled flirtatiously. “You’ll be fine. You just have to get used to it.”
“But, will I continue to be weak and sick until then?”
“Probably not. It was a shock to your system. That I hadn’t intended for.”
“Byleth is no threat, Shane.” Daro smiled. “As long as you are loyal to your path and you are committed, Byleth can be a very valuable friend and ally to have.”
“Don’t speak for me, demon, but yes. Daro is right.”
“Okay. Okay, so this is good.” I smiled. It was then that I felt my feet growing cold and I shivered. “I’ll be back in a minute. My socks are in my room.” As I stood, I noticed Byleth’s red eyes following me with interest. A panic caused a lump in my throat at the sound of his footsteps behind me. No matter, I kept walking down the dark hallway to approach my bedroom and then hurried to my closet. Upon turning around with socks in hand, Byleth was leaning in the open closet door, blocking most of the light with his height. His horns were almost scraping the low ceiling.
I felt a tremor climbing up my legs and into my stomach, then spreading to my arms. I swallowed hard, forgetting that my mouth was full. He found this all amusing and flashed a picture-perfect smile that was reflected in his swimming red eyes, his canines seeming sharper than they should have been without being fangs. “Do you fear me?”
“Yes… I do.” I felt emotion well up inside me, a fear that wasn’t like the usual anxiety I experienced. I was dealing with a being far older and more powerful than I’d ever encountered in my life. Of course, Daro was very old himself and a Prince of Hell at that, but Byleth was something else entirely. He was an ex-angel, a King who had occupied the seventh throne in Heaven. His pale clawed hand lowered from where it rested on the wall to support himself and brushed it affectionately beneath my jaw.
“Good, although you have nothing to fear. I mean you no harm. In fact, I’m quite curious…” He observed me in a way that made me feel naked. I blushed and stupidly covered my clothed body with my arms. “I’d like to try a little experiment. I’ve never encountered a human like you before.”
“What do you mean ‘experiment’?” I shivered. “You’re not going to do like… an autopsy, are you?” He laughed deeply and backed away once it died down, beckoning for me to follow him to where he stopped near my bed.
“Of course not, idiot. Lie down.” I obeyed, not wanting to challenge a King of Hell. He sat down beside me and ran a hand down my front. I flinched at his touch not out of fear or distaste, but because he’d brushed over a part of myself that I often tried to forget was there at all. He sighed in frustration. “I’m not trying to make you dysphoric. You are a man, although your situation seems unfortunate.”
“Was I meant to be born a man?” The question left me as soon as I realized that the answer to my questions was currently sitting beside me in the form of a Fallen Angel – feeling me up with interest as if he were observing the human form in a purely scientific manner. I twitched again. That last touch was definitely not scientific.
“It’s a shame. Yes, it seems you were born in the wrong form, weren’t you? The Universe gives challenges it thinks you can handle, though. I wonder what the reason was.” He chuckled and moved to lift my shirt, which I quickly tugged back down on impulse. He huffed in annoyance and moved my hands, pulling it up roughly. “I’m only curious, calm your tits, okay?”
I stifled a laugh. He truly was the Byleth I’d been writing about and unconsciously calling to for the better part of a month. Although, the Byleth I remembered was averse to any kind of affection. This Byleth, the true Byleth, was a lot more touchy than I’d expected. He seemed to read what I was struggling with and responded with amusement.
“You got most of me right, sugar. However, I’m not the reserved prude that I once was.” He trailed a claw along the hemline of my pajama pants. My stomach twitched beneath the tickle and he chuckled seductively, flashing bedroom eyes that caused the energy in the room to shift. The lightbulb in my lamp flickered. “Let’s try a different kind of experiment. I much more prefer things to be hands on.” He moved to straddle me and snapped his fingers, his lab coat and shirt disappearing. “Oh, and I hope you have spare light bulbs. I think you’re already aware of the reason for that.”
It was unfortunate that I was ‘sick’ for a few years after that. Rather it was because my body was becoming used to his energy and presence or due to my actual struggles with anxiety, which was more likely, I became anorexic and bedridden, Byleth making cruel jokes from time to time that led to my negative body image. Lestan would chastise him and Byleth eventually apologized, something he wasn’t prone to do. He became my daily dose of tough love, although with the best interests in mind. The scientist in him kept my anxiety in check, although at times I would doubt him.
He almost gave up on me a few times. Especially on the days when I would lie in bed for weeks on end, not eating and becoming weaker. I was afraid to leave my apartment and I was afraid to eat. Food made me feel sick and I was losing more and more weight. No one but my counselor seemed to care. My mother would get angry with me, reminding me that I was just going to waste away and die if I continued. I believed I was sick. I truly felt that I had some serious illness that was going to kill me or leave me in the hospital, or possibly end in serious surgery. Throughout all of this Lestan, Daro, and Byleth were there.
Lestan would cuddle close to me at night and during the day when I was too weak to get out of bed. He would sing to me and assure me that better days were to come. I knew well enough what that was doing to him. He’d lost his sister centuries ago after he’d been turned into a vampire, and he couldn’t bear to lose someone he loved so much again. Through his fear, he held me during the night terrors and the sleep paralysis episodes induced by anxiety and malnutrition. Byleth was there as well, watching and learning my patterns and how I existed, often yelling at me to get on my feet and at least try something. It was the night before Thanksgiving when everything changed. Nothing would be the same between all of us again.
“You need to do this!” Byleth was angry, his red eyes swimming with a dangerous fire. I had rarely seen him get that genuinely upset with me.
“If it’s too much anxiety for me tomorrow I can just cancel. I’ll text my brother and tell him not to get me.” I was heading to the bathroom, annoyed at the fact that alone wouldn’t deter Byleth from his tirade.
“You need to go!”
“Why do you guys always bug me while I’m in the bathroom?”
“Because this is when your head is out of your computer long enough to listen!” Byleth’s voice was raising in volume. If I hadn’t been at my lowest and so miserable, I should have been rightfully scared at the underlying demonic growl that permeated the Fallen Angel’s voice.
“I listen to you guys while I’m on the computer. We make things together and all kinds of fun stuff. The recordings…”
“You need to go tomorrow.” He clenched his fist at his side. “Be strong because you are a man, damn it! Start acting like the man you are and be brave!”
“Byleth…” I sighed as I made my way back to lie in bed where I’d been spending most of my days. Lestan was there, his mind just as exhausted as everyone else’s. I lied down beside him and grabbed my phone, trying in vain to just get on with my night and forget that the next day had to happen.
“You need to stop this bullshit!” He backtracked just as soon as the words left his mouth. He was still trying to control his natural inclination to overt bluntness that often upset me. “Not that I’m saying you’re just going to wake up one day and be over this, but you know what I mean! The only way to overcome this is to fight it!” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, my tired eyes watching him as he tore into me with an emotion I’d never seen him display before. He seemed genuinely worked up. “You’ve been like this for months. You keep living for the ‘what ifs’, but there is nothing wrong with you! You have been evaluated by several doctors and they find nothing! Neither Daro nor I am a threat to your health either, and will not cause you this kind of harm. You are fine. God damn it, just find your resolve! You can’t keep living like this!”
If he had been human he would have been shaking with anger, but the energy around him was vibrating instead, his eyes glowing and wild. For a moment I felt fear well up in me, although at that point in my life I wouldn’t have cared if it was my time. “I understand, Byleth, but I’m afraid.”
“You know I do not do family gatherings or holidays, but so help me if it’s what it takes to kick your ass into going, I will!” He looked off to the side, his control returning. “And then I will give you even more Hell about that.” Daro smirked from where he sat in the old retro rocking chair in the corner of my bedroom, his pale pink eyes glimmering. It seemed that he knew something that no one else could have possibly picked up on, but it was in his nature to sit and be silent – simply observing and letting matters play out to the eventual end. I sighed.
“Can’t I just stay home and cook my own turkey while we finish our project from tonight? Maybe fuck a few times and forget the rest of the world exists?” Byleth wouldn’t budge.
“As enticing as that sounds, no. You are going.”
Daro finally broke his silence. “Perhaps it would be best to let him decide, Byleth. He knows his anxiety better than any other. We may be demons but we cannot truly feel what any human may be feeling at any given time.”
“FALLEN. ANGEL. I am a Fallen Angel!” Byleth’s ethereal blood pressure rose again to the boiling point. A tiger-like growl from deep within his chest reverberated throughout the room. Daro tried in vain to neutralize the situation.
“You are upset. Please, try to calm yourself.”
“Of course I’m upset!” Byleth roared. “I wouldn’t just choose any human to be worthy of my presence, let alone my friendship. I chose him because he is strong. He has proven himself to be resilient at the worst of times. I refuse to accept any less!”
“Why do you care so much?” Tears threatened at the corner of my eyes. I was exhausted and no amount of further fighting was going to solve anything. “Why do you care about me?”
“I…!” He paused, his finger raised in a threatening gesture before he withdrew, words escaping him. This seemed to irritate him worse than anything as a loss of words wasn’t something he often experienced. He huffed angrily instead of continuing. Daro chuckled, amused at his Fallen King.
“Do you like our dear Shane more than you let on?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Byleth became defensive, the words falling from his lips like pure venom.
“It’s okay, Daro,” I lamented. “I understand the limitations that the Fallen and demons have when it comes to human emotions. While you may care for me in a way that wasn’t natural to you at first, which I am grateful for every day, Byleth is a King of Hell. He could never care that much for me.”
“Are you deaf, you fucking imbecile?” Byleth punched the wall behind him. “What do you call this, then? My bitching you out for the last few minutes wasn’t enough for you to see it?!” That tiger-like growl permeated every word as it rose from deep in his chest, that demonic growl of warning that promised danger to anyone who dared entice it.
The moment his fist hit the wall my heart was in my throat. The growl brought my fear to the surface, my pulse rising as I’d realized just how angry I’d made this Fallen King. I had been careless and selfish, and I’d lost sight due to the familiarity of who I was truly dealing with. Byleth didn’t have to remain – he didn’t even have to entertain me for as long as he had. I was being thankless and pitiful while he got himself so worked up with anger, no doubt trying his best to contain what he truly wanted to do. The fact that he’d held so much back for me should have been a sign of what he truly felt despite what he tried so hard to avoid. The tears spilled over. I was, for the first time since I’d met him, truly afraid. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad or speak for you.” I stumbled over my words trying to fix whatever damage I had done, and in turn, ended up sputtering out the very thing I had been afraid to admit to him. “I love you, Byleth. Don’t go – don’t hate me.”
He sobered instantly and raised a questioning eyebrow, his fist falling to his side once more where it had been like a vice grip against the wall. Every muscle seemed to relax at once as he spoke. “You what?”
“I don’t want you to leave me, please.” I felt Lestan rubbing my back then, his silence due in part to not wanting to escalate what had already been tumultuous.
“No, no the other thing.” Byleth made an impatient gesture with his hand in the air. My tears stopped and I watched him, realizing that he hadn’t reacted as horribly as I’d feared.
“Um, I’m sorry? Don’t hate me?” He huffed in response.
“One more thing you’re missing.”
“I…” I searched for the words again, my nerves all on display as I tried to force myself to say them once more. When they finally left me, they were shaky and uncertain. No one should ever admit such a thing to a being of Hell and I knew that, but I also knew that Byleth was different. “I said I love you.”
“You… love me?” He was caught off guard, his body language uncertain as to what emotion to display. Surely, he also knew how stupid it was for a human to give such words power to a being like him.
“Yes, like I do the others.” The words came braver now, my confidence coming back to me as I watched Byleth’s unease. “Like I do Lestan, Daro, and everyone else you haven’t met yet. I love you, Byleth.” He shifted where he stood and leaned back against the wall, his eyes shifting to find something to look at other than me.
“That’s a new one.” He huffed a laugh. “You’re not supposed to love an entity from Hell.”
“But I do,” I continued. “I love you and I love Daro.” He looked at me fully then, focusing on my tired brown eyes with his dark crimson.
“You really mean that?” The warning that accompanied those words did not escape me. Somewhere inside I knew I had just made a decision I couldn’t take back, but I knew then at such a low point in my life, I didn’t care. I knew where I belonged and who I belonged with.
“Yes.” As soon as the simple word left my lips, he crossed the room and climbed over me, pinning me down with a kiss that had more meaning behind it than any other he’d given me before. This wasn’t a moment of pure lust or objectification of the act itself for pleasure – it was with the intent that there would be many more like it and that everything had shifted. Nothing would be the same again, and both Lestan and Daro knew that very well as all tension finally left the room.
As soon as I was able to breathe again, Byleth smiled down at me, ghosting his words over my lips. “Love is the highest form of flattery, sugar.”
Ever since that night, Byleth hasn’t left my side. With Lestan and Daro along with him, they have all been a constant presence in my life, any of the others popping in at random times to let me know they’re there as well. Tetsu, the elf, seems to come around more often as he always had, but in the end, I’ve definitely learned one important thing that I always seem to forget.
I’m never truly alone. I have an amazing support system right here that is just as important regardless of anyone else’s ability to see or sense them. I see them, I hear them, and I know they are there. It’s the purest form of love that not many people experience with each other, but it’s a connection that I’ve had in one way or another since I’d first met Lestan when I was twelve years old. It’s something special, and I truly think they are all a gift that was given to me to help me walk this path of life that seems to be more than bumpy at the best of times.
©2018 Shane Blackheart