I was born in the darkness. All around me shells and eggs of creatures similar to mine. Above me shined a light, and I felt an urge to climb towards it. The trek up was perilous. Walls covered in spikes, and stained black with the blood of my kin alongside those too steep to ascend. Still, I slowly managed to climb by finding the occasional foothold. As I gained height, I saw below me my siblings. They lacked a shell and viewed me with envy. They attempted to grab my legs; to pull me back into the pit. I acted quickly and managed to climb past where they could reach, barely not injuring myself. After several more hours of climbing, I found the source of the light. A grand door to the outside world.

Guarding the door was a small, kindly bug. He too glowed, although not as brightly as the room behind him. I recognized him somehow, but I could not explain from where. He interrogated me on many topics. He asked me my name and I told him I lacked one. He asked me if I felt any emotions. I replied no—I knew instinctively it was the right thing to say. He demanded I pledge my loyalty to him, and I agreed. He smiled at me, and I finally recognized him for the first time. This being was my father—had given me life and the world I knew. Without thinking, I told him I loved him.

His smile instantly vanished and he scowled at me. I could not understand nor comprehend his rage. Before I could react, he grabbed me by my horn and tossed me into the pit I had climbed out of. Through some divine fortune, I narrowly avoided the treacherous spikes which lined the walls and platforms of the abyss. The spikes which I realize had killed many of my siblings. When I landed, my shell cracked a bit but somehow I survived mostly intact. I refused to stay in the pit, and attempted another escape a few weeks later. This time I waited near the top for my father to leave, and once he did, I sneaked out into the world. I climbed into a basin, made largely of metal, and guarded heavily by the king’s soldiers. I managed to slip by them and found a little cave to call my own, to call my home.

Rejected by my father, having abandoned my siblings, I found nobody to keep me company. As I rested in this cave, a strong loneliness grew inside me. Every day I looked around at my desolate home, and cried. I had nothing else to do, nothing to look forward to. With my seemingly endless time to think, I contemplated suicide many times. Yet something held me back every time, and even though I had nothing to live for, I preyed it always would. Time bled together and I cannot be sure how long I stayed in that pitiful cave alone. But one day things changed.

It started small, with a single tiny critter that had found its way inside. She glowed a brilliant yellow, brighter than both my father and his castle. She asked me how I managed to get here. She had no mouth but could communicate through my thoughts. I told her the whole story. At first I spoke slowly, barely managing to say each word. But as I did so I felt, for the first time, happy in a way. The depression which had weighed on me for a seeming eternity started to lighten up. By the end I was almost excitedly recounting the daring dash I made to avoid the guards.

Once I finished, she asked me my name and my sorrow returned. I told her I didn’t have a name, that I had never been given one. The question reminded me of my father at that moment, and his betrayal. I was going to cry again, but the little creature laughed in my head and said she would just call me William, or Will for short. The name never stuck—she ended up calling me her lost kin, but I felt important, completed in a way, by just having a name. For the first time I existed. The creature said she was a lightseed named Bella, her mother had named her. She wondered where my mother was to name me. I told her I didn’t know.

After this, she invited me to chase her around the cave. We had a bit of fun. I asked her how she could talk to me. She told me her mother had taught her dream powers, and that among other things these let her communicate telepathically. I told her I had never dreamed before, my world was as small as the dark lonely cave I inhabited and thus I had nothing to dream about. For a few moments Bella looked at me with tears in her eyes. She wiped them off with the little ball on her head and promised me that she would invite some of her friends to show me their world. So she left.

Before my dark thoughts could return, Bella did, alongside a few dozen other lightseeds. They introduced themselves as Sylva, Benny, Albus, Poppy, Lillie, Sarah, and so on… We found small iron rods and played board games in the dirt. We chased each-other around. We sat in circles and chatted. For the first time I felt like I had beings who cared about me. I spent all my waking moments with them. And when I slept, I dreamed of their light. One day, one of them found a nail in the walls. We worked together to polish it and clean it up. They taught me how to wield it, so I wouldn’t be totally defenseless. As I learned the art of using it, one of them noticed the crack in my shell.

The memories of my past no longer made me sad, but the physical scars remain. The lightseeds had no way to fix the shell but that didn’t stop them from wanting to help. Instead, they managed to seal it with their little bodies. Riding on my shell, the lightseeds’ psionic powers magnified. They showed me images of what they knew of the world, their experiences, and happiness. Finally, they showed me the Radiance.

Suddenly I found myself faced with a choice. To embrace her light, or turn my back to it. My inner being wanted to shut it all out, to reject it all. It’s what my father would have done; it’s what the void would do. But my father only wanted me dead, my siblings to usurp me. None of them accepted me. None of them were my family. I wanted to stay with the lightseeds who had shown me kindness and respect. I wanted her light!

In the end, the Radiance and her kin granted me the thing I never had: Family. Their companionship gave me happiness for the first time. And after accepting the Radiance, a happiness that would never end. The joy her light brings to my dreams and life in this bleak cave has made my life wonderful. Every day I spend with my newfound friends. I don’t know how I could have ever survived without them. Her light saved me, and it might be the only thing that could save the world.