The first thing the Beloved knew was cold. It was not the brisk kind of cold that seems to play tag along the spine, nor was it a deep cold that worms its way into the center of bones and slowly saps the heat from everything around it. This was a true, perfectly frigid cold. It was the kind of cold that steals fire directly from the heart, and forces the soul to curl in on itself in some futile attempt at self-protection. The twelve new lives that lay uncertainly on the surface of a grey planet unconsciously drew closer together. Without thought, they began to seek some way to shelter themselves from the cold that wanted to steal their fledgeling lives before they had a chance to do more than try and draw anything from the nothingness that surrounded them into burning chests, and listen to the flurry of desperate heartbeats that rang in their ears, still struggling to beat even though they were in a place that had no capability to support their nascent existence. Soon enough these vibrant souls would crumble, and all that would be left behind were the bright gems that had been brought down to the surface of this lifeless world only moments before. Those six who watched them from above, beings of indistinct form and color as vivid as the hair of those who lay on the surface of the grey world, did nothing to end this risk. This was not due to cruelty on their part, nor any desire to watch these new children of theirs die, but was rather due to simple ignorance of the fact that anything was wrong. They existed just fine in this place, dancing and twirling under the light of the iridescent rainbow that gleamed in the heavens above the world, and did not yet understand the differences between themselves and the beings they had just created. Instead, they watched the wriggling movements of their new children with curiosity and affection, too afraid to actually reach down and touch them, lest they end up injuring the small things. Instead they watched with doting smiles as a large boy with reddish orange hair protectively curled himself around two smaller girls, folding them into his broad chest. The tremors that passed through his body increased slightly, while the two girls’ shaking lessened somewhat. These actions were watched with fascination, and the gods quietly murmured among themselves. Was this some form of communication? But as the desperate need of these little beloved creatures grew greater, the pleasure and contentment of the gods observing them began to change into concern. With every second that passed, the shaking of the twelve grew worse and worse. Two boys with greenish hair pressed themselves closer together. One reddish haired girl drew two other girls closer, pressing them in on both sides. The others curled in on themselves so small it seemed as though they hoped to simply disappear. With every passing moment, the gods grew more and more concerned, and less and less certain about what they should do. They were beginning to understand that there was something wrong, but without knowing what was wrong there was no way for them to know how to go about fixing it. They knew these little things they had created were suffering, but what way was there to do that except snatch their lives in one brisk moment, rather than letting it be painfully dragged out before they finally withered away? They drew a little bit closer, wondering if their presence could somehow shelter their little beloved from whatever tormented them. But their presence seemed to bring no benefit. Yet neither could any of them bring themselves to abruptly end the lives of the things they had created. Ahdar, the Green One, was the one who finally steeled himself to the task. He did not long to destroy the Beloved any more than any of the other gods, but he knew what had to be done. They could not allow their beautiful creations to suffer unnecessarily. It was at that point that Ksagi, the formless yellow mist that was the only one of the gods who had not drawn closer to the planet at the sight of the Beloved’s suffering, turned away in full and began to return to the rainbow. This unexpected action froze Ahdar’s hand, as shock and indignation consumed him. It was one thing to not want to witness the Beloved destroyed, but to turn away from them so casually when their suffering was so great? None of the gods could understand it, and Ahdar was not the only one who moved out, as though intending to grab the deity and drag them back to witness the end. Ksagi had been a part of this just as much as the rest of them. Two of the gems had been in the Yellow One’s hands, same as everyone else. The rest of the deities would not allow Ksagi to leave so callously. It was only Mavi, the Blue One, who seemed to sense something else in Ksagi’s actions. The only one of the deities to remain completely calm, at least in appearances, at the sight of the Beloved’s suffering, to Mavi there seemed to be a sort of intense purpose to Ksagi’s motion. And so, instead of attempting to stall the furious motions of their brothers and sisters, Mavi instead turned away as well, racing through the size and emptiness of space to chase after the Formless One. Ksagi was moving so fast it was impossible for Mavi to catch up, at least not until the yellow deity came to a halt at the edge of the rainbow. It was only then that the rest of the deities saw Ksagi pluck more gems from the rainbow, quickly snagging gems of every shade and color, from all across the spectrum of the rainbow. Within moments, Ksagi had become so laden with gems that the deity seemed to sag under their weight. None of them were larger than the gems that had been carried down to form the beloved, which was remarkably tiny compared to the size of most of the gems in the rainbow, they were simply so numerous that a couple of them even tumbled out of Ksagi’s overburdened grasp. Mavi rapidly moved forward, intercepting them before they could return to the rainbow. Ksagi shivered in relief at the actions of the Natural One, before allowing more of the gems to tumble from their grasp as the other deities raced up. They did not know what Ksagi was doing, they could only pray that the Formless One had some plan to save the lives of the Beloved. On the surface of their new home, the Beloved’s shaking had begun to weaken, their bodies losing the will to fight. The Deities returned, and forcibly calmed the fear in their hearts. Right now they had to act, and fear would only get in the way. Silently following Ksagi’s lead, the Deities formed into a circle around the Beloved, and the gems in their hands fanned out, creating a dome. Their consciousness slowly unfocused, as each deity turned their effort to channeling their essences through the innumerable gem dome. When they began to focus on the Beloved once more, the scene before them had completely changed. The dome of gems was completely gone. In its place was a space that seemed to practically hum with life. The forms of the beloved had been cradled in rich, green grass, which sprung from the surface of the grey planet. At the tip of each blade of grass, smaller than a teardrop, a crystalline gem hung. The blades of grass and the gossamer strands of the beloved’s hair faintly stirred, as a gust of air casually played with both. The deities could feel the warmth of life that seemed to suffuse the space. Finally, they had made a place where their Beloved would be able to rest, and recover. It was not a large space, as even the smallest of the beloved would be able to cross it in ten quick strides, but it was safe, and it was alive. That was what mattered right now. Comforted by the sense of relief that had built up inside of them, and wearied by their effort, the deities settled back to wait, and watch their beloved recover. The first of the Beloved to properly awaken was a small girl with rich yellow hair. A stray breeze had been slowly pushing a blade of grass back and forth, and it bumped a couple of times against the tip of her nose, causing her to abruptly sneeze. Her eyes shot open in surprise at the action, and for a moment she simply lay there, taking in the brilliant light and color around her. Finally, after several moments, she stretched curiously, only to find herself held in place by another arm. Her round eyes, just as brilliantly yellow as her hair, went wide with surprise and trace indignation, and she wiggled a little more intensely, trying to escape not only the large arm, but also the body of another, orange haired girl who also seemed trapped by the boy, and was certainly also trapping her. However, the more she squirmed the tighter the arm wrapped around her,making it impossible to writhe her way out. Ready to be released and already quickly forgetting the fear of the cold she barely remembered, the yellow-haired girl didn’t see the protectiveness that was contained in the boy’s efforts, and only saw it as further entrapment. Finally getting fed up with the whole situation, she kicked violently, and the boy holding her released her immediately, letting out a surprised “oof” in the process. He rolled away from the abuse, which only served to send him crashing into two green-haired boys that had been positioned behind him. One yelped in fear, quickly releasing his former source of warmth to scramble back, while the other quickly sat up and shoved back. Unbalanced and not used to moving, the orange haired boy wobbled, before landing butt-first back on the ground with a heavy thump. For a moment he sat there, stunned, before an unexpected laugh slipped from between his lips. He lay back down on the ground, spreading his arms out wide, and a wide grin spread across his face. He felt safe. He didn’t know why, or how, but whatever danger had chilled his heart before, it was gone now. Instead he smiled up at the sky, and the six, swirling colors that circled overhead. They were safe.