Ansem's youngest disciple and his fascination with the dark.
Shadow And Ash
From the moment the stranger first appeared on the doorstep, you were fascinated by him. He had the spark of something that defied all of your careful research, all of your experiments and charts and numbers. It caused your elders to mutter amongst themselves and cast suspicious, paranoid looks in his direction, but to you it was like a cat with a new toy. You knew you'd found something extraordinary, and nothing they could say would stop you from exploring the opportunity to the fullest.
He was charismatic, shining with some inexplicable magnetism that drew trust and friendship from the people around him. Brilliant, with a natural instinct for arts both common and arcane. Strong and talented in everything from combat to chess. And he was a mystery, remembering nothing of his own past or the source of his talents.
You sought those memories with a passion born of equal parts admiration and envy. Admiration, to discover the secrets behind his talents, and envy, to prove that whatever it was that made him special you could do too. Until the stranger arrived you had always been the youngest, the most brilliant, and if you could no longer hog the spotlight, you could at least make him share it with you.
You didn't stop, even when the price of the research escalated beyond simple chemistry and physics into bargaining with lives and souls. When the more cautious scientists withdrew, unwilling to step beyond their self-defined boundaries, when the philosopher-king himself ordered a halt to the experiments, you walked onwards. Every now and then some of your companions - fellow criminals - voiced their concerns or faltered, but for you it was much too late to stop.
And one day, down in the secret parts of the laboratory that only the six of you knew about, beyond the tomes of forbidden magic and the rows of cages that held the remnants of creatures once human, he showed you the door.
There was nothing on the other side save emptiness, yet the stranger's demeanor was full of confidence as he explained the wonders that lay upon the other side. It was then you realized that all this time you had spent studying him, studying his tools and skills, you had never seen him display any emotion truly human.
You knew then that it was a point of no return, and you turned back to your guardian, trembling with something that could have been either fear or excitement. He was the sensible, reliable one that told you to rest when you were tired and pulled the books from your hands when you were about to collapse from exhaustion.
Half of you wanted him to stop you, because even now his sensible presence still grounded you to reality, and his words, seldom heard, were safe and familiar.
He didn't. When he stepped forward, waiting silently for your next move, you understood that he would never stop you. Because temptation aside, it was what you wanted, the pinnacle of all of your countless hours of hard work, hopes and dreams. He would not stop you as logic demanded, because he had been beside you every step of the way and knew exactly how hard it had been to come this far. He could not stop you, but he could walk with you down that path.
And you wanted to apologize, to say something that would make it better, precisely because he would never ask or demand such a thing. You could not refuse him, because he would be an anchor of familiarity in whatever path lay beyond the mad stranger's door.
As you stepped through the veil, the familiar world began to twist and wind, as though recoiling from what you'd become. You'd never realized just how many colors there had been in the world until you stood watching them all bleed away.