Tasteful wall paper greeted Gwydion as he entered the light airy room of the empty resort suite. It was one of the better rooms – large, spacious, and… impersonally decorated. It was a place to make memories, not a place to face your memories. His opinion was that a hotel room should not remind you of your home or your ordinary life. Like a fantasy novel where the main character retreats from the common world to an alternate one, the hotel room should provide escape. Gwydion catered to fantasy and enchantments – the fantasy and enchantments of the rich.
Today Gwydion would not be indulging in fantasy. He would be addressing the very practical reality of cleaning a room. He had come to this suite to meet with his new employee Donny. House keeping had alerted him to spoiled towels. Towels meant for decoration (and occasional guest use – by those indulgent enough to use the ornately patterned towels in place of the lush white ones) had been used to clean the floor.
Donny had used the wrong towels, Gwydion explained. He had used the good towels. Gwydion handed him a pair of rubber gloves and they began instruction in housework.
As they talked about the finer art of cleaning a room, Gwydion eavesdropped on Donny’s mind. Donny had not grown up with good towels. He had grown up with working towels or towels that needed to be retired. The idea of a leisure class towel had never occurred to Donny. Donny was a good towel, Gwydion chuckled to himself, and he was too common to appreciate the art of not working.
Gwydion took the opportunity to measure Donny’s soul. It was something he did with all new employees. He required good in his employees. Evil was for the guests. The evil Gwydion desired grew best in good soil.
Donny had a small stain of theft and lies on an otherwise blameless soul balanced by an aftertaste of guilt and remorse. It was a flavor Gwydion did not enjoy, guilt and remorse; it ruined the taste of sin. But there was no need to worry. The environment that Gwydion would provide Donny would soon scrub his heart and leave it pure.
Occasionally true evil did reside in the poor, but it was rare. True evil grew best in the hearts of the rich and privileged. If a beggar had to choose to steal or starve than the sin was with the person the beggar stole from. True evil did not grow well in necessity where things done the wrong way for the right reasons had a habit of working out for “the best”.
He had one such soul almost ready for harvest – that rare person born to poverty capable of true evil. It was a boy born of the wrong cast and color – born to loving and generous; but, poor parents.
The man had been born with two balancing gifts. He had been born with a gift for charity and a gift for cruelty in equal measure. This was a man destined for greatness who could do great good or great evil.
Gwydion had ensured that a path to success was paved for him – a path to privilege. He had been oppressed along the way, of course, human nature being what it is – always looking to kick a perceived inferior. The oppression had made an impression on the man and the seeds of desire were sown. The oppression had created a crossroads of destiny. This man could go down either path.
Gwydion had made sure that there was always a balance of someone helpful – to provide charity for him. Someone that got the man into an Ivy League college his parents could never afford – someone who had shown him grants not readily known about. Another someone that introduced him to the right people to get him a cushy elite job – a job never posted to a pool of candidates. And finally, support to implement a rise to power in his corporation – the right over qualified secretary, an HR manager charmed by his meager beginnings, a boss ready for retirement that never got in his way or took credit for his work. In other words – “luck”.
The man had rejected any notion that he was charmed believing all privilege he had acquired had been his own hard work. He, who was beholden to everyone, believed he was beholden to no one. It had been a gamble by Gwydion to provide him with charity in hopes that the man would not recognize what was being extended to him (goodwill) and invest that understanding in fostering his own talent of benevolence. It was a gamble that had paid off. It had made the corruption of the man’s soul that much more delicious. Things could have gone a different way. He could have recognized the generosity of others and been humbled by it.
By providing luck, Gwydion had groomed and fostered a talent of disregard and callousness until it had led the man to the great sin of his soul. It had led him to a turning point.
The man was faced with someone who had helped him climb his mountain of success. It was someone like the man. Someone born to all the same disadvantages and blessed with none of the charms and assistance. Instead of raising this fellow up and passing on his good fortune, he had done the opposite. He had chosen to oppress him. He had treated the employee as an inferior and had reveled in his authority and power over the employee. He who had been oppressed celebrated the joy of providing oppression. The man had realized that he had not been working for riches but for power. He now had the power to inflict harm on the innocent.
The man had chosen to never invest in his gifts of charity and had allowed his soul to tarnish leaving no path to redemption. Ironically, an investment in altruism would have provided the true greatness this man envied in others – greatness only found in humility. Now he would always be dissatisfied because a part of him would forever know that he had missed his opportunity to be the great man he could have been. The man was dissatisfied and cruel – flavors Gwydion relished. His soul was ready. Gwydion would devour it. Like a cat bating a mouse, it was time for him to pounce.
Gwydion was a demon.
Gwydion thanked Donny for his work and dismissed him taking his gloves and then removing his own. Donny departed the room and Gwydion was left with the back of the hotel suite door. And a mirror – that (had he been hungry) would have been blank. Because he was full, the mirror provided Gwydion with an image of himself. It revealed his true visage; what humans would describe as a classic vampire. But unlike a vampire, Gwydion did not drink blood. He drank souls. These souls needed to be sweet, delicious, and corrupt beyond redemption. And while no one was beyond redemption, these souls had rejected it. They had rejected a call to humanity and embraced their selfishness. They no longer had a desire to be good, to do the right thing, to think about others.
Gwydion looked good. He did good. He fostered good in others. But he was evil. He needed to be surrounded by these very good people to bring out the evil in others that he so desired. These wicked humans that could be feasted on.
Gwydion was a being of selfishness and soullessness. And, the soulless had no reflection. When Gwydion was well fed, he had a soul and could see himself. The mirror; however, did not show him what his magic hid. A glamour allowed him to look living, hid his fangs, and made his livid red eyes brown. It was a glamour the mirror did not replicate. While he was full of soul, he could reflect on himself and indulge in humanity.
An Angel had once asked him if hell approved. It had been an amusing question. Hell did not approve of anything. Hell was not organized. There were no allegiances. It was every demon for himself. Hell was not a place but a state of being. He wondered if heaven was really a state of being as well. He wondered if the cooperation of the good created a community that gave the illusion of space. It was a question he was not capable of, except when devouring the souls of the living. These sorts of questions were almost repentant. They required a statement of “I” which led to a realization of self which led to a realization of others. The irony amused him.
Gwydion approved. That was enough. His motives and alliances were his own.