Older Gods 11
The ascent exhausted us. Starved of sunlight, strength sucked out by wakening a God, the spiral miles upwards tortured our aching limbs. There was no compulsion now, no driving force coded into our bones, deep set but alien. Compassion moved us to comply, the sense that there was something there of us, in the story of these lovers, separated for an age and half a world away. We understood the aching of their impossibility, the eviscerating agony of their unmeasurable denial.
And we perceived the fatal flaw in their cosmos spanning passion. Though vast, beyond the counting in the sky’s wealth of constellations, it bore the seed the doubt, desire to prove, scintilla of uncertainty: how does my lover love me? And were it not for our own utter destruction, the ocean pressure rending and our dissemination, then reconstruction to the median of both of our desires, would we too have fallen foul of this encroaching fear? In part we pitied them. Though separate we shared all the components of our being, touching, or even proximal, we thought and felt as one. And if apart the question of what one might do or say was lodged in finite certainties of glazed and fired clay.
Drifting through the air that chilled as we climbed up, we sensed the sad approval of the drowsy mountain God, the transmission of acknowledgement that our analysis was true. But tainted in that inspiration was the stain of bitter truth, our bodies now less differentiated, could not now ever mate. The love that we had left our world to save would die with us, unmarked and unmourned, final and complete.
Was this the necessary trade? If two grow as one, undimmed by doubt, and lack the fall of chance, the randomness, the possibility that rests within uncertainty, do they lose the ability to create. The realisation flushed through our blue green bodies like a blood deep stain of red, our hands always entwined tightened, and new formed hearts thundered as if to burst. But strength flowed pure in that hard bond, the undiminished potency of our perfected love. We had overcome resistance to the peril of our lives, and traded those lives willingly, against one impossible roll of chance. Gods played with our lives directly now and this too we would overcome.
Winter gripped the world outside the mountain. We had not strength enough to fly, but staggered down the slope, through drifts of snow deep enough to quell the vestiges of hope. We forged on undismayed. Unclothed, we did not feel the full force of the cold, but the God touched ichor in our veins ran slow and turgid, thickened in its flow.
The scattered settlements that we had passed before were hidden to us crawling on the ground, we pressed footsore and weary through the sting of biting winds and airborne ice, until a sudden lull in the intensity showed us there was a change.
A city, remnant of a time long gone, fallen to ruin, but its arches, buildings of purpose all unknown, held back the worst ravages of winter. We took shelter there until the thaw and spring, wandering darkened halls and galleries, the weak light of the day filtering through the grey clouds to cast a harsh and heartless light on works of people now long gone.
What could lead to this abandonment? What cataclysm could have killed the teeming hordes that filled the thoroughfares and avenues, where trees left unrestrained had ripped the paving stones apart, as if erupting to retake the earth?
Death and endings haunted that lost place. We scratched at the bases of the statues hoping to decipher some sign or symbol, breathed shelves laden with the carcases of books into long piles of dust. We found only fragments, tantalising moments of a war fought against enormous odds, holy superscripts against the names of those we thought must be the fallen, images of hands that stretched out of the flames beseeching.
We waited only for so long as we were sure the spring had come, and left the ghosts to moan their counterpoint into the ever present wind. There was still half a world to cross, and lovers to be united.
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