The Footsteps of the Valiant

I had a tilt at the Bartleby Snopes dialogue only writing contest this year, an entirely new format for me. The rules are simple – only dialogue, no “he said”, no directions, just conversation. They keep the top five entries on the boil and reject everything else. I clung on for a few days, but inevitably got tinned.

That said I had a bit of fun with this and I hope you do to:

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Studded Door

 

The Footsteps of the Valiant

 

“Who’s there?”

“Archon? Archon, is that you?”

“It is. Child, you don’t sound like one of my regular guards.”

“No, your holiness. Far from it. I have come to save you.”

“Bless you daughter, but you are taking a terrible risk. Flee, before they find you.”

“Don’t worry; no one will be coming for a while. Your long captivity is almost over.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“The guards on this watch have been bribed. They’re all looking away.”

“‘By their own greed shall they be undone’ as it says in Acolytes Three.”

“Yes, your Holiness.”

“What is it that you are doing? All I can hear is a scratching at the door.”

“Trying to pick the lock. This one looks like a regular forbidding dungeon door with a big unsophisticated lock that a halfwit gaoler can manage, but it turns out to be surprisingly complex.”

“Well, they have had me locked up in here for a long time, I’m sad to say you are not the first devout soul with fire in your belly and righteousness in your heart to try and save me.”

“I know, there are memorial cobbles hidden throughout the city with the names of the holy martyrs.”

“Cobbles?”

“They prise one up, engrave it and replace it overnight. There’s also a threnody that is sung by everyone in attendance: “The Footsteps of the Valiant”, it’s quite a moving tune.”

“Cobbles are not lacking in humility I suppose.”

“You are a prisoner of the state Holiness. They could hardly erect statues.”

“No indeed. How are you getting along with that lock?”

“It won’t be long; the Duke had a similar one on his strong room. There’s a trick to it.”

“I see. I take it the path of righteousness has not always been the one you have chosen?”

“No your holiness I’m a thief. I don’t actually have any of that belly or heart stuff. Your followers got tired of sending each other to certain death trying to save you. They hired me. I’m a professional.”

“So what about that business with the holy martyrs and the cobbles?”

“It never hurts to empathise with the client. Especially when the client thinks they have a cause. It can get you ten, maybe fifteen basis points on the price. Bitter, hard bitten pros with no emotional intelligence have to sell their services at a discount.”

“My goodness, I had no idea it could be so complicated. I must admit I’m not sure how I feel about being rescued by someone who has not been saved.”

“Oh it’s your flock that are saving you. The money was raised by subscription. As best I can make out, you’ve had everyone from widows and orphans contributing pennies, to businessmen putting an entire year’s profits into the fund. It was very touching, but of course it doesn’t pay to get sentimental.”

“But you are the one who is doing the saving.”

“‘Judge not the sword, but the hand that wields it.’ That’s from Ruminations Six.”

“You know your scripture!”

“Good research on the client, adds another ten points to the price every time. Those surly hero guys hanging around in taverns half drunk and unshaven really don’t know what they’re doing. I have an office, and a secretary. Prospective clients get cinnamon tea and a brochure.”

“I suppose that makes me feel better about it. How is that lock coming?”

“Nearly there. Just one turn…got it. Stand back your Holiness. There’s a torch out here, and the sudden light may be painful.”

“That won’t be a problem.”

“Oh.”

“To be fair, no one else has ever got this far. We’ll have to review security arrangements.”

“Gosh. It’s rather nice in here isn’t it?”

“Well, there had to be some trade-off for being locked up all these years.”

“Your carpets are as good as the Duke’s and I happen to know that’s a third century jade vase.”

“You’re an educated woman.”

“Well, yes. But that one I stole to order for…”

“That was you? God bless you. It was originally stolen from the Church by the second Hieromancy. ‘It will profit them not the things they take unto themselves. For all shall be returned to its rightful place in time for judgement.’ Divination Twelve, in case you were wondering.”

“It seems I’ve been an agent for the Church before then. It’s good to know we’re on the same side.”

“Indeed. If you like what you see here, you should come out onto the balcony.”

“How do you have a balcony in a dungeon?”

“Come and see.”

“Oh. Oh my word.”

“It’s quite something, isn’t it?”

“I never imagined there would be a cavern inside the mountain. Where does the light come from?”

“As I understand it there are crystals in the rock that run right the way up to the surface. Or they redirect light to each other or some such. It does give the whole thing a lovely glow. And the rainbow over the waterfall is almost permanent.”

“I did wonder why you stayed here.”

“I am a prisoner, child.”

“Yes, but there are stories about how you gave sermons in two villages at the same time. I always wondered why someone who could do that would allow themselves to be locked up.”

“You believe the stories? I’m surprised.”

“I stole some records from before the dissolution of the Church. The parishes kept records of who came and went.”

“You really do your research very thoroughly.”

“Thanks, I had an intern do the actual data work.”

“And these records showed me in two parishes at the same time?”

“Yes, and it happened more than once.”

“Unfortunately it’s not a miracle or some God given power. The truth is a little more prosaic. I served four parishes as a young priest, and I had to walk from one to another. I wasn’t actually that devout, and they were all about fifteen miles apart around the Sky Lake.”

“I know, I have the records, remember?”

“Yes, but what you have to factor in is that two of the parishes were in a different diocese.”

“So?”

“I got paid by the sermon. I knew no one would cross check the records from one diocese to the other. They used to hate each other.”

“You were fiddling your attendance to get paid more.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“I’m a thief, not a fraudster.”

“I always thought putting around the story that I was able to perform miracles by being in more than one place at a time was quite inspired.”

“Divine inspiration?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“I take it you aren’t coming with me then?”

“Not as such, no.”

“You can let go of my arm.”

“You see, the Duke and I have an arrangement. He needs the people to believe in something to stop them falling for heathen influences. And the firebrands have a predictable cause to rally around. It makes them easier to track.”

“You’re quite strong for an old man.”

“You see those spars and blocks in the corner?”

“Yes.”

“That’s actually exercise equipment. I also do yoga. I’m in pretty good shape for someone who hasn’t been outside in a decade.”

“Do you have to grip so tight?”

“The arrangement serves the church as well. Nothing keeps the people as devout as a live case of someone suffering for their souls. Donations have never been so high, even though the services are held in secret.”

“I imagine that saves a lot in overheads.”

“You’re very astute. Church buildings are in need of constant repair. This way the worthy lend us their houses, and I’ve cut an entire layer of management out of the structure. It’s very efficient.”

“My arm is hurting pretty badly, do you think you could let go?”

“I’m afraid not. There are very few people who know what is happening. Even the guards just pass what they think they’re feeding me through a hole in the door. My meals actually come on a dumb waiter from the palace kitchens.”

“I’m really pleased for you, but I really think I ought to get going. I only bribed one shift of guards and they’ll change soon.”

“And there’s the rub. The arrangement works because it is secret. And a secret is only a secret if no one knows it.”

“Penitents Seven?”

“Good guess. Penitents is a go to book if you’re in doubt because no one ever reads that one, but actually that is all my own.”

“It’s an awfully long way down.”

“‘He who dies to serve the faith shall live for ever.'”

“Does it matter that I’m a she?”

“Not to God. On the plus side, maybe you’ll get your own cobblestone.”

 

THE END

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Older Gods (pt 14 – final instalment!)

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Older Gods 14

Is it only fools who fall in love? Or those inclined to blindness: the trusting and naïve. And what is it of love that means we cannot learn?

Having crossed the threshold of our first uncertainty, we had not foreseen the strife and enmity our love would cause, the anguish and violence, bitter recrimination. Then, still suffused with gentle feeling when we alighted on our well-loved shores as angels, had we forgotten everything that had passed before, or believed our leaving could have changed the world?

What was the lens through which we saw the older Gods, the parted, broken hearted, lonely denizens of sunken gaols? Were they saviours and redeemers for what we had thought forbidden; our reflection as those whose love had wrought destruction; or power that the world required, but had forgotten?

Returned now to the dark depths of the ocean, our twice born essence touched the God of making’s presence, and triggered a reaction that we could not have foreseen. The vast volume of water, sunless, black and freezing, boiled with his exultation. We felt the bedrock shudder as the Gods remade their connection, the bones of the earth, the blood-like magma, re-joined them across the trackless miles. We shot out of the ocean like catapulted stones, the pressure of rejoicing ejected us into the air. We watched the cloud face gather, and the world tremble and tremor as the surface of the sea bellowed an echo from the deep – I have been waiting centuries; at long last you have come.

From the far off mountain, ringing like a mile high bell the same words came back in answer, shattering the air and making tornadoes gather, whipped up by the frenzy of the reignited passion.

The wind howled drowning out the words exchanged as we sensed the blue God surging up from his confinement, and the distant mountain prison shake off its long worn cloak of ice. Within the rolling thunder we heard the heartfelt whispers, the intimate soft murmur that traversed across the skies: “forgive” and then “forgiven”, “my love”, and “oh my lover”, “abandon” and “forever”. We could not piece together the many missing parts; we flew higher to evade the rapacious hands of the wind.

The clouds parted for a moment between gusts, we saw the land begin to split, an earthquake tearing the entire world in two, and the ocean’s waters rising in a tidal wave that merged with lashing rain. In between a pale pearl, a ring of sand and the nacreous glint of jungle, our island home, the wave kissed shores on which we both were birthed. And above the violence and looming terror one refrain. “This world is all for nothing; all I want is you.”

We knew then, with our Gods touched minds, the intention of the thwarted lovers. The world into which they had poured their puissance, one proving love, one loving, had become too burdensome. What cared they for the little lives of men if they were not fed with the worship that they craved? What cared they that their failure to create a place of lasting peace and harmony had pushed the world beyond disaster’s brink and mankind to the verges of extinction? With one concerted sweep of hands, one mighty roar of exculpation they could crush the flawed bauble, trinket, token, cast the broken pieces in the sun and live their lives among the stars as if just then begun.

First to fall beneath the erasing wave would be our home. The baking sands and shading trees, the fishes tippling freedom, the protective coral reef. The verdancy of jungle and bounty of the sea. Family, blood, kin, bonds which our twice formed bodies lost, unmade remade, but which bound our hearts and minds like sodden hemp.

The land split asunder showering sparks of pent up lava, through the barren lands afoot the mountain towards our ruined city refuge. The waters rose above our island home.

How alien this Godly love from human love, which sought only its own adulation, and not the eternity and continuation. Immortality made creation meaningless, a game, a craft, a gift, a jewellery box carved and filled with pretty things. Yet for us creation was eternity, a flower planted in proof of love and our existence. How blind, how foolish we two to think there was some sympathy in the two crossed tales of star crossed lovers.

We, who thought ourselves powerless and exiled, had brought all that remained of earth upto this point, staring hollow eyed in horror at ultimate destruction. For all the death wrought at men’s own hands, mankind survived; scattered, isolated, ignorant.

We knew then there was only one course to tread.

Faith fuelled them. Our belief that there was something more for us in them was at the core of this burgeoning strength which found its last expression in destruction. Without us but free, in time they would recharge by sun and stars and over aeons, meaningless to the immortal, their once almighty strength. But now, to rid themselves of their imprisonment, to wash away the stain of shame their stymied love had brought, they leant upon the strength we gave them. They suckled on the power of our desire to love and bear our own child into the world, and used that heartfelt energy against all else that we loved.

Death awaits the apostate, none fall so far as fallen angels. We denied our Gods. Knowing they cared nothing for us now, we shed the skin of our belief, the core of strength on which we had left all that we knew, risking love and life itself, all this we bled out in that leaden sky.

We watched the world cracking earthquake stop, the foam topped tsunami waters drop as our own limbs turned to liquid and rained out of the sky. Without us to lift them up from their long imprisonment the Gods howled out their rage and their frustration, impotent and falling back into the captive grasp of sea and mountain, able only to withdraw the gifts that made us live.

For a moment our bodies melted into one shapeless cloud.

A wind of mercy blew cool upon us, unmade and falling as a gentle blue green shower upon the pearl that adorned the settling sea. The sand that once had birthed and borne us dimpled with our dying forms. A scattering of emeralds and sapphires, a sudden abundance, a wealth the children picked with glee, and those that sought to horde at once felt foolish seeing wealth beyond the means of measurement scattered on the beach.

What little consciousness remained stayed over that beloved shore, and watched the tide recede, then playful on the breeze it twined about as if to hold onto itself a moment more, then scattered with a whisper.

At long last we are one.

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End

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Older Gods pt13

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Older Gods 13

Love is a restless, hungry beast. It paces to and fro, all bristling fur, slavering teeth, seeking a chance to stretch and grow. It will not sit still and patient, present and unchanging, for even when it seeks stability, resisting change, it rails against the entropy and the ceaseless tread of years.

 

Love spurred us, beyond the joy we found within ourselves, the exquisite agony from long borne chains released, the freedom and the function of our new wrought angel forms. Beyond even the gratitude we felt for our lost Gods, the pity and the empathy; was the desire for ourselves, to leave a mark, permanence, a record of our love. Perhaps love knows itself to be a stymied and half made thing until there is a vessel into which it can be poured, and so it strains and fights and spits until a child is born.

 

As the world around us warmed we once again could fly, yet we stopped, and frequently to spread the old Gods’ word. Until we came upon the shore, the edge of that vast ocean. Hand in hand we skimmed the waves like eternal skipping stones, delighting in the coolness and the heat soaked in our bones. When the movement of the waves stilled into mirror flatness we coursed up into the thinner air and speared into the darkness.

 

Twice made by Gods our bodies held their blue green form and shape, they plunged beyond the reach of sun, through waters cold then growing warm as we approached the shame wrenched yearning God.

 

“You have been waiting centuries; at long last we have come.”

 

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End

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Older Gods pt12

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Older Gods 12

When the fishermen came in from the sea, blistered and frozen in the last squalls of the season, but desperate to replenish their fast dwindling stores, the tribal cure was broth, bowl full, warm and liquid seeping into each extremity, blessed relief for nerveless fingers, lifting drooping heads.

Thus for us the weak sun on the first cloudless Spring day, dimmed and drawn within ourselves, diminished by the ruined city’s mute oppression, we stretched our bodies out to suckle on the sustenance.
Absorbed, our senses dulled by the heady rush of strength, we did not see the ragged band of strangers who approached. Heaped in mismatched clothes despite the sudden warmth, shuffling and fearful, we only caught their vivid stench when they crept up to us and close. We stepped back in alarm, mirrored, for we had seen no other souls for months, and they had thought us statues.

Hands held out palm first to show we meant no harm, our thoughts caressed as we determined what we ought to do. Curiosity warred with caution, although which of us favoured one over the other, we could not say.
We had had no human company since we descended into the mountain. We found ourselves hungry for the mundane and commonplace. The simple joys of home and hearth, the laughter and the joys of lives lived as part of something greater and continuing. And though these seemed to be the destitute remainders of tribes long lost or gone, among their numbers there were children, greybeards, and stooping crones.

They looked at us in awe, as beings from another world, and perhaps we were, distanced from this place by time if not by space. Representatives of long forgotten Gods, touched and shaped by them into these wondrous bodies, free of want and care as long as the sun shone in the sky.

Word by halting word we learned their impoverished history; in part it filled the gaps that marred our own. They eked out a living farming plots in scattered gardens among the ruins of tall homes. Tales told by their own elders, learned from generations gone to dust, recalled a time when lofty towers rose to kiss the clouds and men flew in between in bright machines. Until propelled by greed, the insatiable drive to see desires fulfilled instantly, the world knelt at the very brink of catastrophe, and tipped over. Winds and tidal waves tore through civilisation, upending all the works of man, and the landmarks of his passing. War and famine spread until the few communities that could defend their borders closed themselves against the world outside, took the idols of their misfortunes with them, built walls around themselves and burned within.

So must have been our island home, the natural boundary, a thousand miles of sea in each direction holding off the stain of war, and then the slow forgetting of what befell the world. Our libraries fell silent with the silence beyond our borders; jungles reclaimed the stone and metal structures until they became our well-loved hills. In our time there were just the relics and hoarded precious tomes, the ones that you once studied, looking for our own escape.

And yet not all the world had fallen prey to the despair, these wretched people had disdained the Gods of avarice and seeking life in harmony with the rhythms of the earth, lived poorly but free in this abandoned shell.

We gifted them the knowledge of the older Gods, the two to whom we owed the creation of the world, and shared with them the tragedy of the God’s doomed path of love. A lesson and a warning, and an exhortation to seek out the hidden temple, resurrect the rites of worship and sustain the sleeping God.

We parted, knowing some would not believe, and some would fear these naked aliens, these bearers of a message, and a history unknown. Yet some would be inspired, would see the in their lives the mirror of the blue God of form and making, fled beneath the ocean; and the green God of growth and shaping trapped deep beneath the earth. The faint spark of belief would feed both Gods, would stir in them the strength to regain life and challenge the usurpation of their place amongst the stars. Some few might seek them out, as acolytes and adherents, to break the sullen barriers between the peoples of the world.

And we, the harbingers and instruments, perhaps the gratitude and reborn skills of growth and making, perhaps compassion for our sole regret would lead the Gods to work a further miracle and give the gift of life to us.

 

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End

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Older Gods pt 11

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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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End

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Older Gods pt10

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Older Gods 10

Our minds were not made for this intense attention. Exhausted we fell senseless to the floor and the fluid form flowed back into the pool. As in the dark reaches of the ocean where the God we thought both lone and mad had been sequestered, there was no means to measure time beneath the vast weight of the mountain.

Our minds, conjoined, slowly shrugged off the blankets of somnolence, awoke with drowsy kisses of our shared reflecting thoughts, accreting over ages sense enough to instruct our bodies to arise. The mountain God lay quiet, unaccustomed to the presence of believers and the drained of strength from the fraught tale of ancient sorrow.

We explored the temple, marvelling at the carved shapes shown up in sharp relief, as the blue green glow of our bodies, twice reborn, brought forgotten history back to life. We traced the tale of two Gods, potent and passionate, sustained by worship of every living thing. The early record crudely drawn and barely visible, scratched into the basalt, grew bolder, more elaborate and intricate, until the power of prayer and the marks of gratitude were lost in grandiose confections, art for the sake of art alone, the artist announcing their own skill without a greater purpose or direction.

It ended abruptly. Beyond the swirling self-absorption of the carving were a few scratched messages. The last adherents who had borne the remnants of their faith to this lost temple, long after it had been abandoned, to save one part of the dual deities against the hope someday they may return.

Above us the mountain trembled, as the enormous presence of the God’s awareness shifted in the pool. The pillars shook, dust drifted down in choking clouds, the burden of attention settled on us once again.

“I have imbued you with a fraction of my essence, blended with my lover’s shaping of your form. Go forth, retrace your weary pilgrim’s path, and quickly. Winter will weaken you, fed as you are by sun and starlight, the clouds and stretching nights will sap you in this northern hemisphere.

“Go. Let my blessing speed you, and the last of my strength save you. We have been waiting centuries; at long last you have come.”

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Older Gods pt9

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Older Gods 9

The apparition spoke: “I can taste where your scent skims the meniscus, grass after a storm in brilliant sunshine. I remember. I see a shadow beneath the veil of your constructed bodies. I remember. My voice echoes alone around this chamber. Where is the voice that I remember that would never leave me unanswered? Who are you to bear the traces of my lover? Who wakes me from my paradise, eternal slumber, with a taunt, the merest taint of something greater?”

Our bodies chimed like bells, as form emerged from the bright cascade of water. A resonance, reunion with a long lost mother, and the overwhelming rush of knowing something forgotten we once knew. It washed over us in waves as the form collapsed back in the pool, then spiralled up again, spraying a mist that scattered torchlight across the chamber in dizzy arabesques.

We saw within the swirling shapes, projected symbols from an ancient time, the writing from foundation stones of ruined temples and crude marks on cavern walls. Your years of study in the tortured time before we fled; the time of jibes and the cruel connivances of our abandoned tribe, the taunts as you turned yellowed pages, ancient tomes, while outside I railed, fought and defended; had shown something of this.

Another older God, the twin, the lover and the partner. A God beneath the ocean, and a God beneath the mountain. One we sought from signs that you deciphered from crawling scripts, one sought out from a new compulsion woven deep within our bones.

There were no words with which we could convey time’s brutal passage, the birth and death of nations, and the lost millennia. Nor was there any future that we feared but separation. Hand locked in hand we stepped into the mountain God’s black pool and finding no floor allowed ourselves to sink. Dissolution. We dissolved.

All that we knew exploded: the distant prison in the ocean, the rise of newer Gods and the world’s collapse towards corruption. The lingering sense of everything that once we had been, and all that we became, sluiced through our disintegrating bodies, a  stain within the darkness, spreading, glowing brightly blue.

In return we learned the ocean God’s old shame. This Earth, this creation both Gods had spawned to share their love had turned from a floating bauble hung within the starry sky to an obsession for perfection. The ocean God had drawn out of himself the spread of lands, the fields and trees, and with the potency of Theic love had made mankind to glorify his lover.

The water holding us suspended trembled, sending shockwaves back and forth across the pool. “Fool, fool, was I” the mountain God cried out. Tears falling from the liquid frame collided underneath the waves with our dispersing forms and made them once again. On a surge we were cast out of the water, choking, whole and living. The vibrance of two Gods now beat within our breasts, we could feel the weighty restlessness of the rocks above our heads, the earth below us floating on a lake of liquid fire, uneasy as the God so long asleep cried out again, “Fool, fool, was I.”

“We poured our love into this thing that we had made, not content to spin within each other. What he gave life I gifted sentience, what he planted I made grow, until that same creation grew to know its grand progenitors. And still this cheap thing spun from ether absorbed all of our energy, to make it better, brighter, more capable of adulation, able to choose and pray unfettered.

“What he planted I made grow. The search for betterment and for improvement, spilled from him unseen upon the fecund earth, and spread with the winds to sprout as sustenance. We seeded the poison of desire into our own creation.

“Yet so absorbed was he in his grand work, so desirous to demonstrate the great expanses of his love, he could not see the taint that followed him, and I devoted to his cause, adoring every bead of sweat and tired breath made myself the seive to stop the stain from spreading.

“It rooted, deep within the living heart of this bright planet, sucked its own sustenance from the sun and distant stars, while I weakened and in growing desperation he ploughed all of his energy into the very thing that was killing me.

“So much of ourselves was spent on this obsession we became dependent on the power of worship and belief. What blessed relief when arms were raised in sacrifice, and heads bowed in fervent prayer. But it faded in the relentless press of sprouting weeds and dandelion Gods grew up out of men’s greed.

“Broken, I became the ghost of this lost sepulchre, until drained of belief I fell asleep, hearing the distant yapping as my love was hounded to the sea.”

Our bodies began to change, the glow bled from blue to green, the limbs stronger and thicker though still recognisably the median of the shapes we once had been.

“You, denizens and avatars, will bear my message to my love, and the sign of my forgiveness.

“I have been waiting centuries, at long last you have come.”

 

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End

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