Entry Ten - Third Shift of Steam, DA 4876
λ^28, Third Shift of Steam, DA 4876, Capital City of Imtu
(Berth of the Tunnel Tug ‘Goldie’)
The sirens have grown still and the bevy of chaos in the streets given way to their normal flurry of activity. Even the ship has become relatively silent, its cramps halls emptied of the vast majority of its crew, the Assembly on the search for Sys who never returned after the alarms ended their cries. Those who remain are they who can not leave, and the mortal crew, and the Champion who staunchly held his ground in regards to the mission. Even as the Heralding Academician toils in the bowels of the Goldie, designing some technomagical marvel, the Despot sits pensively fretting over his sister’s welfare within the berth.
Nüt enters like a silent draft and shyly steps up to the Despot as he sits upon a bed, “Umm, I know you must be worried about Sys. I’m really worried too. The waiting is the hardest part, being able to do nothing to help, sinking into your doubts and running in circles with them. The best thing to do is umm, to get your mind off it, so could you tell me something about your past like when you were human?”
Despot looks down at the sweet girl and his eyes smile, “Yes, we were all human once weren’t we. I’ve never been Sovan though or much a part of any of the Octet. Taking the place of the cycles of abuse and scorn that the nations hold for one another…I’ve heard the song of our Maker and seen this thoughts crackle and pulse across an infinite expanse of veined adamastos.” The Despot reaches out to caress Nüt’s cheek, but falters a hairsbreadth away, “It is akin to a promise, all of these memories, a promise or a siren’s call. What I know of my past has been read and retold from great crystalline databanks at the innermost core of the Divine Minister’s citadels. Like blazing white nightfires in a sea of black, the blight crawling and scrabbling at the edge of eyesight, yet far enough one can lose himself in the radiance. I’ve lost weeks to the electric thrum of Ku’s citadel. Slept upon glassy stone as the Maker dreamt below me, around me, through me.”
Nüt stares at the Despot, his ebony orbs revealing the awe and splendor of it all, but she sees too the dead tendrils of chill and fear that course under the surface, “Despot, it sounds like the light and love of the Maker glowing around you. Why do you sound so sad – what makes you scared?”
The Despot eases back against the pillows, feeling the hard comfort of the steel bulkhead behind them, “I fear that I will never truly relive those memories and dredge them up from the depths of my soul. I fear I will never again feel the Maker dream around me or be blinded by his light. Most of all I fear because I know how to do little else. That is the price to pay for being the son of Fear itself though, is it not? Not that I don’t wish for more, to grasp those happy memories again, to love another and feel it returned as the Maker no longer can.”
Nüt smiles over at the Despot and pats his hand tenderly, “It would be easier for others to love you if you let go of all the pain Despot. It is not fear that rules you so much as your pain. You feel alone and I think you even suspect you will die soon. I’ve heard you fight with Tex, but he would not argue if he did not respect you and what you have to say. It is a friend that listens, if he saw you as an enemy he would not allow himself to get to know you. Knowing something makes it harder to hurt it and if he was really an enemy I don’t think he’d give up that advantage. Right now the one hurting you the most is yourself. If you don’t have any happy memories of your own, you need to make them, and you’ve already told me of these beautiful and wonderful memories – you just need to see them that way!”
Despot looks at Nüt, his eyes a moist pink sheen, “This moment has become one of my happiest memories. I want you to know, I would do anything for you Nüt. Now, let me tell you a story from a time long ago when I was Ayfer, I was one of the tunnel folk then. It was a simple time and a simple life. When we were thirsty we drank from the Maker’s veins, when we were hungry we would bait the bounty of the dark: rats, mice, roaches, and beetles. Our numbers never grew very large – we were a clan and there was always enough food for our small number, we never had compunctions against eating our dead either. The tunnel folk are closer to Domadamod and see the servants of the gods cannibalize from broken processes to make new life every day. Upon each waking is a promise of new sights, simple wonders of the divine flesh of the Maker, so few of the Octet see it for the blinding light and deafening roar of their own wonders. It was shortly after the tribe migrated across a coursing mass of condensed steam along the reaches that I first experienced that blinding wonder. It was beyond anything I had ever seen, brighter than the essence discharges of the Maker during calibration, it left itself burned into my sight for hours each time I looked upon it. Only days later our own feeble lights flickered and finally went out. Without our light, hunting proved difficult, and game was growing scarce besides. What few rats we did find in the coming months were monsters, easily five times the weight of what we knew. We sent scouts towards the light and learned it was a shining city – then we sent envoys to beseech these beings for aid. Even when my bones began to show through my skin, the image of that place gave me strength, and soon it sent an angel to us. It was our salvation and promised us a new life in the city of light or we could embrace dissolution in the reaches, it never took away our choice. This thing crackled with golden light and shown with an inner luminescence, it was like the tales lost to modern people, tales still told by the Jarish in their holy fanes. The being shown like the sun and the moon and pulsed with life and strength unlike anything I had seen in a life full of simple wonders. I followed him back to the city and I can almost grasp the rapture even now that all the mystery is gone. The avatar of Wisant, when it was still known as Azoth of the Scintillating Path, that was the being that lead me and a dozen of my tribe into the new age of the Octet.”
Nüt breaks her silence, “That’s a really old story…well memory. I thought you did not like the Octet?” The Despot gives a sad nod, “Not always, and perhaps not forever. Certainly there have been things that have come from the Octet that I cherished then and now.” The Despot gives Nüt a pat on the hand and leaves the chamber without another word.