Maybe someone else can help, ’cause I certainly have no idea. I have no idea what I’m writing.
However, that won’t stop me from doing a tuesday teaser to celebrate passing the 10k mark.
-retribution retribution retribution-
“Where are we going?” Asher asks.
Em weaves her head, contemplating the question, then smiles slyly at Gavs. I can feel this hear this inside my heart. It’s good to be back together again. A warm light swells inside my chest, makes me ready to burst out singing, the way we did when we first went to war, a perfect machine.
It’s Gavs who answers in our voice, smooth, slick, well-oiled. All the rust is gone from our thoughts and throats. To the past and future, he says.
The sun is rising, and the long shadows of the stripped trees dance over the unmarked graves, the mist is thinning. We walk over the dead. Now and then, a fist of stone stands raised, but they are smooth, the writing long since burned off by the seasons.
The grass is long and cold and yellow, dead stalks fall behind us, leaving the mark of our passage on the cemetery. Here the mass graves of the unhuman, here the monument to the ones who fell fighting against enemies unknown. Here the round faceless statue of a child’s grave.
On we walk, and the birds announce our entrance. Somewhere, a jackal howls, nervous at our approach. The last faint traces of mist evaporate now, and the sun rises eyebright, making us all squint.
There, at the very heart, the iron curclicues of the enclosed graveyard.
“What-” says Asher, but we shush her with smiles. Her fear is thick enough to cloud the air.
It is the sacred enclosure of the fallen avatars. There are no guards posted, of course. They would never believe that anyone – even their dreaded unhumans – would think to break the sanctity of this place. Idiots. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again – after all where better to hide a key than in the very pocket of the slave-master?
“We’re going in there.” Asher doesn’t even question, merely says it with a dull resignation as we draw up to the dew-webbed gates.
Em presses her tattoed wrists against the iron, matching the curls and twists of it to her own skin. The metal is wet, colder even than icicles and I feel the pressure against my own wrists, against Gav’s and in our heads, the keys turn and the gears tumble.
With a snap, the lock falls to the ground, and the gate swings open before us.
Enter, says Em, and bows low like a palace courtier, her hand a sweep of flourishes and music.
Fifteen grey statues rise above us, empty-faced, their hands resting on the pommels of their swords of office, their expressionless steel masks identical.
“Oh dear gods and goddesses, you’re going to get us slaughtered,” Asher mutters as the gate slides shut behind us. The mist here in the centre is still thick, curling between the statue legs, around the long blades of the unsheathed swords, and under the round shields resting against every statue’s left leg.
The past and future, whipers Em, and reaches out one hand to brush the fingers of the nearest. These are the fifteen avatars. Inside each stone corpse is the skull from a previous incarnation of the God-king. We weave between them with the cold damp mist, until we reach a trinity at the very heart of the circle. These statues are older, flecked and mottled with moss and lichen and pigeon shit. There are droppings at their feet – the jackal has been here, marked his territorry.
Emlin, Gavril, Rafik – we walk in synchronicty to the central three, and raise our hands so that we can just touch the very tops of the hilts. The stone is warm under my fingers, and the echo heat of the others floods down my arm as each of us makes contact. We wait for Gavril to sing.
His throat rumbles, and then his mouth opens, stretched wider, almost unhinged, and the music of us, of our dead master, pours from him in triumph and sorrow and anger. Retribution retribution retribution, and under all our fingertips the stone crumbles and flame devours it. The swords, released from their hiding places, fall.
I catch mine before it touches the ground, swing it so the flames ripple the air. I am me. The sword tight in my hand and once again I am the construct of sacrifice, Rafik. Emlin of art. Gavril of song. We are what we were, even if there is no longer anyone to guide us.
Joy surges through me, and the sword flares as I wield it, leaving pale after-images in the morning air. I tilt my head, and Em and Gavs line up with me, swords ready, burning brighter than the weak sun. Around us the dry grass blackens and the smoke rises from it thick and grey, but the hilt feels cold and clean and hunrgy in my hands. We are whole.
“Oh holy fuck” says Asher. “How the fuck are we going to hide you lot now?”