Monday, January 01, 1990

Writ on Water: A Tale of Alyria

A flame flared in the darkness of the small hut. The paper caught and burned. “I was born twenty years ago today…” The words flamed and vanished. Another failure. He fell back onto the bed, wheezing. The gelatinous ruin of his body quivered with the effort. Two pseudopods writhed, while the single tentacle holding the pen quivered. His eyestalks drooped in despair and fatigue. Outside, the wind hummed and whispered through the tangles of the Web, bringing with it a scent of death.

Death. He would be here soon. Tonight. He was sure of it. In an hour or two the yawning abyss would swallow him forever. Desperate, he began again.

“This is the life that I have lived,” he scribbled. “Now I die. Once I was a happy human being, just like you. Now I am a monster, twisted by the hideous gift that was given to me. My Blessing was a curse to myself and those around me. No one loves me. No one even wants to see me.”

It was true, he thought. Somewhere on his body, a pustule broke. A twinge of pain shuddered through him, as he smelled the sickly scent of decay waft through the small room. Who would see me now? Picking up his pen, he continued. “All I ever wanted was for someone to love me, to make the demons go away. Now I am left alone to face the night.”

Cursing in frustration, he set the pages ablaze. That would not do at all! Too pitiful. Too weak. This was not how he wanted the world to remember him. He wanted them to remember the strong man that he had been, not the pus-filled formless mass that he had become.

Coughing, he oozed out of the bed and inched his way to the door. The wind was rising in the west. A storm was coming. Already he could hear the chimes of storm warnings as the Web prepared for another blast. “The Dragon Winds are upon us,” he thought.

In his mind’s eye he could see the storm swirling. Lightning crackled and thunder roared. It was like a living thing, enraged, hurling fists of wind and rain at the battered buildings of the Citadel. But at its heart, riding the beast, was the Void. The Emptiness. It was coming for him.

Despair set in. Why bother? What could be so important about a single life that it would be worth recording? He oozed back into his bed and watched his lungs heave from the exertion. His warped and mangled body quivered, but the thought echoed in his mind.

What had he done? What would be left when he was gone? There was nothing, nothing at all.

Whom had he loved?

Whom had he protected?

What had he given?

With a sob, he saw the truth. All this life, all this power, and in the end, nothing. Emptiness within. The Void, reaching out to him.

How had he deluded himself for so long?

A rustle outside. A quiet rattle, like old bones. A flapping of blackest wings. He shuddered. In his fear and despair something collapsed in his mind. For one final moment, his power blazed forth.

In the skies over the Citadel, letters of fire began to form. Across the city the inhabitants of the Citadel stopped their busy walk to gaze in wonder at the blazing script tearing across the sky. “” Then, with a sputter, the letters vanished, leaving only a trace of smoke in the air that the wind carried away.

Far above, the tiny hut burned. One by one the ropes holding it in place snapped. Slowly, ever so slowly, the hut began the long fall. It fell like a meteor in the night, burning, blazing, then suddenly vanishing forever.


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