The Domain of Humans

There was only one species in the entire multiverse that still cared for hopeless ideals such as proportion, symmetry and aesthetic appearance. One creature that was dense enough to buy into the illusion of free will.

‘Accursed middlings,’ Ashlar swore under his breath, watching the mastaba growing taller and mightier by the heartbeat. ‘Subexistence be damned, I’m in the domain of humans!’

To the Alarian understanding of things, humans were neither higher beings nor lesser beasts, but spiteful little creatures tainted by evil, who lived their broken lives in the great cosmic middle, from whence their name, “middlings”.

An object glittered in the distance. His bandaged hands still clutching at his side, Ashlar made his way through the circus of soaring bricks and volley-balling slab-stones, towards the lone nomad overlooking the spectacle. Even in his weak and disoriented state, he could recognize the warm features of the kind, if simpleminded lad who had gifted him his water.

As he approached, Kunai un-Nefer turned on his heel. From his right fist protruded a bright, silver light.

‘Em hotep, o effendi!’ cried the lad, theatrically bowing down before Ashlar as one would only do before a high kind. With his lips in the sand, he mouthed, ‘dua Netjer en ek! A’nekh djet!’

Behind his bandaged face, Ashlar sketched a weak smile. The Taal’kai woven into his spine had, of course, translated the lad’s greeting. The Alarians didn’t call it “the Thread of All Tongues” for nothing. Had the circumstances been more welcoming, Ashlar might have returned the pleasantries.

‘I had this carved in your honour,’ said Kunai, extending a curiously-shaped golden cross with a loop on its end. Ashlar gazed at the strange object with the penetrating intensity of a man who didn’t know how to grab it. ‘It’s an ankh. A key of the Nile,’ he added, turning the ankh on its belly to show off a string of carved pictures.

Ashlar stared at the hieroglyphs until the Taal’kai in his neck revealed the translation. It read: “The Man who Fell From the Sun.”

‘You keep it,’ said Ashlar, eyeing the tear-shaped crystal in Kunai’s hand with mingled terror and anger.

The Tear of the Goddess was a sacred relic. A relic Kunai had not only removed without permission, but used to further his own interests. In his painfully long and agonizing existence, Ashlar had maimed people for less. The lad might have shown him compassion, but the Rule of Equal Punishment demanded a penance.

With his cold eyes affixed on Kunai, Ashlar lifted his fist—

To be continued...

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2019