The Spirit Who Negates
Ashlar recovered the Tear of the Goddess from the lad’s outstretched hand. At last, he could re-open the pocket dimension of the Subexistence. He could return to the root of all discarded outcomes, the path that led to all paths, and journey back to his own time. At last, he could find her again…
Rekindled by ancient ire, Ashlar gave the tear-shaped crystal a squeeze. Nothing happened. As he lifted the relic at eye-level, he noticed an imperceptible crack running down the length of the crystal. Without even thinking, Ashlar retrieved the Æbe’trax shard, and with a head full of hope, he pressed it upon the Tear of the Goddess. The crystal sizzled and crackled but ultimately remained as broken as ever.
Well, it had been worth a try, Ashlar sighed.
‘I have seen you, Great Elder,’ Kunai continued gently, mistaking Ashlar’s suspires for a cry for help. ‘I have glimpsed past the face you present, at the raw man beneath. By the Gates of Duat, I can tell you have suffered. Suffered most grievously and agonizingly so. If there is anything I can do to ease your pain—’
Beneath his golden disguise, Ashlar’s cold eyes narrowed. ‘You cannot help me, Kunai un-Nefer. No mortal man can.’
‘I could try, O Great Elder.’
‘Tell me, what is the value of your human existence? Is it really as concrete as building a tomb? Or is it more abstract, as regaining your honour? Will honour alone soothe your mortal wounds in the midst of your suffering?’
The young slave lowered his gaze. Ashlar beamed.
‘You are a finite being, little slave. Your honour, your glory, your very purpose perhaps, is a gift of great value, for your spirit acknowledged it is finite and fixed. Out of the endless Void you have risen, a conscious human, a mortal. To be alive and to experience the state of Being is dear to you, I can tell. And should suffering come along, at least you know it is transitory.
‘Yet I am eternal, Kunai un-Nefer. Long have I cursed Being; long have I been cursed by Being. To me, Being is one endless passage, fouled by pain and by shadow. I have known for a while that Being is wretched, and that death alone is much greater than life. I have followed both paths, little slave, both the Being and the Unbeing, and I have found the blessings of the dead are much finer than of those who are still alive.’
Kunai closed his eyes. ‘I still wish to help you, O Horus.’
‘I am unworthy of your compassion, Kunai. Unfit. Undeserving,’ Ashlar retorted, turning his back to the lad. ‘I am the spirit who negates, for all the wretchedness that comes to pass deserves to perish wretchedly. Destruction of Being itself is my element.’
To be continued...