Piecing Back Together the Broken: an Excerpt
The echoing sounds of armored footsteps resounded through the streets of ancient, empty Amaurot. Months had it been since first she came to this unchanging, ghostly place. No life dwelled herein, save for on her infrequent visits. While soft whispers carried upon an imaginary breeze, no throats were there to speak them. This was a dead place, overfull of memory, misery, and love. Azem halted before the Capitol, allowing for a time her eyes to fill with the sight of where once so much time had been spent among fellows and friends, loves and laughs.
Shortly after the loss of their creator, the phantom inhabitants of the city had begun to fade away. While their voices could still be heard, only Hythlodaeus remained. Hythlodaeus: faithful and beloved. A susurration of robes belied his presence, pricking in Azem’s ears in the otherwise near silence of their surrounds. She raised a clenched fist to her chest, lowered her head, and closed her eyes. Then she took a deep, steadying breath. How was it possible for such a vast eruption of emotion to be contained within such a tiny space behind one’s breast? It felt as if her entire body were like to burst apart from the intensity of the blossoming pain that accompanied that voice. “Welcome home, my friend. My love.”
Azem neither turned, nor opened her eyes. Her dearest friend moved not closer, reached not out to her. Hythlodaeus was well aware of the effect he had on Azem, ephemeral as he was. Instead, he waited patiently. When at last, she spoke, Azem said, “'Daeus, I need your help. I need your knowledge and your concepts... I believe I have finally found... You. In the source. No doubt the results of Emet’s machinations, but... He wasn’t there at the last to prevent what you would go through and you are so, so broken. You weren’t of the Fourteen, and so there exists no memory crystal for you that I know of. We must create one in order to restore you.”
Hythlodaeus lowered his head and cupped his chin in hand while considering the request. When he replied, they said, “Perhaps it would be better to let me go, Azem. All this ti-”
Azem spun around, the fury of suns alight in her eyes. “No! I will NOT let you go! Emet was stolen from me, as were you! Through these ridiculous gods you created. I asked them for time, and they summoned it anyway! Everything gone! And then I lost Emet again, eons later! And now you... You speak this nonsense to me. No! If you will not help me then I will feed ALL of CREATION to Emet’s god in return for just the two of you... and Eli. Doubt not my resolve!” Azem was fairly screaming, energy ablaze all around her.
Hythlodeaus smiled behind his mask, patiently, allowing his friend to become spent, the corners of his mouth raising all of his other visible features. Azem became quiet, eyes still ablaze. The phantom said, “Ever were you a terrible liar. You are salvation, not destruction. Nonetheless, I could never deny you. Not even those stupid grapes...” He turned away and began to walk toward the Bureau of the Architect. With a very Hades-like, imperious hand gesture, he said, “Come along then. The information you seek remains whole and I would give it to you.”