A Meeting of Mad Gods

"Why do you make the sky tear up?"   I peered at the man who now stood by my side, tilting my head to take him in. At first I was surprised to find him here so suddenly, but the power that glowed around him told me a lot. He was of the same strange sort of creature like I now found myself, though perhap older. I cleared my throat. "It washes away the filth of the day, starts a new one. I like that transition."   "What name do you take? I am The Never Was." He smiled, offering one hand - as white as bone, the fingers long and frail. The other hand was clad in crimson velvet.   I accepted his hand with my own hesitantly, and then bowed my head in return. "I am Shyeaw."   "Welcome to the ranks of the Divine, Shyeaw."   “The Never Was. Do you have another name?”   “My sister calls me Urali.” He plucked absently at the red glove on his right hand, flexing the fingers one by one. His gaze drifted from my face to the ashen landscape ahead of me.   “Does this mean I’m a god now?”   Urali’s head cocked, and he seemed deep in consideration for a moment. “Yes, I suppose it does.”   “How odd. I don’t remember being a god before.”   “You weren’t, I suppose. After al, thatl is what happened here.” He held his glove now, and used it to sweep widely, dramatically, over the ruins.   “Is it?” I looked at what he saw. Ash lay in a thick blanket over the skeletons of homes, bowing what roofs remained. As the houses grew closer to the center of the town, the less remained of their corpses. Here and there were only charred beams sticking out of the dust. “It looks so sad.”   “It was.” He stepped over the threshold from the living grass to the dead earth. His high heeled boots didn’t disturb the ash, floating just a bit above its influence. “Come.” He offered a hand, and I felt compelled to place my own hand in his. The rain pattered down over my brow. It pooled among the soot, making a sticky mire.   “Once, not so long ago, this was a small town. The people gathered here to watch the fall of the stars.” Urali paused before a stone house, the only one among the many here made of wood and daub. It’s eastern wall had fallen, and we floated softly through the door.   The detritus of a family remained here. Simple wooden bowls scattered on the floor from a table turned on its side. Their contents splattered across the earth. A clay jar had broken on the floor, fallen from its perch. Ash drifted in the open wall like a slothful flood. “This was your families home. Or I suppose, the family of the original you.”   I took it in reverently. It was alien to me now, though somewhere inside I remembered familiarity and belonging to this small space. “I feel so many memories and I don’t know which one is me.”   “All of them are you.” Urali touched his hand to my forehead and smiled. “I am the god of madness. I felt that perhaps, if any of the gods could help you that it was I who would understand most.”  

The sun burned bright at midnight on that day. When the sunset should have come tawny dusk never spread its wings to blot out the sky.   At first I watched from the step of my home but in time my neighbours began to gather in the town square and I joined them. Staring up at the sky, whispers running among the crowd about what might be happening.   A priest had just started to lead the children in quiet prayer when the first star fell from heaven.
  It felt like a wildfire burning through my skull, making everything tingle and buzz until I feared it would squeeze out my ears. “I don’t understand.” My voice felt frail and cracked.   Memories had begun to form among the pain. For a brief moment I was Alai, the schoolteacher, remonstrating a girl for pulling her sister's hair. Then I was a grandmother baking a pie for her son's new bride and worrying if the filling was cooked while she pulled the steaming dish from the fire. I was a man laying bricks under the harsh sun, I was a hunter peering between fronds to watch grazing deer.   I remembered all and none of my lives. Some felt familiar, solidly mine, though perhaps not this incarnation of me. Others were alien and disjointed, making my stomach turn when I watched them.   I remembered soaring through a void, free and shapeless, intense curiosity burning in my mind. When I looked down at my body, part of me recoiled in disgust at this nature and another piece was comforted to realise I still had every limb. Urali led me from the old stone house, his hand stroking gently through my hair. I thought it was long, and short. Brown, black, pink, purple. I wasn’t sure which it was now.   “A piece of a Divine fell from the sky. It sought a shell, but it was too great for a mortal to hold. It landed here, in your village, with such force that all were killed. Yet, as their souls tried to leave, that fragment - it was hurting so much, you see - reached out and caught the souls.”   His voice soothed, something I didn’t think madness would be capable of. The rain beat harder, until it echoed in my ears.   “They came together into a single being. You are all of them, and none of them. You were Shyeaw, the son of a chieftain. As the brightest of the mortal souls here, Shyeaw is the man who floats on the surface. But all of them are part of you now.”   I wiped droplets from my eyelids, and met Urali’s intense expression. He looked expectant at me. I wasn’t quite sure if he thought I might cry, or break and shatter. I smiled softly. “I guess I have some new friends to meet.”


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