Destiny of the Gods

It sates itself on blood of fated men,
Paints red the powers' homes with crimson gore.
The sun's beams black on terrace turned to fen;
Do you still seek the Truth? And then what more?

— The Prophesy of the Seeress, stanza 41

All the land was glass. Far reaching to the horizon and beyond, a thick black glass as smooth as polished jade stretched, bereft of sand or dirt or vegetable or puddle. Nothing lived on the land; nothing lived anywhere, save for scattered aerial mutations that wisped along the blasting winds, carnivorous beasts trapped together in a forgotten cage, forced to cannibalism. At night, peering downwards, one would see the purple glow of the igneous molten core, and all around the luminous particulates streaked through the black air, the burnt picotechnical ashes of a failed species.

He walked along the glass slowly, trudging across its mocking slick surface. His face screwed up in defiance of the wind, of the pricking dust as it pocked his face again and again, an old face that had seen too many years. Yet even he had only been a very young god in service to a much older god, in the lost times. But that was past; all the gods were dead now, and all their avatars and paladins.

All but him. All but the Fishmonger.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. He had seen many probabilities; this one was never to come, the Age of Nothingness. It was impossible for events to have gone so far wrong. So many gods with so many powers could not possibly have all succumbed to the Endless Dawning.

Yet here he was. So he walked. Dusk turned to night and he walked against the fierce scirocco of wind and ember flakes and then night turned to dawn again and he walked. The scintilla pecked at his eyes with an unwavering scorn and his mouth was stung with their taste like metal and stomach acid and blood and ants. Still he walked. Day turned to night again and to day again and night and day and night.

Then it was morning. He stopped walking. This was where he wanted to be, the only place in the universe left where anything mattered. All around him the glass was unvarying and plane, taking on a sickly pinkish hue in the light of the morning sun.

He stooped to one knee. Balling up his fingers, he punched the ground with all his force, the last of the gods smiting this wicked land with his stark fist. A small crack appeared in the surface. Again he smashed his fist into the land, pounding over and again, his knuckles bloodied from the jagged shards of glass that emerged from the cracks his jackhammering had split. Great chunks began to fracture off; he pulled them aside with his hands, smashing them up onto the surface. His fissure became deeper and wider and his fingers and hands bled freely but he did not stop.

Into the night he smashed into the glass, the flesh of his hands torn and scarred, already scabbing over. He did not stop. Deeper into the ground he pummeled, all through the night and into the next day, and the next.

On the third day he paused. He saw something below the surface. With renewed vigor he began again, digging into the corrupted silicate crust with his fingers, cracking open the fissure to the blurry form below.

At last he exposed her to the air. She was undamaged; her anomalous material composition had protected her from the metastasis effect. He broke away the rest of the glass encasing her and pulled her limp, unpowered form upwards out of the hole, his hands bloodying her naked skin as he carried her, fingers and palms and wrists scabbed and nearly useless.

Then they were out of the hole and on the glass surface. He laid her down in the electromagnetic rays of the morning sun and waited.

The automaton blinked. She sat up simply, looked around. She looked at him. She blinked again.

"Daddy?" she said.

His eyes welled up with tears long-coming, tears denied to the aping winds and nihilistic landscape he had walked for so long in search of her. He grabbed her and held her tight.

"Yes, Alice," said Kilroy, "yes. I'm right here. And I'm never going to lose you again."

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