Ashtium: City of Sun

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Teeth black as tar. Skin caked in white. A woman moves like a parasite in the endless night. Greta sees only in the colorless hues of silver and black on the faraway dying star, Ashta. Ashtium's source of light is kept hidden. Without it, the star's empirical city will fall into shadow. The empire's ruler, Adler, knows exactly when and how their star will die. Greta unknowingly joins in on helping the empire's twisted family heal alongside her newfound friend, Enoch. However, the colorblind "cat" in the emperor's courtyard never wished to be found. Enoch, the empirical prince, tries his best to help the seemingly helpless and incompetent twenty-three-year-old woman. Inside the haven city, the deemed subhuman filth won't be greeted with open arms though...

Fantasy / Romance
4.8 4 reviews
Age Rating:

A Bug Without a Sun


Storm clouds drift overhead in clumps of dark grey amidst a sky of black where scattered streaks of marble form the clustered homes of thousands of crying stars. My bleak view of their dull radiance gets cut off completely as the mound of sand beneath my bare feet forms into mushy slop. This grainy earth stretches on as far as my fractured eyes can see. A sea of onyx blanketed in the shadow of the sun – the black desert.

Rain is rare, but it pours now.

It comes only in the evening hours to relieve this barren land. It’s just a fleeting moment in time when the god of the sun wishes to spare a parasite like me mercy. I cup my hands toward the clouds begging for more of the supple drink. The lukewarm liquid hits my sweaty palms much softer now as it quickly comes to an unsympathetic end.

The gift is gone, but my hands are full. I must hurry back into my shelter before the ash begins to fall tainting the water’s purity.

After gulping down my drink in the safety of my cave, I gaze out into the desert while munching on a crunchy urkmink; a common insect surviving deep within the sand that I must dig through to find. My hands always feel raw from digging. They have been stained in the charcoal color for as long as I can remember. Bugs are scarce and it may take days to find enough to sustain my energy.

Starvation is routine. A bug or two only eases the endless pain. The only other insects out here are goruck and yippel. Rarer delicacies, both of which are fattier and burrow even deeper down under this blanketed ground of black sand.

Everything ranges from silver to black in my unfortunate spectrum of shaded color. Things alive, like me, I can identify in shades of bright silver – a helpful tool when searching for bugs in the sand.

There is no sun to lighten my surroundings, but a moon. A dull grey moon, much more faded now than when my parents walked this desert with me. I had lived ten moons ago with them and now another thirteen without them since they passed. The moon is ever-fading, and today, my skin is the brightest silver out here.

I won’t be able to see the moon forever. My vision grows worse. It dwindles daily due to the thousands of grains of sand blowing around. The damage done to my eyes has been building up for years on end. The ashes from the sky are what pollute the sand and make it so harmful. My parents said the ash carries a damaging element that eats away the tissue in our eyes over time.

The ash always falls down after the rain, I don’t know why. Neither did my parents. They used to have special sight like me, but they eventually saw no silver or the greys of life. It was when their world turned to complete black that they would die.

I know I will die soon too when the faint moon falls into the shadow of the clouds like my parents experienced so long ago. Then I will sink into this world of darkness like the insects beneath my feet. I do not consider myself worth more than my food. So, I do not mind that my existence will go unknown. My family starved when they lost their vision. I was too young and unskilled to dig deep into the ground on my own to find bugs. It is not a time I like to remember. It was my father who died first and then my mother shortly after.

It was myself who became the insect. Of course, I first tried digging into the ground on my own. However, I could only dig a foot down at ten years of age. I didn’t know the depths the bugs lived in the sand. Perhaps it was primal instincts that made me look to the flesh of my parents when starvation set in for the first time.

I grew ill from eating a couple chunks of their skin behind the back of the god of the sun. I threw up the flesh of my parents and did not look to partake in feasting on it again. Instinctively, I turned to the sand again after committing the immoral, unforgivable act.

It happened when we were on our way to the city of the sun. That’s what my parents said. We never made it there. We stopped here, at this very cave. I have yet to leave, even thirteen years later, at the archaic age of twenty-three that I am. My parents were much older than me now when they died, but this sand makes time pass quicker. Age becomes meaningless as well as my significance like an unearthed urkmink; I do not care how old it is when I kill and eat it.

It is food all the same.

The desert does not care how old I will be when I go to rest in it, but my god of the sun...maybe.

My father taught me to make a fire before he passed. I eventually grew into my mother’s raggy clothes. I do not know why we were traveling alone, but I have yet to meet someone like me out here or anyone for that matter.

The unspeakable things I’ve done earn me a death alone where no one will ever have to know of my existence. That is the way it should be. The city of the sun isn’t real. Even if there was such a place, with the divine being my parents praised, I would be unable to find its light with my fractured vision.

The god of the sun would never want to heal a dirty insect like me anyway.

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