The Twenty-Seventh Chapter
He compiled all of his knowledge into a single work, chiseled on the mountain ranges of Otrenaton. The Trillion Volumes of Demiurge, the Randerict
The gate seemed relatively close to the singular home that it was adjacent to, but the size of this ship seemed impossible, he could almost believe that his Aeolipile could fit inside of this one room, perhaps even with the District platters in tow. Of course the Demiurge was a giant, along with his keepers, but why not his son, or even himself, being cloned from the same stock? Even with the new body Nott had blessed him with, he still stood only a few inches higher than a tall human.
When he arrived at the gate Deicide felt he had walked for centuries, but he tossed aside his miserable mood when he laid his hands on the door. Brilliantly jeweled, this shining doorway was a symbol of his true desire, self-centered and outrageously sinful, he had not dared to even whisper it to himself, but the Abyss had. From the day he discovered her in the darkness of his playroom she had spoken to him of what he could have, what could be taken from others. The Abyss was the reminder of a promise he had made to himself as a boy, to surge upwards until he saw the entire picture of the Existence, outside of this blasted ship, and into the true world.
He expected there to be winged sentinels on watch, but there was no one to block or allow his passage. He slowly pressed his fingers against the great doors and they slid open silently. As the space grew wider between the doors, there was no light to caress his face, void of any sound besides his ears popping. The world he had entered was a battlefield, an array of broken weapons and mutilated bodies, a grotesque carpet that extended to the ends of this land.
Deicide thought better than to allow the Abyss to feed on these corpses, his antennas stood straight up on his head as he scanned the bodies for movement. Ahead of him, floating above the cruel scene like a star in the sky, was a castle. A great hulking monster; with arches so large that he imagined an entire District being able to reside on one of their keystones, stained glass, miles long depicting what he perceived as the history of other universes. He dashed up the seemingly infinite stairway, arriving almost instantly at the entrance. Every moment that passed he felt himself grow stronger and faster, he only had to tell his brain where he should stop and he was there to meet the light trailing behind him. He wondered how Nott could have planned for this without wanting to possess this power herself. She was certainly more disciplined than himself. Once, when Deicide had first discovered the abilities of the killbox, he had tried to disassemble living fish, but was perplexed on how to put them back together alive. He continued to repeat the act, thinking that simply by doing he could accomplish what he wanted. It took Nott’s gentle voice and scientific methods to teach him patience and diligence.
He strode through the ragged halls of this once magnificent structure, gazing at its shattered frescos and sliced tapestries. There was even damage to the arched ceilings high above, their paint scratched and rubbed away. This battle had been waged by seemingly every possible form of sentient being. He saw the bodies of winged men he assumed were angels, but they possessed faces like that of birds. He plucked a few of their feathers to take back to the children; only their bodies were mature, but they would still be fascinated by the treasure.
When Deicide arrived at the bridge of this vessel he could hear the voices of vestiges calling out to his own. The Abyss coiled herself around Deicide, fearing nothing, her smooth blackness became tough and lined with thorns. The door did not open on its own, locked, but he could feel the seal in his own body react to the sensors, and he stepped closer. Yes, this is what they needed to clone to gain access, no doubt everyone else would be barred from entering this space, or possibly attacked by some ancient security system, but the Demiurge would allow a son, or perhaps some competent forgery.
The great doors slid open as all the others had, and Deicide was shown the bridge, half navigation and communications, organic creatures connected to these consoles were in a ruined state, their mummified bodies still upright, as if ready to receive orders at the slightest whim of the captain. And there was Demiurge sitting at the center console, reclined in the captain’s chair, very much alive, he was surrounded by two great vestiges, the big blue Beyond hovered over his head and the Abeyance skulked beneath him. Deicide thought that he was perhaps three times his size, his body, mostly naked; his dark brown skin was one solid color, unmarred by the scars of war or the harsh life which must have created him.
The vestiges did not seem agitated, and sat easily amongst him. The Abyss chirped and snarked, offended that she was not seen as a threat. But Deicide knew why, vestiges matched the personalities of their companions, truly, Demiurge was no fighter, and his son had been no better. It was so that Deicide was the first, the God of Eaters, created by a special balance in the Existence, not through some absurd mysticism, but by natural laws which governed celestial bodies.
Demiurge nodded. “You have his face, but you are not my son,” Demiurge said, his voice amplified by the duel vestiges. Demiurge had a kind, easy face, not that of any kind of god one would imagine, it had angles, but it lacked the chiseled features or the patriarchal beard many of the ancient Abstrusian artists and believers had given him. There was no aquiline nose or eyes of fire to beset his face, his eyes were of an ordinary brown, and no antennas sat atop the edges of his brow. Deicide thought he appeared more like some ancient monk, muscled, head bald, meditating on the end everything.
Deicide stepped forward. “Why did you hide the truth Pretender?” Deicide said. “Why did you keep the Corridor a secret?”
“Why is it you call me that, Pretender?” Demiurge said. “Do you believe there is another greater, possibly on the other side of these doors?”
“There must be,” Deicide said.
“I created these boundaries, not to protect myself, but the true world beyond,” Demiurge said. “Away from you and the half worlds.”
“Well you’ve failed,” Deicide said.
“That I have child,” Demiurge said. “The arrogance and meddling of the Abstrusians had become an incurable disease, a fate the Humans would surely catch, had they discovered the artifacts fast enough.”
“We uplifted all species with science,” Deicide said. “All creatures deserve god’s tools.”
Demiurge’s shoulders bobbed as he laughed. “Is this what they told you?” he said. “The Abstrusians made all others their slaves. The Carnica were twisted to save Abstrusian women the trouble of birthing and raising their own children. The Dorsali were made to fight in place of Abstrusian males. The Abstrusians will always force others to do what is difficult.”
Deicide clenched his fists. “Yet I face you now,” Deicide said.
“You are not Abstrusian,” Demiurge said. “Only an imitation, modified to serve another’s purpose.”
Deicide’s antennas flickered rapidly. “You lie!” Deicide said.
“Do I? I am no Abstrusian and neither was your mother,” Demiurge said. “A vestige could never bond with a true Abstrusian. That’s why they needed you, to access the power of the vestige. You have shouldered their burden, and now you are a slave to their dark desires.”
“They sought only to save the people from a fate you handed down,” Deicide said.
“They wanted to become gods,” Demiurge said. “They wanted to wield the vestiges themselves. And after they accomplish this, they won’t need you.”
Deicide tightened his lips. There was so much he never understood about the people he called his own, so much information to devour and decipher. From the very beginning he had accepted the narrative which had been placed before him, that the Demiurge was a poor steward, greedily coveting knowledge and power for himself, and he had never questioned any of it. How much did he really know? There had been small gaps in the massive archives that the Amanuensis had fed him, but how did he know? Yes, he was a different person than the man he was cloned from, but somewhere deep within, he knew that the information he received from Nott and all of his surrogate mothers was incomplete. Could it be perhaps that he had read them already, in its entirety? A clone did not retain any of the memories of its source, yet Nott had been chosen to be his companion onboard the Aeolipile, surely some other woman could have been chosen, but it had been her, the wife of Antino I.
The Demiurge watched as Deicide’s face contorted as his mind processed this data. Then he spoke once again.
“Long ago, a man told me that I should never have children,” Demiurge said. “For to do so would mean my doom, he said to me: A child creates a bridge between the work of a Constant and himself. The work will see this bridge, and it is in their nature to walk across, trampling the child and the father. You do not have to believe me Antino, but you better than anyone understand man’s destiny. Have you not seen the way that humans look at you? It is the same way that the Abstrusians looked at me. Any people that bow their heads willingly and never gaze into the Beyond are animals or slaves.”
Deicide recalled the disgusted, cynical faces of the people he had conquered. He then turned his mind to those that he had allowed to live within the Aeolipile, those he ate with and shared beds with. Out of all of them, how much of his trust had he allotted to them, and how much did they really deserve? Especially his army of children, an inheritance of unimaginable influence would be bestowed upon a single heir should he meet his end, the seal of the Aeolipile and the mighty vestige, the Abyss. He remembered the change in some of his natural birth children when his official heirs had been unveiled, for they knew now that they were out of the running, pushed further back in the line to the throne by these monstrous children of a living god.
Deicide called upon the Amanuensis and the Abyss, to parse through this enigma and reveal the diabolical plot that must have been festering within, but they replied to him only with the knowledge that he had given them, that this was chaos, and it would take a mind far wiser than the Abyss and faster than all of the Amanuensis to part the darkness which veiled these machinations. Though he did know, if he was a pawn, then so was everyone else beneath his level of understanding.
“I feel I have reached you my Pretender son,” Demiurge said. “But what will you do with what I have given you? Will you seek Truth?”
Deicide nodded. “I will,” Deicide said.
The Demiurge sighed and he too nodded. “Then I will allow you to consume my flesh. Then you will be granted your inheritance, the seal of the Antikythera, as well as the vestiges the Beyond and the Abeyance. The archives of this ship go back to the day it was commissioned.”
Deicide reluctantly allowed the Abyss to slip away from his shoulders. Instead of tearing the willing creatures to shreds she increased her size, drawing more and more girth from Deicide’s umbilicals and she drowned the Beyond and the Abeyance, and finally the Demiurge, waiting with a sense of relief. Deicide clamped his jaws as the Abyss consumed them all with her black maw deep within. Her normally lightless flesh now gave off a slight, violet hue, but her eyes still remained a mustard yellow. The Abyss opened her inky folds to reveal a large red mass that Deicide assumed was the heart of the Demiurge. Deicide grimaced as she pushed the organ close to his face. He sniffed and then turned his head away.
“It’s just a name…only a name,” Deicide said.
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