Aphelion Issue 244, Volume 23
October 2019
 
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Remembering Marchosia

by Jack Dowden



Flames of the burning city cast the beach in ginger light. Sounds of war dimmed behind me. The fight was near over. I felt her ahead, just out of sight, close to the water. I felt her cuts and bruises, the broken bones. I ran on into clay of the foreshore, my blade wet with blood.

I found her as soft waves caressed her with the tide. I knelt and gently rolled her over. She drew shallow breaths. Gently, I slid stray hair strands from her face. Marchosia's once shimmering eyes had swollen shut. Thick chunks of sand clutched and dirtied the lacerations of battle.

I sagged forward, drained as her pain throbbed through me. The Goddess was too wounded to save.

"Uriel?" It was lower than a whisper, quieter than the rolling sea.

"I'm here," I replied. "We're on the beach." Her fingers curled slightly as the water rolled over them, as if trying to catch it.

"It isn't fair," she mumbled. Small tears rivered through dried blood. "They should've understood."

Marchosia's was a world of science. She never dreamt of the controversy, the debates, the violence. She lived in a world of ideas, and my single foolish idea had ruined the entire world.

"I secured the data, the notes, everything before I came," I lied. A shock rippled through me; nausea threatened to overwhelm. Still, I spoke on, "I found some servants to take everything out of the city." She smiled.

I had seen too many familiar corpses as I fled to Marchosia's side. Too many burning laboratories, libraries and schools. The notes themselves lay scattered in the halls of the Adohi'Ente, which was now aflame. The world would forget.

I was Marchosia's egregori, her Keeper. Her lover, and I lied. The bonds I had held for near twenty years slid away, a taint left behind. There would be no afterlife for me now. I would not join her spirit in the High Halls. I doomed myself to oblivion, just to see her smile one last time.

####

The egregori tested me when I was seven. I was accepted at eight. My mother had cried. My father had been proud. Generations of my brothers' and sisters' descendents would serve the Goddess as I would. Nephews and nieces would form a bloodline of Keepers, loyal only to her. My family was granted an estate for reward.

I came to Adohi, where the egregori trained me. Miserable years followed but I accepted them. It was my duty to obey, and I did. They gave me a sword and taught me to kill. There had not been a war for millennia, yet the egregori were vigilant.

Discipline was carved into me. I was to count myself among these emotionless men and women. There was no room for homesickness, sorrow, fear, or pity. I was a tool, a walking blade to strike where my Goddess commanded.

Ten years passed, and on my appointed date, I waited in the halls of the Adohi'Ente beside my stone-faced comrades. Past midday; the room was dim, golden curtains limited the light filling the colonnaded chamber. A door of swirling gemstones stood before me, its patterns danced and melted away to form anew. My eyes were fixed upon it. Around me, the egregori shifted uncomfortably. The Goddess I was to serve was late.

This did not bother me as it did my companions. Despite my training, I was nervous.

When the doors opened my blood began to race. The Goddess looked of age with me and walked with the confidence of experience. Yet she had lived two centuries already. Her eyes glimmered like sapphires, standing out more in the dimness. Her brown hair hung short to her shoulders, an uncommon look among deities. Her white robe clung to her subtle curves. I willed my blood and breath to slow, attempting to calm myself. When she finally stopped before me and nodded, I had almost succeeded.

I knelt and recited the Bonds. I would obey her in everything. I would speak no lie. Raise no weapon against her. I would guard her, and sacrifice myself for her, as would my descendents after me. She touched me, her soft pale, vibrating hand on my scalp. My skin prickled as the Bonds settled.

"Break the Bonds," she said, "forfeit your soul." Her voice rang like bells. "Rise egregori and know me as Marchosia, Goddess of Forking Wind."

I did not know the name. Marchosia was young. I was her first. I stood and made to bow. Before I could, she slid her arm through mine and drew me down the hall. "Come."

My training failed. I grew crimson. In vain I looked to the others for help. This was no rite! Their faces were blank. I silently cursed them as we passed.

The swirling doors shut behind us. The Adohi'Ente was silent save for the click of her slippers. My boots made no sound. "Tell me of yourself, Uriel."

"I am egregori," I said, stupidly.

She laughed and I felt a jolt of shame. All my training, and Marchosia thought me a fool. "Plainly," she replied. "I was asking of your past. Where are you from?"

"Jahar," I replied quickly.

She nodded pleasantly. "I did request someone from afar. I am glad the egregori obeyed so precisely."

This was becoming too much. "With respect, my Lady --"

"Marchosia," she cut me off.

"I --"

"I order you to call me Marchosia for your remaining years."

Perhaps there was some way to transfer Gods? Perhaps I could guard another. "I am afraid that does not seem appropriate... Marchosia." I tried the name on my tongue. It felt nice, if scandalous.

The clicks stopped. Marchosia had halted. "Uriel," she said, in a lecturing tone, "you are to spend the rest of your life with me. I do not appreciate pleasantries. I receive enough from my own people."

I bowed. When I straightened her arm snaked its way through mine again. "Now then, tell me more."

I did. As we strolled through the corridors of the Adohi'Ente I found myself enjoying our conversation. Marchosia laughed easily.

####

My training was forgotten. I did not mind. Those early years, I exulted in my duty. I loved talking and listening to her. We traveled often, seeing great wonders most only dreamt of.

Yet I did not love her, not yet.

####

Marchosia lived in luxury, as all Gods did, but held it with dignity. She was a scientist and devoted much time into bridging the High Halls with Earth. "Two realities within one," she explained. "Intelligent, biological energy and corporeal entities living together. A macrocosm of our very bodies." I nodded, not understanding, and she laughed. "Would it have been too much to ask for an egregori with brains?” She teased. “Instead, you have only a sword."

One day, some two years after our meeting, found us in her quarters. Word had spread of our unorthodox introduction. Marchosia's liberties with me were seen as peculiar by most. I never worried. Only Marchosia's opinion mattered, I was sworn to obey only her. Rumors rose as well, but we had never engaged in anything more than our arm-in-arm walks.

So within her rooms, rather than making passionate love, she was reading a book of philosophy to me. "So if Camio's concept of a Rainbow Bridge exists within the space between High Halls and Earth, and remember, Uriel, there is overwhelming evidence it does, one could reverse its processes and... Uriel?"

I jumped. I humored her when she read. The works of Camio, Raum, Asmodean, I understood not a word of it. Rather, I would watch for potential attack. Pointless I knew, but I had not completely shirked my duty.

Yet this session had me staring out the window. "Forgive me, Marchosia, I was daydreaming."

She chuckled. "Camio can certainly be dry to the non-philosophical mind. What were you thinking of?"

"My brother," I told her. "My youngest. Justinian. He will be seven this week. I have never seen him."

"Well then," Marchosia replied, closing the book and standing. "We must go see him, and your entire family by extension."

For a moment I stood as stupid as I had in the Adohi'Ente. "Your research?"

She waved it away. "My research can wait a week, and it hinges on Turzas' findings. I'll be lucky to get them in the next decade. Besides, your siblings will produce my next egregori. I should make a good impression."

My family, I saw upon arrival, had adopted their old customs. My father had turned the estate house into a barn, and hired the servants as farmhands. The lush fields had quickly turned into plowed ones. They'd built themselves a comfortable hut.

I knocked on the door and my graying mother answered, stirring a bowl as she stood on the portal. "Told you not to come back until --" she blinked. "Uriel?"

"Hello mother," I said, smiling.

The bowl fell and she threw her arms around me. "You're home!" She cried. "You're home!" I held her close. "Girls," she yelled, "come see!"

My sisters, Selene and Verin, appeared. At age fifteen, they were identical. They laughed and hugged me too. "Come in," my mother began pulling me inside, "Come in and let me get you some lunch. Verin, Selene, go get your father and brothers. Tell them…"

"Who's that, mother?" Verin asked, pointing at Marchosia, who until then, had stood aside wearing a happy smile. Her blue eyes glowed merrily.

"I don't --" My mother began, when realization spread across her face. She went pale, made to curtsey, thought better of it, and fell to her knees, waving for the girls to do the same. "My Lady, forgive us our blindness."

Marchosia laughed, came forward and gently pulled my mother to her feet. "Please, call me Marchosia as your son does."

In Marchosia's presence, my mother had nothing to say. "You're a God?" Selene asked, wonder in her voice.

My mother came around. "Of course she is, Selene! What are you two still doing here? I told you to get your father and brothers. Go!" She clapped her hands and my sisters were off.

Forgetting about me, my mother began fawning over Marchosia. She offered her home and apologized for its horrible condition. When Marchosia replied it was one of the nicest places she had ever seen, my mother turned scarlet.

My father and siblings soon returned. I shook hands and embraced Dagar, Rurik and Igorian, and when little Justinian was pushed forward, I knelt to hug him as well. He seemed more interested in Marchosia. In fact, they all did. It did not matter. I was with my family. I was happy.

We ate outside, and though my parents were nervous serving Marchosia their own food, her praise was well received. My brothers passed my sword amongst themselves and demanded to know of my adventures. My sisters wanted to know of the cities, the palaces and great monuments.

Justinian did not take his eyes off Marchosia the entire dinner. Dessert was finished when he asked, "Can you do magic?"

My mother groaned. "Justinian, what have I told you about being rude to guests?"

"I think the boy can be forgiven," Marchosia replied. "Watch this Justinian," she continued, "and tell me what you think."

She closed her eyes and began to hum. Her head tilted upwards. The music vibrated within everything. The table stirred, the dishes and cutlery; the air itself seemed to throb.

The stars began to move. Hundreds of twinkling spots began to sway and spin and dance. Some dimmed, others brightened, but always they moved elaborately. They beat together and fluttered as Marchosia's soft hum commanded them. My family watched the show she provided, amazed.

I watched too. Not the sky, but Marchosia. Her eyes remained closed, but a thin smile sat upon her face. By the light of dancing stars and vibrating candles, I had never seen such beauty. A Goddess sat beside my family, and enjoyed herself.

A ripple of joy slid through me, but before I could speak, Marchosia opened her eyes. The stars stopped. "What do you think, Justinian?"

He nodded. Marchosia laughed.

Later I found myself by a river near the farm. My family was asleep, and Marchosia was meditating at my side. "You know," she said, and I turned to find her sapphire eyes gazing up into mine, "it was not the stars, but their light. One such as I cannot move stars."

I smiled. "Thank you for this."

"Thank you." She stood and watched the water pass. "I have lived for two centuries Uriel. And I will continue to live for tens of thousands of years after you die. Yet I will never have this," she indicated the farm. "I will never have a family."

"You have a father, mother and sisters," I replied.

She waved them away. "They are nothing to me, and I am nothing to them. We have not seen each other in decades."

I did not know what to say. Marchosia was sad, but I could think of nothing to ease her.

"Do you know how the King became the first God?" She asked, finally.

I shook my head. The King, the father of all Gods, was not a topic often discussed. He ruled from far away, an ever-present legend. He was simply there.

"He was not all different from mortals," she said. "And he claims it was sacrifice. He says no more. I believe he sacrificed for someone. What's more, he sacrificed his body and soul. He transcended what a mortal should be capable of. He became a God. Can you imagine, Uriel?"

"Becoming a God?"

"No, loving someone, what else could the sacrifice have been but for someone he loved? Loving someone so deeply, sacrificing your entire self would be unquestionable?" She shook her head sadly. "I was born a God, Uriel. I did not earn it. I do not know if I will ever love something half as strong as you and your family love each other. It is difficult."

The night's sounds seemed to fade, as did the river's coursing. I looked at Marchosia and wanted to reach out, wrap my arms around her, and tell her... what? I loved her? I wanted to be with her? I was egregori, and mortal besides. My duty was to be her Keeper. I would not forsake those obligations. Yet, as I watched her stare sadly at the water's path, I could not help but relate to the King's story.

"It was nice to taste this,” she said. “I will remember. Thank you, Uriel."

####

My mother and father died before the war. My brothers and sisters were dead from it. I heard rumors of Justinian surviving, somewhere. Rumors were no comfort. I was Marchosia's first egregori. I would be her last.

Yet, I had become more.

####

"Useless!" Energy dissipated as Marchosia threw her hands up. I could feel her frustration as the vibrations dimmed, then vanished. "It's not strong enough," she complained, slumping into an armchair.

Raum scratched his beard. "Perhaps the approach is incorrect. The energy levels of High Halls may not be compatible with Earth's."

"How could souls travel between, then?" Siatris asked. "No, the energy is compatible, but the Rainbow Bridge component is missing."

"Of course the Bridge component is missing," Marchosia snapped. She rose and beckoned me. "I am tired, come Uriel." She threw the doors open and stalked out; I trailed behind. Siatris and Raum continued their debate. Their egregori watched us leave. We marched in the direction of her quarters.

In the decade since visiting my family, my feelings had intensified. I sensed her turmoil like an air current. If I reached out and took her hand, I knew, somehow, I could help her. Yet egregori did no such things. We guarded.

We entered her chambers and I knew to crouch. "Fools!" Marchosia cried. Her magic hurled objects to and fro. "Discussing concepts we beat to death decades ago!"

I moved silently, knowing Marchosia was all but oblivious to me. I had been shocked when I first witnessed this tantrum. Now though, I understood. For years Marchosia had worked to bridge the High Halls and Earth, to no avail.

A jeweled orb slammed into my gut. I must've grunted, because Marchosia turned. "Uriel," she gasped. There I was, holding her orb to my stomach, a look of exasperation upon my face. "Oh Uriel." She laughed. I smiled and joined in.

The moment passed to quickly, and she collapsed onto her bed. "I do not understand what's wrong."

I said nothing.

"You must think I'm a child," she whispered and sat up to face me. Tears welled in her eyes. "Behaving like an idiot. I don't know what to do."

I did not think. I knelt before her and wiped the tears away without realization. She looked shocked, and as I caressed her soft skin, horror rose within me. I froze with fear. My thumb remained on her cheek, her pale skin vibrating.

"Uriel," she said calmly. Her hand enfolded mine. "Oh, Uriel." She smiled. I kissed her. She kissed me.

My mind screamed for me to pull away, to restrain myself. I did not listen. She drew me onto the bed, kissing me intensely, and gave the order I had dreamed of. I obeyed, as I was sworn to.

Afterwards we lay heavy with sweat and naked beneath her sheets. Her pale body pulsated against mine. I stroked her hair absently. "This certainly goes against protocol."

She laughed. "It would appear those rumors are true now. I thought you knew the only protocols you need worry about are mine. This fits well with them."

I rolled around to face her. "How long?" I asked. "How long have you felt this way?"

"Such impertinence," she smiled. "Asking questions without formalities." She leaned forward and kissed me lightly. "I do not know. I feel as if it were buried for some time; pushed aside due to work and, embarrassingly, social taboos. Perhaps..."

"What?"

"Do you remember the river, by your family's farm?"

I grinned, a surely large, stupid grin. "I realized it then, too."

She seemed pleased. "Maybe Camio's theory on fate and free will being aligned --"

"Marchosia," I cut her off by covering her mouth with my hand. "Please don't bring philosophy or science into this."

She laughed again. "As you wish, my egregori."

The title jarred something within me. I was still young, but I hardly resembled the boy who first saw his Goddess. Marchosia looked not a day older. I was aging. Dying in truth. Marchosia would remain the same for millennia. "If I could," I told her, "I would stay with you like this, forever."

She looked sad then. "If only."

Time passed in silence as we lay there, until Marchosia sat up looked at me with wonder. "Wait," she said slowly. "If the basic building blocks were altered, then... compatibility." Her eyes widened and she kissed me with all her earlier fury. "Uriel, you've solved it!" She leapt out of bed and began to pull on robes, as I lay there confused. "We must tell the others!"

I obeyed, but wondered what it was I had done.

####

I had changed everything. Simple pillow talk and idle fantasies had sparked a new idea within Marchosia.

It was why she lay dying in the sand before me. It was my fault.

####

Marchosia wanted to alter Earth. The Rainbow Bridge component involved compatibility, so Earth needed become compatible with the High Halls. Transfiguring energy would be simpler. Thus, she claimed, everything needed to be "amended."

I asked her what she meant.

"I want to make men into Gods," she replied.

The notion of spending centuries alongside Marchosia was too much to hope for. I was human. We outnumbered our Gods. We lived, aged and died. We were subjects to Gods, not their equals. Would they allow it? Would mankind even want it? These thoughts kept me awake on nights at Marchosia's side.

She researched in secret, with none aware but myself and her contemporaries. They, those Gods and Goddess, dedicated to their utopian ideals, accepted Marchosia's theory wholeheartedly.

Two years passed, and I counted them happy. I spent my days and nights with the woman I loved and she whispered promises of eternal life. I hoped, despite myself.

Then the research stopped and Marchosia went to present her findings.

So I found myself on a spring day outside the great Forum of Nervana. Marchosia had entered to present her case. I waited outside and paced nervously.

A commotion arose within and I tensed. It sounded like shouting, though I could not make out the words.

Suddenly, it grew quiet.

Within moments the doors opened and Gods exited. I looked for Marchosia. She strolled out, casually, face bearing grim determination. Shaking her head when I opened my mouth, she motioned for me to follow her away from the whispering crowd of immortals.

"It could have gone better," she said nonchalantly, out of earshot. "The King's sons, Azrel and Sargatanas opposed heavily, and many echoed their concerns."

"And the King himself?" I asked.

She smiled sadly. "He thought what I said 'held merit,' and warranted further investigation."

"Wonderful," I whispered. "With the King behind your research..." I stopped when her smile turned sad.

"The King is influential, Uriel. But his sons are popular, with a large following. I'm afraid the King's backing is not enough."

"But it is something!" I refused to be negative. Not when eternity with Marchosia was closer than ever. "There'd be no chance if he had fully disagreed.”

Marchosia laughed, a sound not heard for days. I had missed it. "True enough my egregori. Perhaps more can be brought around. If not for Azrel's favors --"

"Marchosia!" A voice like gravel made her jump, and I turned about, hand to sword. My training was not entirely forgotten.

The woman approaching was Marchosia's twin but for the eyes. Whereas Marchosia's were blazing sapphires, hers' were a smoldering green. Light seemed to leap from her face. She did not seem pleasant.

"Sesheta?" Marchosia asked, surprised. She had not seen her sister for sixty years.

Sesheta stalked towards us with purpose, a blond female egregori at her back. Arrogance clung to her like an odor. "The first time I see you in half a century, and you talk of human Godhood?"

Marchosia recovered her serenity. Her voice never faltered. "You do not support the proposal?"

"Support it?" Sesheta barked a laugh, but no smile touched her eyes. "No, I do not. Do you truly think humans deserve elevation? They are precisely what we intended them to be."

"We were born Gods, sister," Marchosia countered. "Do we deserve it? The first humans were drones, yet now they build their own wonders."

"Laughable imitations to our own."

"If so, what could we achieve were they to join us?"

"Anarchy, certainly. Their bodies were not designed to hold so much energy.”

"That could be changed."

Sesheta groaned and waved Marchosia's words away. "You speak of these humans like relatives. They are not comparable to us. Look at the egregori, the highest honor bestowed upon them. Are they not unnecessary bodyguards? Behold your own," she said, turning to me. "His blank stare belies a lack of intelligence."

Marchosia stepped between us. "Do not speak to him so."

Sesheta's eyes and smile grew. "I would hate to think my sweet sister's grand scheme a ploy to prolong her plaything's lifespan. Quite unprincipled."

Marchosia's rage was contained well. "Tell me Sesheta, how you climbed so high without aid. Was it Azrel's or Sargatanas' bed you shared? Perhaps both?”

Sesheta's eyes narrowed. I loosed my blade a bit. I saw the female egregori do the same.

Marchosia's sister turned abruptly and marched off, her egregori trailing. "Again, that could have gone better," Marchosia said, when they were gone.

####

Was it worth it? Those first few years by Marchosia's side, I believed. Believed in a world where I was immortal and all matter of energy and beings living side-by-side in an ever-expanding paradise. Yet the heated debates continued.

Five years passed from Marchosia's proposal. Then a God slew another. A war quickly followed. Still I followed Marchosia, and believed in her dream.

I wanted so badly to be with her, to ensure my slowly aging body would forever guard her. Instead it all fell apart.

####

"Once more, please?" Marchosia asked.

I craved oxygen, but the air I sucked in burned. I couldn't even shake my head. Even in pain, I obeyed. Yet she had asked permission, and struggling, I reached out and touched her hand.

She could not sense my pain, but when our hands touched she knelt down beside me. "I'm sorry Uriel, forgive me."

There was nothing to forgive; I had volunteered. She placed her hands on my chest and hummed. The pain subsided, and I relaxed my shivering body.

The experiment had failed, again. Twenty attempts, each more painful than the last had driven my body to the edge. The convulsions were so bad, my bones had broken and muscles ripped open twice. Marchosia had repaired me, but always pressed on.

I tried to speak, but her hand covered my mouth.

"Peace, Uriel," she whispered. "We are done for now."

How quickly she forgot the pain and burning she inflicted upon me, all to grant me Godhood. Rather than ask if I wished to continue, she assuaged me with delayed suffering.

While I healed, she left me and returned to her notes. She began to scribble furiously. I forced myself up and tugged on my clothes. She spared me not a glance; her nose buried behind a thick notebook.

The war had shaken her. Siatris and other friends had died in battle, to the north and east. I was the last of her confidants. For days we would sit in her study; she pondering over her discoveries, and I standing uselessly until she needed to experiment.

I missed Marchosia. She had not laughed in a long time. Months, perhaps. Even in bed, she was lost in thought and my presence was nothing more than standard.

I obeyed still. Yet I felt beyond an egregori. What though, I could not say.

I swayed from fatigue, and Marchosia looked up, excited. "I have an idea, Uriel. Get back on the table."

I didn't move. She looked at me expectantly. "Uriel, hurry, this may be it!"

"Marchosia," I said, "please."

She waved my concerns away. "This will be gentler, and it will work. Don't you want it to work?"

Was she, manipulating me?

"Marchosia," I begged. "I will obey, but --"

"Then obey," she snapped.

I was egregori, what more could I do?

####

My body had never felt right afterwards. I moved with all the agility and carried the strength I had always possessed, but something seemed different. It was as if a weight were under my skin, holding me down, tiring me quicker. Some days, I could not bring myself to leave bed.

Marchosia never apologized, but one day she sent me on errand to the city. I returned, and found her sobbing into hands hiding her eyes. When she noticed me, she stopped and resumed her dignity.

She could've been weeping over anything; the war, her friends, her work's slow progress, but I think it was for what she had done.

I never held animosity, I loved her still. Tonight, as she dies in the sand, I know there is nothing to forgive.

####

"Hurry," Marchosia called as we rushed through the Adohi'Ente, the shimmering air reacting to the battle. We had waited too long. For all of Marchosia's assurances of Adohi's safety, thousands of human soldiers and their immortal generals appeared overnight. The city's defenders were outmatched.

Seven years of research had led to nothing. Marchosia's notes, the important ones, were clenched between my arms and chin as we made our way towards the exit. "If we can reach the sewers," Marchosia said, "we can escape." Our home's fall did not disturb her, nor did the slaughter outside; Marchosia worried for her research.

I was bound to keep her safe. Though the war never touched us, I had still failed. Her work was her life and obsession. She had not laughed in ages. She regarded me more as an object. Ironic, seeing her try to grant me immortality.

I glanced out a window as we ran. Lighting and fire rained from above, and whole buildings crumbled or turned to ash. When Gods fought, they used all their power. I could see rips where light itself seemed to disappear. For years, I'd heard tales of cities disappearing overnight. I feared Adohi would join them.

A wall erupted before us and threw me to the floor, Marchosia's notes scattering. My ears rang, but my training, skills I had never used, returned to me. I rose with my blade drawn before my vision had focused.

I saw Sesheta, blood red armor and blade of crystalline light, before me. Flanking her, was her egregori, the woman from years ago. "Hello sister."

A curved blade of flame erupted into Marchosia's hand. They clashed, fire met crystal, and I turned to meet the egregori.

I had been talented, all first generation egregori were, but I saw scars upon her face. She'd seen war, while I had seen libraries and bed chambers for twenty years.

Our swords danced in the ruined halls of the Adohi'Ente. She was faster, but I was stronger. She cut me, but I drove her back, both of us navigating the rubble with ease.

All the while, Marchosia's pain coursed through me. She was losing, I knew.

I charged and plowed into the egregori, and she fell. My blade came down, entered her and left wet.

I turned in time to see glass break and a bloodied body, draped in white fall away, flung into the distance. Sesheta leaned on her blade, armor cracked and oblivious to me.

I ran, and plunged my sword into her back. Her scream was like a gong, and she collapsed, thrashing as she died. The light in her eyes burned out, leaving blackened holes.

I had killed a Goddess, but mine was alive. I felt her, near death and far away.

####

The fire still burned as we lay in the sea's swell. Marchosia's sizzling, brilliant blue eyes dimmed. "Uriel," she whispered. "I'm sorry.”

It all struck me. The suffering we had caused, the deaths of families and friends, our broken relationship. Everything.

I wept. I wept for the end of our time together, for the end of the world. I wept, for I was egregori and I would never see her again. The corruption within from breaking my Bonds throbbed.

"Thank you," I told her. "Thank you so much." The faint rumblings of energy within her body ceased, and her eye's light winked out.

The water rose to my thighs. Was she crossing the Rainbow Bridge now, the obstacle that had always vexed her? Would she arrive in the High Halls, turn and wonder where I was?

Traditionally, an egregori avenged their God then died. Sesheta was dead. Marchosia was avenged. I prepared to plunge my sword within, preferring oblivion to the hollowness remaining.

Unbidden, a memory came.

"Do you know how the King became the first God?" I had shaken my head. "He was not all different from mortals," she said. "And he claims it was sacrifice."

A sacrifice for someone, she believed. The King had given his body and soul to and transcended what a mortal was capable of. He became a God.

Had I truly loved Marchosia? I had stayed by her side, through the good times and bad. Not due to Bonds, not due to trappings of a brotherhood. No, I stayed with Marchosia because she was my world; she was the one I loved above myself.

I stared at her corpse. Had I given enough? My life and freedom sacrificed, yet I never cared about either. With my lie, the lie of a few moments, I had sacrificed my soul to see her smile.

Had I, an egregori, figured it all out?

I kissed her, and stabbed myself.

THE END


© 2011 Jack Dowden

Bio: Jack Dowden is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall college who 'spends most of his time writing and struggling for paychecks, usually in the reverse order.' His story "The First Grave" appeared in Fear and Trembling Magazine about nine months ago.

E-mail: Jack Dowden

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