Black Sun – Godkillers

February 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

You’re moping again.

“I am the son of the Dytariex. I don’t mope, I brood.”

The difference being?

“Brooding sounds better. Everyone in the epics always broods. You never hear about Rytharen moping before deciding to steal her father’s flagship, now do you?”

I’ve never actually heard the tale. I just know it because you know it.

Kyrian Hallatiris Harrakar, blood of ten thousand Dytariexen, brood of the direct line of Harra, enjoyed ferrying water to small settlements in the desert far more than most of the Tsilath. For one thing, he enjoyed the trip. It was long and quiet, with plenty of time to think his own thoughts without having to watch what he did or said for potential offense. His mother and father ran a complex court full of shifting allegiances and quiet smiles holding any number of daggers behind them, thoughts cloaked behind myriad walls. It was hard to tell what was more exhausting, keeping his own mind to himself or keeping the minds of others out.

For another, he was exhausted by his own siblings.

Rulers often have extensive families. While there hadn’t been a civil war in many centuries and the last invasion of their realm was dealt with in a year, the Harrakar nation could not be said to be without strife. There were many ways to ascend to rulership. Kyrian’s father Hallatiris and mother Siharra, for example, had overthrown the rule of his aunt Trian after she had been weakened by numerous attempts to overthrow her from outside the direct family. Considering all the dynastic alliances and political unions between members of the Tsilath, Kyrian essentially had over ten thousand direct cousins and another several tens of thousands of more distant ones, all able to claim descent from Harra through his son Meren and Meren’s daughter Harrak. If you didn’t enjoy jostling for power and position, the Tsilath was not a congenial life to be born into.

Not that it mattered. Kyrian has two brothers and two sisters, and yet was still expected to serve. They all were, from the highest born to those who were barely even related to the rest of the line. Even old Katari Dolon, who could only trace his blood back to Harrak from a series of bastard births and affairs, still had to serve. He had the birthright and the power, and that was all that counted.

It wasn’t even that he didn’t like his siblings. He respected Tatris’ intelligence and ambition, knew that Arktiesh was tactically brilliant and had a sense of humor underneath his facade of perfect service, envied Rythe for her willing submission to her duty and her graceful manner, and although they were very far apart in age thought Malan was an admirable eldest child and older sister. He simply didn’t feel like he belonged with them.

So he took water out into the desert. It was the duty of the Tsilath to ensure the welfare of their people, of course, even if they barely saw them or spoke directly to them. A baffling array of intermediaries had sprung up over the years to keep the Tsilath uncontaminated by the very people they were expected to stand watch over. Kyrian found himself bemused fairly often when he would contact one of the desert people and would then wait for that person, averting his or her eyes, to scrape and retreat to find some higher placed personage who would make obeisances and eventually retreat to fetch someone else, who would actually look directly at him while apologizing for doing so.

You could simply tell them not to. The voice was not his own, although it was as familiar to him as his own.

“Yes, I could tell them not to.” Kyrian chuckled. “And they would apologize profusely and go on doing it all the same. I often wonder if they’re more afraid they’ll somehow contaminate me, or if I’ll taint them.”

Harra split the desert asunder and killed the not-makers with a word of fury, and you walk in his stead. Why wouldn’t they fear you?

“Never said I didn’t understand it. Kyrian smiled, although it wasn’t visible behind the shining black and gold skin covering him from head to toe, obscuring everything behind a smooth, reflective, featureless mask. “Do you suppose Harra moped before making war on the wrexxakt?”

It’s one of those days, nallatath?

I get enough lectures from Tatris. Let’s just enjoy the day.” He never really got tired of flying over the relatively flat and even center of the single continent of the oldest world in the Dytariexen Ka Harrak. It was so old that it didn’t really have a name, just various designations. The military called it Throneworld, because that’s where the Dytariex ruled from. The various clans of the Tsilath called it Harrakan, as it was the protectorate of the Dytariex and his or her immediate family. The long dwellers who lived on it had various names for it that meant rock, soil, or even mud as they lived in places where these were of tantamount concern. The vast majorty of the planet was solid rock eroded down by wind and airborne particles, floating on a superfluid core of intense radioactive rocks that erupted when the presure grew too great. Liquid water condensed from the atmosphere at the poles, and in underground rivers and lakes that were at times forced through the crust and into the air. It was a sweltering, mostly inhospitable, massive ball of heavy elements just barely suitable for life at all.

If not for the Tsilath, in fact, the few sporadic settlements that managed to scratch out a living would never have lasted so long as they had. Kyrian had no idea when the custom of protecting and supporting the long dwellers had begun. It was so much a part of the Tsilath that it predated the infamous green glow of their eyes. It was also often a tradition performed begrudgingly, as most Tsilath (much less the get of the Dyrariex) had more exciting things to do like drink exotic poisons brought from offworld, plot against one another, or pursue goliath orgies be they sexual, gustatory or some other vice. Arktiesh, for instance, looked over every single old battle he could find and studied them in preparation for future wars. If Kyrian had to hear about the Metal Spider Invasion one more time…

The air tasted of sulfur, not that Kyrian could taste it at all from inside his metal skin. The skin tasted the air for him and he knew without even having to try that there was a highly concentrated volcanic eruption to the south. He arched his path through the air to avoid it, holding the enormous metal container floating behind him steady with a thought. Inside it sloshed tens of thousands of gallons of liquid water captured from a cometary body the week before. They’d diverted and carved it up into useful pieces, and now he was flying it out into the desert to avoid Malan’s latest ceremonial hurdle. It was bad enough that her marrying some minor Tsila from the edges of the Metal Spider space served primarily to cement their mother’s latest alliances, but did it have to take so long?

It has been expedited. Your mother leapt many of the protocols at Malan’s request.

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

Her sister-skin told me. Malan is very unhappy with how long she is being forced to wait to meet her designated.

What is she like, anyway?”

Typical Karnat. Kyrian twisted in mid air to avoid fragments of burning pumice ejected miles away, rather than simply shielding himself or letting them impact on the metal of his symbiotic companion. He concentrated instead on shielding the water container. His companion’s thoughts didn’t acknowledge the maneuver. She’s the eldest child as well, was one of the one hundred we dispatched during the invasion.

“Do I know her?”

You commanded her. Kashen Nolgren’Ka.

“Oh, she and Malan should be an interesting match.” He began descending, seeing a large rift in the ground with obvious signs of cultivation both in and outside of it. The pale yellow sand was ripped up, and orange clay exposed, and enormous holes at regular intervals served as culverts and local watering holes. They looked somewhat neglected to Kyrian, and he wondered how long it has been since the last visit. It was possible these people were suffering, although the area as a whole was extremely well developed for such an isolated region, and the culverts were definitely crafted by one of the Tsilath at some point. They were far too large and regular to be worth carving with the limited tools the long dwellers had to hand. The heat would kill them before they finished one. “Do we have any record of this place?”

Was founded during the reign of Obran. The Har’Kanadran’s ‘voice’ grew distant as it accessed the ancient machines at the heart of the Shining Mountain.  Apparently it was founded by Obran. He moved several long dweller clans on the brink here, cut this rift for them, and made the culverts himself as part of his ascension ceremony.

That old?” Kyrian looked around even as he drained the container into the largest cistern attached to the culverts, using his senses to detect numerous channels carved under the surface of the ground. Even without Tsilath intervention some groundwater would seep into those channels and be deposited into the vast chambers that opened here. “He did an astonishing job. This place could almost water itself.”

Yes. The rock walls of the rift shade this area, so evaporation is minimized. The channels pierce the underground water table in many places. Really rather well cared for, too.

Lost in his examination, Kyrian didn’t hear the child until it was a thousand meters away. He paid it no heed. Most likely it would see him, be terrified and run away, or be astonished and come closer to look upon him. His yellow and black metal silhouette glittered in his reflection, and he knew whatever long dweller child was approaching would most likely have never seen anything like him. The complicated earth carving that had been carried out by his own grandfather distracted him: why had he done it? He’d gone well beyond what an ascension deed would have required, even back then.

Kyrian, the oncoming long dweller feels strange. I can taste his thoughts.

That brought the son of the Dytariex right out of his distraction. He turned and saw the child cresting a small hill. He wasn’t a particularly distinct child, saffron skin, dark hair like a curtain of night, he could have been any child in any long dweller town across the wastes, save for one thing.

His eyes glowed the same burning emeral color as Kyrian’s. And that meant he was Tsilath.

“I think I know why Obran took so much care here.”

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