Elkay did not feel comfortable right now. Sure, things had been turning around, the lower generals did not seem as angry as they were and several small budget cuts had helped to balance the budget a little, but Elkay had experienced something new and he wasn’t quite sure whether he wanted to follow that experience further.
The experience in question was spending time in bed with another Rethan. Nothing had happened. They had both agreed that nothing would happen. They simply sat in bed together, talking, sharing stories and staying warm. When Elkay had woken up, his bedtime partner had not only gone, but completely erased all traces of his presence.
None of that was a problem. Elkay had quite enjoyed having a little company. The problem was that his companion had returned, uninvited.
Worse, they seemed to be quite upset.
“Are you well, Lord Arkadin?”
Tears streamed down the Thantophor’s face, splashing off his armour plating but never touching the ground. Any tears that managed to escape his person evaporated into nothing.
“Do you… wish to talk about it?” Elkay asked. It was late, but from the heavy rains and storms outside, it would have been impossible to tell whether it was night or day anyway. “Perhaps talking…”
“You wouldn’t understand. Not completely. You get how sometimes bad things happen and some battles are unwinnable and all that bollocks. But I can’t escape any of it because I’m the reason bad things happen!”
Arkadn threw himself across the bed, his head hanging off the end. Elkay remained where he was, unsure what to do. Too sudden a movement and the death god might lash out.
“Surely you are not the cause of all bad things…”
“I’m the fucking god of decay, of course I am…” Arkadin wiped tears from his eyes. “Normally I am desensitized to all of this. Normally it doesn’t bother me. But sometimes something so bad happens that all I can do is weep.”
The Thantophor fell silent, lying on the bed and rocking himself back and forth. Elkay quietly reached for his wristband and did a quick olanet search, querying latest news stories. His brief search though didn’t bring up anything in particular.
“What made you upset?” Elkay finally asked, breaking the silence.
“A Cassid went to an Moran Alumin with multiple high-powered weapons.”
“You know what Cassids are, right?”
Elkay nodded. The smartest sub-species of Temthan, not actually related but part of the Temthan elite.
“Well, one of them went to an educational centre for younglings and murdered seventy four Cassids, all under the age of ten.”
Elkay blinked. Arkadin sighed, then continued to describe the scenario.
“It would have been bearable if he had just murdered them. Nope, he decided to torture them first, shoot them then burn the building, so none of them could be saved.”
“You blame yourself for that Cassid’s actions.”
“Yes. I caused the decay in his mind. I caused them to die.”
“There are… other ways of looking at things…” Elkay hesitated. “You could blame the Panelix for allowing the fire to spread, trapping everyone inside. You could blame the Whenvern for the bad timing of the attack. You could blame the Allbirther for spawning a mentally ill Cassid in the first place. You deities are as much bound to existence as we are, trapped inside its cycles, for good or for bad.”
“I am still to blame.”
“We all are, in a way.”
Elkay slowly approached the bed, perching on its edge. While the Thantophor had calmed down a little, he was still fidgety.
“It’s silly to be so upset. I have seen worse. But those younglings, they knew how fucked they were. Some of them looked me in the eye. They knew.”
“They are no longer suffering now. Take some solace in that.”
Arkadin sighed. “There is no solace.”
“Well, perhaps just… Lay here for a bit. With me.”
Elkay sat on the bed properly. Arkadin glanced at him, confused.
“You really are an odd one, I like that…” The Thantophor muttered as he scooted closer to Elkay. “I really must visit you more often.”