Tenuk had spotted it as he brought in the shopping. It was hiding on the roof, watching him. Tenuk had decided to get all the shopping inside and lock the hovercraft before dealing with it. After all, he’d offered to do the shopping, since he was staying with Gath and Retvik. Least he could do was finish his chores and keep everything tidy.
Inside, Retvik was sleeping in his little nest in the living room. That was good. That meant Tenuk could deal with the thing on the roof without disturbing him. He was surprised that his brining in the shopping hadn’t woken Retvik up, but none of them had been sleeping properly lately so Tenuk just assumed he was tired.
With the shopping inside and the hovercraft locked, Tenuk stood outside on the little stone path. A black, shadowy thing with a hint of golden yellow.
Rather than clamber onto the roof, Tenuk decided to just teleport up there. He was a Deitic. He could do that.
“So, what brings you to my… oh.”
It was obviously Arkay. The yellow eyes, the yellow armour and that little black chest piece he always wore. But he looked awful. His arms and legs were skinny. His internal ribs could be seen around his stomach. Bruises covered his skin. A dark pair of wings on his back were almost skeletal.
“You look like shit,” Tenuk exclaimed. “You look way worse than the last time I saw you. What’s up?”
Arkay shrugged and stared off into the distance.
“I didn’t know Retvik was expecting.”
“Well no,” Tenuk shook his head. “I only found out the other day. Came back here because of family stuff. You lot were always my better family, but sometimes you have to spend time with those you shared a womb with. For, like, business and things.”
Tenuk noticed that Arkay’s claws were covered in various colours. Stained, rather than dripping. An odd mixture of reds, blues and purples.
“You been busy, Arkay?”
“Kinda. Death sends me out to do her jobs for her. I kill a lot these days. Both do and don’t enjoy it.”
“You’re not… here for any of us, are you?” Tenuk tried to hide his sudden concern and failed miserably.
That was somewhat reassuring. But there was still something wrong with Arkay. He had been to Kinigi several times (at the request of Kinisis herself) and every time he’d seen Arkay, he may not have been happy, but at least he was healthy. Now, he looked… dead.
“So why are you here?”
“I’m… not sticking around.”
Arkay extended his wings, ready to fly off. But Tenuk put a hand on his shoulder.
“Come on, kid. You can talk to me.”
“It’s complicated. And I have work to do.”
Tenuk shrugged, keeping his hand firmly on Arkay’s shoulder. “Everything’s complicated. And I’m sure whoever it is you are off to kill can wait a few more minutes. You’re not right. You look horrible. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you were the result of a bad necromantic experiment.”
Arkay sighed. His wings closed, his shoulders dropped.
“Do you know what mythopeia is?” Arkay asked.
“It’s, uh…” Tenuk hesitated. He kinda knew what it meant. “Isn’t it when, like, you believe in a thing so hard that it becomes real?”
“Eh, basically…” Arkay sighed again. “If enough vok believe I’m a hideous death god, then that’s what I’ll turn into. Currently, I still have enough sentience to have a sense of morality and somewhat do what I want. And Istoria seems to think it’s fine, since it’s better that the god stuff gets directed to me rather than Kinisis directly. But still…”
“So you’re worried that other beings’ beliefs and religions are turning you into a monster?”
“No, I’m worried that Kinisis is going to stop mythopeia from affecting me…” Arkay paused, tutting and sighing. “I let her in, Tenuk. I let her in. I am one step away from being just like every other Veth, perfectly loyal and submissive to her. I don’t like the idea of being worshipped as a merciful god of death, it goes against everything I believe in, but it’s the only thing stopping me from being her slave for eternity…”
The Veth Prime went back to staring off into the distance. Tenuk noticed what he was looking at, a ship on the horizon.
“I just wanted somewhere to go, just for a little bit. Trying to remember my own mortality. I wouldn’t have come here if I’d known about Retvik though…” Arkay muttered. “I can’t risk something happening to him. He deserves his peace.”
Tenuk shrugged. His eyes were focused on that little ship, the one Arkay was looking at. It seemed small and insignificant, like everything else in Vriskera. Maybe that was why Arkay was interested in it. “You were just here for this?”
“No. Thought I’d take the opportunity. While I was here.” Arkay pointed at the ship on the horizon. “That’s a Cassid transport. Owned by a… darker part of the Cassid government. One of the engines is leaking. Everyone on it is about to die.”
“How do you know that…”
Tenuk turned to his side, only to find that Arkay was gone. In the distance, the Cassid ship had disappeared. In its place was nothing but smoke.