Arkadin had been sitting at the table in the kitchen, fiddling with a new communicator device he had stashed away in his bedroom. It was late, later than Arkadin realised, to the point that the night time crickets had stopped chirping. Now that Arkadin thought about it, it was technically morning.
“Hey, Tenuk. What are you doing up so late?”
Tenuk sighed as he sat down opposite Arkadin. Despite Tenuk knowing that Arkadin was the Thantophor, he had always called him Arkay, a throwback to the times they had spent together as friends and warriors.
“I could ask the same as you. You’re mortal again, you need sleep the same way the rest of us do.”
Arkay nodded in agreement, also acknowledging that he really ought to be calling himself Arkay as well. Or perhaps even something else, because the ‘Arkay’ he was disguised as had died two years prior. He still remembered that whole… mess rather vividly and didn’t want to have it happen again. At least, not via anti-telekinetic bullets being shot through the stomach and ricocheting around, destroying internal organs. That was painful.
“Yeah, I know, but I’m… I have a lot of things on my mind…” Arkay admitted. “I could sleep, but I’d be tossing and turning. Better to be out here, checking my accounts and setting everything back up again, actually making myself tired, than lying in bed doing nothing useful.”
“I get that, but you don’t want to be tired. We have so much we have to sort out…” Tenuk grunted.
Arkay sighed, putting the communicator into the slot of his left wristband, then strapping both his wristband back on. “About that…”
“What about it?”
“I’m really, really worried about them.”
Tenuk glanced upstairs, where Yisini and Epani were sharing the bed in what was once Gath and Retvik’s sleeping quarters. Kairos was sleeping in the living room on a pile of cushions, having refused to sleep upstairs, believing it would collapse under his weight.
“I can tell. I’m kinda worried about them and the rest of the universe too.”
“The rest of the universe is fine…” Arkay frowned. “It’ll all be fine.”
Tenuk bit his tongue, trying to decide whether to speak or not. After a moment’s thought, he decided to talk. After all, Arkay couldn’t hurt him.
“You sure about that?”
“Yeah. Plus, my siblings are stupid and naive, but Yisini and Epani will at least get into the swing of things. Kairos will need watching, but those two will be fine. Yisini already wants to call herself Zoi, a perfectly Temthan-y name…”
“What is actually running the universe right now?” Tenuk interrupted. “Because you’re certainly not. And from what I know about Kinisis and Kenon, I doubt they are running the universe either. And what happens IF one of your idiot siblings gets themselves killed? Are you actually mortal? Or is something else happening? Will I wake up next week and find that someone else is the Thantophor?”
Arkay didn’t answer. He kept his eyes down, not wanting to say anything.
“Arkay, what is going on?”
“I really don’t know. I… I think Kinisis is probably just channelling our duties via our, uh, comatose godly forms, but I have no idea. I was designed to be the Thantophor, because Kinisis didn’t want anyone else to deal with the Burden of Decay, so I… I don’t think she’d willingly let me die as a mortal. As for the others? I… I have no idea how replaceable we all are.”
“Is it possible to suddenly have new deities?”
Tenuk tutted. “That is not reassuring at all.”
“Sorry…” Arkay trailed off. “I’m trying to be optimistic. I mean, I hate myself, so if I am really stuck as a mortal with a mortal lifespan, I… I almost don’t mind. But my siblings, it’s worse for them. And for the rest of the universe as well. I suppose the uncertainty of it all is more worrisome than I expected.”
Tenuk took a deep breath, then got up and walked up to Arkay, wrapping his arms around him.
“I’m sure everything will be fine.”
“I hope so…” Arkay sighed as he hugged Tenuk back. “I really hope so…”