The Whenvern and the Panelix watched on as Arkadin played in the sand, building little sand sculptures complete with moats filled with sea water, before smashing it all up and starting again. Arkadin had been doing this for several hours now and was quite clearly enjoying himself, although both his fellow deities noticed that he would abruptly stop at random, stare off into the distance then shake his head and start again.
After the fourth hour, Kairos decided to approach Arkadin and ask what he was doing.
“Are you alright, brother?”
Kairos’s shadow loomed over Arkadin, blocking his light and making it tricky to see the sand arches that he was currently decorating. “I’m alright, you’re kinda making a big shadow though.”
The Whenvern grunted and moved to Arkadin’s side, sitting down on the sand. “Is that better?”
“Yeah…” Arkadin went back to what he was doing. Finishing the arches, he moved on to a central tower, carving small balconies into it.
“So…” Kairos waited a moment, letting Arkadin finish the more delicate work. “What is up with you? You seem a bit off balance. Like you’re here and somewhere else at the same time.”
Arkadin grunted, then looked away, watching the clouds blow by. Several seconds passed and Arkadin grunted again, going back to his sand castle. “It’s never quite good enough…”
“The work I do…” Arkadin tutted. “I get so tired of it all. And it makes me sad and angry and then I accidentally take it out on mortals and then they feel bad and I feel bad and…” The Thantophor trailed off and went back to his sand castle again, leaving the balconies and working on repairing the moat, which had been damaged by little waves of water.
A much larger shadow loomed over the two deities. Epani had wriggled over and was sitting in front of them, looking very much like a beached whale.
“You care that much about what mortals think of you? You are the Lord of Decay, you are just doing your duties. Who are they to complain?”
Arkadin sighed. With a swipe of his hand, the sand castle came crashing down, collapsing into a dirty heap. “They have every right to complain. Because of me, everything in existence is slowly fading away and… well, there’s not much I can do about it. I get millions of prayers every day, from mortals, I extend their lives as much as I can… but they all still die… and they are right, it is my fault…”
“They’re just mortals though…” Epani shrugged. “Why do you care if they hate you? You’re above them all. You are Arkadin, the Thantophor, the God of Death, they are but mortal playthings.”
The Thantophor stopped what he was doing and glared at Epani. “Really? Are you really going to be like that? Without mortal life, without conscious life, there would be no point to any of us being sentient as well! They give us meaning, the same way we give them meaning!”
“Actually, really, Epani is right…” Kairos also shrugged. “As far as we’re concerned, mortals are just… there. Things that you and Yisini deal with. Whether there are mortals or not, Epani and I continue doing our jobs. To let mortals drag you down is to be unfair to yourself, Arkadin.”
“I drag them down, Kairos. I kill them. They all die because of me.”
Epani scrapped at the remains of the sand castle with her flipper-like claws. “No, they die because Yisini doesn’t do enough to help them live. You exist in a conscious manner because of Yisini’s failings.”
“Doesn’t mean…” Arkadin started then trailed off, awkwardly working on a new sand castle. “You two don’t get it at all. Mortal beings may mean nothing to you, but they give me meaning. And I do fail them, repeatedly. I try and make things better so they can live longer and all I’ve done in the last thirteen or so billion years is… well, they’re all still dying.”
The Panelix shrugged some more, but Kairos simply laughed. “You really expected to create immortal life that quickly? You’re fucking dreaming! Let Yisini worry about that and just stick to your duties of being the Lord of Decay! They’re just mortals!”
Suddenly, Arkadin snapped his hands together, smashing his sand castle and making a large hole in the sand, before climbing to his feet. “They are not JUST mortals! They have meaning too! You two just don’t get it!”
“Maybe you’re the one who is forgetting that mortals are a part of the road we pave the path to immortality, the vast majority of them are nothing more than grains of sand.”
Arkadin sighed, giving up. He knew the others wouldn’t understand. He kicked the remains of his sand castle, then tutted.
“I’m going to go play somewhere else…” Arkadin sighed as he wandered off.