Tale – Iatre’s Confrontation

I confronted Death today. Not intentionally. I was actually just trying to talk to Arkay and ask if he was alright. He was clearly following some sort of trail (probably a scent one), but he was obviously limping a bit, so I walked up to him and asked. Of course he backed away a bit, not wanting to talk to me. I pushed him a bit and he finally said something, told me that he’s not supposed to talk to me and that he wanted to be left alone.

I asked why, and then suddenly Death appeared.

And boy was she angry at Arkay. Like, she was ready to tear him in half. Arkay tried to back away slowly, but Death reached out to grab him. That was when I did something reaaaally stupid. I stood between them. I stopped Death from grabbing onto Arkay.

Death and Arkay were both confused at first and Death asked me what the fuck I was doing. I didn’t really know, so I just blurted out that they both had problems with each other and that they should settle them like civilised beings. Arkay seemed pretty thankful but Death just stared at me. Deep into my… do I even have a soul any more? I’m not sure.

Anyway, Death was about to just ignore me, but I was on Arkay’s side. The guy has done nothing but be good to me the last few days, so the fact that Death was about to punish him for being a good boy seemed really strange. Especially when he was just trying to follow her stupid rules and it was me who started the conversation.

So that’s what I told her. That I started the conversation, because I wanted to talk to Arkay. Death looked at me and tutted and asked me why the hell would I want to do that? So I told her. I told her of all the information he gave me, how he helped me get my bearings and how he was going to teach me how to swim. I added that last bit on for fun, but I’m pretty sure that Arkay would do that for me. Death though just called Arkay a traitorous liar and tried to pull me away, but I stood my ground.

But Arkay decided he wanted to talk as well. He stepped forward and growled at Death. Then he shouted at her, asking what he had done to deserve her scorn. He started shouting really loudly, screaming that she had broken her promise, that she only ever punished him no matter what he did and he asked how she expected for Arkay to be loyal to her when she had given him no reason to.

Amazingly, Death fell silent. Then after a moment, she muttered something horrible. She claimed that billions died because of Arkay.

Arkay looked at me. He didn’t understand. He’d open his mouth but nothing came out. It took him about a minute for him to actually say something. All he could say was “how?”

Death tutted, then pointed at her left arm. While most of the black tendrils on her body were filled with stars and galaxies and nebulae and things like that, her left arm was mostly just black. I hadn’t noticed until now. There was a similar dark spot just above her groin, going around her stomach.

“You did this, Arkay,” Death sighed. “All this life, gone. Because you took steps to destroy the Corruption, at the cost of half a trillion beings. All gone. Completely. Not even able to be cycled. Because of you.”

I glanced at Arkay. Something snapped inside him. As if he suddenly remembered what had happened. He started screaming about how, if he hadn’t acted, we’d all be dead. Including Death herself. Tears started running down Arkay’s face. I think maybe he’d tried to forget what had happened, and Death had reminded him. Or maybe Death had tried to remove those memories and reminding Arkay had made him remember again.

Suddenly, Arkay stopped. He took a deep breath, then stood in front of Death, arms open, eyes closed. He said something rather… chilling.

“I’ll have to exist with the destruction of those beings for as long as I exist. If what I did was that awful, then destroy me now, as it is clearly what I deserve.”

Death didn’t move at first. She just stood there, dumbfounded. Then after a while, she shrugged, muttered something about leaving Arkay to suffer and that he could talk to me if he wanted to, then disappeared.

Arkay and I stood there for a moment, not sure what to do. After a bit longer, Arkay sat on the ground and started crying. I tried to help him, but he told me to leave him alone.

So I did. I let him be. He’s still sitting there, sobbing but otherwise not moving.

I wish I hadn’t said anything.