Tale: Tea with Death 22


Tenuk did as he was told, sitting down on the only available surface, a bench made out of the skull of a large creature. Between him and the creature in front of him was a small, white table, held up by four legs made out of bone. On the table were two porcelain cups and a teapot.

After waiting for the other being to sit down, Tenuk decided to talk.

“So, uh, nice place you have here, Arkay. Right on the beaches of Kinigi.”

“Please call me Telos. And thank you. Why did you run away yesterday?”

Tenuk twiddled his thumbs, feeling unsure. As far as he was concerned, this being was Arkay, but he was something else now. Not a Veth but a higher power. He may have looked like Arkay, but was he still Arkay on the inside?

“To be fair, I don’t really know. I just saw that Kinisis wasn’t around and knew straight away that my father would try something stupid. I rushed to his palace and told him that trying to launch an attack now would be suicide.”

Telos nodded. “You were correct. And honourable. A lesser being would have let them all die. And a Kronospast thorn in the side of the Cycle handing himself to me on a golden platter? Would have been glorious. I assume that is why your hand is missing?”

The Avatar of Death leaned forward, unwrapping the fabric around Tenuk’s hand. He tried to pull away, but Telos smiled at him.

“It’s fine…” Tenuk sighed.

“It’ll grow back…” Telos seemed happier now. “If you want, I’ll speak to Mesos, he’ll… give you a… hand…”

Tenuk couldn’t help but smile at Telos’s little joke. “Hah… But no, it’s fine. It’ll just be two weeks and my hand will be back to normal. Sure, it’s a pain, but it doesn’t actually hurt or anything. It’s just itchy.”

“Well… The offer is there, my friend.”

Tenuk smiled again, then helped himself to some tea. “You know what, Telos? I was worried that you weren’t my friend any more, that you’d changed. Apart from the name change, obviously.”

Telos looked down, then looked off into the distance, towards the old, green dome where Kinisis used to live. It was currently being renovated by a couple of older Veth to look more homely and less threatening.

“I have changed, Tenuk. I’m not Arkay any more. To be fair, ever since I died, I haven’t been Arkay. But now more than ever… I have more important things to deal with. I have a duty and a destiny. Death sucks, it really does, but it is better for us all that I take this responsibility.”

Tenuk shrugged. “It’s probably for the best anyway. Mortal Arkay’s life was shit. Now you can have whatever you want. Food, drinks, sex, money. You can punish the cruel and give quick, clean deaths to the innocent. Really, the role of Death… kinda suits you.”

Telos shrugged too, his smile fading. “I guess.”

“But there’s something else, isn’t there?”

“It’s a lonely job, my friend. No one wants to be friends with Death Herself.”

“I do!” Tenuk exclaimed. “Not because you’re Death or anything… Well, I can’t die. I won’t ever know the Cycle. But neither will you. We were friends before and we’re friends now. And I hope we’ll continue to be friends for a long time.”

“It’s… more than that…” Telos admitted. “More complicated. There’s…” Telos looked back at the old dome. “Right now, Yenis and Mesos are in there… Doing things… Everyone likes them, everyone wants to gain their favour. And I’m out on the beach on my own.”

“You’re jealous of the relationship between them.”

“They don’t want me.”

“Their loss! You got me instead.”

Telos glanced at Tenuk and grinned. “Thank you, Tenuk. You’re welcome here whenever you want.”

Tenuk nodded. “Will you come and visit me?”

“I’m sure I can work something out…”

With a final smile, Tenuk stood up. “I should go. I told Retvik and Gath I’d be home by now and I’m running late.”

“That’s fine!” Telos stood up too and wrapped his arms around Tenuk. “Seriously, thank you. I needed this talk.”

“You’re welcome…” Tenuk hugged the Avatar of Death back, then let go. “Look after yourself, alright?”

“I will. And you look after yourself too, Tenuk…”

“I will. See you round!”