Tale: Tea with Death

“Why do you always invite me here?” Tenuk asked as he pulled up a chair and sat down. Across the table sat what could only be described as the solid shadow of a Thanatian-like being. Complete with glowing white eyes.

“I enjoy your company,” the creature smiled, showing rows upon rows of shiny, needle-like teeth, each one a slightly different metallic hue. “Tea?”

“I prefer mead, but tea will do. Four sugars please,” Tenuk sighed.

“That is a lot of sugar, wishing for an early grave?” the creature was still smiling and it was worrying Tenuk.

“No, Death, of course not. But I don’t drink tea regularly and the sugar assists with the aftertaste it leaves on my Rethan tongue.”

Death shrugged, wondering why the little thing in front of her still called itself a Rethavok. Tenuk hadn’t actually lived among the Rethavok for a good couple of hundred years. Rather than pondering further on the thought, she summoned a pair of A’Vatas to serve them their drinks. They hurried along and poofed out of sight as quickly as they could, not wanting to test Death’s patience.

Tenuk found the A’Vatas amusing, they always did that whenever he came here. “What do you want to discuss today, Death?”

“Oh, not much. Just wanted to talk about stories. Did I ever tell you about the Veth who took out an entire castle of Deitics before he was even dead?” Death seemed happy today, she was twirling the spoon in her drink. Tenuk noticed she’d put at least seven teaspoons of sugar into her tea.

“No, can’t say I have.”

“Goody! I like this story. It’s why love is one of my favourite tools to use to get new Veth. Beings will do anything for a lover.”

Tenuk sat back in his chair, nodding. “I agree. Seen vok go to great lengths for their other half.”

Death added another three spoons of sugar to her drink then finally took a sip. “It’s a great story. He was a little kid. Quite young, even for their lifespan. First person he’d ever fallen in love with. Really cute couple too, he was all bright and his lover all dark. This was during an iddy bitty soul rupture, and I needed someone on your side to get rid of the Deitics behind it.”

Tenuk shrugged. “Couldn’t get your A’Vatas there?”

“Nah, they can’t do stuff like that. Needed someone to snuff the Deitics out for good. But what I DID do was get an A’Vata to suggest to the leader of these Deitics that they’d have to keep any Theoktons in check if they wanted to keep their soul rupture open. So I got them to try and hold this kid’s partner to ransom, in order to stop the local group from interfering.”

“Did it work?”

Death grinned. “It was soooo good. His little friends didn’t want him interfering as they tried to negotiate with the Deitics, but his big sister took him to one side, gave him his little gunstaff and told him to go get his partner back.”

Tenuk took a sip of his tea, then added a few more spoons of sugar too. He wasn’t going to drink it, but he didn’t want to offend. “I assume he made it.”

“He totally did! Killed like twenty Anexartitai, left thirty enthralled Lanex unconscious and accidentally closed the rupture by skewering the big Anexartan through the head. It was awesome!”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Tenuk sighed as he put his drink down. “Did they live happily ever after?”

Death’s expression dipped. “Well, no one lives forever, Tenuk.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Nope. Some time later, someone tried to assassinate the kid. Some sniper. Shot him through the chest at a bad angle. Bullet went through his chest and through his partner’s head and killed him. Kid survived physically but was dead inside.”

Tenuk blinked. That sounded familiar. After a few seconds, he realised who Death was talking about. “You didn’t do that on purpose, did you?”

Death glanced at the table, avoiding eye-contact with her guest. “I didn’t. I felt bad about it, but his partner would have been killed as an act of revenge at some point anyway. At least it was quick and painless. Even if the kid’s recovery took six months and he died cold and alone a few years later. Still, kid turned into one of the best Veth I’ve ever seen.”

“I remember all that…” Tenuk sniffed. “He spent ten years in crippling depression, finally snapped out of it and tried to get back into life, only to be killed a few days later.” Tenuk slumped in his chair. “Why have these meetings always got to be so heart-tugging, Death?”

Death smiled slightly. “You know why.”

“I don’t actually. Surely you’ve got some funny stories about beings dying?” Tenuk glanced at the watch on his wrist. “Damn, lost track of things.”

“You have to go?” Death cooed. “I love our meetings!”

The lanky Deitic got up to leave. “I am sorry, Death. But don’t worry, I shall return.”

Death’s smile turned back into a full blown grin as she leaned forward in her chair. “Cool! I can’t wait!”

This story is set approximately 100 years after being published.