Dust

Fill up your mouths.

We fill them with dust.

Let us remember the great feats of our King.

In dust they are spoken, in dust of our skin.

One day, as the green eye stars set behind the far-away spines left by the machines’ failed injections, a Knight of Oryx met a Knight of Xivu Arath as they passed across a bridge in the Sea of Screams. To their north lay a strata of ossified corpses, tangled bones left by newborn beings who had hatched into this overworld from the weeping blistered souls of living worlds at the end of their sanity, only to become unanchored from the universe of matter and confuse their shapes with each other, until they became one screaming interchange of bodies and died. To their other north was an atoll of scriptures adrift on a sea of interpretations, gnawed at by heresies like white eels. To another north was one end of the bridge, and to the last north, the other end. All directions were north, but it was not at once obvious what lay at the northernmost place.

“North is toward Oryx my King,” said the first Knight.

“No,” said the second Knight, “Xivu Arath is victorious in all wars; north is toward my Queen.”

Thus announced, they drew their blades and struggled. At first, the Knight of Xivu Arath, She Whose Victory Is Idempotent, had the upper claw. Through inexorable campaigns and the absolute mastery of operontological warfare, which is the method of war which converts mere strategy into an attack on the enemy’s very fundamental modes of being and knowing, Xivu Arath had claimed great swathes of Oryx’s territories. But then the Knight of Oryx, First Navigator of Phase Spaces, Primogenitor of Possibilities, gained the poise and the momentum. For Oryx was ever exploring and opening new spaces, and all that He discovered weighed more on His existence than all He had ever known and left behind.

At last, battered like primordial worlds, their shields broken and their thick slabs of health eroded, they toppled in exhaustion. But each had one more way to fight: by the claim of truth.

“Xivu Arath is more powerful,” Her Knight claimed, “for She held a territory in Oryx’s mind even after She died.”

“Oryx is more powerful,” His Knight retorted, “for He has gone into the Deep, alone of all the Hive; He has spoken to that which is caustic to existence, and returned with some loan of its power. He has even relaxed in its presence, for He is friend to that which cannot befriend.”

Perhaps the Knight’s weapon had cut through the thin membranes of reality and drawn a tear of prophecy from the eye of time, which fell into the Knight’s panting mouth. For the Knight then said, “And my King is so mighty in His weight of causality that all which succeeds Him is in some way caused by Him. Even His enemies, in reacting to Him, ultimately obey the shape of His will, as a bandage must obey the shape of a wounded limb. So it is that the one who most hates and fears my King will also be the one to find what He seeks. It is this way only because it must be this way. Aiat!”

Now the other Knight knew the sound of holy writ, but could not surrender the fight. “Yes, Oryx was first to know the Deep,” the Knight of Xivu Arath said. “But first blood is not last blood; first to meet the Shape of Shapes is not last to touch that secret face. Easy it may be to dismiss my Queen for Her blunt strength and simplicity. But She causes exhaustion and ennui in Her enemies, which, in a cosmos where existence may be maintained by will alone, are the surest of killers. And as for your prophecy, I need not disprove it, for until it is true it is only a boast.”

Now neither Knight had died, and so they knew they had fought to an impasse: so they cast themselves from the bridge into the Sea of Screams below, to see where the currents would bear them.

For this reason a certain quantity of tribute did not reach one of Crota’s champions at the necessary time, and that champion lost a duel with a sergeant of Xivu Arath, causing the loss of a great number of temples and tributaries, so that Crota, upon slaughtering many liars with His sword, judged it best to sleep and recover His debts, with His soul proxied in a material cask so that He could use it as a piton to return swiftly to the Real. All afterwards proceeded as it must have proceeded. Aiat.