Image Flash #23
This sort of thing falls under the “New Weird” category of writing and it’s totally my favorite sort of thing to write.
There was a question for the Demiguard and Elisar was chosen to ask it.
In all her experience as a convesta, she had never seen it happen. She’d been born into the order and was closer to the second womb than the first. The Demiguard summoned them, not the other way around.
“Are we certain?” She asked.
One of the older women, skeletal thin and blind, answered her. “It has been done before.”
“Yes, but are we sure?” She persisted.
“Enough.” Responded another of the women. “Your task is only to ask. A child’s errand fit for a fool. Others have done the blooding, others have slaked its thirst, others have forced the chamber, others have died to ask. You are a mouthpiece and if we could find another, we would. Now go,unless you want so great a cost to go unredeemed.”
Elisar held her tongue. While she knew it was impossible to replace her at the moment, she was fully aware that the hags would not hesitate to kill her, send her flow to the Demiguard, and spend a half century creating another convesta to interact with their ancient holiness. Historically, there were more of them, but since it had been centuries since petitioning the lord, and it was no easy task to create a sullied virgin over several decades, she was the only one available now.
She went in.
It wasn’t her first time in the chamber, among the mandible towers and swirling mist. But, it was different now. Every time before this the doors had opened on their own, inviting her in. Now, she skirted between hydraulic engines, forcing the aperture muscles apart. The floor vibrated from the underground pumps, surging the lifeblood of thousands of citizens into the Demiguard. It always demanded flow, but to awaken it, required significantly more. It felt like a heartbeat in the soles of her feet. She was told that the air in the room was foul and smelled of rotting death. She couldn’t tell. The aroma was familiar to her. It was something she’d been conditioned to from her youth. During the day, while she was training, there had always been corpses nearby in differing states of decay. Even now, if the sun was up, there was dead flesh nearby. Not at night though. Her nights were spent, much, much differently.
She stopped in front of the column of segmented conduits. They were coiled, like ropes, thick and black, dripping with red tissue, and rose up to feed the massive bust of the Demiguard. It’s flesh was pale, scabrous, and dense. She had never seen it open its eyes, but imagined it could, since excess flow trickled from the shut lids. There was a tension in the air all around her and she knew it was awake. She raised her arms.
“Great Demiguard, your convesta comes before you on behalf of the Sarle to humbly beg answer to a query.”
The tendrils in the column squirmed and twisted. The great mouth of the Demiguard parted and flow dribbled down his chin. “Your species has been performing adequately at protein accumulation during my regrowth. Present your question.”
Elisar’s heart raced. She’d heard the voice of god before, but never in response to her. She was only there to listen. The fact that it was listening to her was staggering. She knew the question she was to ask. The Sarle had discovered a new species on a planet outside of their controlled space. They were already engaged in harvesting wars with two other intergalactic empires for the Demiguard. Did he want them to expand their wars to three fronts, or wait until they’d completed one to invade this new world? It was supposed to be an important question, but Elisar doubted the merit. She, like many others, could predict the Demiguards will in the matter. The questioning was merely a delaying tactic to keep the new war from starting sooner by those who feared the cost. She knew his answer answer already.
Did that mean she could ask another? They would kill her for it, to be sure. But Elisar did not care. After half a century of listening and conveying the edicts of the Demiguard, she had to know, no matter the cost.
“Demiguard, I have to know. What are you?”
It was silent, as if thinking, and then, slowly, the Demiguard smiled.