Pherisous' fingers were as cold as the universe she created but had the innate ability to fill empty spaces with light. The goddesses starlit eyes squinted as she focused on her blank canvas. Her finger twirled wistfully in circles and in the midst of space a star was born. The fluttering light grew until it stabilized and shone brightly through the darkness. The corners of her lips curled, the only wrinkle on her face expressed her pleasure in her work.
"I'm happy you're here with me." She said. Her finger danced around a black space and there twinkled another star far in the distance.
I hummed gleefully, nestled my head into her shoulder and said, "The moon belongs in space amongst the stars."
I traced my fingers through the galaxy of freckles on her dark skin, they glimmered with tiny lights. Each star she birthed, she lost a freckle. The cold of the stone beneath us seeped cold through my gown and skin, I felt chilled to my bones. But I welcomed the cold, more than warmth it comforted me.
A flashing light casted large shadows before us. We turned to see who dare bothered us.
"Syas, what are you doing here? I specifically told you to leave me alone." I barked at my angel.
He genuflected, "I apologize, my goddess." His voice wavered as he spoke. "It's Death... he... requires your audience."
"What is it?" A vile taste coated my mouth with disgust at his name.
"Avial. She wasn't satisfied... again."
"She's never satisfied with her creations. I wonder what she did to them this time?" Pherisous shook her head.
"Why are you here for us?" I asked my angel. "If she screwed up why would Death request our presence?"
"I'm not certain, my lady." Syas lifted his eyes and met my gaze. "He sent for all gods and goddesses."
"So be it. We'll be there. Just... give us a moment." I rubbed Pherisous' hand. The angel nodded. A faint light took over his body and he was gone. This summons meant bad news.
Pherisous locked her gaze to mine. My heart pounded against my chest and tears welled in my eyes. I wanted only to grab her hand and disappear far into the universe.
"You're afraid?" Pherisous wasn't shaking, her eyes didn’t have water rimming the edges of her eyelids, and a sweet smile crossed her face.
"Remember what Death said last time this happened?" I asked. She sighed and shook her head.
"He can't kill us. We're goddesses!" She spoke with a roar. She squared her shoulders and sat up straight to appear mighty. "We are omnipotent, we are indestructible. Death doesn’t even understand how we came into existence. How can we be killed when we're still a mystery to even the most powerful creature in all of creation!"
Pherisous' words of affirmation did nothing to calm the storm rising inside me. I must have made a face because she pulled me into her embrace. We sat in silence, hugging each other until my legs began to go numb. I shifted slightly and her hands slid down my arms, she squeezed as she gazed at me with a solemn expression. Was she scared? Did she know something I didn’t? The nagging feeling in my gut worsened.
She leaned in, her lips were as cold as ice against mine. It made my spine shiver and my muscles tighten with joy.
"We mustn't keep him waiting." She said as she gently folded her fingers through mine. We closed our eyes, focused on the patterns of magic around us. A tingle coursed throughout my body as my essences broke apart into tiny particles. I focused on my location-the counsel chamber. The tingling died down as my body took form again. Noise began to grow from disgruntled gibberish to comprehensive bickering. The dark lighting from my moon brightened to an overwhelming whiteness that burned my retinas. I kept my eyes closed until they adjusted.
In a large circular amphitheater hundreds of gods and goddesses gathered around the centerpiece were He stood. The room rumbled with murmuring and talking amongst themselves, some yelled demands at Death, demands to explain himself.
Death wore his usual attire, a dark cloak draped around his boney frame. His tattered hood covered his face in darkness but I've seen his pale and ghastly appearance before. I was thankful Pherisous and I appeared behind him. The sheer memory of the blackness rimming his sunken eyes, the large scar that tore his mouth in half and ripped upwards along the main seam, his wispy and coarse hair that draped across his face like a thin curtain made me shiver with fear.
Like a frail old man he leaned on an odd cane. I had not seen this cane before. The heel was sharp and pointed, the staff long and skinnier than a normal cane, and the handle had a dark eye that webbed around an oval opening. The pupil darted around the room against an iris that changed color as it stared at different gods and goddesses. Glancing at Avail it turned pink, then changed vermillion when it shot towards Dias. The pupil frantically glanced around the room like a ball bouncing against walls... Until it saw me. The eye stopped and stared. The loud squabbling faded into white noise as the iris grew dark blue then darkened into pitch black. I couldn’t stop staring at this odd creation. I wanted desperately to turn away but it held my contact. The darkness was entrancing I wanted to go to it but my heart raced rapidly like a harris of horses, warning me to turn away.
Sound seemed to shatter and noise returned to normal when my focus was turned to Pherisous' hand firmly grasping mine. I breathed deeply, I was relieved to be out of that trance. I rubbed Pherious' hand and memorized the small wrinkles in her knuckles and the way her nails sharpened, my eyes traveled to her arms, up her chest then to her eyes. She was locked in the needles gaze. I scanned the room, she wasn’t the only one fixed in a trance. A few others that even dared to stare at Deaths cane were also caught in its captivating glare. Other gods and goddesses must have fell victim and broke free; they stared at their feet, played nervously with their fingers, and some focused on the skies in an obvious attempt to avoid it. Did they all see a black iris, or was it something else?
I woke Pherisous.
"What did you see?" I asked. My brow furrowed with concern as her eyes were filled with horror.
"Darkness. Just the blackest black you could ever imagine." She spoke in breathes. "I don't know why, but it felt like I was looking at myself..."
"We're all here, now state your business!" My brother, Godius spoke with strength. His chest puffed outward and his bright glow from the sun turned the entire room orange. I was thankful to my brother, I desperately needed to direct my focus elsewhere.
From where we sat I could only make out the slight tilt of Deaths hood. Their eyes must have met. If I stood where my brother was I would have cowered; Godius didn’t even flinch.
"No mercy." Death spoke, his voice echoed throughout the room. The crystal pillars rang as they quivered. "I warned you."
He stood, lifted his cane and pounded it on the floor. His cloak levitated above his head and shot out in thick strands like thread being sewn into fabric. The threads of darkness consumed us all. Even Godius, the brightest sun in the entire universe couldn't overcome the blackness. I wrapped my arms around Pherisous and held her tightly. But Deaths magic was dense enough that I couldn’t see my own nose before my face.
Screaming echoed across the amphitheater, the Angel's wailed, and the gods cursed Deaths name. Pherisous dropped her weight into me. I held strong for fear she fell or worse - that Death would rip her from my grasp. My fingers dug into her soft skin. I kept squeezing until the darkness faded to mist. Ezra, the god of wind, expanded with air. His face inflated and became royal blue, he huffed and puffed until there wasn't a single sign of the darkness left.
Death was nowhere to be seen, confusion marked the faces of us all.
A shrill wail quickly struck panic into the gods and goddesses. Panic overcame confusion as they scrambled out of the room like humans, pushing each other down the stairs just to get a head start. I shielded Pherisous from the trampling maniacs. A foot whacked me in the head as someone tried to jump over me, another pushed on my shoulders to lift themselves up. I was beaten by frightened and weak gods and goddesses.
After the chaos died down and the mob had left, a few remained but were gathered in four groups. Gods and goddesses surrounded together staring at something on the floor, their eyes wide, Jestious raised his hand to his mouth and Frya moaned and lamented.
I turned to a smaller group that had a gap for me to see Avial motionless in Dias’ arms.
"Avial, no! Wake up! This isn’t funny!" He shook her. "No, no... no!" He screamed. Her essence seemed to unravel like a careless child pulling at the threads of an old sweater. "Godius do something! You're the almighty head god!" He spat at him. Godius stood there with no advice to offer. He turned to me. His expression blank but his shoulders softened and his head tilted. I knew that look, pity.
"Pherisous?" I called. Her face was placed in my lap, my steel grip never loosening. I shook her limp body.
"Sister..." Godius flew to me and perched his hand on my shoulder.
"No... She just passed out from fear. She’s ok." I rubbed her head and ran my fingers through her braid and played with the little stars at the ends. "She's been working for a millennium, she’s tired."
The lights at the ends of her braids began to die out, her starlight freckles trembled then went black as a darkness peeled her threads of life from her essence. The warmth of Godius' hand grew hot against my skin, acid tore at my throat, and my eyes burned as tears burst from my eyes.
"Why... Why her?" I wanted to scream but they came out as gasping sobs. I tried to breathe but my breathe was suffocated by the cries.
Her essence didn’t feel cold anymore, there was nothing but a dark hole in my heart and only her robe remained. I felt alone. I was a moon wandering through space without any stars to guide it.