Winter came and went with its darkness as they endured. And for the first time in millennia, no one died from the cold. In the long night, Chyron’s deeds fell over the Obsidian Fields like hammer blows. Reshaping it against the anvil of his determination. The ability to see beyond the architecture of skin, blood, and bone marrow made him a survivor. And together Adam and Eve feasted on the flesh of fallen angels.
There’s one at three beacons away, one beacon out! Eoz called out from where she sat on top of the tower of dead. She shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand. With the other, she pointed.
A moment later, Chyron stuck his head out the opening on ground level and yelled, I’ll go and check!
He took his walking staff and headed toward the location of the newborn. When he came closer, he saw that it was a man sitting huddled on the ground, shivering in the cold. Rocking back and forth, beating himself over the head with one hand, biting the knuckles of the other. Chyron snuck even closer, careful not to startle the man. So close he could hear his mumbling.
Dammit, Chyron whispered to himself and clenched his fist. He rose and leaned against the staff. With a low voice, almost whispering, he said, Hi, how are you?
The man looked up at him, stared and said, Who are you?
I’m Chyron. I live here.
I was reincarnated here some time ago. Like you were just now, Chyron said and saw the Woman in White approaching them.
The man heard the humming and turned toward her and exclaimed, Who’s that?
It’s the Woman in White. She also lives here.
Welcome to the Obsidian Fields, She said.
What’s that? The man said as his face turned into a grimace of confusion and disbelief overshadowed by fear.
It’s the new Eden, She said. It’s where the first humans live. That’s Adam, She said pointing at Chyron. His Eve is at home. It’s not worth telling him any more, is it?
No, Chyron said and continued, I’ve never heard that one before.
I might as well play that game.
But you can’t lie.
I’m not lying.
Chyron smiled and turned to the man and said, Come with me, and I’ll get you some clothes and food. He nodded and got onto his unsteady feet. Chyron took his arm and led him home. The Woman in White followed.
When Eoz saw them come, she called out, Welcome to the kingdom of man, newcomer! She hurried down from the tower to greet them. Hello again, She said to the man and glanced at Chyron that nodded once. As he led the man through the opening into their castle, Eoz came from behind and hit him in the back of his head with a club. He fell onto his knees. Eoz hit him again, and he fell to the floor with a sigh.
Again, Chyron said. She obeyed.
They hung the man in his feet from the ceiling. They cut his throat and let the blood trickle into a skinsack. The Woman in White watched as they made love by the fire until he was emptied.
Why did you leave me so far away? An old friend and all, The Devourer said as he stumbled in through the opening with the sun in his back. Beautiful house by the way!
All three turned to the Devourer that looked at them smiling.
Welcome back, The Woman in White said. The other two watched wide-eyed from where they sat. The Devourer walked into the room and looked around, studying the architecture.
Chyron got to his feet and said, I don’t know what the fuck is happening here, but thank you for saving us.
Yes, Eoz said, We would be dead without you.
Don’t mention it. Dying aren’t that bad after you get used to it. Actually, The Devourer continued after a short pause of contemplation, It’s one of my favorite things to do.
How does it work? Eoz asked.
I don’t know, The Devourer answered.
Eoz turned to the Woman in White and said, Do you know?
Unfortunately not, She answered. I do however remember the technology, immensely expensive, thus immensely rare. It was created by the Omnihilus Corporation, the fountainhead of nanotechnology. As far as I know, they had a monopoly on the technology. It was a well-guarded secret, to say the least.
Must everything always be so mysterious with you? The Devourer said.
I’m sorry that I don’t know more. I feel a sting of what you would call shame when I think about it.
So, Chyron said, Where do we go from here? Are you joining us?
I haven’t decided yet, The Devourer said. But if I do, I can’t stay here with you.
I don’t know. I seem to poison those close to me. What’s your vision, what’s your plan with this settlement?
Yes. I guess that’s where we have to start.
We want to rebuild society, Eoz said as she put more dung on the fire.
The Devourer smiled again and said, Good, good. I’ll travel to the other side of the Vessel and build myself a nice cottage. Then I’ll figure out some way for us to communicate.
Why so far away? Eoz asked.
I don’t want to take any chances. I’m long overdue here already. I should go now. Take care, be smart, don’t trust anyone, The Devourer said and stopped at his way out the opening. Don’t ever, under any circumstances visit me. Farewell.
Goodby, Chyron said.
Farewell, Eoz said. I would’ve hugged you if you’d let me.
As the Devourer left, both of them turned to the Woman in White but remained silent, trying to find the questions warranting the answers they needed.
Are you in love? The Woman in White asked. You’ve done things together that people in love do.
What? Chyron laughed. Do you know what love is?
Vaguely, I believe my parents were very proud of me but never loving. I don’t have any other reference experiences.
Well, Eoz said. Let’s put it like this, beggars can’t be choosers.
The selection of women here aren’t that great either, Chyron said.
I can’t help to think, after having done some simple statistical calculations a second ago, The Woman in White paused and continued, May I ask you a question?
Go on, Chyron said.
You’ve found and killed hundreds, many of which were adults in reproductive age. Why didn’t you choose any one of those as a mate? The odds are much higher that one of them would be a more suitable companion to either one of you. You two only met by chance.
Romantic, Eoz said and began sorting through their selection of shards for crafting.
I’ll go and watch the fields, Chyron said and went out the opening.
Eoz kept sorting through the obsidian for a while, but when the Woman in White turned to leave, she said, Who are you?
I’m the Librarian. I thought you knew that.
I know that. I want to know who you really are.
Sorry, can you rephrase the question?
What can you tell me more about yourself?
I believe I’ve told you all there’s to know with this level of access.
What do you mean?
Civilians aren’t granted full access to the libraries for security reasons.
How do you know who’s civilian or not?
To access the Library’s full wealth of knowledge, one needs the Key. If you do possess the Key, give it to me, and I’ll grant you full access.
Birth at three two! Chyron called from outside.
I’ll get it! Eoz answered and got up from the ground and out the opening. She turned and looked at Chyron standing in the top of the tower, pointing and gesturing. She waved at him, but he could not see her with the sun in his eyes. I’m going! I’m going! She shouted. He sat down on the parapet and drank from his bladder. Further down the field, the Devourer stood at the location of the newborn and looked at the ground.
Who would archive an infant? The Devourer yelled when he saw Eoz.
An infant? She answered.
She saw it move on the ground. Its plump limbs trashed as it cried. Its small hands grabbed the crisp air filled with steam emitted from its little pink body. Its little feet kicked. Eoz noticed the humming of the Woman in White approaching her from behind, and asked, What should we do with it?
I’m afraid I can’t make that decision for you, The Woman in White answered.
Take care of it, The Devourer said. That could be the beginning of a new civilization. It hasn’t known any other world than this. It will grow up in it, be molded by it.
Yes, Eoz said and picked it up into her arms. She swept it in her cloak and cradled it against her chest. It became quiet. The Devourer nodded toward her and wandered off as she and the Woman in White studied the child. Eoz looked toward the building and Chyron. He seemed to watch them from where he sat. Eoz started walking in the direction of the building followed by the Woman in White.
What’s with the newborn? Chyron yelled when she came closer.
I’ve It here, Eoz answered. Not realizing the implications of the question.
I’ve It here, She said and lifted it for him to see.
Was it dead already? Need help to fetch it?
No. Come and see.
Chyron climbed down the steps of the tower, walked up to Eoz and looked at her in confusion. His eyes jutted between her face and the bundle in her arms. What’s that? He asked and took a step closer. As Eoz uncovered the little face, he growled, Don’t you tell me it’s. Is it? No. No!
Look, She said.
Don’t hold it like that! Don’t you get attached to it!
Because it can’t live.
Why couldn’t it? She said and held the child closer.
This is no place for a child.
Children have been the foundation of every civilization, The Woman in White said.
It’s too early for that. We don’t even have the groundwork to lay that foundation upon. All it would accomplish is a slower death for it. Give it to me.
No, Eoz said as she took a step back. Think, Chyron. Think about it.
Don’t be stupid, Eoz. Do you remember the winter? Do you remember those never-ending nights of cold and starvation? We barely survived them. We were thinner than the dried up dead on the fields. We were animated corpses when the sun came back.
You said it yourself, we survived.
Eoz, He begged.
Tears ran down Eoz’s cheeks, and she sobbed, Why can’t you see it as I do?
You’ve listened to me every step of the way, Eoz. Look where it has taken us. Don’t you stop now. Give it to me.
Eoz backed away, and he followed. The tears on her face had started to freeze. Then she turned and ran in the direction of The Devourer.
Eoz! Chyron called for her and pursued. The Woman in White watched as they set off over the fields of glass.