16: The Monolith of Aeons

Snow fell and landed on his shoulders and hair and reflected the light of the full moon. He looked down from the mountain at the valley and the forests and the structure rising from them. A giant skeletal ruin of a city withered by time rose from the woods high over the treetops and into the clouds. It resembled an island of grey in the ocean of green that stretched from horizon to horizon.

It took him two moons of relentless walking before he could touch the cold metal walls. Here the trees were much smaller than those in the forests of his inception. And here the sun’s rays could reach the ground between them and sustain many kinds of life. Birds, small mammals, even reptiles in the form of lizards and snakes slithered over the grass-covered ground. All seemed less ominous than the endless forests he left behind millennia ago.

He spent another moon circling the structure looking for an entrance. Nowhere on its surface could he see any evidence of rust nor the slightest of scratch. When he found the large grey gate, he stopped and made camp in front of it. At dusk, his fire illuminated the entrance and revealed the inscriptions on it. The task of carving them into the metal must have been a great deed of patience, something that took decades or centuries. He sat looking at them for a while, eating the roasted rat impaled on his stick. After finishing his meal, he went up to the inscriptions and traced his fingers over them, caressing them as a long-gone lover. Dumbfounded he stared at them knowing that somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind he knew them. He knew how to read them, and he knew who wrote them. But now, deciphering them was an exercise in futility. Something he knew all too well.

Night came and went as the Devourer sat sleepless watching the gate and listened to the sounds of the forest as the fire died. In the light of the dawn, he could make out some other inscriptions further away on the wall. It was an arrow that pointed at another. He passed them both before finding a third carved into a rock. It led away from the wall. In the edge of the forest, there was an unnatural heap of stones covered in moss. As soon he came upon it there was another, and then another as he followed them into the forest. The roots of a small tree grew around one of the mounds, entangling the stones as a mythical monster protecting its treasure. A treasure of immense value to the Devourer himself. The first inkling of meaning and direction since his time immemorial.

The trail of mounds stopped at the foot of a mountain that reminded him of the structure as it pierced the clouds. The same mountain he saw when reborn upon the shore millennia ago. It stood as it had done, still black against the blue in the distant horizon, unchanged in an ever-changing world. One of the few things constant in the flow of time. Other than him.

Then he climbed for thirteen days and nights. When he reached the summit, he saw the valley filled with mist and in its middle a massive stone, and around it, many corpses lay scattered. He walked down the slope toward the monolith. In the face of the first corpse, he saw himself and realized they were are all him. On the stone he saw inscriptions carved, hundreds of thousands of them telling the story of many lifetimes. He lay his hand on its cold surface and traced his fingers along the words before he drew his obsidian knife and looked towards the stars and the heavens. He watched them fade as a light illuminated the world and it shivered. He smiled and into the surface of this monolith for eons to exist he proceeded to carve the concepts of his soon to perish mind. A great flood swept over the lands and washed away all not fastened to the bedrock.