“I’m dying Kala. I’ve been dying for the last thousand years.”
Kala could feel the grief within him. He had fought for a score of years, more than any man had the right to survive and now, as he sat on his throne, he turned to the one constant in his life to find out she was leaving him. It wasn’t right. He was on his feet in an instant, his age nothing compared to his rage.
“You will not. I command it! You will not leave my kingdom. You will not leave me.”
She came closer. In all his years he had never seen her feet beneath the cloak she wore, nor heard her footsteps on the granite. The night she had come to him he had been perched on the battlements, looking out between the crenels at the stars moving across the sky. She had simply appeared next to him, like an invisible wind. When he reached for her… Such things were not for mortal men to understand.
And when his predecessor had ordered the men to war, she had been with him. She taught him swordsmanship. Told him which plants to salve his wounds. And still she was beyond his grasp.
The old king died and a new one rose. Kala had fought with him and now he fought for him. His rank grew. She whispered knowledge into his ear and his men listened to his tongue. They did not see her. No-one did. Not the women he bedded nor the nags he rode in on. As her knowledge of tactics and leadership and weaponry and politics grew within him, like snuff residue on gums, he began to advise the king.
And when the day came, and she whispered to him “do it now”, he had driven his sword through the mad kings heart and taken the throne for himself.
She was not malevolent. She was no witch. She had let him lose, be hurt, and in turn helped him hurt those who needed to be stopped. She was a spirit. On great ships in the sky she laid her head to rest. He had been there, once. Only once. An arrow had pierced his leather on the fields of Valero; the metal biting through flesh so that he could feel his heart beat against it.
She had come to him then, wrapping him in light and he had awoken in a world of polished steel. She was alone she had told him. Utterly alone. The crew of her home had long since perished. Only she remained. A mind, built by man, but not of flesh. She had watched kingdoms come and go.
Kala had known she would outlast him. As certain as the tides, his reign would pass and she would help another soul to bring peace to the land. She would be with him to the end.
“I can’t rule without you.”
“You have ruled for many years now, long ago you learnt all you needed. I am of no use to you now.”
“But you are not real!” he shouted, hating the anguish that flew across her face at the words. “I mean only your face does not grow lined. Your hair today is as fine as it was when you first came to me on the East walls.”
“The ship that carries my mind will continue and in time another will take my place. It is my mind Kala that grows weary. I have learnt too much, seen too many things. I cannot go on without sacrificing the ships my creators built.”
She drifted closer, running hands of light against his stubbled chin. “Oh how I wish I could feel your skin,” she whispered softly.
“I thought you would outlast my line,” he muttered. Kala closed his eyes as if he could feel her touch.
“I have held on for far too long already. Njet was to be my last charge, but when I saw you, looking up at my home. I have followed you for so long. When I am gone, do not grieve brave King Kala,” she said. “Think only of the heavens. Rejoin your ancestors.”
When he opened his eyes she had gone.
Prompt originally posted by judestiel on reddit and received 492 upvotes.