And when morning comes,
With love and care,
To embrace and protect,
The day shall blanket night.
When their hearts are sated,
Their lust is broke,
Sun retreats behind moon.
Day raises up night,
And the stars will shine.
– Zeo, First Shrine Walker
Tails of flame billowed into the air, lively bursts of energy as firelight fairies kiss the warm bronze cheeks of their god. Taiyo nested them into the brazier, their orange color bursting to blue, fading to white. They giggled and waved goodbye. The god stepped from the room and pulled the enormous doors tight behind him. He stretched his arms high above his head and yawned.
“For a god so full of energy, you are rather lethargic,” Kage prodded. He pushed himself off the wall of the Sun temple and took several steps forward, pausing to allow Taiyo to catch up.
Taiyo rubbed his nose against his wrist. Kage wold sometimes wait for him. It made the sun god smile and a tiny bit hopeful. “Are you heading out tonight?”
“I have to reset the blanket or night will fall too early.” Taiyo nodded earnestly at Kage’s words, his hair bouncing about on his head. “You’ve really put all your effort forward, haven’t you?”
“I’m still learning,” Taiyo admitted. He rubbed the back of his head, then again with more fervor. “Sometimes it feels like there is so much to do I can’t catch my breath. Other times I feel as if I’m doing nothing.”
Kage watched his feet as he walked, as he often did, and nodded. “It can be like that. You are doing your best.”
Compliments from the god of night were rose bushes. Wonderful as they were, they cut past Taiyo’s thick skin and left him exposed, lacking control. It wasn’t him who was being complimented. Those words were meant for a ghost. A specter of a woman that clung to every breath he took and embraced Kage in a wall not even the fiery efforts of the god of sun could penetrate. Taiyo tugged his vest straight and dragged his feet across the floor before running to catch up.
Ahavalla was small in the grand comparison of the realm but for the few gods that remained, it was vast. It was a distant history when the streets and buildings were bright and lively and gods of all sorts interacted with one another. Taiyo barely remembers a time when he would see so many faces while walking next to Kage, though he was certain those memories were not his own. Placing a hand to his chest’s core he took a painful breath. Her ghost was a plague and a blessing, the memories and life of the original god of sun, Hi.
“Taiyo,” Kage called, half-turned and several paces ahead. “That’s the second time you’ve stopped…”
“Ah, sorry.” Pounding his chest once, Taiyo jogged the few paces and retook his place next to the god of night. “I suppose I’m a bit tired.”
“Don’t overwork yourself. Your body is young. The human realm will survive you being more cautious with your work. And your memories will come, in time.”
Staring at Kage’s weak smile, he felt too ashamed to be honest. That forced smirk that twitched in the corners and those brows turned upwards and remorseful – Taiyo bit his tongue and swallowed all the words he’d been hiding.
Kage patted him on the shoulder and stepped away. “I’ll see you later,” he said before leaving Taiyo alone.
With a forced smile, the sun god waved goodbye with a stiff arm and dashed into his small place of resting. He dropped back on the shut door and placed his hands in his face. What wore him out was hardly the role of a god. Lying and deceiving the others took a great deal of mental strength Taiyo was certain he lacked. With a long, deep breath he pushed the air from his lungs and watched his hands glow.
Within the shifting colors of orange and white, black flames bit in and danced about. The flares grew in pace and he stepped away from the door, dropping his shoulders. As the heat rolled off his body and vanished in the air, Taiyo took easier breaths. His heart beat wildly within him. Tears fell from his eyes, tiny drops of emotion scorching off the heat of his power and bursting into steam.
“What is this curse?”
When a god died, their souls are recycled, just as a human’s soul is, and the god is reborn. With the love and careful watch of the Goddess Frit, the soul is placed in a chamber and reborn. It hibernates and rebuilds itself from the inside out. At the will of their previous life a god pours their memories into the chamber and fills the heart of the new god. From the heart comes a new personality and from that personality a new form is taken. A new life is born.
Taiyo glanced over his hands and arms, touched his chest, neck and face. He was himself. Male, a god of more power than his previous self, with more control and more strength but he was still a piece of her. The memories she fed him were few than a godly lifetime but they were focused and pertinent. How to do his job. How to love humans. How to be kind and warm but remain fierce. But of everything, his long rebirth was spent reliving the memories of him- seeing Kage’s gentle smile and hearing his laugh. Knowing his soft side and seeing the god of night falter under the weight of his duties. Every moment she spent with him, knowing his feelings towards her, Hi had kept him paces away, unreachable and put up a wall. The last image she saw was the first thing Taiyo saw while composing himself in the chamber. Kage’s tear stricken face as he held the body of his beloved friend in his arms.
His heart roared in his chest. Under such a spell, Taiyo’s body felt as if it would rip in half watching the scene replay in his head. It replayed over and over, for the longest of days. A beautiful pale face matted with tear-soaked midnight hair and silvery-blue eyes dimmed with so much pain. It ached through Taiyo’s chest and back. The image he couldn’t remove from his head, the feelings he couldn’t let go of.
Those tears are for you. He could still the last echo of Hi’s existence as she faded from him in that chamber and left him alone to his own heat. He shook his head and beat a fist off the side of his temple several times, his aura growing in bursts.
“No, those tears, from eyes that look through me, are yours. All I have is this curse.”
Taiyo fell to his knees, the blackness absorbing the fire of his form and dimming his glow. He put his fists to the ground and watched the dark flames burn through the wood floor.