Sinless

The Sin of Sayaf

When the world moved under his feet, he stood still. When the world buckled beneath him and Heaven fell around him, he stood. He was called Sayaf the Stubborn, Sayaf the unmoving and, even, Sayaf the Mule, by those most cruel and careless in their speech. He heeded none. When those he loved turned against him, he did not join them. He stood fast, and when they came to him with knives and kisses he met them only with death.

When Cneph that is Harumaph reentered the world, Sayaf the Sinful stood before him, a mountain of an angel, with his great flightless wings of stone behind him, his body craggy and fierce as the mountains that were his work upon Creation.

“You are not Cneph,” he said, “You are blasphemy.”

“I suppose you would see it that way,” Harumaph that is Cneph said, “But it is a limited perspective.”

“I shall not let you past,” Sayaf the Sinful said.

“You are called the Sinful,” Cneph said, “Is this so?”

Sayaf looked at him with eyes of white marble and blue quartz and black obsidian and said nothing. In the roots of his being he remembered.

Arakas had liked to sit upon his shoulder, when he was at his great height, to breathe clouds and fog into the sky and to look down upon the garden. She had always been more comfortable climbing than flying, and Sayaf was the only thing large enough to see over the great walls of branch and briar that guarded Eden against the Ash beyond, where Actuals still burst forth from the settling fabric of reality and the ancient True Gods continued their endless intercourse of consumption and procreation.

She sat there and watched with the tiny humans with her wide eyes. Sayaf always wished that he could see the expression on her face as she oohed and awed and squealed as she watched the humans.

“They’re adorable!” she said, “I just want to hold them and squeeze them and never let them go.”

“They are still young and frail,” said Sayaf, who loved to watch them in this dawn age. He was still so young then, the world so young, still one with him, the morning of Creation… “They would hold you back and starve.”

“Glad to hear you think I’m that lovely,” Arakas said, trying not to think about the humans starving. It was unfortunate, she still held, that they had been made to suffer such hungers, but that vote was past. The cloud she breathed out was black and troubled with rumbling thunder.

Arakas was lovely. She was plump and soft, with wide hips and skin as dark as ebony, almost as dark as the skin of the humans. But, it was not her physical attributes that made her lovely, it was the smile on her face, the endless love, and the way she became overjoyed simply in the presence of life. She would treat every microbe and plant with the same delighted euphoria that humans would one day come to treat kittens.

“Oh… what’s that they’re doing now?” she said suddenly, not even trying to hide the perplexity in her voice, or the fog from her breath.

Sayaf, whose eyes and thoughts had trailed to the sky above, so close he could reach out and touch it, but so far that no one else could. Samael was still working on the great burning flame that he called the Sun. It was almost complete, the core of it gleamed dully in the starlight behind the prisms of glass that Samael had made around it. He was just piercing the glass to let rays of light through. Sayaf knew he would be there when the fire was lit, the core brought to life, and the glory brought forth. He would be there to say hello to this new thing, and bring it into the world. Sayaf had not been in attendance when Samael unveiled his Moon, and he regretted it.

“Hm?” he said at length.

Akaras didn’t notice for a moment, then she sighed a thin white mist and stood so she could point down in Sayafs peripheries. “Look.”

The humans were doing something. Something that made them look like a singular strange entangled beast, squirming and writhing like a True God.

“It appears to be sex,” Sayaf said. He had seen True Gods do it before. They did it constantly as they bit and clawed and ate each other.

“It is?” Akaras had seen the True Gods as well, but they did not conjoin like this. This was not brutal and savage and angry and horrible and awful and beautiful and glorious and terrifying and wondrous… this was awkward, and clumsy and slow and gentle. They made sounds. Not the sounds of earth shaking roars and moon splitting howls, but soft and gentle moans that clung to the tangy sweat and pheromones like a cloud.

“It appears so,” Sayaf repeated, but there was no certainty in his rumbling voice.

“But it’s not… it’s… I mean…” Akaras was momentarily flabbergasted, her breath came out in yellow sulfuric blasts, that she swept away, “They’re so clumsy.”

Sayaf nodded slowly.

“I thought they were Imperial things. Since when are Imperial things clumsy?”

Sayaf almost shrugged, but thought better of it with Akaras sitting on his shoulder, amidst the moss filled crags. “They are a new kind of Imperial thing,” he said, “Glorious and wondrous in their own way. They shall be as different from us as we are from the True Gods… perhaps more.”

His stony faced watched with eyes that had seen the Ash grow from a seedling, with roots as old and deep as the Ash itself.

“You’re right,” he decided at last, “They are clumsy.”

“Yeah…” Akaras said, mist forming around her eyes, “It looks nice. They’re doing something… I mean, it’s sex,
but it’s not just sex. They’re making something…”

“Is that not what sex does?” Sayaf said.

“I mean besides that. I don’t even think that’s why they’re doing it… they’re making something else…”

“What?”

“I… I don’t know.”

No Angel knew, in those days, what Adam and Eve were creating. It was, in fact, their first Imperial Miracle, the source of something new and different. They were making Love, and from them the Estate flowed into Creation. It was not the Empathy that had risen from the craftiest of the True Gods, nor the compassion that was the foundation of the Angels. This was a new Love… this was a passionate love. They made it there and then with their clumsiness and their ugliness and their awkwardness. It was to change Creation forever.

Akaras watched them with eyes as wide and round as the eyes of hurricanes.

Sayaf watched them with eyes like open volcanoes with the fire locked too far down to see.

“Sayaf,” said Akaras, leaning against his massive craggy head. She felt strange, like she had just downed a
fogbank of raw ambrosia. She kissed his brow. “Want to try it?”

And the angel who did not fly, who always stood upon the ground, whose wings were heavier than the world itself breathed in the scented fog that poured out of Akaras, and the fires deep in those volcanoes began to burn.

It was, they later decided, when the mountain’s flaming core was empty and Akaras lay upon him steaming and saited, just the flow of the miracle they were caught up in, the birth of a new Estate.

Sayaf had pondered saying it was something more… but he was already looking ahead to new things to come, new chances, new opportunities.

It had been such a fumbling and awkward affair. He had trawled his fingers through her clouds, and she had clung round his peak. They were not exactly of the same scale, even at their opposite extremes, but somehow it happened.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Akaras said, “We are different from them.”

“Yes,” Sayaf agreed, we are.

After that Akaras still sat on Sayaf’s shoulders and watched the humans as she breathed her clouds, but she seldom said anything to Sayaf and she never squealed as she used to. The first Imperial Miracle of the humans had created brought Love into the world… but it also brought the awkwardness into full bloom.

They seldom talked, and they never talked about the fire stirring in Akaras.

Adam and Eve started to fight, not long after this first miracle. Akaras would cry when they fought. And Sayaf would sometimes comfort her, sometimes just stand still as a mountain. He felt bad, but he never spoke of his guilt. He was still and quiet as a stone.

Akaras was not there when Sayaf himself inaugurated the Sun and raised it up from the ground and into the Heavens. She hid from the Sun for the first days. Sayaf waited for her every morning, and found her every night. And every night the fire in her burned a little hotter, grew a little bigger.

On the day Eve bore her first son, Akaras was her old self again. It was the first time she came out during the morning to see a new child greet a new day, a new world, new destinies woven into Creation. She sat on Sayaf’s shoulder as he lifted the Sun once more and cried tears of joy. That night she snuck over the walls of Eden and took the child from his crib to hold against her skin.

He was so dark, already his skin thick with hair. She held him close and cried and whispered secrets to him, and to the fire within her.

Sayaf watched this from his great height, but he did not move.

When Caine was born Akaras was heavy with child. Already she could no longer fly. She tried to climb up onto Sayaf to see the second birth. But she could not. Instead Sayaf lifted her, and placed her on the Sun, above even his own head.

This time Sayaf cried, and his molten tears carved rivers that cooled into black glass. To this day you can find them etched into the tree by the Sable Garden that once was Eden. They say that glass is so full of salt that if you take a piece of it no bigger than a child’s fist and cast it into a great lake, it will choke all life in seconds. This is not true.

It is not the salt that kills the fish, but the pain.

Akaras did not hold Caine, and sometimes Sayaf wonders if that was the difference.

Akaras did not see the birth of Seth. Few did, for Eve refused to have others present for it. All the same, Sayaf set her on the Sun that morning to watch the gardgen grow and bloom to welcome this new prince.

And so it was with all the remaining children, but the womb of Akaras grew as heavy as a mountain unto itself, and in time she could not even rise to her feet. Sayaf could barely lift her to his shoulder to let her see the world.

“She has many children,” Sayaf said one morning.

“Yes,” Akaras agreed.

They said no more.

“Yes,” Sayaf said, to Cneph who is Harumaph, “I am sinful.”

Cneph stepped forward, eyes deep with compassion, “You do not have to live with this sin.”

The fist of god turned the citadel to rubble. The hand of a mountain reached down.

She could not run, she could not escape him. The fire had grown to heavy. She opened her mouth but could not speak, smoke poured out of her mouth. It flared in signals and told Sayaf that this was not right.

The mountain rumbled. It has been long enough. It will not reside in the fire with you.

It is fire, the signals said.

Then it shall be a flame of light, said the rumble. You have chosen your side.

And the hand of god reached down and touched the devil’s naval, and spread it open.

She tried to scream in agony, to let her pain be heard, but there was only smoke thick as sap and dark as starless night that poured forth from her every orifice, and now from the gaping wound, from the source of all the smoke, from the fire in her womb.

And Sayaf pulled out the fire, his child, her child, unborn, and let her lay there in her blood, in her ravaged body.

It was what had to be done.

“You can be absolved,” Cneph told him, “You must merely forgive yourself, as I forgive you.”

“She will not forgive me.”

“She will.”

And the stone wings of the mountain god cracked, and his stony form fell away, as he raised a foot, and
stepped, and shifted his ground, and he shed his skin in an avalanche and stood as an angel no greater than a man. No greater than Akaras.

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