Straw Soul
rating: +4+x

The tribe was secluded. Nestled in the mountain range between the Black and Caspian seas, they kept quietly to themselves. Life could be difficult at times, food scare and the comfort of warmth absent for long stretches, but God kept them alive. It was the old man's turn to part ways and leave behind his memory. They were worried at first. Since he had lost his partner, he had been distant and clouded in thought, but his time had come even if she would never have the chance. He was their elder and the wisest of council, they could not lose what experience had gained him. If he was lost…

The trek was a long one. Three days and two nights with little rest during the most bitter of winter days. He could not keep pace in his old age, but they shared the burden of his old bones on their backs. As the sun touched the summit of the sky, they came to the cove. Torches in hand they bounded inside, eager to complete the ritual and return home, paying no mind sanctity.

The old man saw God and stumbled towards its warm flesh. Paces away, he stopped in awe of the creation. It was alive and well, but as the flickering beauty of its bark streamed light in the cave, its shadowy leaves shook. Closer he went, each step more labored than the last, it's leaves vanished and burst back into existence, splattering Godly ooze across the stone. Finally, he reached the trunk, with a wide grasp he embraced God, and tears streamed.

First came the string. For their union, a blue line was drawn to mark the day, and while the line faded and decayed with time, he remembered. He took the line and folded the piece again and again, knotting his fingers to one long passed.

Second was she. In perfect recreation, his woman assembled from dust to greet him. She was beautiful and young as she was in a time long passed. She smiled and took the line in her hands, binding herself to him once again. But even at this reunion, his tears never ceased. They watched with silent joy at the sight. All was right. His tears did not cease, and they shuddered at his pain.

Third was cruel. The creature was of straw and darkness. It could not be. The beastly soul was tall and slight, with a face carved from fear itself. One by one it flayed them, with malicious intent it drew blood from body wildly. Last left was he and his bride. She smiled at the end that was to come, and as he looked in her eyes he knew his pain was true. She was not the woman he knew, and neither was he. The beast broke him slowly, as only he could have wished.

Pain was all the beast knew, and all it wanted was to give. Where though, would it share it's knowledge? Far from this place, God had dreamed of others just as pained. All that was left was to greet them.

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