- Sci-fi comic about ancient things people find in melting icebergs
BLACK TOWER TALE
It happened in a faraway world where people were a lot like us in that their knowledge grew way faster than their self-awareness did. Such disbalance never ends well.
Those people believed that their world was created by gods and that the gods lived in the sky. Eventually, somebody came up with an idea of reaching the sky so people themselves could become gods. The idea turned out to be so strong, captivating, infectious that iIt outlived its creator and kept spawning various cults for centuries. Cult of the Tower was the strongest of them.
For years, the cultists placed one row of stone blocks above the other, lifting incredible weights with their machines and magic. Countless generations lived and died for the sake of the crazy dream. From birth to death the cultists toiled at the enormous building site, having little time for anything else. Eventually, the “unnecessary” things like love, games, poems, and songs were forgotten. Only one song survived in the end” the howling song that helped them keep the rhythm while working, survived in the end. Love and friendship didn’t survive at all, replaced by the endless loyalty to the cult.
Day by day, the cursed tower grew, a black sprinter in the skin of the earth.
Meanwhile, the gods watched from above, curious. They threw no lightning bolts and sent no curses upon humanity. Why would they? For a god, hurting a human being is like hurting a feeble-minded child; nothing to be proud of there. Breaking their tower? Sure, the gods could do that easily but why would they? Who in their right mind breaks a baby’s toys? Not gods. So they watched and they waited for little creatures down below to teach themselves a lesson.
...Being born in such a world in such a time is one of the worst things that can happy to a poet. But zealot worlds would die if no poets were born in the most difficult times. So Milia, a little blue-eyed girl, was born in the Tower cult.
While her peers were building toy towers from pebbles and meowed miserably trying to sing the howling song of the builders, Milia made up songs of her own. There were words in them, rhymes, and music. She could turn anything into a song or a poem: golden autumns, chilly dawns, starry sky - all things she saw around her. The older Milia grew, the more powerful her songs become. And - oh, the horror! - some children left their pebble towers and howling exercises to listen to her sing.
People began talking, spreading rumours and fears around the girl. She is just a child and yet people wander from the true path because of her songs, only children for now but what will happen when she grows up? Then adult engineers and mages, workers and slaves will fall for her witchcraft and the Tower will fall. Then the humanity will be doomed to crawl the earth forever and all hope of reaching the sky will be lost.
One early morning, three cult leaders - Chief Engineer, Chief Mage, and Chief Priest - held a council at the foot of the Black Tower. All three were old people, with families, with children and grandchildren of their own. Neither liked the idea of killing a child but they decided that it was necessary.
“For the future of humanity!” said the Mage and the Engineer.
“And to save the souls from sin,” quietly added the Priest.
But the sun that rose above the horizon, turned into fanatic flames in their eyes. They were flickering there like hot embers, for all the world to see… including the gods in the sky.
Soon, the three leaders announced their decision to the crowd. No one was brave enough to stand up for Milia, the shackles of faith and habit were that heavy on people. The most open-minded of them only wept when they saw the guards lead the girl to the Tower. The others just stared in silence.
“You will be led to the top of the Tower,” said the Priest, “so the holy sky would drive all the sin from your soul. Then you will be thrown down. This is the decision made in the light of the dawn before the gods themselves. Today, at midday, you will be put to death.”
Milia lifted her eyes to the top of the skyscraping Tower. That moment, fear of death seized her and took her gift of speech away. People watched in horror at the miracle of their life, now destroyed; watched the poor child try to say something and fail to do so, the very child that had been singing so merrily for them just few hours ago. Yet again, not a single person stepped out of the crowd to help the little girl.
In the midday, Milia’s long ascension to the Tower had begun. The way up would be difficult for an adult warrior, let alone a child. Sometimes, she had to walk the stairs, sometimes she had a chance to catch her breath when a part of the way could be covered in a mechanical elevator or a magical levitation device. A group of armed guards clad in white followed the condemned child everywhere.
By the end of the way, Milia was so exhausted she became as white as chalk herself. Bitter cold reigned on the top of the Tower, ferocious winds howled there, and the air was so thin the girl could barely breathe.
When Milia reached the last storey half-built, open to the elements the first stars were already shining in the dark, velvety sky. There were so many of them! Above the lights of the city, there was nothing that could outshine even the smallest ones. There was a river, a whole river of stars! The power of the beautiful sight took Milia’s breath away, she gasped, she felt the fear of death release its grasp on her throat, and, finally, she sang. She could make everything into a song, even the river of stars, the river of worlds in the sky where the gods dwelled.
Carried by the wind to the foot of the Tower, that song made people wake up. They no longer stared up in silence, waiting for Milia to fall; they stirred, they cries, they cursed the Tower and those who condemned the innocent child to death. Only the three Chiefs remained unmoved by the song. “What a horrible sorcery!” they said. “We were right to condemn the child. Just imagine what would've happened if the little witch had a chance to grow up!”
Only the gloomy warriors clad in white didn’t acknowledge the powerful song. All of them had been deaf from birth; that was why they were chosen to follow the girl. They threw Milia off the Tower, just like they were ordered to.
No one saw the child’s body fall but everyone saw the fall of the Tower itself. In roar and thunder, torn apart by huge cracks, it crashed to the ground, centuries of endless toil and howling songs turned into rubble and dust in a moment.
The city was spared - by pure luck or the will of the gods, who knows. The only victims of the fall, by a strange coincidence were the three Chiefs and the deaf guards. Blinded by freedom, inspired by hope, people searched and searched for Milia’s body, some even believed she survived the fall but no, the girl was never found.
Why did the Tower fall? Did the gods have a hand in it? Who knows.
Sometimes, heavy things just collapse under their own weight, Towers and cults alike.
As to the people awakened by Milia’s song and the Tower’s crash, they did learn their lesson. Technology, magic, and faith, when they are not balanced by other things, make unstable constructions and you need balance first of all to reach the sky where the gods dwell.
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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.