The Eight Crimes of The Iconodules
“So is there anything outside the City?”
The question, when it struck Anis, had come from possibly the most annoying of her students. She knew it was not her place to judge those that came into her care, merely to educate and guide them so that they may become productive members of society. Sometimes, though, there was nothing more infuriating than a single student who asked more than half the questions, and that half were almost always inane. Questions like ‘Teacher, whither comes the trees?’ or ‘Had you a thought to spare on the matter of waste, and what is done with such filth after it travels below?’ Alright, she had added the affectation in her memory, but still! The student that asked for her opinion on how bodily waste was handled in the City! Incalcuably stupid, most of the time.
Why, then, was this question so damn good?
She couldn’t help herself, responding with shortness generally reserved for the stupid questions. Perhaps it was just instinct that drove her to only give a short “Of course not.” She hadn’t even had time to turn around before the hand was in the air again, imploring her attention. The scowl she had was not for her students, but rather for the oath she had sworn to answer questions honestly, and fully. In this circumstance Anis knew she was skimping on the fullness. “Yes, Vel?” she asked, trying not to sigh with the statement.
Another, unfortunately, wholly ligitimate question. These were not things for children to grapple with, however. Not things that they should have to worry about. Not yet.
“In short, our world has an Edge, Vel. You could not wander far outside the walls without meeting it, and then there would be nowhere else for you to go.” She thought that would be enough, and that complete answers would have to wait for another time, but the hand was in the air again, and she was beyond resisting this inevitable process.
“What does it look like?”
It was suddenly daytime, and Anis stood with two others at the Edge of the world. The sunlight didn’t help, of course. It never did when one stood this close to the Edge, as the Edge devoured the light at its boundaries, the dull rumble as it went about its destructive work shook the already-stripped earth beneath their feet. It had been a peaceful plain they had traveled across once out of sight of the City’s walls, but here it was a wasteland, and the Edge tore as far as she could see on her left and right. Lightning raked across its surface, as though it were playing across black glass, the bolts raising hair and fear as they struck out with terrible noise, forcing the researchers to yell over them. They had been told a hundred meters was safe. Enilio was screaming at her, offering a compass and a sketchbook. She stared at him blankly a few moments before realizing what he wanted. He kept pointing towards the wall. It seemed still, as still as a living, devouring thing could be. He wanted her to approach. To reach ‘testing range’, as they had been trained. ‘Measurements’, she read the word on his lips. She mouthed it back, still somewhat bewildered. He wanted her to approach that? She looked up at the wall, extending towards the sky, perfectly vertical, all-consuming, sending cracks of power across its surface with each passing moment…
“It is black and tall.” she said, at last, shaking her own head to clear it of the memory. She had been young, and had never desired to go back. It was still there, after all. The researchers and magicians and other curious sorts still went out to prod at it, to mark its steady, slow advance. The children didn’t need to know that, of course. Just answer the question they had asked, she thought, that was enough. Luckily, it was enough for Vel as well, who nodded his strange, electric-blue head of hair and smiled, a child who had just solved another mystery.
Anis looked at him sadly for a moment. If only it were that simple.
The End of the World
The world is ending. It’s not something people discuss often. A man has to eat, after all, and you’ll find more people concerned with their next meal than you will people concerned with the fact existence itself has rebelled against its inhabitants. There are many theories about the nature of The Edge. Some claim it is a natural occurrence, merely a disaster like a storm or flood. Some Idols say that it has been inflicted on the world by evil wizards, nihilists with great hatred for all existence. Some think it is the work of The Gods, who have abandoned the world for its crimes.
But what crimes could be worth the punishment of being forced to watch the slow destruction of the entire world?