|Prim Leaves Her Father's House|
|Release||April 9, 2014|
"Prim Leaves Her Father's House" is the second bonus offering of the third chapter of Kill Six Billion Demons and the forty-sixth offering altogether. It is also the name of a story written in the Song of Maybe 4:15.
It features the titular goddess, Prim
When Prim's father Hansa is killed, she finds herself alone and battered on the road. As she goes, Prim seeks the advice of many deities, but cannot bring herself to fulfill their many demands. But when it seems as if all is lost, Prim suddenly discovers freedom in a fleeting moment of courage.
Song of Maybe 4:15
There came a time when Lord Hansa entered the hollow and singing hall of the multicolored Akaroth, for lunisnight celebrations. There was a great feast there for a fortnight or more, and there, caught in a heated philosophical fugue with Akaroth, Lord Hansa in anger committed the violation of letting his pipe smoke rise and befoul the all-wind that permeated that house and nourished the ways of the void. Fueled by wine, Akaroth was driven into such a drunken rage by this insult that he harnessed fifty winds to his will and at once slew Hansa with a single stroke of his war fan and felt little regret at the time. Later, in grief, he did heavy penance for this act, for he slew a widely respected man, but all agreed that Lord Hansa had committed a grievous offense.
When Akaroth's archons learned of this offense, they snatched up the cooling body of Lord Hansa and rode the void to his estate, and there they slew his servants in the multitude and cleft the skulls of his retainers and set fire and lightning upon the land. They tore apart the house of iron nails that stood on that land and within found Hansa's virginal and radiant daughter Prim, who was preparing her father's supper, as she did every night. "Look," said Thunder Cleaves Stone, who was chief in majesty among the retainers of Akaroth, "here is that maid or daughter which he makes a slave. How piteous and crawling a thing!" They fell upon Prim and shaved her beautiful locks and in insult demanded black bread and liquor for hospitality, which she could not fulfill. "Dog!" said they, "and daughter of a dog, live a dog's life!", and threw they before her her father's mangled corpse and left her raw with their laughter in the scoured and smoking ruin of her father's estate. Later Akaroth learned of their conduct and was greatly enraged for Hansa had been a great wise man, and he had the archons tied to a flensing tree which stretched the seven corners of the multiverse and there flayed them with lashes of lightning as they had flayed the house of Hansa, and all agreed this was just.
Prim was despondent but did not cry for there was no finer daughter. She took up her cloak and vela and great knife, and felt a little better, and she smeared the ashes of her father's house on her face and body as was the custom, and she felt a little better, and she wrapped her father's poor body in a linen shroud and she felt a little better still. She prepared to set upon the road, but she had never left her father's house, and the thought terrified her, so she plucked a single iron nail from its smoking ruins and pocketed it. So comforted, she slung her father's corpse over her small back and set off on the road of the Ruling King, which wound seven times through the void and the Wheel, and looked for a place to bury her father.
Soon she came upon a grand field on which the ground quickly became slick with the ruins of men and heaved with the wetness of lives smashed by incredible violence. The earth shook terribly, and carrion birds circled, and a mighty stench filled the air so that she was afraid and gripped her great knife. She came upon a devil there who was perched upon a corpse and gorged upon its eyes. "Look thee craven," said the devil, "for great lords are doing battle here."
Indeed, Prim shortly came upon a conflict so brutal that its noise split the earth and heavens both from end to end. The gods Sivran and Ogam-am were settled in their destroyer aspects and were doing battle with their armies. Great tides of men and horses were dashed aside by their dueling, the ground shuddered and cracked, and the air was thick with the slurry of violence. Prim felt the coldness of fear in her heart, but gripped the iron nail in her pocket, and spoke in her small voice. "Great lords, where may I bury my father?" spoke she, and then again a score of times for her voice was weak and lost easily in the cacophony.
"Who is this ant," howled Ogam, frothing with rage as he finally noticed her, spouting flame from his navel," so ugly and ash covered?"
"It is Hansa Primpiyat, that small Prim who you may know, who was the daughter of a great man," spoke Prim in her small voice, and both gods ceased their brawling and craned to hear, for she was a piteous thing and they recognized her broken burden as the master Hansa. Prim shrank back, but it was a good question, and both gods reposed a while to contemplated it, while the blood dripped and smoked from their wounds and their armies continued the slaughter.
"Bury him on the battlefield," commanded Sivran after a while, "for then he will die a conqueror's death, which is a righteous death of glory and struggle."
"Bury him on the battlefield," roared Ogam, as molten steel dripped from his mouth, "for it is not a weak and womanly death, and his mighty corpse deserves veneration!"
So agreed, both gods returned to their mortal drama. Prim considered for a moment, and then followed their command, though she was struck more than once by a passing bolt or a hurtling stone, for though the lords' advice was sound, they were mad with battle lust and thought little of the lives of small things.
Prim returned to the road, and bound her bleeding wounds, and slept, for she was weary, but barely a day had passed when she heard the voice of her father's corpse rasping. "What a din!" he said, "I can barely sleep for this racket! What terrible excuse for a daughter has interred me in this madhouse!" Prim returned once again to the battlefield with fear and obedience in her heart and though she was struck by hails of bolts and the the gore of the ruins of men, she retrieved her father's body.
Tired and encrusted with filth, Prim once again set on the road. She trod for many days more, and her fine vela became torn, her dress became ragged, her back ached, and her shoes ripped. Interdimensional winds lashed at her, the ground betrayed her, and she came to hate the very air. Eventually, she came to a place where the road met emptiness and there encountered the angel 7 Sound of Clear Water Through a Grove, which bade her halt. "Traveler," said the angel in its middle voice, "you look sick and weary. The lady Pravi reposes not far from here. Please pay her a visit." Prim reluctantly obeyed, for the filth and pain of the road was wearing on her, and strode towards a grove of white glass with swollen feet.
There in a rippling expanse of frozen space the lady Pravi was ensconced on her dais with all her court around her. Her scalp was burnished and oiled, her fingers were very well trained and elegant, her left half was singing a song of love, her right a song of longing, and her cleft form was lovely and sensual. Her court burned fragrant incense and sang accompaniment and bared their breasts to the cool infinity, and indeed it was an awesome sight to behold. Prim was pricked with fear, but she clutched the nail on her pocket and set on.
"What mud spattered vagrant and dirty thing defiles my presence," spoke the right half of Pravi and the left half made a small gesture of cessation and the music stopped most painfully. "It is I," spoke Prim in her small voice, "the orphan of Hansa." Pravi was a poor and abused soul herself, though vain and self-indulgent, and she took pity upon Prim and her grisly burden. Her attendants bound Prim's feet and layered oils upon them, and sang gently to blunt her pain and found fresh linens for Lord Hansa, though they gave her neither bread nor liquor, for fear of impurity, and did not attend to her wounds. "Great Lady of Pleasure and Enjoyment," said Prim in her small voice, "where may I bury my father?"
"Bury him in a beautiful field," said the left half of Pravi, "so he may repose in light and silence and warmth and rest in beauty and peace, for in all things these are good qualities. This is known by me." And her right half proclaimed that this was good, and she called upon her attendants to oil her silky flesh and bring her fruit and that was that.
Prim considered this for a moment, and then followed her command. When she had done so, she set back upon the road, and lay down to sleep, as she was very tired and in great pain. Not a day had passed however, when she heard the voice of her father's corpse. "What deafening silence!" it rasped, "What putrid soporific sweetness is this? How insipid and smothering a place to bury such a great man as me! What wasteful and negligent daughter would do thus to a father?" So, Prim set back to that place, and wore out her boots to shreds, and went back on the road barefoot with her rotting burden.
Exhausted and smeared with grime and ash, Prim traveled for many days, where the road tore at her every minute and blackened her bare feet with blood and calluses. Eventually she was halted by a pair of Peregrine Knights in the middle of a ten year watch when they came upon her filthy and hobbling figure.
"Halt Yea," spoke the first knight, "Traveler, the road will devour you before long. Over there is YISUN's speaking hall."
"A great gathering is there," spoke the second knight, "pray ye ask for relief or rest, stranger, from those gathered, for ye shall proceed no longer on our watch."
Prim gripped her knife but she was too weak to fight. She was afraid to enter that hall because she knew her dreadful appearance would surely offend her father's peers and invite their wrath down upon her. But, she clutched her iron nail, and the assurance therein sent new strength into her cracked and bleeding feet, and she went on.
YISUN's speaking house was full of light and sound, its feathered arches were gold and russet from the warmth within. As Prim entered, she saw a great assemblage of lords in attendance, some in their speaking forms, some clothed as great animals or birds, some as a heat or pillar of stone, some great dark roiling clouds, some stretched their limbs through quantum states and others reclined, lotus-like, through probability as they made merriment. A great cry set up when Prim came to the threshold for her feet made black marks upon the gilded tiles and the ash and filth caked upon her form befouled the scented air within, and she was so bent with the weight of her father's corpse that there were almost none who recognized this torn and broken thing. The gods, forgoing custom, made to cast her out, so foul was her appearance, but Het, who was the doorkeeper, was the keenest among them and did not speak roughly to her. "This is the orphan of Hansa, the poor and broken wanderer who was Prim," she chastised to the gathered, "shame upon your heart of hearts!" She struck the ground with her stave, and the gods were shamed. Still, they were so repulsed by how ugly Prim had grown that they called only their servants to approach her, who bound her feet again, and served her black bread and spirits, and wrapped her face and ragged shorn head in a binding cloth so the gods may hold her in their sight and set her gently upon the proscenium. Thin wine was brought to clear her throat and fresh and golden cloth was brought for the decaying corpse of Hansa.
"Great masters," croaked she in her small voice, "where may I bury my father? I have searched and searched, and still he will not be at rest. How may I please him?"
"Annihilate his body with fire and free yourself of his burden," spat weeping Ashma, but Prim could not, for there was no finer daughter.
"Set him walking on the road," said Pedam, tapping his staff in thought, "so he may never tire of his surroundings." But Prim had grown to hate the road.
There were more.
"Set him in the deep mountains," bellowed Yam, the high.
"Give him a crown so he may rule the dead," said noble Payam.
"Make him a coffin of air, so the emptiness may pass through his bones," said Ovis, fluctuating between five different time states.
"Give him a silver death mask," said Kami, who tapped upon her ribcage and fingered her string of heads.
"Feed him to my sons so he may live a new life," said the god of pigs.
"Make his body into birds," said Voya, "small birds, so they may pass easily through holes in the universe."
There were more, and more besides. Prim could not decide on any of these things, and all they did was rip at her heart relentlessly, and the gods grew restless and discontent. The hour grew late, and with relief, the assembly ushered Prim out of the light and warmth of that hall and onto the cruel and jagged road and freezing morning, and Prim went on.
By degrees, Prim grew more and more bent as the corpse of her father grew bloated and swollen. The cloths on her face and feet became soiled, her great knife bent and chipped, and her beautiful vela grew ragged and torn. All the while, the corpse of her father berated her. "What a horrid excuse for a daughter," it rasped, "I still lie uninterred! How infantile and unaccomplished! My daughter's life amounts to less than a flea's! Better she kill herself than allow this shame to rattle my sorry corpse! She should have died in that iron house with me where she belonged!"
After a while, Prim's feet were fed to the road and became too swollen with blood to walk, and so she crawled like a guttural beast, and all she passed on the road gave her a wide berth and were horror stricken by the stench of death which surrounded her.
Eventually, it was too much for Prim, and she could go no further. Following her father's last instruction, for there was no finer daughter, she set her feverish mind to one thing – dying in that iron house as her father commanded. With claw like hands, she wrenched that iron nail from her cloak and with all her strength, pounded it into the rough earth of the road. In a flash and with a terrible groan, all around her grew the terrible jagged eaves and beams, the arches and hollows of the iron house of nails. It was just as she had remembered it, even the dinner she had been preparing before the destruction of her father's estate. Crawling, she unburdened her cargo and dragged her father's corpse onto his throne, and prepared to expire.
But suddenly, in that moment, a most undaughterly sentiment came over Hansa Primpiyat. She saw eternity stretching before her, a servile eternity, a comfortable, familiar, and putrid eternity, her rotting corpse serving the ruin of her father in that awful, devouring iron house in perfect, decaying, daughterly obedience, forever and ever. And she felt true fear.
She crawled out of that house as soon as her bloody limbs would take her, with terrifying clarity, and hauled herself over its cold black threshold and away from the grip of eternity. But as soon as she did, there was a sound like the closing of a great tomb, or the dropping of a great stone, or the ringing of a deep bell, and a rush and a clap and there was no sign of that iron house any more in all the cosmos. Suddenly, Prim felt the awful stab of ten times the fear she had before, for all she had ever known and cared about was gone forever with that house, and all that remained was that pitiless and hungry stranger called the road, her new master, crueler and more relentless even than her father, and she curled in a sodden ball and cried an awful keening wail that split the heavens and reached even the archons on their flensing tree. Great filthy tears poured from her eyes and nose and her belly was wrenched with terrible spasms of pain and grief.
A pale face came before her and she was abruptly struck from her despair as though by a great hammer. A beautiful stranger had appeared, mild and tall, of milky flesh, spare in figure, but radiant in voice and visage. "I know you," said the stranger in a small voice, "you are Prim."
"I was Hansa's orphan, the slave, Prim," croaked Prim in response, "and now I am nobody, just a small dirty thing in great emptiness and here I will die."
"No," said the stranger, and the clarity and firmness of her voice and smile send a shock through Prim, "you are Prim, and Prim only, and Prim you shall be." And Prim there realized her tears had made a great pool and she was greeting her own reflection. And she fell into that murky pool and straight away it turned clear as crystal and Prim vomited forth a great black knot from very deep within her, and her body was scoured and lashed by the icy waters of that pool, and great draughts of poisonous filth and despondency were drawn in rushing gasps from her wounds, and her skin was sealed and her soiled trappings were purged and the caked illness and death was ripped away and she rose from that pool fresh and humming. Her back straightened and she scarcely thought on her father's corpse or the faintest echo of that iron house. The air was quite pleasant and the road which had seemed cruel now seemed to whimper and bend before her, and she stood up and laughed a perfect laugh of dominance, and its sound rang like a bell as the warmth of life steamed within her, and the road stretched on and it was good.
That is how Prim left her father's house.
- It is not clear how Prim could have met an angel, since the gods were all destroyed during the creation of the inheritors. It may be the case that their annihilation occurred gradually, or that beings of the void existed prior to creation of the Wheel.