In the twenty-first chapter of The Kingdom of Gods, the end begins Its arrival. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Kingdom of Gods.
You know, this is definitely something that in hindsight was inevitable in a lot of ways. There’s the clue in the titles of the “books” within the Kingdom of Gods that references man aging; the book has addressed loneliness and loss in intimate and devastating ways; and this final conflict was about the legacy that the Arameri left behind. I don’t think this makes this any easier to stomach, though, and I’m gutted by this. Just… three days. That’s it. There are three days left of all existence. I don’t see a way out of this. I don’t see how this can be resolved without the Three (possibly the Two, if Itempas is not allowed to survive) allowing existence to be destroyed.
It’s all so sad.
I suppose it’s so painful to read because in the moments after Skyfall, there is, once again, potential. Just like how we got a glimpse of a possible future in Remath that never came to be, the catastrophic destruction of the World Tree shows us what the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms could be like. The kingdoms get along for the sake of saving human lives. Usein Darr makes a truce to allow Sky-in-Shadow to heal and survive. The godlings work in tandem with humanity to help however they can. Shahar opens most of Echo to survivors and refugees. The kingdoms of the Nobles’ Consortium offer up their own supplies and troops.
And it’s all overshadowing by the Maelstrom, which slowly grows in the sky, because Kahl summoned it.
Given that this very much appears to be it – the end of the world sweet mother of god – I found it terribly fitting that Deka and Sieh traveled over most of a day in order to pay their last respects to Sky. It’s also fitting that Ahad is there, given that all three of these people suffered within those walls. It speaks to the surreal nature of what happened in the previous chapter. Even if Sieh and Ahad were tormented within the walls of that place, it was still a huge part of their lives, and now it’s gone. Dead. Destroyed. And soon after that, all of those who cannot move to the gods’ realm will be, too.
Which is why it’s so meaningful that Ahad says he isn’t going to leave. Sitting amidst the rubble of Sky, his body on Glee’s, he admits that he doesn’t even think the gods’ realm will protect those who aren’t the Three. But you know, even if that was a guarantee, it was clear to me that he loved Glee and that he was remaining on earth so that he could die with her. As Sieh points out, this is a change in Ahad that is absolutely unheard of for him. But it’s meaningful. And powerful.
The same goes for the love between Deka and Sieh. It found it endlessly fascinating that while Ahad was comfortable knowing that he will probably die when Kahl and the Maelstrom arrive, Deka essentially admits the opposite. He doesn’t want death, and he would prefer that Sieh were a god rather than a dead mortal. Y’all, I know this relationship is messed up to all hells, but I’m kind of in love with what it has become now. Deka has been so alone, so lacking in affection, and so dismissed for most of his life, and his love for Sieh is a genuine expression of something pure and happy and real. It’s why he tries to use his weird magic to trigger some sort of realization within Sieh’s body so that it could fight against the rapid aging that having Kahl as a son has wrought on his body. It’s why they make love again, because Deka wants to demonstrate to Sieh that his love for him was never about Sieh’s youth; it was about who he always was.
And the chapter closes with one last act of affection, though this time it’s between Shahar and Sieh. So much nonsense and betrayal and viciousness has come between them; I’d like to think that with the world ending, Sieh would rather enjoy these last three days with both of his best friends instead of harboring a grudge until the end of the world. It’s a huge bit of growth for him. How many times has Sieh mentioned his centuries-long grudges in this book alone? And yet, he can forgive Shahar and make an attempt to rebuild the trust between them.
Like I said, we are teased with possibility. And it’s all going to end soon.
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