to die, to sleep

Chapter 1: to sleep, perchance to dream

Chapter Summary:

A butterfly goddess, faded with age, speaks to a little shadow.

The butterfly ghost -- no, not a ghost exactly, something like a higher being, with the power humming through her form -- turns to them with a broad, simple smile, and leans in like she's telling them a secret. "One day, you're going to die."

They start to pull away, but she continues, unperturbed, still smiling. "The fungus and the bottom-feeders will eat your flesh and leave your shell scattered on the ground, and it will be beautiful." Her compound eyes are far away and full of a strange ecstasy they can't pin down. They aren't sure if they're being threatened, or confided in, but whatever she's doing, she isn't done.

"And I will find the pieces and build you a cairn to mark your grave, and someday even that will be worn away by the water and the wind, ground down into dust, and we will both be forgotten, and dead in all the ways that matter. And there will be nothing left of us, and the world will fade and die, and at long last we will finally lie both at rest." She pauses, as if thinking for a moment. "And that will be beautiful, too."

How... how are they supposed to respond to that? They nod blandly, and fidget with the dream nail, waiting to see if the maybe-Higher-Being has anything else to say. She remains for a while undisturbed, before the movement seems to catch her attention.

"Oh! I see you've found that old artefact the moths used to use." She nods approvingly. "They were some of the closest to figuring it out, how the end after life worked. They understood what it was to dream, and to die, and dream beyond death itself. A dream outlasting the dreamer, and sustaining itself through immortal slumber. They even understood the importance of letting it all decay after, and putting it to rest -- most mortals have trouble with the idea, you know. Time is too short for them to really understand what it's like, to see a final death as the proper peace it is. They don't get enough of their tiny lives, so they seek to persist beyond them instead."

The butterfly flicks her antennae in a meandering, absent-minded pattern. "And here I remain, still waiting. I've got plenty of time left, unfortunately. You could just about say I'm made of it."

They do not really understand, not completely, but they cannot help but remember the whispering abyssal sea, and the soothing call of the void. It promised rest, the end, a peaceful place to succumb to nothing. Is that the end she seeks, they wonder?

"Yes," she says, as if they have asked her aloud. "One day. But today won't be it, I'm afraid. Too much left to do. Speaking of which--" and here she grins at them a little wider, more predator than prey, and adds, "I've got something very important to ask of you."