Dedicated to the Wind Walkers
They thought we were dead. In fact, they thought even less than that. Those that thought to know us believed–hoped–that were dead. Those that came after never thought we existed to begin with.
I stare out the window with my hands clasped behind my back, the smallest fingers interlocking as I consider this world around me and the people moving below my office. My fingers ache, the long nails I keep so carefully concealed desiring nothing more than to rend into that pulsing, temporal, quivering flesh and sinew that is the human animal.
My jaws, and my sharp teeth inside them want to bite into warm salty fear-soaked skin and devour its red juices like a ripe overgrown pomegranate. But I think most of all of the pain in my back, of being bound, and waiting.
But I am patient.
I’ve had to be. There were more of us once. The skies were almost black with our presence, as golden and blood-soaked as the dawn we rode on and the hunger that sustains us. That drives us.
The earliest humans called us gods. The Greeks looked to us as daimon and called our females Sirens and Eumeneides. The Romans tried to wipe us out, and the early Christians thought us angels, while the latter believed we were demons. Monsters.
I feel the need to stretch myself out now. Sometimes, they think that I am wearing an old cloak, that my wealth affords me certain eccentricities. My wings unfurl around me. They are massive, expanding beyond my outstretched arms to let the life pulse into them again. Veins throb and tremble underneath smooth, taut-stretched sinew and membrane. The bones supporting these folds of skin are as hollow as my entire skeleton, and most modern men’s souls.
Personally, as I let my wings slice through the air and reinvigorate them, I prefer to be called a demon. I think of the fallen angels of Milton, with so very few in the firmament now: cast down, but still terrible, still beautiful …
And still very much powerful.
Homer, Milton, Shakespeare … for the most part I couldn’t care less about human beings. Sometimes I’ve even hated them, and often they disgust me. But some among them have a vision that defies their frail, short-lived animal flesh. Some can discern past appearance and even without knowing it catch a glimpse of the truth.
In ancient times, many of them were our most loyal followers and worshippers. They kept our altars flowing with blood, and meat, and glory. But some used this knowledge, this insight to turn on us … to betray us. For all we dominated the heavens, we were too few compared to their unwashed multitude. And we whittled ourselves away in pointless wars with one another, though often with humans as well. We never truly bred as prolifically as they had, and eventually they overwhelmed us through sheer numbers. What history about us they didn’t erase, they twisted and vilified. The bard can condemn just as easily as he can praise.
Once, we healed their sick with our spittle and tears. We led them in wisdom gained only through aeons-long life and expanded their empires under our rule with a ferocity few today could possibly ever imagine. And all we asked for was the flesh of them, to keep us alive and vital, to keep our covenants with them. We built their earliest empires on the bones of their own kind, and our thrones on those same bones as well.
That would be the closest they would ever come to immortality. With a few exceptions.
Until they turned on us. Until they “cast down their false idols,” and thought themselves worthy of ruling themselves … taking without giving anything back, without even lip-service to the truth that everything has a balance in this world.
Our empires fell one by one. The last were the Nabataeans before Rome devoured them as well: their King humbled and wingless, their Queen violated and their heir murdered by a traitor. Very soon, the gods became monsters, and monsters became legends, and then myth … and then nothing at all.
I am not even a myth that Herodotus would recall. And that gives me more power than I have ever had.
We are not all gone. I’m sure of that. Instead, those of us that hadn’t been killed have gone onto hiding. Many might say, if they knew for certain, that our time has passed and that soon we will go into the places where no stories pass.
But they would be wrong. You see, I have been waiting. I have been watching. I’ve watched humanity develop its sciences and technology. I have seen their social revolutions. I have waited, and watched, and learned, and planned. The discreet researches of the former wingless King, who I know escaped with his Queen from the Romans had the potential to jeopardize my plans, but the traitor he’d created took care of a lot of the loose-ends himself.
The Jak’bar is not a ritual to be used lightly. For the most part humans, given more of our blood than the amount to merely heal them, simply cannot handle true longevity. That was the reason why the rite had been forbidden to us for so long. But these are different times now. The wingless King’s traitor killed all those mortals who had some idea of us, before he himself was properly disposed of. Such is the way of trash.
In this office, right now, I hold the power and resources of several lifetimes to inflict as much damage on this human world as anyone from any other time could ever possibly imagine. Yet I am still waiting.
I wait as the humans continue to destroy each other. I wait as they make more discoveries: as the line between flesh and machine thins even more, as prosthetics and genetic manipulation become more commonplace. My most loyal followers, beings created selectively from the Jak’bar — from my blood and will subtly guide key forces into play.
They have proven themselves to me, time and again. Like Milton, they understand a far greater design and those that do not, or think themselves beyond my design are ruthlessly culled. I have the means to make it so.
Just as I have the means to nurture this new environment for us all.
It is an environment of cultural relativism, of alternative mysticism, and post-modern fragmentation. It is made of equal rights, and cybernetics, and mutations … of Dracula, and science-fiction. Of change.
Once we thought–I even thought–that we would never be able to walk with our wings out in the open again; that we would never be able to soar through the skies as freely and joyously as we once had. But by the time my plan comes to fruition, when the humans lose control of what they’ve created, when they come back to us, the Wind Walkers will fly again: openly, and proudly, and with impunity.
But for now –right now– I am content to watch them from my window. And savour the taste of the blood to come.