Humans were not made to last eternally. Soft meat and brittle bones, they were not made to even last a century. Gods were made to last. Airy ghosts and empty wishes, they were made to last as long as they were worshipped, and those born before the worshippers came were made to last longer.
Ellia was a human soul trapped in a long-expired body. For a hundred years she watched herself waste away, kept alive only by the beating of an alien heart, belonging to the god of her people. She watched her willowy arms and skilled dancer's legs shrink against her bone, turning brown and wrinkled as it went. She was only thankful that there were no mirrors or reflective surfaces in Mantorok's Tomb- she didn't think she could stand to watch her beautiful face, envy of all the king's slaves turn aged and rotten before her eyes. She could feel time burrowing into her bones, like termites into wood, hollowing her out, making her a home as she waited, undying, with the Corpse God.
Isn't this what you wanted? the Corpse God whispered. Isn't this what all mortals want? An eternity to live?
"It is not what I wanted." she replied bitterly.
But it is. Mantorok persisted. I heard you on the day you came. 'I wish something like these stories would happen to me.' Ellia winced at the sound of her own voice echoing from Mantorok's mouths. I heard you, and I answered your prayer.
"It was not a prayer! It was a wish- a stupid wish."
Wishes and prayers, prayers and wishes. They are one and the same. You wished for a story. You prayed for adventure. And it was granted you. Some would call that lucky.
"There is no such thing as luck." Ellia said coldly. "You said so yourself."
Did I? Mantorok's whispering voices sounded perplexed. I forget sometimes, what I have said and haven't.
The two grew quiet. Ellia stared at the stone walls. She had memorized them long ago. She knew every crack and pore, where they were strong, where they were not. Some days she spent pacing the walls, dragging her fingers lightly across them, stepping carefully so as not to place a foot in one of her companion's eyes.
Perhaps, then, I did draw you here. the Corpse God admitted. But will you deny your own desires? Your own part in this little play? When you enter a story, you can't always expect to be the hero.
Ellia wished her eyes would water. She wanted to cry, but there had been no dampness in her for generations. She'd stupidly wasted her tears early on, when she realized there was no escape from this tomb and its rotting god. She wished she had them now, to mourn her stupidity, to at least break up the boredom.
Eternal darkness, eternal loneliness, eternal boredom. Mantorok said quietly. It is the very definition of an immortal.