A/N: Was listening to O' Children by Nick Cave, and thought of this.
London was burning.
It ripped the intricate gables of the powerful ones and scorched the greying rafters of the pitiful ones. It seared through cold stone buildings and through run-down pawn shops. It destroyed everything. The ancient buildings that controlled the ants fell. The factories where the ants created war for the controllers fell. The secure sense of infallibility was revealed as charcoal lies and amid the orange chaos the people ripped the securers' minds and bodies asunder. Frightened people ran wraithlike through the hell of their home; a sea of wide-eyed screaming.
What was it any of my business if the people ran crazed from the fire that slashed their comfort from their grasp? What was it any of my business if the people found their so-called generous benefactors and clawed the skin from their very bones? What was it any of my business to interfere with the end of yet another glorified empire? I could help, or I could hinder, but the outcome was always the same. The humans would triumph, the weakling slavers would slink to the shadows, the djinn would be returned to their golden cages. Once the humans have forgotten their past, the slavers would strike and the djinn would be forced once again to conquer and kill the innocent. Empires always ended with burning and the new ones always formed from the ashes of the previous.
I watched the ashes of the end fall and lay silently on the crowded, cobblestone road that was tainted with jumping orange. I lay amongst them, dying. My essence flowed river-like onto the dirty stone and cut through the ash; a river through a mountain. My bright, ancient sight began to blur and dim as death crept ever closer. The wound on my side snaked from my bare, brown shoulders to my thin hips, gaping and wide around my midriff. I could not bear to look down at myself. Not because I knew I was dying, but because I knew that he looked this way as he died in the great library.
I did not feel any pain, despite the gravity of the injury. I felt nothing, only an empty, aching feeling. I accomplished nothing. Despite my efforts to end my fellows' slavery and to help humanity see its own light, I failed miserably. Now I was to lay and die in the dirty streets. The flames laughed in spite of me, dancing mockingly all around. I turned my head to the side and tried to close my eyes, but a child wrenched them open with its tiny, gasping form.
My essence lurched as I noticed it, gulping for air to enter into its tiny lungs. Its face was turned toward my own. Half of its face had been scorched by the flames, and its eyes were misted over with nothing but pain. One arm was twisted and ravaged. It seemed to be trying to move, but being totally unable to do so. I watched it for a long time, trying desperately to stay conscious. My awareness began to flicker, but I held on desperately.
Then, out of the corner of my fainting eye, I saw something move. I wrenched myself from the brink of death and looked towards it. A trembling little hand extended itself towards me.
Without thought, I dragged my unresponsive body towards its shaking fingers, and when I got close enough, I took the little hand in my own. Even with this small comfort, the child's eyes were only filled with the agony of its death. With my whole soul I wanted to help it, ease its suffering and let it ease mine.
It struck me, in that moment, how futile my efforts had been to change man and spirit kind alike. I was five thousand years old, and this child was four years old. Yet all we had both accomplished to do was to die in the dirty streets of a dying empire.