How many caves on how many snow-capped mountains must I visit before I find the magi who cursed us all to die? It turns out the answer is 230, 230 climbs through swirling snow, in frostbitten cold. 230 times over many, many years I have recklessly risked my everything, until finally I find them. The council that governs time. Ageless faces of every color, seated in the dark. There they decide when all men die. There I meet them and demand to know:
“Why? Why is death? Why do you ask of us such suffering? Why can’t we have-”
“More time?” The woman in the center speaks, her face evokes such youth, but her eyes? They have seen centuries. They pierce through me—black, ancient orbs—to my very soul. They see the anguish that has driven me to find them, that inspires my query.
“Such hubris. To think that time belongs to you. You cannot waste it, for time is its own master, plunging forward and never back, leaving all your mistakes in the black of the past. Eventually it will leave you there as well.”
She leans forward, into a flickering light with no obvious source. All my defiance is forgotten, I am left with only fear, with only doubt as to why I would undertake such a foolish mission and question those who are clearly above even the ‘Gods’, above any fallacy we men would create.
She continues: “You are born in the grave, and in that tomb there are no answers to ‘Why?’ That is not even a question we create. We make only the what. You live. You pass. If you wish to ask more, you must answer that yourself.”
Transfixed before them, I am at a loss to find the anger that drove me, the anguish that burned me to pursue this inquiry. Looking into their eyes, I find no emotion, only judgement. Only death. I flee their gaze, and head back down the mountain, no wiser than before I came.