Though it was inconcievably alien
A being from so far outside us
As to be all but indecipherable
She raised it, loved it as her own
So when the time came to leave
It spoke to her without words
Predicting the world’s fiery end
At its own inscrutible hands
But promising to its “mother”
A few minutes’ warning before
And a final song of blowing brass
The music she had always loved
Announcing the end of the world
As recomense for a kindness
Neither could ever understand

Inspired by the song ‘2nd variety’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

And so it came to pass that the Sultan was presented with a finely wrought breastplate of the finest brass. A brilliant creation melding the natural and the unnatural, with feathers and geometric patterns melded into a cohesive whole, it was breathtaking to behold and strong enough to deflect any sword blow.

Used to plain garments, the Sultan was delighted by the gift and declared that the artisans behind it would be declared his personal metalsmiths. He immediately commissioned from them a companion piece, a pair of brass gauntlets, in the same style. The artisans outdid themselves in their new creation, which used extremely fine joints to enable movement as smooth as that of a leather glove.

“I was but a man of flesh before,” the Sultan was heard to say. “But now, Allah willing, I will be a man of brass.”

After appearing in his regalia at court, the Sultan demanded a pair of greaves to match. A helmet followed, as did one of every part of armor known to mankind. Around this time, the production of the brass pieces began to distract the Sultan from the business of ruling his people. Rather than providing to them, as a ruler must, an example of a life given over in servitude to Allah and his Prophet, the Sultan became given wholly over to brass, sketching designs and viewing prototypes in wax rather than tending to matters of state.

In time, the Sultan had a brass mustache and beard commissioned, which he fitted over his own and wore at all hours he was not sleeping or eating, even during ablutions. A dozen men were employed to help him into his brass each morning and hemp him out of it each night. In time, the weight was so great that the Sultan had to be borne to his throne and back.

The Sultan’s nephew, seeing this, resolved to overthrow his uncle’s madness. He appeared with conspirators (for many had grown weary of the Sultan’s eccentricities) and confronted his uncle with swords and spearpoints.

“Surely you must be joking,” the Sultan laughed. “No weapon of mortal man can harm me.”

This was true; swords left only scratches, spears were rent at the shaft, and even weapons meant to kill armored riders were no match for the fine craftsmanship of the Sultan’s brass raiments, which now left nothing but pinholes for his eyes open. The Sultan mocked the conspirators from his throne, chiding them for their foolishness.

“No weapon of mortal man can harm me,” he said again.

“Very well then, Uncle,” said his nephew. “We will use the weapons of Allah instead.”

And so it was that the throne room was bricked up and painted over. The Sultan’s words went unheeded, and though there was food and water aplenty he did not take of it since his brass cocoon was such that he was now entombed inside it. The throne room, indeed, became a sealed tomb and murals celebrating the Sultan’s achievements before his madness were painted by his successor.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!