"Thou art more than the numbered days of our temporal breath,
For these give labour and slumber; but thou, Askari, death."

Askari stands between the world and the void, holding a posion-dripping sword. Venerated by the civilised peoples of our Age - excepting only the bitter remnants of the Muvian technocracy and the magi of the Shining Isles - it is by his agency that men pass from this world to their uncertain destinies. Most often depicted as a comely coal-black youth, he is also seen in devotional art as a beggar, a mailed tyrant, and a dancing Kushian blade.

We are told that Askari appears to the spirit in a form determined by its actions and dispositions in life: so a man might be taken by a frost, harvested by a diligent reaper, or gathered up by a colossal spider. Great leaders and saints may even be politely invited by Askari, who appears to them in corporeal form - thus it was with Kull of Atlantis. No matter the form taken, when the soul sees Askari, it falls in love, and is withdrawn from the body as if seduced. Askari then bears the soul away, to a land unpierced by human thought - a "dreary realm of deepest shade", as the poet Matachin puts it.

Askari is shown often as the twin of Aketha, mistress of renewal and love's bloom. The moment of extinction in the pleasure of love, it is said, is a lesser death, a fraction of the soul's final harrowing. This view is not shared by more sober scholars: certainly Askari and Aketha are both gateways - hence their representation as eternal adolescents - but while Askari leads the soul to oblivion, by Aketha's grace is the living soul exalted unto the utmost stars of the air. Siblings they may be, but they can hardly be dear to one another.

edited by Adept Iyn Suhf, of the Ark Absolution

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