Arakune was not the first name, no.
He doubts that Arakune will be the last.
Like the Hierarchical Cities waxing and waning in power, he has felt his consciousness expanding and contracting, he has become greater and he has become smaller and he has become other than he was before, by the old name, not so long ago but still a hundred years past and seven hundred times over.
(and over and over and over)
Tricky, sticky. He knows that he stinks of old blood and obsidian. Flesh runs like water, runs away from him into the gutter; catch it with teeth! Hold it near and dear and.
He remembers descending to the lowest tiers of Kagatsuchi. He remembers looking into the Cauldron, and seeing the Boundary – and Kagatsuchi was inside it.
(the world opens its mouth to swallow the world opens its mouth to swallow the world opens its mouth to swallow)
Shining there, raised like towers of daylight in a kingdom of dust, the city had called out to him. With all the voices of its inhabitants, it had said: we have so much to tell you. we have the seithr-source, passages from grimoires, the location of the white mask in the void. the Azure. there is so much. night is the throat of a starving beast that throws time back on its broken spine. there is so much for you here. there is so much for you to know.
Time counts backwards from a hundred. Counts with its tongue on its incisors: one hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven.
The year is, however briefly, 2099.
Legs with hooks and little hairs are scratching the secret side of his skin, stitching it onto his floating bones. Paper wings buzz electric where his mouth should be. His tongue is dry with mothdust and his voice is a mystic drone. It is hard to think because he named them all, every chitinous body inside his own body, every faceted eye, every mandible, every last one.
Kagatsuchi filled him with bugs. Not long ago, but still.
There is so much to know that he forgets himself sometimes.