Sosimo was hungry, he had no dremlen feygl of his own. No one in the Kiryat Lailah slums had them. They couldn't afford the iron bars necessary to cage the birds. Iron to steal the dremlen or dream stuff from its freedom before it rose to feed the gods in the clouds.
Sosimo was hungry, but not nearly as hungry as the girl, child of his loins, who lay upon the bier. Her cheeks were concave, empty things, echoing the absence of her dremlen. His hunger dulled his sorrow as it did her eyes. He held her limp hand as they closed for the last time. The gods sucking dremlen to make up for the greed of those in the rich quarters who refused to pay their burden to the gods. Traitors who wanted to live forever at the cost of Sosimo's daughter, Sosimo's wife. Of everyone who lived in the Kiryat Lailah slums.
Sosimo was hungry, and the undercurrent of pain that swirled through him, almost as strong as the aches in his shoulders bearing the weight of his daughter's bier. His own dremlen leached from his body, from the bodies of all the pallbearers, a thin fog lifting into the sky. They laid his daughter in the water of the night to float in the canal and the other men dispersed while Sosimo watched his daughter float away.
Sosimo was hungry, but that didn't explain why he stopped in the streets outside the mansions that towered over the banks of the water of the night. The hunger had been something he'd known since he was little, but the loss of his daughter changed something inside of him.
He deserved what he saw through the colored glass of the mansion's windows. A dark room lit by the dremlen feygl. A pale glow of the ephemeral birds inside their cages, dremlen captured to steal longevity for those who could afford the iron.
It was the memory of his daughter that led Sosimo to pound his fist against the glass. Slivers of light fell to the floor, tinkling, warning those who lived here of his trespass. He stood on the threshold aware that his fingers, dark mud underneath the fingernails from working the mines, would corrupt everything he touched here. But he doubted that it would matter. He deserved to savor his essence, his life, his dremlen. He slumped forward, listening, but nothing moved from the stairs above.
The pale glow of the dremlen feygl led him forward. A flock of birds fluttered inside four cages, one for the man of the house, one for his wife, and two for his children. The birds inside shuddered, and Sosimo knew their owners would have nightmares this night. But, for them, they dreamed strong; the nightmares would capture them, or let them loose, and he thought about the roiling bodies as they imagined horrible things: a miner watching helplessly as his cave filled with rubble, the powerlessness of those who lived in the slums, losing a dremlen feygl.
The iron of the cage was cold, just like the bits of iron that he found deep in the caves, so cold it could burn a man's fingers. Of course, iron in its raw form felt that way, but the cage was processed, only a hint of the burn it could deliver. These folk didn't deserve what they had here, what they stole from the workers who made it safe for the rich folk to keep in their living room.
The latch squeaked as Sosimo flipped it open. Inside the birds hopped, moving faster, more agitated, and he licked his lips wondering if their fear would be transferred to the dreamers above. They deserved this. His hand moved quickly to grab one of the dremlen feygl. Feathers flew as the thing twitched trying to escape his grasp. He squeezed until the bird stopped fluttering and placed it in his mouth. The bones were weak, easily crushed, and he chewed well so that none of the bones would catch in his throat before swallowing. Already, he felt a flush on his skin. A faint glow as he felt stronger, healthier.
Sosimo unlocked the door and stepped into the night. He marveled at the stars above him, above the clouds where the gods harvested dremlen. They were no different than himself, the gods were thieves. One didn't jail a god, and therefore, maybe this life wasn't as dreadful as he'd thought. He wasn't a thief. Rather, he was a god.
For the first time Sosimo could remember, he laughed, a feeling the roiling through his body, leaving him feeling alive, feeling satisfied, and suffusing the whole world. He would be a god that walked the streets.