BROKEN: CHAPTER 1 OF TALES OF A LOST GOD

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Submitted Date 08/07/2019
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Broken

I awoke far later than I had planned, the alarm on my iPhone went off on time, I, on the other hand, turned it off and went back to sleep. Sunlight tried to force the issue, but I rolled over and drifted back into slumber. The day could carry on; I would enjoy what little sleep that I could get. "The day be damned, this bed is warmer and more comfortable,"came the resounding pretest of my inner voices, all three of them.

I would have to agree because I was very comfortable and warm in my sizeable queen-sized bed. I didn't need all that room, but it did help to have some space to move around in without having to worry that someone else was hogging up the entire bed. The thin quilt pooled around my naked waist, a thicker one covered my shoulders and back; what can I say, I must have all the blankets, all of them!

I couldn't decide whether I was too hot or too cold at night.

I could hear my phone buzzing nearby; I didn't bother to see who it was that decided to rouse me from blissful slumber, whoever it was could wait. In the back of my mind, I had hoped that it was Tian sending me his usual good morning text, but I was desperately hoping that he had the good sense to stay in bed as lazily as I was. The buzzing continued, insistently. Rolling over, I grabbed the phone from the nightstand to see who was so impatient that they couldn't wait three more hours. "Damn it, so much for sleeping in."came the second protest of the morning. I turned the screen on to see who it was, just as another text came in.

It was Tian; I guess he didn't have the sense to sleep in like an average person; he was more in the mood to function than I was. I open the messages app to see what was so damned important that it couldn't wait.

Good morning, lovely! The first message of the day, the one that I always looked forward to.

Can we talk? The second message, one that was rather ominous, I dreaded that phrase when it came in a text.

Shival, are you even reading this? Are you awake yet?!

Part of me wanted to respond with an emphatic no. What could be so critical that it couldn't wait three more hours? I figured that I had better respond and get it over with; I was suspicious about what this 'talk' thing was about. Couldn't he pray, I'd hear it quicker.

"Good morning, beautiful. Sure, we can talk, what's going on? I just woke up, is everything okay?"I tapped out my reply on the screen and sent it.

A few moments later, the screen lit up once more, with a new message.

"Chatty fucker, isn't he?"

We need to break up; this just isn't working anymore. I can't be seen with someone as ugly as you, and I've been cheating on you for weeks. The fuck you say?! I had to read the message twice to be sure that I wasn't mistaken.

It was like a slap to the face; I was torn between sheer anger and heartbreak. The pain that one message brought wasn't pleasant; I could feel the spite that he wanted to convey.

"Ugly? You've got to be kidding me. I'm ugly?" I said to myself, feeling myself grow angrier. "I'll show him what ugly is! He cheated on me?! He's going to regret that, and rue the day he met me!" I said through clenched teeth, throwing the blankets off my nakedness.

I dressed quickly before storming through the bathroom toward the front door. I opened the "Find My Friends" app on my phone, to see where that bastard was. He was at a café 1,605 miles away. "Good, let's go and show this fuckstain the error of his ways!"Agreed, let's show him precisely what it means to anger the God of Mischievous Vengeance.

There's nothing more complicated than teleportation magic; it was a gift that I practiced and worked hard to be able to perform. If you didn't have a precise location when you opened a gateway, you could end up in a wall or finding yourself buried alive. It was a risk that many have taken, mostly when they don't know any better. I had learned the technique from my divine parents, the Hindu God Shiva and the Unknown Goddess, so I understood the risk involved and how to create a gateway safely. "Safety first."

There's a moment in everyone's life when you realize that sometimes it takes dropping a metaphysical house on someone isn't such a bad idea. Dropping that house, for some people, is the moment when they change their lives. Tian was I desperate need of a house falling on top of him; he needed to learn to grow the hell up and change or become the Wicked Witch of the West…trapped under a house in ugly socks with uglier shoes.

I opened the gateway a block or so away from him, far enough away to create a dramatic effect, but close enough that I would have to walk for half an hour to get to him. When I walked through to the other side of the gate, I caught sight of him — his tall frame sitting at a bistro-style table, listening to some very sickly looking fellow. Tian sat with his back to me, which was a good thing because I wanted this entire encounter to play out on my terms.

Tian, stood an astounding seven feet tall, with the features of Greek sculpture. It was sickening how good-looking he was; his eyes were the color of a clear sky, the aquiline nose that some say is synonymous with a Roman soldier, his hair was perfect; swept back in the style that Millennials enjoy. It was enough to make any sane person sick, but I fell in love with that. He was in his mid-twenties, which I find appealing. Though to be honest, everyone on Earth was younger than I. He knew what I was, not by sheer accident, but through the trust, he had earned; I didn't much like secrets and tended not to keep any.

I couldn't imagine why he suddenly decided that he was too good for me, but I was certainly going to find out. The problem is that I'm typically not one for confrontation, which probably explains this situation a little bit. I was rehearsing what I wanted to say in my head, repeatedly, tweaking my monologue until it was nearly perfect as I crept up behind Tian. The person that was sitting with Tian at the table looked emaciated and disturbingly in a state of uncleanliness. The guy's clothing had more stains on them than Minwax can produce. He stood a whole half a foot taller than me, his thinning and brittle hair dyed a tacky platinum blond. It was his eyes, sunken deep in the sockets with heavy dark circles under them, that gave away the fact that he was strung out on something.

"I'm glad that you got rid of him, he wasn't right for you, Tian-baby," he said loudly as he was scratching at his arms. I could hear him from the gateway that I had just walked through a moment ago.

I had prepared a curse for Tian, as I slowly made my way to his table. "Tian-baby?" I whispered to myself in disgust. He had a fit when I called him Tian-baby, an absolute temper tantrum. "Oh fuck that!" It was now or never.

I picked up the pace, as I crept closer, I moved with a sense of purpose that I didn't have until that moment. I mustered up all the bass I could pour into my voice, "Tian," I said, my voice growing deeper than it had ever been.

"Oh shit!" I heard them exclaim before the druggo ran like a shot from a gun.

"Hey Shival, my love."

"Your love? My ass," I began, "shut your lying mouth, mortal!" I finished, my voice growing deeper and more menacing. Lightning cracked the sky above my head for emphasis.

"W-what?" he stuttered.

"You said we need to talk. So talk!"

"We did, in that text, everything I had to say to you," he said, acting like he was somebody with authority.

"You called me ugly. You cheat on me and decide to act the victim. Pathetic little human, I'll show you ugly," I responded.

"Stop this, Shival, it's over. That's why I cheated, you think that you're all-powerful and control everything. Get the fuck over it!"

"Imbecile, I am all-powerful. That's why I'm the deity, and you are the lowly mortal!" Thunder rumbled overhead before another flash of lightning.

"That's what makes you ugly!" Tian shouted.

"Ugly is it? If I'm ugly, what the bloody hell does that make you?" I asked, growing angrier as this drew on.

"Inside and out."

"I grow weary of this prattle, your weak excuses, and that smug look on your mug. You insult me, you cheated on me, and make excuses for your actions. Prepare yourself, little human, for you shall have your reckoning today!" I felt the tables start to turn, the righteousness of what was about to happen.

"You're overreacting, Shival. Just stop this and talk to me like a civilized being," he said, trying to act like a victim. "Overreacting? No, Tian, I'm under-reacting. You had your chance, and you muffed it. I could have killed you, injured you, poisoned you, any number of things. No, you will learn that there are consequences to your words and deeds.

"So, I ask you again. If I'm ugly, what does that make you?"

"Better than you," he muttered under his breath.

I laughed; the sound was like an avalanche. Tian's look of controlled smugness crumbled, he took a step back in fear.

"Better than me? Perhaps. Let me give you this parting gift, share it with the gutter trash you're fucking," I said, as I leaned in close and kissed him on his perfectly smooth cheek.

"If I'm ugly, Tian, then you're uglier," I whispered into his left ear. As if he'd been stabbed in the eye with a very hot and salty French Fry, he jumped back clutching his cheek painfully. Blisters and boils began to appear and spread over his entire body from his smug face. A deep red scar inched its way down the center of his face from forehead to chin, his left eye that was once a beautiful shade of blue turned milky white with blindness. The look a pure horror on his face made it even more worthwhile.

"What the fuck did you do to me?" he asked, half screaming and crying.

"You never answered my question Tian. You're ugly on the inside, such a waste really, now your face will match that," I answered, smiling broadly.

"You had better fix this right fucking now!" he screamed at me.

"I loved you, Tian, with all of my heart, more than any other deity ever has. You broke my heart."

"Go fuck yourself," he whimpered.

"Check your cock, loser!" I yelled as I walked away to my portal and home.

There comes a moment in everyone's lives that a choice must be made. We can do one thing, but another thing cannot be done. We can turn right but not left. We can soldier on, or we can let the world walk all over us. Those choices lead us down a path, and again, the cycle starts anew, we learn and grow, and understand that there are consequences to those choices. Tian had made his choices but didn't know that the effects would catch up to him. I showed him that insulting a god had its consequences, and he would have to bear that burden for the rest of his life.

I may be a deity, a lesser-known one, but a god just the same. My story is ancient, a god that was brought into the world, grew up amongst the mortals that kept calling out for me, the rest is somewhat more historical. My parents taught me everything that I needed to learn about humanity and the human world. However, they neglected to give a hint as to how disgustingly cruel mortals can be to each other. "Thanks for the heads up!"Though I was alone in this vast big world, I had managed up until now to control my godhood as much as I possibly could. Tian had forced my hand, making the mistake of saying the wrong thing to the wrong one. He had learned of my origins through the trust that he had earned and worked hard for; then he broke that trust. "Oh stop it, he knew what he was getting into, he's a big boy, you can tell from his under-roos."

I had some serious thinking to do; the only problem was that I didn't have a space of my own to do so. My first thought was to pop back to the house and talk to the only other person who knew of my divinity, Kate Haggis. Though we were great friends, a friendship that had spanned nearly twenty years, I still found the little bard to be a loyal and trusty companion. Having a living arrangement such as ours wasn't as common as many people would have assumed, we had our disagreements and arguments, but we remained stalwart friends. It was her tiny home in the mountains that I always ended up after a rough break up, and it was here now that I turned.

Kate sat in the kitchen, waiting on the coffee maker to finish brewing her morning pot when I appeared in the house. She is dressed in her worn pink housecoat, her fiery red hair tied back behind her head in a neat little bun.

"Shivy, when are you going to learn to knock first?" she called from the kitchen.

"When your door learns how," I replied, as I strolled over to the counter beside her. "Besides, I left from here; I live here for crying out loud."

"Not the point, mate," she said, her Scottish brogue slipping out just a little bit in annoyance.

"Lovely lady, it is the point. Well, not really but I've got another one for you," I chuckled.

"Oh? What's that then?" she asked, turning her stormy green eyes on me.

"How long do we have on the coffee?" I asked, trying to appear innocently and failing miserably.

"Depends. What did you do? Or should I ask, who you did it to?"

The elicited another chuckle of pure mischief from my lips.

"Oh by Ivura's left nut!" she said, knowing almost instantly what I had done. I lowered my head, trying to hide my amusement and the hint of shame that I should have felt.

"Remember Tian?" I asked, gearing up to spill the whole story.

"Yeah, he's was a decent guy."

"Decent guy? Are you sure that we're talking about the same person?" I queried.

"I think so," her brogue grew a little thicker, "what happened?" I began with the morning text messages and detailed the course of events. She sat patiently, listening to everything that I had said.

"Oh…so, what did you do exactly?" she asked, as the coffee maker beeped, indicating that it had finished brewing. I poured each of us a cup, adding half and a half with a little sugar to hers, and only sugar in mine; before handing her the cup.

"Dropped a metaphysical house on the bastard, is what I did. That, and cursed him a little bit," I answered with a broad mischievous grin on my face.

"A little bit?"

"I'm sure it'll wear off, eventually. The bastard had it coming anyway," I tried to justify the whole affair, "So he's covered in boils and blisters, a fetching scar down the center of his smug features, blind in one eye, and his dick will fall off when he gets it sucked," I finished, feeling quite pleased with myself.

Kate was not amused, much. She laughed so hard; I thought she might wet herself. "She probably did."

"Well, that's what he gets for that crap," she said, her r's rolling when she said 'crap.'

I grinned, "I hope it lasts the rest of his miserable life, the ruddy git. I still find it funny, the last thing I said to him: "Check your cock, loser."

"Yeah!" came the loud childish voice of little Colwyn from the front bedroom. I grinned, the wee lad, called me Da and giggled every time I popped in to check on him. He wasn't my child; I didn't bring that one into this world. I did bless him, praying for long life.

"Amen!" she exclaimed in response, choking on her coffee amidst the laughter.

"One more thing, lovely, I need to take off for a bit. I need to get away for a while."

"Where are you going to go? I mean, anything you need to do of course."

"I don't know, but I'll figure it out," I said and walked back to my room.

Setting my cup down on the red and white coaster that I kept on my glass-topped desk, I wrote a short note for Kate and Colwyn. I didn't feel right about what I was about to do, but I needed to escape for a little while; one day, I may come back here. I finished the short note and left it sitting on my desk with a pen to stop it from blowing away.

"Kate,

I may be back one day, but for now, I must go and sort myself out. This thing with Tian has broken something in me and has made me realize that I need to gain some perspective and clarity. I didn't want to leave without leaving something here for you. I didn't want to go without saying something. May your life be blessed, little bard. Give my love to Colwyn. Until then, I've gone.

Shivy"

I quickly packed a couple of bags, though I didn't need any of those things. I only did because of the intrinsic sentimentality that was attached to them. I opened a portal in the middle of the room, making sure to muffle the sound that came with it and stepped through. I hadn't picked a destination other than "far away" and "outside." I had no idea where to go, though I wanted to go where I've never been. What follows is the account of how I wound up in another dimension, and how I'm trying to go back.

A blinding bright light caught me off guard, causing me to clench my eyelids shut. "I knew we should have worn sunglasses." That wasn't a bad idea at all, making a pair would be simple enough; so I did. After putting them on, I was able to see why it was so bloody bright. Three suns were hanging in the sky above me.

"Where in the hell are we?"That was a good question; I'd be sure to ask our tour guide when I got the chance.

"Yeah, do that."

Where did I end up? It was hard to tell, with the brightness of my surroundings. Could I have taken myself to the point of no return?

The ground beneath my feet was glowing brightly, the light from the suns reflected through whatever composed the soil that I found myself standing upon. Trees dotted the landscape, spread sporadically along the horizon. The sky above was of a lilac hue, not entirely unusual for me; the triple suns, on the other hand, left me in a state of utter confusion. Thinking about it, I had hoped that I hadn't crossed a dimensional threshold.

I stood where I was for a moment as if glued to the spot, looking around for something familiar such as a town or some signs of civilization. There not far away from where I now stood, a symbol of some sort. "Talk about weird, that wasn't there a moment ago."

I took the ten or so paces so that I could find out where the closest place was. If I understood the signpost correctly, the nearest town was called Desiqar, and it was only seven leagues away. It would be quite the trek, twenty-one miles on foot would take a while to cover; but I was determined to find someone that could tell me where I was. It was fine knowing the name of a town, but that wasn't exactly helpful. I had no real choice but to start walking; if worse came to worse, I could always summon a means of transportation. Besides, walking would give me some time to think, and I had twenty-one miles in which to do just that.

This strange place merited exploration; perhaps I would get that chance since I had the distinct impression that I would be here for a while. I wouldn't say that I was marooned here, but that was incredibly likely given how I arrived, and I could always go home at any time. This was going to be the holiday that I needed.

As I started walking, I noticed a crunching coming from the ground; each time I took a step. "That is going to get old very quick."I agreed, the land was louder than Tian crying like a little girl. Crunch, crunch, crunch; the only sound that could be heard, it was getting annoying faster than I had thought it would. There was only one way to get around that, I closed my eyes and concentrated, focusing on my ability to levitate. "There's a clever dumbass."

Now that I could travel in silence, I resumed heading toward the town. I didn't move any faster than I had on foot, but at least that infernal crunching sound had ceased to annoy me. I'll be the first one to admit, levitation isn't the easiest way to travel, and I never could get the flying bit right. The one occasion that I attempted, I flew face-first into a wall; that hurt a lot. "Are we there yet?"

About an hour and a half later, I had managed to progress ten miles. The landscape began to change somewhat; massive farmlands started to emerge, which I took to be a good sign that I was getting closer. I was surprised that there weren't people tending the fields, for they were plowed, but it is evident to me that nothing had been planted yet. I would have stopped a bit longer, but I was somewhat in a hurry.

Another hour, I noticed a stone wall cresting the horizon. I must be approaching the town, or I'm about to come upon Attila the Hun or some very angry Mongolians. The closer I got to the walled city, the more I understood the enormity of the place. I had grown accustomed to the idea that a town was a small community of perhaps a thousand people. This place wasn't that; it was a full-blown city by those standards. That's when I noticed the city gates, two massive stone pillars; they matched in appearance, what I could see of them at any rate. The closer I got, the more that I could see, the pillars weren't precisely what I thought of as a pillar. It was several massive stone blocks stacked on top of each other, joined at the seams by something I couldn't quite identify.

Each pillar was, in fact, several massive stone blocks, one stacked atop the other. From what I could discern that the faces of the blocks carved in intricate sigils and symbols that I couldn't comprehend, even from the great distance that I was. "Ooh look at that, another tree with a field." My sarcastic inner voice was becoming agitated, by the entire endeavor, though I couldn't see why.

The dark red stone that was used to construct the wall and those great pillars looked ancient; as if time had worn it to such a smoothness that it appeared as glass. The sunlight sparkled across the glossy surface of the stone, sending a cascade of bright light directly into my eyes. I found myself wondering how the stone blocks were lifted into position, hoping that it wasn't with ropes and scaffolding. The gates that are ensconced between the pillars were of ordinary wood; each joined together meticulously by hand. Upon each panel a portion of a large mural was engraved, the overall scene one that, I had come to expect in a cathedral in the Mediterranean or a medieval castle. It depicted a scene from harvest in the fields that I had passed along the way. It was breathtakingly detailed; I could see where the first cuts in the wood were made.

I could have stood there before the gates for hours looking at that mural, inspecting each panel a little bit at a time; however, I had more pressing matters, like finding a bathroom and something to eat. Twenty-one miles on foot tends to exact a toll after a while. I set my bags down on the ground and tried to see if I could open the enormous wooden barrier. I assumed that since the gates were closed that they might also be barred from the other side, to prevent intrusion. My assumption proved correct; I could budge them as they held fast. There was only one solution to this roadblock; I would have to walk through them as if they weren't there. "Mind over matter, and all that."I picked up my bags; I used my magical acuity to allow me to pass through.

No matter what anyone tells you, passing through things isn't a simple thing. Phasing through a wall is no picnic for me or the wall; go ahead, give it a go and see for yourself just how difficult it is. I'm a god, and I loathe phasing through objects. Let me add that it is a complete hassle.

Once I got through the wooden construct, I was met by streets and avenues that must have been laid out by a drunk chimpanzee. There didn't appear to be any logic involved; the cobblestone pathways seemed to wind and twist in a variety of directions. The first thing that truly caught my waning attention was how clean everything was, not one piece of litter was upon the ground, anywhere in the town. They were more decent than most people's dishes; it was all quite impressive. The houses that lined the streets looked a little out of sorts, not that it was peculiar in any way; many of them appeared to be in various states of disrepair, a few were falling apart at the seams, there was one house where an entire wall had collapsed.

It was disconcerting and a little disparaging to see this saddening facade. I had only seen something like this once, and even then, I felt my heart break a little bit. The more I looked about, the more I started to think that this hamlet had been abandoned, left to the ages as a testament to something, some calamity that must have taken place.

There are times when a map with a little red dot that reads 'You Are Here'would be helpful. Unfortunately, I couldn't count on that here, as I attempted to navigate my way to the center of this town. Each time I thought that I might be getting a little closer, the more that I realized that I was going around in a different direction. I had yet to encounter anyone not so much as an animal; I was feeling a little more than discombobulated. I soldiered on. However, I held out hope that I would discover something, anything.

As I turned yet another corner, I tripped, almost face planting into the cobbles. "What the hell was that? Are you learning to walk again?"I looked back over my shoulder to see what had tangled my foot. "Would you look at that, you found the town drunk." I almost laughed at my sarcastic mind-stalker. There laying across the street, a body. I had hoped that it wasn't a corpse, but I had the feeling that that was precisely what I was looking upon.

I edged closer; I had to make sure. "Yeah, just rubberneck a little there, do you need a pointy stick?"I felt my right eyebrow arch a little bit, that wasn't a bad idea.

It's never a bad idea to poke something with a stick from a safe distance of four or five feet. You never know if the thing you poke might jump up and scream "surprise," or reach out and grab you by the ankle. I, on the other hand, threw caution to the wind and said, fuck it. I toed the body, not hard enough to cause injury, but enough to make sure that it wasn't going to groan at me. I wasn't about the have a live reenactment of Night of the Living Dead. I toed the body a little harder, straining my hearing to listen for a groan. Nothing.

"Great, you killed it, and we so wanted a new plaything."

Since the body didn't jump up and punch me in the liver, I knelt beside it. I had to check to see if the person was alive or dead, my training in First Aid and CPR kicked in a little bit. I rolled the poor bastard over, checking for breathing, eye movement, and the link. I was perplexed by what I was looking at. Whoever this man was, he appeared to be dead, except that he was warm to the touch. I was sure that wasn't entirely possible. If you have ever had that sudden feeling of dread and guilt about inspecting a corpse, I can happily assure you that I felt just that. I felt like I was desecrating the dead like I was doing something that even a god wouldn't do. It's hard to explain; I don't usually make it a habit to look at the corpse that is minding their own business. I wanted to be sure the body wasn't a mannequin or one of those crash test dummies.

Taking pity, I propped the poor fellow up against the wall of the building closest to where it was. It wasn't because I was worried about him, but because I didn't want to trip over the fucker again. There was no use in getting injured, not that can happen, because some poor fool was laying in the street so nonchalantly. It must have been well after midday, not that I would know when I finally arrived in the town center. A town, I might add, that was much larger than I had anticipated; my original assessment that it was closer to a city was spot on. I kept forgetting that looks can be deceiving, I mean look at me, I'm much more than I appear.

My outward appearance gave that impression. I stood all of five foot eleven inches with a stocky frame. I wasn't what most people would ever consider attractive, nor was what Tian called ugly. My eyes were dark hazel, behind them was a swirling storm that threatened to rain chaos and destruction down upon anyone and anything. My hair flowed in thick chocolate trusses down to my shoulders; I kept the cascade of locks tied back with hairbands to keep it from flying into my face whenever it so chose. Despite being born a deity, I hid it well. What would it do to go around flaunting my divinity to everyone? "You'd have to be like Jesus and heal everyone or get asked to perform some ruddy miracle all the time."Exactly.

The village was primarily a mid-size city, which took me by surprise. It never occurred to me that I could overturn whatever force that had led to this tragic display, though I wanted to, I needed to learn the source of it if there was one. If I became too stymied by my investigation, only then would I use my power. Prudence was the course to take. "Oh look, another corpse! Let's poke that one too!"

By the time I had reached the center of town, I had passed no more than six other bodies. It was a disturbing, yet remarkable sight, the bodies of the dead littered the streets and walkways of this derelict city. The more of them that I saw, the worse my curiosity became. I stood there near a large fountain, trying to gather my bearings as I was still a bit confused. I had surmised an hour ago that the cause of this must have been a curse or some random act of food poisoning. I was hoping that it was all an elaborate scheme, like some rancid tourist attraction. It was growing late; the suns were starting to set, and I was starting to get hungry. I wasn't too worried about food if I got too hungry I could summon a small meal or raid the bakery that I passed not long ago.

I set my bag down and fished out a fresh pack of Camels from the carton that I had packed. I could feel myself stressing out a little bit, I mean who wouldn't be seeing the many corpses lying about like so many toy soldiers. As I opened the pack, I pulled a green Zippo lighter from my pocket and fished a single cigarette from the bag. I took the sunglasses off my face and squinted at the street that I had stopped in; as they began to glow subtly, illuminating the darkening city.

"Well, that's clever. Self-illuminating streets."I had to agree, it indeed was clever, ingenious really; though that didn't provide the answers to my questions. One by one, sections of the cobblestoned streets began to light up as if the stones themselves were tiny solar-powered lanterns. I had to wonder how these people lit their homes in the night, was it the same thing or something less impressive. I would have to find out at some point.

I took a deep pull of the cigarette, holding my inhalation in my lungs for a moment before exhaling slowly. I took another look at the town square, I thought about a place to sleep, hoping there might be an inn that I could stay the night in; I was growing tired, more so after using so much of my power in one day. I started back toward the bakery that I had passed earlier, and found the only hostel in the town; I looked inside the bakery for something to eat and snagged a pastry before heading inside the inn to find a bed.

The inn wasn't much to look at from the outside; the door fallen off its hinges and lay on the ground. As I stepped inside, I noticed how incredibly clean it was despite the door; hanging from the ceiling of the common area was what I believed to be electric lights. I was surprised by that because walking through the town; I didn't see any indication of any technology. I looked around the establishment, checking to see what else I might have missed, and of course more corpses. The kitchen was tiny and well used, everything had its place, and everything was in its place. I decided that it was time that I head upstairs to see what the bed situation was. The stairs were made of stone, evenly constructed. From what I could tell as I ascended to the second floor, the stone helped absorb the sound of heavy footfalls.

The second story revealed a series of rooms connected by a corridor. On either side of the hall were doors, marking the rooms. I checked each entry, to see if any were unoccupied; luckily, I found a spacious room with two beds. The room was plain and unadorned; a small carpet was laid out upon the floor. The beds were nothing special, though they looked quite comfortable and inviting. I tested each of them to learn which one was the better of the two, to my surprise, they were feather beds. It was a hard decision; honestly, it was, to select one of the two; the one that was one the darker side of the room was the choice I went with. I set my bags down next to it and lay down. I don't remember much past that, as I fell asleep almost instantly.

The following morning, I was roused from my slumber by a cacophony streaming in through the window and from outside of the door. I jumped, half out of my skin, to my feet, thinking that I was under attack! I picked up my bags and ventured forth from the room to investigate this explosion of activity.

The town had suddenly come to life; people were busying themselves with daily tasks of opening shops and setting out the wares for the day. As I went down the flight of stairs, the innkeeper caught sight of me. The fellow had a look of stunned confusion; I walk over to him to find out how much the room would cost.

"Good morning, sir. I hope you don't mind that I used the room in the far back corner last evening. I would have paid you last night, but I'm afraid there was no one moving about to have done so," I began.

"Oh…sorry about that. The far back room, you say?"

"No worries, sir. Yes, the far back one. How much is the room?" I queried.

"Ten silvers a night. How long do you need it?" he answered.

"I'm not sure, say a week, and we'll go from there," I said, "ten silvers?" I asked.

"Yep, that's right." He didn't say much after that, just gave me a blank stare indicating that he was impatient and wanted his money.

"I'm not from…here. What does a silver look like?" I asked.

The innkeeper smiled and produced a small silver coin. The coin was no larger than a quarter; it was unadorned of any image or word. I knew I could easily pull coins like this from thin air; that is what I did. The innkeeper's eye grew wide as I pulled several coins from the air between us, placing each one in a small sack that I also pulled from space. I set the bag down on the table before him, overflowing with the dull silver coins, some three hundred of them.

"Oh, that'll be more than enough. I trust you'd want meals too?" he asked after the look of fearful astonishment left his features.

"Only if it's not too much trouble. If you need a hand around here, I would be glad to offer it," I replied, smiling softly.

"Anything you wish," he said, picking up the sack of coins. "You aren't a sorcerer by chance?"

"Not quite. I've been called such, but I'm nowhere near being such a thing," I answered.

"Good! We don't welcome those kinds of people around here."

"Good to know, thank you for the room," I said, taking my bags back up to the room, hiding one of them under the bed.

After traversing the stairs of the inn, I went out into the street to have another look around. I was still agitated about being woken up so suddenly and the shock of seeing the town alive, when only the night before everyone that I saw was in a state of death. I couldn't wrap my mind around those facts that I had painstakingly gathered.

No one had noticed that I was walking amongst them, with the lone exception of the innkeeper. If they had seen, they were polite enough not to say anything, that and they didn't bother to ask. I strode slowly, taking my time, through the crowd of people going about their business, concluding that it was a curse that plagued these people. Wondering who I needed to talk to, to find out more information; I stopped a passerby. It seemed the only logical way to find out anything useful.

"Pardon me; I don't mean to hinder you. Who oversees your fair town?" I asked, not exactly sure if asking outright was the polite thing to do. I tried my best not to appear intimidating; luckily, the older woman I had asked smiled and pointed to a house high up on a hill, not more than a short walk away. I thanked her, smiling softly back at her, and blessed her with a long and happy life.

I walked across the square and down the street toward the house that she indicated. The house that she had pointed to didn't look all that impressive. Though it sat on the top of a high hill, gave the place an imposing presence, the path leading up to the house wound around the hill, making it seem like it would take hours to get to. "More walking? Really?"all three of my inner voices whined in unison.

It was prudent, that I know expose my divinity to these people, especially since the people were wary of sorcery; what would they make of a god flying around like a fool? I too would be suspicious of someone that could pull coinage out of the air.

The hill was immaculately manicured; flower gardens were precisely placed along the path. The closer to the top that I got, the more details that I glimpsed; herb beds dotted the hill up to the front door. The house appeared more extensive than any of the other homes in the area; the greenery helped with the illusion. I admired the tended greenery as I approached the door of the house on the hill. The house was ugly, modest in appearance; dark stained wood was the only color. The place looked solid, nothing fancy, with a dull-looking door. It didn't look inviting or even aesthetically pleasing, but it served its purpose.

I felt a grin creep across my lips as I reached out to knock on that door. It was admirable how humble the owner of this house was. I stood on the doorstep for what felt like hours before I heard movement on the other side. I was about the knock a second time, when the door opened slowly, revealing a hunched over, aging man with rheumy eyes.

"What do you want?" came the crackling voice of the gentleman.

"Good morning sir, I was told that you lead this town," I answered.

"Yes, what of it?" He was a surly old goat, ruder than anyone that I had ever encountered.

"Well, I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with this town. I'm passing through, and I stumbled across corpses in the night," I began.

"Come inside," he said, gesturing me to follow him. I followed him, shutting the door behind me. I was led through several corridors and antechambers to a large room near the middle of the house. I was surprised at how large the house was compared to the size that it appeared on the outside. "Just remember, it's bigger on the inside like the TARDIS."

The room that he led me to was much larger than any of the other rooms in the dwelling. The walls were made of light-colored wood, polished to the point that they shined. The thing that took my breath away was the myriad of bookshelves that were built into the walls. There is one thing that I always admired of mortal beings was their capacity to revere knowledge, to place books in an open display for the world to see. In the center of this room sat a large wooden desk with intricate scrollwork along the edges, two sizeable overstuffed leather armchairs, and a throne-like chair behind the desk. More of the lights were placed through the room to provide ambiance.

The elder gestured to one of the chairs, and I gladly took the one on the left. People often talk about chairs like this, when they sit down in them, how the material envelopes them; this chair did just that. He took the chair behind the desk; once he sat, the seat made him look like a dwarf trying to ride a horse.

"Before I tell you about our problem, maybe you should tell me who you are, where you come from, and whether you're a damned magic flinging sorcerer," he began.

"I'm Shival; I come from Earth. Sorcerer? No, not quite, I'm much more than that," I answered, carefully weighing each word before using it.

"Not quite? What's that supposed to mean? Earth? Where's that then?" the man queried.

"Yes, not quite. For you see, I'm a god. Earth is a planet. Though, I'm not quite sure it's on the same dimensional plane as this place," I answered, with a look of grim determination crawling across my features.

"A god?! Impossible, we don't have gods here."

"Yes, sir. Before you ask, yes, I can use magic and no; I don't use it unless no other option is available. I am the god of mischievous vengeance, but I have made it my mission to help anyone in need; and clearly, this town and all of its people are in dire need," I interjected.

The leader's eyes grew large in surprise to what I had just said, his mouth hung agape, and all color drained from his countenance. I hadn't intended to expose my identity to these people, but clearly, anything else wouldn't have made such a distinct impression.

"You've seen our corpses," he started, after composing himself once more. He then began to recount the events that led to the nightly quietus and the brume that fell across the town. I couldn't discern any connection, from his account of the last forty years.

"I thought perhaps it might be a curse or some other magical malady. Do you, by chance, know anything else about this mist?" I said in response.

"That's all I know. I figure some sorcerer got himself spurned and decided we'd make a good target," the magistrate replied.

"That could very well be it."

"What are you going to do about it then, godling."

"Let me worry about that; I'll investigate this thing and let you know what I learn if anything." I said, rising from the incredibly comfortable chair before adding, "I'm staying at the inn by the bakery."

"It's the only one in town," he said and led me back outside, slamming the door behind me.

"You're in it now, fuckwit."Don't I know it.

I stood there on the doorstep for a moment; I had just undertaken a seemingly impossible task. There wasn't an issue with that, but I had no clear idea of where to even begin to find answers. Though the magistrate was curt and far too rude for a man in his position, I at least knew the course of events leading to this terrible affliction.

The morning was crawling along; I began to wonder if these people had coffee. "If they don't they are dirty heathens!"I smirked at the thoughtful comment and made my way down the hill and back to the town square. The journey didn't take half as much time as the hike up had, I stopped a young woman who had been tending the gardens surrounded the fountain.

"Pardon me, miss. Perchance you could tell me if there's a place I could grab a cup of coffee?" I asked timidly; I hadn't intended on scaring the poor lass.

"Of course, the bakery by the inn or perhaps the tea house over there," she answered, and pointed to a shop across from where we stood. I looked in the direction she had indicated and seen a window with a large cup of steaming liquid painted on it in bright blue.

The shop was on the small side, as far as shops go. As I opened the door, a little bell rang. Space was tidy and cozy, small tables spaced out evenly. Each table had a little candle lit in the middle, with chairs around them. Much like the bistro-style tables outside, they had metal-framed chairs; it looked quaint.

"Good morning!" came the cheerful voice of the proprietor.

"Good morning! By chance, do you sell coffee?" I asked, smiling.

"Of course, we're civilized people after all," was the only reply I needed to hear at that moment.

"May I get the largest cup you have, just sugar no milk," I said.

"It's on the house, sir, Magister Pyter sent word that you were about."

"Oh, I insist on paying. I don't want anything for free," I stated plainly.

"One copper, if you insist on paying that is," the short, but the pretty woman said. I pulled the coin out of the air and set it on the counter that lay between us.

She had the look of a person that had just been scalded before saying, "Pyter warned me that you could do something like that, the innkeeper also" she said, amused but fearful.

"My apologies, I'm not a sorcerer if that's what you are thinking."

"Good, but don't do that in public; it'll end badly."

I agreed and decided to procure more funds in the privacy of my room at the inn. I thanked her for the coffee and took a seat by the window. As I sipped my dark and murky beverage, I asked her if I could ask her a few questions about the town; she poured herself a cup and joined me at my table.

"Questions about the town? Surely, you already know, you live here too," she asked.

"No, I'm afraid not. I only just arrived last evening," I said.

"Last night…?"

"Yes, last night. Worry not, I saw the quietus and am withholding my judgment," I replied, gently.

"Oh…um…in that case; I think it's a curse, some foul magic that does us in," she said.

"A curse? What makes you certain of that?" I asked I needed to know what I was dealing with and how best to work against it.

"That fog that settled in just before we all became dead," she began, "there was a tingle to the air when it reached the ground. It was most unusual; surely, I thought it had to be some spell." I nodded, making a mental note about the brume.

"Why is sorcery and magic hated and feared here? Is that the response to this mist?" I asked, growing increasingly curious.

"It's not so much hated, as it is shunned. Magic is a terrible thing; it's been that way for as long as I can remember. When the murk came, Pyter banned the practice, yes in response to it," she answered.

"Magic isn't as evil as you people have come to see it. It can create such beauty."

"Yet it was used to level this malediction upon us," she stated.

"Indeed. Magic is a part of the fabric of who and what I am."

"What are you?" she asked, growing timorous.

"My dear, I am divinity personified, a being of worship; a god," I responded, radiating incandescently. The shopkeep fell silent, the words caught in her throat. She stood up and walked behind the counter once more. It took her a few moments before she came back to my table.

"Does that frighten you?" I asked, trying to divert the conversation a little.

"Not as much as it should, I suppose."

"One last question, who would want to curse this town?" The question was a good one, and the answer might point me in the right direction. Finding out the who was, far more critical than any other issue that I could formulate.

"The Dread King." She said no more, ushering me out of her shop before I could ask who that was. I had my first solid lead — the Dread King. I had to find out who that was, the only hindrance to that question was that no one wanted to talk about him. It was apparent that the mere mention of the title sent a wave of hesitation, that was louder than any sound could be.

Heading back to the inn, I had contemplated the praxis of my inquest. There were more questions now than there were when I spoke with the magistrate. Who was this Dread King, and what did he have to do with this malediction? I could ask the magistrate, but I got the impression that he wasn't going to be as forthcoming as I would like; however, asking the townspeople would likely result in the same.

I arrived at the inn a couple of minutes later, the innkeeper called me over and handed me a slip of paper; a note. "Oh, I'm telling you! He's passing notes in class!"came the soft, ridiculing sound of mental protest.

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