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|This part concludes the depiction of a youth burdened with the hopes of a mythic city, all residents of which believe him to be the god they worship simply due to his appearence.||
As A God – Part Three(conclusion)
“Goodbye,” he whispered more to conclude an already concluded conversation than to be heard.
It was dark, the candle having burned itself out and the room having no windows. A small shaft of light filtered beneath the door, natural light rather than candlelight, and barely illuminated the small room. It was quiet and his breathing seemed thunderous in his ears. He was rested and feeling stronger, and, eyeing the room, saw that his clothes had been removed and new ones put in their place. He picked them up cautiously and let their lengths fall before him—cheap. They were poorly made garments of thick, grainy material which almost hurt his skin just holding them, however they were his size and dry and he was cold.
He dawned the cloths with all speed, watching the door as he did so and wondering if someone wouldn’t just walk through when he finished. No one did however, and after a moment’s hesitation he crossed the floor silently and tried the doorknob. It was locked, but hadn’t been fully closed and he only had to jostle it slightly to get it open. Beyond, a woman’s bedroom was empty save for the morning sunlight which shone heatedly in through the parted draperies. He ignored it and strode to the door, putting his ear to the opening and listening carefully.
“I repeat, leave these premises immediately,” an authorative male voice said, and a foot was stamped.
“I’m sorry Sir, but we are not under your orders. Lord Seioah has been confirmed to be held within your residence—”
“His belongings were found outside your door and he was known to be in the vicinity. Your house alone has gone unsearched, and we would rather you simply turned him over to us peaceably than change that fact,” the voice, presumably belonging to a soldier, spoke no less authoratively.
“You have no authority here. This is a private home not to be breached by any who are not welcomed,” the man insisted.
“We do not ask your welcome, Sir. We are under orders to take what goes ungiven, though I would prefer not to.”
“And I tell you that taking another step forward will cost you your position, pay, and good name. Do not challenge me, Officer. I…”
Seioah leaned away from the door, sighing. He crossed to the window and peered towards the ground from shadows made by the draperies. Frowning, he realized that the house was completely surrounded by fully armoured guards spaced ten feet apart and each examining the house scrupulously. He was effectively trapped.
Trapped. But wasn’t everyone trapped? He was trapped as a god, they as soldiers. Would he be any less trapped if he escaped, ran for a new life and new way of living, or would he remain as he had always been—effectively glimpsing an unattainable freedom. Seioah smiled suddenly, allowing his features to alight and the weight on his shoulders to lessen. Was it wrong for poor man to act poor, or a rich man to act rich? Hardly. Then, was it wrong for one claiming the title of a god to act the part as well? To love his people and seek what was best for them?
He stepped forward and pulled open the draperies, grinning as he threw open the window and leaned against the wooden frame. The guards immediately saw him, saw his white hair and violet eyes struck by the sun, and started forward. He took a breath, glancing up and down the line, then raising his hand in a single, graceful gesture.
“Halt!” he ordered. They stopped, looking questionably at each other. Seioah carefully leapt onto the window ledge and seated himself with his legs hanging over the edge and his hands gripping the sides so he wouldn’t fall, though fifteen feet was hardly frightening for a god! “Stay as you are,” he called, leaning forward. “That is an order by your god.”
They straightened, standing taller and more seriously. One, presumably the leader, stepped forward and bowed deeply though he didn’t prostrate himself. “High Lord Seioah,” he began in a singsong voice, “we have come to invite you—”
“Silence!” he ordered, holding his hand up quickly and turning his head from the man until he was sure he wouldn’t continue. “I wish to ask a question and not to be interrupted, do you understand? Do not answer, simply nod.”
His gaze flashed from the face of one man to the next until he was sure each had agreed. He then beckoned one soldier to the foot of the window where the man bowed. “Rise man, and look at me. I promise you shall not burn by looking upon my face. Now, answer me this: what makes me a god in your eyes?”
The expression on the soldier’s face froze, and fear could be seen brimming in his eyes and on his quivering lips. His hands tightened into fists, though he hardly moved, and he shifted his gaze from Seioah’s chest directly onto his face. He was startled. “Lord, I cannot—”
“No,” Seioah cut him off quickly. “Don’t tell me you cannot answer. You do not address your king, you address your god. I know an answer lies in your heart, and it is your duty to answer justly what it is.”
“Lord,” his voice quivered.
“Gather yourself, Officer, and answer my question truly. As I stand before you I stand as a man would, I gesture as a man and speak as a man, so why do you call me a god? What quality do you see which I do not?”
The man looked over his shoulder at his comrades nervously, his hands shaking and a bead of sweat breaking across his forehead and down his red cheek. “High Lord, I do not feel myself equal to your query. How may a man provide any answer to a god?”
“But I ask only what makes me a god in the eyes of a man,” he retorted without pause.
“Faith,” a second man stepped forward from the line and bowed deeply to Seioah. “Faith and trust, that makes you our god, Lord Seioah,” he said in a soft, sure voice, bowing a second time. He continued more surely when met with Seioah’s amiable expression. “We, your people, hold in our hearts the dream that our High Lord and God may look down upon us and smile, love us limitlessly though we have many reasons he should not, care when no other would care and share the dreams we could voice to no other. You are our most personal confidant, the person we turn to when we daren’t turn to even our parents and spouses, and we have faith that through you we will be granted the courage to face a world whose mysteries scare even the best of us. We need a god, and the reason we exalt you rather than another is because you provide those qualities which we most desire.”
“But what of omnipotence? I don’t pretend to have such, and I may never be able to help with any of those dreams you mentioned,” Seioah replied truthfully.
“We aren’t asking you to. Not really,” he looked away briefly, gathering his thoughts. “All we really want is a listening ear, someone to keep our secrets with us.” He shrugged. “We aren’t looking for the easy way out.”
Seioah raised his eyebrows, surprised. They weren’t? That was what a god was for though, the easy way out of any situation. Just pray it away. Pray for money, for health or a longer life, for a child, a promotion, even true love—all wants, but wants which didn’t have to be achieved by the person as much as given to them like a reward. He was their god and was expected to reward them for a job well done and hold that reward when it was undeserved, or he had thought so. What if he wasn’t that rewarder however? What if they found more in the achievement of their own rewards than having them granted by some unknown force?
“If you want nothing from me, then—”
“I didn’t say that,” the soldier interceded quickly, pausing nervously afterwards. “I—I didn’t say we wanted nothing of you, only that we never truly ask to be rewarded. We only ask for someone who will confidentially listen to our dreams without scoffing, and when we admit the most terrible of our secrets we’ll still be loved in the aftermath.”
Seioah nodded. It was simple. They saw god as the very best of friends. Seioah liked that. It wasn’t asking too much, but it wasn’t asking too little either. He imagined the fairytale friends, those ones who smiled so brightly as they played, ducking through sparsely placed trees and under shallow bridges. They laughed a great deal, and ran in constant sunshine and the air smelled of sweet, sweet flowers and was littered with golden dust. He couldn’t quite see himself in that world, perhaps it would take a little more work but he would welcome the challenge.
He grinned and cautiously rose to his feet, clutching the edges of the window frame with his fingertips. “Then you shall have that confidant, gentlemen—”
“Lord Seioah!” a female voice shrieked from the room behind him.
He craned his neck around, seeing that the door had finally been forced open and the room was now occupied by a handful of scrupulously dressed soldiers, as well as an official-looking young man, his hostess and her maid. He grinned at them. “Stop,” he held a hand firmly in the air, the other still holding the window frame.
“High Lord Seioah,” a priest pushed his way forward from the back of the crowd, accompanied by two other scholarly looking men, and thoroughly ignored his gesture.
“You will halt, High Priest.” Seioah repeated, his voice gaining an icy edge.
The priest halted, looking surprised.
“I’ve made some decisions, gentlemen, ladies. While you were discussing my fate I also chose to revaluate it, and have reached the following conclusion,” he took a breath, still smiling for he found it difficult not to do so. He was happy. “Lady Hostess and Maid I thank you thoroughly for your assistance, and thank also your brother for his words on my behalf, however I must presently terminate my stay within your house and hope to obtain your gracious leave to do so.”
“O-of course,” she stammered, blushing at the intensity of his gaze.
“And you soldiers, please lower your guard. I no longer intend to leave the city, so you no longer need attempt my capture by force. In addition, I do apologize for keeping you from your families for the night. It seems I got a little carried away with myself.” He turned to the priests, the three of whom were greatly agitated and stood fidgeting. “Gentlemen, I believe we have some changes which need be discussed.”
“Lord Seioah,” the first priest answered quickly, “what measures we impose are only for your own safety and benefit.”
“Hardly,” he laughed. “However those measures aren’t in question. The changes I ask will be accomplished. I offer you no choice. My guard will be removed while within the temple and minimized outside it. I will be granted free reign of what territories I wish, with,” he raised his voice to drown the complaints arising upon the priest’s lips, “with or without your permission. I am a god, and will be granted what respect that deserves. I do not ask freedom, but only lenience and the good grace to understand that I, as much as you, desire the space needed to be my own person. I wish to live my life as every other creature upon this fair earth wishes to, and I can no longer deny that wish. So now you have a choice before you, to accept these facts and help make the changes I require, or to leave and let me make them by myself. I would rather you stayed, however,” he smiled at each of them, searching their frantic faces. They knew him well, knew how human he imagined himself, and yet on some level they still saw him as their god and knew they could refuse him nothing.
After a time, fumbling and stammering to each other, they bowed and met his smile. “If that is as My Lord wishes, then it must be done…though,” the foremost of the three added, “perhaps some negotiation may be spoken of?”
Seioah nodded, welcoming the suggestion. “Of course, Priest. Negotiations are always welcome, but that for later. It’s time we went home.” He took a deep breath, filling his chest with the sweet-smelling morning air. “A new day has arisen, and it promises to be glorious.”
He eyed the pale blue sky, the sunshine, and the guards on the street below. “Won’t you escort me?” he queried, leaping from the high windowsill with a grin and a laugh.
And where a man would have fallen the god only floated to the ground, and began his trip home.
|The Upside-Down Palace - Part 1||As A God - Part One|
|As A God - Part Two||Prickle|