19 November, 2006

The Birth of a God

Many years had passed by since the curse was placed upon him. and he still did not understand how it was even a curse. He never fell ill anymore and so was able to help when the plague came through the town, and even prospered since his was the only field that got planted that year. Of course, he simply gave away most of the grain he grew, but his generosity won him the Mayor’s position, and a place in the local court. His injuries healed quickly and his strength was equaled by only the greatest warriors. Decades passed before the true horror even began to dawn on him. The realization of what awaited him only began when he realized just how old his wife was growing. First it was a touch of the rheumatiz, then her sight and her hearing began to go. Her energy had long been leaving and soon she spent most of her time in the chair by the fire, allowing their daughters to completely take over the household duties. The entire town gathered for her funeral, and even the Landlord came to bid her farewell. She was loved by all. On that day he looked into the faces of children and his grandchildren and what he saw began to frighten him. It had overtaken him so gradually that he had failed to notice they were growing older than him. Friends he had known and loved since childhood were now the wizened elders of the town, while he was still the young Mayor. The grief of losing his wife never quite left him. He soon resigned his post and spent his days looking after the children of his grandchildren, hoping to find some joy with them. The day of the funeral of his eldest son was the day he first tried to take his own life. He hung from the rafters of his barn for several hours before one of his great grandsons found him and cut him down. By unspoken agreement, neither ever spoke of the incident again. A few years later he tried drowning himself. He never could figure out exactly how long he sat wrapped in chains at the bottom of the bay until some unlucky fisherman got his net caught on the chains, but when he returned to town, it was a city, and he recognized no one who bore his name. Remaining incognito for a while, he learned that he had passed into legend, one that not everyone even believed. He knew his longevity was pretty farfetched, so rather than announcing himself, he simply moved on. He became a wanderer, staying in one place only long enough to ply, or learn, a trade for a while, and leaving before anyone could remark on how slowly he seemed to age. The decades passed into centuries. He watched towns become cities. He watched cities become kingdoms. He watched a few kingdoms conquer the world. He watched the mightiest empires crumble into dust. The centuries passed into millennia. For a time he amused himself by chronicling the history he had witnessed, but found it ill received by historians. It often ran counter to accepted accounts, and it lacked the perspective of the mighty. He was a vagabond, unwelcome in any court. From time to time he would again attempt to take his own life, each time failing. He managed to behead himself only to watch in disgust as his headless body groped for its missing member. He threw himself off a cliff and lay in agony for many days as his body healed itself. Starvation did nothing but teach him he did not need food. Freezing only left him immobile until he thawed. Burning only brought pain, and he inevitably ran out of fuel. Wild beasts even found him unsavory, and would not eat him. As he watched empires rise and fall, and observed man’s cruelty to man, he grew to hate them and their inability to see beyond the next few years. Their love of impermanent riches and glory was a cause of frustration for him. So he rejected them. He left the company of civilization and went into the uncharted wildernesses of the world. There he began to study the world of animals, and plants, and even the very rocks. Decades and centuries of patient and meticulous observation yielded astounding discoveries. He came to love knowledge and constantly thirsted for more. He stared into the heavens and tried to count the stars. He constructed experiments to test his observations and found that not everything was as it seemed, but even so, fit together in seamless harmony. He built devices to help him see farther, and to see smaller. The more he learned, the greater the love in his heart grew for the world around him, until finally he decided he had to share his knowledge, that he might bring the joy of discovery to mankind. The best result he found, though, was that people laughed him to scorn. More often they accused him of unholy wizardry and tormented him until he managed to escape. Depression seized him and he despaired of ever enlightening his kind. He saw them as doomed to ignorance forever, and he determined to not be a witness of their self destruction. At last, he found himself at the lip of a smoldering volcano. The heated air buffeted him as he threw in a sapling tree. It burst into flames as it fell, and was nothing but glowing ash by the time it hit the bubbling, burning rock below. He smiled with a new found optimism that perhaps finally he had found the end of his curse, and leapt into the crater. The agony was like nothing he had ever known. He sank deep into the pool of magma and was destroyed many times over. He went mad with the pain, but did not die. It was, however, too much for the power of the curse alone to save him from the greater power of the Earth itself. The curse twisted itself to find a new source of energy to draw upon, and began to draw it from the fires around him.

He regained consciousness in a foreign land that he had never before seen. Standing up, he discovered that he no longer had a body of flesh, but that he had become a living flame. He soon discovered that not only was he still bonded to the powers of the Earth, but that he could bend them to his will. The curse was complete; he had become a god.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trying to imagine different ways he could try to kill himself:
With an accomplice he could chop himself to little pieces. Would the biggest piece just regrow him, or would they all try to move back together?
Everything else I can think of is just a variation on a theme.