Alright, posting up the next bit of the story today, and I’m on track for words-per-day so far (though I’ll only be posting 1,700 odd of them today, for clarity reasons).
Before I do so, though, there’s something else I want to talk about.
Why am I writing this story, with this tone, right now?
‘Fickle’, if it wasn’t made abundantly clear yesterday, isn’t a very sensible or serious work. And I mean both kinds of ‘serious’.
It isn’t very sensible, it’s light-hearted in its own way, designed to bring the odd wry smile. It’s also not a very ‘sensible’ choice to share, devote time to or promote when I have far superior works on my table, better plots, and ideas, better prose.
So, why ‘Fickle’, why now?
Mostly, it’s because this is my current mood. I am feeling cynical with the world as we rush toward November’s midterms here in the States, in a world that seems increasingly insane and stupid.
I’ve also just moved home without making the decision to do so off my own back, so I feel displaced, disgruntled and disengaged from reality. Everything feels a little surreal and ridiculous, so I want to write something surreal and ridiculous.
‘Fickle’ is not serious. It’s not to be published, held up to the light and admired, or cherished. It’s not a Great Work, a diatribe on the state of humanity, or a world-altering perspective on the human condition.
It’s a piece of enjoyable tat I want to write, that I know will make my closest friends smile, and let me get some of my own wry and dry thoughts onto paper for my own sake.
It’s a toy for me to play with, to get my head back into creating now my grand move is over and I’m establishing a new normal for the next few years. I hope it will make a few people smile just a tiny bit while I’m at it, but even if no one else read it or cared for it, it will still serve its purpose just by existing, for me.
So, with all that said, on to today’s portion!
(Yesterday’s beginning can be found by clicking here)
‘Fickle’ Part 2
Birth of a Legend
The end came from the Grand Spire. Some critical tipping point in humanities collective id just snapped.
‘No more divine intervention, no more chaos’. And the Spire simply… cracked.
The shock-wave passed around the world at least three times, but unlike a mere sound-wave, it was made of something more, and something as unknowable as a soul.
Everywhere it touched, the work of the two gods instantly stopped and collapsed back to whatever equilibrium it could manage. In some places, the sea receded and gave back some of the lands, while in others, the water flash froze where it stood.
The practical upshot was simply a removal of the two forces from outright interference down here on good ol’ Earth.
The God of Light, so far as I know, has been banned from handling anything except physics, and time. Gravity still works, the sun stays put and we orbit it, there are twenty-four hours in a day, as there should be. I for one appreciate an end to the weeks of thirty-two hour days, followed by a week of twelve hour ones.
The God of Dark, meanwhile, seems to be handling the life-cycle and entropy pretty well. Things die and rot and energy doesn’t go on forever in a single state. Beyond useful on a planet with more dead creatures than the last great extinction. Corpses don’t really make for good long-term decorations and landscaping, especially when it’s not October. Not that any of us know when October even is, anymore.
I was also in that weird shock wave.
See, Men might have universally discovered the secret to stopping their ill-made Gods, but it’s kind of hard to not believe in something you just banished.
‘No more Gods’ can only come with ‘no more belief’, and the only thing people are better at believing in than unseen sky deities is tangible sky deities. Besides, what is a Man without creativity and a concept of potential?
Truth be told, all it really needed was the second unified thought Men’s id was focused on – ‘Gods, please, someone change this’. And thus, I turned up. The shorn off creativity and malleable power of the Gods of Light and Dark, which technically makes them my parents.
Humanity wished me into being at the same time they shoved my folks out. One brand new, baby deity, suddenly coughing and spluttering on the slopes of a broken volcanic impossibility, after screaming thrice around the world at the speed of sound.
As births go, it wasn’t so bad. At least no one had to pry me out of an orifice with glorified tweezers. But it could perhaps be said I was somewhat disconcerted and upset at the treatment. It certainly didn’t predispose me well to the very first people I met, a trend which has been ongoing ever since.
I admit I might have had a bit of a temper tantrum that first day, but it wasn’t like there were more than about five living people on the Spire anyway. Four canoes got away, and I’m fairly certain the first one had two people in it, so I refuse to be guilt tripped on this front. Besides, it isn’t wise to guilt trip anyone with a volcano lair, which I have tried, in vain, to point out ever since.
I made the Spire my home, but wouldn’t you know it… all it took was those five imbeciles spreading the word of my little, tiny, destructive rampage and I ended up with a small cult back on the mainland.
The shattered Spire became ‘my’ symbol, but at least those first few worshipers were smart enough not to come back to the island. They just spread rumors instead, and as a wise man once said ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on.’
At my last check, the legend about me was even more out of control than ever before. What started as a simple story has been built on by so many tongues, and languages, I’m often surprised to wake up the same height day by day, let alone anything else. That isn’t to say even the first version wasn’t completely wrong, though.
‘When the sky cracked, a comet broke the black finger and calmed the raging seas. The Herald spoke unto the men gathered there and named them prophets. ‘Go into the world, knowing my power. Sacrifice unto me that the sea may stay calm, and I shall spare thee my ire. Travel not into the mists of fire, lest thou be consumed, for mine is the strength of fire and water.’
I mean, come on.
First of all, I didn’t break the Spire. Humanity did that.
Second, I’m not a herald, and I never said a word to anyone that day, I was too busy swearing.
And I don’t believe in prophets. They tend to hear what they expect to hear, not actual intent, and I frankly don’t consider anyone on this rock different to anyone else… well, except for Gemma, but I’ll get to her.
My point is, even just turning up was something humanity immediately misconstrued, so it’s probably not surprising that by now, I’m supposed to be three thousand things at once.
The first cult still avoids me. They’re the only ones sensible enough to think the mists I use to keep my island shielded might be dangerous… everyone else thinks they are ‘mystical’ and walking into the fog anywhere in the world will bring you to the Spire. And because people believe that to be true, it is, whether I like it or not.
I never know how many people will be on my doorstep each day, what languages they’ll speak or what they’ll want.
Thankfully busy days tend to sort themselves out to a degree – humanity always seems quite happy to brain anyone they can’t communicate with, especially over the interpretation of a God. I just wish the blood didn’t keep attracting crows. Beautiful and efficient birds, but their morning chorus is bleeding loud.
But people will risk anything for a miracle, so they keep coming anyway. It’s one of the things I find quite adorable about the species. Persistence in the face of adversity is probably the best trait sentience has created so far. Shame some people only want to use it to kill, mind.
That’s how I ended up as the defacto miracle worker of Earth, the Apocalypse Edition, incidentally.
The story of the first cult made it all the way to some warring tribes in what should have been the Brittany area of France. With Doggerland back, though, all the old borders were all over the place and Brittany didn’t even have a northern sea border anymore. A loss of fishing and trade routes, or some such, and an influx of angry British people over the new land banks pushed tensions far enough someone wanted a miracle.
I will say this for posterity, by the by – don’t get into a fight with mild-mannered tea drinkers. Maybe we can consider that the first ‘Tennant of Fickle’.
History has shown what happens when people who like saying ‘sorry’ have finally had enough, and the apocalypse hasn’t changed much on that front. The only place more dangerous than the Isles, in my opinion, is what was once Canada.
Either way, the hostilities finally made some ex-French chap realize they needed some pretty big help, of the ‘Spire shattering’ nature. Not two days later, my morning nap after a binging on rambutan and passion fruit was rudely interrupted by incessant praying from the foot of the mountain. And I made the mistake of hiking down there to find out what was going on.
Initially, I felt no desire to help the aggravating man, especially as my protestations of not being who or what he thought I was fell on deaf ears. In retrospect, I might have avoided a lot of problems if I’d gone down there in human form, but it just didn’t occur to me to drop the hooves and arm scales. They were practical, and being able to cling like a mountain goat to the rocks all the way down to the river, and not shred my arms and hands on erupted stone and glass just seemed sensible.
Still, my form and ability to understand the man was enough to convince him I could help, beyond anything I myself said, and in the end, I caved in just to get him to be quiet and stop with the droning prayers. All he wanted was the ‘demn Britishers’ wiped off his land so his people could live in ‘peace’… and that wasn’t hard to do. Not with the power left in the Spire.
But I never promised to be nice about it.
One of the last great battle sites, before the world broke, had been in Norway. There, my ‘parents’ seemed to have been delighting in using local myth from the old days to wage the kind of combat the Vikings would have gone into ecstasy over. I wasn’t a huge fan of the messy glaciers left in their wake, however, or the lack of lakes and rivers the place now seemed to have, what with all the water having been used up. It didn’t really take much effort to melt it, and Europe has always loved dragons, so I flew my annoyed ass up there and did something about it.
A nice burn-and-clear, all the way down to the bedrock, and I admit I at least felt better for letting off some anger. Fresh water filled old lake beds, and the rest sheared back into the North Sea where it belonged, shoving sea levels back to where they were around 8000 BC.
True, it didn’t fully cut off the Isles from Europe, but considering no one had any boats or the cohesion to handle the English channel right now, maybe that was a blessing in disguise. One land bridge to France was enough, defensible on both ends, and frankly, it wasn’t my problem anymore. Especially as both sides trying to colonize the low lands of Doggerland were now arguing over seabed, from opposing shores.
A job well done, I thought, and with that kind of disruption, no one else will come asking for a favor, for fear of what I might wash away.
How wrong I was.