Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beyond the Rim Installment 9

Thurgod nodded and set his jaw. He pointed his face toward the attending golem. "I have chosen. Take the stronger one back to his place, and tell Cyllgod that I have taken my servant."
The golem lumbered towards Triannin, who did not move to resist, but only glowered at Thurgod. Thurgod turned towards him and said, "I have not the power to take from Cyllgod all her slaves. I hope that you grow. Your sacrifice for your people was noble; it will not go unrewarded."
Triannin spat as the golem clasped his shoulder with its cold, crystalline fingers. "There is neither god nor principle that rewards the good deeds of men. We hope only for retribution."
"It is good for you that I have ordered the golem to be silent about our meeting, or he may have reported your words to Cyllgod."
As the golem propelled Triannin from the chamber, through the tunnel that rested under Cyllgod's throne, Triannin called back, "Someday she will hear of it from me, if I am ever to be avenged."
Thurgod looked towards Oorgo again, whose thin wrists were clasped in metal bonds. The smith-god knelt down and grasped them, feeling the metal. "I never forged bonds so small, but they will hear me nonetheless. Break." Instantly the bonds rusted through, flaking away to leave a small pile of dust.
"Do you feel the metal because you cannot see it?"
"I am the god for things of metal. I can see it without eyes, but there is more to be learned from the metal by touching. You will learn these things from me as well as a mortal may learn them, Oorgo. Now we must leave, for you must begin to learn today." He took Oorgo lightly by the arm and led him out of the chamber, through the door opposite Cyllgod's chamber. Thurgod had seen the carving of these halls, and knew the way out the gate quickly. He passed several of the white golems, and to each he only pointed his face and they let him pass.
"How do you see these halls? How do you see at all? You have a metal band across your eyes. Is it glass?"
"It is not glass. My eyes do not see as yours do. Instead I only know, and must proceed without sight. I saw these halls the day after they were carved, and I do not forget, because I am a god."
"You saw the halls? Have you always had the metal band?"
"I am glad that you have not forgotten to be a child while in Cyllgod's prisons. How long were you made to wait?"
"I never saw the sun after I asked her to make my sister beautiful, and," but Oorgo was interrupted.
"You will see the sun shortly. It will be more pleasant than her luminous crystals, for it was not given me to make gems more brilliant than the sun."
"You make gems? And can you make my sister beautiful, since you're a god?"
"You must have been a lovely child, well liked by grown men, if you feel so comfortable in speaking so voluminously to a god."
"So vol-... what?"
"So much."
"Do I talk too much?"
"Too much for most, but not for me."
"Can you make my sister beautiful?"
"Your sister may not need to be made beautiful, and I cannot do that."
"But you are a god?"
"I am a god for smith work. I make things that are useful from metal and stone."
The two passed out of the highest gate into Cyllgod's mountain castle, unquestioned by the white gate-keeping golem. There the sun struck them strongly and Oorgo blinked strongly. The brightness was intensified by the pure white stairway that stretched from that gate and spiraled down to the city below. This stair was a more direct means for lesser gods and greater humans to come to Cyllgod's council room. Oorgo had entered far below.
The momentary distraction caused many of Oorgo's previous topics of interest to slip from his mind. "We are coming out in a different place than I came in."
"Where you came in does not matter now. I am taking you to my smithy by the road that I know. We must go down the stairs to get there." Thurgod released the boy's hand.
Oorgo leaped down the first few stairs, and then fell neatly on his face in the next attempted jump. Thurgod only continued to descend the stairs, though even for him there were too many, and he descended two of them with each step. Oorgo got up without a thought of injury and said to the back of Thurgod's head, "Will I ever see my family again?"
Thurgod brought both his feet to rest on the landing where had just stepped, as the stairs turned in their spiral. "I am not a god of the future; I do not know."
"But will you let me see them?"
"I am not like Cyllgod. I do not prevent others from seeing anything." He lifted his hand and felt the railing of the stairs, then continued to descend.
"Will you take me home? Will you..."
"I will not take you home. I have come to make you my servant, not to return you elsewhere."
"But I want to see them again." Oorgo jumped down and got in front of Thurgod.
"There are many things which I want to see again, but I..." then Thurgod crumpled over, barely avoiding the boy as he fell on his side. Oorgo did not know what to do, and only stood wide-eyed.
Thurgod got on all fours, panting for breath, before he stood up. "There is a god greater than I, Oorgo, and she does not permit such things. I may not leave this city. I may not see the sun. And I may not allow my one servant, the only human she gives to help me, to leave the capital either."
Oorgo frowned. Before he knew it, though, he was bounding down the glistening stairs trying to keep up with the descending stride of the red-fleshed smith god.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Beyond the Rim Installment 8

The stolid white golem dragged Oorgo along silently, the boys' heels slipping along the smooth stone floor. The small boy uttered many half-sentences and pleas, with occasional demands. The golem did not know how to hear him, nor was he aware that the small child was struggling to keep pace. It had been instructed to take him to Cyllgod, and to Cyllgod he would go. The white golems were not used to children; many of them had never encountered one. It may have been that the escorting golem had not perceived that he was escorting a person; a child may have appeared more like an animal or package to him.
Suddenly the golem stopped, but did not release the hand which Oorgo had offered to him a few minutes ago. Oorgo continued to beg him to release it, pleading that the stony grasp was crushing his fingers. At last the golem responded. "Silence!" its voice grated.
Oorgo looked through the doorway where he had been stopped. He was looking into a semi-circular chamber, with a wide flat floor before tiers of seating, like an amphitheater. The seats were obstructed by a large throne which lay in the midst of them, directly in line with the tunnel that led to the room. Many of the seats were occupied by demigods, nobles under Cyllgod. They could be told by their colored appearance and greater than mortal size. Under the foot of the throne the tunnel continued, as though never interrupted by a room.
Before that throne, on his knees and held down by two white golems, was a slender man. Heeding the golem's orders Oorgo stopped speaking, and listened to the words the man was saying.
"Great Cyllgod, I am come to petition a boon from thee."
"As do all mortals that appear before me. Indeed, I should think that to lay eyes upon the great queen in her own court would be boon enough."
"And more than enough, great Cyllgod!" the mortal panted, "Yet no payment in all the world could ever earn such a sight, nor any boon beyond that. Still I must hope to make a request of thee."
"Speak it now, mortal. Your words are smooth enough to warrant being heard further."
"Cyllgod, tell my half-brother to divide the inheritance of my family with me. We are both sons of our father's blood, he by a better woman, yet I am wiser than he, and to see all which my ancestors have accrued wasted by his indolence and foolishness would be a waste of her majesty's resources."
Cyllgod smiled. "Return to your house. The entire inheritance will be yours, mortal."
"The entirety?" the wonder of receiving all his father's wealth caused the man to forget his smooth words.
Cyllgod was raising her hand to dismiss them. "Yes, all your family owns."
The golems hoisted the man up. "How shall it be? I should not want to have to manage them."
Cyllgod shook her hand, motioning him along. "You are a selfish beast, to think you would use your position to cheat the truth of your origin. For no part of that inheritance was owed to you. You will have no family to which to return, and you may have all they leave behind."
The man's body froze, even as he was carried out by the golems. Cyllgod feigned a frown. "In the future, mortal, waste your smooth words on someone else."
The pair of golems disappeared under the foot of the throne, as an inarticulate cry rang out from their burden. Immediately the golem carrying Oorgo shoved him along inside.
Cyllgod's confusion to see a single golem carrying a child into the court was evident. "Golem? How come you bearing a human child to this room, alone?" All those who came to Cyllgod's court were to be accompanied by two golems. It was not that she feared the child, but that she wanted to know how her golem's programming may have gone awry.
The golem's mouth grated. "Human child? I brought the package that I was bidden by the gatekeeper to carry to you."
Cyllgod sneered. "Take this child away, then go to the chief smith and have him fix your mind. You must be brought up to the level of understanding of the attendants, for I know that they know a human child from a package. And then see to it that the gatekeeper is upgraded as well."
The golem did not move. "Great Cyllgod, Mistress of Stones, he has paid the price to speak to you."
Cyllgod stared for a moment, then rolled her eyes, "How you can call it 'he' and not know it to be human I am unsure. I will have Thurgod teach me more of golemcraft someday. Tell me, child, how did you come to pay the price of audience with your god?"
Oorgo answered plainly, as he had always answered adults. "Henlick gave me the gold coin," and then he recounted, with several other proper names, of how he had been brought to the capital so that he might see its glory, and of how he had escaped his guardians and run to the castle, then paid the price of gold to speak with Cyllgod.
Cyllgod moved not at all throughout the tale, and responded to none of it. "You are fortunate, child. A gold coin is the cost of giving a gift to the great goddess, and not the price of speaking with her. My golems did not know you were a person, or they would have turned you away at the door. But since you are here, I will hear your request, for I show mercy as I choose."
Recalling how the man had spoken to her, Oorgo said, "Great Cyllgod, I heard from the bard of your great power, and how of old you slew the green god that would have ruled us all with a fierce tyranny, and that you can work miracles with the flick of your finger." Cyllgod smiled, her hue changing to a lighter blue.
"So I came to ask from you a miracle. I know you can do it."
Cyllgod cocked her head, and leaned forward, interested. "What miracle do you wish to see? Would you see your own likeness carved out of stone because I told the stone to look like you?"
Oorgo swallowed, trying to imagine the miracle, and why anyone might want it done. "No, Great Cyllgod. I came to ask you to make my sister beautiful."
The goddess froze halfway on her return to the back of her seat, not quite managing to straighten her neck. "And why would you ask that miracle of me?"
"The bard told me also that you are the goddess of beauty..."
Cyllgod ejected from her throne, hovering in the air above it. "Everyone out!" The lessor deities which sat in the seats around her dropped their humanoid forms and raced out of either tunnel, flying over Oorgo's head as bolts of light stringing from curiously shaped cores. The golem which had brought Oorgo inside moved not at all, reacting to none of it.
Cyllgod floated down before Oorgo, then hissed to him as he color saturated to a ashen blue. "Neither you nor any other shall ever say that of me again."
Oorgo protested, "But you are beautiful..." though her current form was completely unappealing. Her left arm had become a flap of pure light fluttering as though it were blown by a great wind coming from her heart, and her hair began to do the same.
"I am beautiful and I am powerful, and I shall be known for the latter! Golem! Forget your other assignments. To the dungeon with this one. You indeed were right, he was a package sent to me, and he owes me a great debt, which he shall never repay."