“Thurgod. You are delayed in answering my summons. Why?”
Cyllgod was not in her amphitheatric court. She was back in the Room of Green Marble, her personal quarters. It was an austere room, with tremendous ribbed doors as its gate, of metal a few inches thick. This room was hidden away within the mountain, away from natural light. It was only ever lit by the light that emanated from unrestrained godflesh, or the incantations of the demigods who attended.
Her question hung in the air as Thurgod silently took shambling steps towards her. “My lady, do you wear mortal raiment today?”
“I do. Projecting the image of clothes to the human minds may be well enough for thrall-gods, but it was time that the Queen of All Gods distinguish herself.”
“You have distinguished yourself among gods by draping cloth over your body? My queen, the body is but an option to us. It cannot be improved.”
Cyllgod laughed a single syllable. “Advisement on appearances comes from the blind god? You cannot even see what I wear.”
“It is more than your crown, Queen. A coat of mail, ill crafted by a lessor smith, this cannot become a the Goddess for…”
The Queen raised an arm, draped over with a deep blue sleeve. “Kor! Kor! None of that talk here! And I think that your crown would remind you of it. And here you have flattered me and saught to avoid my question. I sent a summons to you by my swiftest demigod, my personal messenger. You received it hours ago, many of them. You might have come during the day. Yet now it is night. I give you a chance to explain yourself.”
“I was summoned while my servant was with me, and he is of a tender age…”
“Now there is an interesting fact! You choose the most unusual servants, Thurgod. This boy cannot have seen fifteen winters, and you have made him the chief servant to the greatest smith there has ever been?”
“A strong arm can be put onto any man with enough labor. Knowledge of metals can be taught. That boy has what cannot be put in by any god within the Rim.”
Cyllgod folded her hands together and crossed her legs. “Oh? Are there gods beyond the rim?”
Thurgod dropped to his knees, beginning to pant.
“You know, Thurgod, you sometimes talk about the strangest notions. You talk about gods being made for something, and not for another thing. You talk about there being a world outside these mountains that is not pure desolation and emptiness. I’ve even heard you to whisper in your deepest soul about a god before all gods, before me. Are you going mad?”
Thurgod dropped to his face, writing on the floor as forbidden memories were aroused, and grunted a gross bellow, followed by something just better than a snarl.
Cyllgod laughed three syllables this time. “Why, you look mad! Look at you, so precious in your limitations! And to think that with your mind and body so castrated as it is that you still have the audacity to scheme against me in my own city.” Thurgod’s neck twitched furiously, but he clenched his teeth against making noise.
“Do you remember when you once walked outside this city? Do you remember what the trees looked like?” She pronounced each of the last three words delicately, with wet lips. “Do you remember having a face that did not appall every mortal….”
Thurgod rolled onto his back, seizing at the smooth floor below him. His roar of pain struck just the note to reverberate a dozen times in that stone room, shaking the metal doors on their hinges. His bass tone was complemented with sick harmony by the ringing laughter of Cyllgod.
Thurgod struggled to articulate. “Torment. You brought me here, to torment me?”
Cyllgod stood from her seat on the raised dais. “Oh no, no sweet Thurgod. I brought you here to ask you questions. But you were not going to answer them. You mean to keep a secret about that boy of yours. So if you will not comply and bring forth what you can but will not, then I will bring forth what you will, but cannot.”
“Liar. Queen of them.”
Cyllgod stepped forward, her leg projecting from dress she wore below her newly sewn robes of state. She stepped with perfect balance, her silver crown never wavering. “Queen of everything, to you, thrall-god.”
Thurgod repeatedly beat the side of his face into the ground, the Korlythe chipping at the floor. Thurgod made every effort to pronounce words, but only managed to produce foam.
With an infinitely graceful movement, Cyllgod was suddenly kneeling beside Thurgod’s head. “Oh, little Thurgod, my favorite little god. You hurt so badly. Shall I lift the pain?”
Thurgod’s breathing stoped, except occasional wheezes. He could only manage to whisper out the L sound repeatedly.
Cyllgod’s voice dropped two octaves from its usual pitch, and she muttered words not ever heard within the rim. Silver streaks churned around her face, concealing her bluish hue, until quietly she voice faded to whisper.
Thurgod took a series of sharp breaths. The air. Except for the scent of Cyllgod, it was clearer. It was like…
The mountain was cold, and the pair climbed in snow that was knee high. They both were fully aware of the cold, but they did not mind it. They were gods.
She did not care. She was with the smith-god, and this was a fine adventure.
“I remember when the flakes were taken from the sea. It will be long before they return.”
“You should tell me when they return. We can… watch them melt.”
She laughed a hearty chuckle, “You’re silly. What fun is there in watching snow melt? It is always melting.”
“Do you know where all of them are? Every drop and every flake?”
“I know when they leave the sea. I know when they return. They tell me all their adventures.”
The smith-god put his thick hand lightly on the other god’s face. “The flakes brushing your face now? What are their stories?”
“That was just an excuse to touch my face, wasn’t it?”
The smith was silent for a moment. “Apparently not a good enough one.”
She smiled. “I didn’t say you needed a better one.”
“Do you like it, Thurgod? Being a god again?”
Thurgod opened his eyes and realized he was breathing evenly again. Cyllgod was kneeling beside his head, which rested on the cool marble, which was wet with his own sweat.
“What. What have you done?”
“Korlythe is just an ornament now. I lifted the curse.”
“I hear. I hear the Sea.”
“Oh, all your memories must be rushing back in. It’ll be fine,” she rested her right hand on his right shoulder. “Just ease back into it. You’re a god again, a real god. Greater than the fledgling demigods.”
“A god again? I have always been a god. A god for doing, a god for doing smith work.”
“Yes. That is how you were made. But here, in this valley, within this impenetrable Rim, there are only two gods, and true gods do not need to stay as they were made. I was the goddess of beauty. I am now Queen of Gods. What could you be, Thurgod?”
“I am always the god for smithing. I should not be any else.”
Cyllgod was silent for a moment, and then she traced the forefinger of her left hand along the outline of Korlythe. “You do not need to wear this anymore. I could call the crystal golems. We could draw it off.”
Thurgod’s voice leveled. “What are you doing, Corsinial of Old? What are you seeking to take from me now?”
Cyllgod leaned over, putting eyes just peering into the top of Thurgod’s vision. “Take from you? I am seeking to give to you. To make you great. Let you become a true god.”
“Speak the truth plainly, Corsinial. It is unbecoming of you to conceal from me still yet, when you say you are releasing me from a curse.”
“You could be the Prince of Gods, and we could reign together. No mortal and no demigod should see a difference.”
“You and I. We are the only read gods here. Gods who have climbed the hill were First God once reigned.”
Thurgod was silent.
Cyllgod leaned her face directly over Thurgod’s face, only a few inches from his. “Together. Gods and rulers, together. As I wanted when first we came.” She paused, but Thurgod did not respond. “I was so glad when you were found in the camp. Not for the gems you carried in your belt, or for the golems you would build for me, but for you, Thurgod, my sweet…”
Thurgod spat, catch her full in the face. “I rule no humans. I rule no…”
Cyllgod struck him across the face as she stood up. “How dare you? How dare you assault…”
Thurgod was on his feet, “Are we not both gods? One god to another, Cyllgod, you are a liar, the Queen of Liars, a murderess, who plotted the death of Meldus, who ousted First God from the world.”
“I killed Meldus and I killed First God, and I’ll kill you, too if you do not learn to keep silent before your betters! Korlythe, awake!”
Thurgod felt the metal band tighten around his mind.
The cold snow did not bother his back. It did not bother her. They were gods. Her foam white hair spread across Thurgod’s chest from where she had lain her own head, watching the sky display Meldus’ glory. Rainbows of color flickered in the sky, and the smith scarcely cared for them. They were a good excuse.
Then there was a void, and there was no snow, and no foam white hair.