Friday, July 12, 2013

Apotheosis (#FridayFlash)

Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres,
The Apotheosis of Homer
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Earth, Air, Fire, Water. I needed them all for this magic, and a shoreline gave me that. Spells combining all four elements were the most difficult of all, but I had studied long and hard. I knew what to do.

I was born on this long, narrow peninsula that foreigners call the Land of the Dawn Greeters. I was never able to rise early enough to join the People and greet the sunrise, as they claim to have done each day since the Creator brought the First Dawn to Termag, but I always knew I was different in other ways. More significant ways. It has taken a lifetime to learn what those differences are.

I leave my clothes on the sand, and walk across the beach and into the ocean. The water is cool, but not uncomfortable, and the salt smell reminds me of my childhood among the People. This one morning, I was awake before the People, but only because I had been up all night preparing the magic.

“Tropir.” I turn at the sound of my name.

“Komu.” My oldest childhood friend, now a woman grown. Nudity is not a tabu among the People, so I feel no shame before her. “Please do not plead with me,” I tell her. “I must do this. If it does not kill me, then I will learn who I truly am.”

“It’s true, then,” she says. “Have you another to bear witness?”

“I do not, Komu. I would be honored if you will be my witness.”

She says nothing, but nods and sheds her own clothes. Naked, she joins me in the surf. I feel no yearning, even though we had lain together, in an illicit pairing, the last night before I was sent into the wide world. It had meant something to who we had once been; but twenty years, whether in one place or traveling the world, remolds a person as it will.

With Komu at my side, I turn my back on the shore. This particular beach is shallow for a long way out, especially at low tide. It is nearly twenty reaches before I stand waist-deep. Earth under my feet, Water to my hips, Air above, and the morning sun brings Fire. I summon—or rather, connect with—each element.

“What have you seen, out in the wide world?” Komu asks.

“Many things,” I reply. “Places where snow covers the ground year-round. Mountains that smoke. People in mortal combat with misshapen, twisted things. A vast forest, where the trees are awake and speak, and the Unfallen roam. And people… simply being people.”

“What have you learned?”

“Many things. But one thing I never learned was how to awake an hour before sunrise.” We share a sad laugh. “Stand away, Komu. I know not how this magic will affect what is immediately around me.”

She moves away, and I gather all four elements, my intent combining them all. While Fire and Water can never be combined on their own, the moderating influence of Earth and Air can allow all to join. The sea bottom churns, a hot mist rises around me, blown by strange winds. The elements pull at me from without, the magic pushes from within, and I feel the changes they work. There is some pain, but not as much as I would have thought. I will not die, but rather…

Komu gasps as I leap into the air, the sun making my skin glow like fire. I slam into the water, skimming the bottom, and leap once again. I release the magic, for I no longer need it. My witness shouts with joy as I leap and splash, leap and splash, flying into the horizon to join the rest of the lesser gods.

14 comments:

  1. That makes being a lesser god sound like a lot of fun.

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  2. i liked the way you talked about their attitudes towards nudity and sex, it had a tone that was utterly convincing of their unfussyness about it

    marc nash

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  3. This was really beautiful, sadness and joy comingling like the blending of the elements. And now he's found his purpose (porpoise?).

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  4. I liked the easy relationship between them.

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  5. Wonderful ending, and I too loved the comfortable, easy relationship. Well done.

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  6. I wonder, are you vacationing at the ocean? :)
    I had to reread to figure out what he wanted, and it was right there in the first paragraph, to find out his true nature.

    It is refreshing to read a story about magic and have it be tool for self-discovery. I too liked your portrayal of their easy friendship.

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  7. Lovely read,Larry...the friendship was beautifully portrayed...I love the stories of discovery I find laying around here at Friday Flash...always good,my friend!

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  8. “Have you another to bear witness?”

    A simple question, simply offered. And, in that, there's so much revealed: of the People and how they are, and of these two, and how they are. The offer there, simply and unspoken. A gorgeous nuance.

    Really well done, Larry.

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    1. That might better have been "...simple and unspoken."

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  9. Tim, you know how "it's good to be king"? Being a godling would have to be even better, no?

    Thanks, Marc. Some of the Dawn Greeters perform the ritual w/o clothes as well.

    Katherine, I thought he might become a porpoise, but it seems like he went a little farther than that!

    Thanks, Patricia, Helen, and Tony!

    Peg, that's where I was. I waded a long way out, the first day, and only got to my chest. Then I got the story idea Thursday when I was trying to even out some of my tan. :-)

    Thanks, EJ!

    Kevin, the People (aka Dawn Greeters) live to serve a higher purpose, even if Tropir was sent away because he was unable to rise early enough. Their culture and ethnic makeup is a mix of Termag's eastern and South Sea peoples. And thanks much!

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  10. The language of this had an old feeel to it, like I was reading an epic poem or something.

    I love the end- moving on to a better place. Hopefully the gods will accept him where the people rejected him.

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  11. I might be reading this wrong but I'm not entirely sure what he HAS become. At first I thought it was just a minor god but then I read the comments and now I'm confused!

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  12. I thought he became a bird, to watch over his people forever and ever. This feels like a folk tale.

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