XII - A Visitor

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Armed with a face and a location, I endeavor to leave the temple and make my way to Yepernath. My goal is simple: confront this interloping human and persuade him to hand over control of War. I'm not sure exactly how to extricate the powers from him but, should worse come to worse, I can always do as Hades suggested and kill him. I'm not terribly in love with the latter option but I can't deny its effectiveness.

The only snag? Every time I try to leave the confines of the temple, the gold hoop through my ankle stops me dead, halting me at the door and weighing down my foot so that I cannot lift it.

"Look who decided to wake up," I growl at it, struggling against its strength and making a particularly wary novice look at me with bug eyes.

"It seems the goddess does not wish me to venture into unhallowed grounds," I say to the child. Without a word, she scurries off.

"Dumbass piece of gold," I mutter.

Contained as I am by both prophecy and hardware, I remain. More conspicuous now than ever, the priestesses fuss and cluck over me like an army of anxious hens. My days become devoted to purification, as they hope to deepen the connection between their god and me, the mortal messenger. Each day is planned in ritualistic activities meant to scourge my "mortal" hideousness.

Jokes on them. I'm already pure. Or...well, pure enough to be god.

I'm fed a special diet of dates and greens, food that I eat without gusto; it's been easier to exist solely on Ambrosia since my arrival on this planet. Inundated as I am with powers I need my wits about me. At dawn, I am pulled out of bed and dragged to the top of the mountain to praise the goddess and pray for a warm and substantial sunrise. I am forced to memorize and recite hymns praising all of the goddess' creations. Every third day I must sit in a dim cave alone with only the weeping, damp rock as my company. The solitude supposedly gives me time to divine with the...well, divine. On the last day of each month, I must sit silent and still in the temple's vast hall, waiting for the goddess to touch me and speak through me. If I doze off, a novice is ready to whip my shoulders with a reed cane.

Jokes on me. 

On top of everything else, I've been given great, heavy tomes of leather-bound parchment to study. They contain the collected records of my influence and interference with the human world. The first time I saw them, I was amazed by their number.

Surely I haven't meddled that much.

I groan as they crack open, cursing the cramped, tiny handwriting and wishing I had never shown myself to mankind in the first place.

Some accounts are factual, written down in no-nonsense language and dutifully outlined the events that happened in simple, perfunctory language. The majority, however, are astoundingly embellished tall tales of a giantess saving a harvest from floods; a glowing orb of light reviving a drowned infant; a bejeweled and glittering princess interceding in the marriage of two women —  scolding the local magistrates for threatening the brides with death. The same princess removes the eyes of the same magistrates a few years later for their continued and unrepentant bigotry. I smile at the recollections, exaggerated though they may be, there is a tinge of historical accuracy to the stories.

When I am free from my purification efforts, and the eyes of the priestesses grow tired from looking at me and watching for some kind of sign, I am sent to perform aimless duties around the temple. I wash and anoint stone figures of myself and consider the hilarity that no one here, despite their devotional fervor, has come to the conclusion that I am the goddess and not just a watered down mortal vessel.

My outburst when War was stolen burned away my half-hearted disguise of blonde hair and rosy, round cheeks — and in all the hubbub I never got around to re-adopting it. As I look up at the colossal statue I polish, I have to chuckle at the wonder of cognitive dissonance.

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