Disclaimer: Since I am normally a fanfiction writer, this is where I would be stating that I do not own the characters behind this little short. However, since this is an original work, my very first, I do in fact own the characters as well as the plot of this mini-story.
How nice it is to finally own something!
"Your name is now Sethis. Welcome to the pantheon of gods."
Sethis blinked at that mocking, powerful voice, before howling at the feel of the chains and bindings taking hold of his soul and sinking into his flesh...
Just as Aethia had warned him would happen.
But he had not believed, and now he would spend an eternity of his own seeking to repent of his wish to be a god - and a way to escape the penance of being one.
His last sight of Aethia was of a plain human woman, on her knees on the ground and soundlessly weeping as her soul attempted to purge itself of millenia of horror – since, as she'd told him, gods could not cry.
He knew in that moment that she was merely waiting for Lord Death to take pity on her and spare a moment of time to take her soul and send it to the underworld, where it should have gone eons ago. She was little more than a husk of a woman, less than she had ever been, and only now was she judged worthy of going into the peaceful haven of the other world. Because, of course, gods could not die, the same as they could not cry.
It was the same fate he now knew that awaited him - but it was far too late to escape it.
If anyone had ever told Seth that being a god was not about power, but about punishment, he would never have believed it. After all, there had never been any hint in any legend or book of fables that spoke of such a thing. To be a god was to have power over life and death, to have authority over humans and demons. The gods did not know suffering, nor did they know pain. So to aspire to be one... was that not the pinnacle of desire?
Why would a person not wish to be a god?
After he had watched his brother waste away, dying young for no good cause, and that after watching the frailty that humans carried within them take so many other lives, he had decided that such would not be his own fate. He would find a way to make himself a god, and ascend to live eternally with the rest of those of divine nature.
And so he had spent years searching, tracking down every legend, story, fable, text, and myth that spoke of the gods, and how one might go about becoming one of the beings that ruled the cosmos. He'd amassed a huge library of magical texts and tales of lore and legend, all centered around the search for godhood. There were many, so many, written by scholars and adventurers, kings and even some rumored to have been authored by gods themselves. He'd pored over every one, piecing together the clues that each one gave to the careful reader on what it took to join the pantheon of the holy.
Finally, after years of searching and studying, he'd found a way, though it was not in a manner that he would have ever expected. It seemed that there could only be so many gods at any given time, so the only way to become a god was to take the power from one that already existed, forcing them to replace your humanity with their godhood, leaving them human in your stead.
All well and good, but how was one to do such a thing? What god would just give such status and power away, only to become one of the detestable, weak humans that infested the earth and spent their lives scrabbling in the dirt only to survive for a few miserable years?
And yet, that is exactly what it would take – the only one who could confer godhood on a person, was a god.
So he began to ponder ways and means, once again going to texts and legends, looking for tales of those who had also wished to become a god. There were many, many stories of those who had tried, but very few about those that had succeeded. That was not surprising, but the few he did find, he pored over most carefully.
Once he had taken in all the knowledge to be found on the subject, he yet spent more years planning. The first thing he needed to decide was which god he wished to replace. He studied the pantheon carefully and thoroughly, pondering each god's unique powers for a long time, trying to decide which one would make him the most powerful, the most high and puissant. He weighed the power of storms against the power over the elements themselves, the building blocks of life. Or perhaps to be the god of time would be best? There was also the god who ruled fate, and one who ruled death and the underworld.
For many months he was deadlocked. He could not decide which god was the most powerful, because in the end, he found that each one's power was actually very intimately entwined with the next one in the line. That was how the universe functioned, after all. Everything was a circle.
But finally, after years of thinking, he chose to take the place of the god – or goddess, as it were – of balance.
One might be tempted to ask why he would wish to take on the aspect of a divine being that held thrall over such an ephemeral concept. Because the god of balance was not a god of primary power, such as one that controlled the elements, or the sun, or even death. Those powers were tangible, whereas balance was not. It was a conceptual power.
And yet, it was the one power that held all of the others under its control. Because the truth was, balance existed in everything – even chaos at some point would be forced to bow to balance. Without balance, the universe could not function.
According to all the tales, the one who ruled balance was a female. She had many different names in many different languages, but the one he found mentioned most was Aethia, and so he chose to use that one in his carefully crafted summoning spell.
At first, he'd found it demeaning that a god could be forced to answer a summons from a lesser being. How could anything have enough power to force a god to respond? But he'd realized after thinking on it that it was all about the balance of things, and just one more example of the power to be found in that very esoteric concept. And as it worked out well for him, he decided to set aside his dislike for the idea and step through the door that it would open for him. He could always change things once he had control, after all.
The next decision was infinitely more difficult; what do you do with a god that you've summoned? How do you force them to hand over their authority, immortality, and power?
In one dusty old scroll hoary with age, he found an answer. However, at first, he could hardly believe it. It couldn't be so easy. If it were, the gods would constantly be changing, because as one took the power of a god, another wishing the same power would simply use the same method and immediately strip you of your new godhood. It would be chaos unbound – and balance would never allow such a thing.
For a time, he truly thought his search had come to an unsuccessful end. That was the only text, legend, or story he'd ever found that gave an answer to the question of how to take a god's power away, and yet, he could not believe that it was so easy. But after a while, his thinking changed, and in a curious inversion of his previous ideas, he realized that the answer's very simplicity was what made it so unlikely that it would be used – very few would believe the answer given and actually try it. They would do what he had almost done – discard it as useless and search for other answers. Answers that did not exist. It was, in fact, a very clever way of keeping the masses from attempting to take over the pantheon in a spiraling descent into what would be complete and total chaos – by telling nothing more nor less than the absolute truth.
It was balance at work, and pure genius besides, at least in his estimation.
Now, after almost an entire lifetime of search, study, and preparation, Seth was finally ready to become a god – and none too soon, for he was getting old, and it would not be long before death would come looking for him.
Only he would not be waiting, and death would just have to take someone else in his place.
"Your name is now Sethis. Welcome to the pantheon of gods."
Those words were the beginning of his new life, his punishment, his possibly permanent state of suffering and attrition. As Sethis became more familiar with the true workings of the universe, he finally understood what the gods really were – they were nothing more than sentient avatars of the will of nature herself. They were nothing in and of themselves, their only identity the part of nature that they were formed and forced to keep within a carefully refined set of parameters.
And therein lay the ignominious irony that Sethis now lived; as a human he had at the very least had free will, he was his own being and his choices were also his own. The so-called gods, on the other hand, were nothing more than puppets of Mother Nature, powerless to act outside of the rigid rules she had set on creation and the forces therein.
He had traded freedom for a state no better than slavery, and infinitely worse.
Yet, were he even allowed to tell anyone, no one would believe it – because gods were life, power and control, and humans were short-lived animals with just enough sentience to understand their short lives and severe limitations and bemoan them.
He could only be thankful that it was so, that no one would ever believe the reality of the so-called gods, because in that truth lay his only chance for redemption – all he had to do was wait for another fool wishing to be a god to summon him, and then demand his powers...
Then he would be free, would once more be merely human, able to make his own choices again and give his weary soul into the keeping of death.
He prayed every day that another greedy human would come looking for power and ascendancy so that he could escape his sentence.
The problem was that all the other 'gods' wished for the same thing – and in Sethis' own greed for the ultimate power, he'd condemned himself to something that most would see as mere smoke in the wind, rather than a coveted realm of authority and power. In all the millenia since creation, he was the first to ever desire to oversee balance.
He should have listened to Aethia's warnings, but now it was too late, and Sethis was a god.
It was in the moment that he'd felt his soul being bound and chained that he'd realized the truth behind all the legends and stories of gods and devils, heaven and hell - hell hadn't been meant for humans – hell was where the gods lived, instead. Heaven was no more nor less than the comfort and peace of death, which was a coveted boon only humans were allowed.
How lucky I was to be human...
How ironic that while humans coveted the power of the gods, the gods coveted the grace only humans were allowed...
Sethis now wished for death, but death would not, it could not, find him.