I always wanted to be a God… not THE God (that would be blasphemous and just a little pretentious), just a God. You know, one of the middle Gods with an arcane power or two, lording over his adoring worshippers. Unfortunately I was not born with any powers and this career path was seemingly closed to me.
However, I've never been one to just give up on my desires, so early on in life I devoted my energies to achieving Godhead. In the beginning I didn't know where to start. Initially I thought I should begin by gathering loyal devotees to myself. At the time there were many ways to do this. I could become a rock musician or movie star and acquire hoards of adoring fans who would come to worship and love me. But after a little thought this seemed somewhat superficial. I wanted people who would die for me, not just autograph seekers.
I needed a plan that would stand the test of time. After all Gods are immortal. Which brought me back to myself. I had no powers and was merely mortal. I thought that maybe I should devote my life to the study of philosophy and spirituality. I figured I could rise to such a level that I would be reincarnated in successive lifetimes. Eventually I would rise to the status of a God. After further contemplation I found the whole "interludes of death" thing to be somewhat disconcerting.
As I grew older my mortality grew more distressing to me and I was becoming desperate to be a God. So I decided to become more disciplined in my approach and I sat down and wrote a list of powers that I would like to have.
The ability to fly, to float among the clouds, was on the top of the list. Well, besides immortality, but that goes without saying. Oh, yes, I found this most appealing. The thought of drifting with the birds on a sunny afternoon with a picnic basket and an adoring acolyte seemed most appealing.
Although flying is fun you need more than a light personality to impress the savages, so I figured the power over death itself would be a good thing to have. The masses just love life-giving miracles. There's nothing like a good raising in the sun.
Of course the power to give life needs to be balanced by the power to deal death. I've never been one for macho displays of superhuman strength so I stayed away from that Hercules/hulk thing. Zeus had always impressed me with his thunderbolts so I figured I'd take his lead and opted for the ability to hurl lightening from my fingertips.
The truth of men's souls! Oh yes. That would be a good one. To know the nature of men's minds, to peer behind the veils of subterfuge, to strip away the masks of pride and pretension, now that would be Godlike. Besides, I'm a bit of a busybody.
Finally, I figured it would probably be a good thing to have a general backup power in case any dangerous and nefarious types got too close to me. I decided on a general telekinetic capability.
I was very pleased with myself. There I had it on the table before me, a list of the powers that would make me a God. This list might have seemed daunting to a lesser mortal, but for me it was the beginning. It was at that moment that I came to realize that although I had no supernatural powers I possessed the most potent force of all... genius.
I set my superior intellect to the task at hand and gathered the resources about me to see me to my accession. There were others who contributed their genius and energy not knowing my ultimate goal. In the end great mysteries were revealed to me and I ultimately was able to achieve my transcendence. I became Asshkaan the First. Lord of Life and Light and the Nine Kingdoms.
As I float above the dais of light and reflect upon that which is me I am uplifted by the thought that I have become what I have always desired AND secure in the knowledge that no one would ever again call me… Bert.
Perseus and the Quest
Perseus was led up the wide gold inlaid steps of Asshkaan's magnificent and cavernous temple by two of the God's liquid angels. Perseus was more than a little uneasy by the unearthly touch of these chrome colored, featureless nether creatures. Perseus had heard more than one unsettling tale of these superbeings rending some poor mortal to bits at the command of an irate Asshkaan.
Perseus adjusted his toga and thanked the lord he'd sent it to the cleaners the day before. His light brown hair spilled out from under the Greek styled war helm he'd spent all morning polishing. The bronze greaves covering his shins and the like metal vambrace on his forearms were polished to an almost mirror shine. It was hard to make out the handsome but hard, angular features of the dark warrior under that helm, but many a lady heaved a sigh when the headgear came off.
Perseus was lead through a forest of great marble columns. They supported the stone roof which lofted to at least sixty feet above his head. Scores of beautiful men and women, the adoring acolytes of Asshkaan, lounged about the place upon understated but thoughtfully designed furniture. Great works of art, both sculpture and canvas, testaments to Asshkaan's greatness, adorned the granite walls of the temple.
The liquid angels stopped before two massive alloy doors. There was a subtle click as a thought depressed a switch and an electric hum suffused (about) them. The doors groaned from under their own weight as they slid back to reveal Asshkaan the First.
Perseus had expected to be blinded by light or driven to his knees by radiant forces of ethereal energy. Instead he was greeted with the image of a rather plain looking little fellow floating above a marble dais. This pale, skinny, balding and diminutive God beckoned Perseus to come forward.
Perseus hastily ran to the marble steps before the dais, stripped off his helmet (somewhere a woman sighed) and prostrated himself before Asshkaan, "What glorious quest hast thou summoned me for, oh Lord of Light and Life?"
A beatific smile spread across the little man's face and he motioned, "Stand."
Perseus stood and smiled, "Now may I go?"
Asshkan chuckled, "A hero with a sense of humor. I like that. Most Gods find such behavior disrespectful. Of course most Gods are not as enlightened as I. No Perseus, my quest for you is a little more challenging the merely standing in my presence."
"What is thy bidding my lord?"
"I believe that Balthon Lord of Dark Metals conspires to steal the Nine Kingdoms from me."
A look of horror and disgust painted the hero's face, "Say it is not so, Most High!"
"I'm afraid it's the truth. Balthon and I have never been the best of friends. I invited him to our world last summer and I'm afraid he merely considered this an opportunity to reconnoiter."
"These are dark tidings my lord."
"Indeed. It is my guess the great armies will clash in an apocalyptic battle between dark and light," Asshkaan yawned and then continued, "Personally I abhor such carnage so that's where you come in."
Perseus bowed his head, "How may I serve thee Lord?"
Asshkaan pointed down at his knight, "First you must prove yourself to me, Perseus."
Perseus's eyebrow twitched and Asshkaan frowned. "As you know I have the power to see the truth in men's minds."
"Yes my lord."
"Well every time I say your name, Perseus, you inwardly wince. There you did it again! It's most disconcerting."
"My apologies most significant one, but no one calls me Perseus."
"And why is that?"
Perseus bowed his head again and shuffled his feet like a repentant child, "When I was but a boy the other children would make fun of my name."
Asshkaan smiled at the truth revealed, "How so brave knight?"
Perseus grimaces as if in physical pain, "They… used to call me… Percy-is-a-wuss."
Asshkaan summoned all of his godly powers to keep from laughing, "Then how shall I call you Perse-"
"I would be honored if thou would refer to me simply as Percy, dear lord."
"Percy. Just Percy, very well then. As I was saying, you need to prove yourself to me. I have six labors you must execute before you can stand at my right hand."
"We don't have time for twelve."
Perseus frowned, but then steeled himself before his God, "If this is what thou hast set before me my lord then I shall accept your challenge and rise to it."
Asshkaan smiled again, "Good show!"
"What is thy bidding, my lord?"
Asshkaan's eyes narrowed as he intoned, "You must go to the oracle at Ihpled. She will set you on your path and impart upon you the six labors."
Perseus frowned and scratched his head, "Why can't you just tell me, Great One?"
Asshkaan sighed, "Obviously this is part of your test."
"Does it count toward the six labors?"
"Well then, it's seven labors."
"No, it's only six. Going to the oracle isn't that laborious."
Perseus whined, "But it is very far away, my lord, over a road fraught with danger and monsters. Couldn't it count as half a labor?"
"No, no, no! It's not a labor! It's a prelude to a labor. Now be on your way lest you aggravate me."
A look of fear passed across Perseus' face and he bowed before his lord, "Thy will be done."
With that Perseus spun on a heel and exited Asshkaan's great chamber. The Lord of Light watched him go with no small amount of trepidation and prayed that he'd picked the right man. He smiled at the realization that he'd just prayed and NOT to himself.