OF GODS AND MEN
Chapter 41: Pleasing to the Eye
Adulatio sat in his golden throne, looking out in all directions at the isle that extended out from beneath the high hill on which his holy seat rested.
Supple palm and fir trees shone green in the golden sunlight. As his eyes passed over them, they came to clear, grass-laden fields where lambs, dragons, and everything in between, sat beside each other on perfect harmony. And further still; the white sands of the coast that gave way to the most opulent blue waters the world of men would never see.
“For it is mine,” Adulatio said, in answer to his own thought. “It is all mine.”
The old god closed his eyes, reveling in this land: his land. The power emanated from him, and the island responded. The trees bent low, as if in bow, toward the seat on the high hill. The animals in the fields sent up their voices in what should have been a cacophony, but was instead a beautiful harmony of unified praise. The water at the edge of the isle retreated from the shoreline and waves rose high; standing to the attention of its lord and master, and giving him all the deference due him.
For Adulatio demanded worship, and his sanctuary would abide.
“I too, have come to worship at the altar of the elder god Adulatio,” a humble voice said. “Yet, what place is there for me in all this splendor?”
“There is always a place to bow in my temple,” the elder god replied, opening his eyes to the supplicant isle.
No one stood before him.
“Yet only for those I can see,” the elder god clarified.
“Forgive me, elder,” the voice replied, “I am a younger god…only days old, and I seek the wisdom that an elder god may offer. You are one of the eldest.”
“Where are you?” Adulatio asked pointedly.
“Hidden, lord,” the voice said deferentially. “The form I have chosen would not be pleasing to you. Thus, I would prefer to worship privately.”
“Then do so in your own sanctuary, or on the soil and stone that make up the natural Arden. This Arden…” Adulatio paused to take in the splendor of the island, “…is mine. My own piece of it, that I formed and shaped out of the dust. And on my Arden, I would see all who worship me.”
“Very well, lord,” the voice relented. “I will show myself to you. But if you wish to see me, then you must come to the very edge of your Arden. For that is where I am…that is where I deserve to be.”
“Why do you say this?” Adulatio asked.
“My shape is too displeasing, lord. I do not deserve to set foot on your glorious paradise,” the voice answered.
“Change it then.”
“I cannot,” the voice admitted, “I do not know how.”
“Yet you wish me to come to you? Name conditions? On my own land?” Adulatio accused?
“Nay lord, I make this provision in hopes that you will refuse it,” the mysterious voice clarified, “I would be more than content to learn from you without laying eyes on you, and you have more important things to do, to be sure, than laying eyes on me. Yet if you did deign to come to me…there would be no greater honor I could ever imagine, for the rest of my days.”
Adulatio raised a hand to his mouth in consideration. This could be a trick: a trap. Had he his full power, he would be able to reach out with it and learn all he wanted to about this strange visitor. Yet his power had been poured into this land, and just as it relied on him to maintain it with the divine energies, he relied on it to nourish him with its absolute devotion. The fool Malthus made a sword as a totem of his power, but Adulatio did what gods were supposed to do; he made a living, breathing world.
But Malthus was gone, and his power scattered. A dying mortal girl and a bitter half-breed heir bore the GodKing of Maltahnon’s legacy; and all fear of that incredible power being made whole again was laid to rest.
Adulatio had done well in aiding the master’s plan to keep Malthus’s power crippled, and surely, he had his mater’s protection.
Yet he did not need it now. There was no one left, save the master, to challenge the eldest of the elder gods, and that had given Adulatio a sense of elated satisfaction the likes of which he had never known in all of his long life.
The elder god stood and began walking. In an instant, he was down off the hill and in the midst of the thick, lush forest of palm and fir trees. Their bent trunks pivoted around as Adulatio passed by, so that their boughs and leaves always faced their maker in supplication.
Overhead, the sun raced across the sky to keep up with Adulatio, always seeking to keep him bathed in its warm rays and slightly aglow in its radiant light.
A moment later, Adulatio was in the open fields. The lions led the other animals in walking beside their master. Adulatio put each of his hands on the manes of the lions closest to him, and the large beasts purred with an innocent delight. The rest of the animals followed by order of size, so that two trains flanked the elder god as a majestic escort.
In the blink of an eye, Adulatio was upon the white shores of the coast that bordered his island. The waves beyond stood tall, now resembling a circular wall that shielded the elder god and his land from the outside. It was a majestic sight; water so clear he could see through it, yet so firm and steadfast that nothing could pass through it.
Yet still, even standing in the place he had been told to go, Adulatio saw no sign of the mysterious speaker who’s form would mar the island with its ugliness.
“I am come,” the deity proclaimed.
“Oh great god,” the voice bemoaned, “you should not have.”
“You will not presume to tell me, Adulatio, what I should and should not do,” the elder god firmly instructed. “I was feeling generous, young one. Come, let us cure your deformedness.”
Some moments passed, only the pleasing sights and sounds of Adulatio’s Arden petitioning him for his attention. The foremost god stood on the shore, looking to and through the ocean wall that barricaded him. He refocused a sliver of his power from the island to see, in his mind’s eye, the shoreline all the way around. Still, he could not spot this stranger.
“Ugh,” he breathed out, annoyed. “I grow tired of this. I offer my help one final time. Take it or go. Now…show yourself.”
“As you wish.”