If the diner knew it was playing host to two gods, it might have spent more care in preparing our lunch. Or perhaps not. Only the Oracle knew the future and he had gone half-mad from it, finally holing himself up at the summit of K2 and refusing any visitors. The popularity of climbing Mt. Everest had a sharp decline directly after, either from climbers wanting to visit the Oracle or because everyone realized that perhaps the Oracle knew something about Everest that we didn't. Either way, I didn't know if the diner staff would care they were serving gods and I didn't know why my fellow Watchdog looked like he'd been chewing on broken glass all morning. He glared at his sandwich like it had personally offended him. Perhaps it had. Tomatoes were hard to come by and it could very well be our fault.
"So," I ventured tentatively, "How did it go?"
"I threw him into a car."
Tim started eating after that. I let him go at it. Strictly speaking, we didn't have to eat. It was preferred, however, as hunger still existed and immortality didn't hold such an appeal when starving. He was a handsome man who had started out a bit scruffy and refined his image into the broad-shouldered, clean-shaven hunk I sat opposite of. The lines of his face were perhaps a bit too sharp and his eyes were a bit too thin - it gave him a lean and predatory look. People stared. It was either attraction or horror; depended on one's personal preference for horrific scars across the face. His started from the brow and slipped down past the left eye with the faint tip landing along the jawline. Another god had given it to him a few years back and ensured it stuck. Tim had spent days trying to reshape it away and finally settled for fixing his features to accommodate it as best as he could. He'd touch it, when he thought no one was looking, with a pained look in his eyes.
I hoped to find the god that had given it to him someday. See if I couldn't talk reason. That was my self-proclaimed job, after all. When you had a bunch of gods that had only been at it for twenty-some years, you had problems and mistakes.
"How are the parents?" Tim had finished half his sandwich. I'd yet to touch mine. It was a tuna salad and they'd put too much mayonnaise in.
"Dad's health isn't too great. His heart again. I wish he'd let me fix it."
"They're Lutheran, aren't they?"
"Methodist. It's very awkward when I visit."
I was the youngest of three kids and their second daughter. I was twenty-seven when Tim found me and explained that I was a god. At the time, I thought he was just nutcase that had broken into my apartment. Until he pointed the gun at me. "It's easier to show than explain," he had said, and shot me in the chest. When I came to there was blood all over the wall and floor and I was laying on my back, completely fine. Tim was sitting on the back of the sofa, watching me with a wary look on his face.
"You're immortal," he said, "You're a god."
I disagreed with the word choice on some points. If we were gods, why weren't we omniscient to a degree? Still, the word was mostly appropriate and so the fifty-some gods took up their new role with equal amounts of trepidation and enthusiasm. Sections of the world were carved out as their individual domains and shaped to the god's liking. I remained a drifter, finally agreeing to take part in the small sect that we called Watchdog. We kept an eye on the other gods. We ensured that no one wrecked the world with their new-found power and their very mortal ignorance.
The god that was screwing up the weather trying to make his land perpetually sunny? Yeah. We dealt with him. Sometimes it was just talking and spinning things the right way explaining the concept of global climate change and bringing in some experts for consultations and sometimes it required force. Hence why Tim had apparently thrown Cupid into a car.
"I think maybe's he's had a bad past," Tim said, "Or maybe he's finally snapped a bit. He's acting awfully erratic, might have gone a touch crazy."
He wouldn't be the first, that was certain. Power aside, we had been born and raised mortal.
"Anyway, I tried to explain to him that what he was doing was wrong. Showed him the pictures and the police reports."
There was a manilla folder laying between us. I was trying not to look at it. I'd already seen what was inside a baby dead after her mother crushed her skull. Two orphaned kids after their parents suicided together. A strangled lover while the man wandered aimlessly until the police picked him up and had him committed. He'd pulled his eyes out.
"He wouldn't listen. Kept insisting that he was perfecting things, putting people together like they were supposed to be, ensuring that no one would ever leave each other again. Over and over. I finally lost my temper and started hitting him, trying to get that damnable bow away from him."
"It's in the car. The bystanders cleared out at that point, after they realized we were gods, and I could finally cut loose. I thought... maybe... I don't know what I was thinking." He covered his face with one hand, thumb rubbing the edge of his scar. "I finally threw him into a car and when he got up... he'd changed himself."
He flicked a photo at me across the table. Cupid was a petite man, tall and thin with pale blonde hair and a narrow face. His eyes were very intense and blue, I remembered. Not exactly attractive but he had given himself an aura that demanded the attention of those around him. I had felt the stir of it even, and spent an evening hanging off his arm and basking in a glow of contentment. He fashioned himself a bow, imbued it with his power, and took up the mantle of Cupid. It was charming at first and there were countless stories of Cupid's arrows cementing a romance. Then it turned bad.
Now Cupid was something out of a nightmare. His face was gone. It had melted away like wax and where there were once eyes, there were only flat panels of skin. The nose had sunk into mere slits and even his lips were just a thin slash, the flesh over his chin pulled tight. His ears had melted into lumps of flesh. I recoiled in revulsion, dropping the picture.
"He's made himself blind and deaf," Tim explained, "Literally and symbolically. It's his way of saying 'screw you' to us Watchdogs. He can't listen to reason he can't see or hear."
"How do you know?"
"I managed to weasel it out of Oracle."
"You? You got Oracle to help you?" Now that was impressive. Oracle usually required subtlety and Tim was not a subtle person.
"I think he feels sorry for me."
"I would too. Jeez, did you leave any piece of the car intact?"
It looked like a scoop had been taken out of the middle. I think Tim was slightly proud of his handiwork, even if it was something as morbid as throwing a deranged god around.
"Do you have any ideas?" He sounded anxious. I gave him a lopsided grin. It came naturally, although I confess I did practice in a mirror some after people started calling me by my new moniker.
"Perhaps. I'll see what I can do and call you if I need help. Pay my bill for me. Where's Cupid off to now?"
"Was heading west last I heard."
"Then I have work to do." I grinned and stood, pushing my chair in and leaving my meal barely touched. "Don't worry. They don't call me Loki for nothing."
I took the bow from Tim's car as I left.
In Norse mythology, Loki was a trickster. He certainly got the gods in plenty of messes, but he also got them out of them too. It wasn't until the end of Eddas that he turned evil and I didn't feel like sticking to the full range of Loki's character. Just the good parts. Just the trickster. Sometimes I was called Coyote, but mostly I stuck with Loki. I had the pale Nordic look down naturally, after all. The gender was an issue, so I changed myself to a carefully sculpted ambiguity, balanced between male and female with hair so pale it was almost white and precise, fine features a touch too hard for female and a touch too soft for male.
Men assumed I was male. Women assumed I was female. I encouraged both opinions.
Loki's tricks sometimes harmed those involved, but they got the job done in the end. And every now and then Loki had to be threatened with horrific pain, but overall he cooperated. That was my relationship with the Watchdogs. They didn't like my methods, but they got results. People complained about Tim more, anyway. Poor Tim. He hadn't picked a new name before his current one got cemented in the populace's mind. The media was fast to pick up on the gods and the only reason we didn't have paparazzi hounding our every step is because judicious displays of our power had warned them off.
I turned one photographer into a goat. Perhaps one day I will turn him back into human.
I had a suspicion I knew where Cupid was headed. There was one god that had claimed a portion of Arizona as his own. The US hadn't been terribly happy about that but had little they could do about it. The god had reshaped the land into a lush country of water and small islands and houses, trees that lived half in-half over the water, and twining pinnacles of rock and greenery that spat forth endless waterfalls.
In the middle of freaking Arizona.
He also had a passion for all things 16th century Turk. His palace was an odd combination of lattice and boat with silks, pillows, and delicious cups of insanely strong coffee. I loved it. It was a beautiful land, carefully sculpted, and the people that chose to live there were pleasant and affable to any gods in their midst. He lived in close proximity to his people. It was sort of a paradise and I was certain the lure of it would draw Cupid in. What better place to sow the seeds of an insane and destructive romance, after all?
I suspected at least one person would be drowned before this was over. Etci would need to be warned of what I was doing. It wasn't because I thought it was polite or wanted his help I was just concerned of what would happen if he caught me meddling with his territory.
Last time he'd threatened to pull an Odin on me and leave me chained at the bottom of the lake. Personally, I thought the Loch Ness monster had been an excellent addition to his water-bound world.
I opted to travel in a form that wouldn't attract too much attention. Loki seemed fond of birds and horses, but I was traveling through prime coyote territory and felt like getting in touch with my furry side for a bit. I shifted my form into a large brown canine, far larger than any coyote had business being, and took off. The ground shifted beneath my paws, the miles flying by as distance warped itself to suit my fancy. This had taken practice. The laws of physics should not be broken without an understanding of the consequences in order to contain all impact to just my person. Similarly, changing shape had taken a good deal of work as it was far more complex than just imagining running on four legs. I had put the lungs in the wrong place and had nightmares for weeks in one of my earlier attempts.
Etci's land was surrounded by a vast sandstone wall, inlaid with bright mosaics through the entire length. It was partly to mark the boundaries and also to serve as a dam for the water behind it. He hadn't much luck on his early attempts at creating a watery world and finally settled for simply flooding the area. As a result, much of his vast lake was much higher than it had any business being. I found a convenient staircase and climbed to the top, turning back into a human as I did. The lake stretched before me as I gained the top, sparkling under the Arizona sun and vanishing into the horizon. Islands dotted it and I could see a perpetual rainbow in the distance, stretching between two waterfalls.
I'd have to drop a kraken in here one of these days. Create it up north where I hid away my lair in a glacier, and then transport it down here to wreck havoc. If I did it right, Etci might not even know it was me. He'd suspect, of course, but there wouldn't be proof. And I could watch the news crews a safe distance away and laugh and laugh.
I found a tower along the wall and climbed to the top of that, where a bell hung. I pulled the cord three times and let the brassy tone ring out over the lake. Then I settled back to wait. It took about an hour for a boat to lazily make its way over to the wall. Etci's people weren't rushed to do anything. It was a sailboat, one mast, slightly modern in appearance with a motor in the back. It was crewed by a deeply suntanned man. He waved at me and I waved back over the water. It was too far to yell back and forth, but my intention was obvious. I needed passage. So I dove off the edge of the wall, cutting easily into the water and surfacing, bobbing like a cork before paddling over to the boat. I was a poor swimmer. He stuck out his hand and pulled me in.
"Thanks," I said, settling in on the bottom of the boat, "Can you take me to Etci?"
"His divinity doesn't see just anyone," the man replied doubtfully, "I can take you to the palace though. The priests will see you."
"He'll see me," I promised, "I'm Loki."
The man's eyes went big and then narrowed in suspicion. I looked like I was supposed to on TV, but there was always room for doubt. It was the wise thing to do. He didn't say anything else, just turned the sail so that it caught the wind and brought the little craft around. I was tempted to whisper the waves to speed us onward, but I had to be polite. This was Etci's land. Another god tampering with his world might put him in a foul mood and I needed him on my side if this was to work.
The temple was a sprawling succession of boats, shallow and flat bottomed with a delicate network of open arches and walls spanning between them. It wouldn't hold up in a storm. Etci kept it together when he allowed it to storm in his lands. The entrance was a set of low stairs leading right to the water's edge. Three priestesses were waiting for us. One carried a stick of burning incense. All three were wearing thin silk robes adorned with the glitter of gold and gems. They kept their eyes cast down and as I stepped from the boat, all three knelt. I looked back at the man who had brought me here. The smile and look in my eyes conveyed everything.
See. I am Loki.
Etci had been a businessman before he tried his hand at being a deity. He'd used his wealth to patron the arts and had continued the tradition in his new role. He sat on a low cedar couch, propped up with cushions, where the boat opened out into a platform of sorts, low to the water where the waves sloshed up daringly close to the gauze curtains. A handful of people were scattered about with sketchpads. They were all around early twenties in age. I threw myself down into a pile of more pillows just at the foot of the couch. I could feel all the eyes on me and I leaned back, plucking a date from a silver tray at Etci's elbow. He looked to be late forties, his hair going silver around the ears, and he'd gained a bit of weight. His dress was in garish blues and greens, bedecked with silver and gold. There were rubies in his pierced ears.
"Have you no manners?" Etci asked. I spat out the stem of the date and rummaged for another.
"I'm perfectly hospitable," I replied, "My hospitality is directly proportional to the solemnity of the occasion. The more formal it is, the less I mind my manners. Have anything to drink?"
A priestess appeared with coffee. They were tiny cups of glass, stemmed and with bases the size of a half-dollar. Piping hot. I downed one and waited for a refill. Etci merely sipped at his.
"I have a suspicion I know what brings you here. I'm reluctant to harbor any quarrel between gods on my territory."
"So you heard of Cupid going off the deep end too? Good, that makes things easier. Tim is tracking his movements. It's not going well and we're going to face off here, whether you like it or not."
"I have a rock reserved for you at the bottom of the deepest part of the lake." Etci sat up on his sofa and glared down at me. His face was stern and there was no compassion or remorse in his eyes. I swallowed more coffee and scalded my tongue. "It's no mountain with venomous serpents, but I'm sure I can devise some way to make you suffer."
"Is that any way to treat a lady?" I murmured.
"You stopped being a lady long ago. I want no quarrel on my land."
Now I was getting annoyed. I tried not to let it show. Instead, I materialized the folder of pictures Tim had at the diner and handed them to the other god. He was formerly a businessman. I could talk business with him. He'd understand that.
"Cupid is a problem," I said, keeping my words clipped and banishing all mockery from my voice, "He's stopped using gentle nudges to accomplish his role and is outright bending minds. It's not sticking he doesn't know enough about the human psyche to do it right. That first case there the woman. She was abusive towards her kids so he stuck her with his arrows and forced her to change. But she didn't know a healthy outlet for her... whatever it was that makes her tick... and it just built up until she snapped, killed her kids, and then killed herself. You really want that to happen to your people?"
"I can deal with Cupid." I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. I noted that the nearby artists weren't slinking off not yet but had congregated as far away as was polite as possible. Many were still drawing. I scrutinized them with senses that were not quite mortal. They were from a local university. Etci was letting them hold class at his temple.
"Then why aren't you a part of Watchdog?"
The silence stretched between us. He continued to read through the files, for which I had to give him some credit. It was not easy. The end of it detailed what actions we had taken. Tim had tried to convince Cupid to talk to psychologists to experts that could tell him what he was doing wrong. Then he had resorted to force.
"So now you try trickery," Etci mused, "Tell me your plan, Loki."
"Send the mortals away."
At a nod, they dispersed. We were quickly left alone. I sat cross-legged before the god as the sun started to settle across the lake. The reds of the sunset bled into the water and turned the entire land into a fiery ball.
"Cupid has another name," I said, "I'm taking it and his job. I'll be Eros and when Cupid arrives there'll be no place for him."
"What will that accomplish?"
"He's vain. If he won't let us confront us, than I'll make him choose to confront me. Then..." I shrugged. "I'll try and talk reason into him. Failing that, I'll let Tim beat him up. And I'll help and we'll chain him to the bottom of the lake."
"Playing at Eros..." Etci sounded thoughtful. He was going to stumble upon the nasty part of my plan any moment now and I was bracing for it. "If Cupid cannot hear or see, you're going to have to get his attention some other way. You're going to hurt my people the same way he would."
"Only a couple."
"Than do it quickly. You have my leave." That difference between us and mortals the almost callous disregard of immediate suffering in favor of long-term gain it had grown uncomfortably fast in us. From the moment Tim first shot me, I had started to throw away bits and pieces of my humanity, shedding them like bits of old clothing. When I shaped away my gender, it was like discarding the last mask of mortality, and I became a god in earnest. I wondered if this was the moment Etci was abandoning his humanity, when he handed his people over to me.
"I will start tonight," I said, bowing and giving him a solemn bow that was mockery considering the source, "I must go prepare."
He reached out and caught the hem of my shirt.
"Stay," he bid me with a thin smile, "You may use my palace. I cannot miss the opportunity to see you in a toga."
"Dear Etci," I chided, "I think you have your history wrong. From all the classical paintings I studied, Eros went naked."
I wasn't going to do it that way, originally. But Etci's jest spurred the idea and being what I was, I couldn't resist. The artists stared when I finally wandered away from the private room where I had spent my time in front of a mirror, trying to shape my appearance just right. Cupid had damn well better unmelt his eyes to appreciate my efforts. The thin and unhealthy look was gone, replaced by a faint layer of muscle and the sheen of sun-bronzed skin. My hair was no longer flat and pale, but golden and curling in delicate locks around a round and inviting face. My wings could have been sculpted out of marble for their color. A quiver was slung around my waist and I carried Cupid's bow.
Alas, I was still gender-neutral. Some habits died hard.
I struck a pose for the artists. Their class was well over but none had the urge to return to their dorms, not when something this incredible was happening. I saw hands stray to sketchpads. I was glad none of them were photographers.
"Feast your eyes on this form of Roman perfection," I preened.
"Eros was Greek," someone from the back of the group said.
"Whatever." Damn cheeky art students. I stalked off to see if I could embarrass Etci before leaving.
Did I regret what I did that night? Perhaps once I would have. But I had done plenty of things to regret and skirted on the edge of having the very group I belonged to come after me. Tim had warned me multiple times that I was pushing things, that Watchdog was wondering if I could be trusted. Of course I couldn't be trusted, I had told him. But you need me. So this was the least of my crimes and possibly the least of our many crimes as fledgeling gods. Our carelessness and ignorance had led to ruin many times before this. Etci had flooded a town downstream trying to build his valley. Wiped it off the map. At least this had a purpose to it outside of my own vanity, as I hovered in the air above the water-bound world and aimed my arrows. The targets didn't even feel anything. The arrows sank into their flesh and my will sank in with it, vanishing to be absorbed into the mind. I could feel the trace of power from the air, my wings outstretched and immobile. Cupid would feel this. Now I just had to wait.
I picked a spot well away from civilization, close to that deep point in the lake Etci had prepared to imprison me. There was an island there, formed out of red stone and covered with moss. It reached straight up, like a finger pointing into the air, accusing the heavens, and I perched at the very tip and watched the moon travel across the sky. Tim joined me shortly before morning. He brought coffee. Starbucks.
"Cupid should be here within the hour," he said, "What did you do with your clothes?"
"Etci dared me to." Tim was staring frankly. I smiled sweetly at him and wiggled my hips.
"I doubt that," he said and his voice was, quite frankly, rude. "You don't need dares to be encouraged."
"Well, no. But he might have. He was thinking it, I'm sure. I can tell these things."
"You left Cupid a trail?"
"Leads right to us," I promised.
Tim made talk while we waited. Mostly it was him talking and me listening. I felt oddly exposed here on the island summit, and not because I was naked. I wasn't used to direct confrontations. This was outside of what I was used to and it frightened me. How would that make people feel, if they knew the gods could be frightened? I don't think they liked to be reminded we were mortal once. It posed too many difficult questions.
"You ever think that perhaps we're doing this all wrong?" Tim asked. He wasn't talking about the Cupid situation.
"All the time," I replied. There was a shift in the air. Cupid had found the first of the doomed lovers and found my arrows already pricking them. He was angry. "But I remind myself that I am the embodiment of chaos and change and that I must never dwell in the moment."
"I was being serious."
"So was I." I stood. "I didn't pick the name of a trickster because it was amusing. It's how I keep from becoming that."
I pointed across the water. On white wings Cupid sped towards us, his blind face contorted in rage, the flesh bunched where the eyes should be and the thin slit-mouth bared to show pristine white teeth. There was nothing appealing or romantic about him now. I raised my bow and shot off an arrow. He was still well out of range, but the arrow left a distinctive feel in the air as it fell towards the water. Cupid stopped short, snapping his wings out and the shock of the motion was a tangible presence that pressed against me.
I felt a pang of envy. He made the wings look so natural. I had given up on using them and settled for simply hovering and occasionally fanning mine a bit.
"This is mine!" he screamed, "How dare you steal it from me?"
In the distance, mortals huddled in their doorways or on the deck of their boats. They flocked to Etci so that he would protect them. None of them knew quite why but they understood that the gods were to fight among themselves. They could only quake and hope they weren't caught in the crossfire. I threw back my golden curls and laughed lightly.
"I think I'm doing a better job at it," I called back, "Oh, wait! You can't hear me, can you?"
And I shot another arrow at him. Tim sighed from behind me.
"This is your plan?" he asked, "Really? Taunting a psychopathic god?"
"The real Loki mocked Odin in front of everyone."
"And see what that got him?"
I kept calling out insults. I mocked his masculinity. (real men go naked) I laughed at his frustration. I made vulgar insinuations. And an arrow pierced my chest.
I collapsed to the ground in shock. It trembled from the impact and I raised one hand, gently touching the feathers. Blood slipped down across my belly. Above me, Cupid hovered with another arrow strung in his bow and his eyes and ears were open. Tim just watched. I quietly cursed his inaction as Cupid descended lower and lower to where I lay. I tentatively reached for where I had dropped my bow and a second arrow shot through my wrist and into the ground, pinning it there. I groaned in pain. It was a distant sort of hurt, a pain I could ignore had it not been inflicted by another god. Cupid's feet touched the ground and the agony intensified and I drew in a shaky breath.
Would Etci really imprisoned me to be tortured beneath the waters if I angered him too far? Would it be like this?
"I'll not be usurped," he said evenly. This was good. He was talking. He could hear me. Now to see if he could listen.
"Thought I could do a better job at it," I grimaced. I could taste blood in my mouth and I spat it out. Cupid looked on in disgust. "My bow is pretty good, isn't it?"
I saw him glance aside at it and then he picked it up and studied it for a moment. His hands trembled and he slowly let his replacement bow slip to the ground.
"No," he said, "You can't."
He raised his true bow and nocked another arrow. I smiled and met his eyes.
"So what did I do wrong?" Please, please let him keep talking. I liked Tim but I didn't think for an instant that he'd intervene until he was positive I could do no more, even if that required me to be stuck through like a pincushion with all of Cupid's arrows first.
Cupid's anger fought with his vanity. He didn't lower his bow, but he didn't fire the arrow either. I noted that the bolt was aimed for my throat.
"You..." He hesitated, searching for words. "You did it wrong. You hurt them."
"What did I do differently?"
My voice was an urgent whisper. The anger was melting away from Cupid's face and that ugly rage was being replaced with a sort of childlike confusion. He was beautiful again and his features seemed to blur between every man or woman I had ever thought attractive. I blinked and found that my eyes were filling with tears.
The arrows really, really hurt.
"You were fine as you were before," I said gently, "Nudging people. That worked. You didn't need to do anything dramatic."
"I just wanted to fix things."
"We can't. Our omnipotence is constrained by the bounds of our wisdom and that, sadly, is still very mortal. All those stories that we take our names from they only serve to demonstrate that for all their power, the gods were still very, very careless. Look at the tricksters; they exist to subvert the divine perfection of the gods, to render them fallible and be rendered fallible in return. You may be Cupid, but you were a man named Marcus first."
Comprehension flashed through his eyes and I felt a tight little part of me relax. The confusion and anger was gone from his face. The subtle melding of appearance was gone and he settled for a face that could be my mirror. A cold and almost amused look had appeared in his eyes and I was suddenly afraid again.
"I know you," he said calmly, "You're not Eros. You're not even some new god trying to claim that name. I remember now. You're Loki."
And he fired the third arrow.
When I came to, Tim was kneeling over me with a sour look on his face. The scar made him look even more unpleasant and I groaned to indicate my displeasure at waking up naked on top of some random island with such an unhappy person tending to me.
"I need a temple," I said, "With people to shower me with affection and tend to my every need."
"I could have left the arrows in."
The sun was setting. Had I really been out all day? Just how many times had Cupid shot me? I found it more disturbing that I couldn't remember. I sat up, slowly, and found that it wasn't just Tim and me on the island. Both Etci and Cupid were there as well. I suppose I should have been thankful Etci hadn't brought his students to practice their artistic nudes. Cupid sat on the edge of the cliff with his back to me, wings folded close.
"I'd apologize," he said, not turning around, "but I'm certain you did something to deserve that. Somewhere, to someone."
"I refuse to learn the error of my ways. Are we alright now? No more trying to warp people's minds?"
"I think so," he said softly, "I still feel like I'm slipping away, like this is all too much and I can't find that piece of me that knows what it's like to be just Marcus anymore."
"Therapy. You need a therapist. Find one. Find a hot one. Find hot twin therapists."
The four of us sat in silence then and watched the sunset. At some point I let my appearance meld back into the disquieting white-haired form I preferred. There was little to say now. Tim had done all the talking while I was unconscious and Etci was only there to ensure we left in due time, like a crotchety old man throwing the kids off his yard. I wanted to manifest a stick for him to shake at us, but I doubted he'd appreciate or even understand the joke. It could be hit or miss at times. I was still learning this trickster thing.
And that was the crux of the whole mess: we were all still learning this. There was no guidebook, the stories were just stories at best, and we had a world at our whim and no idea what to do with it.
May the gods have mercy on us all.