Fate doesn't work that way

It started with three drunk gods, and one drowning mortal. It snowballed into a quest for destiny with bound gods, sky prisons, mazes of death, and far too many disasters.

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3. Primordials and gods

The primordials had fashioned this room as a place to hold trial for the gods that had broken the ancient laws. Kanat had been here five times now, each time for something small. A warning. Never something this serious. Never something that could… could cost him his godhood.

He found himself swallowing. The primordials had powers that most gods only dreamed of. They could take a mortal, and raise them to godhood. No doubt they could do the reverse as well. Kanat found himself starting to sweat slightly, a feeling of coldness running through his veins. No matter how he pretended not to care what his punishment was, the thought of being forced into a mortal form terrified him. The thought of his powers stripped away, left in a weak, defenseless form… that thought alone was enough to make him shudder. He liked being a god. Liked the freedom it brought. Liked it too much to lose it to something like this.

The primordials were already assembled, as were most of the other gods. Kanat spotted Nith and Jinea sitting near the back. Jinea fixed him with a hard stare, while Nith refused to meet his eyes.

They’re trying to shame me, he thought, determined not to let them win. Instead, he turned, casting a smile at the four primordials.

As expected, none of them smiled back. They were much more serious than the rest of the gods.

They were represented by two males and two females. The first was Tekha, primordial of time. Just looking at those onyx eyes of hers made Kanat shudder. All of the gods were terrified of Tekha. The more daring or stupid ones sought her hand, but the smart ones steered clear.

Of course, Tekha’s stare was nothing compared to the dark pleasure that shone in the eyes of his father. Ronik, primordial of destruction, eyed Kanat with a look that said, I warned you not to toy with mortals. Out of all the primordials present, he was the only one smiling.

Kaysha, primordial of creation, was the one who always looked at people like a bug she wished to take apart. Perhaps to remake into something new, perhaps not. She was the one he’d hoped would show a little leniency, and he was disappointed to see the disdain in her eyes. How could she not approve of saving a life? Humans had been her creations, after all. You’d think she’d show them a little more favor.

As usual, Vathh, primordial of the void, was missing from the quartet. For that, Kanat was relieved. He was the primordial most likely to suggest the harshest, most vicious form of punishment. He’d never had any tolerance for rule breakers.

“Kanat.” Tekha spoke, her voice as empty as her eyes. “I see you choose to appear before us again. You have finally chosen to commit yourself to a mortal. Perhaps for longer than you should have.”

“More than he usually does, that’s for sure!” A voice called from the watching gods. Kanat spun, searching for the source of the voice, but they were hidden in the crowds. A few laughs followed.

“Ah yes. We need not bring up past… issues,” Tekha said. Was it just his imagination, or was there a glint of humor at the edge of those eyes of hers? This was unfair! If the stern goddess started laughing at him, he might break down and start screaming. This would be haunting him for centuries later, he was sure of it.

Unless, of course, his punishment killed him.

That was a sobering thought. Gods couldn’t die… not exactly. But if he were forced into mortal form then killed… well that was a different story. In that case, he would be obliterated completely. Send to wherever it was that mortals went when they died.

It actually is a common misconception that gods know what happens to mortals when they die. They have a god of death, after all. However, his job is to make sure souls don’t stay in the mortal world. He has no influence over where they go. It’s something that has mystified gods since they first came into existence. The thought of something like that awaiting him terrified Kanat beyond words.

“Now,” Tekha continued. “I’m sure we are all aware of Kanat’s frequent… dabblings in the affairs of mortals. He has followed our laws, if not barely. But this… meddling three times in the affairs of the same mortal… by the ancient laws he must be punished.”

“Can we please cut the dramatics?” Kanat remarked. Instantly, he felt all eyes in the room on him. He didn’t care. He just didn’t care. He was sick of the drama they were making this into. “Look, I know what I did wrong. So does everybody else. We don’t need to restate it. So if we can just get to the defense-”

“No,” Ronik interrupted.

Kanat turned to look at his father, eyes widening slightly with shock.

What?”

“No. As you said yourself, we are all aware of what you have done wrong. There will be no defense. You will submit to the punishment we choose, and that will be that.”

“That’s unfair!” Kanat protested, panic surging through him. His only chance at escaping mortality would have been to plead innocence for the second time he’d meddled with the mortal’s life. After all, that had been an accident. But if they weren’t going to even let him defend himself… that was a different story. They could do whatever they wanted to him, and he’d have no say in it at all.

“I thought there was more justice than this!” He kept protesting, eyes blazing. “How can this be justice if I can’t even have a chance to plead my innocence?!”
“Enough!” Tekha barked. Kanat instantly fell silent. “I see you act the age your form suggests. You already said it yourself, you know what you’ve done wrong. You know that there is nothing you could say that would convince us of your innocence.”

Kanat found his face burning. She’d called him childish. Well maybe he was, a bit. He’d always felt young. And what did it matter?! This was unfair! He should have had the right to defend himself. Yes, the primordials hated him, but did that really mean they would refuse him justice?! All of this boiled in him, shame mixing with anger and desperation. He shouldn’t be treated like this! What was he, some common criminal? He was a god, not some lesser mortal! And despite his promise to Jinea, despite his desire to evade worse punishments, he found his temper flaring.

“So you say. How do you know I had nothing that might convince you if you won’t even let me speak?! I may be being punished, but I’m still a god! I deserve to be treated as such, not like some common mortal criminal! Is this our version of justice?! Who paid you off to forbid me from defending myself?! Or is it just because you hate me? Is this how we function now? Punishing people just because you dislike them? We’re no better than a bunch of squabbling mortals if that’s the case!”

“Kanat!” Tekha barked, standing. He found himself shrinking before her terrible stare. “Another outburst and we will place a binding on you. You have broken the ancient laws. There will be no defense. You will accept your punishment, and say no more!” The look in her eyes said, or else.

Jinea, who had risen to a half stand, was looking him in the eyes now. Subtly, she shook her head. Not this time. Not this fight.

Still, he felt the anger inside of him, like a ravenous beast. With no small amount of effort, he forced it down. He would not let the primordials make him into an example.

Tekha sat, expression stern and empty again. “Good. Now, on the matter of punishment.”

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