The hunter awoke in a cold sweat, jolting forwards like he’d just had a nightmare. Pain immediately overtook his shoulder; his hand jumped to clutch it, only to find bandages reddened with blood. He exhaled a few breaths through gritted teeth - the air was heavy and hot, he assumed his lung must’ve taken a bad hit - then opened his good eye to take in his surroundings. It was a simple room with sparse furniture, only the bed he was in, the table at its side with a few items on it, and a foliage plant in a decorative pot in the corner. The morning sun peeked in through the closed blinds of the window on his right, while footsteps could be heard coming from the door on the opposite side.
A young, spindly woman entered. She was wearing a cardigan and had wheat blonde hair. She nodded to herself as she approached him. “I heard you wake up. How are you feeling, sir?”
“...Surviving, I guess,” he replied with a gruff tone. “Can’t remember how I got here.”
“Right.” The woman readjusted the glasses on her nose. “I’m Minerva, doctor in alchemy, magic, and medicine. This is my clinic and abode in Mooton. Two adventurers found you half-dead not too far north of there. You were here monster hunting, apparently? One must’ve gotten the jump on you.”
He clutched his head, seeing if the information the doctor provided was ringing any bell. Sure enough, he remembered taking a quest at the guild as he travelled through, as usual for him, tracking down and fighting a parasite boar… But nothing beyond this image of swinging his sword at the corrupted animal. Just a flash of green, and the memory coming to a sudden stop. “Damn it. Not gonna happen again.”
“Certainly not anytime soon at least,” Minerva stated, taking a pencil from the nightstand and pointing at his bandages with its tip. “That’s gonna take a while to heal.”
His heart stopped for a second. “How long?”
“Depends. I put some balm on it which should help, though it probably stings a little.” She hovered her hand over his bandages. “May I?” He nodded and turned his head away. He felt his bandages shift for a moment, then a cold hand against his skin, pushing and prodding, before everything was set back into place. “Ballpark of a month, I’d wager.”
His face went pale, his hand shakily clutching the bedsheets. “But… Monster hunting is my life! Surely, you must have some sort of potion that can --”
Minerva cut him off with a wave of the hand. “Medicine first, alchemy for emergencies. What you need right now is rest. A lot of it. Not to force yourself back on your feet and have your arm heal in an awkward position.”
“I’ve never taken a break from my work! You don’t understand, I just… can’t…” Cold sweat accumulated on his face as the realization set in. Not ever since he had turned seventeen had he not been on the roads running errands for the towns he came across. He was unable to stop anywhere without dread and discomfort setting in. To many, he was just a vagabond without a name, eternally jumping from the thrill of a battle to the next, the only times he felt alive.
The doctor crossed her arms. “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to do without for now. I can bring you a novel, if that’d help pass the time, but you are under strict obligation to stay in this bed until further notice. Family and friends visits are allowed; just tell me who to inform and I’ll pass it along to a courrier.”
He couldn’t really say nobody came to mind, but… He didn’t want to see anyone right now. It’d only make the situation feel more inescapable. Not that it wasn’t already, but he wasn’t willing to accept it. “I don’t want to read.”
“Suit yourself. Shout if you need anything, I’ll be two rooms from here.” With these words, Minerva went out.
He slid back under his bedsheets, already feeling the familiar dread settling in. Having to stay put made him want to puke. Having no intention to make the seconds feel any longer than they already would be, he forced himself into a dreamless sleep.
He felt something squishy under his hands slowly stir him out of his sleep. Kneading at it, it felt soft, pleasant to the touch, like satin, with the difference that his hand was slowly sinking into it.
He pushed on his arms to lift himself up, a strand of hair drooping over his face. A fresh summer breeze caressed his skin, and he opened his good eye, then the other. Pushing aside his green hair, he saw a cozy room, filled with strange contraptions, some of which were pointed in his direction. The brown shelves were decorated with colorful yellow and red flowers stuck between tools and materials, and surrounding him was a messy workbench covered with books and papers piled on top of one another. The wide open window provided plenty of light; it must’ve been about noon.
He blinked a few times in confusion. Wasn’t everything… big?
“Oh, waking up little miss?” a gentle voice cooed from behind him.
He swiftly turned around, finding himself face to face with a chubby, giant woman. She had wheat blonde hair and wore a long jacket that seemed to extend all the way to her ankles. She had a smile on her face as she stood up from her chair and bent forward to his eye level. “Minerva?” he asked.
“Oh, heard of me have ya? Call me Mina, witch extraordinaire at your service.“ She extended a finger, which he felt obliged to reach out and shake. “How ya feelin’?”
He blinked a few times. “Am I small?”
“Yes indeed.” She nodded.
He frowned, his thoughts lost in confusion. “Why?”
“Good question! I don’t know.” She grinned.
He rubbed his face in his hands, doing his best to wake himself up. “Where am I?”
Mina stood back up and gestured to the room. “In my lab! Welcome to Mooton, little miss.”
He glanced downwards and had to double take. Why was he green? And a woman? Where were his legs? “Huh…”
“Oh, right, had to put ya in a pot because ya were sliding all over the place while unconscious, if that’s what yer wondering.”
He didn’t want to confront the other questions, so he pretended as if that was indeed what had just been on his mind. “I see. Huh… So what am I doing here?”
Mina snapped her fingers, realizing she had forgotten to mention something. “Oh, right! So I reckon ya’ve stumbled upon a life gelatin. Y’know, big green jello cubes, like in the tale ‘bout the six ladies. And since I’m technically a doctor, well, ya were brought here when ya were found. I’m more interested in learning why yer so small, though! I must say, it’s quite adorable. Ya could fit right in my pocket!”
Oh, gods. He clutched his forehead, eyes wide. “Wait, so am I dead?”
“Ah nah nah nah! That’s a misconception,” the witch clarified, throwing herself back into her chair. ”It’s actually real rare that a life gelatin gives birth to a new person when they merge with someone. Usually only happens if the person let ‘emselves be eaten and had severe desires not to come back. In that case, the gelatin will absorb the knowledge and higher brain functions and start their own sapience, but they real prefer to let the person they merge with continue their life if they can. I reckon ya don’t have anything to worry about on that front, miss!” Mina thought for a second, bringing her hand to her chin. “Miss…? Ma’am? What’s yer name?”
He gulped. He didn’t exactly desire to tell her his name; not only had he not used it in years, but it’d definitely sell that he was a man, which, for some reason, he would rather she didn’t know. “I… do not remember,” he lied. An idea sprouted in his mind. “I don’t know who I am?” Maybe it was silly to go to such lengths just to avoid giving your identity to a stranger…
Mina squinted and inched forward, approaching the slime person. “Oh. Oooh. Infern’, yer the gel, not the human, are ya?”
“Uhh, yes! Yes. I think. I know things but I don’t have any memories. That’d make me the life gelatin, wouldn’t it?” What was he doing? Did he really not want to admit to being a man that much? He wished he was anywhere but here, still hunting monsters instead of digging himself into a web of lies for no good reason.
“Well, ain’t that a shame. Wonder what musta’ happened to the gal that she ended up feelin’ desperate enough to let ‘erself fade like that.” She opened a drawer on her desk and rummaged through unsorted papers and envelopes. “Means I got some paperwork to do, though… Help yeself to the house. Call me if ya need anythin’, little miss.”
He gulped, but ultimately welcomed the misunderstanding that he had always been a woman. “I can just… go?”
She pulled her hand out of the desk, holding a few papers. “Well, I ain’t nailed ya down to the desk, did I?”
That was odd. Wasn’t there something about his shoulder…?
He opened his eyes and tried to stand up immediately, only for an ache to lacerate his shoulder. He dropped his head back against the pillow. He was back in his bed, in his body. He wasn’t quite certain he liked that latter fact, though he could chalk that up to his injuries. What had that been? A dream? A strange one at that.
He wasn’t used to feeling much of anything anymore, besides dread of settling down. The exhilaration he felt while hunting had long since faded away; his life was an emotional null he was used to. So he had to admit he was quite surprised at what that dream had made him feel. There was confusion and surprise, maybe a hint of other things he couldn’t pin down? It was something, at least.
...His hands started shaking. The faded colors of daylight filtering through the blinds grew greyer still. Oh, it was happening again. A spike of the dread. His breath got caught in his throat, and a moment later he felt like he was floating above his body. He didn’t like it when that happened; that’s what he had been fleeing all his adult life. This feeling of not being inside his own body. It was paralyzing and terrifying, but only as an afterthought. While he was in the middle of it, it never felt like anything to be worried about. It was just something he needed to wait out.
His heart jump-started again and he crashed back onto the mattress. He breathed deeply, bringing his right hand to his good eye and rubbing his face. Gods, had that hurt. And it’d only get worse the longer he would stay put… not that he could do much about it. His shoulder was very communicative regarding its state.
He waited, and waited some more. He had nothing to do but count the seconds, or ask himself what that dream had been about. He certainly had no interest in doing the latter. Introspection wasn’t his forte, and it wasn’t made any easier by the fact it often triggered another spike of dread by itself. Hell, even just thinking all this to himself, he could feel it creeping up again. And all that over a silly dream where he was a goo w--
“Minerva!” he shouted, breaking up that train of thought while he still could. A few footsteps later, the woman in question appeared, still dressed in her professional slacks and cardigan.
“What is it, sir?” the doctor asked.
“Please, do bring me a book, anything to read,” he pleaded.
“See, if only you had listened to me from the start. It gets very lonely to do nothing.” Despite the complaint, she set herself to the task, coming back not thirty seconds later with a novel as thick as a few coins in her hands. He took it eagerly, setting it down on himself at a distance where he could turn the page without having to move his wounded arm.
“I’m a stubborn middle-aged geezer. There’s nothing I don’t learn the hard way.” This sentence had become his ubiquitous response any time his attitude was criticized. He never actually liked it much, but it allowed him to keep some well needed privacy.
“Riiight. Well, unless you have anything to tell me, I’ll be on my way.” Minerva paused for a second, waiting to hear if he had any objection. He did actually hesitate, but wasn’t desperate for company. Not yet, at least. Hopefully the book would be enough to distract him from his thoughts. She turned away, leaving the room, and the hunter to his own devices.
He glanced at the door for a second more before feeling his shoulder under the bandages suddenly hurt, like a scalding needle had just been inserted in it. He scratched at it for a second, quickly feeling nothing but a residual warmth. Whatever must’ve been happening under the cloth couldn’t be good.
He took his mind off of his situation by delving into the novel’s well-crafted pages, the careful prose carrying him well into the night, until he fell asleep reading.
Opening his eyes once more brought him face to face with a definitely unbespectacled Minerva towering over the whole of his tiny green body, a frown on her face. Was he back in the dream?
“Ya okay, little miss?” Mina asked with concern. “Are ya narcoleptic maybe? T’was an odd’ timed nap there…”
“No, no, I’m fine,” he reassured her with the strange new voice he hadn’t taken a moment to remark upon last time. “I must simply be exhausted, you know, first day of existing and all… This gi--… I haven’t even had a meal yet!” He had to shake himself out of his self-made confusion. First the inexplicable desire to hide his identity, now he had almost too naturally called himself a woman? What was with him today?
“Ah, righto! Lemme bring ya an apple or somethin’.” The witch stood up from her chair and walked briskly to another room, leaving him to heave a long breath he hadn’t known he had been holding in.
Seriously, what was with him? What was he so afraid of? This would hardly be the first time he tasted ridicule, so why was the idea of someone discovering him as a man stuck as a woman so dreadful all of a sudden? And the emotions! The confusing, colorful experience he hadn’t had since his last days of childhood. There was a lot to unpack that he was afraid would cause another spike of dread, so he decided to keep it out of his mind while he could.
“Aye, that’s for ya!” Mina said, catching him unaware as she threw something in his direction. A red round thing barrelled towards him in the air, and well-trained reflexes took over as he stopped it with his palms, though with an added, weird sensation of it sinking through his finger, even into his arms. Nonetheless, a second later, he was indeed holding an apple, and finding that his body seemed to adhere to it like wheat glue. Trying to remove his arm only managed to rip some skin off the fruit, which then sank into him and fizzled away with a juicy, sugary taste rippling through his entire body. The delicious meal found itself quickly covered in his goop, dissolving inside at a fast pace.
“I don’t know what to think of this,” the hunter stated with a smile creeping at the corner of his mouth.
The witch giggled as she moved to sit back down on her chair. “Ya sure look like ya enjoyed yerself, at least.”
So he was some sort of walking stomach, now, able to digest things through mere contact. Monster biology sure was strange.
...Now see another thing that was odd. Calling himself a monster had prompted no negative reaction from him. One would’ve expected a struggle, to try to hold onto the label of human as much as possible… and yet, nothing. He discarded it in one fell swoop and didn’t feel the weaker for it. There was so much about his own feelings that he simply wasn’t grasping at all, like he was discovering he was an entirely different person than who he thought he was.
Receiving no reply from the goo woman, Mina resumed talking. “Say, what name should I jot down on the paperwork?”
His smile instantly faded away, replaced with an expression of total discomfort as he looked up at the witch’s face. “Pardon me?”
“Yer name. Whatcha want it to be, little miss?” Mina repeated.
Oh. Oh, he had spent so many years going without a name. Was this how he was to be shackled to one again? He didn’t want that. He had already tried in the past to reinvent his identity and select something new, but nothing had ever seemed to fit the gruff hunter he couldn’t help but be. Why would this time be any different? He thought, and thought again about anything that worked with this image of himself, only to come up blank. This man, this creature, felt like out of a fairytale, a fraud not meant to have a name, referred only by its status in the story.
But that wasn’t the question, was it?
It wasn’t himself he had to name, it was this goo persona he was temporarily adopting. A flood of ideas came in. Maybe something floral, Rose or Mint or Thistle? Or something his mother would’ve picked for him, like Madeleine or Lisa? Or choose a name from folktales, Orwenna or Cassandre or Piebald! The possibilities! “Magnolia -- No, Julia! ...Junie! Vivian? Tulip -- Urgh, no…!” he rambled chaotically. “Oh, I can’t choose!”
Mina grinned, placing her elbows on the table and resting her head on her hands. “At this rate ya should call yerself Cute, if ya want me opinion.”
“Hardy har har! Very funny!” He crossed his arms, a self-conscious pout on his face. A name popped up in his head that pleased him more than the last few ones. “I’m gonna go with Mint before I have to hear any more of your suggestions.”
Mina exploded into laughter. “Or how ‘bout Tomato, since yer ripenin’ from green to red?”
He couldn’t deny he could feel his cheeks flush and grow hotter. He turned his head indignantly while waiting for Mina’s roaracious hilarity to wind down.
“But really though, yer cute. I mean that.” The witch’s grin softened into a smirk. She raised her hand and reached for Mint’s head, gently caressing down the length of his goopy hair.
...Oh. This felt right. So right...
The pain in his shoulder, throbbing with each pulse of his heart, told Mint he was back in the real world. Mint? Wait, no, he wasn’t Mint. Mint was this construct, this mask he wore when he was the other him in the world of his dreams. Mint got to be a woman, he didn’t. He had to remember that before he lost himself to the land of fables and fiction.
…Or at least, that is what he tried to tell himself, but something didn’t feel right. He couldn’t put his finger on why, but he felt on the verge of another attack… His whole body was… as if ill-fitting. His mind longed to be Mint again. Existence as her felt exhilarating, like hunting had long ceased to be.
He clenched his fists in preparation for the mental anguish about to hit him… only to be completely overwhelmed when the usual feeling of weightlessness and floatiness instead gave way to an excessive awareness of his body in all its faults. Tears trickled down his face, and he felt all too conscious of the ways his skin, his muscles, his nails, his teeth, his whole body felt oversized. It wasn’t just alien as usual, it was frustrating, horrible even. He suffocated under the weight of his own identity.
He wasn't quite sure when the sobbing began, only noticing his own loud wailing when an alert Minerva barged into the room.
“What in the pantheon…!?” she asked, running to his side.
“Can’t… breathe…” the hunter replied between difficult wheezes. He tugged and pulled at his bandages, wishing nothing more than to rip them off, but not finding the strength.
“Sir, please, let me take care of this!” Minerva pushed her hand down on his chest, forcing his back against the mattress. Already, he had noticed something odd, his ribs bending against the pressure. The witch rushed to tear away the white cloth, then took a step back, visibly shocked.
Pushing his head up by putting his weight on his other arm, he discovered exactly the nature of the wound that had been hurting him. His shoulder was translucent and green, exactly like Mint. It went beyond just the color, in fact; the texture, even the shape was the same, inserting an undoubtedly feminine shoulder into a body that didn’t match. Well, the shoulder didn’t match the body, not the other way around, right?
Point was - seeing this trace of Mint’s existence filled him with joy. Mint was real somewhere then? Were the dreams prophetic in some manner? Was he to turn into her? Wait, no, he was to be frightened by this possibility! What if Minerva recognized it? What if it was just coincidence? He didn’t even want to be Mint, surely!
“Oh gods, why is it suddenly growing? The balm is supposed to contain it until it heals!” Minerva poked at the goo, only to pull her hand away when her fingers started to sink in.
He looked on with fascination as his arm lost its scars and its tense muscles, reshaping into something still as strong, yet feminine and supple. He didn’t know if he wanted this. He didn’t want this in fact, right? No, no, he didn’t want this. To his surprise, this seemed to have an effect - slowly, his fingers regained their human appearance, their meatiness, their unsightliness -- not that last one.
Minerva kept her eyes fixated on his hand. “This is peculiar… Sir, whatever you are doing, this is working! You need to repress this!”
“Oh, yes -- right!” The hunter focused himself to the task, pushing back against the goop. With each inch he took away from it, he started to feel more like his usual, boring self again. The skin was getting back its tone; he could do it, he could just push it back down and forget it had happened! If he could just control this, nothing was stopping him from removing this right now and going back to his nomadic life, and he could say goodbye to this bed and this room and Mina and Mint--
His whole body collapsed into violent, panicked spasms. He was utterly terrified by what he was doing. What was going on with him!? He just had to… forget all this! Bury it! Bottle it! So why did it so refuse!? Why did HE so refuse!? “Let go, dammit, let go!” Minerva finished his thoughts for him.
“I…” His head drooped to its side, his gaze falling on the novel he’d read earlier. “I can’t… I don’t want to abandon this...”
“What?” the doctor asked, perplexed.
“I finally feel something and you want me to let it go just like that?” A meek, bittersweet smile creeped on his face through the tears. “I can’t. I don’t want it to end. I want to be Mint for… for longer.”
Taken aback, Minerva rushed for a retort. “Sir, this is not a game, you will -- You will die if you let that happen! You’ll become the slime, didn’t I warn you!?”
Slowly, the goo grew back onto the parts it had just left. “Only if I wish to end who I am, you said, Mina…”
“Yes! Exactly! That’s the issue!” she replied. One by one, his nails vanished into the goop, his fingers replaced by simply defined, arched shapes.
He scoffed. Was she implying he was suicidal? He only ever wanted it to stop when crashing back down from the dread! Not feeling anything surely wasn’t reason enough that he would wish to end it all--
Oh gods, he was suicidal wasn’t he.
But… why? Was his life on the road not something he had chosen for himself? Not something worth living? Why was he so dissatisfied with it? What could he possibly be longing for?
He looked at his hand, and the way it dripped onto the bedsheets, soaking them in green goop.
Was that why he had fled introspection all his life?
“You need to fight this!” Minerva insisted. “What about your work? Your life? You cannot just -- What you are doing is important! Think of all the people you help! Someone has to do it, don’t they?”
“…It never was about zeal, was it? Not for me…” he mused, feeling his torso regain the pleasant appearance he had experienced in the dreams.
The witch stomped once with her foot, her face growing red. “Of course it was! What else could it even be!? You’ve dedicated your life to monster hunting for a reason! And that reason is helping people! Not… Not fleeing from feelings… that do not even exist! This is the slime, this is not you!”
He glanced at Minerva’s distraught face for a moment. She stood her ground, eyes watering. A trick he had learned earlier in life suddenly came to his mind. He reached for the novel and opened it to a random page. It told of a calm stroll through a forest. He glanced away, then looked at the page again; now, it described a hair ornament over lines upon lines of text.
He was so certain what he wanted was impossible, that when it happened, he dreamed of a world where it didn’t.
“It happens in tales! It happens to other people!! But to us, that’s -- that’s preposterous! Look at you!” Minerva rambled. “Why bother? We’ll still be the same underneath! It isn’t gonna fix us!”
“And you think staying something we hate would help?” He raised an eyebrow, unwrapping himself from the bed’s blankets.
“It is what we know we are! Why even risk it for -- for what, pretending to be someone else!?” She wheezed, all her shouting starting to make her head spin.
He dropped a slender foot on the ground, then the other. Using the bedside table to help himself up, he took a shaky step after another, approaching her. “I don’t want to be a man. But I do want to be Mint. I’m excited, for once; isn’t that better than feeling nothing save for the occasional pain?”
Minerva took a step back, her head digging into her shoulders defensively. “We’re not Mint! We’re not! We’re just not!!”
“Are we Minerva then?” Mint replied, drooping her head to the side, her hair jiggling and lengthening along with the motion.
The doctor continued to inch backwards until she found herself backed against the wall. “No! That’s her name, we can’t take it for ourselves -- no no no! We just can’t anyway! We’re not… what is required to be Mint. We’re not a woman, we need to face the facts and come back to reality -- to here...”
The goo woman reached forward and hugged her human doppelganger. She closed her eyes and gently caressed the back of her other self’s head..
The protests stopped.
When Mint opened her eyes again, her arms were wrapped around nothing. The dark, sterile room fell unnaturally silent.
She dropped her arms back down to her sides, then looked at the open door next to her. One step at a time, she walked out, closing the door behind herself.
Mint stirred awake calmly, yawning. There was a faint, cool smell in the air that she eventually determined seemed to come from herself. Pushing away a heavy blanket and glancing around, she gathered she seemed to be in Mina’s bedroom - well lived, somehow even messier than her workroom, with clean clothes piled in the corner, next to a perfectly functional, yet empty wardrobe. The witch herself was nowhere to be seen, but a tossed-up blanket on the ground indicated she must’ve slept near. The light filtering through the blinds indicated it was somewhere around nine in the morning.
Getting up, she moved towards the pile of clothes and put on a plain shirt.
Opening the door, Mint encountered another smell permeating the air, this one, of coffee. She followed it to its source until she found Mina’s kitchen.
The witch was here, sipping on a cup of the bitter beverage. Her eyes grew wide and she waved, before swallowing her drink. “Well hi there, little miss! Slept well?”
“I have, Mina, thanks. I hope you’ll forgive me for borrowing your clothes.” Mint bowed slightly and rapidly.
“Nah, it’s nothin’. Ya’d started growin’ late last night and I scrambled to get ya off of my table n’ into my bed.” Mina shrugged. “Ain’t got a clue why it happened, but hey, yer back to human size then.”
Mint glanced away, rubbing her hand against the back of her head; “Yeah… I had kind of left a part of me behind on accident. I should be fine now, I’m definitely wholly me.”
Mina nodded, taking another sip from her cup.
The goo woman approached, letting her back against the table. “So, let me introduce myself again. Hi, I’m Mint, nice to meet you.”
The witch giggled. “A’ight sure, appreciate the theatrics, little miss.”
They exchanged a smile. Mint blushed slightly, inching forward and whispering. “Say, last night… Were you… flirting with me, by any chance?”
Mina’s smile turned a bit cocky as she set down her cup. “So what if I was?”
The goo woman grinned and planted a kiss on the human’s cheek.
There was an office. More like a room, really. But officially an office. A plaque affixed on the door read “Lair of the Mad God, God of Madness, Ruler of Causality, Master of Probability, Creator of Coincidences, Lover of Convolution, Guardian of the Queer, Five Times Winner of Best God of Madness Award, Best God of Madness Award Ceremony Presentator, Best God of Madness Award Ceremony Judge and Jury, His Friends May Call Him Mad King, He/Him”.
Inside the room there sat one man and a child. The man was a lean individual, with a few stray hairs adorning his chin, and black hair half hazardly slicked backwards. He wore a purple cape with an inside lined with deep blue, a sleeveless shirt, and comfy slacks. The kid had white hair under their beret, piercing red eyes, and a rat tail sneaking out of their shorts. Both had their gaze fixated on a crystal ball set between them. In it, they saw a woman jump out of her chair to hug another made of goop - far from the first time the Mad God had used this particular trick, but who was he to get in the way of what was popular? The life gelatin had been one of his best creations.
“Say,” the kid asked, legs swaying in the air from sitting on a chair much too big for them, “how did the hunter know of the doctor before she even woke up the first time?”
The man grinned wide, rocking his chair backwards to a degree it should’ve fell. “Well, say that you have a woman with a reputation as a pleasant eccentric, and someone overhears a conversation about her. And say that this specific someone finds themself incredibly attracted to the woman’s name because it is very similar to the one their soul tells them they should have. And now they go on their merry way, unable to forget this name in their head, around which they now invent a whole persona and project their own insecurities on it. It’s all just a matter of understanding the human psyche, see?”
The kid hadn’t been a deity for long, but it wasn’t hard for them to guess the Mad God must’ve laid down a convoluted plan from the shadows. It was right there in his title, after all. They turned their head towards their tutor. “What must we do next?”
The Mad God swung his chair in the opposite direction until it balanced on his right front leg. “Us? Nothing. Our job here is done. Now we sit back, relax, and appreciate that thanks to our meddling, they get to live their best lives.”
The child looked back down at the crystal ball. After a moment’s hesitation, they touched it and swiped with a finger, moving the view to the poor corrupted boar the hunter had originally been tasked to take down. Placing both their palms on the sphere, they let magic as white as snow channel inside the ball, reaching for the animal and destroying the parasites one by one until the creature collapsed, cured, but exhausted. They threw a cocky smile to their teacher, who replied with a flabbergasted look totally at odds with the secret that they had intentionally left that loose end for them to fix. The deities both satisfied, the kid jumped out of their chair and placed their hand against their warm chest. “It feels good in here.”
The Mad God smiled. “The best feeling in the universe.” He stood up, his chair staying on one foot. “Say, how about you go tell Alicinee about today’s work?”
The newly appointed deity of animals nodded before trotting out of the office, heading towards the domain of the goddess of food.
The former King stretched, then reached for the ball, turning it back into pure marble with a touch. He lifted it up, then conjured his infinite shelves, placing it back in its place on the third row of the seventh shelf in the fifth column.