Chapter 51

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“It just appeared out of nowhere,” Lilly said, “It–It has to be a sign or something. But what does it mean?”

“See for yourself.” I showed the screen to her and Flutter.

“He–He has plans for us?” Lilly asked with a mixture of relief and fear, “What kind of plans?”

Interesting plans.

They moved their chairs next to mine so we could all see the screen.

“Who are you, really?” I asked.

I am known by many names, and I take on many forms. It matters not what you call me.

“Are you–are you God?” Lilly leaned in closer.

Is that what you believe?

If you do not believe, my answer would only make you distrust me. If you do believe, I need not tell you.

“I guess you can take that as a ‘yes’, if you want.” I smiled.

“It’s Him,” Flutter confirmed.

Lilly did a half-flap, staring at the screen in amazement.

Was it really their deity? It seemed possible, though not very likely. But whoever this was, he was powerful. The rainbow-colored flames burned brightly, with a pleasant warmth (pleasant to me, but probably extremely painful to anyone else), but they didn’t seem to consume any fuel. And the tablet’s metal exterior was cool to the touch. I could feel the magic in the flames, and it felt… comforting. Familiar, in a way.

“So what do you want with us?” I asked, “First you say we need to turn ourselves in, and now you’ve changed your mind?”

I wanted to see how you would react. Which path you would choose.

“You were testing us,” Lilly said, “To see if we’d do the right thing.”

More of a placement test, actually. There were no right or wrong answers. Your responses simply revealed aspects of yourselves which determine how I should make use of you.

You accepted a death sentence rather than put an innocent life in danger to maintain your ruse. You wish to bring peace to the world, and protect those around you. And you are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to attain that ideal. You will make excellent servants.

“Servants.” I growled lightly. “You’re back to blackmail. We do whatever you tell us to do, or you turn us in and let us die.”

No, Alex. You follow my instructions, and I will guide you on a path that leads to a more peaceful world where you need not hide who you are. With my power and knowledge, I shall protect you from those who wish you ill, and I shall ensure you are rewarded for your obedience.

“And if we refuse to follow you?”

“Alex…” Lilly gave me a disapproving/concerned look.

The screen went dark for an uncomfortable moment.

Then I wish you luck on whatever path you choose to follow. I will not punish you. But you must understand that I cannot save you from this storm unless I control your wings.


“He’s offering his help, Alex.” Lilly put a hand on my shoulder. “I understand you don’t want to give up your freedom, but… we need him.”

I stared at the multicolored flames. Magic like this reflects the caster. Their magic was benevolent and soothing. They felt… they felt like my own flames, when I curl up in the fireplace to relax after a long day. As much as I hated the idea of giving up my freedom, I understood that this god–for surely, whoever he was, he must be a god–was simply trying to help.

“I’m not going to worship you,” I declared, “Or change who I am.” I took a deep breath. “But if you can fly me out of this storm, then, sure, I’ll let you control my wings a little.”

Will you swear your allegiance to me?

“You seem trustworthy.” I frowned. “But not that trustworthy. I’ll follow you as long as I think you’re going in the right direction. If you tell me to give up all my possessions and join a monastery… we’re gonna have a problem.”

Fair enough, Alex. I just figured I'd ask.

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