Two days later, I am all but ready to admit defeat. Chypa is right. I look at people, and I know all about them. I want to do something, and if I’m not careful, it happens without the usual labor involved. I spent last night flying through the air, just to see if I could. I could.
Inacha, whom I respect? She’s terrified of her own sexuality, which is how she can freeze that of any man she encounters. I could fix that.
The king? He is so ordinary, but for his office. In thanks for what I’ve done, he wants to shower me with titles and rewards. I realize I could just take over Auspulia from him if I wanted to.
Evana? Seeing her hurt. She’s still a girl, still growing up. I could “fix” that, and then I realize I shouldn’t.
I walk around the palace, and it all looks so trivial. I could change it all. Chypa is right. Everyone and everything looks diminished. There are moments I want to tear out my eyeballs and make it stop.
Rather than go talk to Chypa again, I track down Mother Alesca for a private audience. She’s busy helping the king reorganize the kingdom’s nobility and bureaucracy after the mess Vorana made of it, but she readily takes the time to meet with me.
I ask her the obvious question. “You were a demigod for a while. How did you handle it?”
Apart from Chypa and Mia, Mother Alesca is the only complicated person I’ve run into since I became a demigod. She’s Mother Alesca. But she’s also clearly Honorable Alencar, the learned lady. And it’s the latter that answers me. “I didn’t want to be a demigod, Tollon. I’m really a scholar at heart. I don’t want power. So I didn’t take it. I was a demigod, but I never acted as one. Apparently, most people can’t or won’t give up the possibilities of being a demigod if they have the chance.”
“I’d like to,” I say.
The learned lady, for that is what she is right now, shakes her head. “If that’s what you really want, then you’d not have reached for the power. You have, Tollon. Realistically, you’re not going to give it up.”
I never thought I’d be in a position to say something like this. “Then I’m doomed to wander the world alone, Tollon the Stranger.”
“I don’t know about that,” she replies, “either about being doomed or being alone. And that’s all I can tell you from my own experience. But I wonder if your problem is that you haven’t figured out what a demigod should do.”
“Fix the unfixable,” I flippantly reply. Fix the broken. The thought echoes in my head, and I realize there is something I can do.
You see, my problem is I don’t want to tamper with people. Vorana and Gwella taught me that. They did nothing but damage when they tampered with people. Besides, most people can deal with their own problems, or not. But what about someone who’s so broken they cannot cope with their own problems?
Mother Alesca sits there, patiently waiting for me to finish. So I ask her, “What happened to Paviara?”
She looks thoughtful before she replies. “The encounter with you shook her up, but she doesn’t know why. She repeats your name every so often as if it’s something meaningful, but she can’t tell us why. Why? What do you plan to do?”
“See her. Cure her, if I can. Make her life a bit happier, if I can’t.” It sounds good.
“There are things you can’t do, Tollon?” She’s being priestess and scholar, both.
“Apparently, I can do anything, Mother Alesca. The question is, can I do it right?”