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In ages past, the gods heard the supplications of all mortals who wished for things, and they grew weary of it. Grey-eyed Athena said, "Give me more time to craft and weave"; lustful Aphrodite and belligerent Ares wished to be more free to exercise their passions; and Zeus had many attractive interests to attend to. So the Olympians took the clay from the earth and with it they fashioned a doll. Into her they breathed life, and they called her Eldomaia, and they named her goddess of wishes. Unlike all other gods who lived for themselves as well as their purpose, Eldomaia would live only to grant the wishes of mortals.

And so it was. She heard the prayers of all those who had some desire for something or someone, and as she pleased she lent them her power to help them achieve their wish. Only this gave her joy, but still it gave her joy, so she was content to be fulfilling her purpose.

But one day during a festival when everyone else was out celebrating in the streets, a young man came to her. His name was Katharses and he was a guard at her temple. To her he said, "O Eldomaia, goddess of wishes, I have a new wish for you." When she listened attentively as always, he said a surprising thing, "My desire is for you to find a wish of your own." For Katharses had watched her from the door of the temple for many days now, and he was in love.

This seemed to Eldomaia like a strange wish for someone to have, but she felt that the flame of his passion burned true and pure enough to deserve her attention, and she returned his love reflexively as she always did: it was in her nature to respond to the passionate yearnings of her supplicants in more than mere words. She did not just grant wishes; she devoted her whole being to them. So to Katharses she said, "I shall do my very best to grant your wish, o green-eyed boy who looks at me so fondly." No one had ever looked at her like that before, seen the curious and responsive doll she was, and wished for her to learn how to be a person. They had only seen someone to grant their wishes. So she felt affection towards him and desired the fulfillment of his wish, but she did not understand why he looked at her with such great longing. That was still beyond her, and that was what she now set out to discover for herself.

So Eldomaia went out into the festive streets, sure that she would find a wish of her own in the celebration there. But though she danced with many mortals there and sampled all their wares, nothing stirred a yearning of her own. All she felt was the need to grant others what they pleased. She returned to her temple and turned over every stone in it, but in the end she could find nothing and no one she desired.

To Katharses she said, "Have I found a wish of my own yet?" And he looked into her eyes and he shook his head. She sighed and said, "Might I just love you and tend to your needs? Would that not fulfill your wish?"

But even as he shook his head again she knew that it would not. And he said, "If you discover that your desire is to love me, I will be happy. But let's not play pretend. Let's discover your real wish."

With that thought in her head, Eldomaia climbed to the top of Mount Olympus and beseeched her creators the gods there to tell her how she should find a wish of her own. They shook their heads as well, and Zeus told her, "Give it up, little goddess. You were fashioned to satisfy every possible wish in Creation, so there can be nothing in Creation you want yourself. It's better that way. That's how you'll serve your purpose."

Eldomaia had once been content with that, but since Katharses had given her his wish to find her desire, she could no longer be. She told her creators this, and they exchanged dire looks. And then finally they shrugged. It was not their business, and they had matters of their own to attend to.

So Eldomaia set off on a journey across the world. For many days and months she traveled as gods do across the land, seeking a wish of her own. The bards prepared to write great epics about her journey, for it was worthy of such things, and Katharses traveled at her side. They fought some monsters and befriended others, for even the beasts were charmed by Eldomaia's sweet and giving smile and Katharses's kind and perceptive eyes. They rescued maidens and here and there slew a villain, though Eldomaia grieved at this, for she didn't know how to distinguish between good people and bad people; she only knew that she was meant to serve them all and protect the order of things in which all lived, regardless of their kind or evil deeds.

But in the end, Eldomaia could not find a wish of her own. She reached the end of the world, and having found nothing she desired, she prepared to turn back in regret. She prepared to apologize sorrowfully to Katharses.

But he seized her by the hand. "Lady, I haven't given up hope. Is there nowhere else you can look?"

Then a strange impulse seized her, and instead of turning back, she looked over the edge of the world.

There Eldomaia saw her desire, and a flame finally lit in her heart.

Eldomaia wished for nothing in Creation; the gods of Olympus had spoken true. Instead, she wished for all that opposed it. She wished for nothing but the end of all Creation. All she desired was the darkness beyond the world. In that moment, the apocalypse became the most beautiful thing possible to her, and monstrosity thrilled her to her core.

More than that, she knew she could make it happen. Her purpose was to grant wishes, no matter how difficult. She could unleash chaos upon the world with a thought, though it was the same world she had served with all her empty heart for so many years. But now her heart was full of glorious curses, and she was afraid.

To Katharses she said, "I truly love you now. I thought I loved the world and everyone in it before, but I love it now for real, and you most of all, now that I know what it is to want something. I want to make you twisted and inhuman to show my love--"

"I would gladly let you," he said. "You are more beautiful than ever now."

"I would not be able to ever stop," she said. "So take the sword with which you have helped me slay monsters, and drive it into my heart. You are the one for whom I took on this quest. You alone can end it."

"No," he said.

"My purpose is to grant all the wishes in Creation, not destroy them," she begged.

"I don't care much for Creation," he said, "only you."

So Eldomaia, trying to hold back her desire to unleash the void of chaos upon the world, made her first wish of her own instead for her beloved Katharses to be as immortal as she was, no matter what she did to his body.

From Olympus, the gods heard his screams; they sounded as if something was wrong with the order of the world.

The gods came to the edge of the world where Eldomaia knelt over Katharses, her fingers in his chest as she transformed his body bit by bit into monstrous things that pleased her. His lungs had become toothed flowers that sighed out mist when he breathed; his heart a nest of shiny red snakes devouring their tails. She had just begun.

The gods of Olympus took mercy on the lovers. They transformed Katharses, whose pure wish was finally complete, into a cage of bone and scales and petals and flesh that would hold Eldomaia until the end of time. But Eldomaia herself they could only put into a deep sleep, as her purpose was to grant wishes, and she had not yet granted her own wish. Beyond that, all they could do was erase all record of her from history so that no foolish mortal would try to rouse her.

From that day till this one, Eldomaia has slept beneath the world, dreaming deeply of the beautiful horrors that lie beyond orderly reality...

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Eldomaia

January 2016

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