Series: The Children of Clay
Author: Ono Ekeh
Genre: Urban Fantasy, SciFi
The Clay Queen
With her armies defeated, Queen Nouei’s enemies march north to capture her. The earth god’s only hope is to alter history before they arrive. To become stronger she must restart her divine journey by reincarnating as Bridget Blade. But what if Bridget doesn’t want to be a god?
All Bridget wants is a simple life with love and family. But she is confronted by a destiny she doesn’t even understand and burdened by powers and impulses she struggles to control. Bridget must choose a path that leads her to Nouei or, must force the Queen to settle for Bridget’s modest ambitions.
Two women, two destinies, one life. Who will prevail?
There are two and only two gods, Ryna—pronounced Rhee-nay—the sky god and creator of all, and myself, Nouei, the earth god, the primordial clay. I am the fabled demiurge. I am eternal, indestructible, but not immutable. I have no powers of my own except what I receive from Ryna—but Ryna has no outlet for her powers except in me.
Ryna sees in me, a slave, and she, my benevolent mistress. I see in her my mother, and me, her child, though she recoils at the thought. “We are of different natures,” she insists. She is being, and I am matter.
The Jaru mock me and my subjects because I do not fit their idea of a god. They say I am just like them: human, weak, fragile. Why must it be said to be so? Why is it that you are not like me, gods? Yes, I hunger and thirst, for I am human. I crave touch and warmth. I fear the dark, the pain, and the suffering. But how does that make me any less a god?
From where I sit, it is now four thousand years into the future from your present. The earth has been devastated by human hubris and, I shall confess, by my failure to broker peace. But that was two thousand years ago (from my present) and now, as my self-induced penance, I must bear in my bones the poison of the earth in order to preserve the very humans who mock me.
The Jaru, the Fenti, and others say I am a pathetic god. They laugh at the modesty of my temple. I like my temple. It is magnificent and befitting a god.
Even now, they march up north to demand that I kneel before the image of Ryna. They have every right to, because for the fifth time, by Ryna’s aid, my people’s military has been decimated and many of the Low Country have abandoned me to worship Ryna. The Jaru march north, converting my people along the way. In a fortnight, they will arrive here at my temple gates.
Ryna controls time. It is in her power as the Almighty. I, on the other hand, am pure passivity. I am only what I am made to be. I take powers from whomever or whatever will offer them to me. I can absorb pain, fear, love, joy, hope, poison, anything—except evil. Evil is nothing and cannot exist.
I have set myself against Ryna for ages upon ages, and in each cycle, I am forced to return to my eternal state of passivity until she reanimates me. Except now.
After so many eons, I have finally absorbed the power of time.
There are two ways to see time. One, Ryna’s way, is to perceive it as a linear progression toward the future. I cannot plan for the future, for I cannot see it. I see time the other way, the way it was not meant to be seen. I perceive time laterally, sprouting out of the present.
While Ryna marches forward, I march sideways.
And so now I write my story. Not the story of how I became a god, for I am and always will be one. But of how Ryna will recognize me as a god and must then receive me and love me as her child. My writings are hidden from Ryna. This is my prerogative. As long as I write my present and its possibilities, I write the future. If I finish telling my story, a story that spans from your present to three thousand years into my future, if I finish that story, a seven-thousand-year story, before the Jaru arrive at my temple in a fortnight, I will have won the race, for I will have changed the past before they get here. They will arrive to find me more powerful than they ever imagined.
Ryna animates me, but I animate potentiality.
I have three secrets.
I created the Selites, my pure children who preserve the pure passivity of the demiurge. Every time I am returned to my primordial state and Ryna begins again, they preserve the history of my existence, and I am thus no longer tabula rasa.
My second secret is that before my story is done, I will have created a new god. With her by my side, Ryna will no longer have the power to dispose of me as she wills. She must meet me as an equal.
I do not wish to speak ill of Ryna. There is no one I love more. Every dawn, my heart skips when I see her in the horizon, staring in wonder and fascination at the children of men. I have tried to emulate her in everything I have done. Everything but one. As desperate as I am for worship, I will not reap men’s souls to satisfy my thirst. I strive to inspire all humanity to love me, and it is only when the intransigent are left that I will unleash my sword as he who will force the rest to bow before me.
The Jaru march north.
I must begin my story if I am to rewrite seven thousand years of history before they arrive.
I begin with the marriage of two parallel worlds. One is a world of pure randomness—a zero-probability world. The other world is one of pure definitiveness, one-hundred-percent probability, where all that is probable… is.
This is my third secret. I have splintered the world out into all probable configurations. Ryna sees only absolutes. I see only probability. There is one absolute world—and a million probable worlds. Her world is somewhere on the spectrum of worlds. I don’t know which one it is. I only know it is not world zero or world one hundred. I begin with these.
I am Nouei, and this is my opening gambit.
Clay to Ashes
Bridget Blade is both a god with an insatiable desire for love and adoration and a human plagued by insecurities, fears, and anxieties. Unaware of her true divinity she longs for the kind of love and a happy family she’s never had. Her husband, Jeremy, though, seems more interested in turning her into a research project that he can commercialize.
When Bridget discovers her new abilities she revels in the discovery that she is a god. But her new powers attract unwanted attention and Bridget must fight for her independence and survival.
But when survival means giving up the adoration she craves Bridgett must confront the desires that drive her. Does she want freedom or does she want adoration? She can have one or the other, but not both.
Sister Vesta Kaypore ran down the stone hallway as fast as she could, her footsteps resounding in her ears. The dormitory doors to her right blurred until she arrived at the infirmary at the end of the hallway, where Bridget Blade lay unconscious as she had for the last four months.
“In there, Sister.” Brother Juan, a fellow member of the Order of Ryna, opened the door for her. The room was brightly lit by the midday sun, with a mild breeze carrying moist, earthy scents from the woods behind the monastery.
Sister Kaypore gasped as she moved her fellow Ryneans out of the way.
A man brandishing a knife stood over Bridget’s bed. With the gleaming blade grasped in a reverse grip, he pointed it downward over her chest, while he pressed his other hand flatly between her breasts. He’d dragged off her covers and hospital gown, exposing her upper torso, which was honeycombed with black scars from skin graft surgeries she had undergone as the result of radiation burns.
Sister Kaypore clutched her hands to her heart in compassion for the man. Tear stains traced channels from his unblinking eyes as he scanned the room, staring at each sister and brother present as though daring them to interfere. His eyes brimmed with fresh tears as thick wetness ran from his nostrils. This was a man maddened by grief, probably having lost family in the tragedy months ago during the Miracle of the Sun here at the monastery. Since the radiation discharge and stampede that followed, thousands of mourners had traveled to the monastery to pay their respects to the dead. Many had become disruptive, some even violent.
Bridget’s part in all the events was a carefully guarded secret. The Order knew. The French, U.S., and Chinese governments all knew enough, as did the Vatican. Many people were present when Bridget was rescued from an electromagnetic field that she likely generated, and also when she appeared to emit ionizing radiation from her body. She was too much of an oddity to keep a secret forever, although most of the people present had been discreet about the information so far—most, but clearly not all.
The shutters had been ripped off and the window panels shattered. A grappling hook attached to a climbing rope hung from the frame, next to an overturned IV pole.
The room was quiet and still. It was as though Sister Kaypore had walked in during a natural pause in the activity.
“Who are you?” she asked, keeping her voice as calm as she could.
The man’s hand trembled. “I lost everyone. My father, my mother, my cousin, my sisters.” His eyes watered. “My sister, Zanel, was crushed. Her head was smashed in. My mother just died from her injuries… all because of this stupid religion.”
All six sisters and brothers attending to Bridget had backed off to the edges of the room. Sister Kaypore took a step into the buffer zone between them and the assailant.
“Don’t come any closer. I’ll kill her.” His tears streaked down his face.
“Why her?” Sister Kaypore asked. “Why not me, or Brother Juan here, or Sister Mascomb?” She pointed at Bridget. “Why her?”
“I have friends. I heard talk. They said there was a witch in here that you’re protecting. She caused all this. Why would you protect her?”
“Does she seem like a witch to you? Look at her! Does she look like a witch?” Sister Kaypore took two more steps.
“I will kill her. I don’t want to harm you.” He raised his hand, holding his palm outward in Sister Kaypore’s direction. “Why is this religion like this?”
“Your family worshiped Ryna? Why not you?” she asked. “Did you leave the Faith?”
“I chose to follow Thysia,” he said with force. “That’s a religion that makes sense. It’s why no one wants to follow your cursed religion any more. Don’t come any closer!”
“I don’t think you came to kill her.” Sister Kaypore walked confidently to the bed and stood across from him. “Put the knife away. If you really wanted to kill her, you would have done so already.”
“I came to kill the witch.”
“No, you came because you want answers.”
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About the Author:
Ono Ekeh is a fifth generation android whose initial programming has exceeded its original boundaries resulting in a self-conscious, fully functional, quasi-human life form. He is married to a wonderful human woman and has four amazing kids. He is interested in religion, politics, science fiction, writing, food, mathematics, and other things.