The Usurper

                On the apotheotic throne sat the Usurper, Jorah Cayne, lamenting the ill-fortune brought on by success. He had achieved the most dangerous feat any creature could: the realization of all his dreams. The mass of women and men die hoping in quiet desperation, even from their final resting places, that ‘Someday… someday…’ they might reach the impossible peaks they climbed towards. They die not knowing whether or not the accomplishment of these out of reach hopes would satisfy them, would fill the bottomless pits we call souls.

Jorah was a God, part of a family of Gods. He had the time, the patience, the anger and vim to plot, to overthrow, to become all he ever wanted: King of kings and master of creation. And he achieved that dream. His brother become an amnesiac outcast, lolling in an asylum for the criminally insane. His Mother Eve become Exile, toiling to build new worlds of her own in some forgotten corner of All. Now nothing remained for him but the truth. The crown, the penumbral castle, Godhood, these things were not enough.

Even with the multiverse dancing before him in mercury pools, with anything he wished but a thought away, he remained unsatisfied. The great challenge of his life was overcome. His younger brother—the genteel statesman and Mother Eve’s favorite—had been undone. Now nothing remained but dotage. Nothing but the eternity stretching before him, stuck in the seat of power, saddled with infinite responsibilities. Jorah sighed, not for the first or the millionth or the last time. Responsibility bored him. It always had.

You warned me, Aible. You laughed, even as all your memories drained away; even as your faces became my own. You mocked me with your derangement. You knew I would not want this. That I knew not what I did.

And yet here he was, inundated by the prayers of a googolplex creatures, disinclined to answer a single one. Here he sat, beset by the needs, the songs, the praises and scorn of lives he may not have created, but now was indelibly responsible for. Here he mourned for the freedom he once had and gave up. The dalliances that once held his every breathing moment were like ash in his hands: unsatisfying and lost to the winds of change.

Running his hands through fine golden hair—the face he wore today was cold and pale, eyes piercing, yet empty, black as crows with their feet perched at the corners—he watched the twisting liquid that reflected back to him the worlds’ strife, waiting for moments that required his intervention. At the locus point of All, he was the Decider, who determined the victor of each major conflict, who choose which worlds might self-destruct, and which might veer away from such a path and toward a greater, if still insufficient enlightenment. Jorah Cayne, the child Lord, the unsuitable one, had the blood of many on his hands. He delighted still at destruction, the one joy left to him in his station.

He watched with an indifferent wave as a black hole swallowed a world entire, created by fool scientists whose own dream was to achieve a measure of power approaching his own. He was supposed to decide whether or not to rescue them in time or leave them to suffer the consequences of their folly, but all he could think of was the past, when time was young and stars boiled fresh from Mother Eve’s pot. The locus of All was not a castle then, but a garden, and Eve beguiled her children—young Cayne and younger Aible—with tales of Father Adam, the proud and reckless creator who did not heed her words, and who she herself banished.

“Creation is a woman’s work,” She said, stirring her cauldron in which another universe was born, “But fate conspired to birth me only sons. You will have to do.”

And as she spoke she looked only at Aible, and Cayne knew even then jealousy’s burn. The fire in his eyes raged emerald green, an envious and impure flame.

He remembered beseeching Eve to change her heart.

“I am the oldest. The throne should be mine!”

She looked at him that with sad eyes, her flames had always burned blue—the color of loss.

“Do you know what your brother told me earlier?”

Cayne did not answer, so enthralled he was by rage.

She sighed and continued. “I will tell you anyway. He begged me to choose you instead. He does not wish to be king as strongly as you crave the power of the Penumbral Throne.”

Cayne grinned savagely. “Well then, your choice is simple. Give it to the man who wants the job. Why torment the both of us?”

“It is precisely because he does not want power that he will be granted it.”

“But Ma-“

The fire her eyes flared hot orange.

“ENOUGH!” The force of her sudden, and ne’er before seen anger sends him stumbling back several paces.

“Enough.” She says again, more quietly, her eyes again a soft and sad blue. “You have so much of your father in you. The same insolence. The same disregard for caution. Please, just listen to your Mother. You’ll be happier for it. Promise me… you’ll listen?”

He nodded meekly, and they embraced. But still, in his heart of hearts, he plotted. It was the only way he knew.

A shimmering in a pool shook him from the memory. A message from one of his avatars. Powerful as he was, he could not divide his consciousness infinitely. So on each planet there hid a representation of God, bearing one of his many faces. They watched, and if anything merited his notice, they called on him, in case his gaze was elsewhere.

The call was from Earth. Immediately that caught his eye.

Could it be? Brother…

A face different from his own in all but the eyes, burning the same envious green, appeared.

“My Lord Cayne, the vengeful and just, overthrower of Aible and Eve, great plotter and Master of All-”

Cayne sighed, this litany might continue for another several hours if he let it. So many titles did a God possess. “Get on with it, Cayne #314. What is your message?”

“Well, uh… sir Cayne, we got a call. From… from…”

“…from?” The God continued, mocking his servant’s frightened tone.

“The, eh, the latest asylum, sir.”

“Yes?”

“Well, it seems, it seems that John Aible-” His avatar, the 314th false Jorah, paused again.

“Out with it then!”

“He seems to be, uh, remembering sir.”

“I see.”

He did not say anything more for a long while. Just stroked his chin, the beginnings of a grin haunting his lips.

“I see…”

“What should we do, sir? If he remembers everything, he might-”

Jorah blanked the pool with a blink, the nattering of underlings interrupted the schemes sprouting once again in his mind. The source of his greatest joy, the battle between brothers, an ultimate rivalry… could it really be on again?

“Don’t worry,” He spoke to the silence. “I’ll take it from here.”

And with that, Cayne rose from his throne, the apotheosis of all thrones, made of metal, of bone, of shadow and of light. An eclipse hiding the true nature of all things. He strode into the pool he had just wiped clean.

For the first time in over a century, he re-entered the world of Men.

I am coming Brother. Do you remember what I stole from you?