Continued from 24/366 – Azariah (Cont.)
Azariah shrugged. “I just don’t understand what the big deal is. Male, female, tree, rock, river, mountain-it’s all the same to me. Material this, physical that.”
“Sorry I asked,” Jaque said, shaking his head slightly.
“Questions are wonderful that way though,” Azariah said, “never be afraid to ask more questions. It’s truly the driving force of creation. Like, what would happen if I created this with eyes like that, and it was an omnivore, and all that. I’m fairly certain that’s how humanity came into existence. So where are we going again, I forgot.”
“Home,” Morn said, still smiling.
“Sounds fun!” Azariah said, walking out in front of them a few steps before stopping and turning. “Where’s that?”
“Follow us,” Morn said as he continued walking.
Jaque broke away from the group not far into the walk, leaving Celeste, Morn, and his mother walking with Azariah. Azariah spent their time on the walk running up to random things before poking, prodding, and sometimes even tasting whatever they were interacting with. It was especially awkward when a random passerby became the target of Azariah’s attention.
“What are you doing!?” the person said as Azariah inspected them thoroughly.
“Learning about the world,” Azariah said without so much as a question. Morn thought it was akin to what having a small child would be like. “I haven’t been around for a long time, so there are many things I don’t know now.”
“Stop touching me!” the person scolded as they straightened their shirt and stomped off in a huff.
“Some people,” Azariah said, pointing over their shoulder at the person. “Am I right?”
“I think you should calm down a little,” Morn’s mother said. “People don’t generally like being accosted like that in their travels.”
“I don’t like what you’re saying, but since I’m a tourist now, I’ll take your word for it,” Azariah said as they went off seeking other things to inspect.
“What is happening?” Celeste whispered to Morn as they watched the god flit about from object to object.
“I think we’re entertaining a deity for a while,” Morn replied. “What am I supposed to do? Tell them that they can’t stay with us?”
“How long do you think Azariah will be like this?” Morn’s mother asked. “They are like the embodiment of chaos.”
Morn shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“Do you think they were locked away for a reason?” Celeste asked. “I mean, if they are a god of change, maybe someone locked them up because they change too much.”
“What’re you talking about?” Azariah asked as they ran up to them carrying a small rock, “See this wonderful specimen I found. It thinks it’s a boulder. It’s positively wonderful!”
“Why were you locked away, Azariah?” Morn asked.
“That is the question, isn’t it,” they replied, tossing the rock over their shoulder. The rock expanded in size rapidly and landed the size of a cart, shaking the ground beneath their feet. “Some people didn’t like me. Others didn’t want me toying with things. I’m assuming that they didn’t want me to change things, but that is what I do. I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing.”
“Change isn’t a bad thing,” Morn said. “Too much, maybe a little inconvenient. Do you know who locked you away?”
“No idea,” Azariah replied before running off once more.
“That clears that up, I suppose,” Morn’s mother smiled. “I’m proud of you, Morn. I can see that you’ve grown into a wise young man.”
“Not too wise,” Celeste added.
“Maybe Azariah can help us with the zombie problem,” Morn said. “Having a god on your side has to come with its perks, right?”
“I don’t know if you want their help with that problem,” Celeste said as Azariah did a half cartwheel before falling on their back.
Morn shrugged. “I don’t understand how they are here to begin with. How many gods actually come here, let alone decide to follow someone around?”
“Maybe Cleric Josten could help us with this. It seems like something he might know about,” Celeste suggested.
“Josten’s still alive?” Morn’s mother asked, sounding surprised.
“Yeah, after the zombie attack, he helped heal Morn to get him back on his feet again,” Celeste said.
“Did he perform the service for your father when he died?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Morn said, ashamed that he hadn’t thought about it.
“Yes,” Celeste said. “Morn was too injured when we burned those that died. The mayor said that we couldn’t risk burying them in the graveyard since it was likely they would come back as zombies.”
“No zombies?” Morn’s mother asked. “I see there are a lot of things that have changed in the town. We’ve always buried our dead so their bodies would come back and help the town.”
Celeste nodded. “With the enchantments broken that kept them docile, the town guard had to push them outside the wall. Things have been pretty chaotic since.”
“That makes sense,” Morn’s mother said, nodding as they arrived at their houses.
“I think I’m going to go rest for a bit,” Celeste said, stretching. “That was all a bit much, and I could use some food.”
Azariah ran up to them and looked up at the house. “Is this your home?”
“Yes,” Morn replied. “We are home now.”
“I’ll be right back,” Azariah said as they vanished.
“Where are-” Morn began but stopped.
“Let’s go inside,” his mother said. “I’ll make us some food. I’m getting a little hungry as well.”
Morn followed his mother into the house and felt the weight of his father’s death once again when he saw his empty chair sitting in the middle of the room. He wondered why he hadn’t asked about his father’s grave. He wondered what Cleric Josten was going to say when he found out there was a god in the town.
“I’m going to go see what’s in the kitchen,” Morn’s mother said as she walked through the house slowly, looking at everything she passed. “Things are so different than I remember.”
“You were gone for a long time,” Morn replied as he followed her. He didn’t want to be alone.
Morn’s mother nodded, “I’m sorry I left.”
“It wasn’t your choice,” Morn said. “You were sick.”
“I could have done a better job, though. Had I not let it build inside me so much, I wouldn’t have gone. I could have found small ways to let it out and not waited until the last second every time. I was just selfish and didn’t want to miss anything with you. You were so young,” she said.
Morn walked up to her and hugged her. “It’s not your fault.”
continued 26/366 – A Problem