The god Haorum laughed at the small being’s request. A hearty, full-throated laugh that had neither spite nor derision in it, though maybe some small puzzlement. He then turned away and, with one foot planted on the earth, stepped over to the moon and was out of reach.
Reclining on the moon, Haorum looked out over all the world. All of its continents were evident from here, and when clouds obscured them he could blow them away with a casual heave from within his city-sized breast. Not only the continents, but the islands. And all of the mountains, and the hills, and the trees. All of the houses, all of the mortal beings of their many species working and worrying and dancing and resting.
Haorum rejoiced to look on it all.
Not only the land was visible to Haorum from the moon, but the ocean as well. Its waves and the blue-gray sheen they echoed from the sky through which the god peered. The ships made by the tool-making mortals which rode futilely across it. The great and small beasts that came to the surface.
Haorum smiled in glee at every sight.
Not only could he see the surface, but Haorum could see within the ocean. Miles of life that surface-dwelling mortals did not suspect. Clouds of krill in which could be hiding a large island and no one would see. Except, of course, for Haorum. A second landscape at the ocean floor, rich and lively as the one that met the air above, if not moreso.
Haorum’s heart was jubilant to behold it.
Not only could Haorum see within the ocean, but he could see within the world itself. The structures of rock that nothing bound to natural existence could move for they were so massive. The cracks wherein lived infinitesimal forms of life that were subjected to heat and cold that would crush any mortal capable of self-awareness. And spirits, too, which moved with dancers’ grace between the stones. And the movement of the stones themselves, which would seem stationary to a lesser being, but which to Haorum flowed like winds and tides.
Haorum’s spirit swelled with pleasure at all of this.
Not only was all this evident, all of the world, but so were all of the phases and bodies of it. The world that was matter lay out before Haorum like a mat on which a king might position models of his armies. But the world that was spirit flowed on sacred currents through and beyond it, bearing a magnitude of life and consciousness that in all ways made the material paltry by comparison. The world that was energy pulsed and leapt and changed shapes and was a joyous cosmic ballet to the god’s eyes. The world that was formless thought and cold nonstructure crinkled there, within and without and beyond it all, hmmming and ahhhing as its infinite curiosity uncovered revelations.
Haorum could have burst with the pride and glee it all inspired in him.
Not only did Haorum see all that is, but he saw all that had been and that would be as well. Strung out before him in infinite pathways of being, all forms occupied all space at once, and all feelings and reasons were plain to the deity in the many mutations which they would undergo, and those by which they had come to their present state. The infinite roots, he could see, of everything that is; and the infinite branches of consequence from each thing. All knotted together, all forming a single, unalterable being that was the universe and its constituent forms and moments.
Looking on this, Haorum did not rejoice.
And, though he was a god, though his mind and soul reached the ends of being and beyond, though his senses and his reasons could not have limits put upon them, he did not understand why.
Yet, to see the freely wheeling everythings of existence so bound up, so knotted and immobile, Haorum felt only a sadness and fear that should not be the purview of the divine to experience.
So he descended from the moon, again in a single step. He found the tiny mortal being who had petitioned him. Where had been a hale youth moments ago when Haorum had departed, this was an old, old man now. Hunched and sickly, little able to engage with the other sentient beings of his environs.
Haorum came close to him, allowed the old man to perceive him as a creature with the size and form of a mortal (well, maybe a little larger). Nonetheless, rheumy eyes recognized him immediately.
“I’ve thought on your request,” Haorum said to the man. “Do you still wish the same thing?”
“I do,” the old man hesitated not a moment.
And Haorum offered it. To shake the hand of one of the great gods. And the man accepted, though he knew it would destroy him utterly, body and spirit and mind.