He was standing on the edge of a skyscraper, watching the horizon bloom in red, vivid steaks of light, that turned pink and orange the further they stretched. The trees in the parks, the tops of the houses, everything, seemed to be on fire. Fitting, he supposed. Lation has been waiting all year for this day. He could finally unleash his true self and engage in the games that never fail to make his spirit soar. Grimacing, the God remembered that he will have to keep his fun far away from the rest of the pantheon, those rigid bastards were still cross with him over last April Fools debacle. It was not his fault. It wasn’t! Sure, he might have brought in the fourteen water mattresses... and then pricked them... and perhaps, caused a tiny, weenie flooding in the Meeting Hall. Honestly, he didn’t think they held that much water. Still, his intention was merely to cheer up the old geezers, to add a dash of spice to their monotonous lives! Alas, no one was amused by the incident and he was forbidden from playing any pranks on divine territory. Well, almost no one. Apotelesma, the wonderful Goddess of Humor and Friendship, was heaving with laughter. Lation could clearly recall how her gorgeous, curly black hair shook in tandem with her guffaws and how her obsidian eyes shined with mirth. An extraordinary woman indeed, the best of all in his acquaintance. Oh, how he would cherish a chance to court her, but he doubts she was ever interested in him. The heavy gloom of unrequited love threatened to spoil his good mood and so, he moved on to happier musings. However should I start the day?
The harbinger of mischief settled on visiting the local library. He felt generous, so he decided to bring some bookworm’s fictional dreams to life. Who to choose? The girl reading fairytales in the corner, by the window, perhaps? Never mind, she’s reading a story by the Grim Brothers, best not to traumatize her. Hmm, how about the old man flipping through a book on ancient Greek customs? Oh, he seems to be on a chapter describing the various occasions for sacrificial offerings, so that would get quite messy. Moving on... He scanned the room for someone who busied themselves with a suitable selection of literature. Finally! Lation thought as he spotted a young, frail-looking man with a short ponytail and rimless glasses, who was leaning against a bookcase, a volume on the different species of moths cradled in his hands. He moved furtively across the room, in order to better see what insect the page he was staring at depicted. Acherontia Atropos. Thick, hairy body with half yellow, half brown wings with some lighter spots on the upper side and dark lines on the bottom one. Should be easy enough to replicate. Magic at the ready, he decided to cause a shelf to topple over, to momentarily distract his victim, and then, surprise him by having the insect burst out and fly straight at his face. His panicked screams will be simply delicious! Lation swiftly put his plan in action, exactly as intended. Something went wrong, however. The man wasn’t returning to his reading. Why isn’t he?!
The God silently stepped closer, frowning deeply all the while, until he was right beside his target. He turned in the same direction as the mortal, trying to gauge what had him so mesmerized, but nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. Could this guy have some sort of mental affliction? I can’t prank someone with intellectual issues! It just isn’t right! Lation was going to just walk away and find amusement elsewhere, when something pushed him to take one last look at the book. The moth he conjured instantly rushed upwards towards him, flexing its disgusting legs back and forth. He quickly started to retreat in horror, but he couldn’t escape the air-borne fiend. It landed straight between his eyebrows. Lation had never screamed louder in his entire existence. The Trickster sprinted desperately out of the library, swatting at his face and swearing for all he’s worth. He was too terrified to pay attention to the warm giggles that erupted in his wake, or to glimpse the flash of dark hair as someone rounded the bookshelf.
Once outside, the spell disintegrated at the sun’s lightest caress. Lation let out a sigh of relief before plopping down on the library steps to catch his breath. That was a horrible idea. I’m definitely not trying that one ever again. He thought morosely. Well, if you fall off a horse, you either get back up or risk never riding again. The God willed his heart to slow down and his breathing to even out. Where to go now... He was gazing aimlessly in the distance when a metallic glimmer caught his eye. I do love my religious ceremonies! Lation chuckled meanly. He made his way towards the church with a big smile on his face and a swing in his step. Oh, this is going to be glorious! I just need to time things right.
Lation pulled open the worn, wooden doors and entered a cavernous room lined on two sides with huge, carefully painted windows. Rows upon rows of pews occupied most of the space. Weirdly, only a couple of those in front held any parishioners. I was hoping for more, in terms of an audience, alas, I guess I’ll have to make do. High along the cold stone walls, a narrow balcony-like structure with peeling polish and a good layer of dust covering the balustrade, could be seen. He wondered if humans actually venture up there, as it looked ridiculously unsafe. Scrutinizing the elevated platform, Lation deemed it the perfect place to set up his next scheme.
First I will need a fire sprinkle in close proximity to the balcony. Gaze sweeping over the ceiling, the God found one that he reckons could be easily reached, if he got atop the railing and stretched forward a bit. Good, now, I just have to wait for the perfect moment to trigger it. He draped himself dramatically over the banister and turned to watch the drowsy sermon. The altar was a plain slab of granite with a rich red cloth draped over it, as well as an abundance of ornate, golden looking crucifixes and candle holders. An elderly, dark skinned man dressed in a long, black robe stood before it, holding a censer in one hand and a leather bound book in the other. He was preaching about the importance of living free from sin. This gives me an idea! It would work beautifully. Lation got up from his sprawl, cracked his knuckles and got to work. The trickster centered himself before subtly extending a tendril of influence towards the mortal’s mind.
“Ask God for a sign that you are on the righteous path” the whisper coiled lovingly around the startled priest. “Help the faithless find their way to the truth.” personally, Lation thought he was laying it on a bit thick, but it proved effective as the human got a feverish glint in his eyes at the words.
“Children of God!” he shouted towards those in attendance. “Listen well, for I have been blessed with wisdom through the mercy of our Lord! You must love one another regardless of any differences and bereft of prejudices!”. Now he raised both of his trembling hands and looked upwards “There is no sin too great for forgiveness and no man beyond redemption. If it is not as I say, may God rain his fury down upon us right this instant!”. The priest was sweating profusely from the effort by the end of his plea. The divine mischief-maker was absolutely on board with the ideals that were just presented, yet he loved chaos most dearly and couldn’t help wanting to see what explanation the clergyman would come up with, when it actually “started to rain”.
As he summoned a small flame to the tip of his index finger and raised it to the sprinkler, Lation caught an interesting fragment of conversation. “Granny? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? With the sign? Like a sign if it’s true-“ a shrill, young sounding voice resounded through the church, before being brutally silenced by a even louder “Shush!”. A fair point, thought the God. But that would take all the fun out of it.
He waited patiently for a minute, however, the sprinkle didn’t turn on. He made the blaze burn hotter and still, no results. What is it with me today? Nothing works out as it should! Enraged, he grabbed the base of the bothersome thing, with the intention of applying heat there until it reacted or, if that did nothing, to simply rip it off. The cuff of his left sleeve got stuck on the outer metal part, so he casually brought his other, flame engulfed hand, there to release it. His shirt promptly caught on fire. Lation started to wiggle around frantically, trying to extinguish his clothes and free himself at the same time. Luckily, and to his utter humiliation, the sprinkle finally turned on and drenched him in water, thus putting him out. The only problem was, this sprinkle was the only one to do anything. Frustration and embarrassment simmered inside him. So I suffered through all that for literally nothing!
The God felt about ready to start pulling his hair out. Maybe I should just give up for the day, go home, have a nice nap. I can’t believe how bad it was! I’ve never ruined so many pranks in all my- the world came to a standstill. A flood of poisonous suspicion rushed through his whole body. Someone in the pantheon must be sabotaging me. Lation briefly considered making a list of the potential culprits, but honestly, pretty much every God had a measure of lingering resentments towards him. I suppose I’ll just have to catch them red-handed, he thought as he quietly left the place of worship. The trickster could have sworn he heard a very familiar voice shout “Halleluiah!” as he crossed the threshold, yet he didn’t turn back to check.
Walking through the city’s labyrinth of streets, he was struggling to come up with the best way to trap his unknown opponent. Perhaps, I should wreck a prank on my own, put them off balance by disrupting their plans. The real question is, how far should I take it? They don’t seem to want to truly harm me... A lightbulb went off in his head. That would surely force them to reveal their hand! Lation knew a press conference will be taking place in the main square, at noon and he had the perfect plan to put in motion. He would have squealed in excitement, if he wasn’t paranoid about being watched.
After running around the local parks collecting the noisiest, angriest birds he could find, the God was ready to begin. He transported the two ducks, three crows, four pigeons and one jay to the rooftop of a building situated perpendicularly with the small, unremarkable podium, on which two middle aged, pot bellied men were waiting for the reporters to arrive. The strategy was a simple one: laze about until someone, inevitably, starts an uninspired speech, spread bird feed in copious amounts around the microphones, release the flying beasts and enjoy the ensuing panic. There was, however, a tiny catch; he will, also, carry some irresistible treats for the birds. Thus, the animals will likely target him first, and, since the saboteur doesn’t want him mauled, they will have to step in. It’s a stroke of genius!
With a tad of magic everything was in its proper place. Forty-five minutes later, one of the guys, finally, began addressing the assembly. Showtime! Lation strode to the cage with the birds and threw the door open with a flourish. Nothing happened. He face-palmed himself. Hard. Of course it didn’t. How could I have even hoped for this to be easy? Getting a grip on his despairing feelings, he started banging on the sides of the cage to coax the birds out, but they refused to budge. It was as if they were frozen in place. Ah, a spell, then. Fine, two can play this game, he thought with determination.
The trickster cast his own enchantment and lo and behold, the feathery nightmares instantly flocked to him. Lation was wildly shaking his arms around, in order to keep away from the worst of the attack, but they were relentless, constantly pulling and scratching and yelling. His clothes were torn, hair pulled out in some places. A few stinging gashes ran across his forehead and cheeks. He came to the dreadful realization that his nemesis wasn’t coming to his rescue. Oh, no, no, no! This is bad! So very bad! I’m so stupid! What do I do? The God was scampering away blindly, in a desperate bid to escape his tormentors. He unknowingly reached the edge of the roof and stumbled right over it. Or, rather, he would have, if a firm hand didn’t grasp the collar of his shirt and pulled him to safety. He just lied on his back for a few moments, heart thundering in his ears. Lation is certain he was trembling like a leaf on the breeze; alas he had no energy to stop it.
“Lation? Are you ok?” someone was pressing on his shoulders, trying to get his attention. He couldn’t manage to focus on them just yet.
“I am so sorry! I was waiting by the podium to intercept your birds. I didn’t realize...” the person sounded genuinely remorseful and quite concerned. “Please... I’m sorry, just... Can you get up? I’ll get you to a physician in a moment, ok?”. By the Gods, they were straight up crying at this point. Lation turned to face his savior. It was simultaneously the one he most and least wanted to see.
“Apotelesma. What are you doing here?” he breathed out, still dazed from the savage burst of adrenaline.
“I am so sorry! It was supposed to be just some lighthearted fun, I never meant for you to be hurt!” her words were barely discernable, given the haste in which she spoke them. She looked him over guiltily before asking “Are you in pain? Would you mind if I heal the scratches?”.
“It’s fine, I’ll do it myself ... in a minute”. And he will, eventually. When he can keep his eyes open properly, maybe.
The Goddess didn’t reply, instead she simply ran magic-dripping fingers across all his wounds, closing them instantly. She even fixed the holes and burn marks in his clothing. Precisely why the entire pantheon adores her so. Which reminds me...
“Why are you really here? As in, why interfere with my business?”
Apotelesma was gazing at a point far away in the distance when she answered, hesitantly “The elders decided you ought to be given a taste of your own medicine. And, well, I was a suitable choice”. The tear streaks on her face offset by puffy red eyes were obvious, now that he was calm enough to notice. “I really only meant to inconvenience you. I never wished to cause you any harm”.
“To be fair, I did hid bird seeds in my pocket on purpose, to draw you out. So, it’s not exactly... your fault.” Lation’s words were accompanied by a tired smile. He wasn’t sure he forgave her, not yet, not until she told him the true reason behind her acceptance to pester him. She made it sound as if they ordered her to do it, but something felt...off about her explanation. “You mentioned being a suitable choice, who were the others?”.
“Aaa... there weren’t others...really?” the statement was so unsure it could be mistaken for a question. She let out a very awkward laugh and admitted “I... sort of ... volunteered”.
“Mhm. Because?” the trickster needed an answer, but what if she just thought he was an annoying loser and wanted to humiliate him? It didn’t fit with who he knew her to be, yet he couldn’t be certain. Lation could feel himself slowly spiraling down into a mesh of anxiety and crippling self-doubt.
“Because, I wanted an excuse to spend some time with you” Apotelesma’s voice grew more confident; however, it still held an undercurrent of nervousness. “You aren’t often on the divine grounds and I find you... interesting” she glanced over at him with a searching expression.
Ok, Lation, you can do this. Just ask her out, without making a fool of yourself. Don’t do anything weird. Everything is going to be fine. Putting on a carefree, suave act he inquired, oh so casually “Does that mean you would be amendable to ruining some mortals’ day, in hilarious but ultimately harmless ways, together?”.
Her eyes were sparkling with sheer joy, and the grin she bestowed upon him was positively blinding in its radiance “I would be delighted to”.