A menial worker for thirty years. A god of the people for twenty. Now, a mockery of a man, who sits on the altar of his empty temple, mulling over the cracks in the foundation.
This was Amadeus Spence.
Not even laughter reached his ears, not now. He picked and chipped at some gold on the altar, snorting as it cracked apart, revealing old stones underneath. What was there to do? What now?
Amadeus was born into a tribe of hard workers, metal-shapers, men that defined the most glorious of cities. He worked hard. He worked well, smoothing and changing the metals with his bare hands. Until space and time fractured, and he found himself among unknown people, in an unknown place.
The past? Another planet? How could he have been certain? These ‘humans,’ as they called themselves, looked just like him, but they did not act the same. From the ground they mined and procured their metals, heating them and crudely banging them into shapes. Bits of metal were sold as currency. Metal? Insignificant metal? It was hard for Amadeus to understand.
That was just over twenty years ago. Amadeus’ arrival shook up the planet in ways that no man could expect. As fate would have it, his alchemic abilities, given through technology that these primitives could not comprehend, gave him a value that broke the very fabric of society.
Amadeus discovered his fortune while passing a woman on the street one day. He had only been in this strange new world one day, not nearly enough time to hunger or thirst. The thrill of discovery pushed him on, along with the fear he had of never being able to return home. In his travel, he bumped into the older woman, and she cried out as she stumbled, dropping a small satchel from her hands. Little round bits of metal popped out. Coins, they called them. Gold, silver, copper, nickel, all elements that were easy to define with the naked eye. The woman lunged for the rolling disks with abandon, trying to keep them back, and Amadeus could see why. There was a gutter grate in the street, leading somewhere that the woman could not go. These metals were precious to her, it seemed.
And yet, he was too late to make a move. Many of the coins fell, clinking against unseen stones as they dropped into the darkness. With another cry, the woman began to weep.
»I am sorry,» Amadeus said, though he didn’t understand the situation. His consolation meant nothing, and the weeping continued. Did she even understand his words? Probably not, as he had not heard a single bit of intelligible speech since arriving.
So, in effort to communicate his apology, and to make reparation, Amadeus slid his hand across the ground, scooping up and shaping particles in the stone. His alchemy changed their structure, reforming the bonds that held the pieces together. Simple, really. The more difficult portion was forming the metals into perfect disks, which took a practiced eye. Amadeus was no layman. He knew his art, and the small disks of gold and silver soon sparkled in his hand before the woman’s face. It didn’t seem like much to him, but perhaps it would suffice as an apology.
He did not expect those that saw to kneel before him, uttering words of reverence. He did not expect those that bowed and placed their faces to the ground, nor those who gazed in wonder. He was but a metalworker then.
Soon he became more.
It was no accident that Amadeus continued to provide gold for the people. He understood their gratitude years before he understood their language. They brought him to a temple, and it was clear that he was not a sacrifice, nor was he to worship. The idea dawned on him.
These people thought that he was a god.
Nearly impossible to think, but the idea held true. Though he’d never held high position or aspired to greatness, the gratitude pleased him. He began to shape the temple, drawing on his skill to make it as one of the buildings from his home.
Word spread of Amadeus’s generosity and his deity. The world came to worship him, and he gave to them this metal that they adored. This metal that gave them life, and prevented them from starving. Strange that they considered gold to be so valuable. It was a soft metal, no good for construction, and it was easily scratched and marred, but Amadeus happily obliged those in need. He learned their language, and interfaced with all the people, assuming the mantle they had given him. It was all too easy to rest on the promises of his divine power.
For a while.
Now the temple was empty. Amadeus was being treated, he thought, as he deserved. Strange that it was so disappointing to return to being a metal worker. Gold, nickel, copper, platinum, uranium, any metal element that Amadeus could think of was now as common as sand. What desire did the people have for gold when it coated his streets? What need did they have for silver when it garnished even the trash bins? He had been used and discarded, a relic of humanity’s past as they stepped forward.
They still knew who he was. They left his temple standing, as more of a kindness than a reverence. A historical marker. Yet, none visited. Not one human cared about the man that could create metals.
The temple doors creaked open, jarring Amadeus from his miserable remembrance of better times. He peered forward, watching as a young woman entered the room. She met the former god eye to eye, and did not bow or kneel.
»What.» Amadeus croaked, his voice torn from disuse. »What do you want?»
»You,» she said, crooking her finger at him. »Come with me.»
Amadeus stood. Anything she wished was worth the gratitude of a human, even a single one. Praise was a drug that he’d been deprived of.
»Where are we going?» he asked.
»I am here to return a favor,» the woman said, leading the way out the doors into the bright streets. »You gave mother hope when there was none. I do the same.»
»Mother—» Amadeus shielded his eyes from the light as he stepped through the large doors. The sun was an unwelcome reminder of his more active years. He was no one now, and had no reason to leave his temple.
Two smelly, dirty animals stood in the street, lashed to an ornate open box with wheels. The woman climbed into the box, motioning for Amadeus to climb in after her. Perhaps she wanted him to shape the container, to make it beautiful. He obediently jumped up into the box with her, only for her to jerk her arms and send them flying down the street. Hooves clattered against the ground as Amadeus was thrown back in his seat.
»Get out of the way!» the woman cried. Her laughter was beautiful, urging a smile to Amadeus’s face. They galloped down the hard-paved streets, heading off the roads and into the countryside. Wind tousled Amadeus’ long hair, and he bared his teeth, laughing in the wind. This was exuberant. This was fun!
As the wagon slowed to a stop, the woman turned to him with a smile.
»Once, mother needed kindness from a stranger. You gave her life, ease, till she passed with a smile on her face. I look, and you are no older. You are sad, alone. You showed us wealth in our poverty, now I will show you family in your sorrow. Will you come with me?»
Amadeus looked at the woman, and for the first time, felt a true kinship for a human. Not gratitude, but equality. Kinship. Understanding. He took her hand, as seemed to be the custom, and lowered his head in respect.
»I would be honored, human. Only, tell me your name.»
»Gavrila,» she said.
Amadeus smiled again. He felt new, alive. »Let us live, then,» he said. And from that point on, he never again thought of his faraway home. He had a new home. And it was worth more than all the gold in the world.