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The God Who Became Mortal

Rolto rode his fiery chariot over the sky each night, hardly having a chance to see the humans below in his furious passage from day to night. At night, he rested, and still had no opportunity to see the humans in the dark. But he wondered about them more and more. What were they like? What did they think of him? How did they live?

One day Roltoís younger brother Follon asked if he might have a chance to drive the chariot across the sky that night, and Rolto, eager to have a chance to see humans in the night, allowed it. He gave Follon a few suggestions on how to handle to fiery steeds that pulled the chariot, but he did not bother to step onto the chariot with him, nor to show him how to slow the steeds if necessary.

He left that morning, watching Follon in the sky for a cursory moment, then turned his back and made his way from the sky to the earth, to see the humans that made him so curious. Now, he had tried to disguise himself, but had discovered that the brightness of his countenance always shone through and the humans were sure to see that. In the end, he had had to transform himself into a human properly, and lose all his power and his glory.

He put on himself the raiments of a lowly shepherd and let the winds bring him gently to the top of a mountain. From this vantage point, he could see a beautiful woman named Glinna below, swimming in the warm waters of the southern ocean. He fell in love with her instantly and made his way down to where she was. He watched her swim and in his human form, was overcome with his desire for her.

When Glinna stepped out of the water, Rolot ran to her and begged her to love him, to become his wife. He had imagined in his mind that he would make her a goddess and take her to live with him in the sky. But she refused. She turned her back on him, and walked away without another word.

Rolto was incensed and chased after her, threatening her with all kinds of retribution if she would not love him. But Glinna had no idea that Rolto was the god of the sky. She saw him only as a dirty shepherd who was unknown to her. Why should she agree to marry a man who had no property, no prospects, and no family? She thought better of herself than that.

Yet Rolto would not give up. He began to offer inducements. He offered to give her half the sky to rule over herself. He offered her a place among the goddesses of the sea. He told her that he would make her immortal, that he would rearrange the stars in her shape, as evidence of his love for her.

Glinna laughed, and then threw a bucket of washing water at him. Rolto was drenched in cold, dirty water, and spluttered in it. The woman was clearly a fool. And an evil harpy, as well. But that did not stop Rolto from loving her.

For the rest of the day, he called out to her. He wrote her a poem to express his love for her. He made a wood carving of her, to prove his love. And yet she was unmoved.

It was not until the sky began to darken that Rolot remembered that his brother Follon was driving the chariot across the sky. How many hours had it been? Was it time for the sun to set?

Rolto looked up and saw his chariot on fire, falling from the sky. His brother Follon was burning as well, and called out to him. But Rolto was still a man. While he wore a manís shape, he could not ascend to the heavens. And he had no power to save his brother.

If only he would give up his quest for Glinnaís heartóbut no, he could not do that.

The sky went black before its time. Rolto heard the death-cry of his brother and his fine steeds. And still, he begged for Glinna to love him. And still, she refused.

The world was dark for many days, so cold that men and animals both began to die of the exposure. And everywhere there were cries for help from the god of the sky. But Rolto could not hear them until he saw his own Glinna dead before him. She had rather die than belong to him, he thought.

It was a moment of understanding for him. The pain of love, the pain of being human. And he rejected it. He wanted no more part of it. Rolto gave up his human skin and put on his glory and power once more. He rose to the cold skies, found where his chariot, now broken and burned, lay beside his brotherís body, and that of his noble steeds.

He would take care of them later, but first he must go back to being the god of the sky.

Rolto formed new steeds from the stars, and repaired his chariot. Then he rode across the sky, bringing light once more to all humans, who praised his name. In the night that followed that first day after the long darkness, Rolto buried his brother and his steeds. And his desire to ever be human again.

There was love, but there was also pain, and Rolto did not think the one worth the other. Only humans could accept it, he thought. Because they had never been gods.


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Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2007 all rights reserved.
Last revised December 24, 2007.