The story I’m about to tell you is true. You’ll think it’s a fiction, or a myth, or a tale for children, but while it has become all those things, it always was – and still remains – true.
Far, far back – in the time before time was recorded – there lived a small man. He was the son of a god. Which god is not important: that god no longer is and the name of that god is best forgotten.
The small man was forlorn and often angry for, though he was the son of a god, he was not a god himself. He desperately yearned to be.
Time passed and the god created more men. These men, however, were not the sons of the god, they were simply the god’s creations. The god made its son to live among the men. The son was pleased at first, as he thought this meant he was to rule the men. The god, however, had given each of the men a strong will and a fine intelligence; they were meant to choose their own ruler and they did not choose the son.
This angered the son beyond reason and he conceived a wicked plan: he would kill the god and assume its place and power. The god knew of this plan as it knew all things. It knew, too, that the plan would fail.
The son crept into the god’s demesne, searching for the key to its power. He stumbled upon a hidden chamber and, sitting in a pool of light upon a pedestal, he found eight silver bracelets arranged in two rows. The first four were whole and unbroken, each set with a large onyx. The next were hinged and the onyx served as a clasp. He could feel them pulsating with the essence and power of the god. Greedily, he snatched at the first and put it on, sliding it up his arm until it fit snugly.
He felt nothing. He grabbed for the second and slid it into place on his other arm. Still, nothing. He fought his anger, knowing the power was there – he could feel it. He quickly placed the other two bracelets on his wrists. Finally! He felt a blush of warmth creeping up his arms towards his chest.
The remaining four, the hinged ones, he quickly clasped around his calves and ankles, the warmth growing as each was added. As he placed the final anklet on, the heat inside him began to burn. He felt the power of the god and he laughed.
The burn kept increasing, however, and his laugh became a scream. Wracked with pain, he clawed at the bracelets, desperate to get them off. They remained affixed tightly to his flesh. He fell to the ground, writhing and shrieking.
Abruptly, the burning stopped and he lay trembling in the aftermath. Before he could even think to rise, pain struck anew. It was a different pain this time; he felt a terrible squeezing, as if held in the powerful grip of the god. As he thrashed about, the pain rapidly became unbearable. Gasping in pain, he gazed upon his body and saw with horror that the bracelets had shrunk: they’d burned through his flesh as they constricted and had fused themselves to the bone beneath, cauterizing the wounds as they made them.
The pain stopped. The chamber went black.
Little man. The voice of the god rang in his ears. Little man, you have coveted that which is not yours. You have overreached yourself and you will suffer dearly for it. This is just the beginning of your punishment.
The voice faded and he was alone in the darkness. Shortly, he noticed a faint, pulsing glow. He looked around and saw that it was coming from the base of the pedestal. He rolled onto his stomach and inched his way towards it like a worm, unable to use his arms and legs, cursing the name of the god. The pulsing increased as he approached. When he reached it, he saw that it was a carved image – the outline of an image – of a creature he did not recognize. It looked somewhat like a man, yet it had too many limbs. As he gazed upon the image, he felt a tingling in his arms and legs.
The tingling soon became an itch, and the itch became a burning. But this time it was far worse. It felt like there were things crawling around underneath his skin! He flopped onto his back and opened his mouth to scream, but he was cut off by a horrific rending sound. He looked down upon his body again; he couldn’t even manage to scream. His skin was tearing.
He stared in horror as his left hand started to split between the second and third fingers. The fissure went up his hand to his wrist until it hit the bracelet. With a sickening crack, his wrist broke into two pieces, the bracelet – somehow unbroken and still fused to his bone – stayed on the left half of his wrist. The process accelerated as the fissure raced up his arm. When his elbow split, he found his voice again; he screamed at last. The second bracelet was loosened by the split, yet it stayed on the right half of his arm, sliding down towards the remains of his wrist where it fused itself again to the bone.
He screamed himself hoarse. His arm had split to the shoulder by this point – the two bloody, tattered stalks that had taken its place waving about feebly in the air. He turned his head, unable to bear the sight of them and regretted it instantly, as he saw the skin on his right hand begin to tear.
He wished for madness to take him, he wished to die; he began praying for release of any kind. His tears of pain turned to tears of gratitude as his mind started to slip away; the pain ebbed as he felt himself leaving the battered shell that had been his body. Just as he was about to topple over the edge and into the abyss, however, he was yanked cruelly back. Laughter rang in his ears – the god was reveling in his torture. He would not be allowed even a moments respite from his fate.
He endured the agony three more times as, one by one his remaining limbs fissured and split. He lay on his back, quivering, watching as his fingers and toes fused and elongated and sharpened to points. At last, his arms and legs fell to the ground motionless.