Mavia leaned back upon her throne of gold, staring down at the man before her. He fidgeted nervously under the intense stare of those hazel eyes, squirming visibly. There were no guards in the massive chamber, no dignitaries, and no nobles. It was simply one man, standing before the God-Queen’s judgment. For her part she said nothing, simply content to stare down at the man with an utterly blank expression upon her face. The only signs she was a living being and not a statue was when she occasionally blinked. Beyond that she was utterly still staring down at the supplicant.
“M-My God-Queen, I-I swear to you it’s not what you think.” He stammered, taking out his handkerchief and dabbing at his sweat soaked brow.
Still those hazel orbs only stared down at him, no signs of pleasure or displeasure showing upon the face of the woman. The man licked his lips and stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket, his eyes darting subtly to the side for an instant. Seeking escape perhaps? There was no other entrance to the throne room beyond the massive pair of golden doors at the other end of the chamber, doors which were currently shut.
The man swallowed hard. “I-I have only ever looked to advance your interests, your grace! Never would I think to dare go against your law and word!”
There was nothing from the living goddess, no words of judgement or offers of forgiveness. Eventually she did move from her upright position, her hand reaching over to a golden goblet resting on a small table beside her throne. The God-Queen’s eyes still never left the man as she tipped the goblet over her lips and sipped at the ruby liquid within. She then set it down, the base hitting the table and letting out a metallic echo through the throne room. The dusky skinned woman shifted her golden robes around her person but otherwise was silent.
Finally the silence seemed enough for the man as he tossed himself to the floor before Mavia’s throne, sobbing and breaking down. “Please, my God-Queen, I beg your mercy and forgiveness for my gross betrayal of your trust! I beg you please, mercy, mercy oh great one!” He begged.
Any semblance of noble dignity and pride seemed to leave the man as he placed a kiss upon one of the God-Queen’s sandaled feet. He got an excellent view of her pristine golden painted nails and the gems studding the leather of the footwear. He then took the hem of Mavia’s robes in his hand and placed a kiss upon it, completing the image of supplication. The tall woman finally made a sound at this display. She sighed in complete, outright, and undisguised disgust.
She pushed the man’s head away from her, placing not even a fraction of a fraction of her divine power into the movement. He ended up from a full prostration before her to flat on his ass in a second. Mavia leaned her elbow against the armrest of her throne and placed her cheek against her hand. There was no doubting the judgmental look in her eyes, the gold in them overtaking the hazel ever so slightly as the tall woman leered down at the pathetic excuse for a man before her.
“Essiris Icanthos. Minister of Finance. I granted you this position out of respect for your reputation and your skill. Instead of loyalty and devotion both this empire and myself, you show contempt by thinking yourself above the very laws I placed you to oversee.” Mavia said, her every word damning.
“The taxes and tariffs collected by the Imperial government are to be put towards one purpose and one purpose only; the betterment of the lives of the citizens of the empire. It is their money you have taken, stealing away bits and pieces that could be used to make their lives better. How many housing projects didn’t happen because of your greed? How many hospitals were left unfinished? How many were denied basic education through schools being closed?” The God-Queen continued.
As she spoke her voice took on a timbre that resounded and echoed through the chamber unnaturally. Though she was at her ‘normal’ height, her voice was that of one who towered over Minister Icanthos innumerable times over. The man whimpered before the effortless displays of her power. So many of her subjects seemed to forget what she was when they interacted with her on a regular basis. They made the mistake of thinking she was like any mortal king or queen and could be tricked. How very wrong they were.
He said nothing which seemed to annoy Mavia even more. “Well? Speak! Let me hear your defense.”
“I… I…” The man stammered, swallowing hard as the God-Queen’s radiance seemed to shine ever brighter.
“Naturally. You offer no defense because there is none to give. Your guilt is not a matter of question, I have seen it. What is in question is how you will be punished.” Mavia said at length.
“I offer you a choice. You will be stripped of land, wealth, and titles regardless. However on the one hand I offer you a public execution for your crimes. On the other I can offer you a chance at redemption which may yet have you keep your life.” The God-Queen offered, leaning back in her throne and crossing her right leg over her left.
The man looked up at Mavia, tears of gratitude rising to his eyes and he fell back into his prostrate position before the mighty goddess. A very tiny, subtle smirk was teased from the God-Queen’s lips as she knew his answer before he even spoke. “T-Thank you, oh great God-Queen! I will do whatever you might require of me for repentance.”
Mavia chuckled. “I’m certain you will. Hope you enjoyed your earlier taste of my feet, you’ll be getting very acquainted with them as you repent for your crimes.”
Whatever the man had been about to say, confusion upon his expression was cut off as Mavia snapped her fingers. He vanished from the throne room, empty air occupying the space he once knelt at. The tall woman sighed, her shoulders slumping slightly as she allowed herself to relax from that bit of unpleasantness. The dark haired woman brushed a few of her silky locks from her angular face, staring up at the ceiling. With that out of the way she figured it best to finish a few approvals in her office.
It was strange though; there was a prickling sensation in the back of her mind. Like something had infringed upon her space. Something familiar yet at the same time foreign. It was an instinctual reaction rather than a vague feeling. The sensation resembled a déjà vu in some respects. Feeling like something that she had seen or experienced before in exactly the same way in a different time.
The double doors of the throne room slowly opened and in shuffled a young woman dressed in a fine cream colored dress trimmed in gold. She advanced towards the throne and bowed low to the ground, spreading her arms out in front of her on the floor.
“Your grace, a man arrived at the library and demanded to speak with you.” The servant said.
Mavia sighed, getting a sneaking feeling she knew who this man was. Though she could have just confirmed it for herself with a simple use of her power she still addressed the servant. “And the guards didn’t attempt to remove him?”
The servant girl paused before speaking. “They did your grace. However when they tried he… shrunk them.”
“Of course he did.” She grumbled under her breath, letting out a lengthy sigh. “Thank you. I will handle this situation.”
With that the God-Queen vanished from her throne room. Instead she appeared amidst the towering bookcases and aged volumes of the Grand Imperial Library. The smell of musty tomes older than any currently living human wafted through the air, the sounds of rustling parchment along fingers echoing through the massive complex. Mavia made her way through the maze of bookcases, searching for her quarry. She could feel him close, to most his power might be muted but to her it was very familiar.
She arrived at a wide space reserved for reading, a few long tables set up with benches along each one. It was empty but for one man. He wore a rather messy set of blue robes, his tunic and trousers sloppily set upon his person. A pair of worn leather boots were set upon the table as the man reclined back and enjoyed a rather thin volume in his hands Dark hair was a messy mop around his head, as unkempt. His face was clean shaven, the only orderly thing about him. A young man by all appearances and rather plain looking. He was on the short side, a full head shorter than the average man which made him positively dwarfed by Mavia.
The God-Queen sighed once more, having a rather good idea why he was here. “Septimus. I hear you were demanding to see me. In my palace.”
The God of Knowledge looked up from his book and carefully, with fingers very well versed in handling aged parchment, closed it. He set it down on the table and stood, walking around the table and standing before Mavia. The short man looked up to her and let out a huff as he gestured all around him.
“Indeed, I’ve come to file protest with you, oh great God-Queen, about the deplorable state of this library.” Septimus said.
That… had not been what she was expecting. She lifted a brow. “The… library? It’s the largest and most expansive in the world. I don’t think I’d call it deplorable.”
Septimus looked at Mavia as though the goddess had grown a second head. “Of course it is! It’s still standing isn’t it? Positively shameful, should be halfway through tearing it down.”
Mavia blinked. “I… what.”
The God of Knowledge paced around and shook his head. “This simply won’t do. In fact I’m halfway through a proposal that advocates the removal of all libraries in the land. Taking up space is what they are doing. Not only that but they are filling the impressionable minds of your great empire with dangerous thoughts.”
Suddenly a light went off in Mavia’s head as to what was going on and the tall woman settled down onto one of the benches with a sigh, removing a golden circlet from her brow and setting it upon the table. She pinched at her temples, feeling a headache start to form. The man meanwhile tapped his hand along the back of the book he had sat down earlier.
“Indeed, why even bother with these musty old things? They could be of far more practical use serving as kindling for a common man’s hearth. Some might call my ideas radical but they must have faith that you know what is best for them. Take it a step further I say and abolish universities and academies. You should do all the thinking for the unwashed masses. After all, who better than you, oh great and powerful Mavia, knows how the world should be? All should just submit to your superior judgment I say. Who cares if you are robbing them of the ability to think for themselves? Why should they bother when they have you, oh radiant one?” He said, nodding to himself as if it all made sense.
The God-Queen looked up to the man with a frown. “Are you finished with this attempt at satire?”
The man looked convincingly wounded. “Satire? I’m offended that you might think such a thing, oh radiant Mavia, whose beauty doth put the very stars to shame.”
“Enough. I don’t have to sit and listen to this. Tell me why you’ve come, now.” She said tersely, her patience near its end.
Septimus smirked and sat down opposite of Mavia. “One good thing about being a god now is that I can safely mock one as powerful as you. I imagine as a mortal I’d be a smear under your sandal.”
“Not a smear, but keep going and you might reach that point.” She gritted out.
The man held his hands up in a gesture of supplication. “You know why I’m here. It’s about your recent censorship of a publication at the Imperial Academy.”
Mavia sighed. Of course it was. She probably should have guessed the recently ascended god would take issue with that. The previous holder of the post wouldn’t have batted much of an eye to the matter, but Septimus was rather a different beast as she was learning. She crossed her arms under her breasts, staring right into the dull grey eyes of the god. The amusement in them was gone and now there was a bit of annoyance.
“The publication went against Imperial law. It openly criticized my rule and those I appointed to rule. It was well within my right to censor it.” The God-Queen stated.
Septimus frowned. “There are plenty of bits of knowledge that should be kept from mortal hands. Things man was not meant to either know or dabble in. However matters of government transparency, or lack thereof, are not either of those.”
Mavia’s frown deepened. “I’m not going to speak of this any further until you return my subjects to me.”
With a sigh the young god reached into the folds of his blue robes. The man upended his hand upon the table and what came tumbling out were a trio of thumb sized men, stripped of armor and clothes. Septimus leaned back and brought his boots slamming down upon the table, knocking the men back on their asses when they tried to stand. He smirked at the goddess across from him.
“You should train your guards better. Then again, I suppose they would be quick to batter down any signs of dissent or rebellion as soon as it’s even suspected.” He remarked.
Mavia shook her head and snapped her fingers. The men were returned to normal size a short distance away. Septimus offered the trio a toothy smile, the still naked guards freezing at the sight. “No hard feelings, gents? Of course I can always give you a repeat experience if you feel like sticking around while the grownups talk.”
The guards scrambled away so fast they ended up knocking a few books from their shelves, earning a very deep frown from Septimus. The god grumbled and moved to pick up the fallen volumes, dusting them off and inspecting them before setting them back in place. Once this wrong was righted Mavia stood and brushed herself off, setting her circlet back upon her brow before gesturing for the god to follow.
“Come. We’ll discuss this in my study.”
With that she vanished away. The dark haired woman reappeared in a rather well furnished room, golden drapes set about all through it. The carpet was soft and her feet sank into it as soon as she stepped upon it. The couches around the fireplace were as pristine and comfortable as they came. Septimus appeared on one of them, reclined back in a lazy posture. He looked expectantly at Mavia, expecting her to make the first move in the negotiations.
The God-Queen, however, was in no great rush. She picked up a golden pitcher of wine and poured out a glass for herself before offering it to the Scholar-God. The man shook his head and she shrugged, setting the pitcher down. The goddess sat on the couch opposite Septimus and slipped her feet out of her sandals. She set them out upon the table between them and snapped her fingers. There was a bright flash and suddenly standing at a couple of inches tall was the naked form of the former Minister of Finance.
“Your repentance starts now, Essiris. My feet are positively aching. You’ll rub them until I allow you to stop.” The God-Queen commanded of the tiny mortal, her gold painted toes wriggling expectantly.
“Wh-what!?” The tiny man squeaked, staring up at the feet towering over him.
“Did I stutter? Of course, I could just assume you’ve opted for execution instead. In which case…” Mavia said, lowering one of her feet ever so slightly.
She soon felt the rather pleasing sensation of tiny hands rubbing at the bottom of her right foot. The dark haired woman sighed in pleasure as the mortal toiled at her feet, sipping at her wine. She reclined back in her seat and turned her gaze to Septimus, who regarded the situation with a bit of discomfort. Odd. He’d seemed fine to deal with those guards but this bothered him? The God-Queen would never fully understand mortals, and he indeed still thought as a mortal man might. Perhaps it was more him watching a man completely stripped of dignity and forced into emasculating servitude.
“You know I never thought, growing up in your empire, that I would ever sit across from you. You always seemed like some distant, larger than life figure. Someone I knew existed and probably felt the influence of in my daily life but never would see. Instead I sit across from you now, a god and equal. Interesting how fate works.” He remarked at length.
Mavia chuckled. “Asira is an odd bird. She decides it all and it’s hard to say how much of even our lives, as gods, is truly ours. I don’t think you’ve met her yet have you?”
“I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting the architect of Fate and Time. I’ve heard she’s a tad intimidating even for gods. Can’t say that description is heartening.” He responded, scratching the back of his head as he tried to look anywhere but at Mavia’s feet.
The God-Queen rolled her eyes. He’d grow out of it in a few centuries hopefully. He was barely a few months into his roll after all, still thought in a very much mortal manner. Her eyes shifted to the man toiling at her feet and then back up to Septimus before she smirked. Like any mindful politician misdirection was a lovely tool in her arsenal.
“Far be it from me to hog the enjoyment, come now, Septimus. Relax and put your feet up. No need to be so rigid. We’re both deities.” She said.
Immediately Septimus started squirming in his seat, visibly very, very uncomfortable. “Ah, no, that’s not necessary. You can have all that to yourself, Mavia.” He said.
The God-Queen rolled her eyes. “Don’t be so shy, Septimus. You’re a god, not a mortal. Working at the feet of a being like yourself is the best this corrupt and foolish mortal can dream of. He is repenting for his crimes.” She said.
The man’s eyes flicked down at the tiny human toiling at Mavia’s feet, tiny hands desperately kneading at dusky skin. The goddess wriggled her toes in response, arching her foot ever so. Wrinkles formed along the arch of her foot and the tiny man put all of his strength into her pleasure. The tiny man strained as he worked, tiny sobs wracking his body as he was humbled before the power of the God-Queen. She felt no pity for him, his actions had hurt many and he would pay for it with every humiliation she could think of.
Septimus cleared his throat, a flush forming across his face in a manner Mavia almost found adorable. She could see why her fellow gods enjoyed teasing the new god so much. “I… suppose I can indulge you.” He managed to get out, slipping off his boots.
The young man set his feet on the table, flexing and curling his toes in the cool air. Mavia smirked before looking at Essiris. “Septimus needs tending to, now.” She commanded.
The tiny man hesitated only for a moment, the slight lowering of the foot over him the only prompting he needed. He coughed at the scent of boot leather and got to work, Septimus jolting for the sensation at first. After a good few moments however the God of Knowledge relaxed and chuckled nervously. He tugged at his collar slightly as he looked anywhere but directly at Mavia. The God-Queen laughed at that, amused that this simple thing had the brash and sharp tongued god at a loss for words.
“Its, ah, odd. Not unpleasant but odd.” Septimus remarked.
“If you like I can let you have him for a few days, maybe wear him around in your boots? I do it all the time when I’m forcing them to repent, it feels so very satisfying.” She teased, this potentially unpleasant meeting serving to amuse her very much.
Mavia had seen cherry red, but even that didn’t describe the flush that came to Septimus’ cheeks. “I… that won’t be necessary, thank you. This is fine.”
“Well, if you’re sure.”
For a long moment there was silence and the God-Queen reveled in it, noting that the former mortal seemed to halfway be enjoying it. He wiggled his toes slightly, his nails more pristine than she was used to seeing in most men. He was very much a scholar, soft and not a bit of roughness to him. The tiny man at his feet was sobbing silently as he massaged at the other man, who was in reality at least two or three decades his junior. Septimus was in his mid-twenties at most, extremely young by divine standards.
The god stopped shifting around and slowly, gradually, got used to the treatment he was receiving. For her part Mavia merely watched, pleased that she could at least peel away a bit of his mortal thinking. Essiris was covered in sweat, both Septimus’ and his own and coughed miserably as he toiled away, kneading soft pale skin and likely hoping for a reprieve of any sort. The god however seemed content to let him work.
“Now what about this censor nonsense?” Mavia said, sipping at her wine.
Septimus seemed a bit lost in the enjoyable sensation of the condemned man’s attentions, jolting when he realized Mavia said something. “Oh, yes, right. Sorry, got a little lost there.”
He cleared his throat and frowned at Mavia. “I would like you to allow the publication to run. There is no reason to deny such knowledge to the people. Such a move only shows that you fear what they might think given the opportunity to think for themselves.”
The God-Queen sighed. “I do not fear such matters; however this was made in a deliberate attempt to harm my regime. It is nothing more than a smear piece.”
“Even so. Knowledge like this should be free to be shared.” He argued.
Mavia licked her lips, getting the residual taste of wine from them before setting the glass down. “I might be willing to do so. However in return I want you to do something for me.”
A careful look came her way. “And what might that be?”
“There are protests sparking up in an Academy in one of the outer provinces. Intellectuals demanding rights to vote on matters of high government. As in picking who gets on my council. I could appear before them and force them to disband, however and appeal from their patron deity…” She said.
Septimus’ eyes widened. “That’s hardly fair! Who is to say they don’t have a right to have a say in your government?”
“I do. I am not mortal and am thus not bound to the same laws. Democracy is ultimately a path to stagnation. Only by uniting under one leader, a god, can humanity realize its true potential. Other voices clutter my vision, the only vision where humanity reigns supreme and where none need suffer. You are also not the god of democracy. You are the God of Knowledge. What is more important to you? Free knowledge? Or letting these scholars protest in vain.” She said at length.
Septimus bit his lower lip and leaned back upon the couch. He gritted his teeth and seemed to be tackling with his former mortality and morals and the reality of what he was now. Amidst there talk, the tiny man toiled away. The God of Knowledge looked upon his with a frown before taking his feet off the table and standing. He slipped his boots back on and looked long and hard at Mavia.
“Very well, I will speak to them. I make no promises whether they will disband or not. In return I want that censor remove and those scholars compensated.”
“Done and done. See? Order and Knowledge are quite capable of coexistence and compromise.” She said with a smile.
Septimus sighed. “I’ll never understand you gods. Not sure if that’s not a bad things or not. Have fun with your… repentant mortal.”
With that the god vanished from Mavia’s study. The God-Queen sighed and let her shoulders slump slightly. Septimus was a possibly good change as the new God of Knowledge but in her opinion he still had a very long way to go. The goddess was certain he’d get there eventually, after all Asira had certainly chosen him for a reason. Of course what that reason was she would never likely know. Asira’s mind worked on levels she’d never know. Her eyes returned to Essiris, who was on his hands and knees on the table covered in Septimus’ sweat and smell and gasping for breath.
“You aren’t even close to done yet, Essiris, you still have a whole other foot. Then I’m thinking I might go for a nice long stroll in the garden. You’ve only just started repenting.” The goddess said, smirking at the despair upon his face. Punishing corruption was such a lovely part of her duties.