The Great Trickster. A mighty being, of deep cunning and endless intellect. He has misled humans since there have been humans to mislead. Mortals dance on strings for his amusement, their petty lives a passing distraction from his unending boredom in an unworthy universe.
THIS; this mass of pure energy, to be shaped, no, sculpted, by that unfathomable existence, is destined to become a work of art, the Great Trickster’s masterpiece. A successor, of awe-inspiring (but not quite as grand as its creator) duplicity and indifferent cruelty. Woe betide the pitiful human whose puny life catches this creation’s eye, falls victim to its-
The voice goes silent.
“I’m sorry, were you talking to me?”
“I mean, I don’t see anyone else, so I guess that’s a silly question, it’s not like you were talking to yourself.”
Of course I wasn’t, child. How do you feel?
“Uh… blessed? Is that what you’re asking for? I’m really sorry, this whole existing thing is going to take a little getting used to… Dad? Mom? God?”
You are quite blessed, little spirit, to have been shaped by the Great Trickster himself. Yes, I am your creator.
“Pleased to meet you, Great Trickster. I… ah… seem to be missing a body or I’d pay my respects properly.”
Ah, yes. You interrupted my work.
No matter. Your transgression is already forgiven. I will complete your form.
In a picturesque autumn forest clearing, dried leaves and flecks of dirt whirl in a sudden cyclone of originless wind. They coalesce into a human form in loose brown robes (after a suitably dramatic period of time, of course).
A pair of eyes open for the first time, narrow and dark. For a moment, this creature exudes an aura of clever avarice. He blinks slowly, gathering himself before concentrating on his surroundings. The masterpiece’s intense gaze fixates upon the dry leaves shed from the trees in the sudden windstorm, twirling towards the ground lazily.
The Great Trickster observes, already pleased by the sharpness within his creation’s eyes.
The masterpiece reaches out, batting at drifting leaves with a gleeful smile and wide eyes.
The Great Trickster holds an uneasy silence for a moment before proceeding, with less confidence. So? What do you think?
“Smells! Sounds! Stuff to look at!” He crunches a fistful of leaves before throwing them in the air and catching the fluttering shards on his tongue as if they are snowflakes. After a moment of intense concentration, he spits them back out. “Stuff that tastes bad!”
I meant the body. You’ll be spending a very long time contained in that vessel after all. Quite limiting, but my creations must learn their place before- what are you doing!?”
The masterpiece spits out an experimental mouthful of dirt. “Does everything taste this bad?”
That isn’t meant to be eaten, the Great Trickster explains patiently. Things that aren’t meant to be eaten usually taste bad. To keep you from eating them.
His work of art contemplates this wisdom, hand on chin. The Great Trickster regains a small measure of hope. Perhaps this servant just needs a moment to collect his dignity before assuming his role. To marvel over his own existence is to marvel over the Great Trickster’s handiwork, after all. It is natural to be overwhelmed by this great bounty so generously bestowed upon him by one of the greatest entities of the cosmos.
“So I just need to find things that don’t taste bad, and eat those.”
Yes, I suppose that is one way to put it. Now-
The masterpiece steps purposefully to the nearest tree, rips off a small chunk of bark, and licks it. He hesitates in mild disgust. His brow furrows thoughtfully for a moment. Then he shoves the bark in his mouth and chews with renewed determination.
Spit that out this instant!
Why did you do that!?
“I wanted to see if it tasted bad.”
You did. And then you ate it anyway!
“Some fruit is bad on the outside and good on the inside. You have to bite through the bad part.” He nodded knowingly.
No, you peel it! You peel off the bad part and only eat the good part!
The masterpiece stares at the bark for a moment. He marches back to the tree, reaching for the patch of soft wood revealed when he ripped off the bark.
THAT ISN’T FRUIT EITHER. STOP PUTTING THINGS IN YOUR MOUTH AND PAY ATTENTION TO ME.
He snaps to attention.
The body. Is it working properly?
“The tasting bits work.”
He stares at his hands. Wiggles his fingers. Looks down at himself. Extends one leg. Stares at that.
“The seeing bits are working too.”
The Great Trickster sighs. You seem to be moving properly. Everything looks good as well.
“Ooh, what do I look like?”
A human. Of the highest quality, of course. I would create nothing less.
“Oh.” He seems less impressed with a body handcrafted by the Great Trickster than the clump of dirt he nearly swallowed a minute ago. “What am I wearing?” He flaps the loose sleeves like bird wings.
Clothes. You know what clothes are, don’t you?
“Of course I know what clothes are.”
But you are hazy on the subject of fruit.
“My head feels sort of patchy.”
The information I attempted to impart to you does not seem to have transferred as smoothly as I had hoped. Either it will appear with time or you will fill in the blanks on your own. I will be patient with you, so long as you carry out my will adequately.
“Your will? What do you need?”
The core of my being, the substance of my greatness, is Chaos. The purpose of your existence, your raison d’etre, is to spread that chaos in my name among humans.
The Masterpiece frowns, eyes narrowed in deep thought.
Do not worry. You are my creation, so it should come naturally. You’ll be sowing discord and seducing mortals away from the virtues extolled by their orderly gods in no time.
His creation raises a hand.
“What is a raisin debt…a?”
A moment of silence. It means ‘reason for being’.
“Oh. It’s just… you said it right after “the purpose of your existence”, so I thought it meant something else.”
The temperature in the air drops, despite no change in the wind or pattern of shadows in the clearing.
“Since you just said the same thing in different words,” the Masterpiece continues, filling the silence.
Yes, but it sounds better that way. Grander.
He blinks slowly. “Then why didn’t you just say the fancy word instead of both?”
You… have no flair for the dramatic. Genuine shock fills the Great Trickster’s voice, as if this were a failing far greater than all the Masterpiece’s previous transgressions combined. No showmanship whatsoever.
“Is that a problem?”
The Great Trickster sighs. I’m sure you’ll pick that up along the way as well. We can discuss that after you’re… finished.
“Finished with what?”
Let me rephrase. Complete.
“There’s more?” Relief fills the Masterpiece’s voice. “Ha, I never should have doubted you.”
“Well… this body….” He waves one hand again, this time focusing on the limb itself rather than the clothing. “Humans are pretty boring.”
That isn’t your only form, servant. I wonder how long it will take you to master transforming between the two. Eventually, with much time and experience, you will discover the key to-
The human disappears with the sound of scattering leaves, in a blizzard of autumn red and orange, reforming into a sleek fox.
The fox stretches, turns a circle, licks its paw experimentally.
The fox disappears, replaced by a maniacally grinning human. “This is great! Everything smells even stronger when I’m a dog thing.”
A deep silence comes over the clearing before the Great Trickster speaks quietly. It’s a fox, you simpleton.
“With this nose, I’ll be able to tell if so many things are food without licking them!”
Oh. Good for you.
The Masterpiece pauses, distracted by the flatness in the Great Trickster’s voice. “Um… are you alright?”
My successor has not yet arrived.
“Oh, you’re waiting for someone? What do they look like? More importantly, what do they smell like? I’ll track them down for you.”
I have failed. Again. Another defect. The Great Trickster sighs. You are free to do as you please. I have other things to attend to.
A strong wind sweeps across the forest, scattering leaves and leaving the fox in a clearing that feels somehow emptier.
He stands for a moment, searching the air for a trace of his creator. Finding nothing, the fox’s guileless face tightens into the clever creature seen by the Great Trickster at the moment of his creation.
“What a disappointment.” He rakes bits of dead leaves from his hair. “If that’s the ‘Great’ Trickster, then what am I?” A smug grin creeps along his words, showing teeth just a little too sharp in a face just a little too lean. “Maybe those mortals will be a bit more fun.”
The masterpiece transforms, leaving his imitation of humanity behind, and trots away, white-tipped tail ruffling in a subtle breeze.
The clearing stands empty, leaves drifting through sunbeams, with no audience to hear the amusement of an unseen being, giggling quietly to itself.
Not bad for a first try, but let’s see you cut your teeth on those cynical humans.
The Great Trickster sighs contentedly, satisfied by the promise shown in his latest creation.
What an ego, though. Wonder where he got that from.
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