“Your town cripple told me I would find you here,” I said to the woman who crouched close to the earth beneath her, sowing seeds with more care than was necessary. Sowing seeds at all should have been unnecessary. So little technology on this planet, which meant everything took more time.
I’d had my fill of time.
“Are you deaf? Does everyone on this backwards planet suffer from some malady?”
Finally, she stood, and I could nearly hear the creak in her bones. The motion was eternal, but when she eventually met my eyes, at least there was some spark of intelligence there.
“My name is Aki-Atopo” said the woman, her smile fracturing her sun-worn face into countless wrinkles. “What is yours?”
“Jor Derenell.” The woman, like the rest of the village, was garbed entirely in a vaguely luminescent moss. It was green, and ugly, and gave off some odor I did my best to ignore.
“They say there is a god on this planet, that souls linger after they pass on.”
“Who is this ‘they?’” she asked, chuckling. “Sounds like someone needs a slap on the wrist for spreading our secrets.”
Such distastefully bland humor. “Will you take me to it?”
“Why?” she asked.
“I will ask it what comes next. If it is truly a god, it will know.”
She began to walk away. The gall of these people. I hurried to follow, but she was surprisingly quick, and matching her stride as she marched down the village’s main road took precious more energy than I would’ve liked.
“How did you find yourself here, Jor Derenell?”
“I flew here.”
“On your starship?”
“Yes, on my starship. Obviously.”
My lungs heaved. Even this minor exertion made me feel as though my body were stitched together by a half-blind seamstress. I needed to cycle. Soon.
“You are quite forthcoming in your answers, Jor Derenell. I’m sensing…” she said, rubbing at her temples in a poor pretense of mysticism, “that you are a people person.”
“Just tell me what you want.”
She turned to face me, suddenly serious. “You have not earned the right to know what I want. But do exactly as I bid, and I will show you a god.”