Aphrodite intervenes in Exodus
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- stretching and tearing, like he's about to vomit, like all the careful study and habits and practice of sixty years -

-all the lies, were they ever really true-

-like they're all going to shatter under the strain-

-like, like, like, what he imagines sometimes-

-in the shameful moments when he finds himself thinking, in the time it takes him to reach for the whip, he's already committed the sin so there's no further harm in indulging and imagining, before he crushes it down-

-like perhaps Ophel could be right-

-that this could be part of the Law-

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Close enough, mortal. 





Aphrodite is differently constrained than Pelor, although mortals couldn't really grasp it either way. 

One of the advantages She has, in simple terms, is that sometimes, not often, but sometimes... on occasions like this, in fact... whereas Pelor can only behold the bewildering welter of all the events everywhere and see His domains and press His power upon them...

Sometimes, when She sees an impossible love or a secret desire, She...

...can gamble. 




She's very far away. It's Pelor's territory, and a heart almost entirely hardened to Her. She's only very very very dimly aware of these events at all. For a mortal analogy, you can imagine trying to notice the tiniest instinct land upon your shoe, and trying to shake it off while you walk a tightrope. 



But She is a god, and there aren't so much rules for what They can and cannot do as there are guidelines. 


...Fuck it. 


"Ophel. I need to talk to you."


His brow furrows. “…Of course.”

They step outside, away from it all, and into the quiet.

“Is all well?”



Deep breath. 

"No, all is not well."

"I know what you and Hakim are thinking. I know what you are hiding."

And even as he says it, he realises that he does know. It was never exactly subtle. 


He lifts an eyebrow, his expression perfectly cool.

”I am not quite sure what you mean.”


"Don't lie to me."

It's like everything has snapped, and he's not sure who to be any more. 

No. Breathe. Control yourself. 

"...I am sorry."

He's trembling. 

What can he say? How can he even begin?

Ophel isn't stupid. 

He realises now, too late, that obviously Ophel has noticed that something is wrong. 

Obviously Ophel isn't a devil. Now that he isn't lying to himself any more, he can see - it would have been so much easier for a devil to corrupt him in any of a dozen ways. He strayed from the Light long ago. And for what? The Scriptures? For ink on a page and the voices of dead men?

"Your preaching is at odds with the Scriptures. But... I am persuaded that it is not wrong."


This has to be a trick.



"I know," it's in fact a guess but he's somehow sure now, "why you spared Victor. I believe you were right to do so. I believe we have gravely, terribly misunderstood the Law."


Could it be?

“…Bishop, swear to me that you speak now in honesty.”


"I swear, in the Lord's holy name, and may He strike me down otherwise and cast me into the eternal flame, that I speak the truth."




What is he going to say?

"You... I believe that you are right. And that the Scriptures are wrong. That what we would have done to Victor, for what he did, would have been a grave crime."

If he's just committed blasphemy, if he's just lost the blessing of the Lord and awaits only hellfire... Well, then it doesn't feel any different.

He thinks he can still feel His presence.


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