Mathilda, A Handful

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Mathilda wanted to try out this spell, but she wasn’t about to risk destroying her own world, because she had to live there. So she’d used one of the artefacts from her hoard and had popped into a different world that she didn’t care about.

Possibly there was a Mathilda here who might be upset if the world was destroyed, but that was her problem and she should take better care of her possessions. Mathilda would never let her own world be destroyed by interdimensional visitors, and if other versions of here weren’t so adept at protecting their hoards, that was hardly her problem.

The spell was easy enough to set up, though it was tedious and reminded Mathilda why she hardly ever did magic these days. Who had the patience to draw so many fiddly symbols all the time? Not to mention that circles were an all but useless shape. What was the point of a construct with no corners?

In any case, she set up the spell and then, with no further ado…

“What the hell are you doing?”

Some further ado appeared just at the edge of Mathilda’s circle just before she could cast the spell, a young man with stupid hair and the robes of a monk. “I am performing magic, mortal,” she said. “You may watch if you wish.”

“You can’t do this. Your spell is so dangerous I could feel it from half the planet away. If you cast it…”

Mathilda elected to ignore him and cast the spell. She didn’t know any of the gods of this world and so the spell had just been meant to target the nearest one. And to her mild surprise, it targeted the man in front of her, clawing at him and making him scream as his power became hers.

And Mathilda became a god.

It was some minutes before she got hold of the raging tempest inside her and coiled it back in on itself so she could control her new power. Once she’d done that, she looked around at the crater where the mountain range she’d been using for the spell had stood, and raised an eyebrow. “Not so powerful as I’d thought,” she mused, considering her new power. It didn’t operate in the way she’d expected it to, as though she had to reach through part of herself to access it, a barrier between her soul and the power that she supposed made it more readily controlled.

There was something else, however. A dual power that was stronger, older, stranger, and…

The sky began to rumble. Mathilda looked up and saw nothing there, merely the sky. But to her eyes, it was cracking, and she didn’t quite know why.

Until she felt a flood of power overtake her, something very like this second power she had inside her, but different. This one was gnawing, insistent, rigid, where hers was flexible and adaptive.

And that rigid power was trying to destroy her.

“Oh, you’ve done it now,” said a voice, and Mathilda looked over her shoulder to see another mortal…no, he was no mortal. Dressed in a toga and with an arcane symbol tattooed on his face, he had wings and expressed a power far beyond those of mortals.

“So I have,” she confirmed. “If you are here to stop me, I’m afraid you’re far too late.”

The figure shrugged. “Time is on my side. The god whose powers you just stole is part of a matched set. During the brief period where your half was unclaimed, the seal on the other half broke and now it’s going to destroy the universe. Unless you feel like stopping it, I guess.”

This was not quite what Mathilda had bargained for. “I was not aware of the existence of such a deity.” This was why gods shouldn’t exist.

“Lucky you.” The man looked up at the sky, which was tearing again. “The stakes aren’t that high because this universe doesn’t matter that much. But if you don’t plan to get destroyed with it, you’ve probably got about fourteen and a half seconds to start doing something about it.”

Mathilda sighed, stretching out her arms. “Very well, if you insist,” she said. She had not signed up to save a universe from destruction so soon in her tenure as a deity, but Mathilda supposed it was as good a way as any to test the limits of her new powers.



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