The Twilight of the Gods

Under a low umbrella of stars, he had stealthily walked with only his walking stick, up the Grand Canal, a linear, u-shaped glacial canyon that slices through the mountains as though a great, dull axe had hewn the range from North to South. This was before forests had moved down the cliffs and into the canyon bottom. It all remained naked as the Titan that ambled up along the glacial torrent that crashed down toward the sink west of the range. His lips moved occasionally, but whether he was speaking even he could not know, for nothing could be heard but the thunderous roar of the stream.

When he reached the junction at the head of the canyon, he turned east up a ridge between two tributaries, and ascended the bald slopes to the barren, boreal plateaus. The icy flank of the Great Divide towered above him, and blocked out his view of the eastern heavens. When he at last saw the sleeping hump of the granite fire tower, he straightaway turned east again and began his ascent, watching the heavens to gauge the passing of time.

His exhalations steamed out into the frozen air and crystallized. He felt the continuing sting of the alpine cold. Thin laces of ice highlighted his eyebrows and locks in the starlight, but the hot, immortal blood of the Titan admitted no frostbite. His breathing grew more and more labored as he ascended the back of Damavand. Though he could not see eastward, he could sense the daybreak, so he pressed onward and upward.

Once he mounted the tower, he lifted his walking stick and stumbled hurriedly across the stony platform, racing against the oncoming sunrise. Suddenly he felt a rush of warm air, and found himself perched over the East, just as Phoebus with Helios broke the horizon. The hot light of the sun cast a wave of steam across the plateau as it melted the nocturnal icing. The Titan held up his walking stick to Helios, as he and the stick began to warm. He turned his gaze back to the west, and saw the heavens of Zeus boiling up and approaching from the Great Western Divide. He looked up at the oiled staff, now hot with sunlight. In an instant the staff was ablaze, and thunder pounded down upon the granite from heaven. The Titan, turning to see Zeus over his shoulder heaved the staff into the abyss. Zeus, outraged, hurled bolts down upon the mountain, throwing the Titan into a frenzied, writhing dance of electrocution, utterly without self-control or even will, until he fell lifeless onto the stone.

The immortal awoke prostrate, far beneath Helios, and enclosed by mountain daemons binding each of his wrists to a chain. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the great vulture soaring and circling, and at that he passed into sleep. But he awoke just as suddenly to a stabbing pain in his torso. He looked down to see the raptor’s bald head buried in his abdomen. It raised its head, oblivious to the Titan’s startled gaze, and tossed a piece of liver down into its gullet.

Prometheus lunged up, and swung his thigh at the immortal beast. The raptor flapped its broad wings, and hovered up above the Titan, who desperately rolled in an attempt to flee the raptor. On his second turn, he felt the rocky ground give out from under him, as he slipped into a free fall down the face of the mountain, and just as instantly, he felt the ropes jolt against his limbs as he stopped suspended between two towers of the eastern face of the mountain. Overcome by the trauma, he lost consciousness once more, only to awake to that same cutting tugging sensation in his gut. He opened his eyes heavenward, but did not venture to face the raptor at its grizzly task. He winced, and tried not to blink. At last, he would fall asleep again. His immortal liver would then regenerate while he slept. It would seem like an instant to him until the return of the eagle would jolt him back into consciousness.

Far below him, smoke rose from a distant patch of nascent woodland, where the burning staff had at last found rest. Shouts of primitive men echoed against the mountain, as they circled around the wood in wonderment and excitement. The fire made its way from village to village and from nation to nation over the millennia, while their loyal Creator hung in unremitting agony betwixt two spires of the mountain, and on Olympus, the name of the Titan who released its fire to his mortal children.

Every so often, the tortured Creator might smell the smoke and hear the shouts of a ceremony far below. Perhaps a dance or a sacrifice intended to summon another bolt of fire from heaven. They would search the mountains, and on rare occasions they would find a fire burning, ignited by an ember from that first fire. On occasion, a stray bolt from Zeus himself might even provide the gift of fire, but there was to be no mercy for the rebellious Titan, and no immortal would dare attempt to free him for fear of the wrath of the Almighty.

But a mortal would not have quite so much to lose.