When weedy boy Articus is told he is a relative of the gods and has to venture on a quest to become a demi-god, he has one thing on his mind: "Why me?"
Unfortunately the gods have had a bit of a mix-up in their choice of a hero, and an unwitting Articus is thrust into a land of snake people, evil lambs and salad.
The great statue of the god Zuete sat on his massive golden throne expressionless. Day in and day out he had to put up with peasants and religious nuts pottering in and out of his sanctum babbling about how they need their enemies smote or they need help filling in their tax returns. Underneath his expressionless visage he was grumpy as hell. He did, however, have some rather more interesting questions put to him such as: “Does this hat make me look like a heretic?” And “Would it be a sin to clean your toenails every now and again?” These he liked. Otherwise he was grumpy as hell.
Articus was not a man by any means and nor was he a woman. His parents tried to determine which one he was at the flip of a coin. The coin said man. He was a meek and timid creature with all the ferocity of a baby chinchilla. When he was a young boy he would stay in and throw peanuts at his bedroom wall whilst other lads played with a bit of pig’s bladder in the street. He liked to think that he was charming, a bit of a ladies man but he tended to frighten the poor ladies with his habit of salivating uncontrollably. Articus was, all in all, a hopeless human being.
“How was work today Artie?” Asked his mother (with whom he still resided with). She poured out some wine and slugged it back. It would be an understatement to say that his mother was portly, or rugged, or beastly. She tended to take ladylike gorges out of meat and timidly slosh wine down like water. Articus loved his mummy.
“Mr Porticus said that my salad tasted like a big pile of sh-,” Articus said before his mother interjected.
“Nonsense Artie, I love your salad,” she took another glass of wine to the throat, “He’s just jealous that you can make better salads than he can,” and another. Mother was beginning to slur at this point, and rock back and forth.
“But he’s right mother, I can’t make a salad like granny,” Articus complained. This was something that he did a lot of. He complained that the birds were singing too loudly, that there were too many piles of guano in the streets, and he complained at the state of the economical and political infrastructure and societal decisions brought about by meaningless despots. He was miffed at those.
“But granny is 95 and still going strong, you will have time to learn how to make salads like her,” said his mother, face down on the table, “How’s Adrena?”
“She’s okay, I wish she would speak to me more often though,” Articus said disappointedly, “She sometimes just looks right through me.” His mother had begun to snore so he decided to shut up and leave the table.
An hour later he was, too, asleep, but on his bed rather than a hard table. He was dreaming. Anyone watching him could have been able to tell this because he would flail his arms every now and again and slap himself. Oddly enough this didn’t wake him up. He was dreaming that he was standing on a plain and looking into the cloud filled sky. The clouds began to part and a large bearded face emerged with a smile, “Articus my boy,” said the face in delight, “So good to see you after all these years, what have you been up to?” Articus was always told not to talk to strangers and definitely not giant floating faces in the sky. But this was his dream and he’d do what he wanted.