Nothing interesting had happened in at least several days, as mortals measure time, and that was an unacceptable state of affairs. I was quite bored. I was just trying to decide on a guise to wear while I went out to stir up trouble when I noticed the woman trying to get into my labyrinth.
Well, that was always good for some amusement, so I settled back into my preferred shape, that of a human woman, sat on the floor in front of my looking-tile, and watched the show.
The woman currently walking around the border of my maze had a stern appearance and a matter-of-fact manner. She carefully inspected every inch of the outside hedge, periodically stopping to jot something down in the notebook she carried. She did not look like an amusing person, but then, that sort usually is anyway, if despite themselves.
When she’d circled the labyrinth twice and found no entrance—I don’t want to make it easy for them, after all—she tied up the hem of her skirt, grabbed the hedge, and began to climb. Now of course, I can’t just allow people to climb over the hedges. That is cheating, and while I of course have nothing against cheating, the point of a labyrinth is to have to make your way through it, and there is nothing interesting about treating it as a mere obstacle course.
But there does have to be some way in, so, except for the thorns, there’s no barrier to climbing the outer wall. So she scrabbled over, tearing her clothes a bit and picking up a few scratches. That didn’t faze her.
She looked around and scribbled in her notebook a bit. She was standing in a long passage of the labyrinth and could go either right or left. Of course, having entered the maze as she had, she thought she’d discovered a shortcut. I grinned and leaned forward to watch more closely. This part was always fun.
She again climbed up to the top of the hedge. Or tried to. Because somehow, though it was only about ten feet tall, she just couldn’t seem to reach the top. She was about five feet up, and her head should just have been peeking over the edge, when she realized she was not as far up as she should be. There were several feet of hedge above her. She looked puzzled for a moment, but continued climbing. Maybe she assumed she hadn’t climbed as high as she’d thought.
After another few minutes, she looked up again. There were still several feet of hedge above her. Then, she looked down.
She was way, way up high, far higher than she possibly could have climbed, hundreds and hundreds of feet up. She went pale and her jaw dropped, but even in her shock she kept a firm grip on the hedge and didn’t fall. People have, before. I don’t let them die when they hit the ground. Some might say I’m soft hearted, but really, what is interesting about cleaning up dead people splattered in your walkway, even if you can do it by magic? I make them bounce. They hit the ground screaming and bounce off, then land gently on the ground outside of the maze. They don’t come back.
But this woman took a deep breath and began to climb down, and after three steps she was back on the ground. She didn’t try to cheat again.
She was trying to find her way by mapping the maze in her notebook, so I changed it around a few times. It annoyed her to no end, but didn’t deter her, and nine hours later she stood in front of my door, slightly worse for wear but still entirely composed.
My door is a mirror, from the outside, and some people find it confusing, as they are supposed to. This woman did not even seem surprised. She knocked, not hard but loud enough to be heard, then waited. I got the feeling she would wait and wait until I opened the door. Watching someone wait is boring, so I answered the door.
“Lady Kimlkal? My name is—”
I cut her off. “The title is both unnecessary and incorrect. I do not appreciate its use.”
She was unruffled. “I beg your pardon, Kimlkal. As I was saying, my name is Mercuria Frisson and I’m a reporter, currently freelance. I was wondering if you will consent to an interview.”
That was unexpected, and I had to be impressed at the audacity of it. “You want to interview a god?” I asked her.
“Actually, I’m planning to do a series of articles, on various gods. I’m starting with you because you’re the most interesting, and it would be a good hook.”
Right. Because interviews with gods weren’t enough of a draw as it was. Mercuria was probably starting with me because she’d had a better idea of where to find me than some of the others, who live in such inaccessible places as on clouds, or under the ocean.
Of course, just because I knew it wasn’t true doesn’t mean I wasn’t flattered. And this would certainly be entertaining. So I let her in and served her some tea—perfectly good tea, though she looked at it as dubiously as if it was some strange potion designed to change her into something interesting—which it wasn’t, I swear. She sniffed it, took a small sip, and, at finding herself still human and not seeing anything that hadn’t been there before, drank the rest.
“Are you ready to start?” she asked me.
“So a little background. You’re the Trickster god, that means you… do tricks?” From her voice, and the awkward phrasing of the question, I realized she hadn’t really thought out what she’d ask; hadn’t expected to actually get this far.
“Do I look like a trained seal? I don’t do tricks, or turn tricks, I play tricks. On other people.”
“Right, so as the Trickster god you play tricks on people. So, um, who worships you?”
“Anyone who is at all interesting.”
“Well, criminals, of course, and rebels, and children if they can get away with it. The desperate, the mischievous, and anyone who needs any kind of luck. People who want to turn the world inside out and aren’t afraid of the consequences. I take a special interest in those who see the humor in life, and,” I smiled a small, slightly evil smile, “an even specialer interest in those who don’t.”
“And what do you do for your worshippers? What do they pray for, and do you grant their prayers?”
“If I want to. Luck’s a pretty common wish; the smart ones specify good luck. Bad things happening to their enemies, good things to happen to themselves. To change their lives, or the world.” I smiled at the memory of the last time I’d answered that particular prayer. “Those tend to be good ones.”
“To change the world for the better?”
“That’s probably what they want, most of the time, or for the better to them, at least. I just try to make it… more interesting.”
Mercuria looked a bit uneasy at that. “Do you have any sense of, well, morality?”
I laughed. “Morals are for mortals. But I’m not evil, just… not bound by that sort of thing. If it’s any comfort, if you’d fallen trying to climb over the labyrinth, you wouldn’t have died.”
“Just been seriously injured?” she asked dubiously.
I gave her a look. “That’s not any fun at all.”
“So what would have happened?”
“Why should I give it away? You can always find out when you’re leaving. Which will be soon, I’m beginning to lose interest.”
“Just one more question then. Could you demonstrate your powers?”
I smiled and snapped my fingers, and a parrot perched on Mercuria’s hand where her notebook had been. The reporter looked astonished, and not overly pleased. “Don’t worry,” I told her, then said to the parrot, “Repeat the first thing I said to Mercuria.”
“The title is both unnecessary and incorrect,” squawked the parrot. “I do not appreciate its use.”
Mercuria gawked at the bird.
“See? Much better than a notebook. Keep him on your shoulder and you won’t even have to bother writing things down.”
“Thank you!” she said with feeling. “For the interview, and for the bird. Um, I’ll make sure you get a copy of my article.”
I laughed. “That won’t be necessary. I assure you, I’ll see it.”
“Um, right. Well, thank you.” She turned towards the door.
I watched her through my tile as she left. It’s not usually as interesting as watching people on their way in, but I didn’t have anything better to do. And Mercuria surprised me. Rather than making her way back through the labyrinth, she closed her eyes and began to climb up the hedge. As it had before, it grew as she climbed it, and by the time she stopped she was so far up that had there been people below her, they would have looked like ants. She gently touched the parrot on her shoulder, took a deep breath, and jumped.
And of course, she bounced right out of the labyrinth. She landed less than gracefully, but got up, checked to be sure the parrot was alright, brushed herself off, and continued on her way.
I was so impressed that I made a note to keep an eye on Mercuria Frisson, and send her some luck—good luck, I will emphasize—when she needs it.
And the article about me was excellent.