I loved my grandfather’s stories when I was a kid. The old heroes and their epic deeds, not to mention – as I grew older – their misdeeds.
But Granddad always made sure never to tell me the stories of the Gods. They were always off limits and whenever he came close to saying something about them, Mum would get that look on her face; the one she got when I clambered up the walls and onto the roof. I thought that was just how parents were.
Being told all those stories is how I started down the road to becoming a historian. Of course, Granddad never got to to see me fulfil that dream, but everyone else knows that it was mostly his fault.
History, however, was not my only interest and not the only inspiration I have because of family. My father, it can be argued, has inspired me more than Granddad ever did, and the only thing he ever did for me was leave.
Granddad always said it was because he was off making stories that I would one day tell my grandchildren and he would be back in the fullness of time. The older I got, though, the less this meant to me, and Mum. After all, for all the shame his leaving caused me, I can only imagine how she felt.
Without him around, I had to step up and take care of the family. Mum did what she could, of course, but no one was willing to offer work to what they considered a widow – bad luck, apparently.
I don't really resent him. I don't know his story and no one was willing to tell it to me. The closest I ever got to anything about him was that he probably wasn't dead.
After Granddad died, Mum lost a lot of what made her the woman that we all saw. Without him to look after, she retreated back into herself, convinced she was of no further use to anyone. I tried to console her, to make her see how liked she was amongst the community, but it didn't matter. I'm always told I get my stubbornness from her.
After a while of this, she became too much for me to handle and the stress of everything put me on the path to an early grave. She was taken away to a facility that could accommodate her specific needs and gave me the space and time to sort myself out.
It was during this time that I completed my education and, subsequently, found myself at a loss as how to use it. There wasn't much call for historians here and according to everyone, my best shot was to head to one of the cities and apply to the various libraries or one of the schools. They always said it weird, as if it wasn't really a school, or if those places weren't worthy of their respect.
Despite that, the schools were the first place I had thought of to go. I hadn't thought about the libraries, but the more I did think about them, the more appealing the idea was. Better yet, some of those places had information on travellers. Dad might be in there.
It surprised me how much that idea excited me. I had never once seriously thought about finding him, or going after him. But it was altogether possible that he was in one of these records somewhere. And with that small hope, I left.
Mum had deteriorated since she had been admitted to the hospital, and she barely recognised me, much less realised what I was saying to her. She called me a name I didn't recognise before falling into a fit of unintelligible nonsense. I would miss her.
It’s been seven years now and I have found nothing in any records about travellers from home through any part of the nation. I don't think it was that I was lied to, at least not intentionally. I believe it to be more a case of some records going missing. There are a lot of blank spaces in the shelves here. No one is particularly worried, though. With so much information public, the missing information would likely be stored somewhere else. To my credit, at least as I see it, I did the right thing by pointing out that files were missing. My bosses did not see it that way. Instead they saw me, the country born hick, as an annoyance. So they got rid of me. And a whole bunch of files that they clearly wouldn’t miss.
Mum had always been wary of Granddad telling me tales of the Gods and how they fitted into the stories she was ok with me hearing. Sometimes I would find a hole in one of those stories and Granddad would have to make something up on the fly. Once, he filled the same hole with different stories and from there, I was adamant that I would find the truth. But life got in the way of my amateur sleuthing, not to mention he would probably make up a third story that would distract me long enough to forget about it.
But the files I took from the library during my last few days before I was fired were full of the actual stories Granddad would redact to tell me. All the heroes and their adventures, their companions – a term I now knew meant more than just a travelling partner – and why they went on these journeys.
The why of it all was something I never asked about. Never thought about. But if these stories were true, as Granddad always insisted they were, there had to be a why.
Why did all these heroes on horseback go off to save the day; some halfway across the world to places even the libraries don't know about?
Turns out, it was the Gods fault. All these adventures and quests and what have you were all at the beck and call of the Gods we used to put so much stock in.
Reading through some of the stories Granddad didn't tell me, I learnt that the Gods weren't exactly the best of us. In fact, most of them were assholes of the highest order.
It didn't occur to me that they could be manipulating me. Not until it was far too late to do anything about.