"Without Spilling a Drop"
Shaeth worried, sometimes,
about the people who had
given themselves into his care --
or more precisely, about
his own ability to care for them.
Mortals were such fragile creatures,
to him, ephemeral as mayflies,
delicate as soap bubbles.
He feared hurting them.
After all, he had been the God of Evil
for ages upon ages, steeped in violence
and practiced in bestowing pain.
Now he was handing out blankets,
or brandy laced with soothing herbs,
or sturdy buckets for people to puke into;
and he was listening to more problems than
he ever imagined mortals could visit upon each other.
Evidently his evil imagination had been lacking.
Shaeth fretted over his ability to keep his people safe,
for it seemed to him that some strange gravity
drew them ever toward destruction, and
he had no idea how to keep them
from toppling into it,
how not to crush them
in his terrible, powerful hands.
He tried plucking dandelions
without disturbing the seeds,
or catching soap bubbles
without popping them,
and once in the marketplace
he touched a tentative fingertip
to the glass figurines.
When Trobby caught him at the exercises,
Shaeth grudgingly admitted to his fears.
"You're being an idiot," Trobby said bluntly.
"We're a bunch of drunks, not trinkets."
He walked up to the offering table
and tapped the large keg of beer there,
pulling a mug with a respectable head of foam.
This he brought back to Shaeth and said,
"Here. When you can carry this
without spilling a drop, you'll understand
that you can be gentle and quit worrying
you're going to dump us on the floor."
So Shaeth gave it a try, and it was not easy, for
Trobby being Trobby had filled the mug to the brim.
Shaeth had to keep his feet exactly under him,
and his back straight and his hands steady,
feeling all the while as if the earth beneath
was tugging at him and trying to trip him.
It took days of practice before Shaeth
could walk the length of their small temple
and reach the far side without leaving
so much as a damp spot on the floor.
That evening he listened to thoughts of gravity
from two drunken whores he had rescued,
dark Febretta and fair Katreese, as they
poured out their hearts to him -- and
nothing he said made them shed an extra tear.
"Tomorrow," he told Trobby, "I shall attempt the stairs."
* * *
Learning new skills is a natural part of life for humans, but gods are less inclined to stray from their established areas of expertise. Understand the steps for developing any new skill.
Gentleness is a learned skill. It can be taught. Shaeth is having a hard time because he spent millennia practicing the exact opposite.
Emotional first aid involves helping adults and children to cope with upsetting events or memories.