Dawn rose glorious over the garden, silent fingers of gold stretching out to play in the blades of grass and caress the rough edges of stone. Rosy hues haloed flowers, washing them in pink regardless of natural shade. Weathered trees caught fire without burning as the sun forced its way above the horizon, greeting this portion of the earth anew in its endless spiral dance.

As the light curled around the railing of the small gazebo in the center of the garden, the figure dozing within it stirred.


Jarik the Sorcerer started to his feet, cursing wildly and glaring at the sun with open animosity. It seemed to add just a little extra burst of glowing delight, as it's light reached him. Snarling in response, the sorcerer withdrew a black cigarette from a pouch at his belt. Still glaring into the sun and muttering incoherently, he lit it with a snap of his fingers.

A deep drag calmed him. he held it for a moment, enjoying the flavor, then exhaled sharply. The smoke curled into offensively ugly symbols that hung in the air like obscene fog. After checking them over with a critical eye, the sorcerer nodded briskly. He carefully inserted his hand into the center of the cloud of symbols, and tilted his head back.

"Sol! I know you can hear me! Get your sparkly, flaming, overly cheerful ass down here right now!"

Everything around the sorcerer slowed. Glancing off the side, he noted with satisfaction that a fly appeared to hang in the air, its wings flowing gracefully in slow motion.

Sunlight coalesced in front of him, taking a vaguely human shape. Jarik frowned, and then realized at the last instant what was coming. He squeezed his eyes shut and clapped a hand over them a second before his garden filled with incandescent light.

"Damnit Sol! Stop that before you burn a hole in the planet!"

A deep sigh of annoyance filled the garden, but the light faded.

Jarik opened his eyes, blinking to force them to clear. Spots fading, his vision rapidly returned, allowing him to see the gaudy figure standing before him.

It was a man, or rather it looked like one, clad in liquid gold. Hair of the same shade tumbled to its shoulders in unruly ringlets, framing a strong face. Average height, slender build, smooth tan. A paragon of male beauty. Until one looked into its eyes. Within those eyes burned the fires that lived at the heart of a star, rapacious and unyielding.

The god, and it really couldn't be anything else, pursed it's lips petulantly. "What is it now, Jarik?"

The sorcerer met its eyes, refusing to be cowed by its fiery stare. "I have been in consult with my Master all night! I sit down to catch a few moments of peace before I have to be about my business. And here you come, blazing like the fires of Hel, not two seconds after I close my eyes!"

The god sighed theatrically. "I'm the Sun. It's what I do. If you wanted sleep, you should have crawled back to that hole you lair in instead of sitting out in the open."

The sorcerer fumed silently for a moment. Suddenly, he chuckled.

"All right, Sol. Sorry to have bothered you."

Sol stared at him suspiciously. "That's it? You called me down here, yelled at me, and that's it?"

Jarik nodded cheerfully. "Yep. Blaze away. Get to it. It's your job and all that."

The god searched his face uncertainly for a moment. Then it frowned. "No. No, that's never it with you. Hel, you got to your level of power by out-thinking your last Master and delivering her into slavery to your current one. So I'm not leaving until you tell me why you're so cheerful all of a sudden."

The sorcerer rolled his eyes. "Why can't I just be laughing at my own folly in blaming the sun for shining?"

Sol grinned. "Because you don't believe you can make mistakes. If you think it's my fault, it's going to be my fault until someone else comes along to take the blame. Now, what are you planning?"

"Not a damn thing. Don't you have a job to do?"

"Blow the job. I won't feel safe doing it while you're plotting."

Jarik shrugged, and turned to walk back to his cottage. "Suit yourself. Beer?"

For the next few hours, Jarik took advantage of the slowed passage of time to work in his lab, puttering quietly among the various books and flasks and strange devices. After all, with the sun in his house instead of the sky, time couldn't move forward properly without disaster. So as long as there was literally no time to waste he might as well get some work done.

Occasionally, he glanced over at the god, who sat silently at his kitchen table drinking beer and staring at him with increasingly drunken suspicion. By the sorcerer's count, Sol was up to two casks with no sign of slowing down.

He nearly dropped the flask of acid he was holding when the god spoke.

"What d'you wan fro' me, hmm? 'M the sun, for brightness sake. Seri-hic-seriously, you can' expec' me to jush' stop doing mah job cause it incon...in-con-veen...hic...cause it annoysh you."

Jarik carefully set the flask down, far away from the table's edge, and fixed the deity with a flat stare. "Of course not. Why would you think that? Look, just maybe instead you could...I don't know...overlook my home once in a while?"

Sol shook its head, nearly losing its balance. "Nope. 'F I did tha', I'd have no way of knowin' when to shine on you and when not to."

Jarik coughed sharply. The corners of his mouth twitched as he assumed a thoughtful expression. "Well...I suppose I could always give you a little token. Just something to let you know when I needed a break now and again."

Sol frowned. Drunken thought is a slow process even for a god, and Jarik was well aware that Sol was, ironically, not the brightest god ever believed into existence. So it took a full five minutes for the deity to stop trying to find a catch and decide that Jarik was being nice for once.

"Right! Tha'sh...tha'sh perfeck! You jush' give me...hic...give me a lil' token! And then I'll know when to shine here and when to...hic..not shine here!"

Jarik nodded, then almost carelessly grabbed the little coin that had absorbed his attention for the last hour. He tossed it casually to the deity, who fumbled it a bit before getting a firm grasp of it.

"There you go. Now, having finally settled the fact that I'm not planning anything, why don't we get you back to work, hmm?"

Sol attempted to rise while briskly nodding, and promptly fell out on its face.

Jarik winced at the momentary burst of flame that scorched the floorboards. Sighing, he grabbed a pair of flameproof mitts, and went to help the deity up.

Sol hugged him happily once it was back on its feet. "Thanksh, Jarik! I alwaysh appre...appre-shee-hic-...like good advice on how to be more help-hic-ful."

Jarik gagged, though whether it was the hug or the beer fumes not even he was sure. he disengaged as swiftly as was polite, then started moving the deity towards the door. Halfway across the room, he slapped his forehead theatrically.

"Wait! I almost forgot!"

Leaving Sol weaving dangerously, he ran back to his worktable and grabbed a scroll and an indestructible pen. He ran back to the deity and held it out.

"You should probably sign this."

Seeing Sol's eyes begin to narrow, he held up his hands in a placating gesture. "It's just a document telling anyone who cares that the occasional reduction in sunlight is my fault, and that anyone who wants to get upset should come talk to me."

Sol's eyes welled up with tears of companionship. "You...you're no' so bad! I li-hic-like you, Jarik!"

The deity grabbed the scroll and pen and scrawled his symbol where the sorcerer told him to. Jarik then dodged another hug and hustled the soused god out the door, casting a despairing glace at the fires chewing up the floor where Sol's tears had fallen. He hissed a curse over his shoulder, and the fires cowered like misbehaving children before extinguishing themselves.

Several more tears, two avoided hugs, and the sorcerer finally managed to get the god to leave. The moment it discorporated, the smoke construct that had summoned it disappeared and dawn resumed in all its glory.

An evil smile settled on the sorcerer's face. Humming softly, he set about levitating stones , stacking them on to one another until he had a formidable wall that covered three sides, leaving only a narrow space to enter the makeshift fortress.

He stepped in and sealed the back. A final, massive stone landed heavily on top, creating a roof. A flick of the wrist pulled out a handful of pebbles, leaving him with a small hole at eye level.

Jarik stared critically at the dawn for a moment and, without looking away, slipped a ring onto his finger and sharply clapped his hands twice.

The sun went out.

Frowning, the sorcerer squinted, then began to smile. Not out...the light was there, it just wasn't shining in his land.

Jarik clapped again. The sunlight popped back into existence.

Clap. Off.

Clap. On.





Forcibly reminding himself that giggling was not proper behavior for a sorcerer, Jarik settled down to wait. It didn't take long.

The garden filled with light again, and again time slowed.

"JARIK! What. Have. You. DONE?"

Safe within his fortress, Jarik forced down another round of giggles. "Just testing that token, Sol. No worries. All it does is stop you from shining on my land, just like we agreed."

Sol snarled, and the light grew almost unbearably bright. "I never agreed..." The light faded slightly. "Oh, shit...that was a contract wasn't it?"

Jarik giggled quietly for a moment, unable to help himself. "Sure was."

The light exploded up to new levels as the deity roared. "I was drunk! And how the Hel did you get me drunk!"

Jarik managed to avoid the giggles this time. "Slow time. Even a god can get drunk when there's not enough time for the alcohol to dissipate. And contracts drawn up by a sorcerer as binding as a contract with his Master. And I know for damn sure that my Master has used the old get-'em-drunk gambit lots of times. So you're stuck."

Sol began swearing.

Jarik chuckled, and raised his voice to be heard over the increasingly inventive threats and oaths. He made a note to remember a few of them. "Well, it's been fun Sol, but I'd like to catch up on my sleep. Bye, now."

He clapped his hands. Instantly, the light vanished, the swearing stopped, and time resumed its course. Toppling the fortress into a neat pile of rubble, the sorcerer headed back into the castle, humming cheerfully, anticipating a long uninterrupted nap.