Four hours had passed since the Chelsea section of London was shaken by a loud blast reminiscent of the endless sea of munitions that fell during the Blitz. A cloud of pale white smoke rose up amongst the buildings and shops that were damaged in the blast. The crowd started to disperse as emergency crews arrived on the scene, navigating through the fire and choking stench. Their attention was redirected by the sounds of movement from the crater, followed by a man emerging from inside it. Unbeknownst to the mesmerized people, it was not a man but the demi-god Lugh. He was dressed in a gold suit of armor with a symbol of a triskele on the chest plate. His white toga shined in the glare of the gas lamps along with his sword that had a handle cut from a Tromm tree. The first sight Lugh had through the smoke was the eyes of two thousand scared humans and the whir of four TV cameras staring back at him. It was the first time he had seen Earth in millennia, and the changes to it were readily evident.
There were metal carriages of different shapes and sizes that glided smoothly along the streets without animals to pull them. There were concrete buildings and towers that rose like flowers out of the ground. Lugh looked out in fascination at the crowd who viewed him with the same reverence as the All-Father. They wore clothes made of fabrics and patterns a hundred times more elaborate than anything he’d ever seen in his human life. They spoke into portable communication devices using a different tongue he had never heard. Lugh was confused by the sight of an institution nearby called The Pie Man. Who was this man made of pastry? Maybe he was the owner or some arcane legend they named it after.
As Lugh descended to a plot of road a comfortable distance away from the crater, the crowd followed behind to see the mystery man. The scene was reminiscent of seeing peasants as a child clearing a path and bowing to a visiting monarch. It was both comical and at the same moment a little frightening. Part of him expected them to attack. Instead, a roar of cheers erupted from the small crowd with some of those closest trying to hug him. Others in the back of the crowd spouted criticisms, blaming him for many of the world’s ills such as genocide and global warming. The reactions hardly held much relevance as he smiled and nodded politely to those he interacted with and walked away.
Lugh caught sight of a row of large carriages with the letters “BBC News,” “iTV,” and “Sky News” painted on its side lined up in a row across the street. Out of the carriage doors were a group of people in suits carrying plastic sticks and mechanical boxes with strings behind them, one of which was pointed near his direction. Who are these people, he thought. Maybe they are an information gathering team. At that point, a real fear came over him. He contemplated how to avoid the glare of these people back into comfortable silence. Some of the ideas he had could work while others he believed would bring more unneeded attention than he desired.
Lugh probably could have achieved a suitable plan with more time, but the man holding the mechanical box pointed at him saw Lugh across the street making time a useless luxury. As the team of information gatherers moved along the road towards him, he had a little over a minute to come up with a plan before his true image was captured. There was only one idea that came to mind which could effectively do the trick. Lugh closed his eyes and...
The outside of The Pie Man shook and rattled with steadily increasing intensity. The crowd’s attention and the attention of the cameramen moved immediately to investigate what was going on. A few moments later a large explosion engulfed the complex, sending both groups scattering in all directions away from the fireball. Lugh walked away amidst the chaos, safe in the knowledge that his true identity would remain a secret.
He ambled down Cale St. for a few minutes observing more of the beautiful London night and the sight of more Fire Lorries moving toward the scene. There were some things in life that had not changed since his ascent to Avalon, he thought. The stars in the sky still twinkled with the pristine beauty of a diamond. The air was still fresh and invigorating, even if it had the aroma of coal to it. And the people here still could go from adoring to fearful in mere seconds.
It was amazing after the scene earlier how little attention was paid to Lugh further along the city as he walked down the street taking in the sights. He pondered whether or not he could achieve the master plan using his natural form. But he knew it was all too likely and feasible that a clever human would put the necessary pieces and find out his true identity. He needed to conjure a disguise before that scenario would come to play.
“Oi! Royal Shakes is that way, mate!”
Lugh observed the average looking man mocking him wearing a fedora with a brewing sense of rage. He thought of the different ways that he could teach this insolent human an appropriate dispensation of manners, but he didn't feel like wasting his talents on such a foolish looking speck. Besides, he thought, this human's everyman shape could prove to be useful right now...
He closed his eyes and slowly became lost in a cloud of fog in front of the stranger’s eyes. The bones of his body cracked and rearranged themselves along with his physique into an entirely new shape. The features on his face took on a Play-Doh like form. The clothes he wore changed to take on a modern complexion.
The hatted man was caught in a haze of amazement and fear as Lugh’s metamorphosis was complete. “Bloody...fucking...Hell!! I’m outta here!”
The Fedora man sprinted down the sidewalk in a panic, inadvertently knocking over a middle-aged married couple out on a walk. Lugh’s new body had the same height and the same kind of clothes and physique as the man in the Fedora. The only thing different was Lugh’s emerald eyes and dark hair that retained their original colors. Instead of his flowing locks, his hair was also cut in a style shorter to match the styling of human men of twenty years old.
Lugh stumbled on for three blocks to find any type of reflection by which to view his new face. The closest thing he found were panes of broken glass on the ground that had no reflection. He continued on his search, asking passersby for a mirror and looking for any building that may have one inside. The search provided Lugh a way to test his new Welsh vocal chords. He spotted a nearby Italian restaurant that could provide the mirror he sought.
The customers cried in horror the moment Lugh stumbled through the glass doors into the dining area. Some fled without a moment’s contemplation, leaving their unfinished meals sitting on their tables. Those who remained murmured to themselves who this person was and tried to call 999. The manager rushed from his office to see what was going on. He saw Lugh seconds before crumpling down to his knees. In an entirely human response, the manager rushed to Lugh’s aid.
“Are you alright, sir?” The manager asked him with one knee down next to Lugh on the hardwood floor.
“Mirror,” Lugh said to the manager, his voice hoarse, barely audible. “Where is a mirror?”
The manager was confused and did his best to answer. “The bathroom’s down the hall. There should be a mirror in there.”
Lugh burst through the bathroom door a short time later, startling the guy leaving. He looked around the tiled area for a few moments in search of the mirror, trying to keep himself upright. The others inside the bathroom did their best to stay out of the way of who they thought was a crazy person. Lugh caught sight of his new appearance in the mirror above the sink.
He stared at the image for a full minute. Every little nook and cranny of his new human body intrigued him in the same way someone admires a painting by Picasso or Van Gogh.
“Sweet Dagda,” he chuckled as he moved his hand all over his face. “What fun I can have with you!”
He smiled and walked proudly from the bathroom. As Lugh moved past the bar, the front page headline from the day’s edition of The Independent caught his eye. There was a photo on it of the current Prime Minister from a past G20 Summit, which did not put him in the best light. Underneath the 8x10" photo in bold type somewhat larger than the photo was the headline: “Prime Minister’s Corruption Woes Hound Downing Street.”
A smile crossed over Lugh’s face as he viewed the photograph. “I will notify my associate of his new puppet. He shall be most pleased.”