I am huge in my mati's womb, straining her wide tunic. She is Hannu, Akkan goddess of the earth and of pottery. My pado, Arduk, god of agriculture, sits at Hannu's bedside, awaiting my birth.

It is too tight in Hannu's belly! I thread my strong wind into her womb, and my strong wind thrusts me flying out. Fortunately, Arduk catches me in his big, gentle hands.

Although Hannu lies in bed and Arduk stands holding me, we are also floating above the earth. In the air over volcanic Mount Enshi hovers Enshi Rock. From its center the temple rises: our home, a tower of porous white stone mounted on four stout stone legs. Never has there been such a temple!

When my diaper cloth is tied in place, I kick. When I'm lowered into my sleeping basket, I cry. If a blanket is tucked around me, I bellow. I am the god of the winds, and I hate confinement. Shame on me! I fear it.

Hannu and Arduk name me Olus. I call them by their own names, as is the custom.

Soon I can see and hear and smell across great distances and through objects, just as the other Akkan gods can. I hear the prayers of our worshipers, which are like the rattle of pebbles in a pan, too numerous to sort out.

When I am a month old, I smile from my parents' bed at the faces of the other Akkan gods and goddesses as they pass by above me. Meanwhile my merry wind tickles their ankles.

But when Puru, the god of destiny, tilts his head down at me, my merry wind fades away, and I wail. His face is swathed entirely in orange linen, as is the rest of him. I can see through ordinary linen, but not Puru's.

Perhaps he can peer through his linen, or perhaps he smells me or only knows I'm there. When he speaks, no constant breath pushes his words, so he stops after each one. "Olus . . . will—"

"Hush, Puru," Hannu says, frowning.

"He's too young to hear about his fate," Arduk adds.

Puru says, "Olus . . . will . . . have . . . no happiness until he gains what he cannot keep."