He had been for so long that sometimes he even forgot there had been a time before him. Of course, no one was around to reminisce about those long-ago days, ten generations before, when he had been in the belly of a woman traveling on board ship from an old land to a new one. Yes, he had been born of a woman, sired by a man, and did not suddenly appear full grown, with long white beard and deep blue robes, uttering wisdom and comprehending the breadth of the world. He had been a child, if an unusually precocious one, interested in the tides of the sea and the movements of the stars, the languages of insects and birds, the ambitions of rocks and trees. He had been a young man, tall and strong, had loved women and, he seemed to recall, even fathered a few children of his own. No matter. His great-grandchildren were long turned to dust in the ground, and if their great-grandchildren were still clattering around somewhere, he had certainly stopped paying attention. He was only marginally interested in the affairs of men, and then only when major events were about to unfold. That is why Om had left off his charts of the skies and studies of the thought patterns of fire to reemerge into the world one last time. He was tired, but had come this far and was certainly not about to die without setting aright the great wrong he had set in motion all those years ago.