A Personal Take on the Beginning of the World
You can read the outline for this project here.
“Maybe they made the age restriction 10,000 years because only dragons can reach that age and you have to fly to be able to get there?”
The speaker’s companions snorted.
“It’s probably what seemed best,” the golden dragon replied, “I mean, do we even know if these gods–immortal gods, I should add–have a concept of time like we do?”
The others were at a loss of words for this. The ruby dragon opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again, thinking. The sapphire dragon rolled his eyes and it was clear he thought his idea was still the best.
“Do we have a concept of time?” The golden dragon asked softly, probably more to herself. Her younger sister looked upside down, under her arm, and laughed.
“Ingvar! Look at this, Alfhild is getting all existential on us again,” the crimson of the dragon’s scales reflected in her eyes.
“Alfhild!” Ingvar held out the vowel.
“What?” She was defensive, “I mean, without being called here, did you remember what year it was?”
“Thyra, your lies are never convincing,” Ingvar turned his teasing toward the younger of his two sisters.
Their bickering continued as they inky darkness beyond their atmosphere started to bleed into the blue of the sky. A figure materialized in front of them as the last drops of blue faded from sight. Try as though they might, the trio couldn’t quite remember his face nor his figure for longer than they were looking directly at him.
“Come with me,” his voice was airy and light. The three followed him to the Pantheon of the gods. As each sibling called their respective god by name, three figures became memorable to them–they were much larger than expected, nearly matching the size of the colossal dragons. Smiling, three siblings met three others. The light exuded by the remaining gods was abruptly extinguished, and only the six remained.
“Is it twice as unlucky for us to be meeting like this, or do we cancel each other out?” Ingvar was trying to be witty again. K’thaugz grinned at him, while their two siblings smiled politely. Alfhild and Thyra openly glared at him.
Over the course of their conversation, Alfhild would ask who they were. Thyra had a hard-driven curiosity for the six immortals. Ingvar, when he stopped trying to be funny, asked K’thaugz about how the gods came to be in the world after the Behemoths died out. K’thaugz launched into this story with vigor.
“To begin, we must clear the table of the gods that exist in this world today. There are many misconceptions of their numbers, names, and places of origin, so we’ll recap. In the world today, there exist sixteen different gods. In the world of the Behemoths, there were none. In the world left behind by our current brethren, there were thirteen. My siblings and I all have Behemoth origins. We were mortals many, many years ago. Through the decay of our world, we came to be imbued with power. A significant chunk of the power that existed beneath the surface of this modern ground. I have no memory of this happening, but I just know. This is my power.
“Migz, commonly misunderstood as my oldest sibling, has been in tune with what is going to happen long before we were given the power we have in our current states. They were the first to know that rescue would be coming in the form of beings with power comparable to ours. Eikthe, next, must have had the hardest job when we were stranded on our dead planet nearly millions of years ago. They knew, without a single doubt, that we were the only ones alive at any given time. They were able to signal the arrival of the new gods right when they arrived. I felt behind the curve,” a small sigh and a chuckle.
“Apostolos brought you here. He insists upon the shroud, for which I’m sorry. My siblings and I, as uniquely in tune with our sense of sight as we are, find it frustrating that he may take anyone’s away. He is the God of Messages, and one of the many newcomers to our planet.
“Dagda is the Goddess of the Land. Opposed to many ideas held on the earth, she is not one and the same as Cemunnos. ‘Mother Earth’ they both hear and cringe. They are very different goddesses, and appreciate being known as such.
“I’ll talk about Cemunnos next, to clear the confusion. She is a kind sculptor, the Goddess of Creatures. Your forms are her design. She was extremely excited to see you come today, to see what you’ve become. You’ve done her artwork proud,” K’thaugz held out their hand and Ingvar placed his forearm in the open palm, allowing himself to be pet, the blue rippling under the hands of the deity.
“Tempest is the blood sibling to Dagda, though I’m afraid I don’t understand familial ties in these deities–Behemoths are brought back from the dead, so to say. Our primary caregiver would enter the Underworld and lead us back to the surface. I’m not sure how it works with these gods, and I’m quite frankly horrified at the idea of how you creatures give birth. This is a discussion for later, however; Tempest is the Deity of the Storm and I’ve never met anyone so prone to mood swings.
“Sorin and Aibhe cannot be spoken of in separate breaths. They are the perfect balance: Goddesses of the Day and Night. Their eternal dance is beautiful, but–” a pause “–bittersweet. They are the ultimate lovers, though this isn’t commonly practiced on your Earth. Young lovers may fantasize about the pairing, but your elders refuse to believe that they could’ve ever met. Which, frankly, means the next goddess has some of the most pervasive false stories.
“Chibuike is the Goddess of both Oceans and Magma, but she will be one of either, depending on where you go. She is the biological daughter of both the sun and the moon and, though many try to hide it, she is the love of many of these gods’ lives. She’s given her heart to Dagda, and we see some of the most beautiful islands because of their union. Though it isn’t common knowledge that your gods aren’t native to the land you’ve lived in, the people believe Chibuike is from the same source; instead, she’s a native like you. Like us.
“Isingoma and Nakato are another misconception. I’ve personally heard quite a few things. Most people who discuss them are so sure of themselves and pretty much everyone is wrong. But also right? It’s fairly confusing. Something that we all agree upon is that Isingoma is the God of Youth and Life. The older of the two, Nakato, is the God of Age and Death. They may be twins, or they might be the same person. They’re very quiet and keep to themselves. I cannot look into their past to find the origin. My powers end with the beginning of my earth.
“Sophia is the Goddess of Wisdom, but don’t let the title catch you. She celebrates the small wisdoms as well as the large. You have towers of scholars who look down on the fishwives and merchants, but Sophia revels in the uncommon cooking tricks and original artwork of children. She is champion to all and recognizes that wisdom isn’t exclusive to the old, the smart, or the powerful.
“Hathor and Sefu have been quarreling since the beginning of time. She is the Goddess of Peace and he is the God of War. Launce, our resident Deity of Tricks, is in love with both of them,” they say with a chuckle, “Anyone could reasonably assume that this is unhealthy, but Launce doesn’t take advantage of the affections of the two and is simply drawn to the chaos of worshipers.
“One of my favorite things, for you, is a lack of afterlife. We have a kind of committee to handle the deaths of beings so swiftly that you’d never notice you were gone. I may retain my memories of lives before me, but an ungoverned land of the dead is nothing but sorrowful. But on a lighter note: now that we’ve collectively met the gods, I can properly tell you the story of how they came to be here.
“Apostolos came first, with stories of ravish and ruin on his tongue. According to his stories, the God-King of the ring of deities of the old world had received an obscene amount of power in the path of a new cult that recognized only him as a god. The world dissolved into war as the cult gained power and as the deities’ followers dwindled, they decided it was best to leave before they were killed off as well. Hathor’s near-death was the catalyst for their exodus. Her form was broken and tired, and it faded from sight more than once. Sefu had all the reason to stay but felt a draw from her body that was undeniable. He followed and carried her at first. Quickly after their departure, she would disappear solidly. Sefu and Launce were heartbroken and when Sefu’s physical form followed Hathor’s, Launce simply left the group.
“Apostolos had the hard job of making the journey alone, as a scout. The other gods traveled between nearby worlds, seeking temporary shelter. They found this in one or two places, but celebrations of visiting deities could only go on for so long and ask the feasts came to a close, they would be forced to move on again or lose their forms too. They were lucky in that Apostolos was able to send a signal after only the third world.
“The world they found was in decay, but the young messenger god was able to sense potential and, what was more, he found three young guides who were overwhelmed with excitement at their presence. We were much larger than they were expecting, I think, but we told them about our predicament and they set to work.
“Dagda was the first to dig her hands into what appeared to be a dead earth, nearly crying when she found rich, brown dirt. She pushed her palms into this and made the earth completely flat. She called upon Tempest to wash away the grime and the deities collected the gray to bring to Cemunnos; when wet, the gray dust became clay in her hands, with which she began to form little figures. When the world was fully brown again, she called up plants from the ground, telling them to suck from the energy stored beneath the very top of the earth to begin their growth. Isingoma and Nakato had brought with them a pouch of soul-core, mostly pilfered from the rapidly increasing number of dead patrons from their old world. The two were able to imbue the animals with life. Isingoma would lay them gently on the earth and Nakato, like an old friend, would guide them to their rest, bringing the soul-core to Isingoma and the clay to Cemunnos. But they would not begin yet.
“Sorin and Aibhe took their places in the sky after a–” this was a thoughtful pause, “–prolonged goodbye. Aibhe’s pregnancy would become apparent with the first waning of the moon. At the second new moon upon this earth, she would give birth to a beautiful daughter: Chibuike. She created and filled the deepest places of the earth as well as the tallest, which gushed with lava. Tempest became enthralled with her oceans, Dagda with her ability to create new land. Cemunnos filled the oceans with the most colorful of fishes. It wasn’t difficult for Chibuike to fall in love with Dagda. In her oceans and after the flow of lava subsided, the plant life in that area was the most beautiful.
“Isingoma quickly ran out of soul-core following Cemunnos’ filling of the ocean and the brothers called upon Sophia to decide what it was they should do. Sophia asked that they allow her to pass judgment on each of the souls before they make their way into their next vessels. In this, she granted the creatures more and more intelligence. There was something akin to differences, and then there was a difference of need, and then fighting broke out. And that’s when Sefu came back. And, of course, Launce wasn’t far behind him, rushing him with affections and tears. And, when that fighting stopped, when animals began to coexist, there was Hathor. It was a lovely reunion, I must say. Everyone was happy to see them both, even if their bickering resumed almost immediately.
“The next step was difficult for everyone but necessary. It was time to create truly intelligent life. The designs were those that failed in their old world. They are what you understand as humans, ents, dwarves, minotaurs, and–” a small laugh with a gesture, “–the dragons.”
The three dragons felt as though they had been holding their breaths. Just as they were about to let them go:
“But of course, that’s not quite the end of the story.
“Society functioned for several thousands of years when we, being my siblings and me, realized that it was a lonely existence, on our part. Our relation to the land had been cut off. We, the natives of this land, were unable to speak to our fellows. To walk our native land. We wanted eyes that were as old as ours to see the land and share it with us. So, we asked Sophia about the six soul-cores that would be compatible to us and we spun them into strings.”
The three siblings waved their hands in an identical flourish and produced six golden strings. K’thaugz and Migz held the ends of each and Eikthe kept a soft hand underneath their middles. All three were smiling at the strings softly, almost lovingly. K’thaugz looked up at Thyra.