Swamped Chapter 70 Page 25

Well. You suppose the least abrupt way to change the subject would be to focus on just what kind of historical research is going on here.

“Pardon me for being an ignorant human here,” you interject, “but what exactly is the official story on your creation?”

The prisoner suddenly looks very eager. He starts reciting something, clearly from memory.

In the beginning, the desert covered the whole world. The gods looked down upon it, and saw it could be so much more. First they made life, but few of their creations lasted for long.

They could not understand why, for up in the heavens, there is no need for food or water. The gods had no concept of these things, and so they could not grasp that life required it. They proceeded to bicker about what to do.

Finally, Alac and Reth proposed an idea to the rest of the gods. What if we were to create a life that could speak to us? Then they can tell us what they need, and we can create it for them.

The other gods were skeptical, but no other idea had worked. And so they tried to decide what this life would look like.

Each of the gods had their own ideas, and so, in the end, they each made their own creation to tell them what it needed. But most of them made their lifeforms out of vanity – Dara made the Giant, for she valued strength above all; Hool made the Snake, for he loved the way it could glide smoothly through the desert sands and lay low to the ground; Bua made the Goldstone, for they loved its glitter.

And because these lives were made from such shallow ideals, they did not understand their needs any better than the gods. The Giant only wanted mighty opponents to test its strength against, the Snake wanted nothing more than to conceal itself, the Goldstone wanted only to be admired.

Only Alac and Reth had seen further than such simple ideas. Alac created Hu, a being larger than the Snake but smaller than the Giant, with cunning but little strength or agility. Reth created Greb, a smaller being but one who could move swiftly and could match Hu’s cunning with ease.

Hu realized that the world was very hot, and that living required energy. As it explained these things to the gods, they started to come up with the ideas of water and food. They made the rains to cool the world, and they made plants that could feed on the rains and in turn, be fed upon by animals.

Greb, however, thought beyond the simple confines of the problem the gods had presented. It was not satisfied with merely asking what was necessary to live; it wanted to understand what made living worthwhile.

And so, as the world slowly gained plants, water, and life, Greb spoke to the gods and told them what it needed.

‘We need to be able to make more life on our own,’ it said.

After some arguing amongst themselves, the gods granted its wish. They made more of Hu and more of Greb and more of everything, and granted them the ability to reproduce. The new world began to prosper, and the lands themselves started to change.

In time, the people of Hu spread out through the new world, but the people of Greb chose to stay in the desert, for it was where the world began.

He stops.

“Just to be clear, we don’t treat that as completely literal any more,” he continues. “We believe it happened, but it was so long ago and the world was transformed so thoroughly by the gods that it isn’t really the same as the world we live in today. I understand most human churches take a similar view.”

You wouldn’t know. You were never the church sort.

“And how many geologists had to be burned for saying this or that piece of land had never been a desert before the Church changed its mind?” Jebediah interjects.

“I won’t deny that’s in our history, and that it’s shameful how long it went on. But at the same time, we did stop doing it.”

“Officially,” Jeb mutters. It’s deliberately quiet… but greblings do have good hearing.

This is what you get for pressing on a point of controversy, you suppose. But maybe you can use this as an opportunity to shift the conversation.

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This is enlightening, but I should probably be getting back to the other prisoner. You said that the followers of the dead god would not know about Rider unless they had a priest of Reth among them. Is it conceivable that another god could communicate to their own priests that the Rider is to be killed?