Theology of a Snake
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The other day, a man walked up to me and talked to me about his one true god. I told him that there was no one true god, for all gods were true if they were believed in. And if there was indeed a one true god, it must be his belief that made it so, and framed the others as fairies and demons. But in truth, gods were no different from demons or fairies, for they were all creatures created by our minds, merely under different titles.

I told him that if he must worship, at least be like the Daevites, who offered worship in exchange for the gods’ service. And if he were to worship just because they were gods, it would be indeed foolish of him, for their power came from no other source but us. It is ourselves that we must believe in.

The man was furious, and accused me of blasphemy, and claimed that his god would damn me to the underworld. But it is not gods who damn us; it is us who make and damn the gods.

I have since come to realize that many were unaware of the nature of gods, of what fiendish, parasitic, and pathetic creatures they are. They only latch onto us for we are children of the Two Dragons, and indeed harbor great power and potential. As a scholar of the Xia Clan, it is my duty to impart such knowledge and let the truth of gods be known. I shall thus offer a cautionary tale, and hope some light can be shed through the act. After all, many would find stories more convincing than mere arguments.

Long ago, in a place lost to time, lived a King who ruled his kingdom mercifully. Indeed, his land was not of the vastest, but its soils fertile and its harvest abundant. Rivers flowed constant and steady across the fields, never too much to create flood or too little to cause drought. In the villages, people lived peacefully and harmoniously, young and old well taken care of. The cities were likewise prosperous, booming with business and art.

In the capital, where the King’s palace sat, merchants from distant lands gathered after long journeys, selling exotic artifacts and exchanging eerie tales. And at the palace, Four Lords served at the King’s court, each knowledgeable and experienced in their own fields of governing. The kingdom knew little war, for there were no other kingdoms around it, but an army was kept nevertheless, honorable warriors that patrolled the safety of not only the royalties, but the normal citizens as well.

Truly, the only thing odd about the kingdom was that its people worshipped no god and begged from no demon. They respected the King, and adored the queen, but nothing more. Even the tales of the merchants, all those stories about powerful beings and divine forces from other lands did not change this; the concept of religion was simply alien to them. And curiously, no demon or god had bothered with the kingdom.

But this did not last. It was a night when stars hanged high and the moon obscured, that the queen gave birth to a prince, an heir to the throne. Yet the King was struck with only grief, for the queen gave her life for their son. For a hundred days, the king grieved and left the prince to the servants and the kingdom’s responsibility to the Lords. He came back a sorrowful man, pale and gaunt, ridden with regrets. He no longer connected with his people, as his thoughts often went to his wife, who now lay cold under the ground. The kingdom was prosperous, yet not what it used to be. People avoided the palace, and whispered unkind words about the royalties.

But on the prince’s first birthday, a person walked into the hastily assembled party. The warriors failed to stop them and the servants merely gasped as their presence. It was an individual with strange beauty, who adorned a black silk robe, standing tall and pound. They stepped upon the court and accused the King of neglecting his people. The Four Lords all came forth and argued, but was each defeated in their respective field, their words all fell pale. It was then that the King shot another glance at the stranger, and asked for their way of solving the problem.

So the being went up to the King, but instead of offering suggestions to govern, they whispered to the King’s ear that there were ways to bring back the queen. In hushed tones, they explained that both gods and demons had powers of resurrection, but they were far from trust-worthy, and often took more than they would give. Instead, the King could become a god himself, for surely his own judgment could be trusted.

The King’s eyes brightened. He stood up and announced that the individual was truly wise and outstanding, who had proved themselves better than even the Four Lords. He named the person the Ambassador, who shall serve as a bridge between the court and the people. The party ended, and celebration for the prince was neglected over the news. That night, the King and the Ambassador discussed and planned under the faint moonlight, until the stars hanged high and the moon was no more.

And an Ambassador to the people they indeed were. Every day, the Ambassador walked among the great fields or on the fine streets, spreading good words of the King. Their voice charming, their manners perfect, and their smile wonderful. The words from their mouth were not only convincing, but alluring as well. Everywhere, people stopped to chat with them and listened to their stories. And every night, the Ambassador returned to the palace and report to the King what they had seen and heard.

What the Ambassador did was small at first, only attempts to rebuild the respect for the King; but as time went on, legends and epics were created, painting the king as a great hero. The once barren mountains on the kingdom’s border had become an evil lair of monsters, which the King had led his brave army to destroy once and for all. The vast ocean was now a holy palace of trial and judgment, where the King dived and retrieved a heavenly crown and great treasures. And among the foreign merchants, virtuous saints now walked, who came with magical gifts to praise the King’s rightful ruling.

And miraculously, as the tales were told and believed, things changed accordingly. The King’s gaunt shape was now healthy and muscular, his garments made of the pelts of great and fearsome beasts, and his people cheered him endlessly as their heroic ruler. And as he sat with the Ambassador under moonless nights, listening to his own great deeds he never accomplished, his sorrows were washed away, forgotten, replaced with joy and ambition.

The palace constantly expanded and grew, reaching the clouds and shined with gold and ivory. Even the land seemed more and more magical by the day, with healing springs hidden in the valleys and fantastical animals striding the forests.

But it was only the first step. The Ambassador no longer walked among the people to chat in small cottages and over campfires; instead, the kingdom’s people came to the Ambassador willingly. They walked out of their homes and gathered at first squares, and then great halls, which soon become temples and churches. The tales the Ambassador spun grew from legends to myths and finally what their people believed to be the truth. The King was first chosen by a god, and then a demigod, and finally a god himself. The prince was not left out, for he had the god’s blood in him. Even the Four Lords were now known to hold great power, and were lesser gods themselves.

Monuments and obelisks were erected, on every city’s center and even dotted the mountains and fields. Prayers were sung for the King and his court, which echoed in great chambers painted with amazing murals. Soon enough, there were festivals where people wore masks and cheered and celebrated the King’s glory, from dusk till dawn as the stars travelled the sky. And at the high palace in his luxurious throne, the King, too, celebrated with the Prince and the Lords. The Ambassador stood by his side, long black robes reaching the marble floor, arrogant and beautiful as ever. And at the bottom of the castles, the queen’s body lay cold in a forgotten tomb, sinking deeper into the soil.

Indeed, the King was, at that point, already god-like. As his favorite colors were announced, the entire kingdom was coated with them and nothing else. As the Ambassador claimed that the King’s eyes reached every bit of his land, the entire kingdom folded into one massive city. The sun was no more for the King preferred starry nights; the city now floated in heavenly space, for a kingdom of a god should not stand on mortal soil. All jobs and professions were discarded, for an endless party was more pleasant; all must wear masks all the time, for the King hated to see faces any less gorgeous than the Ambassador. Still, the Kingdom prospered, as it was the King’s wishes.

Yet, he was still no god; there was one thin line he failed to cross, even with all the faith and beliefs of his people. He discussed with the Ambassador again, this time for days on end, as there were no longer methods to determine the passage of time. With the sun and the moon both gone, only the stars shone and blinked endlessly. And as the Ambassador stepped out of the palace, they ordered for sacrifices to be made. And as per the King’s wishes, his people rejoiced and obeyed.

In the grand kingdom’s grand city, only laughter was heard. And when the Ambassador returned, their fine silk robe was tainted red. Everyone had shed their blood, and the magical rivers of the city were no longer clean, but flowed with the life essence of the city’s denizens. When the Ambassador walked through the court, the Four Lords all came forth, and donated their share.

The King awaited them on his throne, the Prince stood nearby. He had turned out to be a fine young man, who shared his mother’s elegance and beauty; but a mask now covered his face, for he was no match for the Ambassador.

When the Ambassador arrived and presented him a dagger, the King knew there was one more sacrifice to be made. He got up, and watched calmly as the prince’s scream was cut short by the blade to his throat. A god needed no heir, after all.

And it was done. The King felt great power, greater than he ever had; and at that moment, he was indeed a god. The Four Lords applauded their King’s ascension, and the people outside the palace, who had newly bled for the King, felt it as well. A great party was thrown, and revelry it was throughout the city. The King laughed as he watched this, as the Ambassador stood by his side and his wife’s cold body sank deeper; after all, what was a mortal life to a living god?

As the prince bled out, the Ambassador whispered sweetly into the King’s ears. They led the King upwards, climbing to parts of the palace he didn’t even know existed. They spiraled up a tower and the King could hear his people, his followers’ cheering getting louder and louder. But when he arrived at the top and as the black stars shone upon him, he was greeted with a lasso.

The King turned to the Ambassador in confusion, but they only smiled and replied this was the final step. After all, what god would dwell in a mortal body of weakness? A final sacrifice, so that a god can be made.

The King was shocked and refused to submit. However, the Ambassador, striding tall and proud, grabbed the King and dragged him towards his death. The King found all his divine power somehow useless against them, even his strength earned in the heroic tales was ineffective. He struggled, but the Ambassador’s grip was tight, and he found himself as helpless and weak as the man he started out with. He yelled and pledged to his people, but the only response was cheers and laughter, as if he was on stage, and the people were mere audience.

No one was there to help him, and indeed, no one would, for his end was told in every tale the Ambassador spread, secret only to the King. Even the prince had heard it, only that he thought he would inherit the throne after his father’s demise. And over the years, the people believed in it, believed this was how their King was to become a god, and it was made true.

As his neck was strangled against the rope and his breath ran thin, he finally became what the Ambassador had made him to be. A god, but powerless in his own realm, against a simple lasso.

For three days the King was hanged. His blood streamed down from the high palace, and seeped into every inch of the city. For three days he struggled and twitched and refused to go out, yet all the sounds he made was drowned out by the laughter of the Ambassador and the applause of his own people. For three days his body grew colder and colder, until it was as dead as the queen deep beneath the castle; until he was but an empty husk, a hole of his previous self.

On the fourth day, the rope broke and the King’s shell of a body hit the ground. Rope still around his neck, the new god stood up, stumbling and following the Ambassador down to his court. There the Ambassador sat their King and God to his throne, now filled with spikes so that his empty body wouldn’t slip and fall, so that he would sit there forever.

The City rejoiced once more, this time never-ending, as the Four Lords all kneeled, and the Ambassador stood as beautiful and proud as ever next to the Hanged King.

To this day, the City, or Alagadda as it is called, still floats in its own twisted realm, preying upon those who stumbled in. I thus urge my readers to be wary of gods and what they have to offer.

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