When the great wars began, hundreds of clans held sway over portions of the enormous land, each with its own gods and culture, totems, legends, marriage laws and methods of war. For hundreds of years the battles raged until the forty most ruthless clans had stained the land with the blood of the less ruthless. Their gods also perished, along with countless warriors slain and civilians starved and trampled. Belief systems were trod into the dust, ground to powder like small bones underfoot. Gods who had commanded awe for centuries were forgotten and ceased to exist. As part of the living spirit of a people, they expired with the last breaths of the last believers. As fragments of history, they perished with the burning of the holy parchments, the toppling of the holy stones. We only think they might once have existed. And with the expansion of the conquering clans, the influence of the new gods grew, always in fulfillment of prophesy. Thus were the vengeful gods of the most rapacious warriors adopted throughout the land. Forty clans, even belligerent clans as arrogant as these, might have lived in suspended hostility in such a vast world, but forty gods—fickle, indifferent, vindictive—could not. Most had to die, but it was not always necessary to eliminate the believers, who commonly adopted the conquering gods as a cost of living. Fresh victories confirmed the faith of the true believers in the power of their gods to deliver them from danger. Each battle they survived convinced them, as they took up arms against another god, that they could not die. Now the pretenders lie in waste. Let us scatter with the winds and tell the good news of the one true god to lands about which madmen and mystics have dreamt.

Copyright © December 19, 2006 David Hodges

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