Challenge #02489-F299: When the Eternal FallsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction8 months ago

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A small obscure hamlet, in which lay a small obscure place of worship. No grand temple, no eldritch altar, just a house-shaped spot to contemplate, to speak to the divine, and hope maybe some part of its multifaceted majesty heard. But here we see it as empty, looking as if no mortal foot had trod here in quite a while, or perhaps as if one had yet to do so.
A god came to the chapel one day long ago, or perhaps one night yet to be (gods, like some small and obscure places, have a curious looseness regarding time), name unimportant to this tale, a god older than wonder or joy, and older certainly than sorrow or regret. The god contemplated the chapel, as if both worshiping and being worshipped, then gazed around in a way only gods can do at things only gods can see. "It was a good run then?"
The walls shivered with weariness and the gold fixtures seemed as if they spoke lowly (or perhaps they did indeed speak; gods can perceive many impossible things): "Humans are... difficult."
"And fragile and selfish and frightened," laughed the god. "But sometimes... sometimes, they can surprise you..." -- Anon Guest

Here is a church... It is old, and made of stones seemingly stacked haphazardly on top of one another. It looks like it is three good sneezes away from complete collapse, but it has looked like that for centuries. The builders seemed to know that unattended buildings fall down, and therefore built the falling down into the overall structure. It is, in fact, staying up by being in a constant state of falling down.

Here is the steeple... Some miracles just can not be wrought by the hands of intelligent beings. This steeple fell in an ancient storm and all the collapse happened at once. It's now a verdant hillock of moss, weeds, tuffets and at least one very determined tree. Whether it was a bell tower or a lookout over the hamlet below is a matter of debate.

Open the door... The door is always open, as all doors to places of worship should be. The metal is old wrought iron and the hinges have rusted into position, leaving enough space between the ancient wood planking for a potential person to make their way inside. There are no people.

This is a place long abandoned. This is a place only the gods remember. This is a place where even the gods dare not speak above a whisper. This is a place where only the gods can hear, because none are here to speak. The hamlet where people had once lived is now empty. Only the empty husks of the houses remain. The gardens gone to scrub, the animals gone wild where they were able to survive at all. A surviving fireplace has become a nest for the feral cats. Someone's kitchen is a burrow for foxes. The remains of someone's bed that is the core of a rat's nest.

This is a place that used to be...

It used to be... prosperous. It used to be fruitful. It used to be a good place to live. It used to be... alive.

It's dead now.

Only the gods would come here.

Here, one is dying. The word and the worshippers are fading from memory. This place is fading from memory. The rats, foxes, cats, and other wild things have no need for the church as anything else but a place to forage... a place to shelter from the storm. They do not have minds to question tomorrow or consider yesterday.

Here, one has come to visit the infirm. To visit the dying.

The old god is just whispers in the shadows now. The younger one can be anything. Right now, it is an errant breeze in the greenery, flicking the leaves and stems around as the whispers grow ever fainter.

One said, Was it good?

The other said, It was wonderful. Every day, songs. Every day, faith. I worked miracles for them... I... the whisper in the shadows faded away. Humans are difficult.

I have learned, said the younger. You cannot give them everything they want. That way lies... horrors.

They want and want... and want more when they are fulfilled.

They are fragile and selfish and frightened, said the younger. Yet... I have been surprised by them.

The old god stirred in the shadows. Shifting what could be called its body if gods could possess such things. They do so much... in Our name... we never called for...

That was true. From the sublime to the ridiculous. From the subtle to the gross. All glorying the name of their god without once considering whether or not that was what their god truly desired. Cherry-picking from holy writ to back up whatever they had already decided.

Why did you serve yours? asked the young god.

They were lost, and needed guidance.

This worried the young god, since that was the reason they had guided their Humans. Were you good at it?

The end of the whisper was, ...I tried... and then there was nothing. No more of a whisper, this was no longer the last bastion of a dying god... this was a tomb.

The young god left as peacefully as they could. No questions answered, no guidance given. No hope of being a good god or steering their followers to become better Humans. Just their best hopes and a handful of dreams.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / gynane]

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