literature

The Teicna Files 02 - A New Breed

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Dalensh was the first of the gods to tackle the dreaded challenge of creating intelligent life once more. Ever the artist, the god of the seas secluded himself in a small cove and set to work molding raw matter like clay, steadily creating a form pleasing to his divine eyes. For weeks, designs were started, scrapped, recreated, redesigned, and scrapped again. Perfection was an impossible goal, Dalensh realized this perfectly well, but he was determined to be truly proud of his first sapient species. At last, he placed a finalized design into the water and granted it life. A smile crossed his face as the proto-merman made its first few laps in the isolated pool, investigating its surroundings and contemplating its existence.

Using it as a template, the sea god created a small population of the creatures and let them loose into the open ocean. The other three gods had been left in the dark as to Dalensh's new venture, but they caught on quickly enough as the new beings steadily began to get involved in their domains. Ignis spotted a small clan of them settling around an oceanic volcanic vent, while Malephesh and Vespis noted individuals with rudimentary nets and spears lashing out from the seas to snare unwary creatures from the shores and birds from the skies. They confronted their colleague, finding him watching his creations with a grin on his face. Unlike the monsters the four had created long ago, these creatures naturally cooperated with others of their kind to survive and improve, constantly working to better themselves and cultivate the world around them, rather than merely striving to be the only ones left standing. Inspired by Dalensh's rousing success, and working from his models, the other three gods immediately working on their own creations.

Malephesh began in the harsh jungles of his favorite continent to create the lizardfolk that would eventually come to be known as the arren. His designs were inspired by the reptiles he had created in the past that he loved to watch sun themselves on the stones of his deserts and mesas. Vespis took her time and poured her efforts into creating the Dragons, as she desired a hardy, independent species that would be as solitary and free-spirited as herself. Ignis had a harder time of things. Fire is often a wild, destructive force, the goddess knew, and she found it difficult to harness the aspects she loved about her element into something that wasn't itself violent and utterly untamed. After seeing the successes of the other two gods, she enlisted Malephesh's help in creating a more level-headed species, resulting in the reclusive, stone-like Terrakin; a people with quite literal fire in their hearts.

With the initial hurdles finally overcome and sapient races they could all be proud of, the gods celebrated. The new species were developing well with minimal input from the gods, growing in numbers and discovering the world at their own pace. Emboldened by this success, the Four began to fill their world with other such creatures. Dalensh ensured that the seas were chock full of all manner of mer-folk - variants and iterations on his original designs - while also straying inland to deposit the ceph and bufogren in what would eventually be known as Duwallen. Vespis was inspired by the reptilian arren to create the qoatl, and the two races quickly became allies against the dangers of their jungle home. Malephesh created several races such as the arthrite and the treants on his own, but he was frequently brought in by Ignis to collaborate on designs and temper her power's wild streak, leading to the creation of the subterranean Dwarves and varied species that roam the untamed landscape of Tirpazk.

The world was steadily filled with a wide variety of the sapient species, and before long they had begun to shape the land on their own terms, much like the gods who created them. It brought the Four an immense amount of joy and pride to see the land shifting and changing without them, creating an endless amount of activity that would surely keep them entertained for eons!

And then the unthinkable happened.

It was a day like any other, with the Four watching over the world and pointing out interesting actions being performed by one of their creations or another. All was calm and running as designed. Suddenly, all four were struck by a wave of divine energy that rocked the very metaphysical plane with its power. Something - or someone, as it turned out - had breached their level of existence from the mortal world. A new god had ascended. Quietu, a god of writing, knowledge, and death, had come into being.

-----

Quietu had, in his mortal life, not been particularly interested in power. Although the human race had only barely moved beyond their hunter-gatherer ways, he had been a scholar. One of the first, in fact. Frail and uncoordinated, the young man had often been ridiculed and considered worthless to his tribe of hunters and fishermen. He was not unintelligent, however, and between working in what fields his slim physique would allow, he began to keep a develop a habit of marking walls and large stones with sketches of things he had seen or learned recently. This progressed to forming incredibly rough 'books' out of any pliable materials he could get his hands on and covering them with diagrams of knowledge and processes he'd picked up from other tribes-people. For everything from hunting and cooking to hut construction and plowing small fields, he would lovingly render step-by-step instructions and minute details in his rudimentary drawings. As some of the young folk began to mention that they had used his sketches to learn the basics of a new trade, his work began to garner attention from important members of his village. He was elevated to a position as a teacher and record-keeper for the tribe, keeping up his drawing of beginners' manuals for necessary tasks as well as recording the history of the tribe and its leaders.

Over time, these sketches began to take up too much of Quietu's time, leading the lad to form a shorthand. A drawing of a fisherman at work would be simplified to just the fisherman, then a spear with a fish on it, then simply a spear, then a barbed line. His repertoire of symbols grew, slowly developing into a sort of written language which he could read and use to replicate full drawings as necessary. This allowed him to begin keeping records of the dead as well, as the written language was far more time-efficient for the task than attempting to accurately describe a fallen member of the tribe. It was around this time that some parents also began to bring their younger or scrawnier children to him for tutelage. They hoped that he could teach them his ways so that they might be a boon to the tribe as he was, despite lacking the physical strength to hunt or fish or build as well as their peers could. As his cluster of students grew over the years, the usage of his language steadily spread to their families, then throughout the tribe, and then through messengers to the other human tribes in the area. Literacy had been brought to the humans, and it would improve their society immeasurably as time moved onward.

Quietu died as the creator of an entire written language; someone almost solely responsible for great progress among his people, and it seemed that some force in the universe considered this significant. So significant, in fact, that his soul would not be allowed to simply languish on as a ghost as so many others did. Instead, magical energy swirled about his spirit as it left his body, suffusing it with a power no mortal before him had ever experienced - A power born from the millions of living souls that now blanketed the globe. 

-----

And so, the weak young man ascended as one of the strongest beings in the known universe. Quietu the village scribe became Quietu the Great Recordkeeper, god of writing, or knowledge, and of remembrance of the dead.

The Elemental Four had intended to create what amounted to a global ant-farm. Something to keep them entertained with unexpected movements and minute antics. Instead, they had managed to create far more. They had inadvertently allowed for the formation of souls, and with them created creatures that had the capacity to become their equals. Creatures that might, theoretically, one day surpass them in power.

For the first time in their lives, the four gods were terrified.

[Next Time - The Fates of the Four]
Next: Out With The Old

Previous: In the Beginning...

At least one guy seemed to really like the last one of these, so here's part 2!

I've always been fascinated by the 'origin stories' of different fictions, not to mention existing religions both ancient and modern. Naturally, some take the easy route ('There was a god/pantheon of gods, they said jump, the universe asked how high, everything was cool.'), but the particularly interesting ones to me are the ones where the gods sort of stumble through the creation process the same way any other creative type does. Trial and error can lead to some really fun stuff... like accidentally reproducing!

Or, if you're Zeus, reproducing on purpose.
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