The Gods of Alkebulan

Submitted into Contest #168 in response to: Write a story that includes someone saying, “Bon voyage.”... view prompt


Science Fiction Fantasy

When the world began, who can say? No one living now was alive then. There are many legends on how we came to be; this is the most accepted one.

When the sun was reborn and life began anew, gods fell from the sky, their impact made rivers and valleys and mountains. This was of itself, not a strange thing, what was unusual (for gods) was how young they made themselves appear. When they stood up on the ground they landed on, or laid across the air they floated on, or danced atop the waters, they were all children. Some were skinny and others were fat and others had no bodies at all, only skeletons with glowing flesh outlined around them. They all had names but thought it more interesting to hide them from each other, choosing instead to speak in symbols and sounds.

The world, our world (for there are others), was like a huge plaything for them; a blank canvas and within its core - buckets of imagination; divine paint. Being in a delightful mood and somewhat competitive, as all gods are, they went about being divine. They looked all about the world and shaped it further with all manners of art that today men have forgotten: sky painting through song, emotional color creation and shape shifting elements with meditation and psychic force. With each new thing made, the gods marveled at their works, praising their brother and sister gods with higher and higher adulation.

Time itself was the last thing made and once the first tick of the proverbial clock began, all the efforts of gods to impress each other ceased. In fact, everything paused as the gods slowed their breath and posed regally by their creations. The silence was pregnant with expectation of praise yet none wanted to be the first to utter adoration, fearing it would diminish their own divinity somehow. So, they waited for a day that has yet to come. Each one thinking they were the greatest among the gods and worthy of the greatest tribute. As to what that prize is, none could say; even if they were to be asked. So, they remained waiting for a thousand years, or so, for someone else to say something. And in their silence, their celestial bodies began to wear with age (again, this happened after the invention of time) and they became bits of nature. Some gods dissolved into grass, others into rocks, whereas others turned into fish, fowl and beasts. The last of the gods to allow their shapes to wither became clouds and wind. And in these new forms the gods held their peace, stubborn even then. It was in this backdrop that man was created.

The gods inside the clouds and wind continued to hold their tongue but movement was the very essence of their existence. Such being the case, it was not robbery to move so forcibly that the trees uprooted and fell upon themselves. The gods who had become trees were indignant but stayed quiet thinking that to complain might be a reduction in godhood. Still, they were offended by what the wind did. As they pondered a proper retort, they realized a new experiment. Trees were atop of trees and smashed into the ground of earth (which itself was comprised of gods) and as they laid there, vines from the ground surrounded the tree in a long, slow and tightening embrace. Again, these elements were still gods and as gods they were still bound in a contest of praise. Taking pieces from themselves, they conjured up a form of dust and from that dust, man was made.

The other gods saw it and were amazed by the product, recognizing the ingenuity, they all quickly moved to contribute. As it was better to give to something great than to allow another god to have all the credit. The gods in the wind put air in the nostrils of man. The gods of the water splashed upon him and settled in the interior body. All other gods made their marks as well, contributing to the physical and mental makeup of something that fascinated them all. Right away they saw a way to end their eternal contest of whom was the greatest among them and in a rare showing of unity, they wrote their ruling in starscript. In this way, each night the promises of the gods were available for all gods to see and remember.

Man was permitted to live on, no matter what evil he brings upon himself. Should man's inhumanity to man prevail, only then will gods move to interfere in his natural evolution. The purpose of man will be to worship gods and the inventions of gods. Whatever man worships most will dictate which gods are the greatest amongst us. And the greatest god will have this boast, "all other gods are humbled before me." Once that boast is secured, man can be destroyed as his usefulness would have ended.

And so the rivalry that began before time, and in the heavens, was transferred to our lands - Alkebulan. We have many gods here and their presence is felt in everything, dwelling among the various tribes who appreciate deity in all its shapes, forms and customs. Some of the tribes of men were fishermen and artisans who built temples to the gods they worshipped. Other tribes became fierce warriors who hunted the marvelous beasts that fed their families and clothed them when the gods in the air were at odds with each other. Sets of population became skilled thinkers, advising their tribes on how to best manage their homes and community. For a time, a very long time, there was harmony among man because differences were respected and appreciated. Until one day, it changed.

One of the gods made a casual boast of how those humans who worshipped nature were more prosperous than the ones who created art, which caused another god to declare that humans who hunt were physically more imposing than the thinkers who shared wisdom. And from that, the gods' squabbling grew, and became unbearable. Not satisfied in bickering with one another, they exercised their influence with man, persuading them to war with one another. Before long, the world they had created - Alkebulan, was nearly ravaged beyond repair. If not for the reminder of the starscripted promise, the gods would have completed the destruction and started the world all over again.

A curious thing happened then, when things were darkest, man realized the influence of the gods and decided to rebel against them. They destroyed the holy temples and even changed their language to exorcise the memory of the divine contagion. The gods were offended, no doubt, but what held their attention was their unresolved rivalry. Who was the best among them? Taking a moment to think, they considered worlds beyond Alkebulan. Surely among the countless stars were other planets where they could continue their competition? Collectively, the gods of Alkebulan agreed (another rare instance for the gods) and as one they traveled to parts unknown, never to be seen again on Alkebulan. But, little did we know how wrong we were.

In time, Alkebulan rebuilt itself and while conflicts still happened, none rose again to the level of world-wide destruction. The old gods became the stuff of myth and legends and entertainment for children. In their place arose logic, reason and absolute proof. In a very real way, Science became the prevalent god of Alkebulan because none knew that it was itself a god. But eventually, it too left us, when none worshipped it as deity. Bon voyage. 

October 15, 2022 23:03

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Aaron Tippit
02:12 Oct 25, 2022

This story feels like a prequel and I'm roped into that story, especially with the foreshadowing at the end. There are parts that you can trust your reader more and not spoon it all to us. You get a good base established, let it stand. This sentence: "(again, this happened after the invention of time)" I think you could blend it in better, so it doesn't have to take the reader out of your story like that. Good work


Jim Stroud
03:00 Oct 25, 2022

Thank you so much for your comments. I will definitely consider that when plotting the sequels. I am so encouraged. Again, thank you! :-)


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Alice Richardson
23:09 Oct 22, 2022

What an interesting story Jim. Even as a fantasy, I can see strands of reality woven into the fabric. Well done.


Jim Stroud
14:34 Oct 24, 2022

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I truly appreciate that. ;-)


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