Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Worship & the Pitfalls Thereof
Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize there's been a serious miscalculation somewhere along the way and damn but you're screwed? Well, maybe not totally screwed - there's always a way to fix things given enough time - but some messes make a bigger splash than others. Case and point: you ever try getting blood out of shag carpeting? Or fur? Or, hey, have you any idea how hard it is to run PR for a species that tends, for the most part, to be a bunch of arrogant, self-centered idiots? Try it some time; we'll compare notes.
Take, for example, this delightful period where some of my more...I want to say "idiotic" but I'll be nice and go with "ambitious" fellows decided it would be a swell idea to set themselves up to be worshipped as gods. This, in case you're wondering, was a bad idea. Actually, it was an idea so horrible and short-sighted that "bad" is far too pale a word. We actually knew this from past experience but funny thing about living forever; every now and then you have the bright idea to try something you've already tried with horrible results just to see if maybe, a century or ten later, it would go the same way. FYI: it usually does.
Do you know what happens when mortals worship you? Well, it starts off well enough. You show off some power - make their crops grow, or summon sunshine at night, or conjure whole palaces from thin air or - if you're looking to go all out - bring back their dead. I truly don't recommend that last one; death tends to change a soul, for one thing, so what you get back is very rarely what you lost and, for another thing, that sort of magic doesn't happen without demanding a high price in return. Much easier just to heal the nearly dead then undo death itself and just as effective for these purposes.
Anyways, you show off your power and get yourself as established as something more than human. Play your cards right and next thing you know the mortals are celebrating festivals and erecting temples and bestowing honours all in your name. You get parades, prayers, and parties galore, all with elaborate rituals thrown in for effect. It can be pretty thrilling, watching as the mortals think up all the hundreds of minute ways to incur your good graces and avoid your wrath. It's quaint. It's adorable. It's fascinating.
For about ten minutes.
At Court, there's this one Fae who needs to be kept near the ruling Royal because he's completely and utterly broken. He's still beautiful - a lithe yet muscular physique made to tantalize and tease, copper skin that shimmers in the light, lush curls the colour of starlight falling around his shoulders, and eyes like swirling galaxies, twisting, coiling violet and black and red and blue around a burning core. Once he was a warrior. Once he'd strut around Court like a peacock and preen, delighted and entranced by his own beauty, his own power and the effect it would have on those around him. He was vain and selfish, as is our wont, but he was also funny and kind and had a soft spot for children - in an innocent total goof-ball sense not an eats-them-for-breakfast sort of way...which was sort of the problem.
He had a cult - several, actually - and his worshippers had a tendency to be more on the fanatical side than was strictly wise. To put it bluntly, they didn't just border on crazy, they crossed right over the line and colonized whole cities of insanity. Unfortunately, their so-called god had never been very keen on the ways of human psyche and, after a few decades, he grew bored with them and stopped paying them any attention. This, unfortunately, sent the humans in a pit of a tailspin and they got increasingly desperate to regain his favour. Five decades later, one of their priests remembered their god had loved children, had loved to play with them and tell them stories and listen to their chatter for hours and hours on end.
You know how cats show their love for their masters by leaving dead mice at their feet? The idea is to feed the incompetent biped so they don't starve. It's sweet really, unless you're the mouse. Humans tend to think along similar lines when it comes to their gods. Sometimes they actually kill their god, which isn't so bad when you consider how easy it is to use illusion and misdirection to fake it. Sometimes, however, they get the wacky idea to sacrifice their own. Virgins were popular for awhile, not that I've ever understood why. There was that whole witch craze and blasphemy obsession that came and went every few decades and then there was the cannibalism we're not even going to mention any more than need be, thanks very much. Humans are nuts, plain and simple.
Which brings us back to the broken Fae who loved children. His priest happened to remember this little detail one day and in his infinite wisdom and total insanity came up with the plan to sacrifice children to curry his favour. By fire. Live.
The next time the Fae happened by one of his temples...I mentioned the live sacrifice of children by fire bit, right? I think it goes without saying that his visit did not go well. At all. For anyone.
Thus the entire cult vanished completely over the following weeks and the Fae, broken as he was, came to need the constant supervision of his Royal from that day forth. It's was also about this time that the Royals banned their Fae from ever setting themselves up as gods again. It just didn't end well. Ever.
Fast forward a millennium - give or take a century - and some of them start to think it ought to be tried again. After all, the human race has evolved, grown wiser and less violent over time. They apparently forgot that a thousand years after Osiris was chopped into teeny tiny bits, Prometheus was getting his liver eaten by an eagle and a thousand years after that Jesus was getting nailed to a cross, and that was just the treatment being inflicted on the gods, never mind what they were doing to each other and themselves in the names of their gods.
Let the divine deal with the mortals and their worship, I say; the Fae have more than enough problems.
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