Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Tale of Zhíanoso

Today's the Holy day of Zhíanoso, the Bright One, the Creator of the Universe!

Fittingly, I now present to you the full history of the universe, from beginning to beginning.


In the beginning, there was nothing. Soon thereafter, there was Zhíanoso. He saw nothing and felt that this was wrong. Thus decided, He created the universe. Stars and planets and comets formed from His thoughts. He created them to the best of His knowledge and then watched them spin through time. He saw what He had created and was pleased, for it was good.

This was entertaining for a while, but soon Zhíanoso grew bored and wanted to obtain a physical form and stroll around. He called Sívorí, Goddess of Stars, back through time to Him and granted Her control of the stars and everything in the night sky, for the multitudes of stars need the guiding hand of a god who understands the complexities of every situation and Sívorí was just such a goddess. Zhíanoso called Píríuso, God of the Sun, back through time to Him and granted to Him special control of the sun, for an item of such importance needs a firm hand and strong mind at all times, and Píríuso was just the god for such a task.

With the heavens in good hands, Zhíanoso descended from that realm down to our world, but was unable to find any dry land. He searched from one corner to another, but there was nothing but oceans across the entire surface. Zhíanoso suddenly realized that He had made the universe too perfect, such that the particles of the world had separated into layers of their individual elements: solid, liquid, gaseous, and igneous. If He was to walk on solid ground without breathing water, Zhíanoso would need to have islands, continents, and the like. So, with a surge of His thought, the crust of the earth began to move, to break apart, to crash together, to form anew, and soon there was land protruding from the seas.

Later that day, Zhíanoso realized something was still wrong. Looking closely, He saw that there was no life in the world. The land needed vegetation and the world needed animals to move across the land, in the seas, and through the air. And it was so. He called Vuzhí, Goddess of Life, and Pétíso, God of Death, back through time to Him and granted Them joint-control over the plants and animals, over life and death. It was a daunting task, but the two gods were well-suited for it: Vuzhí is the ever-loving nurturer of everything She sees and Pétíso is the unforgiving bringer of what is undesired but necessary.

Zhíanoso still was not content, however. In fact, He was afraid that He was going a bit crazy, having only Himself to talk with, since the other gods were busy with Their duties. So Zhíanoso decided to create a human being out of thin air and a clump of mud. He was very careful in constructing him, and even remembered to include the navel and the useless appendix.

He named this new human “Sétané” because it sounded right. While Sétané was busy comprehending his surroundings and naming the animals, Zhíanoso remembered simple biology and knew He needed to create a woman as well. So He put Sétané to sleep and excised a rib from his lower chest. Zhíanoso knew He could have made the woman from mud like He made the man, but He had to be sure that they were of the same kind. When Sétané awoke, he could feel the missing rib and see the woman, and so he realized what Zhíanoso had done. Sétané named the woman Vétaurosí, and they lived in the paradise Zhíanoso had created for them. Zhíanoso saw all that He had made, and it was very good, so He rested for a day.

Sétané and Vétaurosí lived happily in their paradise for an immeasurable number of years, until one day when Zhíanoso formed a test for His creations. He gave the two human beings a gift of a lidded clay jar, with the instructions to never open it. He gave no reasoning, but told them that horrible things would happen if they opened the jar. Sétané and Vétaurosí had no need to open the jar, but what’s forbidden is always what we most dearly want.

Although they were sorely and surely tempted, the first man and woman did not open the jar, and so Zhíanoso was forced to try another tactic to test them further. He transformed Himself into a friendly little rat and approached Vétaurosí. She took Him in her hands and He whispered a suggestion in her ear. Lo and behold, a little furry rodent encouragement was all it took. Vétaurosí incorrectly postulated that if an animal said it was okay, it must be okay, and so she popped off the jar’s lid.

Instantly a swirl of evil erupted into the world, engulfing the paradise. Hate, jealousy, pride, shame, greed, laziness, and gluttony poured from the tiny jar, infecting the two human beings and permeating throughout the universe. Sétané and Vétaurosí got the urge to cover their bodies with leaves, for they were ashamed of themselves. They began to argue and find fault with each other.

Zhíanoso changed back to His usual form with fire-red hair and beard, clad in His favorite toga licking with flames, and proceeded to stroll through the garden of paradise. He found Sétané and Vétaurosí hiding behind a leafy bush and promptly expelled them from the paradise. They had failed the test: a command was a command to be followed forever, no matter what anyone else, not even a cute little rat, may say. Zhíanoso told Vuzhí and Pétíso They could do with the human beings as They wished, to live or die.

Sétané and Vétaurosí were all alone in a world that was no longer the paradise to which they had grown accustomed. They were cold at night, food was no longer plentiful and readily available, and the rain made them wet and sick and miserable. They struggled on as best they could, but to be perfectly honest, they weren’t doing so well. Through it all, however, they continued to honor Zhíanoso and pray to Him for help. And so Zhíanoso sent Voro, God of Hearth Fire, to aid them. Voro showed the two humans how to find food, how to harness fire to properly cook what they ate, and how to build shelter and proper clothing and everything necessary to keep them warm and comfortable.

And so, comfortable and content, Sétané and Vétaurosí soon began begetting. They begat like there was no tomorrow. The world began to fill with humanity. Some were good men, but most turned out to be evil men. Brothers killed brothers and the species went downhill. Many years passed.

Sétané begat Zhéhé, Zhéhé begat Rínozho, Rínozho begat Kéního, Kéního begat Narakarího, Narakarího begat Zhérasíto, Zhérasíto begat Rínaké, Rínaké begat Nohosoro, Nohosoro begat Ranéké, and Ranéké begat Tokéríané.

Tokéríané was a good man, although he was surrounded by evil. This is why Zhíanoso chose to save him. Zhíanoso knew He had made a mistake. He knew that humans weren’t supposed to be perfect, but this bunch was far from it. So Zhíanoso decided He had to do something. Instead of oblivionizing the entire human race with a twitch of His nose, Zhíanoso decided to give the survivors something to fear. He would unleash Rívorí, Goddess of Wildfire, upon the earth, and for once in Her life, He would let Her proceed completely unrestrained. She laughed maniacally at the opportunity to scorch the entire globe. Fire would permeate every grain of rock, every drop of water, every bit of air, until everything in the world was turned to ash. It was Her dream come true!

Zhíanoso told Tokéríané of His plan and instructed him to build a giant box to live inside while everyone else perished. Tokéríané expressed concern that a wooden box would undoubtedly be engulfed by the flames, but Zhíanoso assured him that because his family was pure of heart and devoted to Zhíanoso, they would not burn. Zhíanoso instructed Tokéríané exactly how big to make the box and exactly how to put it together, because after all, Tokéríané was just a farmer by trade and didn’t know anything about carpentry. Tokéríané was reluctant to begin such a large project, but once Zhíanoso convinced Tokéríané that his crops didn’t matter anymore, Tokéríané put all of his time and energy into building the box and soon he had it completed.

Zhíanoso let Tokéríané bring his family inside, just so He wouldn’t have to recreate the humans. He found himself, though, defining “family” as just Tokéríané’s wife, their sons, and his sons’ wives and children. You can never be sure who might call himself a distant cousin when the flames are racing over the ridgeline, He thought. He further instructed Tokéríané to collect seven of every animal and keep them alive with him in the box--except the dirty ones, of which He instructed Tokéríané to collect only two, male and female. Zhíanoso knew all this was an impossible task, especially in the allotted four days, but He thought it would keep the humans happy to know they had done their part for the innocent wildlife.

Once the box was crammed with animals and Tokéríané’s family, the fire began. Rívorí swept across the world, emblazing cities and kingdoms and continents. Whole cultures disappeared in an instant. Even Tokéríané’s grandfather Nohosoro, who was well over thirty-eight cycles old -- the longest-lived human on record -- was reduced to the finest ash by the raging wall of wildfire, for he did not honor Zhíanoso. Only Tokéríané, his wife, and their sons’ families were protected. The box remained intact and unaffected by the firestorms, which lasted ten fourdays.

When the flames dissipated and the ground grew cool enough to walk upon, Tokéríané led his family outside, whereupon they prayed to Zhíanoso for His benevolence in sparing them. Upon the new land, Tokéríané and his son Pívo founded the kingdom of Rénaka. The Rénakans were a good people and Zhíanoso cared for them well. Rénaka was peaceable, prosperous, and powerful. The Rénakans honored Zhíanoso and He nurtured them.

Zhíanoso called Pívo to a solitary mountain, whereupon He gave instructions to the young king on how the Rénakans should live to avoid the troubles of the time before the fires: first and foremost, honor no god but Zhíanoso and bow to no idols of any animal nor god; secondly, do not misuse Zhíanoso’s name, for He is great and shall punish you; thirdly, observe Zhíanoso’s day each fourday by honoring Him and doing no work nor letting others in your care and command do work; fourthly, honor your father and your mother so you will live a long life in Zhíanoso’s land; fifthly, do not kill, for killing is wrong; sixthly, do not commit adultery, steal, nor testify falsely against your neighbor, for Zhíanoso knows all and will judge you harshly; and lastly, do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, servant, or anything else belonging to your neighbor, for envy will gain you nothing. Pívo took these commandments back to the Rénakans, who took them to heart. Rénaka prospered.

Pívo begat Vétaníko, Vétaníko begat Panaré, Panaré begat Réharé, Réharé begat Síholonaré, Síholonaré begat Pérasanaraté, Pérasanaraté begat Pératané, Pératané begat Vésé, Vésé begat Téhané, Téhané begat Kévé, Kévé begat Katanokovo, Katanokovo begat Víto, Víto begat Vohíhonokovo, Vohíhonokovo begat Valékévé, Valékévé begat Vohíhonakaté, and Vohíhonakaté begat Nuvíní. Nuvíní was a mere mortal before She convinced Zhíanoso to grant Her divine powers to better help His chosen people with crops and construction and such. To help the Rénakans, His chosen people, Zhíanoso made Nuvíní a goddess, and thus She is now the High Goddess of Earth.

During this time, Zhíanoso fathered a huge wolf named Vétaíso. Even when Vétaíso was a puppy, when he opened his mouth, his nose would scrape the stars and his chin would burrow into the ground. In an attempt to be friendly to the new goddess, Zhíanoso gifted Vétaíso to Queen Nuvíní. Nuvíní quite enjoyed having the large puppy around Her castle at first. Soon, though, as Vétaíso grew, Nuvíní found She was unable to control him. The giant wolf broke more than a few tables and doorways in Her castle and ate more than a few servants. Zhíanoso offered to sell Her some replacements.

When Nuvíní had a dream that Vétaíso would cause catastrophic harm to the gods in the coming future, She had the wolf bound with the strongest iron chains She could find. Vétaíso tested the chains, found them to be weaker than he, and promptly broke them. Nuvíní thus made a second chain, mystically stronger than the first, and told Vétaíso that he would gain great fame for his strength if he could break free from this chain. Vétaíso let Her bind him, whereupon he strained and snapped the iron chain as if it were not enchanted. Zhíanoso observed this all with great amusement.

Quite flustered, Nuvíní carefully concocted a new binding that would be stronger than any chain. In the form of a soft, silken ribbon, She pulled together the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird. Because these items are encapsulated in the binding, they no longer appear in nature. Vétaíso scoffed at this flimsy ribbon and allowed himself to be tied up. Surprising everyone but Nuvíní, Vétaíso could not break free. He strained and strained, but to this very day, the great wolf remains fettered by the innocuous-appearing ribbon. Zhíanoso was quite upset that His progeny was chained, but He abided Nuvíní’s decision based on Her prophetic dream.

The goddess queen Nuvíní begat Rézhíní, Goddess of Plants. Rézhíní begat the mortal Valénaté. Rézhíní transferred the kingdom to Her son rather quickly, for, like Her mother, Rézhíní enjoyed other things far more than caring for the Rénakans. Also like Her mother, Rézhíní had prophetic dreams, one of which concerned Her untimely demise and the end of the universe. Rézhíní ran to Her father Sozho, High God of Air, and discovered that He, too, had dreamt of Rézhíní’s death and the end of His own reign as King of the Gods.

Sozho promptly forced everything in the world to swear an oath to never harm His daughter, Rézhíní. Since this was a complete affront to the natural order of the universe, where everyone must live and die as Vuzhí and Pétíso see fit, Zhíanoso hid one small plant, the mistletoe, from Sozho’s view. Thus mistletoe was the only thing in the world that did not vow to never hurt Rézhíní. Sozho and Rézhíní relaxed, thinking Her -- and His reign -- safe.

While the other gods amused Themselves by hurling stones and shooting arrows at Rézhíní, which would bounce off leaving Her unharmed, Zhíanoso crafted a bow and arrow from mistletoe wood. He gave this set to Rézhíní’s blind twin brother Nazhoro, God of Coldness, and asked Him to join the fun. Nazhoro did. Much to everyone’s surprise -- except Zhíanoso’s -- the arrow shot straight through Rézhíní’s heart, killing Her instantly.

Zhíanoso proudly proclaimed that this is what They deserved for messing with the natural order of the universe, but Sozho did not see the justice involved. He grabbed Zhíanoso and tied Him to a boulder with a leftover segment of Nuvíní’s enchanted ribbon. While some gods, such as Vuzhí and Pétíso, agreed with Zhíanoso’s point of view, They declined to obstruct the enraged King of the Gods and let the Creator of the Universe be bound to a rock. To add pain to misery, Sozho tied a viper over Zhíanoso’s head and triggered it to drip venom upon the great god.

The venom burned Zhíanoso’s skin, raising horrible blisters. Despite the agony, Zhíanoso uttered not a sound. None of the gods dared help Zhíanoso, for fear of the wrath of Sozho and Nuvíní. To this very day, the great god remains tied to that boulder, blazing with torment yet remaining silent through the pain. Whilst His body is bound, however, Zhíanoso’s spirit flies free. Despite the pain of His corporal form, Zhíanoso traverses the universe and continues helping those who honor Him and obey His commandments.

Rézhíní’s son Valénaté begat Vohíhukaré, Vohíhukaré begat Valénasíto, Valénasíto begat Soníko, Soníko begat Kéníso, Kéníso begat Sérasé, Sérasé begat Sérésé, and Sérésé begat Korotíko. All ruled Rénaka as best they could. Some were wise, some were not. All the kings honored Zhíanoso and obeyed His commandments, although not all of their subjects honored Him. Many Rénakans worshipped Nuvíní, Who had long ago forsaken them, or Rézhíní, Who had long ago died.

King Korotíko ruled in troubled times. Since most of his subjects had abandoned Zhíanoso for the goddesses, Who no longer helped Rénaka, the seasons were harsh and food was scarce. King Korotíko prayed to Zhíanoso for assistance. Zhíanoso listened to the king’s troubles and presented him with a solution: run away. Faced with overwhelming opposition from subjects who did not favor their king’s god and blindly worshipped disinterested goddesses, the only option was to take the loyal Rénakans away from the wasteland that surrounded them. The god informed the king of a large, sparsely populated island across the sea. This is where the Zhíanoso-worshipping Rénakans should travel. Korotíko was hesitant to leave his home country, but Zhíanoso promised the king that he would be the founder of a great nation.

After only four days of sailing, they made landfall. Korotíko declared it to be the island of Nésíkoso, where he founded his new kingdom, which was indeed great. Korotíko built an altar to Zhíanoso and sacrificed four goats. Zhíanoso gladly accepted the sacrifice and reiterated His promise of the whole island of Nésíkoso for Korotíko’s kingdom, from shore to shore.

Korotíko begat Karésuto, who grew tall and strong, just as the kingdom grew large and powerful. To test King Korotíko’s commitment to Him, Zhíanoso appeared to the king and commanded him to take his son Karésuto to the highest mountain on Nésíkoso and sacrifice him upon the altar there. Korotíko agreed readily, for he trusted Zhíanoso implicitly. He led his son to the mountain top, leaving their servants behind. Karésuto asked where the sacrifice was; all King Korotíko could reply was that Zhíanoso would provide one.

High upon the mountain top, with the wind whipping their beards and robes, Korotíko was forced to explain the situation to his son. Karésuto was shocked, but laid himself upon the altar; he, too, trusted Zhíanoso completely. As Korotíko brought the sacrificial knife down upon Karésuto’s throat, Zhíanoso caught the king’s forearm and replaced his son with a ram. Korotíko and Karésuto thanked Zhíanoso profusely for His beneficence; Zhíanoso rewarded the men with great prosperity and longevity for their unwavering devotion.

Karésuto begat Kínohíko, Kínohíko begat Sénaíno, and so the generations flowed past. Kings and cycles rolled through time. Gradually, despite the efforts of the kings, the Nésíkosoans stopped worshipping Zhíanoso. They had so much wealth and power, but they forgot Who gave it to them. The less they honored Zhíanoso, however, the less He nurtured Them. The royal lineage -- the true followers of Zhíanoso -- were lost in the swarm of chaos that Nésíkoso became. They lost the crown but persevered. Throughout the generations, the family worked hard, worshipped Zhíanoso, and maintained what little they had, thanks to the Bright One, the Creator of the Universe.

Zhané, descendent of Korotíko and Sénaíno, knew that if the entire kingdom would but honor Zhíanoso and follow His seven commandments, everyone would have wealth and happiness. But they worshipped foreign gods and there was much misery and brutality. Zhané prayed to Zhíanoso and Zhíanoso listened. The great god ordered Zhané to take the devout group on a great voyage across the ocean. A whole other continent with hardly a soul upon it was waiting to be claimed for Zhíanoso’s people.

Stuffed into as many boats as they could obtain, Zhané and his followers sailed across the ocean. The voyage was dangerous, with high storms and fierce winds, but after several months they spotted land. With much celebration, Zhané led the ragged fleet into a large bay and up a slow river, to make landfall on the first day of winter. Zhané pointed out a clearing in the woods of oak, and that was the founding of the city of Rízhoso‘ono, the city which, thanks to King Furoíso, would become the capital of Naraka, the greatest kingdom in all the world. The first Narakans worshipped Zhíanoso, honored Him as He was due by following His commandments, and Zhíanoso nurtured them and helped their new nation prosper. Without Zhíanoso, Naraka would be nothing. Without Zhíanoso, our great nation would have long ago crumbled. So pray to the Bright One. Do not forsake the Creator of the Universe. He shall provide for us.

In the future, however, the world as we know it shall end. It may be tomorrow; it may be next year; it may be a thousand years hence. When the time comes, the entire world will be wracked by four bad winters of war and famine. Hounds will bay at Nuvíní’s castle with deep, painful howls that will weaken the enchanted ribbon holding the great wolf Vétaíso. Vétaíso will snap the ribbon and race to His father Zhíanoso, freeing Him from His bindings just as he will have broken his own.

Zhíanoso and His magnificent wolf progeny will then punish the gods Who had held Them captive all this time, starting with Nuvíní. Vétaíso will strike his paw through the soil and rock and penetrate deep down into the lair of the earth goddess, landing squarely on Her head. Nuvíní, already preparing for battle, will not be pleased. She will quickly grab the wolf’s paw and try to pull him downwards into Her castle, but Vétaíso will be too large to fit through the hole. Instead, Nuvíní will pull Herself up and, once upon the surface of the earth, She will immediately attack the wolf.

Vétaíso and the goddess will wrestle, locked in each other’s arms and legs, rolling back and forth across the land. The two will be evenly matched until the wolf will realize that he not only can use its legs and claws on Nuvíní, but also his powerful jaws. When Nuvíní feels Vétaíso’s fangs sinking into Her flesh, She will realize that She needs a similar weapon, so She will transform Herself into a giant cougar. She will then promptly sink Her ill-gotten teeth into Vétaíso’s shoulder.

And so the two will continue to fight claw to claw, fang to fang, and occasionally disengaging to take a better swipe at the other. At one time, the wolf will appear to have the cougar on the defensive, but soon thereafter, the cougar will appear to have the wolf at the disadvantage. For hour after hour, Nuvíní and Vétaíso shall battle.

But then a mosquito, which will just so happen to be Zhíanoso in disguise, will bite the cougar. Nuvíní will be distracted enough so that Vétaíso will wrap his giant jaws around Her head. He will bite down hard, snapping Her neck, and then proceed to eat Her entirely, tearing Her into itty bitty pieces and digesting them all.

Needless to say, this will cause a bit of consternation among the other gods. The life-loving Vuzhí will be the first to respond, and in Her desire to save other beings from the fangs of Vétaíso, She will strike the wolf dead. But at the shock of having killed a living creature for the first time in Her life, Vuzhí will go insane. Madly, Vuzhí will attack everything that She will have held dear, starting first with Her friends Hívuítoví, Goddess of Rain, and Voro, God of Hearth Fire.

Unlike the wolf, however, They will be able to mount a defense against Vuzhí. Unfortunately for Them, Hívuítoví will counter Vuzhí’s attack with a sudden burst of rain while Voro will counter Her attack with a giant gout of flame. The fire will scorch the earth and the water will flood the land, but before they reach Vuzhí, the two will cancel each other out. Their net effect against Vuzhí’s attack will be null. Thus two gods shall die at the hands of Vuzhí, Goddess of Life. Thankfully, Pétíso will then be able to get ahold of His wife, Vuzhí, and end Her murderous rage with a swipe of Her own dagger across Her neck, but the deeds will be done. Four gods will be dead.

Nothing good can follow when Death kills Life. Announcing the coming end, Névazhíno, God of Animals, will blow His mighty horn and the War of the Gods shall truly begin.

Hearing the horn, Kérasa, High God of Water, will see Her opportunity to destroy the universe and the gods that had haunted Her for so long. She will regenerate Her giant scorpion claws and Her fangs on all hundred of Her viper heads. Then She will call Her demons, dragons, and evil gods to Her side and engage in battle against the gods of goodness. At the fore of the forces of light, Zhíanoso shall raise His sword on high and lead His followers into the fray. At His side will be His two children, Rívorí, Goddess of Wildfire, and Zhoro, God of Heat. Both will slay great multitudes of evil demons and dragons, laying waste to legions of doom, leaving nothing behind but blackened ashes.

Zhaké, God of Rivers, will demand retribution from Zhíanoso for supposedly having started the disaster. Huro, God of Thunder, will call for the destruction of all the water gods since Kérasa had gone evil and attacked everyone. Zhaké and Huro will get into a terrific ruckus over Who is to blame. Rivers will overflow their banks, lightning bolts will fill the sky, snakes and chickens will fight to the death, and thus the universe will take another step toward its demise.

For the mortals, there will be nothing to fear, if only you honor Zhíanoso and obey His commandments. As He had let Rívorí run rampant over the earth, so many years ago, Zhíanoso will unleash Rívorí and Zhoro upon the land. Only the truly devout will be spared. Only those who are pure of heart and have the utmost dedication to Zhíanoso will escape the scorching fire that will engulf the world. All those who worship other gods will be destroyed. Those who have honored Zhíanoso and obeyed Him will be at His side when the War of the Gods is at an end. Even the devout in the underworld, who happen to have not yet been reincarnated, will be taken to Zhíanoso’s side.

Huro will slay Zhaké, but when the river god’s bloodwaters flow from His body, Huro will disappear under their waves. Hérazha, Goddess of Wind, will rush up, trying to blow away Zhaké’s blood, but Her rescue attempts will prove futile and Huro will drown. Hérazha’s winds, though, will sweep across the battlefield, knocking all the gods and demons off their feet and blowing over a mountain, which will land upon Hérazha’s allies Néhété, God of Smoke, Hérazhahívo, God of Humidity, Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air, and Sorosotuzho, God of the Atmosphere, and kill Them all. Vasataté, God of Oceans, will try to stop the wind before it causes any lasting damage, but His efforts will only result in the drowning of Hérazha and the flooding of huge swaths of the earth.

Zhoro and Rívorí will vaporize Vasataté’s waters, then utterly destroy Vasataté. Hívo, God of Clean Water, will attack Zhíanoso’s offspring, but He will be no match for Them and will be burned to death as well. Kara, Goddess of Soil, will demand revenge for Her father and lover’s death. She will burst from the earth, Her eight tentacles striking at the fire gods, wrapping Them tight. Kara’s sister Sívorí, Goddess of Stars, will come to the aid of Zhoro and Rívorí, struggling to free Them from Kara’s grip, but Kara will bite Sívorí’s bird head clean off, rendering the wise goddess deceased. Pétíso, clad in His Helm of Darkness which makes Him invisible, shall sneak upon the monster octopus of the earth and stab Kara through the heart, thus freeing Zhoro and Rívorí.

Korutuzho, God of Agriculture, will go into a rage at the death of His mother Kara and, slashing His sickle through the air, will attack Pétíso. Névazhíno, God of Animals, and Nokí, Goddess of Food, will advance at Korutuzho’s sides, while Zhoro and Rívorí will stand staunchly beside Their ally, Pétíso. Nokí will swing Her giant club at Zhoro’s head, but He will strike Her dead with a burst of flame. Névazhíno will lower His antlers to gore Rívorí, but She will dispatch the animal god as easily as Her brother killed Nokí. Waving His sickle at the invisible Pétíso, Korutuzho will connect and draw blood. Seeing the blood and knowing where He stands, Korutuzho will jump upon Pétíso, wrestling Him to the ground. The two gods shall roll along the earth in a vicious embrace, flattening mountains and cities with no concern. Rana, Goddess of Clouds, shall try to stop Them, but will be crushed by Their mass. Sozho, High God of Air, Who had killed Pétíso twice before and beaten Their father Korutuzho in combat, shall step forward and slice both Their heads off with one stroke of His sword, ending that mighty struggle instantly.

Upon seeing His lover and sister Rana killed, Rékaré, God of Rock, will lose His last shred of sanity. Cackling like a goose, Rékaré will raise His heavy stone club and recklessly charge at His eternal enemy Vítí, Goddess of Ice, Who shall freeze Him and, with a touch of Her sword, shatter His body into a million shards. Ríhíví, Goddess of Hot Springs, will gently chide Vítí for the destruction of Ríhíví’s friend, but Vítí will have no tolerance for petty recriminations. Without giving Ríhíví a chance to fight back, Vítí will freeze and shatter the mother goddess the same way as Rékaré.

Siblings Píríuso, God of the Sun, and Tarénara, Goddess of Hunting, will face each other in a combat for which both have long yearned. Tarénara shall loose an arrow at Her brother, but He will catch it with one hand and snap it in two. Píríuso will snatch a piece of the sun from the sky and, holding the flaming ball high in His hand, will race in His golden chariot down upon His sister. Tarénara will flee, shooting ineffectual arrows over Her shoulder, all the way to the moon. Píríuso will throw the piece of sun at Tarénara, but it will instead hit the moon, scorching it black. In turn, Tarénara will heave the moon at Her brother, but He will dodge and the moon shall instead strike the sun. The two heavenly bodies will explode catastrophically, leaving the world devoid of light in day or night. The two sibling gods will be caught in the explosion, dying with the orbs They will have for so long tended.

In the darkness, the remaining seven gods will face off. The blind Nazhoro, God of Coldness, will for once have the advantage. He will swing His well-crafted axe at Sozho, the father Who had long shunned Him, and lop off His head. Not foreseeing the imminent threat, Sozho will not be wearing His impenetrable cloak, and thus the King of the Gods will die. The Tablet of Destinies, which proclaims its holder to be the Ruler of the Universe, will fall to the earth at Nazhoro’s feet. The tablet also documents the destinies of all souls, both god and mortal, for the entire length of the universe. Sozho will have known of His impending demise, and yet He will not have been able to prevent it.

Zhíanoso will shine His glorious light upon Nazhoro, then set Him ablaze. Kérasa, however, will shed Her endless supply of tears and put out the flames. Zhíanoso and Kérasa will engage in combat, the fire god defending Himself against all Her hundred heads, slicing His sword through Her necks one by one. With Zhíanoso illuminating all, Nazhoro and Vítí will square off against Zhoro and Rívorí.

The wise war goddess Vítí will cautiously circle the wild Rívorí. Rívorí will hurl wildfire at the ice goddess from all directions, utterly obliterating Her. Rívorí will be the only One unsurprised by how quickly She will defeat Vítí.

Adjacent on the battlefield, heat shall meet cold and heat shall win. Nazhoro will die at Zhoro’s hands, not for the first time, but for the last, definitely. Zhoro shall take the Tablet of Destinies and give it to His high god Zhíanoso, for Zhíanoso is the Creator of the Universe and the only god truly deserving of the tablet and the power it bequeaths. The great god shall raise the Tablet of Destinies on high, showing it to Kérasa. And Kérasa will tremble in fear.

Finally, at the end, all that will be left of the great armies of gods and demons will be Zhíanoso, Rívorí, and Zhoro encircling the evil, insane Kérasa, as She lashes out at all three gods with Her multitudinous snake heads, snapping at Them with Her huge claws, slapping at Them with Her giant tail. Kérasa will know no reason; She will know no sense. She will be the monster She always has been.

As the four gods pull the power of the universe to Them for Their final confrontation, the last shreds of the earth will dissipate into emptiness, eaten up by Their needs for energy. Nothing will be left of our world, yet those who have faith in Zhíanoso and honor Him will survive within Him.

The four gods will hurl water and fire at each other, primordial elements clashing in great gouts of conflict. Kérasa’s chaotic energy will swarm over the fire gods’ order and light, nearly overpowering Them. To give Zhíanoso enough time to summon the strength needed for an ultimate attack, Zhoro and Rívorí will use every last ounce of Their energy to break through Kérasa’s chaos and draw Her attention away from Zhíanoso. The great god Zhíanoso will be left nearly defenseless, with nothing but the indestructible yet small Tablet of Destinies to shield Himself with, as He draws every last creative energy in the universe to Him.

The hundred-headed monster Kérasa will focus on the two lesser gods, which will be Her final mistake. She will wrap Her chaos around Zhoro and Rívorí, slowly devouring Their essences, enjoying every minute of it, whilst Zhíanoso prepares to destroy Her. Just as Rívorí and Zhoro complete Their ultimate sacrifice, Zhíanoso will hit the water goddess with the full force of the universe.

Through creation, Kérasa will be destroyed. The powers of goodness and growth will defeat the powers of evil and destruction, shrinking the chaos to an infinitesimal dot. For a brief instant, Zhíanoso and all the good and honest souls He will have saved will be alone in the void. It will actually be less than void, it will be less than nothingness, it will be less than the smallest amount of nothingness that you could possibly imagine. There will be no place; there will be no time.

But then, thanks to Zhíanoso’s magnificent creative power, the nothingness that will have been Kérasa will suddenly expand back into form, bringing the universe into existence once again, just as it was before, in the beginning. Those mortals who honored Zhíanoso and followed His commandments in their lives will walk with the Bright One in the new world. Zhíanoso will see what He will have created and He will be pleased, for it shall be good, and He shall rest for a day.

Long ago, Zhíanoso created the universe and all that is in it. Zhíanoso created the first man, Sétané, and the first woman, Vétaurosí. He nurtured them and, despite disobeying Him once, they honored Him. Their family prospered.

After many generations, though, few honored Zhíanoso. He scorched the earth and burnt all but the good man Tokéríané and his family. Zhíanoso guided Tokéríané to become King of Rénaka. Zhíanoso nurtured the Rénakans and they honored and obeyed Him. Rénaka prospered.

After many generations, most in Rénaka did not honor Zhíanoso. He abandoned them and guided King Korotíko, descendent of Tokéríané, and the loyal Rénakans across the sea to the island of Nésíkoso. Zhíanoso nurtured the Nésíkosoans and they honored and obeyed Him. Nésíkoso prospered.

After many generations, most in Nésíkoso did not honor Zhíanoso. He abandoned them and guided Zhané, descendent of Korotíko, and his loyal followers across the ocean to a new land to found the city of Rízhoso‘ono. Zhíanoso nurtured the Rízhoso‘onoans and they honored and obeyed Him. Rízhoso‘ono prospered. As they expanded across the new continent, the people became known as Narakans.

After many generations, the Narakans were dispersed and disconnected. Zhíanoso guided King Furoíso, descendent of Zhané, to unify Naraka. Zhíanoso nurtures Naraka and we honor Him. Naraka prospers and will prosper as long as we honor and obey the Bright One, Zhíanoso.

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