Gods of Griots
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A single member of the Lost stands behind his desk. Her eyes are cold. She looks at him as if she sees past all of his facades. He feels almost naked.

You wanted me to tell you about the gods we once walked with?

He is uncertain now. Almost regretting his decision. He doesn't know why, but there's something in her expression. Some deep sorrow that he can't quite grasp.

Yes.

He finally answers, a short break in the silence before it continues on.

Then, she begins to speak.

Thousands of years ago, long before your organization even set foot foot in this place, things were very different. There was no yellow wallpaper. No abandoned cities. No signs of the human life that now resides above.

She pauses for a second. Gauging his reaction.

Does that surprise you? Did you think that this place was filled with empty apartments and industrial parks before even the invention of the wheel? No. Nature ruled back then. Perhaps it was because on the surface, man still knew their place.

Among the trees and the water and the earth were the gods. They visited us often. In the beginning they resembled animals but they still had an air of respect around them. We gave them offerings. Small at first, perhaps only a plate of berries, but we soon realized that as our offers became more extravagant, they would do more and more to bend the nature in our favor. Increasing crop yields. Curing diseases. It became paradise.

As the time passed the gods began to change. They began to look more and more human. And with this change they brought a new gift. Knowledge. They taught us the paths, and over them we build roads. They taught us how to harness stone, and with it we built tall towers to honor them. Reaching like tendrils into the sky. This was the beginning of a new era. And with this new knowledge our ambition quickly grew.

A king, Sharo, was the most ambitious. He saw his people dying, and he went to Kayan who had watched over him before. "Kayan, oh great. I ask only a single thing from you. It may be difficult, but I trust that you can provide it. I ask for immortality". But Kayan refused. His begging turned to threatening, but she stood still. Without a word, she turned around and walked back into the forest. He swore he would get revenge.

I knew Kayan. As much as you can know a god. I lived in her temple since I was very young. Tending to the flowers. Preparing her offerings. I never spoke to her, and yet she felt almost like a mother to me. When Sharo announced that he would hunt Kayan down I pleaded with him, but he was determined.

A trap was set at the temple. Sharo made us prepare a glorious feast to lure Kayan out. We worked day and night, our shame soaking into the food. Souring it. Finally, it was ready. The temple was silent as Kayan arrived. As she lifted the bowl to her mouth, I tried to call out, but my cries were stifled. I knew what was coming, and I could do nothing but look away.

She stops, closing her eyes, and remains silent for a long time.

I cannot describe that sound. The anguish and pain. The betrayal. It lasted for a long time, and when I finally looked back all that lay on the ground was a wounded wolf. Her vocals cords freshly severed. She pleaded only with her eyes.

Have you ever wondered how to kill a god? The answer is iron. I don't know how Sharo knew this, but it worked, and Kayan had passed on. Sharo did get his wish though, perhaps as a final gift, or perhaps as a punishment in disguise. After the death of Kayan no one in the village ever died again, but the paradise was no more. The flowers wilted, the crops withered. We began to starve. Our bodies grew weak, but we didn't die.

Through the agony of hunger, we pushed through. We managed to survive, but we never saw the gods again. It was as if they all just disappeared. And soon after, the corruption began. New creations from the surface flooded in. Buildings of steel. Ships of war. No longer did nature dominate.

She stops here, as if trying to figure the next piece in the story. She thinks back to the time before. And then she remembers Kayan's eyes. In her memory, the shock in the eyes slowly turns sadness. Disappointment. Acceptance. It cuts. The memories continue to fill her head for a long time until she simply turns around to leave. He calls out to her, but she does not answer.

He looks down onto his desk where she had dropped a small trinket. An iron arrowhead, still red with dried blood. He picks it up. Feeling the weight of its history. In that moment he understands great pain, but he does not cry. Instead he clenches his hand tightly, the still sharp edges cutting his skin, and he too walks out into the night.


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