Tales from the Islands of the Sun: The Last Battle of the Gods

A story of the Reatam tribe:

Many of our people have forgotten their origins, telling ridiculous stories about the wisdom and the power of the gods. They do not remember that the gods created us in the beginning as slaves so that they could enjoy the luxuries of the islands while we gathered food and made sacrifice to keep them from perishing. Nor do they remember that we were the ones who cast the gods out from their thrones.

It was many generations ago, before the strangers came from the east, when the gods dwelt atop the mountains and plucked us from the plains to serve in their homes. Who, in these days of freedom, can comprehend the nature of the old gods? Who can say fully what they intended for us? But our ancestors consulted
their souls and resolved to break free of their bondage, even if it seemed impossible for mortals to fight the gods.

For very powerful were the old gods, Atan the far-seeing and Taturr the mighty and Warrmak who was beautiful and stern like the mountains themselves. All had sacrificed themselves to acquire power and knowledge, and through their maiming they had achieved immortality. “What sacrifices have we made?” the Reatam asked themselves. “We are all healthy of limb and eye, and whatever losses we have suffered have not been of our own will.”

We attempted to climb the mountains by our own power, but the bitterness of the air and the difficulty of the ascent drove us back down again. So we consulted our wisest and best-spoken leaders, who decided that we too would have to make a sacrifice so that we could rise up and battle the gods in their own land. “One man from each family must come forward to die for the sake of our freedom,” they told us, and with reluctance we made the difficult choice.

A great pit was dug to swallow up the victims, offered to the earth in exchange for the wings we would need to rise up to the home of the gods. Widows and mothers wailed for their loss, and this was when men first began to take multiple wives to make up for the loss of the victims. But the advice of the elders was good, and we rose up to battle the gods, casting down the bridges that connected their temples and burning them in their sanctuaries. Atan fled without fighting, seeing that his cause was hopeless. Taturr struggled with his one hand to overthrow the warriors who came against him, but was beaten and bound in the caverns of the earth. Warrmak called monsters to aid her: fierce griffins, beasts like dogs with great manes, enormous serpents, but the Reatam have always been excellent hunters and soon Warrmak was driven back through the gates of heaven.

We were borne aloft by our pride, having defeated the very gods who created us. We claimed their tools and devices as our own, even considering using the divine gates to leave the islands for other realms of which no mortal can speak. One woman in particular, distraught over the loss of her husband, attempted to leap from the peak of one mountain to the peak of another. “We are the new gods,” she said in her delirium. “We can do whatever we want in our new world.” And she fell, broken, amid the rocks, and we came, mourning, down from the peaks.

So that is the end of the tale. The old gods are no more, but it is not yet time for us ascend. Some of our seers say that will never happen, that it is in our nature to remain bound to the earth. But others say that the arrival of the magicians is the harbinger of the end, that soon we will follow the gods into a paradise grander and lovelier than our fondest dreams of this mortal world.


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