This is the myth they tell in Vandakar – called the Godless City – that ancient and mist-shrouded place where the streets turn in upon themselves and spiral down into the earth, where wicked secrets can be bought and sold for coin and deed:
Five gods stood together at the dawn of time. Four of them were content to divide the world between them, but one stood apart. He declared himself the king of all the gods, and his name was MAN.
The gods strove against each other, and though MAN was stronger than the others, they combined their might against him and defeated him. They decided to sunder MAN into many parts and scatter him across the face of the earth so that could never again seek to set himself above his siblings. Thus were the races of men born.
Each of the gods cursed the new race in turn.
SHA, who is worshipped in the East as Miryama of the Dawn and the Lady of Spring, cursed mankind with Lust. She divided us into male and female and set out hearts and loins to long for each other. She clouded our thoughts with desire and gave us Jealousy, Gluttony, and Greed
ZAR, who is worshipped in the North as the Summerlord and the Burning Eye of Heaven, cursed mankind with rage. He set our hearts against each other, fanning the flames of Ambition and Revenge.
NOR, who is worshipped in the West as Unuyanu and the Shining One, cursed mankind with Pride. He whispers to us of what we were, and what we might one day be, and so we rise above ourselves so that our hopes are always dashed, and we destroy what we love most.
Last, and most terrible, was KAI, who is worshipped in the South as the Pale Lady, the Queen of Ravens, and the Nameless One. She cursed mankind with death, striking us down before we could come into the fullness of our power and challenge the dominion of the gods.
The discerning know that the gods hate mankind for the arrogance of MAN. They hate us, and so they have crafted the world to destroy us. They fear us, for each of us could one day rise to the power that was once MAN's.
Some chose to worship the gods, hoping that by prayer and sacrifice they can prove their submission. They want to convince the gods that we have learned our lesson, and thus earn MAN’s restoration. Others dedicate themselves to one god, hoping to cast off their birthright as part of MAN and pass totally into that god’s power, becoming a part of that god after death.
Others chose to defy the gods.
Those who defy SHA are the Ascetics. They deny the desires of the flesh, and so achieve mastery of it. They are powerful warriors, striding across the field of battle with skin like plates of iron and muscles like the roots of trees. They are mighty, but they are not the most mighty.
Those who defy ZAR are the Menders. They cast out rage and fill their hearts with peace, learning to accept the world they see. In the power of their peace, they can still violence in the hearts of others and unmake the consequences of violence. They can heal even the most grievous wounds with a touch. Many dismiss them, for peace does not lend itself to rash and overt action, but the Menders are mighty. And yet, they are not the most mighty.
Those who defy NOR are the Adepts. They break their own minds with humiliation and service and until they cast out the poison of pride within themselves, and thus they achieve mastery of the mind. They can pick secrets from the minds of their enemies and plant false thoughts. They can walk unseen among crowds, hiding themselves from the pride-addled minds of the masses. Though they are mighty, they are not the most mighty.
Those who defy KAI are those who defy death. They are the Necromancers, practitioners of the Dark Art. The dead rise to serve them and the living flee before them. They craft eternal bodies to house their spirits and persist forever, growing more powerful with every passing century. They are the Necromancers and they are the most mighty of those who defy the gods.
That is the myth they tell in Vandakar, the City of the Dead.
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And now, back to NaNo.