God of Blood and Rain
Patience had never been a virtue – not one of his in any case.
He let the fine, dusty red sand sift through his fingers to blow away in the weak and inconstant breezes that teased the thin air of the deep deserts. The black sun hung above him — a quarter of its journey away from the blazing, dry heat of noon — sucking the last vestiges of moisture from the air and soil, eating the pale sky in its endless, cyclical fury.
No, he had never been patient, never thought much of waiting for things one could or should have now. There was no sense to it, an outdated morality espoused by those too weak to grasp what they desired now, a convenient excuse disguised as an ancient wisdom. He was far too practical for such nonsense. He stood and called out to those who followed him, “Bring forth the sacrifices!”
His head priest, adorned in metal and white cotton robes, approached him, a silk-wrapped token carried in both hands. The silk caressed a long staff of dark ash wood polished and carven with sinuous lines, set with numerous blood-red stones and crowned with a singular emerald cut by his most skilled gem-cutters.
The slaves followed — dozens, perhaps hundreds…he had not been specific in his needs. Men, women, children, infants, elders; their ages did not matter. They came wide-eyed and terrified, sobbing and shambling, ill-clothed and dirty, prodded along by strong, silent men carrying obsidian-tipped spears whose faces were shadowed by skull-helms made from bones human and otherwise.
He took the staff from its soft ecclesiastical wrappings with a flourish, and waited, its tip never touching the ground as his high priest retreated, bowing. Behind him, the slaves were prodded and beaten into place, the most wily tossed bruised and bloodied to the ground among the rest of their lot. Quickly. Swiftly. Finished in a moment, even before the priest had finished his retreat. His men were wise.
As he clutched the staff and stared at the motley assembly before him, his eyes glowed with desire and thoughts of future glories. He cried out words of power that had once commanded the whole universe to obey, even made life from death, then slammed the butt of the staff into the dusty red soil – sterile and dead a thousand years or longer – raising a puff of orange dust.
The earth and sky shuddered as if wounded.
The land groaned, the sacrifices screamed, the mixed cries of the generations in terror and pain as clouds of red mist rose up from their crumbling flesh and clattering bones, swirling and spreading across the sky, a canopy of the clouds long-forgotten by this world, but as red as the desert. A flash of bluish-white lightning struck down from the heavens and curled around the ornate staff, grounded, and set the desert trembling.
At his feet, golden-green light surged like waves of sand-blown wind across the barren ground, flashing in time with the emerald atop the staff.
The earth churned uneasily, shaking off dust and shedding rock. Thunder boomed in the sky above, not weak and distant, but strong and loud, and his men cowered in surprise and fear at it, for such a loud sky-sound was new to them. Above, the black sun cast a baleful glare down upon them, angry at the intruding clouds that blunted its maleficent gaze.
Pale, bloody water fell from the discolored clouds, moisture unknown by these desert stones except in some past so distant and forgotten that even the gods knew naught of it, from a time before the gods had come from lost Urth across the cold darkness, beyond the icy wastelands, and shaped the world.
He glowed with power, brighter than the malevolent sun, and his men and priests averted their eyes. Wherever he swept his hand, green energies flowed and crackled, drawing life up from the dead land to be nourished by drops of the red rain upon their leaves, and the dead soil crumbled away into wind-swept dust to leave swaying grasses in a warm wind and black soil.
“Behold, I am the god of blood and rain,” he gestured to the new thing he had named, the water that fell from the sky, “I bring life to the dead wastelands! I bring salvation to the earth!” Here, in the depths of the dead, sun-struck wastes, he had created an oasis of life from nothing!
He raised his arms above him in victory, turning so that his gathered people could gaze upon him and etch this moment of his victory over death into their minds forever, his sky-power crackling along his bronzed, blood-rain spattered limbs.
Around him, his priests and warriors fell down in awe, chanting his name and praising his greatness. Their worship roared through the thickening air, rolling out across the lifeless red sands like the lusty scream of a newborn saved from its dead mother, or the thunder of a marching army upon the horizon.
They would not go quietly into the dust of history, not his children, not now. Blood would flow like water across the red sands. Some said it would take careful cultivation to restore the world to the glories the gods had once brought to it, careful tending of what they had left…but patience had never been a virtue – not for him.