The last world died in flame and chaos.
Fire covered everything, the heat searing the land. All that used to be was rent asunder. Life died, rocks cracked and everything ended.
And out of that destruction stepped the Blacksmith.
He was all that was left of the past. He looked across the black and broken landscape and decided that this would not do. He alone remembered what had been. And while the old world was gone the materials were there to rebuild, to make it anew. And so that’s what he set out to do.
First he built the Godholm, raising the metal spires to the sky and digging the basement into the earth. Deep within it he constructed his workshop. And he set to work.
The dead landscape was an affront to him and that was what he decided to fix first. He created the God of Honey and Flowers, weaving the memory of all the colour and sweetness that old world had lost and binding it together in a box. A great buzzing arose and the God awoke. He walked out the door and kept walking. Where he passed grass and flowers sprouted under his feet and bees followed in his wake.
But while he was life The Blacksmith knew that that was not enough. He melded memories of healthy rot and decay, of things dying only to live again, and then he took a sliver of the dark sky to serve as wings. The Nightwalker flew from the Godholm, never to return, for while he loved his daughter she reminded him too much of the past.
Soon the land was green again and filled with a healthy buzz of bees, while in the shadows lurked mushrooms and spiders.
And it was better. But not enough.
He created the axe first and the man to wield it afterwards. When the Lumberjack opened his eyes he was handed the first sapling and then the tool that would eventually cut it down. He strode forth and soon his forests began to sprout and cover the land.
And it was better. But it was not enough.
The Blacksmith then turned his attention to the sea. Five miles from Godholm lies Startagain Bay and it was here he stood, looking out over the water. The sea was broken, the water stilted and half solid instead of flowing. He sighed and held out his hand. From his fingers dropped The Leviathan. Small it was at first, barely the length of a worm. It fell onto the sea and started eating. The corruption was its diet and it was hungry. The water in the bay eventually started to move more naturally, shone more cleanly and the Leviathan, now massive, slipped out into the ocean.
Happy with his progress the Blacksmith returned to his workshop. He brought with him the shine of the moon on the waves from the bay, the taste of brine and a net of ocean mist. With them he made the God of Oceans and Waters and set him to continue where his elder brother had started. He would bring the fish back to the waters.
And it was better. But it was not enough.
Insects and fish were all very well but he remembered bigger, more complicated creatures. He smote the essence of the wild on his anvil, the howl of a wolf to the moon and the lowing of cows in a field. The Brutal God of Animals barely acknowledged him as he stalked from his birthplace, out to the wilderness that was forever his home. Fast on his heels came the God of Fruits, a bunch of seeds clutched in her hands.
Finally the project was done. The Blacksmith left Goldholm and went to see what his children had created.
The landscape was healing. Instead of a blasted wasteland there was colour and life. Deer wandered the forests, fish swam in rivers and birds called overhead. There was still work to do, there would always be work to do, but he’d created the tools to get it done.
It was then that he discovered the first humans.
Pitiful they were, lost children wandering around, clothed only in scraps. They saw him and shrank back in fear, running and screaming. The Blacksmith was surprised, for he thought their kind had vanished from the world they’d destroyed. But his heart was filled with pity. He knew that his world would not be complete without them.
So back to his workshop he went.
From a lantern he created The Lost, to look for them in the dark places and gather them into the light. From a warm fireplace he made The Founder, to create villages for them to live. And from a drop of his own blood he made the God of Medicine, to see to the people and make them well.
And for a while all was well. The villages were created and filled, mankind became healthy and well fed. They should have been content.
But the seeds of destruction lie in the heart of man and they take little effort to grow.
The villages started wanting more, more food, better houses. They became angry that the Lost would bring more people that they didn’t know, even though there was plenty for all. The villages went to war with each other and families turned against each other.
Then came the Betrayal.
With The Founder dead and The Lost gone, The Blacksmith flew into a rage. He was a god of creation but at that moment all he wanted was destruction. He took up his hammer and strode towards the villages, ready to end the blight of humanity once and for all. But before he got there he felt eyes upon him.
He looked all around but there was no one to be seen. However the pause had broken his temper and he returned to himself. He looked upon mankind not as a thing to be destroyed but as something to fix. Something to be guided.
He took the bloody spear that had taken his son and from it made the God of Honourable Combat. For he thought that if mankind was destined to fight then they should learn a sustainable way to go about it, not the mad scraping for power that had gone before. The god left and gathered his warriors, training them not for peace but for preservation.
He took his tears and made the Many-Faced God of Love. If humans could learn how to love each other and be free, he thought, then they wouldn’t want to break each other. The God came together gracefully and hugged their father. Then they left.
He took his anger and beat it again and again on the anvil until it was purified and from that he made the God of Law and Justice. So that when humans did break the laws they knew that a fair accounting was in store. The god tipped his hat and left with his long strides, to try and make the world a better place.
But he also knew that humans had to have something to reach for. So he took the last sight he’d had of the Lost and made the God of Maps and Mountains, so that humans would always want to reach for the horizon and explore. The God barely nodded to his father, rushing out the door to see what he could find.
And finally he took all his memories of the last world, all the things that had once been and would never be again, and he made the God of Myths and Stories. So that humanity would know what they had lost and try and learn from their past.
This god didn’t leave like the rest. He stayed with his father for a week, talking to him and learning all he could. For the god knew that every good story starts at the beginning and The Blacksmith was the beginning for us all.
His duty to mankind done The Blacksmith went back to where he’d been stopped from destroying humanity. He looked around, trying to work out what had been looking at him. He searched under rocks and behind trees but couldn’t find anything. Finally, once the sun had set, he looked up and into one hundred eyes.
This was another god, one he hadn’t created but which had managed to slip out of the last world with him. But they hadn’t manged to make it to this new world, trapped outside it and only able to look in.
The Blacksmith felt sorry for them, and thankful that they had woken him from his dream of death. So he went back to his workshop. He couldn’t bring them into this world but instead he made them puppets that they could control, five hundred of them that walk among us to this day. And so was born the God of One Hundred Eyes and One Thousand Hands. And they were welcome.
Thus the new world finally came into being, along with the gods that guide us to this day. Remember well, child, that we are a second chance. One that must not be squandered. Love yourself, love each other and love the gods that keep us safe.
And let us never forget.