Published June 11, 2015 by

Tales From a Land of Gods Part 1 Chapter 1


Hey, you! The one holding the book. Yes, you. Stop looking around like that, you're only embarrassing yourself. I was hoping for someone more open minded, but you look like you have your wits about you, so I suppose you'll have to do.

No, don't turn away from me!

I've got a story, well at least a dozen stories, and I've been dying to tell somebody, so you're not going anywhere until I'm through! What kind of story? You ask. Well, it's about the gods of course!

You're no doubt familiar with Hercules and the gods of Olympus, the Australian aboriginal dreamtime stories, and the bloodthirsty Aztec gods. They've appeared in various tales throughout the ages, and even a toddler could name at least one.

Hey, there's no need to yawn like that!  I know you've heard them all before, but what I'm here to tell you is that the gods are real.

There you go, rolling your eyes like I'm mad. I'm not crazy, well maybe just a little. Who wouldn't be after all I went through in order to learn the truth. The gods of myth maybe make believe, but thousands of years ago our world was inhabited by living breathing gods. They created the earth, the sky, and the food and water, which you obviously take for granted. Back in those days we humans were nothing more than slaves to these gods, like a horse which pulls a cart. Imagine doing that with nails like yours! It wasn't the best way to live, but all that changed when the gods broke out into their own civil war. Much like us humans the gods were, and still are, greedy and destructive by nature. Many desired nothing less than to conquer our world and claim it as their own.

Eventually the gods were driven into many opposing factions, and with no end in sight, one fraction came up with a destructive and brilliant scheme.

What is it? You ask. Seems like I finally have your attention. I'd love to end my tale here and bask in your anguish as you struggle to create your own conclusion, but this is the best part which I cannot omit.

Ok, I'll tell you....Ha, ha....I'm sorry but it's difficult to contain my glee! The gods of old, ancient beings who would make you tremble in fear, trapped their enemies on a continent of our world and sealed it away forever.

It's a lot for your naive brain to comprehend isn't it?  In short, they took a part of our world and turned it into an impenetrable prison from which there is no escape. This prison is surprisingly vast and is almost a world of its own. Some say it overlaps parts of our own, and you can see its border when glancing out into the setting sun. Not that I believe such foolish rumors.

My story is too far-fetched, you say. I can tell you don't believe me, and the last guy who listened to this tale also protested that there is no such thing as gods, and I agree. There are no gods anymore, in this world.

Those who once stood victorious slowly perished with time, but the defeated in their prison proceeded to multiply and thrive until they had created their own Land of Gods. An oasis for immortals who still live like the gods of old.

This brings me to the reason why I was so desperate to rip you out of your mundane existence and subject you to my tales. For us humans this land of the gods is a place of poverty and pain, a decrepit merciless hell with no way out, but it is also a place of mystery and intrigue, and such dangerous places always have their own strange attraction.

So do you want to hear a story? I know you haven't asked yet, but why else would you still be here with an expression like that upon your face. Alright, it's been a while, so I suppose I'll tell you one. But I have no interest in telling you stories about all powerful gods who rule and oppress us mortals. Instead, my interests lay elsewhere in the form of a rather unique god by the name Meng Li, and how in the strangest circumstances, he came to learn more about human suffering than he ever intended.

Tale 1: Meng Li

I would like to introduce this unique god Meng Li. Meng was his first name, and Li was the name of his family and clan. Because this land of the gods is much smaller than our own, many of the gods are distantly related and share similar features. The majority of them possess very pale hair and skin, as well as a faint godly glow. Meng Li was no exception to this rule, and was also fortunate enough to be good looking. Perhaps the best way to describe him would be to picture an albino swimsuit model who had mistaken uranium for suntan lotion. The only feature which was distinctly his own, were his brilliant blue eyes, which differed from the common brown or red.  He thought quite highly of himself, and possessed many extraordinary abilities which would make you or me envious. Unfortunately a sense of direction was not one of them.
Two days ago, Meng decided to take a break from the stresses of godly life by taking a pleasant stroll in the woods. He was still currently there, although he couldn't tell you where. He'd expected to pass through in a matter of hours, yet he was still navigating the same trails, passing identical trees, and struggling with his growing anxiety. The forest canopy was thick, dark, and difficult to see through even with his godly vision.
His perfectly long groomed hair was beginning to show signs of untidiness, and patches of dirt adorned his clothes. He hadn't deemed supplies necessary for a short stroll, and therefore hadn't consumed food or water since he departed.
To be honest, the giant sign proclaiming 'He who enters shall perish' may have been a warning of what was to come, but Meng was a god. All powerful gods did not pay heed to silly mortal scrawling. Getting lost was something that the gods had mortals do for them.
There was a crunch beneath his foot, and Meng looked down to see the human skeleton of the poor soul who got lost before him. Their left hand was extended outwards as though they'd used their last remaining energy to drag themselves along.
With a wince, Meng slowly removed his foot from the rib cage and crept away. He felt reassured that his godly blood would prevent him from deteriorating at such a rapid pace, but he did not possess immunity from starvation. Meng then spent the next hour contemplating whether it would be safe to eat the strange moss which grew on the trees, until he heard another familiar crunching noise underfoot.  His first thought was how he could be so foolish as to step in another mortal carcass, until he glanced down to see a familiar skeleton reaching out for help, and a broken ribcage.
Meng swore so loudly that his voice echoed throughout the forest. He then chose to take some of his anger out on a nearby tree which was smashed into several pieces (this was quite an easy feat because gods obviously possess abnormal strength). But after relieving his anger Meng was left with nothing but despair. With no regard for his personal appearance, he leaned up against a damp tree and sighed. Hesitantly, he reached out, pealed the green moss from the tree, placed it in his mouth, and immediately spat it out again. The taste was vile and far worse than any plant he'd previously consumed out of starvation.
If only there was a human village or farm where I could demand food and shelter, thought Meng to himself. If only there was a mortal priest passing by with tribute, or a lower god who I could mug.
 Meng hadn't seen a single soul since he entered the maze of death. Despite his solitary nature, traveling alone was also becoming a bore, and he wished he'd brought someone along for his alone time. A mortal servant would have been useful, or maybe his friend Kaien, but Kaien would only laugh and say that Meng's current state was an embarrassment to all gods.
Meng continued to rest while feeling sorry for himself, until he finally decided that it was time to be a god and god up. Moping around was petty and mortal, and doing so would accomplish nothing.
He mustered up his courage and turned to face the sprawling forest, only to find himself face to face with a being who wasn't there a moment ago.
It was a foot shorter than himself, dressed in tattered clothes, covered in dirt, and its face was shadowed by a large bamboo hat with several holes.  It took him another moment to realize it was dressed as a monk, and its skin was wrapped from head to toe in filthy bandages, except for one hand which was a mass of deformed and rotting flesh.
The creature stood there looking at him dumbly as though expecting something to happen. They silently stared at each other until Meng came to the conclusion that it had to be a delusion. It resembled the living dead from a foolish mortal ghost story. A foolish mortal ghost story where angry dead people arose to eat the living!
 Meng jumped back and screamed louder than he intended. The thing was also startled and lunged towards him. He dodged and continued walking backwards while refusing to take his eyes off the monster. He recalled brushing mortal ghost stories off with a laugh, but the monster was probably responsible for the skeleton he stepped in, and was now hungry for more.
Back I said! Back you evil creature of the dead!” Meng yelled. He tried to remember their only weakness. Was it fire, salt, or steal? He assumed being a god would grant him immunity, but he'd heard tales of lower gods losing an arm or two.
Help me,” it croaked.
“Leave! You cannot consume my flesh!”
 It all made sense now. The sign which said danger. The lack of life within the forest. He had willingly walked head first into a zombie infestation!
It continued to hobble closer and was grasping what appeared to be a long gold walking stick which thudded against the ground with every step.
I not dead, I not dead!” The thing screeched.
Meng decided that it was better to destroy the monster himself and rid the world of its evil. He geared up for an attack and assumed a punch through the heart would probably destroy it. 
“You have left me with no choice monster. I will finish you myself and cleanse the earth of your decaying carcass!” He yelled.
Meng moved in for the kill, but the zombie raised its gold walking stick in self defense. This startled Meng and he paused for a second, which was a fatal mistake because the zombie chanted a mantra and pounded the walking stick into the ground. Shock waves radiated out from around the zombie like a stone being thrown into a pond, and Meng suddenly found himself being thrown back into a nearby tree. He fell to the ground and winced.
“A god instrument,” he uttered.
God instruments were weapons of immense power that were created for gods, by gods, and usually used against other gods. It wasn't unusual for such weapons to fall into the hands of mortals and used against their holy masters.
When he took a harder look, it appeared to be more of a staff than a walking stick, and there were ancient inscriptions carved on all sides. The fact that such an individual could posses a godly instrument meant only one thing to Meng.
“You disgusting creature of evil! You've killed a god and stolen their weapon!” Meng attempted to get up and take another swipe at the despicable monster, but it pounded the staff into the ground once more and sent him flying into a tree.
Wrong! Wrong! I not evil, I monk!” It said with such a thick accent that it was almost impossible for Meng to understand.
“A monk! You ate a god and a Monk!”
No, I monk of temple of… see look.” It grabbed at what appeared to be a talisman from around its neck and began to shake it “See.”
Meng glared at the talisman skeptically. The zombie's dirtied and ripped clothing did resemble what was worn by monks. “I see that you posses the talisman of a monk, but how do you explain your bandaged and deformed flesh?” He asked.
I is ill.”
It was then that the realization hit Meng. He had been defeated by a diseased mortal, but not just any mortal. Now that his heart had stopped beating in fear he noticed that the human was bent over, wrinkled, and possibly quite old. The tunic was also in the style that was commonly worn by women.
The great Meng Li had been defeated by an old sickly mortal woman.  
This was more than Meng could bare, and he decided that the best way to deal with his humiliation would be to walk away and pretend that it never happened.
He spun on his heels, walked right off the path, and dove straight into the thick of the forest. It was denser than he expected and he was forced to use his godly powers to destroy various trees and shrubs which were in his way. Thankfully, this also allowed him to blow off steam.
He had almost erased the last ten minutes from his memory, until he heard a familiar hobbling sound which was followed by cries of “Wait! Wait! Wait!
Meng continued forward until he was hit by another shock wave which sent him face first into a prickle bush.
The old woman caught up while he was attempting to get up without scratching half his face off.  She stood there trying to catch her breath until she managed to utter. “I lost, help...Please.”
Meng was not generous to mortals on a good day, let alone while pulling prickles out of his long hair. Therefore, it was no surprise when he quickly uttered. “No.”
Please,” she begged. “You must help, I don't know the way.”
“Look you stupid woman, you were thick enough to get yourself into this mess, you can obviously find your own way out,” he retorted.
But wild bear, and thieves, I lost. I die.
“Well, then you better hurry up and do so.”
She looked disappointed for a moment and he expected her to leave, but instead she launched herself at Meng and almost succeeded in wrapping herself around his neck before Meng pushed her away. She fell flat on her back and winced in pain, but Meng was not worried. He was more disgusted that his pure godlike hands had been forced to touch a filthy human.
He turned his back in an attempt to shun her, and continued to pull prickles out of his clothes. “Just go away and find some poor fool to torment,” he muttered.
Once he was done, he found to his relief that she had disappeared, but just when Meng thought he was free of the annoying old wrench, he attempted to walk away, only to find he was unable to move his right leg. It felt like he was trapped in quicksand, and he attempted to free himself twice, only to look down and find the mortal clinging onto his ankle like her life depended on it.
"Don't leave me!" She pleaded.
Meng gritted his teeth and attempted to continue onward, but the old woman clung to his leg with every step. He desperately wanted to try and pull the woman off, but he didn't wish to soil his hands any further. After they had traveled for almost half an hour, it became obvious that she wasn't going to give up, and Meng decided it was time to employ a new strategy. It was time to deploy a god's greatest virtue, patience. He could pretend that he was willing to help her, and then flee at the first opportunity.
Meng stopped and threw his arms up into the air, “fine! I'll help you get out of this filth infested hell, just pry your decaying fingers from my leg!”
Hesitantly the old woman released her hold and jumped to her feet. The front of her clothing was covered in mud which disgusted Meng.
Many thanks, Many thanks,” she chanted. She reached for Meng's hand in an attempt to shake it, but he pulled away in time.
“Please do not touch me,” he uttered.
I is Lucy,” she said enthusiastically.
It struck Meng as a strange name he'd never heard before, and he was thankful that he didn't have to bother remembering it.
“Why do I need to know your name anyway woman, I'm just going to leav..leav....Look at that, you have a leaf on your shoulder,” he said quickly in an attempt to cover up his slip of the tongue, and he hesitantly brushed a leaf from her shoulder. “It's unsightly to be so dirty.”
 And thus, against his own will, the unusual journey of Meng Li had begun.

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