So be it known that the gods were once as
Ark'ay, the god of death and birth, was an
ordinary shopkeeper whose only unusual characteristic was
a passion for knowledge. To indulge his hobby he became an
avid collector of books on almost any subject he could find
One day he stumbled across a tome which purported
to tell the secrets of life, death, and the purpose of existence.
After months of studying the convoluted logic, written in
opaque language, he thought that he was finally beginning
to understand what the author was saying.
During this time he became so intent on understanding
the book that he ignored everything else: his business started
to slide towards bankruptcy, his few friends stopped visiting
him, he ignored the plague which was ravaging the town, and
his family were ready to leave him.
Just as he felt that the book was opening
visions of new worlds, the plague brought him low. His family
tended his illness out of a sense of duty, but he slowly sank
towards death. So, as a last resort, he prayed to Mara the
mother-goddess to allow him enough time to complete his studies
of the book.
"Why should I make an exception for you,
Ark`ay?" asked Mara.
"Mother Mara, I am finally beginning
to understand this book and the meaning of life and death"
he answered, "and with a little more time to study and
think, I should be able to teach others".
"Hmmm, it sounds to me like that `teaching
others' is an afterthought to appeal to me", she replied.
"What is the reason for death and birth?"
"There are far more souls in the Universe
than there is room for in the physical world. But it is in
the physical world that a soul has an opportunity to learn
and progress. Without birth, souls would not be able to acquire
that experience, and without death there would be no room
"Not a very good explanation, but it
does have elements of truth. Maybe with more study you could
improve it," she mused. "I cannot give you `a little
more time.' I can only condemn you to Eternal labor in the
field you have chosen. How say you to that?"
"I do not understand, mother," said
"Your choice is to either accept the
death that is so close or to become a god with us. But a god
is not an easy nor pleasant thing to be. As the god of death
and birth you will spend eternity making sure that deaths
and births stay in proper balance in the physical world. And,
in spite of what you believe you understand, you will always
agonize over whether your decisions are truly correct. How
do you decide?"
Ark'ay spent what seemed to him as an eternity
in thought before answering. "Mother, if my studies are
not completely wrong, my only choice is to accept the burden
and try to transmit the reasons for death and birth to humanity."
"So be it, Arkay, God of Birth and Death."
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