This is another excerpt from God Shuffle that I decided should be cut, but that I still like.
It deals with the Divine Spire and has been slightly edited to remove potential spoilers.
“Lucy, you’ve gotten yourself all muddy again. Can’t we even walk to the Spire without you playing in the muck?”
Susanne crouched beside her daughter on the Divine Bridge and her daughter steadied herself on her father George’s leg.
“I wasn’t trying to get muddy mother, I just slipped in the horse poo. Maybe we should try next week?”
“That won’t do at all Lucy”, said George. “Now more than ever, the gods need our prayers.”
“What do they need our prayers for? They’re Gods already, they can just give themselves whatever they want.”
Susanne finished shaking the worst of the mud off of Lucy’s dress and took her hand. She pointed to the Divine Spire, a twisting artifice of glass that seemed to stretch beyond the heavens themselves.
“There was a time Lucy, that this was just a simple little temple, hardly more than a stable. The Gods built all of this in celebration of the Divine Pact. Do you know how they were able to build it?”
“Of course Mother, they are Gods.”
“Yes, they are Gods, but their power is limited. If we stop praying to them, or giving them offerings, then they will have no power and won’t be able to do even simple things. The truly special thing about this spire, is that after the Divine’s power was weakened, they gave nearly everything they had to build this mighty spire as a monument.”
George piped in.
“It was meant as a show of trust in humanity. They would weaken themselves before us and it would be up to us to bring their strength back so that they could resume their normal duties. If either party didn’t honor their promise, it could have gone butter side down.”
“If I were a God I would have held a little bit back and been the most powerful God of all and then the rest of the Gods would have to make statues to me.”
“Yes, well that’s why you aren’t allowed back in religious studies now isn’t it?”
Susanne frowned at her daughter and they began walking to the Divine Spire.
They looked up at the Spire from the bottom of the stairs and its immensity filled their field of vision.
Lucy looked up and swayed a bit then grabbed George’s leg.
“It looks much bigger from here. Those are a lot of stairs to climb.”
“That is why we waited until you were big enough to come yourself. You are far too heavy to carry any more.”
They walked up the thirty-eight granite steps, one for each deity that existed prior to the Divine Pact. Lucy was red in the face and huffing when she reached the top but also had a smile on her face and refused to take the hand George offered. She caught her breath and then marched right to the Eastern doors where she stopped and looked up.
“Father, do giants come to temple to pray?”
“No, Lucy”, said George, “but the doors are sized so that the Avatars would fit through them if they decided to visit us.”
She crossed the threshold and into the largest single room she had ever seen. The northern side had a huge stage rising above the floor complete with altar and several podiums. The other three sides had four prayer areas each, one for each Avatar. Each area had pews of its own where workers devoted to that Avatar could teach or answer questions.
“Where do you think you would like to offer your prayers Lucy?” Her mom tried to grab her hand to keep her close in the crowd.
“Oh, all of them, Mother. I want to visit every shrine and talk to them all and do you think there are Avatars here right now in disguise?”
George looked up and took a deep slow breath.
“That might take a lot of time Lucy. Wouldn’t you rather pick an Avatar that you think could use your help or that you would like to congratulate and then get home in time to help your mom with the meal?”
“No thanks Father, I wouldn’t be able to decide and I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings.
George looked at Susanne and smiled weakly.
“We’ll do our prayers and then meet you in the middle Lucy. Don’t leave the temple without us.”
They finished their offerings to Love and Peace and sat down to wait for Lucy. She returned several times to inform them of this or that fact about an Avatar and to ask if they had known that the spire was made of real glass. Once she very somberly explained the difference between Avatars and Gods to them.
“Well that’s that then love, we’ve lost this one to the church.”
“Don’t be sad now”, said Susanne, “at least she won’t marry a foreigner.”