Had I had much choice in the matter, I’d have been the god of small green frogs, or the mists that rise around twilight. I suppose my looks counted against me for such jobs; who would want a skeleton accepting his thanks for the relief the mist gave after the burning day? I was quick, though, and handy with a sword, so it was felt I would do well enough as the god of something bleak. There were any number of water gods in those days; three gods for the oceans and one each for lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and marshes. One of my sisters dispensed the rain, and a cousin looked after the ground water. Canals, wells, cisterns ... there was even an ambitious demon who called himself the lord of the water in the wash basin.
But there hadn’t been a god for the dry things in quite some while. The desert rejected any god who tried to rule it, though it didn’t mind the large number or pretenders and aspirants who wandered about in it. The sand was willing enough, but the logistics defeated us there; each grain demanded its own god. I believe they wound up with each one worshipping its neighbor. Since their prayers were on the order of “O Lord, grant that I may remain a grain of sand!” this worked well enough.
My mother, though, remembered that when she had been very young there had been a god of drought. “He was quite handsome, in an austere sort of way – all basalt and hard lines to him. Not much sense of humor, sadly, and the only thing he seemed fond of was a stone lion that used to follow him about. No one’s seen him for ages, though I saw the lion a few years back, playing at being a statue in Nineveh. He had the most lovely palace, and the winds used to run about it howling and chucking stones at each other.”
“Why did a lion have a palace?”
“Not the lion – the god, Inshul was his name, I think. Though I’m quite fond of you, Mot, no one would say you were swift on the uptake; it can be quite irritating.”
I don’t recall consenting, but I didn’t say no and found myself with a drafty palace in the most inaccessible part of the desert. There were few passersby – a djinn now and then, or an afrit who was hiding from the law. (Most gods won’t give an afrit the time of day, but I’ve always been fond of them. Apart from being thieves and their habit of leaving no survivors when they ambush a caravan, they are an engaging race, and they brought me news of the world, so I didn’t feel quite so alone).
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)