Heaven & Earth
A long time ago, before the continents had split, all of earth’s land mass existed as a very flat complete circle. If you wanted to, you could walk across the entire earth’s surface with little to no hindrance. Nobody did. But you could if you wanted to.
People in those days would never stray far. The atmosphere was stark and cold and many wouldn’t make it through the night on their own. At times groups would join together to create a traveling shelter. Most people called them “The Wanderers” and they’d roam from one village to another. One of those Wanderers was Grog, traveling with Shanna, and their son Pip. One fateful day they wandered into another clan and were taken in by Muck, Ayla, and their son, Roll.
Pip and Roll were immediate friends.
They were inseparable, exploring together, drawing and reading and fighting. Both sets of parents decided it best to stay in one place and allow the boys to develop their friendship. And over time the boy's friendship culminated in a plan for the “Grand Adventure”, where they would escape the clan and forge a new path to the edge of the earth.
Too bad the day of their plan was the day the gods descended upon the earth. Unlucky.
The gods ripped the earth to shreds, throwing continents, sinking great civilizations, drowning billions. No one knows why they came to earth and so brutally destroyed their own creation. Many are now speculating it was a complete accident. A drunk stumble, of sorts.
All it took was one drunk stumble to rip Pip and Roll apart.
Pip watched as the ground between them separated from itself in the downstairs bedroom. Roll turned and met his eyes just as he was jerked into oblivion. And just like that, it was over.
So many people were separated from their clans and even more were killed in the chaos. The people became even more afraid to leave their clans, and would hide in caves for safety.
Everyone but Pip. He sat outside the caves, always facing the East (the direction he last saw Roll), refusing to eat and sleeping only intermittently. He had lost his friend and his mind.
The clan was curious at first, dramatically concerned, but over time they got used to his strange behavior. They began to treat him as structure, a monument to a tragedy they had all suffered. Soon people would say things in front of him as if he wasn’t there.
And that’s how he heard that the god’s descent may have been an accident: “Thad said Evolet said Grok overhead a traveller say that the gods have been apologizing for ripping apart the earth, sending good luck and fortune to a new person every other day.”
Pip was furious. Who were these gods that so foolishly destroyed something so beautiful? Who were the cowards that took his best friend from him? “Come out and fight you drunken buffoons!!”
But that night he felt himself drift into a rare bit of sleep and when he awoke, he was no longer on earth. He was sitting on a rug, suspended high above the earth. Nearly 100 yards in front of him was a massive being, bright and buzzing, and sitting in a large shimmering throne. The being began to move slightly and a large droning sound began to build, like an old rotary horn.
It was speaking. To Pip.
“We are deeply sorry for the pain and destruction we caused you and the people you hold dear. Please accept… (here the being paused and let out a deep .. sigh?) this great fortune as a sign of our apologies and a small gesture yada yada yada etcetera etcetera…”
It stopped and sighed again.
“Look, I’m giving away one wish.” The being looked direclty at Pip, but through him. Pip was nothing to this celestial giant.
“So, kid - What do you want?”
Pip didn’t hesitate. His knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted to look a god in the face and say:
“I want your power.”
At this the being sat up, slowly, it’s face tightened in confusion. He was finally looking at Pip, really looking.
“My power?” A loud chuckle burst from its mouth and echoed past Pip with a force that threw him off balance. “You think you can just ask for my power?”
“I’ll trade you for it” Pip stood up straight and finished: “I’ll give you a riddle. If you can solve it, I will serve you for as long as you require my service. If not, you will grant me your power.”
The god seemed intrigued. He leaned forward, a sly grin on his face, “Ok, earthling. You have yourself a deal. Tell me your riddle.”
Pip began: “There were five men outside the temple and it started to rain. The four that ran got wet and the one that stood still stayed dry. How did the one stay dry?”
The god leaned back, still grinning. “Easy”, he said through a breeze. “The fifth man is under a tree”.
Pip walked forward to the edge of the rug and said. “No. You’ve lost.”
BOOM. The massive creature slammed his hands against the arms of his throne and roared furiously. He reached down and grabbed Pip by his waist, lifting him to eye-level.
“Tell me the answer. NOW.”
Pip had lost his breath, but he didn’t show fear. He had already won.
“The fifth man is in a box. A coffin. He was my father’s brother, and I was one of the four who carried his coffin to the grave after your descent to earth killed him.”
Pip paused, waiting for this to sink in. The god was begining to loosen his grip and... was he shrinking? Pip doubled-down and raised his voice to the lessening deity.
“I knew the riddle would fool you. As an immortal you’ve never known the pain of death - not your own and not of those you love. But death is the logical end to life, and the only way to earn immortality. You don’t deserve your power. Now you must give it to me.”
As Pip spoke, the being decreased further in further in size until they were standing at the same height. The god now looked like a normal adult male, with dark hair and green, sunken eyes. He stared at the floor and made no movements. In his open palm was a stone covered in glowing green and blue patterns.
“Take it,” the man said under his breath. “You are the god of land now.
But be warned. It is a burden.”
Pip didn’t hesitate. He snatched the stone from the man’s hand and held it tightly in his own.
The man looked up, slowly taking in Pip’s features. The he lifted his arm, placed his hand on Pip’s forehead, and whispered something under his breath. Pip felt a sudden surge of energy that made him sick. He closed his eye and felt a jolt. When he opened his eyes again, he was back with his clan on earth.
The stone gave Pip the power to move the earth in any way he pleased and he used it to reconnect all of the broken lands and split clans. Most importantly, he used it to bring his friend back to him. When pulled the continents together, Roll was sitting on the edge of the landmass, waiting for him with a grin.
Roll and Pip lived side-by-side until they voluntarily passed away after a hundred year rule of Land & Sea, saying they were off in search of another Grand Adventure.
It rained on the day of their funeral.
Many years later, the stone Pip stole from the gods was turned into the Land & Sea pin. But that's another story.
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