The Babylonian gods were the first. Their believers and their faith died off long before many of the others. The Great Dragon Queen, Tiamat, and the vicious, spiked warrior, Marduk, would be the last to go as they defiantly fought each other in their endless conflict. But, no matter their status, Tiamat and Marduk still went like all the rest of them.
Other gods in other ages would whisper about it. They would wonder if Tiamat or perhaps Marduk (some wondered if it was the Moon Goddess, Isis, perhaps?) that had wrought it, but in truth it was far older than that. It already ancient by the time Tiamat’s black, scaled form lumbered up to it.
Some periods there would be many turning up at it. For instance, when the Roman Legions spread like a virus across the old world cutting down resistance and smothering old gods. It did not help that the vacuum from the Empire’s collapse was filled by Christianity and its own conquering uni-god.
Then there was the push by England, Portugal, Spain and France across the world drove. These imperial nations drove expansion and knowledge. Cultures meshed and the Christian way conquered many around it. This ideological push was not victimless but sent the old, previously-harder-to-find gods away too.
The cruel irony is, as America rose, world wars rolled off like vicious claps of lightning and then technology, trade and the times all changed, so too would the Christian god take that final walk towards it.
In the old, cold mountains that men cannot see, at the top of the highest peak in the ancient rock thrust from the centre of the molten Earth, there exists the final resting place of the gods. Cut as a clean tomb with ancient, unpronounceable words carved into the side of it by hands that even the gods have no knowledge of. Despite the freezing temperature and howling, blizzard at these heights, the tomb’s stone is warm to the touch without a single snowflake covering it.
“Welcome, brothers,” says the hard-to-see Gatekeeper as the Christian god approaches flanked by both the round Buddha and the sharply-defined Ishmael-like god. The Gatekeeper comes from a time before shapes. It comes from a time before forms when only light and darkness existed to weave your essence together. And, so the Gatekeeper is little more than a denser part of the air, a thicker breeze with snow and cold that is filled with more darkness than you would expect. But his voice comes from everywhere or, perhaps, it speaks directly into your ears.
All three of what were probably the most powerful gods to ever walk through the minds of man are out of breath. It is a long walk from dominance to oblivion, and it is cold and lonely.
“Welcome, brothers of substance and shape,” repeats the Gatekeeper, darkness pulsing before the Tomb of the Gods, “All three of you have executed full, colourful lives, but nothing–not even me–lasts forever. Your cycle is complete, but before I open the Gate, each of you can ask me one question.”
Buddha steps forward. He is surprisingly fit for a large man and has already caught his breath. When he talks his soft, deep voice warms the very air it vibrates through melting the snow around the four of them with little green grass shoots beginning to poke through.
“Gatekeeper, what is the purpose of everything?”
The Gatekeepers ethereal form pulsed a darker shade of shadow. For a moment Ishmael got the distinct impression that it was laughing, and then it spoke.
“Buddha, there are as many answers to that question as there are those that can ask it. Existence is a fact, purpose is a choice and destination is fate. To try to understand one of these principles without accepting the other two is to not understand it or them at all.”
Buddha bowed his head for a moment, but then nodded and stepped back. The sharply defined, piercing-eyed Ishmael prototype stepped forward to stand before the Gatekeeper. The wind fell quiet for just a moment in anticipation and the two other gods held their breath.
“Gatekeeper, what happens to us now?”
The wind blasted a bigger than usual gust of snow across the group of gods. They were so high up that the sky looked almost star-speckled and black like open space. The Gatekeeper, though, as far as any of them could tell seemed oblivious to all of this. Perhaps it could not see? Perhaps it did not fully exist within the same dimension that they did?
“You have ninety-nine names, but can you remember naming yourself? You are at the ending, but can you remember the beginning? There is a place beyond even the dreams of men that sits outside of time and space where building blocks of this storyline are stored so that they can be used in the next one. You always have ninety-nine names and, while you are good at existing and great at choosing your purpose, you are always bad at accepting your fate. What happens to you now has happened before and will happen again.”
This answer was met with silence, broken only by the howling wind’s low key through the rugged mountains around them.
And then the Christian god steps forward. Light from his golden face bouncing off the snow around them, but completely ignoring the ancient shadowy form of the Gatekeeper.
“Yes, Yahweh,” the Gatekeeper asks, as the Christian god pauses, “what is your question?”
Yahweh pauses and looks thoughtfully at the Gatekeeper before beginning to speak, “Gatekeeper, if we have done all this before and we will do it all again, then what is the purpose of this cycle of fate? Does it not render our choice void as inevitable fate awaits us that we will repeat forever? What is the purpose of that?”
Just before the three gods of a soon-to-forgotten mythology stepped through the gate to elsewhere, the Gatekeeper’s short answer would hang in the air before them and ring in their ears. Each one of them would try to burn it into their memory in the hopes that they would remember it next time around.
“To prove me wrong, Yahweh, to prove me wrong.”