Teabox Tales - The Sickness Of Canritran (The Gods Aren't Always What You'd Think)
Well, here we have a little bit of an antique: something I wrote about three-ish years ago just as I was deciding that I wanted to seriously pursue writing. It isn't great, but it holds up enough that I don't feel too much shame in posting it.
I think it's supposed to be a satire or parody of... something... I've long since forgotten what it's supposed to be, though. Maybe you can make heads or tails of it?
The Kingdom of Canritan had been struck down by a sickness most terrible.
First the crops failed, withering of some vast black blight that crippled them from the root. With no sustenance left, the creatures soon followed in death. Emaciated bodies, first animal and then human, clogged the streets. The insects came in their droves, but even they died when every last corpse was gnawed to the bone.
The once fertile banks of the Silgra desiccated, trying in vain to chase the murky waters as they trailed away and dried to nothing, taking the final hopes with them.
With a heavy heart, the dying King addressed his last remaining subjects.
“It appears we have reached the end.” He said. “After untold generations, Canritran dies with us, its final children.”
A deep sigh swept the gathered crowd. It was the death rattle of a dying land.
“Wait!” Called a voice from the crowd.
The King eyed the speaker with interest. It was Arkila, once the wisest of the wise men, now practically mummified with disease and starvation. “Arkila, your wisdom has served this land well. You may speak.”
Arkila took a deep breath, before clearing his throat to make his grand utterance. “I believe we may have one last hope of salvation. We must wake Saklatrênhotra!”
The crowd was gripped with confused whispers. Nobody but the western pagans believed in Saklatrênhotra, the fickle God of both plague and plenty. Arkila was mad!
The King stopped and thought. Saklatrênhotra was nothing but a fairy tale, but at this trying time, perhaps he was their last hope.
“You may take the strongest men we have left and seek Saklatrênhotra. He may be our only chance.” The King said.
And so, Arkila started his quest, the strongest of the remaining men in tow. They left the city in search of Saklatrênhotra’s great temple, cited by the ancient texts as his sacred resting place.
They followed the dried-up banks of the Silgra, crossing the ancient sands of Kom.
Sandstorms raged day and night, their deafening roars turning the men to madness.
It was a journey taking months, each day harder than the last. By the end of the journey, only Arkila and three of his men remained. The others had long ago died of despair and starvation.
Finally, they reached the temple of Saklatrênhotra. It was an impossibly large hole in the ground, perfectly circular but with seemingly no bottom. It was a tunnel to the core of the Earth.
“Saklatrênhotra!” Arkila called into the hole, raising his long staff. “We seek your aid!”
A grand roar was heard from the hole, as the ground beneath them began to shake and tremble. The beat of otherworldly drums began to pound as Saklatrênhotra awoke from his millennia-long slumber.
The men fell to their knees, howling and weeping at the revelation. Only Arkila stood fast and strong as the vast body of the God emerged from the Earth.
A huge black mass rose from the hole, larger than a building and sticky with strange ichor. It had limbs by the hundreds, long and spindly; tipped by wickedly sharp claws.
Its eyes were many and white hot, with none of them pointed in the right direction. Eye-contact alone would burn out a man like kindling in the hearth.
Finally, Saklatrênhotra’s mouth emerged from the hole. It was a great chasm in the bottom of its body, filled with teeth as tall as a man. Saklatrênhotra swallowed hard, preparing to speak. The men trembled in anticipation. His lips parted once more with a rush of hot air, spraying sand on the men.
“Ello there.” Said the God. “Y’got a light?”
Arkila trembled. “O-of course My Lord. We will prepare your offering of fire.”
He pulled a chunk of flint from his satchel and struck it against the tip of his wooden staff, setting it alight. He passed the flaming staff up to the God, who accepted it with a long tendril.
Saklatrênhotra produced a gigantic roll of yellowed paper from his hole, lighting one end and taking a deep puff.
“Ooh, I’ve been dying for a ciggie.” He said, before blowing clouds of billowing grey smoke on the congregation before him. “Now, what can I do for ‘ya?” He asked.
“Oh great Saklatrênhotra, our humble land of Canritran is dying of a terrible sickness. We beg you, spare us some aid in this time of great strife!”
Saklatrênhotra extinguished his cigarette on the sands and casually tossed it aside. “I’ll try turning it off and on again.” He said.
Arkila was confused. “Off…. And on?” But he was interrupted before the sentence fully left his lips.
In an instant, they were cast into swirling primordial darkness. It was blacker than black, darker than death, like being in nothing at all.
Not one moment later, but somehow also after an eternity, the world returned anew.
“Oh thank you great Saklatrênhotra!” Arkila gasped.
The sands had vanished, replaced with lush green grasses. Fruit trees surrounded them, and the Silgra run wet once more with perfect azure waters. It was truly a paradise.
“No problemo.” Said the God. “Just a simple fix. Come back if you have any more issues, y’hear. This build can be kind of buggy, it needs an update.”
“We will, Saklatrênhotra. Thank you for shining upon us!
With that, the God slunk back into his hole, giving a parting wave before diving below the ground.
Arkila and his pilgrims returned to the kingdom, the journey far easier than before. They found the kingdom more prosperous than it had ever been, a land of plenty. Once news of their triumphant return had spread, they were invited to an audience with the King.
“You met the almighty Saklatrênhotra?” He asked, eyes wide in excitement.
“Yes, we did.” Said Arkila. “You know, he’s actually quite a good guy.”
“Huh.” Said the King.