The Mad God
I blinked, taken aback. Those gods that I had fought against, that had sought to impede humanity’s progress, had destroyed each other? The gods, who had punished humans for their arrogance in attempting to upset the natural order, had in turn fallen prey to internal strife and lost their lives to one of their own. In other circumstances, I might have relished the poetic justice in seeing the highest thus brought low. For all their proclamations that we were aggressive, violent, and therefore primitive, they themselves fell to violence originating from within their midst. It was nothing if not ironic. However, under the current circumstances, I was not given to such optimism, mainly because of the sole remaining god, the one that had killed his fellows.
Kuldevic, god of violence, war, pain and courage. He was the god that led the force of the gods against the forces of humanity. At the start of the war, when my creators first saw him leading the legions of the heavens against us, they laughed at his many-armed appearance, calling him an aberration and a mistake. By the time the conflict had entered its second year, any derision in the nicknames had long since disappeared. They called him the Walking Death, the Cleaver. His prowess in battle was matched only by his immense thirst for violence. Whenever he appeared, we would take losses simply holding him off long enough for our forces to accomplish their strategic objectives. With his four arms, he was a walking weapon of mass destruction. Our ballistics bounced off his skin, our energy weapons could inflict no more than light wounds. Some strange force that we could never fully understand protected him from attacks beyond a certain distance, causing melee combat to be the only means of properly fighting him – and in that range, he had the advantage. My user and I had faced him in combat numerous times, keeping him occupied as our main forces took a strategic position or retreated from a lost battle. I had not yet gained sentience at the time, but the battles were all perfectly preserved in my memory, and I clearly remembered the madness and bloodlust in the god’s eyes. If he was the only god left – worse, if he had somehow absorbed the power of the others – then it was only a matter of time before he brought that power to bear on the people of the world.
Ely glanced at me, raising an eyebrow. She had noticed my discomfort at the mention of Kuldevic, and was clearly worried about me. Lady Yingquan, seeing this, addressed me.
“What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
I shook my head, apologising.
“Forgive me, Your Grace. It’s just that I’ve fought that Kuldevic before, and it was not… a pleasant memory, by any stretch.”
“…Ah, I see. Yes, I had the same feeling when I met him. That person is… unsettling, to say the least.”
Ely cleared her throat.
“Uh, I would like to remind you two that I have never met this Kuldevic. What’s so bad about him? Aside from the whole deicide thing, of course.”
Lady Yingquan answered for both of us.
“Kuldevic is insane. That’s the only way I can put it. A kind of sick madness has taken him. You can see it in his eyes. You can hear it in his words.” Lady Yingquan shuddered. “You can see it in how he has chosen to decorate his throne.”
Ely’s eyes narrowed. She crossed her arms.
“…I see. So, like Gunther?”
Gunther was one of the six heroes that had been summoned for the Proxy War of the Gods, just like Ely. Unlike Ely, Gunther had gone mad from the strain and started attacking friend and foe alike. He killed the king of the country that summoned him and made himself king, using the previous king’s skeleton as the seat of his throne. Between his madness and his ability to teleport, Ely had a lot of trouble dealing with him, back in that other world. However, Lady Yingquan shook her head.
“No. Not like Gunther. For one, Kuldevic is a god, and therefore far more powerful. In addition, Kuldevic’s madness is of a different breed. Gunther’s madness was all-consuming; it crippled his reason and made him into a rabid dog, moving erratically and attacking everyone in sight. Kuldevic’s madness is different. It’s rational. He masters it, not the other way around. Kuldevic is mad, but he is still in control of his mental faculties. That makes him far more dangerous.”
“Well, do something about it, then. You’re a god, too. Isn’t it bad for an insane god to be in charge of a planet?”
“I can’t. I don’t have the right to interfere.”
“Didn’t you say he killed the other gods? I thought that was grounds enough for external interference from your department.”
Lady Yingquan shook Her head.
“No, I have no evidence. Not enough to build a case, anyway. That means I don’t have enough to secure a warrant for his arrest. He destroyed all the evidence during the time he was being ignored by my predecessor, and he now claims that the mortals of this world killed the other gods in their war. Complete horseshit, of course, but he’s made sure that there’s no evidence to the contrary. My hands are tied, and I can’t begin to tell you how much it frustrates me.”
Ely flashed Lady Yingquan a wry smile.
“It looks like even the gods aren’t immune to the pains of bureaucracy.”
Lady Yingquan released a mournful groan.
“Oh, definitely. Especially as you go higher up the ladder. Everyone’s watching you, waiting for you to slip up so they can wag their little godly fingers and scold you for being inexperienced. As if it’s my fault that the previous asshole was a corrupt slimeball. As if I’m not already drowning under the sheer amount of paperwork I need to do to fix the problems he’s causing. Ughh… Just thinking of the mountain waiting on my desk makes me want to sit here and die…”
Lady Yingquan’s graceful figure lost any semblance of grace as She leaned against a tree trunk and sank down to the ground, muttering incomprehensibly. I panicked, wondering what to do, but Ely simply laughed and walked up next to Lady Yingquan’d crumpled form, patting the goddess on Her head. I watched this scene silently, a strange, indescribable ache spreading through me, seeming to center on my crown. I shook the strange feeling away. I was probably just taken aback to see Ely presuming to comfort a deity.
“There, there. You’ve done well, you’ve done a good job. I’m proud of you, Yingquan. You’ve handled your responsibility admirably, and I can see that you’re taking your new role seriously. You’re on the right track.”
“Mmmmm, yes, I’ve missed this. That feels lovely.”
Lady Yingquan perked up and started rubbing Her head into Ely’s palm. The image before my eyes was in danger of irreparably damaging Lady Yingquan’s dignity, so I cleared my throat and looked pointedly at Ely. Ely winked at me and removed her hand from Lady Yingquan’s head, causing Her to pitifully seek it out again by angling Her head forward.
“Yingquan, you still haven’t told us why you sent us here, though based on what you’ve told us so far, I can probably make a reasonably good guess.”
Lady Yingquan pouted a little, clearly upset at being separated from Ely’s hand, but She answered candidly.
“As you’ve no doubt surmised, you two are my secret weapons. I might not have enough evidence to get a warrant, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to let Kuldevic walk free. Reincarnation’s normally not my jurisdiction, but I called in a couple of favours under the table and arranged for you two to be brought here. In the worst case, if Kuldevic should attempt another war against the people of this world, I would like you two to take up arms and join the fight – I need your help to bring Kuldevic to justice.”