A plain overgrowing with greenery shining in a deep emerald as it reflected the warm sunlight pouring down on the surface. Stalks that lightly sway in the gentle wind. It was a fairytale-like scenery of an ocean of fresh verdure coupled with the sound of leaves grazing against each other like the roaring of the sea.
But that was no wonder. This was the land where the gods lived, called “Plains of Joy” by the gods’ children.
In the center of that Plain of Joy was a single, big tree, towering high into the sky with its foliage spreading far to the sides. Several beasts of different species were visible around that tree.
The one drawing the most attention was a dragon with red scales as it laid on its belly on top of a huge rock. Claws that seemed capable of ripping iron apart grew on its limbs, and sharp fangs peeked out of its muzzle. However, probably because of its beautiful scales that made one think of the finest rubies, the dragon gave the impression of being divine rather than ferocious.
The one laying sprawled next to the dragon was a lion, likewise emitting a divine aura from its body. Its body that combined the beauty of wildness and polished muscles into one was covered by a fur sparkling in golden hues. And, its biggest trait was the horn growing from its forehead as if trying to pierce the sky.
Next to those two beasts was a fountain with clear water copiously gushing forth. A single large fish, closely resembling a dolphin in a pure white that didn’t know any blemish like new snow, was leisurely swimming through the water.
And the one staying on a branch of the big tree as if to look down on those three animals was a large bird with a plume growing on its head like a crown and long tail feathers glittering in all seven colors of a rainbow.
Those beasts appeared to peacefully doze beneath the warm sun and within the gentle breeze. It was a space where even time was flowing slowly as if taking those beasts’ welfare into consideration.
However, suddenly the foliage of the tree shook noisily, and the beasts widened their eyes all at once, just to listlessly close them again immediately after. The tremors kept getting stronger and the sound louder as the source continued to draw close. And then, the origin of the tremors came into sight.
It was a shining giant. Its height exceeded the big tree by far with its entire body glittering with a dazzling light. Because of that, the giant’s face remained a mystery, but such a strong rage that it could be understood without looking at its face was emitted from its whole body.
The target of the giant’s anger was the one-horned lion. The giant roared.
“Mine elder brother, Beast God! Give me an explanation about the meaning behind this!”
After being addressed, the lion spoke up with fluent words leaving its mouth while remaining laying, “Mine younger brother, Human God, just what might you be talking about!?”
“Don’t play dumb!!” The yell of the giant referred to as Human God ripped apart the atmosphere. “If you were to look at the future of that 『Drop Child』, why didn’t you call me over!?”
The Beast God breathed a sigh, “Indeed, we did predict the future of that 『Drop Child』. However, this happened upon the wish of mine priestess. And the reason for my siblings, the gods, to have cooperated in this is only owed to the fact of them having been present at that time by chance.” The Beast God looked up to the Human God, obviously annoyed by the accusation. “How was there any need to expressly contact you, my dear younger brother, who was far away at that time, for something so trivial?”
The Human God became even more exasperated by the Beast God’s excuse.
“Elder brother Beast God, your true intentions are as plain as day to me! You plan to turn me alone into an outcast, don’t you!?”
Upon that remark, the dragon, who had pretended to be indifferent to all this until now, opened his heavy eyelids, “Aren’t you mistaking something here, mine younger brother, Human God? To begin with, we are gathering at this place since ancient times.” A small flame escaped the dragon’s nostrils as he sighed. “However, most recently it has been you who moved to a mountain top by yourself, remaining aloof from us, no?”
The Human God snapped at that, “Mine elder brother, Fire God! This and that are unrelated to each other! It should be our commandment and pledge to not needlessly interfere with the matters of our children. And yet you exhibited your divine power, following the wish of a one of those children! Isn’t it your duty to notify me as well, if you do something like that!?”
Thereupon, the white fish surfaced from the fountain, “Isn’t that strange for you to say, mine younger brother, Human God? In the past I granted the blessing of good hauls to a human, who caught my beloved divine child in his net, as a condition for releasing her. Back then you didn’t say anything, now did you?”
Even the soothing, girly voice couldn’t soothe the Human God’s anger.
“Mine elder sister, Water Goddess, I’d like you to not put a future prediction on the same level as a mere blessing for good hauls!”
Upon that angry yell, the rock, which had served the Fire God as a resting place, suddenly started to move. That, which had seemed to be a huge, round stone, actually had the stature of a gigantic rhinoceros beetle.
“Mine younger brother, Human God, you are blaming us for interfering with our children, but just how many divine children did you create again? Moreover, all of them are children hostile towards the children worshiping your siblings. Isn’t this the reason why your children enslave, persecute, and slaughter the children worshiping your siblings?”
With its jaw causing grinding sounds, the huge rhinoceros beetle denounced with a quiet, womanly voice, but the Human God didn’t lend her an ear.
“Mine elder sister, Earth Goddess! No matter how many divine children I create, it’s my freedom to do so! I’d like you to not poke your nose where it doesn’t belong!”
Immediately after, ripples spread on the surface of the big tree, which looked rugged like a rock, similar to a lake’s surface, and a face appeared.
“Mine younger brother, Human God, just as you say, you’re free to create divine children. But, there is a limit to everything. I won’t allow you to say that you don’t know about the divine children created by you fighting among each other. If you find fault with our interference towards the gods’ children, you should revise your own ways first, don’t you think?”
“Mine elder brother, Wind God, I am protecting the vow that I mustn’t interfere with the world of our children. Even if I warn my divine children, it’s still beyond mine control. The one feeling the most pain about mine divine children fighting against each other is no one else but me!”
The golden bird perching on a branch of the Wind God laughed evilly, “Mine younger brother, Human God, if you think so, I believe you should admonish yourself for having created divine children unnecessarily, though. ―Well, even if I tell you all that at this point in time, it’s out of your hands. In the same way, it’s out of our hands even if you complain to us about having looked at the future of that divine child.”
“I’d like you to desist from poking fun at me, mine elder, brother Bird God! I am fully aware of that myself!”
As the other gods closely observed the Human God, wondering what he wanted to tell them after coming all the way here then, he triumphantly stated, “I shall join you, and we will look at the future of the 『Drop Child』 once more! If the seven of us pool our powers, we will be able to predict the future of that 『Drop Child』 without fail!”
The instant the Human God yelled so, the sky became overcast all of a sudden. The fresh and green grasses on the plain completely withered away in the blink of an eye, leaving only dead soil behind. The gently blowing wind turned into a stabbing, cold gale, raging across the barren land violently and swirling up clouds of sand. The spring became murky and black with a thin layer of ice spreading across the water’s surface.
And then, the laughter of a girl could be heard out of nowhere. High-pitched as if its owner went mad, ringing as if happy from the bottom of the heart, and bewitching as if sneering at the frightened gods.
The Fire God’s crimson scales lost their color, turning gray. The Water Goddess groaned painfully within the spring’s water. The Earth Goddess had countless cracks run across her carapace. The Wind God’s leaves all withered away. The hair and feathers of the Bird and Beast Gods lost their radiance and fell out.
Even the Human God stopped emitting light from his body and shriveled away in no time. The Human God, who had turned into a small, seedy creature, screamed, crouched down on the spot with his head in his arms, and trembled violently.
After the girl’s laughter had continued for a while, it stopped as suddenly as it began.
In response, the flowers on the plain started to bud again, and the gods’ bodies regained their previous dignity.
“Mine younger brother, Human God.” The Beast God said as he got rid of the hair that had fallen out by shaking his body. “Our mother and elder sister was the one who invited that 『Drop Child』, but she didn’t provide any help to him at all. Even when that divine child seemed to be on the verge of dying.”
In reality, hadn’t the Beast God answered the request by his own priestess and divine daughter and given him the power necessary to survive in this world, that human child would have died a long time ago.
“It’s because that lady is also forbidden to interfere with the world of our children. If we break this commandment, I’m sure we will become subject to her anger. That just now was a warning. Are you telling us that you will go ahead without fearing the consequences? No, as far as I can see from your current state, I can’t believe that to be true in any way…”
The Human God’s body quivered due to the humiliation by the Beast God’s words which also contained sneer. Moreover, the Beast God continued his words to give him the rest.
“No living being can escape its fate of death. As long as our children fear death, all of them will also be the children of that lady, who is our mother and elder sister. No matter how much the human children grow in numbers, and no matter how much power you amass, understand that you will never rival her!”
The Human God abruptly stood up and shouted, “Don’t be so full of yourself, mine elder brother, Beast God! No matter how much thou struggle, thine fate has already been decided! This world belongs to mine children!”
The Human Gods broke out into a loud laughter afterwards, and flew away somewhere while casting a dazzling light. The gods, who had been left behind, all sighed deeply.
“What a foolishness. He truly ended up getting corrupted by the children he created himself,” lamented the Fire God.
‘It was after the Human God had talked with the human child called Innocent that he adopted such an arrogant attitude. I didn’t want to believe it, but don’t tell me that he believed in the nonsense of Innocent about the Human God becoming the true successor of the Creator.
The one who sadly answered, “If you say that, we can’t laugh it off either, can we?”, was the Water Goddess.
It was around the time when the humans started to expand their influence and increase in numbers while violating the domains of the other races that the gods sensed abnormalities in their own powers. Although there were differences in the extent, all gods had realized that their own powers were diminishing. However, only the Human God was excluded from that.
The gods immediately grasped the reason for that unusual phenomenon.
“I had never expected for our children’s power to influence us,” said the Earth Goddess in self-deprecation.
‘What is resting at the foundation of this world is the corpse of our father, the Creator. The great power remaining in his corpse even after his death has become the root of the power of all beings living on this world.
And, the gods were no exception to that rule. But even for the gods it was unforeseen that their power would be affected through the prayers of the children worshiping them.
“At this rate, we will soon lose our powers and be degraded into beings unworthy to be called gods any longer, I believe,” muttered the Wind God gloomily.
At this point the difference in power between the Human God and the other gods was already evident. Even if the other six pillar gods were to bundle their strength, they likely wouldn’t be able to rival the Human God any longer. That was a plain proof of the human race overpowering the other races by far.
“If that is our fate, so be it. ―However, what concerns me…,” said the Beast God with painful worry dwelling in his eyes.
What worried the gods the most wasn’t them losing their powers or their younger brother having become overbearing. It was a certain event that took place alongside those unusual phenomenons.
“What did disturb the heart of that lady, who used to overflow with so much compassion and deep love, to such an extent…?”
The other gods didn’t possess a fitting answer to the Bird God’s question.
The Human God, who had flown away from the place with the other six pillar gods, his brothers and sisters, was atop a remarkably high mountain peak among the high mountains surrounding the Plain of Joy. From there he had an unbroken view on not only the Plain of Joy but also the world of the gods’ children, making it the Human God’s favorite spot. Landing there, the Human God trembled with rage towards his siblings. But, as his anger abated after a while, fear welled up within him.
“Bah! What’s there to be afraid of!?” The Human God shouted as if to expel the fear nesting inside his heart. “Even if she might be my mother and elder sister, in the end she’s no more than one of the beings created by the Creator. Once mine children rule most of this world, I will become the second Creator. Once that happens, I won’t have anything to fear from that person who is my mother and elder sister!”
The Human God turned his eyes towards the distant lower world and spread his arms widely. “Mine children! Humans! Fill every crook and cranny of this world! Otherwise, I won’t attain supremacy!”
While bending his head far back, the Human God laughed loudly with no end in sight. The Human God was under the impression that he himself was at the highest spot in the world.
But, little did he know. Far above him, high up in the sky, there was a figure looking down at him. It was a single, blooming woman. Pure white hair reaching all the way down to her feet, and a white skin reminding one of eternal snow. And contrasting those, eyes as crimson as blood. She wore a simple, loose, sleeveless clothing that was bound at the waist.
“What a foolish younger brother I have. What a pitiable child I have.” The woman muttered while looking down on the Human God, who was still continuing to laugh far beneath her, with eyes full of deep pity and strong affection. “Ah…! Don’t trouble me, my younger brothers and sisters. Forgive me, my children.”
The woman, who couldn’t endure those painful, heart-rending emotions, covered her face with her hands, and began to weep. The shadow of that woman projected on the mountains’ surface shrank and became small in the blink of an eye.
“Please, save me, my――!”
At the end of those words, the woman’s figure suddenly vanished. And, without any indication of its origin, the cackling laughter of a girl could be heard.