Ralishaz and the Creator
Date: Thu, May 09, 2013

A Tale of Blasphemy

This is a near-universal myth found in the stories of countless races and peoples, for all that it is often banned as blasphemous (for example, the penalty for retelling it in the Pale is ten lashings). The identity of the Creator varies depending on the faith of the teller - it has been, in various versions, Lendor, Istus, Rao, Corellon Larethian, Gruumsh, Moradin, Annam, Io, and Pholtus. Sometimes the Creator is nameless, or referred to by a title such as the Nameless One, the Maker, or the First Cause. Many in the Flanaess profess agnosticism on the question of who originally made all things; there are so many conflicting tales on the subject that this often seems the safest path. The identity of Ralishaz never varies, though his appearance often does.

On Godsday Ralishaz visited the Creator of the World.

"Hello," said Ralishaz, grinning as usual. He became a beautiful maiden, dressed to impress in a garbage sack dangling with rat skulls.

"Hello, Ralishaz," said the Creator, guardedly. He didn't much care for Ralishaz. Few do.

"May I see what you're doing?" asked Ralishaz sweetly. He became an emaciated twelve-year-old boy, his face buzzing with flies.

"I'd rather you didn't," said the Creator, trying to use his arm to hide the crystalline model of the Outer Planes that he had been tinkering with. He overestimated the distance and accidentally knocked Acheron off its stand. It shattered into hundreds of tiny cubes. The Creator cursed.

Ralishaz winced simpathetically. "Perhaps adamantine wiring would hold better," he suggested helpfully. He aged until he became a wizened old man, his naked body coated in dust and fallen leaves.

"What do you want, Ralishaz?" the Creator said, impatiently trying to scoop up cubes. He kept dropping them. One fell on his foot. He cursed again.

"Oh," said Ralishaz. "Nothing in particular. Just being sociable."

"What can I do to get rid of you?" asked the Creator, coming to the point. The model of Limbo squeaked dangerously as it spun toward Gladsheim.

"Get rid of me?" Ralishaz acted surprised. "Well, that's not very sociable." Ralishaz was a crone now, his ragged dress hung with empty liquor bottles. He paused, thinking. Finally he said, "I wondered if you'd like to make a bet."

"With you?" The Creator made a face. "I don't think so."

"Oh, but you haven't heard me out," said Ralishaz. "This is a simple bet. There's no element of chance in it."

"What's your bet, Ralishaz?" asked the creator wearily. He wondered what had happened to his models of Sheol and Purgatory. He hoped he hadn't lost them.

"I wondered... well, it's silly, really, but I wondered if you've ever actually created anything."

"What?" exclaimed the Creator. "I made the world! I made the oceans, and the mountains! I made the skies, and the far-flung planes of existence!"

"Did you?" asked Ralishaz. "Because I've seen your plans, and the world doesn't look like anything like them. For example, in your initial drawings the mountains looked like perfectly smooth cones, not those lumpy, cracked things I saw in the Crystalmists. Why, some of them were even spewing lava, and I'm sure that wasn't in your plans. That looked positively dangerous."

"You know perfectly well why the mountains are like that," said the Creator darkly. "You tapped me on my shoulder, and I was so surprised that I dropped them. And then I fell on them. I was sore for weeks."

"Yes, that was terribly clumsy of you. But then, wouldn't you say that the mountains were really created by chance, and not by your design?"

"Chance had nothing to do with it."

Ralishaz feigned shock. "What's that? Surely you're not suggesting that I'm the one who created the mountains?"

"Of course not, I..."

"Supplied the raw material? Who gets credit for a sculpture, the artist who chooses the shape of the stone or the quarryman who digs it out of the ground?"

The Creator was silent.

"Well?" said Ralishaz. "Will you take my bet?" He took the form of a mature male of average height and appearance, his face free of expression, venomous serpents winding about his body.

"What are the stakes?" asked the Creator.

 "Why, if I lose, I'll go away and leave you alone," said Ralishaz.

"I like it," said the Creator. "And if you win?"

"Then I'll stay and be sociable. I said it was simple, didn't I?"

"It's a deal," said the Creator.

"Fine," said Ralishaz. "Point to something that turned out the way you wanted it."

"The oceans," said the Creator.

"Really? Treacherous, full of storms, monsters, and ice, with hidden spires of stone to enare ships, tidal waves and tsunamis, islands unexpectedly sinking in the depths, coastlines rough as a three-day beard? Because I recall you designing a perfect circle, with deep ports in front of every city." Ralishaz became a young woman, dark and beautiful except for her bright red mustache.

"Yes, well... that's a long story," said the Creator. "One you know already, because you kept showing up throughout the process. My chisel kept slipping, I spilled a whole pot of spicy chili in the Solnor, and I don't know where the aboleths came from...'

"Yes, well, I don't think we can count that one. What else?"

"Living creatures. Elves, giants, humanity, dwarves. Orcs. Dragons. I'm particularly proud of them."

"All of those were your creations? Really? Then why do they treat one another as enemies, and credit a thousand other gods for your works? Why does each claim to be the only true race, and try to wipe out the others? They don't seem like the products of a single creator to me."

"Conditions kept changing. When I created humans, the sun was shining, so they saw me as a golden being covered in light. When I created the orcs it was dark, and one of my eyes was hidden in shadow. When I created dragons I was wearing the new scaled suit you gave me, and my feet had somehow gotten lodged in my mouth..."

"A series of unfortunate accidents, then. Didn't you mean to create them all at once? And weren't they meant to all look the same? Your plans show beings a hundred cubits tall, with four arms and both kinds of genitalia. I've never seen anything that looked like that."

"I accidentally cut them in half," the Creator remembered. "And I ran out of clay after using so much on the giants and dragons, so I had to scale them down..."

"I see," said Ralishaz. "And disease and death don't seem to have been part of your original design. Childbirth wasn't meant to be painful either, wasn't it? "

The Creator looked like he had bitten into a sour lemon. "Nerull and Incabulos didn't behave as I'd meant them to. I wasn't going to make them at all until my animals outstripped their food supply, and then they were only meant to slow things down so that I could make more land to match the rate of their reproduction. As for childbirth, my design originally called for..." he stopped, and sighed. "Angels," he said. "Angels are perfect."

"Are they really? Is that why so many of them fell from grace and became devils? Is that why they serve deities of wildly varying alignments and make war with one another? Weren't they meant to be strong enough to kill all the demons? They weren't even originally meant to have wings."

"They can fly without them. They just have trouble steering. I added them so they wouldn't constantly be crashing into things..." the Creator paused again, and he scowled. His face turned red. "No," he said. "No, I'm not going to lose to you! Not when the authorship of Creation is at stake. I'm going to get rid of you once and for all, troublemaker. Born from my first mistake, the first thing I saw that I hadn't looked for! Miscreant, anarchist, pathetic mad thing! I'll win this bet! I'll be rid of you and everything will be perfect, just as it was supposed to be!"

Ralishaz raised an eyebrow. He only had one of them at the time, so it took only half the effort. He concentrated, and separated his monobrow into three parts. The Creator wasn't paying attention, though. He was busy pulling out his pins. He used one to skewer a tree, missed, and pricked his finger. He cursed, and blood fell to the ground and spawned monsters. He tried again, and this time his aim was accurate. Emboldened, he pinned down an animal (herd) that happened to be passing by. Then he pinned down a bush, and a stream, and a man. Everything he pinned became still. He pinned a cloud, and he stuck smaller pins in the raindrops falling from it. He pinned down cats, dogs, and neo-otyughs (the story behind the creation of the otyugh was so embarrassing that he usually pretended it never happened). He pinned down slimes, jellies, and oozes. He pinned down elves, dwarves, and hobgoblins. He pinned down every wave in the ocean. He pinned down demiplanes, half-worlds, and Fading Lands. He pinned down quasielemental planes and paraelemental planes. He pinned down gods and demons. He pinned down Ralishaz. Finally everything in the multiverse was still.

Ralishaz raised an eyebrow. He had five of them at this point. The Creator stuck pins in them all.

"If everything is still, nothing can go wrong!" explained the Creator. He sneezed, and accidentally created smallpox.

"Looks like you'll have to stay still as well," Ralishaz observed.

"I will!" said the Creator. "Nothing will move, and nothing will change, and everything will be exactly as I intend it!" The Creator held his breath, closed his eyes, and laid on the ground. He held himself perfectly still.

Ten million years passed. Nothing moved. Nothing changed. It was precisely as the Creator had imagined.

There was, however, one problem. It started out as an undefinable antsiness and grew over the eons until it was an uncontrollable compulsion to do something. Anything. "Odd," he thought. "I don't remember creating boredom."

At last the Creator sat up. He sat up so quickly that he hit his head against the sky. Meteors rained down and destroyed a civilization.

"Well?" asked Ralishaz. "Have I won the bet?"

The Creator sighed. He finally scratched an itch that had bothering him for the past hundred centuries. Minute skin flakes became the first fleas. "You win," said the Creator.

"Oh," said Ralishaz. "Oh, good. What shall we do next?"

The Creator smiled. "I missed you," he admitted.

"I missed you too, big guy," said Ralishaz.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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