Ark'ay, the God of Birth and Death
By Mymophonus the Scribe
So be it known that the gods were once as we.
Ark'ay, the god of death and birth, was an ordinary shopkeeper whose only unusual characteristic was a passion for knowledge. To indulge his hobby he became an avid collector of books on almost any subject he could find in print.
One day he stumbled across a tome which purported to tell the secrets of life, death, and the purpose of existence. After months of studying the convoluted logic, written in opaque language, he thought that he was finally beginning to understand what the author was saying.
During this time he became so intent on understanding the book that he ignored everything else: his business started to slide towards bankruptcy, his few friends stopped visiting him, he ignored the plague which was ravaging the town, and his family were ready to leave him.
Just as he felt that the book was opening visions of new worlds, the plague brought him low. His family tended his illness out of a sense of duty, but he slowly sank towards death. So, as a last resort, he prayed to Mara the mother-goddess to allow him enough time to complete his studies of the book.
"Why should I make an exception for you, Ark'ay?" asked Mara.
"Mother Mara, I am finally beginning to understand this book and the meaning of life and death" he answered, "and with a little more time to study and think, I should be able to teach others".
"Hmmm, it sounds to me like that `teaching others' is an afterthought to appeal to me", she replied. "What is the reason for death and birth?"
"There are far more souls in the Universe than there is room for in the physical world. But it is in the physical world that a soul has an opportunity to learn and progress. Without birth, souls would not be able to acquire that experience, and without death there would be no room for birth."
"Not a very good explanation, but it does have elements of truth. Maybe with more study you could improve it," she mused. "I cannot give you `a little more time.' I can only condemn you to Eternal labor in the field you have chosen. How say you to that?"
"I do not understand, mother," said Ark'ay.
"Your choice is to either accept the death that is so close or to become a god with us. But a god is not an easy nor pleasant thing to be. As the god of death and birth you will spend eternity making sure that deaths and births stay in proper balance in the physical world. And, in spite of what you believe you understand, you will always agonize over whether your decisions are truly correct. How do you decide?"
Ark'ay spent what seemed to him as an eternity in thought before answering. "Mother, if my studies are not completely wrong, my only choice is to accept the burden and try to transmit the reasons for death and birth to humanity."
"So be it, Arkay, God of Birth and Death."