Garden of the Gods

This scene is ripped from the pages of Madness Ascendant.  

After leaving the villa, he and Hermyna cut across the Plaza using the Garden of the Gods.  The garden, a magnificent park in the Plaza, was quieter than the bustling Plaza and empty of Averchai.  One of the few places in Sangrithar retaining the glory and splendor of yesteryear, the garden was a gift from Thar who was Umbar before he returned to the Heavens.

During the reign of the God-Emperor Tormyn Blackheart, the Dreamer’s son and first born with the taint, Averchai had entered the Garden and toppled the statue of the Maiden.  Umbar’s wrath had been swift and merciless.  A tidal wave rose in Belgrith Harbor and swept across the Plaza, destroying everything in its path and killing hundreds.  Only the garden escaped watery ruin.  Since then, the God-Emperors had ignored the Garden of the Gods and it flourished under their inattention, tended by thousands of invisible, helping hands.  Well-groomed flower beds, manicured hedges and sculpted bushes grew alongside blue brick paths winding past fountains and statues that honored the gods of old.

The statue of Umbar marking the start of the Grush run was one of many decorating the park and not the greatest.  That accolade belonged to golden Finbardin’s, looking out from a grassy balcony over a columned floor.  Nor was the King of Heaven alone, Elder Gods from every pantheon were represented.  Deridean galloped upon Faldax.  Lillandra rested beneath Wentavayya’s bough and Aeriel rode Narandal’s feathered back with her spear Galador poised.  A sculpted fountain showed Harnor by the Spires of Thought and the Explorer tread upon a bridge of stars crossing over a stream.  Norath the Seeress shimmered in a cave of crystal.  Celetran, the Lady of Esel, delivered justice from winking Belecontar.  Yarnor the Ravager raised high his fiery fist and Solare the Summer Lord’s visage smiled over the park from replicas of Edda, Imma and Olla while watching Garruth the Laughing God plow with golden Nikomu and Harran.  Sudnar, who saved Umbar from Thar, held a special place near a cypress stand, attended by Razu, his faithful tiger.  Grandar delved with a gang of vergar and Nyllen played a lute from the back of King Pegasus.  Those who had gone over to the Dark Lord were missing.  Umbar’s brother, mad Rabyn, could not be found, nor could Malunis the Wolf Maiden, she who had walked arm in arm with the Explorer under another name.  Dracorys the Dragon Lord stood alone in a glade of bowing willows, despairing for his sister Davyrma.

After the Reckoning, the Vanara were born and these new gods possessed the spark and passion of newly risen Mankind.  Gods of war, they were destined to lead the Hosts of Heaven against Erlik One-Eye when he came forth from the Darkstar to threaten the Gates of Heaven.  Now mostly forgotten, in Thar who was Umbar’s time people had worshipped the Vanara freely and he had not forgotten these new gods when he made the Garden.  They stood in a circle of five:  Bangal the Wise, the Rainbow Lord, dazzling in his cloak of many colors; Beldar the Bear, Champion of War and Glory, his mighty mace Skullcrusher raised; Glorianna the Rose, Mistress of Passion and Beauty, blades Love and Heart in hand and bow Beauty over shoulder slung; Pugnar the Lion, Holy Crusader and Lord of the Arena, bestowing the gift of combat upon vanquished foes; Vitale, the Lifter of Oppression, pointing the way to victory.

He knew enough of the gods and their myths to recognize the statues.  The God-Emperor could not entirely squelch the Tale of Ages, had he even cared to.  Knowledge of other gods was not unlawful, only worship of them, and none but the Maiden had challenged that law for centuries.  He knew no special lore of the Vanara, only what was commonly held.  Of the five, Bangal was the most familiar.  Everyone knew the Rainbow Lord, who sat upon the Throne of Judgment in the Halls of the Dead.  When slain, the spirits of Mankind took the Long Walk to the Halls, where Bangal would either send them on the Short Walk to the Blessed Kingdom or to the spirit world to contemplate their failures.

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