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In the Nature of Belief

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They call him the god of glory and it’s not quite right—because how convenient would it be for a game to share the name of his domain? He is the god of victory, and victory is all he knows. Victory is what he must pursue.

The gods live through belief, and as time passed belief failed, power waned, one led to the other to the first and the cycle continued until the gods were little better than mortals, sustained only through belief of their own—and in a world that no longer needed them, many began to lose belief even in themselves.

It is painful, to live as one with no belief at all. To be unseen.

Ye Xiu believes in himself, and so he lives on, unfaded. He loves his domain and so he will not lose it.

His twin does not. His twin wanted to run from the heavens to live on earth, with no goal other than to live as a mortal for a time, and then, as a mortal, to die. Ye Xiu wanted to show him that there was another way, so he ran first, he ran himself, he ran to the mortal world in search of a victory that would mean something.

“I won’t win in every game, only the ones I know,” he says to a boy, and it is truth, because no one speaks Ye Xiu’s name with reverence any longer. He has no power to win on his own, with godly influence or unearthly magic. Only his own skill. Only his own determination. Games of this type are new but Ye Xiu learns quickly—and he was, in a time that hurts to remember, a mortal, once. He can be a mortal again.

But he will gain victory in a game he knows, so long as he knows it, because what he learns of every game is first victory, and then every possible way to get there.

He has tried many games but they do not give him what he needs, until Glory, Glory with its wild realism and widespread devotion.

(He looks for the touch of gods in Glory and does not find it. Humans have grown, now; they truly do not need the gods at all.)

(But they want them, maybe. They will build them for themselves. Ye Xiu will rise amongst.)

They call him the Battle God and this too is wrong, but he does not mind. The name he plays under is his twin’s, the title again his brother’s, the prayers rise from more and more people as time marches on and Ye Xiu builds new legends in a new world.

(The next time he sees Ye Qiu, his brother is brighter. He glows, a little. Ye Qiu snarls at him to come home and Ye Xiu only smiles.

Ye Qiu has no love of Battle, and they were human, once, though it hurts to remember so they can’t be sure where.

Or when.

But they were, once, born. They lived.)

(They may have died.)

He signs on his team for little pay and less recognition, he supports a girl through school in the wake of her brother. He gains victory after victory after victory. He could want nothing else.

(But more victory. Always more victory. Why does he aim ever higher?)

(Why need anyone ask?)

He plays in his brother’s name, his brother tells him to go home, tells him their seniors wane, tells him even the god of companionship has passed into nothing.

(Tells him, in fewer words and less said, that he is alone in the heavens. Come home.)

Ye Xiu rebuilds around the wreckage of a team thrown to greed; he can only pursue victory, and he will not apologize. His brother comes in a business suit; Ye Xiu has retired, has made his point, Ye Qiu will find battle in other places. He glows with health previously near forgotten.

(Ye Xiu does not.)

Ye Xiu rebuilds a team with his own name, to let his brother take his back, now that he can support it. Ye Xiu could play with belief of his own on the line but builds instead a different legend entirely.

Unspecialized.

Myriad manifestations under a single umbrella.

A thousand chances.

(These things did not first belong to him.)

He builds a legend though his time runs low and his mortal self ages, near withers for lack of belief. His name is revealed and it barely revitalizes; long since should he have returned home to renew.

(Belief is for the legend; only those who know him as himself can fuel him, now.)

(It isn’t many.)

(It isn’t none.)

He does one more thing, first. One more legend, one more belief.

A single story that won’t be forgotten.

Of victory, but also versatility. Of a boy now dead.

(Ye Xiu was dead once, perhaps. It hurts to think. He doesn’t know. If the gods were omniscient, how could they have fallen?)

He raises victory in his hands with fingers that tremble and an end he always knew would come, but also a beginning.

He returns to the heavens, as he should.

(He’ll see if a boy made legend, made god, now waits for him there.)

 

 

(And if called, of course, victory will always return.)

(His heart beats to victory, the only belief he’s ever needed at all.)