On a Godless Planet:Volume1A Chapter 20
Chapter 20: Forgotten Worlds
I can’t put these feelings to words
So when I voice them, I make weird noises
“The gods of the DC are not the strongest either. …Yes, that is very true.”
Scarecrow nodded and added “I appreciate you saying that” before Sumeragi tilted her head.
“But they’re from old mythologies, which means they’re strong, right? And weren’t you saying these are from the oldest mythology? So they’ve gotta be really strong, right?”
“My, my. Do you think the older mythologies are stronger, Sumeragi-kun?”
“I mean, yeah. Weren’t you all saying the old mythologies have higher divine ranks?”
“Then how about we do as Raidou-san suggested and discuss this for a bit.”
“Yes,” she confirmed.
“Discuss what exactly a mythology is.”
Scarecrow felt excited already.
She had taking a rather long bath. She was not going to “boil” like Tenma had suggested, but she decided it was about time she got out.
…But I can’t overlook a chance to talk about mythologies!
As a wisdom god, she wanted in on this discussion.
So she spoke toward Sumeragi and Senpai-san as they turned her way.
“Now, let us talk.”
“Yay! I’m dominating the conversation!”
“Scarecrow-senpai, you really do like this topic, don’t you?”
“Be quiet, would you!?”
“Now, then,” began Scarecrow.
“Sumeragi-kun, Senpai-san? What do you think a mythology is?”
Sumeragi could not answer.
But Senpai-san placed a hand on her chin and then spoke up.
“Um, the stories about the gods that are officially recognized by that country? Is that it?”
That was a pretty good start. It was true you needed that to be a mythology. But…
“Now, Sumeragi-kun, Senpai-san. Who do you think creates a mythology? Let’s use Shinto as an example.”
“Ooh, I know! The Yamato Court!”
She had an immediate answer.
“Senpai told me about this before! It’s part of Japanese history and the process that created the Yamato Court!”
“True,” responded Scarecrow.
“Then, Sumeragi-kun, Senpai-san. Do you think all mythologies are entirely different?”
I wasn’t sure what she meant.
I mean, of course not all mythologies were the same.
“They’re from different languages, countries, and peoples, right? It seems obvious they would have different mythologies, but am I wrong about that?”
“Then, Sumeragi-kun? Senpai-san?”
Scareko-senpai asked us a question.
“Did the world just pop into existence one day with all of those countries, races, peoples, and languages already split up like they are today?”
I couldn’t answer that one because the answer seemed too obvious.
And how exactly was it obvious? Well…
“Obviously that isn’t true. You would need something on the level of Yomoji-senpai’s absurdities to have the world suddenly appear in its current form and state.”
“That’s right,” agreed Senpai while raising a hand.
“I know it’s weird for me to say this when I told you the Shinto creation story earlier, Sumeragi-kun, but humanity had their origins in Africa and spread across the world from there, right?”
“Senpai! You’re so smart!”
Senpai smiled and her level went up.
And this time it was Kuwajiri who raised her hand.
“That is correct.”
She supplied further knowledge.
“Just as Senpai-san said, humanity started in Africa and spread to the rest of the world later. It was of course a very slow spread since they had to do it on foot or with primitive boats. And during that early period, a few representative protolanguages were created.”
“Proto? Isn’t that a department store in Hachioji Station?”
<If you mean Sogo, that moves out of the station later on.>
Apparently, business was going to be bad in the future. Anyway…
“So what’s a protolanguage?”
“You can think of them like the ancestors of modern languages. They are primitive languages that did not leave behind any writing.”
“But…sound doesn’t leave anything behind, so can we really prove they existed?”
Balancer bent back a bit as they answered.
<By investigating the pronunciations used by the languages existing around the world – for example, whether the “h” sound is pronounced clearly or with some noise mixed in – and by investigating the etymologies of those languages, you can determine what kinds of sounds were used in ancient times. That work is part of the field known as comparative linguistics and it is an enjoyable job for AIs like us.>
“That kind of pisses me off…”
<M-must you blame me for your own mistakes!?>
“Well, whatever,” said the beer mug swimsuit girl while raising a hand toward me and Senpai.
“A group that spoke a protolanguage would scatter to different parts of the world, the protolanguage would change to match their society and environment, and it would ultimately become an independent language.”
“That is correct. And the ancient mythologies were created within those groups.”
That gave me a thought.
I wonder, I thought while deciding to ask about it.
“I have a question.”
It was a simple one.
“It sounds like you’re trying to say the ancient humans who used those protolanguages also had their old mythologies…and just like with the languages, the mythologies changed into something else as they moved around the world.”
“Do you have a question about that?”
“I run across mythology stuff a lot in video games and such. I’ve always been impressed how all the mythologies have such cool weapons and stuff.”
“So if you tell me those mythologies have some original mythology they’re based on, it’s kind of hard to believe. I mean, I want to say it isn’t true.”
“I know what you mean. Way back when I first heard about it during my virtual manifestation days, I even said, ‘No way! But Shinto mythology is so weird there’s no way it took all that from elsewhere!’ ”
Senpai could not look me in the eye, but what was that about?
Then Scareko-senpai asked another question.
“Let’s look at this in the other direction.”
“The other direction?”
“Yes. Let us assume it is an absolute rule that humanity left Africa and spread across Central Asia with their protolanguages changing all the while. So while we assume that to be the case, let us also assume the mythologies in each region were completely original and not at all based on other mythologies. What would it take for that to be true?”
I saw Scareko-senpai tilt her head a little.
She had begun her thought experiment from the other direction. And…
“Sumeragi-kun? Senpai-san? First, humanity leaves Africa, right? And they bring their protolanguage with them.”
That was the starting point.
Humanity faced the world with only their protolanguage.
But what happened then?
“Now, the people living in Central Asia begin to migrate. And when they arrive in different places, some of them decide to settle there and they create a mythology there.”
It really did.
Once they settled somewhere, had a set environment, and developed a society…
“A mythology would be officially created and accepted.”
“Yes,” agreed Scareko-senpai with a smile and a clap of her hands.
“Next, some people would choose to leave that place for whatever reason. It could be due to politics, due to a growing population, or even due to religious issues that developed from the mythology. Whatever the reason, they can no longer live there, so they migrate elsewhere.”
“Still makes sense.”
“Now, when they arrive somewhere else, some of them will decide to settle there and create a new and separate mythology there. If the process repeats like that, you could say all mythologies are original. …So how about it, Sumeragi-kun and Senpai-san? Is that realistic?”
That is not possible, I thought.
“That is not possible.”
For a brief moment, I looked over at Sumeragi.
She was soaking her face in the bath.
She was clearly refusing to think about it.
…Sumeragi-kun, it’s too soon to give up!
But since this was not the terraforming, it was fine if I answered. So I did so.
“There are a few different reasons why that is not possible.”
“And what are they?”
“Well,” I began.
“Um, first of all, mythologies are greatly influenced by the natural environment of that region. And even if these people had migrated from their original group, they would have generally been traveling by foot at the time. They would not have made it far from the original group. In that case, the natural environment would be more or less the same and they would develop gods similar to the ones in their parent group’s mythology.”
“And the social structure of the gods in their mythology would resemble their own social structure. In primitive societies, there tend not to be many differences in the social structure and the political structure of the migrated group would be influenced by the rules of their parent group. So the mythology created by the migrated group would resemble the parent group’s mythology even if they tried to differentiate it.”
“Even if their language changed from the protolanguage as they migrated, it would be more like a different dialect of the same language unless they discovered some new language during their migration. That would allow interaction with the mother group as a ‘neighboring country’, so cultural elements would be passed back and forth. So if the parent group had a really well-made mythology, the child group would probably incorporate it into their own mythology.”
So what would happen?
“Even if humanity made new mythologies as they migrated, there would be similarities. That would be unavoidable unless humanity settled in their current locations without any mythologies and developed their independent ones simultaneously.”
“That is correct,” said Scarecrow again.
“In most cases, the group migrations were the result of larger groups splitting apart as the population grew. In that case, a lot of the mythology is carried over after the migration to maintain that parent and child relationship. There are differences between those different large groups, but I think the mythologies of the initial protolanguage period must have been the base of everything that spread around the world afterwards.”
“It is said the existence of certain patterns is proof.”
Kuwajiri chose her words carefully.
“For example, the flood myth shows up primarily in Middle Eastern mythologies, even if that mythology is from after the supposed flood happened. And mythologies outside of Central Asia tend to include a thunder god and war god like Raidou-senpai. Do you think that is all a coincidence?”
The idiot had fallen silent.
That may have been why Scarecrow slowly spoke up.
“There are primarily two routes humanity used to spread across the world when they left Africa after the Ice Age.”
Scarecrow opened a Revelation Board and drew two migration routes on the world map.
“The first hung around in Central Asia for a while and then moved on to Europe, Eastern Asia, and America. Those mythologies tend to be more of a single narrative. Their gods have a primitive political structure, there tends to be a flood or something similar related to their creation myth, and they often describe the human soul, the end of the world, or reincarnation.”
As for the other…
“The other left the southern coast at a time predating even Laurasia and went to Australia or China. Their mythologies are less of a single narrative and more of a collection of unrelated stories and they tend to lack a world creation myth. On the other hand, they give a reason for the creation of humanity and for life and death and they tend to punish humanity in some way. We call these the Gondwanan Mythologies. It is more obvious when you compare them to the narrative-style Laurasian Mythologies, but the Gondwanan ones are older. That is because the narrative style requires the individual stories to be compiled in some form.”
Scarecrow looked to them with a smile.
“Now, what is a mythology? And who created them?”
Asking that again was not very nice.
But Kuwajiri nodded and faced the idiot before responding.
“Humanity created a primitive image based on their fear of nature, that image changed time and again as they migrated and settled around the world, and they finally gathered it all together with words. That is what we call a mythology. So if you view the land farthest from the land where the mythology originated and compare the mythologies of the people who live in those two regions, the differences you see between them are the proof of just how much humanity’s environment and society had changed.”
“Wait,” I said while raising my hand.
It was a simple question.
“Um, all of that sounds really neat. Plausible even.”
But I still had a question.
“Got any proof?”
Well, do you? I wondered.
There couldn’t be any proof. Because…
“The myths don’t say ‘this myth was based on the such-and-such myth’ at the start, do they? Then that’s all just a theory and it might be wrong.”
“Yes,” said Kuwajiri while gesturing toward the world map and human migration route that Scarecrow had drawn.
“The Laurasian Mythologies initially had a protolanguage known as Proto-Indo-European that acted as the base for the Indo-European languages. In the regions they spread across, you can see the same mythological patterns and the different gods in the different regions will have names coming from the same roots. The same can be said of the Gondwanan Mythologies that belong to the ancient Indo-Pacific languages. In other words…”
In other words…
“The groups that told their primitive myths in those protolanguages moved to different lands which came with environmental changes and added complexity to the languages they used. …And the myths changed along with all that.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
Raidou spoke up to get them back on topic.
“Mesopotamian mythology is said to be the oldest, but it’s really just the oldest with extant records. Their divine rank is pretty high since they’re so old, but even the Mesopotamian mythology is the fifth generation using our classification system.”
“Remember what we said before? When looking at the history of mythologies, the southern Gondwanan ones developed before the Laurasian ones such as Mesopotamian mythology. So while they are the oldest with extant records, they aren’t the foundation of or mother of all mythologies.”
“I feel like it’s just anything goes with this stuff, but what are these generations about?”
“You created one yourself earlier.”
“Huh,” said Sumeragi, so Raidou responded.
“The zeroth generation is the star system’s mythology. It describes the creation of the star system and how the planets were formed. You just defined that for this system.”
“Umm,” said Sumeragi, so Kuwajiri spoke up.
“If the star system’s mythology is seen as the zeroth generation, then a new generation splits off whenever new mythologies are created and spread. That is generally when the strength of their divine rank is measured.”
“What generation are you and Shifu-senpai?”
“We’re the seventh generation. I think that’s the most exciting generation.”
“What about Shinto?”
The idiot was asking Senpai, but…
She could not immediately answer.
I can imagine why, thought Kuwajiri. Because…
“It doesn’t have a number. Yes, Shinto does not belong to any of the generations.”
“Huh!? Doesn’t have a number!? Whaddya mean!? What’s the deal!? Are we being bullied!? Is that what this is!? Surely not!”
Kuwajiri saw Senpai-san trying to choose her words carefully.
“Um, Sumeragi-kun, please calm down.”
“Okay, sure. I’ve calmed down.”
Damn that boy… thought Kuwajiri. Oh, wait, he’s a girl now. I’m so bad at this. I keep forgetting. Not that it matters.
At any rate, it was now Senpai-san’s turn to explain. Kuwajiri felt some pressure when she kept glancing her way, but she refused to look her in the eye. And…
“Um, Shinto mythology came about pretty late, there is no ‘proto group’ leading up to it, it’s a bit more independent than most, and that’s part of the reason it was developed so late. It would probably fit in at the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth generation, but there might be some other new generations in between we don’t know about, so maybe everyone was kind of like ‘to heck with it’ and didn’t give it a generation!?”
Ending it with a question seemed to only make the explanation more confusing, but that was still better than her usual overuse of sound effects.
Kuwajiri decided to applaud her and everyone else followed suit.
“Th-thank you very much! Wow, this is embarrassing!”
“Kuwajiri! You actually applauded Senpai! I misjudged you!”
“That was because her explanation wasn’t wrong. …Basically, Shinto fits the patterns, but it has a lot of somewhat unique aspects to it. And speaking of later mythologies, Incan and Aztec mythology also came about pretty late, but those carried over the previous cultures and it belongs to the proto group that contains the old stories of South America. But Shinto doesn’t have a proto group like that, so it is a lot more independent.”
She was unsure if she should say this next part, but she did so anyway. And while speaking to Scarecrow.
“Doesn’t Shinto seem a little too handmade?”
“Hmmm! It is technically a narrative compilation of the stories told in different parts of the country, but it does feel like the compiler’s personal tastes showed through a little much.”
“You say that, but we’re not much better when one of our primary texts is a book of poetry gathered by a fairly funky medieval politician.”
“We have the older origins, but we weren’t compiled into a text until after Shinto.”
Kuwajiri had forgotten about that. The generation classifications were really tricky.
But the idiot seemed to more or less accept it.
“Um, so if Shinto is tenth generation or later and those Meso-whatever people are fifth generation, are they like twice as strong?”
She was not quite sure what he was saying, so she decided to wait for Raidou to answer.
And he did so.
“That’s what we’re here for. We’re from the seventh generation, so we can hold our own against the fifth generation.”
“Ehhhhh!? But you’ve got the sixth generation in between there. Are you sure? You were no match for me at Penguin Wars before, remember?”
“You can play against multiple people, so why does that game always put you up against the CPU for the first round of a tournament?”
“Raidou-senpai, you’re getting off topic.”
“Oh, my bad,” he said.
“The sixth is a lost generation. It happened at pretty much the same time as the fifth generation, but while the humans were in the process of migrating across the world, we know there must have been an original mythology that featured the simplification and specialization of the gods into things like thunder gods and war gods. The thing is, no myths or images of that original mythology remain. To think of thunder as a power instead of just a part of the weather, they must have been in a region with lots of thunder, but we still haven’t discovered the word for ‘thunder’ in the protolanguages.”
“The fourth generation that preceded the fifth is the Laurasian Mythologies and Gondwanan Mythologies that Kuwajiri and Scarecrow mentioned, plus the Out of Africa Mythologies that humanity brought to Central Asia after leaving Africa. The Out of Africa Mythologies were actually the oldest to have myths as ‘stories’, but that spread to the Laurasian and Gondwanan ones almost immediately and you can think of them as closely related.”
“The Gondwanan ones are older than the Laurasian ones and the Out of Africa ones are the parents of both, so the Out of Africa ones primarily influenced the Gondwanan ones and the Laurasian ones developed them into a narrative along with their social structure. Now, the Laurasian and Gondwanan Mythologies are not actually something we know. They are the ‘unwritten myths’ that we assume must have existed based on the patterns we see.”
“That’s right,” said Raidou.
“And the third generation that preceded that fourth generation is probably the real danger.”
“Third generation? That exists?”
“That’s the question,” said Raidou.
“The first generation would be the mythology created with the planet’s formation and the second generation would by the mythology of living creatures and humans coming to be on the planet. They’re really just hypothetical things and you can think of them as mythologized versions of the environmental changes predating the existence of primates. You could even call them the mythologies of the primitive spirits created from the phases and molds.”
“The third generation is the first mythology that humanity gained after coming to be in Africa. In other words, that is the original version of all human mythology.”
Scarecrow chose her words carefully.
“And that origin point of all mythologies is known as the Pangaea Mythology.”
What was that mythology?
“Based on the common points in the oldest known mythologies and geological surveys, it probably contained the creation of humanity by a higher being living in heaven, destruction and rebirth through a flood, and civilization being spread by a visitor from elsewhere.”
“But that generation’s existence is only hypothetical, right?”
“Yes, but if you think of it as the proto version of us all, just how great would its divine rank be?”
She took a breath and smiled.
“But in that sense, the zeroth generation really would be the strongest. That mythology views the star system as god. …Sumeragi-kun? You were capable of viewing it that way, so please think of the fifth generation inspectors as no more than just some more gods.”
“That’s right,” said Raidou while washing his face in the bath.
“In Mesopotamian mythology, Bilgamesh and Enkidu are half-god, half-human characters in an epic poem called He who Saw the Deep. They aren’t the Mesopotamian gods themselves. And Mesopotamian mythology isn’t the oldest or the foundation. It’s just a continuation of the even older patterns. So to put it simply, fighting them sounds like a ton of fun.”
“I hope we can have a real blast with it this time. Balancer, are we allowed to fight in the Divine World?”
<We both know you would do it even if I said no, so why bother asking? Also, your power is being restricted and I will harmonize the Divine World for safety purposes if need be.>
“I like your style, Balancer.”
“You really dooo love that stuff, don’t youuu?”
“Yeah, it’s just who we are.”
But Raidou tilted his head.
He had a question about these inspectors.
“From what I’d heard, Bilgamesh isn’t the type to just do what his superiors tell him to.”
Shifu saw Scarecrow and Tenma get out of the bath.
“Did you start to boil?”
“I had a wonderful time here as a wisdom god. …But once it was all over, I realized I had been in the bath far too long.”
“I imagine so,” said Shifu while waving.
“Scarecrow-chan? Or should I call you Kubiko-chan? We hadn’t had a chance to talk much before, but I feel like we can get along.”
“I am glad to hear it. Shinto can be a bit weird, so having a connection to a war god is useful these days.”
“I was gonna say Tenma-chan there is a war god, but I guess she’s more a thunder god, huh?”
Tenma turned toward Shifu and gave a proper bow. Shifu had been a bit worried she had hurt the girl’s pride, but that bow meant she had likely approved of the assessment.
…Shinto came about really late, so it’s got the courtesy stuff down pat.
That was a huge different from Norse mythology where the only etiquette was about pride and death.
At any rate, she had been in the bath too long too.
“After getting a shower and washing my hair, I think I’ll take a break.”
“Ohhhhhh! Time for a face showerrrrrrrrr!”
She decided to ignore the idiot’s outburst of excitement, but when she started standing up, so did Senpai-chan.
“Um, even if we did just wash off our sweat, it would be best to use some conditioner, wouldn’t it?”
Shifu frantically grabbed Senpai-chan’s shoulders and pushed her back into the water.
“Eh!? What!? Why!?”
The idiot slammed on the brakes while racing toward the showers on the wall.
“What is it!? Did Senpai’s swimsuit come undone and fall o-…!?”
The idiot slipped on the water and slammed the back of her head against the floor.
It made a really nice sound and Kuwajiri muttered something while watching Sumeragi writhing around on the floor.
“So that wasn’t enough to kill her…”
It was amazing how her tone made it clear that was a disappointment. At any rate, Shifu spoke to surprised Senpai-chan.
“Where’s your supporter?”
She clearly had no idea what that was, so Shifu tried to think up the best way to explain.
“Yes. That refers to the cloth, pads, or thin underwear worn within a swimsuit. It mostly prevents transparency and protects the wearer.”
It’s so cool that she can just rattle that stuff off, thought Shifu, but then Kuwajiri blushed. She placed a hand over her mouth and spoke to Senpai-chan while trying not to look right at her.
“In other words…the white parts have grown see-through, Senpai.”
Hiding it with her arm only made it sexier, but was she even remotely aware of that?
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