In the Golden Age, when the Gods were young, Giants roamed the land.
In their insatiable hunger, the Giants consumed and assimilated most life that Mother birthed. Most, because Root, Twig and Leaf, the most unimpressive of Mother’s children, were left alone. The Giants did not notice them, for there were far more interesting things to eat, and if the Giants reasoned at all, they thought that they would get around to them eventually.
Root was forever burrowing. Twig was forever growing higher and higher. And Leaf cared for nothing more than sitting in the sun. They were content in their way, and saw no reason to change, and saw no reason to talk to one another.
Uncounted aeons passed, and Mother’s bounty knew no end. The Giants grew bigger and bigger, eating Mother’s children. Sometimes the Giants would crush Leaf, knock over Twig, and rip Root from its burrow. But night never fell in the Golden Age, and all three would grow back in time. They cared for nothing but what they did, for it was their nature, and it was what they were for.
But eventually it all changed, as things do, when a Giant ate a God.
The Gods had been much like Leaf and Root and Twig, reveling in their roles, perfecting their allotted natures. They had never known threat, but when one of their number was swallowed up, they learnt anger and fury. The Gods gathered, and sought the guilty Giant, and slew it. They cut out the devoured God, and thought their victory complete.
But the natural balance was irrevocably skewed. For the first time, Mother’s bounty faltered, and night fell upon the world.
While the Gods celebrated their victory and ate their first kill, Root, Leaf and Twig realized that things would never be the same again. Leaf shivered in that first cold night, Twig grew very afraid in that dark, and Root was frozen as the earth grew cold. But they loved Mother very much, and were sure that everything would be all right. Still, they saw no reason to talk to each other, and once the first morning rose, on they went, content that things were as they should be.
That dawn was the beginning of the Silver Age. The Gods, usually separated by their chosen spheres, had become a community in that raucous night of celebration. They had found a common Purpose. All this was well and good, but the biggest Giant, hearing the noise, had decided that there must be good eating in that direction. Beaten back by the combined power of the Gods, the Giant lumbered off, troubled by something it had never known before. Fear and threat. It went to find others of its own kind, others of its Purpose. By the second night of the world, the war had begun.
Leaf and Twig and Root suffered the most, by a long margin. The Gods swamped Giants they found wandering alone, and crushed Leaf, broke Twig and severed Root whenever they got in the way. The Giants herded together for protection, as they were unbelievably huge but very slow to react. In their hunger, the Giants had no choice but to eat Leaf, and crunch Twig and munch Root, for there was very little food to share between all the Giants gathered in one place.
The uncountable aeons of the Silver Age passed by. The Gods countered the Giants, in some design or other, and the Giants would respond in kind, developing a counter. The Gods would change their form, all the better to hunt, only to have the Giants tear pieces from themselves, to make them all the more elusive. Night followed day followed night. And the whole time, Leaf, Twig and Root were being eaten and eaten and eaten.
Eventually Leaf, the most sensitive, got a bit cross.
‘Things are getting out of hand. This has got to be stopped.’
Twig didn’t answer. ‘Love mother, have faith,’ said Root sleepily.
But on and on went the devastation. Before long every part of the world was filled with bits of Giant, hiding from parts of Gods, in an eternal dance of hunter and prey. The seas were filled with darting forms, the sky full of wings. And all took their fill of Leaf and Twig and Root, whenever they pleased.
‘I told you something had to be done,’ snapped Leaf again, after a thousand years had passed. ‘They’ve started to use us now for things other than eating. Twig, don’t you find it degrading?’
Twig was quiet for a decade, and then answered. ‘Yes, a bit. Root, maybe we should do something?’
‘Love mother, have faith,’ repeated Root.
On and on the battle went, in the production of ingenious forms. The eventual outcome was two groups that had developed into the most general way possible, adapted for adaptability. They warred across the lands, in attack and counter, having taken to using stick and stones as weapons, and burrowing into the earth to hide.
‘That does it,’ snapped Root, who was finally starting to feel a little uncomfortable. ‘I think we should do something about this.’
‘Finally,’ said Leaf, who had been holding its breath for a hundred years.
In these two groups were individual parts of the whole, which wandered away from their groups one day, drawn by the sight of something they had never seen before. Leaf was balanced on Twig, and Twig was held firmly to the ground by Root. It towered over the Giant and the God, who were by now neither of those things. From Twig, shaded by Leaf, and fed by Roots water, grew the first Fruit.
It shone red in a monochrome world.
The Giant and the God saw each other, but were so struck by the sight of the first tree, that they didn't attack or hide. Leaf and Twig and Root never did this. The God and the Giant didn’t even know that they could do this. Something must have changed.
After the shock and the wonder passed, the Fruit became the most important thing. They both needed to be the one to take back the Fruit to their tribe. To bring news and proof that something had changed. They both broke into a run, intent on getting to the Fruit first.
The Giant, ever quick in evading, got there first, and snatched the fruit from Twig and ran away. Hearing the God behind, the Giant ran with all its speed, but the irresistible smell of the Fruit proved too much for the perpetually hungry Giant. A bite was taken in mid-run, and the Giant suddenly stopped.
The Fruit fell from the Giants fingers, and rolled to the Gods feet. It was snatched back and carried the other way. One again, the scent of the Fruit proved too strong, even to the God, it took a bite, and it stopped. Dead in its tracks.
In that moment, the Silver Age ended. Something had changed within them, and they knew in their hearts that it had changed them forever. They were both suddenly aware of themselves, as individuals, not as some part of an eternal war. They shared the Fruit and ran off together, fearful that their own kind would hunt them down, for having a Purpose all their own.
Thus began the Age of Bronze. Mother’s bounty failed that night, so much that next morning, all Giants and God, in all their forms, and even Leaf and Twig and Root, found themselves mortal, and starved of Mother’s bounty. They were locked in their forms, and unable to change. Mother fell deeper into her sleep, and her care for her children grew weaker. The seasons came and the weather changed from day to day. Both tribes felt Mothers anger, and were forced to retreat from the world, leaving their sundered brethren to fend for themselves, locked in their patterns of hunter and prey. The Gods sought refuge among the highest peaks of the tallest mountains, while the Giants hid deep in the earth. And the two betrayers, those whom had Purpose all their own, begat the line of humans.
‘I told you we should have left it alone,’ said Leaf, who was tired of staying so close to Twig.
‘You think you’ve got problems,’ said Root grumpily, with Twig balanced on its head.