The peasants have gathered here in this desolate locale buried deep in the dark, overgrown thickets of the jungle to participate in something at once taboo and sacred, just it once was, so long ago. Crumbling ziggurats can be seen struggling to hold their last vestiges of existence aganist the choking vegetation that threatens to complete their work of completely obscuring the very sight of these ancient monuments from the sight of men. It is to these forlorn ruins that they have come, these simple peasants with their humble offerings, hoping to seek the mercy and assistance of a power that once dominated this world in the ages before the pale-skinned strangers first set foot on its soil. The monuments that surround them are far older than those of imperial Arahui that were razed and defiled by the pale ones, creations of a lost culture that already lay mouldering beyond a span known to mortal memory when their ancestors made their epic arrival in the foothills of ancient Hilla. But the giant stone pythons that can be seen poking out their much eroded visages from the foliage stand as testament to the enduring nature of the Flayed One, who was already old and revered when the Arahuains were still a young and savage nation.
As the python sheds his skin only to sprout a new and fresh one, so does creation pursue the heels of destruction endlessly. New forms and customs only serve as the latest mediums for ancient truths.
These supplicants are simple farmers born to the race conquered by the pale ones who came from over the sea to enslave the natives of Thautol and seize their riches. Unlike their wealthy ancestors of ancient Arahui, they live in simple poverty, mining gold and silver not for their own chiefs whom are mired in penury, but for the wealthy merchants and nobles among the pale ones who prospered rapidly in the land that they had unjustly robbed from its previous owners. These natives are also ignorant of their glorious legacy, unable as they are to decipher the intricate pictographs of ancient Arahaui. Their crude, guttural tongue is a bastardized melding of the old language of their ancestors and the new one imposed on them by their conquerers. In no way do these subjugated folk resemble their proud and valorous ancestors.
But just as it appears to the casual observer that all of native Tahutol is dead, an ancient relic of that seemingly lost past still survives.
Their enslaved fathers, determined to ensure that at least some semblance of their great traditions reached their children, sought to worship in secret the Flayed One. Destruction had laid waste to their culture, but was not destruction always followed by creation? This dark period that had overcome them was not destined to last forever. Time was endlessly supple as the regenerating hide of the python, as supple as the ways of the Flayed One. At the beginning of every new epoch of creation, he is born from the bowels of the great cosmic serpent mother, Adita, whose massive coils hold the entire world in their grasp. But as she gives birth to him, forcing out her child from her body through a small and tight orifice, terrible agony wracks her coils, and they, maddened by the intestity of her agony, cause much devastation as they crush the already ruined world in their grip.
But the Flayed One soon puts things right. Ascending to the heavens he becomes the Sun, and shining his rays over the breadth and length of the blighted landscape, fashions out of mud all the things devastated in the preceding era. The trees emerge again, the rivers fill up, and the mountains and hills re-form. And in the core of each of them each of them, he inserts a tiny fragment of his skin that imbues them with the life that has its source in the sacred tattoos which completely obscure every spot of his hide. Finally, when all is ready, the lesser spirits of rain and thunder arrive to do his bidding, eager to carry out his work of creation.
Time passes and the Flayed One rules as master of the world, creative father of all that is known to nature. But he increasingly wearies of the age that overtakes his creations, sickened by the changes that times leaves on them until they are now unrecognizable to his eyes, a pale shadow of what they once used to be. Frustrated and angered by the changes effected by a force that even he cannot bend to his will, he leaves behind the sun-lit lands of his creations and descends to the nether-world in the depths of the ocean where he condemns them all to destruction, summoning his spirit minions once again to carry out his will. Nature turns against his creations, slaying them with great natural disasters. Oblivious to their misery he looks forward with great anticipation to the day where he can emerge from his self-imposed exile to fashion and create new shells for the now evicted souls of all his created things as they now rapidly fill up the halls of the nether world, their mortal frames having been destroyed by the calamities he has wrought.
Soon, the halls of the netherworld are completely filled with the souls of the destroyed. Hungry and famished from their ordeals and fearful that their now shaky existence might dissipate entirely together for want of strength, they at last succumb to their desperate hunger and forgetting all sense of obedience or reverence, fall upon their author and destroyer, life giver and life- taker, ripping off the Flayed One’s skin in great shreds, the very skin that gave them life, fighting among themselves to devour every scrap that they can.
His body tormented by great agony, the Flayed One limps his bleeding way from the depths of the nether world all the way to the hidden entrance that leads to the womb of his mother, Adita. Seeking succour there, he falls into a peaceful sleep, his hide growing anew as he recovers his strength. When he has regrown it completely, Adita expels him again and so the cycle of creation and destruction begins anew.
The ancestors understood the meaning of this truth. Determined to ensure that the secret to their eventual revival should remain vital and fresh even when buried beneath the devastation wrought on it by the pale ones, they accepted the new god imposed on them by their masters as the latest avatar of the Flayed One. The delicate image of the infant Messiah and Redeemer nestled in the lap of his adoring virgin mother that the pale ones worshiped, symbolised to them only the enduring relationship that the Flayed One shares with his progenitor, the serpent-mother Adita. Surprised but pleased by the immediate adoration with which the newly annexed natives took to worshipping the Mesiah and Redeemer, the priests and holy men of the pale ones had now way of understanding that in truth,it was the Flayed One to whom their most recent flock paid homage to.
And now, in the heart of this jungle where no prying eyes will spy on them, the peasants release the sacrificial goat from its pen. All is hushed silence as the goat begins to graze on a nearby-clump of shrubs. The village shaman who presides over these ceremony, begins to hack off the skin on his hands with a great knife, chanting as he does so, ancient hymns of reverence inherited from his father who had in turn, inherited it from his father before him. Scattering the folds of his bloody skin and flesh around the area, he closes his eye in deep concentration, calling upon the godling residing in this place to respond to the petition put forth to him by these humble mortals who have come bearing requests made in the name of of his master, the Flayed One. Suddenly he breaks off in mid-chant, as an agonized bleat cuts through the silence of the worshippers.
A massive python has sprung from the gloom to seize the wretched goat in its massive coils. Its scales a glistening green and its massive body measuring no less than twenty feet, it is an amazing sight that sends shudders of reverential awe mingled with fear down the spines of those who witness its awesome strength in action.
There is elation as well, for they know that this is no mere snake. The godling in his customary guise has come to accept the offering of the people. The aid they sought has been promised to them.
And as this joyous thought comes to them, lightning flashes across the distant horizon, followed almost immediately by great rolling waves of thunder and, more dear to their hopes, a great down-pour of rain that drenches them to their skin. The drought has ended and the crops will flourish. Misery and death have ended, and birth and creation have come again.
Its departure unseen, the now massively engorged python slithers back into the undergrowth.