A/N: This was something I did for an English short story assignment in school, so I thought I'd post it here for kicks. :D
The people used to worship him.
Calling to him when the living fell, calling to him when celebration occurred, and calling to him like they did with every other deity that determined what happened to their empire and what would happen to the world.
To them, he was a god.
But what kind of god becomes forgotten?
Anubis snorted at the thought, stabbing the sharp end of his staff deep into the ground to hoist himself up from his kneeling position. All around him, the dark skies of the Underworld flourished, swirling in an endless, silent storm that didn't sway the faces of the dead pharaohs that moved in front of him. Their eyes, empty and ghostlike, yet filled with satisfaction at their immortal states, gazed upon him. They said nothing.
In the many years that have passed, the grounds beneath them all would've been walked on by the feet of many more pharaohs and subjects, their spirits having passed through the ritual of judgment before being allowed through the gates into eternal life.
As time passed and the Egyptian empire fell, the gods that once supported them fell, too. Descriptions of their deeds and the statues built in their honor were wasted away with each passing second, and no longer did Anubis weigh the hearts of the deceased to determine their worthiness; because they no longer came.
What was the meaning of this?
Anubis asked this question to himself for what felt like the umpteenth time, the ears of his jackal-like head twitching in thought. He had been watching the human race grow more advanced as time went on, the people he once knew disappearing from the mortal realm and leaving behind legacies that promised futures much different than what the god had become used to. Now, pharaohs no longer rode on chariots pulled by the empire's swiftest horses, but instead of contraptions that consisted of metal, running down sand-covered streets with wheels of rubber, holding endurance that could outlast any animal.
What had happened to the great land of Egypt? What happened to the subjects and pharaohs and kingdoms that thrived upon it? Now, statues of him and the other gods no longer guarded buildings. Now, humans had forgotten the ancient preserving ways of mummification, replacing sarcophaguses with simple black boxes that were buried deep into the ground and out of the sight of the very people who loved the deceased ones inside. Now, the subjects of an empire no longer gathered together to construct great structures, but instead relied only on other contraptions to do it – and people passing by these very structures never showed signs of caring about them.
Anubis' eyes narrowed.
Now, no longer did people mention his name in honor; they instead mentioned it for informative purposes. Whenever people in the modern day spoke his name, he was referred to as an imaginary deity that only the ancient Egyptians believed in, creating him out of their own curiosity to explain the laws of existence.
And he couldn't prove them wrong. He couldn't make them believe that he was still there – that even with the fact that the people who followed him were long gone in the mortal realm, he still remained with power and honor.
Perhaps it was because that with the lack of faith, the Underworld was no longer the sanctuary for the dead. The deceased stopped coming, the number of spirits that already resided in the Underworld from the Egyptian empire becoming limited. Perhaps, without faith, him and the rest of the gods really were imaginary deities created by the wondering minds of ancient peoples. Without faith, they didn't have a reason to exist. Without faith, they didn't need to be considered real and it was preposterous to believe they were.
Anubis tightened his hold on his staff. A figure was coming up from behind him, and he knew very well whom it was; the being's scent was unique, as every other god's scent was unique.
"The records remain aged and without new scriptures," the being said, the beak of his ibis-like head moving to his words. "We have not had another spirit enter the gates of the Underworld for centuries."
"Thoth," Anubis said, his voice hiss-like. "We are forgotten. We are but history and a study subject to the humans that now live in the mortal world. We do not have power like we used to. We do not have the people's faith like we used to. Thus, the gates of the Underworld remain without souls asking to get in. Have you heard of the Egyptian people's new beliefs? They believe in two separate worlds after death – one of good and one of bad. They believe in one god, and only one."
"But do they not remember the power that existed because of us?"
Anubis bared his fangs, frustrated. "They have new ways of describing why such powers exist. We are but a simple memory drawn in books of history and fiction. What we were, we no longer are."
Thoth sighed. "Then are we to live in eternity forgotten and imaginary in the eyes of the mortal realm?"
"What can we do to prove ourselves, Thoth? We no longer have the people's faith. Without it, there is no purpose among expecting to ever regain the trust of mortals."
Thoth said nothing after that. It was pointless to add anything else to an argument that couldn't be won. He departed, disappearing into the depths of the Underworld, leaving Anubis to watch over the last few human souls that still believed that they were real.
A god's power only came from the people who believed in them. Without it, they had no value, no reason, no honor, and no power.
Thus, in the world of the living, the gods of Egypt would always be a fantasy.
And, the worst fact of all was that they could do nothing about it.