Tracy interrupted her teacher.
“But, Mr. Thorne, how comes their holy books were only found in temples, couldn’t they just access the data?”
Even with her eyes closed, the little dark haired girl’s face was showing genuine confusion. Born connected, as everyone had been for five centuries, she saw information for what it was: an instantly , omnipresent and self aware pool of data. As a matter of fact, only extremely specific data were still stored within geographical limitation, and it wasn’t rare for lay people to think of that practice as pointless.
Mr.Thorne himself was teaching from a remote location, as he broadcasted sensory inputs directly into the brains of his students. Mr.Thorne was currently teaching a class of 75 million attendees between 7 and 9 years old who, like Tracy, would interrupt him and ask any kind of questions. Mr. Thorne was, of course, an A.I. being.
“Well, if you hadn’t asked me to skip the previous lesson, you would know that books are relics from the pre-Connection era. They are physical objects like the clothes you wear. They were massively produced, then sent to various location for people to barter them against currencies. Do you want me to address currencies later in the lesson, Tracy?”
Tracy opened her eyes, taking some time to ponder over the question while enjoying the scent of the old oak tree she was leaning against. She knew currencies was a depressing topic and, feeling the breeze and early sunlight on her face, she decided against spoiling the moment. “Wait another day please, Mr.Thorne”, she answered as she closed her eyes again, “just tell me more about the old gods”.
“Very well, young one.” The A.I. continued, sending the feeling of amused kindness and the idea of a smile. “As I was telling you, pre-Connection people worshipped a number of gods, and had a very well populated pantheon. The history of their gods was not only told and re-told in the holy books found in temples; it has been recorded that great structures were specifically built to host gathering where congregations would sit in silence and meditate while being counted the same history.
Congregation would sometimes gather and, at specific times of the year, re-enact part of their mythology, mostly by taking the role of one of their gods thanks to costumes and disguises.
Unfortunately, many records were lost during the Corporate Wars of the mid 21st century, and whether these gods were created based on older deities remains a controversy.”
Slightly perplexed, Tracy thought of how silly it would be to impersonate a god. But then, as Mr. Thorne had reminded her by mentioning the War, pre-connection people were said to have engaged in all sorts of irrational behavior. How could one get into violent conflict eluded her. The Connection would show one’s feelings and intention at all times, and it was a matter of common sense to harmonize with it. The books, though, were still intriguing her.
She directed her attention at the A.I. “Mr. Thorne, tell me more about the books, please”.
The teacher sent a thought of acknowledgement and resumed his lecture.
“The actions and interactions of these gods were complex. The priests and heralds thus decided to spread their teaching over time so the people would remember better. They would only send their holy books to the temples chapter by chapter. Devout followers would sometimes keep these chapters unread and shielded from the damages or time, in order to let them gain currency value.”
“How come these books were so valuable?” Tracy wondered.
Mr. Thorne went on. “Because they were the result of a sacrifice, dear one. You see, in order to produce these books, worshippers would sacrifice trees and turn their wood into a medium for the tincture used in drawing the stories inside of them: paper.”
Amazed, Tracy asked again, “But… why were these gods so amazing that people sacrificed trees to them? What was their names anyway?”
Satisfied with the girl’s curiosity, Mr.Thorne explained, “These gods could do all sort of things. They were mostly warriors, intent on subduing the forces of evil. Some were savants, and some were complex representations of the human condition. Their stories often emphasised on the importance of responsibility, especially when given power. Flight, intellect and strengths were amongst their dominant features but interestingly enough, some of them, like the one called The Batman, even assumed animal shapes.”
“It’s crazy what people can come up with when they don’t have enough knowledge, don’t you think, Mr. Thorne?” Tracy enquired.
“Ah, be lenient, child, these people weren’t connected yet. And, to quote one of their most revered adages…’Why so serious?’”
Tracy opened her eyes. Seriousness had nothing to do with it. Leaning against an oak tree was just better than sacrificing it to The Batman. That she knew.