[image description: A figure with side-parted blond hair and a leather jacket sneers with a lit cigarette in their less-than-perfect teeth. The sickly green smoke matches their light eyes. Text reads, “135, Madiel ~ Small God of Smoke”]
Yes, it’s a filthy habit. Good luck finding one of his followers in this modern world who isn’t aware of that. We know that shame doesn’t work to change any other human behavior, but we assume those who crave the calming drag of smoke into their throat and lungs will be somehow susceptible, as if they, like any other house on fire, yearn to be extinguished. Some do. Many don’t.
Madiel is not kind to his followers. He calms them, yes. He quells their appetites. And all he demands for these great gifts is the yellowing of their teeth and the aging of their skin, the sweetness of their breath and the lushness of their hair. When they come to him knowing the exchanges on the table, he has no regrets for what he takes for them: it is the way of the universe, after all, that nothing should be had for nothing, and he is a god. Why should he be the one to pay, when his followers are so very, brutally willing to do it for him?
Madiel is not kind to his followers, and yet he loves them all, from the knowing to the unwary, the ones who have been convinced by gods of propaganda and peer pressure to come to him with their hearts in their hands, ready to pay anything for a drag and a light and a moment of release.
Those gods, he hates. If only the willing came to him, then the toll that he exacts would be so much more fair, and so much less likely to exact the fury of the other gods. But so many are tricked into his arms, and while he will welcome them and make them feel at home, he would rather not have had them to begin with.
But shame is not, and was never the answer.
Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.
Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: