[image description: A horse’s – well, the animated remains of a horse – looks disapprovingly out at you from the ember that glows in his ruined eye socket. Upper left, a word balloon: “You’re just beating a dead horse here Wilbur…” Behind him, ruined shapes stand silhouetted against an apocalyptic red sky. Text reads, “152, MISTER DEAD ~ SMALL GOD OF ALL THOSE DAMNED ZOMBIES”]
A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course, And no one can talk to a corpse, of course, That is of course unless the corpse Is the famous Mister Dead!
He walked among the world of the living before his ascension to the ranks of the divine. This doesn’t make him unique by any standards—the heavens and the hells are filled with horses of a different color—but it does make him well-equipped to understand the trials and travails of the human world.
And one of the things he figured out shortly after he died (on the set of a penny Western) and watched the children of the extras prodding his corpse with sticks—he! Who had been the hero of Hollywood, the best known of the equine actors of his generation—was that humans, by and large, are dreadful creatures, all the more beastly because they fight so hard to deny that they are beasts.
So he decided to remind them.
His gifts are inner peace, contentment with the world, and a gnawing, endless hunger that will eventually bring even the most pacifistic of humans to consume their neighbors. He reminds them that they are animal, and then he reminds them that they are dead, even as he is dead, even as all flesh will one day be dead. He sets them free.
And if he triggers a nice apocalypse in the progress, well, he’s down for that.
The other gods argue over whether he should be considered a god of vengeance or pestilence, or even war. Mister Dead never gets involved.
He knows, above all, that he is a god of mercy.
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: