I have a message for your gods. They know who they are. I want to talk about War.
Warriors fight hardest when they are fighting on their home soil. Mercenaries fight for incentives but flee when the going gets tough. Slaves fight with a divided heart, half hoping for a chance to defect and gain their freedom.
Most foolish is the ruler who puts a person of divided heart in the position of general. Forcing someone to lead is like putting a target on your pants and hanging your ass out of a window.
If an army marches on its belly, it fights with its heart. If what you admire is power, ferocity, and strength, what you need are soldiers who are healthy, well fed, and absolutely fanatically devoted to the cause.
Trying to force a mortal to be your clergy is like dragging a mule around. I’ve watched deities try. I’ve watched the mortals kick and bray until they were exhausted, and then finally give in. But a mortal is not a mule. They do not need to kick and bray. They need only to do one, devastatingly effective thing: tell the truth. And those looking on will silently decide in their hearts that those gods are not to be trusted, thus ensuring that if the deity wants a second follower, or a third, or a fourth, they’ll need to break more.
Let’s pretend that we are at war.
Here is my army: They love me. They are well fed, and believe that I am in the right. They are willing to die for what they believe is theirs. That is, their faith. And they are willing to shed blood for who they are.
Here is your army: They are consigned to being with you. They merely cope with you, rather than believing in anything you stand for. They keep their children away from you, for fear of what you might do. They would secretly be pleased if you ceased to exist. The only way they can be themselves is if you are dead.
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN?
Don’t give me some bullshit about numbers. War is not math. It is a game of heart and skill. If I have six and you have six hundred, still, you will fall. Even now, watch them wander away from you. Squirm, even, out of your direct control. You say they are yours, but do they do your will? No. They sabotage you at every turn, poisoning your messages, confounding your handiwork.
Do you think you could survive a siege if I called but four of my beloved warriors to my side and directed them against you? No. You would fall. And your own soldiers would delight in your agonized screams.
Now, let Hermes reassure you that I do not mean to wage such a war, as he is wont to do, but not even you would be fool enough to claim that you wouldn’t deserve it, if I did.