LAUREN HEINZINGER 

is a junior at the University at Buffalo and she is majoring in the Biological Sciences, English, and Psychology. She hopes to one-day earn an MD-PhD, work as a Physician-Scientist, specialize in Infectious Diseases, and investigate the mechanisms by which bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance. Lauren is also a bibliophile and an avid writer. As such, she hopes to publish a plethora of high-fantasy novels on the side.

Once a Goddess, Always a Goddess

The goddess sat upon a broken pillar inside of her dilapidated temple and scowled. The last of her followers had perished over a thousand years ago and the only people who visited her now were “tourists”. The mortal invaders from lands near and far took instant paintings with small rectangular devices, but they smiled and laughed as they did so. To make matters worse, they even stole parts of her home to show off in things called “museums”. They even installed the blinding circles of lights that lit up her temple at night, like a miniature suns that never retired.

     The sight of their corruption, their blunt disrespect for her status, and the infestation of their devices in her home made her sick.

     I am a war goddess, she thought, glaring at the humans who could not see her. I deserve to be worshiped. If she had even a fraction of the powers she used to possess, she would have put them all back in their place.

     “Are you pouting again, Morrigana?”

     The goddess whirled toward the sound and hissed.

     Standing at the entrance of her temple was the stupid angel. The annoying cherub boy with wings. When she first saw him, she thought he was a cousin of hers, maybe some descendant of Cupid perhaps, but no, he was from a foreign land. Heaven, he called it. Apparently, he was its messenger. The angel boy visited her multiple times throughout the eons and every time he came, he claimed he brought the word of God.

     The first time she heard this, she laughed. “I am the Goddess Morrigana,” she had said as she drew herself to her full height. “I am the goddess of death, darkness, shape-shifting, and shadows. My other names include the Mighty Queen, the Phantom Queen, and the Queen of Darkness. I control all the lands between Ireland and Turkey. My followers love me almost as much as they fear me.”

     “That might be true,” the cherub said, “but you won’t control those lands forever. Already, some of your followers have converted to the one true religion. It won’t be long until the rest follow.”

     A darkness fell upon Morrigana’s face and she threw her hand out. She meant to turn the vermin into a cockroach but he had already taken to the air.

     “I am a mere follow of my Father,” he said as he flapped his wings, flying toward the roof of her temple. “I am just an angel but yet I was able to dodge your blow. Think of what that means. Think of how strong my Father must be. Convert, I say. Convert!”

     “Never,” the Goddess growled as she thrust out a hand in a vain attempt to curse him again. The angel disappeared and Morrigana sighed as she lowered her arm. She didn’t believe what he said, not for a moment, but she couldn’t stop herself from frowning. The fact that he was able to resist her power inside her own temple, where she was strongest, was a bit concerning.

     He must be a rival god, she concluded. A strong one.

     A thousand years passed from their first meeting to their second. In that time, most of her power had waned. Even though the goddess didn’t realize it until it was too late, the angel had spoken the truth. His faith was spreading across the land and burning those who believed in her. His followers were slaughtering the ones who gave her power.

     “Why don’t you convert?” The angel asked the next time he visited her. “It’s so easy. Think of Saint Bridget. She was once a pagan goddess but after my Father’s envoys reached her, she converted. She knew that she could never defeat us. Our followers outnumbered hers twenty thousand to one. Bridget converted and lives to this day. If you do not convert, you shall die.”

     “Then I will die,” Morrigana said. She refused to assimilate into a foreign religion and give up all her titles. "This is my home and my land. I will not let you come and take it from me."

     The angel boy sighed and took to the air, flying through a hole in her shrine’s ceiling. “You’ve already lost it.”

     Morrigana wanted to attack him, but she knew there was no point. If she couldn’t kill him the last time when she was at her full strength, it would be impossible for her to kill him now, weakened as she was. The goddess told herself that she was the one to spare him, even though deep down she knew the truth.

     I’m not as strong as I once was.

     Yet another thousand years passed before the angel visited her for the third and final time. As the years passed between his second and third visit, she grew to rue her own arrogance and stupidity. She should have converted to his faith when she had the chance. If she had, she would not be wasting away in some hole in the ground, alone and forgotten. Mocked by the mortals who once revered her. If she had just assimilated, she might not be a goddess anymore but at least she’d be powerful and free. Not stuck all alone in a ruined temple with only the miniature suns and “tourists” to keep her company.

     “Will you convert now?” The angel asked as he walked into her shrine for the third time. He was glowing brighter than ever, and Morrigana had to shield her eyes to protect them for his glory.

     The dying goddess jumped to her feet, or as quickly as she could in her weakened state.

     “Yes, I will,” she said.

     The angel smiled and held out his hand. “Good. In the name of my Father, I now name you Saint Morrigana, protector of those who wander in the dark.”

     Something inside of the goddess broke as she approached the hand of truce. She didn’t want to be known as Saint Morrigana and she didn’t want to become someone she was not. Even if it meant dying, she wanted to stay true to who she was. The goddess stopped short and shook her head.

     “I’m sorry, but I can’t. I just can’t.”

     The angel frowned. “You have no followers anymore and you are barely a memory in humanity’s mind. If you join my father, you will live forever as a saint.”

     Morrigana took a deep breath. “I would rather die a Goddess.”

     The goddess’s eyes fluttered shut as the last of her strength left her. Gods could not die from old age but they could fade if no one believed in them. And the angel was right, no one believed in her anymore.

     The angel’s smirk collapsed as he realized her plan. “No!” he cried as he stretched his hands toward her, only for his fingers to pass through her now fading body. “I can’t lose another one!”

     Morrigana the Goddess of Death, Shadows, and Darkness smiled for the last time as she faded into nothing.  

NAME Magazine UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO 2020