Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty

Dichotomy: Fourth Installment "Elsewhere in the One World...."

By:  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty  •   •  9 years ago  •  9 comments

Dichotomy: Fourth Installment "Elsewhere in the One World...."

In the city of Darmon, High Prayer was being called. aQtwa, pleased at the opportunity affirm his devotion to the One True God, Mondiasalo, set aside the ancient texts of Rahc and went out into the small courtyard attached to his study. Since his rebirth to faithfulness, aQtwa had been revitalized, becoming involved in the activities of the sanctuary and the community.

Sitting on the prayer bench, he raised his head to the sky and chanted the High Prayer, the blessing to himself and others that was each day of living the life of the true Tainver.

When he finished his devotions, he glanced down and was surprised to see his new wife, Migdula, patiently waiting at his feet. It is good to see you, Migdula. How came you to be at my feet? Dont tell me that you didnt observe the High Prayer? he asked.

Husband of mine, the call came and I did observe. When I came to see if you wanted repast, you were still sitting there, the greatness of Mondiasalo shining in your spirit, and so I did not disturb you. The bread is prepared, the water for your tea is poured, and I await your blessing so I may join you in taking the midday meal.

aQtwa looked to the sky and saw that the sun had indeed changed position more than was usual for the average High Prayer. Forgive me, Migdula. I have been taking my own joy above my responsibilities to you. We shall eat. Then we shall go to the temple and see what the good Brothers want for me to do.

The Brothers of the Temple of Mon had sent him word that they had a task for him. The message had said little else, just that they were to arrive at the temple at mid-afternoon. They ate their simple meal then went out into the bustle of Darmon.

Darmon was placed on a plateau arising from the Great Interior Sea and backing up onto the Pick Axe Mountains, so called due to the large quantities of metals and gems that were mined there. Some of those raw materials were brought to Darmon, but many of the companies and individuals who scraped the rock for their livings were finding other, more profitable places to send their goods. For the most part, Darmon was a political and religious center now. The capital city, it was the seat of the Senate, and the most holy city for the Tainver.

When aQtwa and Migdula reached the temple, they formally submitted their plea to enter and were ceremoniously admitted. Stepping through the gates was still a transforming experience for aQtwa. Outside he could feel the pull of the body. The temptations of the flesh were up close and present. Inside, all of those temptations were closed out and a certain peace entered his soul. Outside the walls he was pressed upon by the tangle of people in the streets, forced in upon himself, while inside the temple he was able to expand, to draw back the curtains, uncloaking the vision of his true self.

Ah, aQtwa my friend. May the light of Mondiasalo illuminate your soul, my brother.

And you likewise, aQtar. How fares the Brotherhood?

We fare well, as always, aQtar finished the formal greeting. We have very good news that I am sure you will be most excited to hear, he smiled, Good news for your whole family. Your work to help the people of Darmon these past years has not gone unnoticed. But I let my tongue travel faster than my brain. The news will have to wait until we are in a more appropriate setting, aQtar said, glancing at Migdula.

If it is good news for my whole family, cannot my wife be there to hear it also? She is but an extension of me.

I think not. There are some times and circumstances for women, and I do not think she would be able to appreciate the more subtle nuances of religion and politics. Once again, I say more than I should. Please, aQtwa. Send her to the kitchens. I am sure that she will find conversation more to her liking there than with stuffy old men. You are to go before the governing council of the Tainver. They will not brook such an affront to the customs and traditions of the Holy Writ.

aQtwa was ready to launch into a dissertation on the role of women in the early days of the Tainver when Migdula spoke in a hushed but firm voice, Go, aQtwa, and calm yourself. We need not sew the seeds of strife where the trees will but shade them out. Looking at aQtar she added so he could hear, Better to plant a single seed in fertile soil and watch it grow than cast a multitude of seeds on the hard pan for the first downpour to wash them away.

Go then to the kitchens, or to the Gardens of Maids. I will summon you before I am ready to leave, he said gruffly. Looking on, aQtar mistakenly thought aQtwa was being firm with his wife and nodded in approval.

I will await you, dear husband, Migdula said as she turned for the Gardens of Maids, the perfect picture of tranquil domesticity. Damn sanctimonious brethren. One day she thought as she walked away, One day you will hold all of Mons kin with respect.

The temple was an old structure, dating from the days when the country was younger and heathens still vied with the Tainver for control of the land. As such, it was built as a fortress as well as a place of worship. A broad court encircled the Temple proper providing a place for the faithful to congregate inside the outer walls. Towers with tall, narrow windows stood at even distances around the high crenulated outer walls, all providing a clear field of vision of the inner court as well as the surrounding city.

The temple proper of the Tainver followed this theme. Portcullises, rusty from long disuse, protruded from the tops of entryways and were backed by thick, iron-banded doors set into both sides of the massive, two-rod thick temple wall. The doors were kept in working order, but the hammered metal surfaces were now carved into fine designs covered with gold leaf, and the wood was sanded, oiled and buffed till it shone with a dark luster. The whole of the structure was surrounded by a narrow parapet and balcony, access only achievable via the towers overlooking each entry point.

Inside the walls were large halls where services were held. This space was also highly defensible at one time, but the arrow slits were now boxed in, tapestries hung on the wall and from the ceiling blocked a clear view across the space, and the clutter of peacetime clogged the inner balconies. At the back of these foyers another doorway, the doors long removed, opened into a corridor parallel to the back wall and extending in either direction. It was towards one of these hallways that aQtar was moving, motioning for aQtwa to follow.

Even some of the brothers had forgotten the price of the peace that existed now. It had been so long, many centuries, since the battlements that surrounded him had been needed. Some just took the temple to be a metaphor for the defenders of the faith. The only serious challenge that aQtwa could see was from the SamHalal, and that challenge did not need arrows and swords, it required faithful people to show the way to the lost souls.

Ah. Here we are then. The High Brothers reside within to give their news. They await your entrance, aQtar bowed formally as the door swung wide to offer them admittance. aQtwa inclined his head to aQtar and, entering the room, to each of the Members of the High Brethren.

The room was a far cry from the austere hallway. The floors were made from the wood of the countries namesake, the Mora tree, raised off of the stone and polished to a high sheen. The walls, where one could see them through the abundant tapestries depicting scenes from the Book of Tainver, were paneled with many different types of wood, some dark, some light, to give the affect of light shining down through clouds onto a grove of trees. The ceiling was painted with frescos of the heavenly city of Girbon, the residents of which all wore a serenely contented smile.

The smile could have been echoed on the faces of the Brethren present, but it was not. Standing in stark contrast to the opulence of the room were twenty-five men arranged in two tiers of twelve, with one lone man sitting at the top. They all looked, aQtwa thought, decidedly dour.

The Brethren at the top spoke, You are aQtwa Hachtu?


The head hit the floor of the Room of Redemption, the eyes rolling, the mouth trying in vain to gulp the air, to scream, to breathe, to live apart from the body it used to be attached to. Within seconds the eyes glazed over and were still. The body, freed from the brain that lay now feet from the shoulders, ceased to have reason to function. SamHalal closed around, gathering the remains of the non-believer to be burnt on the Pyre of the Redeemed. Kresu looked on, intoning from memory the last stanzas of the ceremony for lost souls sent to meet with Halal while he tucked his prayer book into one of the pockets in his robes, may your soul be shown the righteous path that your mortal body could not be convinced to walk down. Be assured that the way of Halal is the only way to eternal salvation. Only through Him shall ye be redeemed to fight in the glorious army of Girbon. In Mondiasalos name and towards His glory, we freed your soul that it may once again do battle for the right. SamHalal Amen.

With the closing of the invocation, the remains of the infidel were lifted from the floor and carried away. The young acolytes tasked with the cleaning and purification of the alter seemed to float into the chamber, bringing with them the scent of fragrant pitches and spiced incense, which mingled with the sharp, acrid smells of blood and gore to make a putrid smell not far from sickening.

Only three today, Head? We must be making inroads with the Tainver, to be down to such a low number of refusals already.

I think not. Kresu replied, looking at something in the real world for the first time since entering the chamber. Most people are pragmatic. They desire the sins of the flesh enough that they will proffer up whatever is asked of them, so long as they can continue to live. The closer we get to the core of the infidels, the more apparent the corrupt nature of the society at large becomes. These here today were steadfast in their belief in Mon as the One True God, but they would not accept the teachings of Halal. Now that they have been converted and can see the Light, they will make good soldiers in Mons army. May they battle well. For the most part, however, the infidels are weak and spineless. They dont wish to hear the good news of the end of time or the freedom from the tyranny of the flesh. They want sex or money or food and they want it right now.

He paused, Since I assume that you did not come into my presence as happenstance and I believe that you have no wish to hear the ramblings of an old SamHalal, I think that you must have come to me to impart or extract information?

Yes, Head. Impart and extract, though I could think of some kinder words for it. Inquire perhaps To get to the point, I was instructed to inform you that the operation is proceeding as planned, by someone who wishes to be unnamed. Kind of silly that, the Hand said, Since he came to me while I was in the chapel last night, all bundled up in robes so I could see not where he began nor ended, and his voice was muffled so, the trouble I had distinguishing one word from the next.

At a sharp look from Kresu, the Hand hurriedly provided, But worry no. He made me repeat to be sure I had it right. And he said the right code before delivering. Then the unnamed and unknowable man said, and the rats rise like fish to bugs. Cryptic it is. Some code that is worked out before hand, Ill no doubt.

Yes, no doubt. Thank you, Hand. Tell him, if you see him, to continue with Mons work. Kresu turned and Hand, sensing the end of the discourse, bowed as was appropriate to his station and exited the way he had came.

Certainly, Head. To continue with Mons work. It will be as you say.

As Kresu made his way along the halls of the former Tainver temple he mulled over the information. Very good. I hope that you are pleased, Master. You will rule the One World in my lifetime. Skoteinos be praised. Kresu formed a smirk and began what could only be called a giggle.

More in the series.

2005-2013 Broliver Stagnasty, TomE and TomEArtSite


jrBlog - desc
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
link   Perrie Halpern R.A.    9 years ago

Well, it didn't end well foraQtwa. He seemed honorable. And I am a bit questionable about these holy men.

I have to say that you are doing a great job of building layer on layer. I don't know where this story is taking me! Looking forward to the next installment. You should also be posting these to Neale's Sci fi group!

Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty
Freshman Silent
link   author  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty    9 years ago

You must have missed the transition. aQ'twa is a devout Tainver, a religon based on Mondiasalo, or Mon, a god.

From my background files:

Tainver: means to hold the truth. Followers pray to Mon (the Common form of Mondiasalo), the One True God, a masculine god. Mon holds the prospect of life eternal for the pious, meek, and true believers, in Girbon, a city of unimaginable glory, wealth, and ease existing away from the taint of worldly sin. A Tainver expects subservient behavior from women, with a strict hierarchical and patriarchal structure both in the church and in the home. Tainver accept the existence of no other god or gods, And try to convert all people to Mondiasalo.

The Tainver equate the SamHalal with Skoteinos. According to the Tainver, a follower of Mon (Halal) was corrupted by a lust for power to form his own thoughts into a religion, and was shown by divine proclamation of Mon (through an acolyte) to be a demon.

The part about the head rolling, that was the:

SamHalal: The Followers of Halal is a strict monotheistic and patriarchal religion. Halal, or the one who comes before is the prophet of the end times, sent to warn mankind of their impending demise. (Circular logic is implied in the name: translation is the followers of the one who comes before.) He has been sent to prepare mankind for Rhylowa (a silly anagram for holy war) in the service of Mondiasalo. These smaller holy wars, practice, you might say, are to culminate in the grand finale`, the Rhylowa to end all Rhylowa, the Ahwluundproist (a silly anagram for a really stupid holy war).

Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty
Freshman Silent
link   author  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty    9 years ago

I put a Big Underscore between the two separate parts....

Nigel Dogberry
Freshman Silent
link   Nigel Dogberry    9 years ago

darn fundamentalists and their holy wars.

Nigel Dogberry
Freshman Silent
link   Nigel Dogberry    9 years ago

OK, I was ready to go on to number 5 but I see this is it for now. Good job.

Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty
Freshman Silent
link   author  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty    9 years ago

Thanks Grump!

Nigel Dogberry
Freshman Silent
link   Nigel Dogberry    9 years ago

Comment by Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty 7 hours ago

Grump Said:Do you know how many times I have turned a corner and hoped to be in another reality? A bunch.

I am with you there. Love the Amber series. (that is where I got the concept of the Walkers and Grounds)

I was wondering about that, BS, as I was reading the first in the series. The notion of being able to move through the Shadows of Amber at will has always fascinated me.

Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty
Freshman Silent
link   author  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty    9 years ago

Growing up, my mother was very religious and showed a very high degree of integrity towards her chosen religion, playing organ, singing at the special days, tithing, so, I know how someone who displays true devotion shows that. I was trending towards the same outlet when I began to question the teachings of the Christian (and at some point later, others) church. It had come time for me to be made an official member of the church,but to do that, I had to say that the only way to gain salvation was through the accepting of Jesus Christ as my Savior. I could not make that affirmation or proclamation.

Fast forward to the time I began to Conceptualize this story. I had been reading a book by President Jimmy Carter in which he decried the state of the Southern Baptist Church. One faction was in effect trying to establish a creed and the other faction wanted the church to remain as it always had, with out the definition that the creed would establish. Also at that time, the nation was going through what appeared to me be a vetting of candidates for local, state and federal office regarding how religious they were, in effect placing a religious test of sorts on all offices. This just plain made me mad. Was the country going to swing backwards again? All the crap about gay marriages, all the states codifying laws against such... I was just sick with dread that we were going to go back to the dark ages of ignorance,fear and repression.

Finally, I have been a news junky so to speak, and it seemed to me that, due to the need for traction, everything was blown out of proportion. So, when I put the book by President Carter down, I had this burning desire to write about these issues in an allegorical sense. And, since I am a nerd and sci-fi fantasy freak, that was the obvious genre.

Thank you for asking.

Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty
Freshman Silent
link   author  Broliver "TheSquirrel" Stagnasty    9 years ago

It really is a quite common theme: Asimov and the Foundation series, A Canticle for Lebowitz, are two that immediately spring to mind.

I can see how organized religion can help to set a moral structure that can then be clothed in a persons considered opinions and beliefs. (That is basically what I am.) Religions, in and of them selves, are largely innocuous. It is when the fickle fingered hands of men grasp religion and turn it to activities outside of the soul, corrupt the interpretation of the texts by twisting them to their own perverse ends, plying one sect against the others, then it becomes a foul and insipid thing to be cast down along with those who would that it were so.

Also among the myriad of influences was the parting with significant people and the need to deal with those people in a constructive manner.

I just hope that I can partially live up to the very great people who have come before me as authors. It is my aspiration to do so: I can but try.