Thursday, November 26, 2009
This is part of my ongoing novel. Think of it as Killer Angels taking place in a musket and magic fantasy world with characters that combine the religious sensibilities of American revivalism with Beowulf-like blood feuds. All this while engaging in Talmudic style dialectics. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" is about to take on a whole new meaning.
Introduction, A Note from the Author, Prologue, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV
Kuphdin's shuffling feet in tune with the wheels of the cart could be heard coming around the row below. "I am wasting time, reading rubbish, and doing an all round fine job of turning my God given great brain to mush," Asael called down. Kuphdin looked upwards; Asael leaned out, putting his head and chest over the ledge and balancing himself with one hand as he held out the Hammer of Witch Hunters with the other. Kuphdin grunted and beckoned Asael down.
"So with three weeks to go until you stand for the priesthood do you care to explain what might possess you to be reading that thing again?"
"You know, Kuphdin, this text could be useful," said a Asael in a voice that was almost serious.
"Useful! It is nothing but cheap drivel."
Asael dropped the last several feet to the ground. "True, but what if we were to apply the sort of analysis that we would normally apply to sacred texts?"
"This sounds just a wee bit blasphemous," Kuphdin smirked, "but please go ahead. I would like to see how you intend to extricate yourself from this."
Asael put his hands together contemplatively, his eyes shining as if he were a prophet handing out a revelation. "Agreed that this is nonsense, but it is useful nonsense. Let us take Captain Eryn Vorn here. The author, Mr. Reginald Scott, is quick to deny that he was really an ordained minister or a military officer. This of course is in keeping with Scott's agenda. He is Saebethian by nationality, Melcothian by faith and a follower of the New Knowledge by ideology; Vorn is inconvenient on the first two counts and the perfect villain on the third count. So Scott simply denies the connection. He cannot deny that Vorn was Saebethian. The evidence must be too strong. This tells us that if there is one thing we can say about Vorn was that he was Saebethian. Scott does the next best thing and denies that he ever was in a position of respect such as a captain in the Saebethian military. Similarly, Scott is keen to deny that Vorn was ever someone as respectable as a minister. As a Melcothian seeking to reconcile his religion with the New Knowledge, he of course cannot bear to admit that one can be both a Melcothian and a witch-hunter. Now Scott admits that we know nothing about Vorn's early history. May I suggest that facts two and three to be added to Vorn's Saebethian nationality are that he was an ordained minister and an officer?"
Kuphdin drummed his fingers against the side of the court. "I fail to see what this gets you."
Asael smiled: "This sets the stage for the entire narrative. It explains why so many people were willing to follow him. He had connections to both the military and the clergy and no one was going to challenge him with credentials such as his."
Kuphdin chuckled: "And I thought people only followed him out of superstition!"
"Clearly not! Even by Scott's account there were many educated people, such as the judges and lawyers, taking orders from Vorn."
"In this belief in the existence of knacks, that they were witches and servants of the Dark One, and must be killed, something which all rational people know to be absurd," said Kuphdin, finally warming up to this game.
"Which, in turn, is completely ridiculous; my grandfather, Serariah Dolstoy, of blessed memory and my uncle Asael were both knacks and grandfather was a leading advocate for the New Knowledge in this country." Asael said this matter as just matter of fact as if he were simply discussing a family history of birthmarks, epilepsy or raging insanity. "I am of course not a knack. It is linked to family but not all children receive it. Ima was normal."
"Does not the claim that Vorn was both a captain and a minister strike you as a bit much?"
"Not at all! He must have started off as a soldier and then underwent some sort of spiritual conversion. I mean he was Melcothian so it could not have been a real spiritual conversion, but just some illusion cast by a demon. This spiritual delusion of his must have convinced him that people like my grandfather and my uncle served the Devil and needed to be killed."
"Why do you presume the path went one way; why not in the other direction from minister to soldier?"
"No, that would not fit. This was a man dominated by his religion. Why would a religious man pursue a religious cause by walking away from the cloth and becoming a soldier?"
"So Captain Vorn, now Minister Vorn, begins to pursue knacks and to this vendetta he brings his military training as the spear tip to his religious zeal. I am even willing to bet that Vorn, as a soldier, was a member of some elite unit that specialized in torturing people."
"Kidnapping children and slicing open their livers sounds like something out of a fairy tale," said Kuphdin skeptically.
"Possibly. If something sounds like a fairy tale it probably is. "But," and Asael dropped his voice to a whisper, "Ima once told me about people called 'soul men.' They did similar things. Perhaps Vorn was one of them."
"Until he was caught."
"Yes and of course the fact that was a minister and an officer would explain why he was sentenced to labor instead of being executed."
"Where he soon slipped his chains and began his rampage in earnest."
"Vorn must have been a highly charismatic man in addition to his official positions to do this. Also keep in mind that as an officer he must have been, from the beginning, someone who could convince people to follow him. Furthermore for an adult to switch careers and become a clergyman must have required him to be downright brilliant, maybe almost as smart as me."
Kuphdin shook his head at this. It took Asael to say that and not sound arrogant. "There are some religions that value faith over reason."
"That does not make any sense Kuphdin."
"My boy, since when did religion have to make sense? Anyway it makes as much sense as your admiration for murderers." Kuphdin emphasized the plural at the end.
Asael took the implied challenge head on. "Captain Vorn might have been a murderer, but he saw himself as a hero. Hundreds of people willingly cooperated with him, damning their own souls, to say nothing of those truly decrepit people who knew better but followed after him simply out of fear. The true believers must have seen something in him and even those who were just afraid must have found something in him to muffle their own consciences. I wish to see the Vorn that they did."