ORKHAOS - by Khushrav J. Writer
The world is born, grows and exists in absolute primeva; where the Forests of Trees reach the deep blue eaves, allowing light to shatter through its canopies on to bats shimmering with every sweep and lift of white mulmul wings and for whom the carnage of hunters below is an open book with every throw of screaming ultrasound.
Of late with the recent passing of seven earthquakes, the hunters of the kingdom have moved beyond killing for existence to the bloodbath of sport; and the air hums with disquieting audibility, causing Orkhaos to shift course. Orkhaos whose combined duality of existence, which is inseparable like twins conjoined, moves across the edge to khaos – the regulating principle. Far seers and mute chroniclers of events, the bats feel the shift and their sensitive intelligences are disturbed. Gradually and in one mind they shoot through canopies of troubled light, towards the mountain of the aloof Lion and the deep black apes of reason that inhabit clear plains east of the mountain.
Over mountain and plains the seers whirl like comets of the cosmos, screaming khaos down to the lion, down to the apes and from miles around deep black bristles blotch the plains and surround the mount with their growls rising and falling like a heaving pulse. Into this sparking air the aloof Lion emerges to hold conference from high above and with far below; and at noon of the next day when the land is clear of shadows a female ape from the best stock mates with the lion to produce after one passing of all seasons a species corpulent, strong willed, hairless and whose communication is sound more refined than all in the animal kingdom.
The new entrants are taught by the bats about the history of the Forests of Trees, its citizenry and the place of every animal within the green folds. They travel with the bat teachers through the ‘magick’ of composing basic sounds into highly evolved opera that breathes a universal language with its movement. In the early periods of their existence on the plains and mountain the entrants survive on roots and grub and are taught to live as nomads so that they properly answer to the true call of their purpose. With the growing intelligence and strength of the community, they are finally asked to feast on the flesh of their own kind. This brought all the years of teaching to the crux of the purpose and the aloof Lion, the black apes of reason and the bats hover in uncertainty at to whether the final act will be carried through as the first sacrifice. In a single instant the clear undisturbed clarity of their eyes reach across in grasp of the purpose and in unison the one, the first, is selected to be slain in happiness on the mountain. With this crossing, they were ordained in name and spirit as the race of Ardebil, after the ancient place whose meaning lies in Asha.
The Ardebil took their place in the Forests of the Trees, constantly moving across the green lands singing Orkhaos back into the minds of the animals, which by now had all turned feral. In locations where the song of Orkhaos did not work, the act was performed through sacrifice and the animals realigned to the balance that is Orkhaos.
- “Chaos is the order of order, while unbridled order can grow out of hand.”
Glossary of meanings:
Orkhaos – is the combine of order and chaos, with chaos being the regulating principle to order
Primeva – my version of primeval. I feel the word is stronger and crisper than its older more legitimate version.
Ardebil – Together with its old and middle Persian equivalents, the term asha appears in a number of theophoric names,
including Ardešir, Arda Viraf and Arta-xšaϑra (Greek: Artaxerxes). Asha is also the root of the name of the city of Ardebil. In this case I will call the humans in my creation myth Ardebil which for me translates to – every man is the place of truth.
Below nightsfall and electriless stars, the white far seers sweep through the Forest of Trees, while rising and falling; foliage below swims to the rays of a shifting moon and shades of blue and deep blue rush by. They fly in delta formation, turning and dipping to locate the epicentre of a disturbing thrum.
Deep in the Forest of Trees, the Ardebil confer among themselves in a meeting of equals; their octaves spiralling and combining through the air.
The sounds of the one called Asha the Truth silence the rest into receptiveness, and he says ‘The Forest of the Trees has now existed in peace for a thousand years; it is time, my people, to reconsider our role, our future and reason for existence. Now that our work is done in this place, must we silently walk into the Nether Halls, returning to nothing once again?’
Only the tiniest of creatures broke the heated calm of that space.
Adaro the Just looked all around, ‘Ardebil, it is the place of truth. We are each one of us Ardebil. In our name we carry out what the Ape mother and Aloof Lion tasked us with. It is in the womb we touched Orkhaos. Our race was born for it to be restored in this place. Sacrilege it would be were we to stray only a little.’
For the first time there were songs of assent and dissent from within Ardebil.
‘See now the cracks in the tapestry; a path is revealed under it.’ With eyes closed they meditated on Asha’s song.
In a while, half of the hundred rose to Asha the Truth, ‘Come walk with me and you all will become Asha Mehr.’
From behind the Asha Mehr came the ringing song of Gira, the Protector of All, ‘In following you have brought down the first scale, equality. For you there can be no existence of Orkhaos, this curse is not ours to give, but yours in the creation. The existence of Asha Mehr for now may seem to subsist in light, but the seeming light will weave darkness so utter, but you do not see it. ’
For the remaining, not of the hundred, there was no regret, their path of Orkhaos was clear.
The Asha Mehr followed in Asha's wake, seeking out the Far seers of the land.
Through days and nights they traversed distances singing their new life and calling to the bats; and at last they met the seers and asked them for the gift of procreation. The Chroniclers heard their songs and with sudden clarity saw events far into the future unfolding.
Helpless, they confer among themselves and one of the bats’ said to the rest of his kin, ‘We give in to destiny that is a glancing ray, guiding the land in different directions every time; do not worry in knowing and allowing events to unfold as they will; since we cannot shape the complete path that is formed by countless others and begun here by us.’ They turned to the Asha and its followers to begin shaping the first step. Thousands upon thousands of the white creatures wept, dropping angst; the bat teachers spoke, ‘Your race must leave the Forest of Trees to allow Orkhaos to flow freely; and when your destiny has been realised, you will return.
Asha looks back at its people and says, ‘Follow me and we will find our place.’
During their journey changes began to occur within their ranks. Each one of the Asha Mehr separated into two aspects, no longer remaining the sexless beings they once were. The Male - with a body wide, hairless and strong, empty of corpulence, had faces that took on a feral look. The other facet was female and she had the body of a lean predator with hypnotic sensuality and hair providing a lustrous black frame to the head and torso.
The trek to find a suitable location grew lengthier with Asha leading in deep concentration. ‘With our journey growing before us, the patience of your followers grows shorter,’ observed his wife, in a whispered statement.
‘This is a test to strengthen our resolve, at best a filter to separate the ever mortal body from spirit.’ was his only response.
‘At least address your people, you should not in your new role of Shah, give yourself the luxury of assuming that they would see what you see. With the turning of time over and over again, give them your eyes to make your ….. our dream unwavering.’ was his wife’s reply. ‘Why do you smile, are you not worried.’
Asha replied, ‘There are two reasons, one of joy, the sight we embrace between us makes me feel at peace with you, almost as if we were one being again; and there is deliverance approaching, so I will not be required to explain.’
Puzzled, she looked at his quiet confidence that had put even her mind to rest.
‘The night seems to lap us into her embrace,’ he said.
‘She fills us all, I think, with a strange powerful feeling.’ He stood over her looking down. ‘Look at all this rising chaos; it stretches us - this consummate time.’
She traced her fingertips along his leg, drawing him to his knees and all around was the splendour of darkness.
In a few days they arrived along the foothills of a vast mountain range. Asha decided to settle his people within a grove of evergreens along the lower slopes of Mount Daemavand.
‘We shall build dwellings for ourselves and make new lives over here. Each one shall house a gathering of ten people and the dwellings shall encircle a point, with openings for each along the rims of the circle; the wood shall be taken from trees that are already fallen.’ With the building of the dwelling came the first children and the settlement was named Spring.
The children rolled and laughed across the loamy ground, falling in soft and hard places that went unnoticed by them.
‘Careful, Viraf, the ground there will make you shed tears’, shouted his mother An-ayaifah.
‘Oh, let him be, children see only happiness’. An-aiyafah turned and smiled back at the man beside her, who shared her dwelling with other men, women and children. ‘Even we knew only bliss once and now our lives are differently freckled.’
The man nodded in agreement. ‘But our word seems to grow stronger and spread faster among the many species of this new land, its strength lies in the inherent singularity of the message.’
An-ayaifah nodded, ‘Yes, that is true. Even the manner of our living is one of our greatest strengths.’
‘How so?’ asked the man.
‘First you must help me carry this and then we will talk about it. ’
When they were settled at the altar of the dwelling she said, ‘Our people live in dwellings such as this, fashioned to our whim; within each we live in the warmth of a shared bond. The dwelling is our bond, inside it our ties are stronger than the thickest blood, we are all to one another - family and lover. While our children grow up in the awareness of the bonds that created them, within the dwelling they see for themselves the origin of everything.’
Glossary of meaning:
Asha – Zoroastrian concept of truth.
Anahitha – Persian goddess of water venerated in prayer even in the current Zend Avesta.
Fas – is fate in Latin
Fatalis Luna: Latin for ‘Fated Moon’
Hecate in Greek myth is the goddess of crossroads, ruler of magic and enchantments; also of dark magic
Nightsfall – my word to describe visually through suggestion, the closing night. Originally – ‘Night fall’.
Electriless - a pormanteau word that adds 'electric(ity)' to' less,' meaning 'without.'
Asha Mehr – Light of Asha. Taken from Arya Mehr or Light of Arya which was used by the Persian emperors to describe their position.
Mt. Daemavand – In Persian myth a demon with the strength of 10,000 horses is said to be chained in the confines of the mountain.
Fravashi – In Zoroastrianism it is the spiritual aspect of the soul that is in touch with God.
THE CITY OF SPRING
The red, the gold and the purple of a rising sun from behind the range of Alburz, picks out a species in expansion and work. Some working in the groves cutting trees to make the town visible to passers-by; others working the fields for grain. A quarry some distance from the town provided stone for buildings which once were built with only the fallen wood of dead trees.
The City of Spring began to grow outward in concentric circles and was already four miles deep, with the centre taken up by the residence of the Shah and his court, the buildings of bureaucracy and the Main Temple with other smaller places of worship spread across the town.
One day a traveller entered the town and looked all round him in bewilderment. One of the towns’ people stopped to speak to him. ‘Hail stranger, you seem confused. Is there something you want to know?’
‘This town, it does not have any walls! It is the first I have seen in my many travels that does not seem to worry about its safety,’ said he, his mind accustoming itself to this strange sight.
‘It isn’t our belongings that we worry about being taken away from us; it is people passing through this town without understanding who we are and what we believe in. That is the greatest worry. Come with me, as at this very moment our Shah will be speaking to the town on this, since there are some who now believe in walls.’
The traveller followed the man through the roads, admiring its order and planning in this harsh wilderness. Soon they began to pass through the Arya Mehr standing in straight lines from the palace to the third circle, waiting to hear their Shah.
He marvelled at the precision with which the rocks were cut and slotted into one another at perfect right angles, but looked in slight discomfort at the buildings themselves.
The man noticed the look in his eye, ‘Why do you look warily at our buildings?’
It is the manner of design and the stone used. It seems so oppressive; I can imagine the air inside one of these, stifling the mind from freely thinking.’
‘Ha-ha! Strangely it isn’t the same from the inside; but hush, more of that later. Here is the Shah.’
‘He seems to be cut from the same quarry that birthed the stone,’ muttered the stranger under his breath, as he watched the Shah emerge from behind a vast pool of water that encircled the palace and was two kilometres from one edge of the palace to the other side of the pool, ‘It seems as if he emerges from the waters like a god.’
The Shah flanked by his court was transported on a moving stage of stone across the water and the traveller watched in amazement; he knew what a tremendous effort it would take to move these children of the earth.
‘Arya Mehr, my people, I speak for myself and members of this court, our beloved all knowing Magi. I have been hearing reports of questions being asked, my decisions being second guessed and standing before you I notice the worry etched on each of your faces. The lack of a wall and abundance of danger is no doubt a source of tension for some of you, but try and remember why we built this town to begin with.’
And in a quieter voice that settled the last murmurs, he said, ‘The body sometimes must be sacrificed to succour the spirit, remember the old days when our race did such things. Why should the afterlife be a worry, it is just another place that we go to live in. Let all the world pass the City of Spring, and when they witness it’s growing brilliance, unhindered by obstacles they will approach to take a closer look and our philosophies of the spirit will pull them closer to be born as we are born, to live as we live and to die in our manner.’ The crowds shook with tumultuous approval at this open policy and chanted mightily in growing headiness, ‘O Asha, Asha Mehr, King God, Shah of Shahs, Originator of the Waters, we are yours to command, send us out so that every dark crevice burns with the fire.’
The Shah held his hand up for silence ‘Is there anything you would like to know from me?’
‘Yes,’ came a voice from the crowd, ‘What if we are attacked by the wild tribes from the sandy oceans, I have heard they look like enraged Diws blowing white in the wind of their thundering steeds as they come upon settlements looking for easy plunder. It is rumoured they have instruments that reflect coldly the harsh miseries of suffering; and these are reputed to cleave a life from its dwelling; sticks with thorns at their ends that fly at you finding your life-spring.’
‘Wait my Mehrian’, said the Shah, ‘your fears; I do not understand where they come from. We were once the sacrificial beings that brought peace through example; life and death was nothing but a means to an end for us. Have you forgotten your past so easily? Are you all affected by the same fears? What has happened to change you all so drastically?’
His face was a mask of confusion in a sea of worried faces.
‘Our lives are different, O beloved Shah; you have brought us to a place that has set a new meaning to life and death. We are no longer Ardebil, or have you forgotten the past that easily? We once were and now are; these are two different worlds, the former is a scratch on the memory and the latter a mortal form.’
Deep in thought was the King, ‘If only I had known what the split of bodies and personalities might have brought about, but then regret is a neighbour best left unvisited.’ He raised his head and spoke once again, ‘If we are set upon by these Diws from the sand, then use the channels that link all parts of the town. You have seen the vessels we are taming; not long from now there will be a sufficient number to transport everybody and they will take nobody else but our own kind.’
The people seemed satisfied with this, some of them even smiled and the crowd chanted as one, ‘Your Mehrian thank you O Shah, King God and Originator of the Waters.’
The man and the traveller stood alone, each in his own thoughts after the crowd had dispersed.
‘Kingship it seems is an embodiment of the people’s will over here,’ said the traveller.
‘Yes’ replied the man, ‘should it be anything else?’
‘No, no, it is just that I have seen many forms of government and control through my travels. You live in what some call utopia.’
Intrigued, the man asked, ‘Utopia?’
‘Ha-ha-ha! Such innocence; yes, for some - your town, its politics and people might be an imaginary place, an ideal.’
‘Ah!’ replied the man, still unsure what the stranger was telling him. ‘You look tired, stranger, come and rest in the temple and clean yourself off the grime. What is your name? I forgot to ask earlier.’
‘Ximenes,’ said the traveller.
‘That is a name I have not heard before, but then again, my travel isn’t very extensive.’
‘I am called Bokhtar; and serve as an acolyte - soon to be priest in the Temple.’
They came to the temple that sat masterfully over the water. It was built from a grainy textured grey blue stone cut into squat blocks; the windows were rectangular eyed and heavy lidded with a glow issuing from each of them. Ximenes halted in wide-eyed amazement at the pool of water circling the temple. ‘I never realised it before, but it seems to me that your temple like the Shah’s palace and the other buildings of the town seems to rest on the water like an apparition. Is this true what I see?’
Bokhtar’s eyes twinkled in a blend of amusement and pride, ‘Yes, what you see is true. I cannot tell you how it is done because I do not know and even if I did I would not reveal it. Though what I can tell you is that our structures of stone are crafted by the People of the Quarry, who burrow deep into the stone and bring with them an intimate understanding that allows them to test the limits of what is possible with it.’
‘Magnificence,’ said Ximenes, ‘though I still cannot begin to like the oppressiveness of your buildings. They seem to be built for domination rather than habitation.’
‘Well,’ replied the priest, ‘we build for both reasons.’ He pointed to the façade located over the entrance. ‘Do you see that sign within the facade?’
‘Yes I do. It is a large fish, swimming with ease against an upstream current of water …. With a man in its mouth, standing it seems, as if he rides the fish and in suggestion, is master of the water as well. But what does this have to do with the temple or even the other buildings? Are you saying it is an ethos of sorts?’
‘Very admirable Ximenes; where did you learn to read like this?’
‘Ah! Well, in my travels and what not.’ Ximenes looked away and asked the question once again, ‘so tell me what is the meaning hidden in the sign.’
Bokhtar frowned, but went on to explain, ‘The fish in the sign is known to us as the Salamon and the man is representative of our people, the Arya Mehr. The fish and man are engraved in sharp relief as compared to the waters, whose waves are cut into the stone. This to us is a suggestion of hierarchy within the sign; one element rising above and the other subservient.’
‘Why is there a halo around the head of the fish and yet the posture of the man seems so dominant, with one hand shading his brow and the other holding a staff which rests on the mouth of the fish,’ asked Ximenes.
‘You see,’ replied Bokhtar, ‘The Salamon we perceive as a demi-godlike being, powerful enough to hold mastery over navigating the primal waters, yet not so powerful, as for us to become subservient to it; it is our servant.’
‘While the man,’ continued Bokhtar ‘views the untamed lands in the distance, with a Staff of Hazel wood held in the other.’
‘Our God, the truth we believe in, traveller Ximenes, is Order. With it we hold dark chaos in our sway; our craft is an embodiment at our level, of Order and control.
Glossary of Meaning:
Staff: A symbol of power and authority.
Hazel: Is an emblem of personal authority and gives its holder power over the natural world.
Night fell on the City of Spring with the normal sounds of surrounding scrubland muted. It was January, and the full moon cast its light onto stone, dipping the city in white and shadow. At Springs’ edge where scrubland and civilisation parted ways in a neat circle, the voice of Ximenes carried to Bokhtar who was standing some distance away, ‘Do you know what some people call this night of the full moon?’
‘It is called a Wolf Moon, acolyte. ’
He turned with a shudder, ‘Why a Wolf Moon?’
‘The story of the January moon was told to me on this same night before the city was overrun; long before the foundation of its walls, when their Fathers lived in covers of animal skin. Packs of ravenous wolves would descend on their hutments looking for easy prey. Their insect infested bodies drove their minds to a demonic craze of blood thirst and teeth that held the light of the moon. It is said their fur could be seen prickling even from a great distance – so large were these beasts. The attacks continued every year on this same night, until the Fathers found their lair after some months of intense tracking and massacred the demons.’
‘Great god of order! Your tales never cease to amaze me.’
‘But it did not end there,’ continued Ximenes. ‘After vanquishing the wolves, on every night of the January Moon their howls would rent the air and in the morning that followed, the city would find invaders on its doorstep. With this threat as with every, Ares would march across its threshold to meet these new ones; and with the defeat of every invader,’ the voice of Ximenes rose to fill the air, ‘the host of Ares would bathe their city with blood of the slain. The first blood that washed the city, it is said in the chronicles, was wolves’ blood.’
‘The curse has never left them then, has it?’ asked Bokhtar.
‘The god of chaos is incarnate in Ares; the power within that city subsumes all life to its will; but they are warriors without equal, blessed by the All Father.’
‘God of Order! Then they are enslaved wills Ximenes; without the freedom of their minds.’
‘Freedom and life is of different sorts, acolyte.’
‘Maybe, but I still can make choices in the things I do everyday and in the manner in which the future shapes for myself,’ replied Bokhtar.
‘Choices, futures, me, I. Arrrrgghh! You are already trapped and you do now know it. What do you know about yourself, acolyte Bokhtar, outside of a world you have made for the me and I?’
Bokhtar could see the slowly developing anger on his friend’s face and quickly changed the subject. ‘You said that Ares had been overrun the night you were there, but then how did you escape the city?’
With this question, a faraway look entered the eyes of Ximenes. ‘Under the light of the moon, everything is fortune.’
Bokhtar waited in the silence of that space, as if expectant of something.
And Ximenes continued, ‘Ares awoke one morning to find another invader, but this one they realised was far more powerful than their own weakened and interbred people. The last host of the first people of Ares flowed from life under open city gates that resembled a deep cut across its bleeding face. In a moment gone too soon, the invader entered the untouched city and the new assumed the identity of the old.’
‘How did you escape this?’ asked Bokhtar.
‘I was the last of the old people; last on the field trying to protect the city until one of their officers threw a handful of sand in my face and I was knocked unconscious. I was treated after that with respect by these people; they probably saw me as the only actual surviving member of a people now dead in the past. A lot of times I would get people coming up to me and talking in the floweriest of language about my deeds on the field. Even with the respect that was accorded to me in the city I was not allowed to remain a warrior. I think that was a blessing in disguise, looking at it in retrospect. It allowed me to free myself from the spirit of the city and its ghosts and afforded me the luxury of becoming Ximenes the traveller – from being Ximenes Warrior among warriors; now after a lot of travelling, I am here feeling the Wolf moon once again. I do not know why.’
‘Goodnight Ximenes, my friend.’
Ximenes woke the next morning to the sound of soothing water within the temple premises and screams accompanying. The look outs posted to warn the city of danger were pointing to a dust cloud in the distance. ‘Look, look,’ screamed the man, ‘white specks in the sands; they must be the Diws.’
‘Send out the other lookouts,’ ordered Ximenes. ‘Tell them to get the rest of the people within the city limits.’
The man nodded, recognising the authority in his voice, and left to carry out his orders.
Clouds from numerous white specks burnt the sand and people were rushing across his vision’s periphery in blurs of fear. Across the city a wail of horns sounded almost as an extension of the mood; it was not in alarm the horns were sounded. From all the moats surrounding the city buildings surfaced gargantuan fish, with bodies silvery scaled and clouded pink streaks running across their sides. They were the Salamon etched into the facade of the temple entrance. Guided by a Mehrian with staff in hand who stood within its gaping jaws; and it seemed as if the symbol etched had stepped out of the façade.
Through all this Ximenes stood in a trance, the visions of his reality were slapping against memory.
‘Ximenes, Ximenes, XIMENES. Wake up my friend, the city will soon be under siege. We need to cross the water.’
‘In those things; how can I?’
‘Yes, you can warrior, you have to; the Shah is waiting for you in the palace building. Come, we must meet him.’ They jumped into the mouth of the waiting Salamon and crossed the turbulence.
‘Welcome,’ boomed the voice of the Shah from across a room called the Garden of Origins. It was a massive block of stone the colour of soil, chiselled into narrow and large corridors through which flowed water and the Salamon spawn. The centre of the block was vaulted and he stood in its centre with the waters pouring sunlight splashes on to the Shah’s frame.
Ximenes thumped his fist close to the heart region and stood waiting.
‘Still the soldier and general I see’ said the Shah, ‘Do not look so surprised, we are a new people but I ensure that our network of information grows as quickly as possible. Why didn’t you tell Bokhtar that you were a general in the armies of Ares.’
‘It was not necessary, sire.’
‘Of course not, you are probably a soldier’s general.’ The Shah looked him over and asked, ‘How well are you held in estimation by the New People of Ares. ’
‘I am respected and will always be welcomed back by them, but never allowed to wear a weapon within the city. Why do you ask me such a question?’
‘Perhaps,’ the Shah looked at him carefully and said, ‘you could help our fledgling city and people.’
‘That is a large request. Why should I do it for you all?’ asked Ximenes.
‘Another people will die; this time without having the opportunity to feel the depth of a long history and culture. Ximenes, you do not know our history, but we made certain decisions as people that were based on the desire to speak truth to the different offspring of this world. We need time and the opportunity to be able to grow and accomplish this task with a sense of history, pride and accomplishment at the end of it all. Do not let us pass away from this world like a wisp of memory.’
‘What is it that needs to be done,’ asked Ximenes.
‘Uh, I would like you to journey with Bokhtar here to Ares and ask for their help,’ the Shah said, ‘and they must come and fight for us and if possible help raise an army of Mehrian to defend the city.’
‘All right. I will do this but it is unlikely that they may come to your aid.’
‘Why?’ asked the Shah.
‘The entire city of Ares, both men and women, are also it’s army; they are trained to be an aggressive and invading force and do not take well to a defensive role. Even when their city is under siege, they have always marched out and not hidden behind walls.’
‘This is worrying Ximenes, but you must try your hardest and use all the influence you can to help. ’
‘I will try sire, they may in fact have a use for the oases of the Desert Diws as a cross over point into other areas. Though, what I cannot understand is, why I have to take Bokhtar along too?’
‘I will leave that to Bokhtar to explain. For now I have a people to take care of. Goodbye Ximenes and good luck.’
Outside the Diws were returning to the desert while the Mehrian looked from behind the safety of their moats.’
‘So Bokhtar, why do I have to take you along with me to the city of blood.’
‘I have not told you till now but I am the advisor to the future king. While his life cannot be endangered just yet, it is necessary that I undertake this mission to learn more about the world.’
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Do not sound so defensive, acolyte, I was only teasing.’
Bokhtar smiled. ‘If we have the moats, then why do we need to request the people of Ares for help.’
‘For this reason, acolyte.’
A Salamon was lying on its back; with mouth agape and its belly neatly sliced through, exposing the dead Mehrian sheltering within.’
Glossary of Meanings:
The Wolf Moon or January moon: is a full moon that occurs in January. This full moon is also known as the Old Moon or the Moon After Yule.
Father: symbolic of dominion, the warlike spirit, civil authority, reason and conciousness.
JOURNEY TO ARES
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! That is a funny story Ximenes. Where did it happen, your meeting with this woman?’
‘Oh, it was a little village, at a turn off not far from the Traveller’s Way.’
‘And what is this Traveller’s Way, Ximenes?’
The traveller smiled and put his arm on Bokhtar’s shoulder, gently squeezing it. ‘The road we are walking on is it. Ha! Ha! No, no. Wipe that smile off your face; we are not going to meet the woman. This road was once tall stalks of grass that hid magnificent stalking beasts; but the incessant walk of civilization has removed the grass and its hidden beauties.’
‘Civilization; what is that?’
The traveller looked at his friend in disbelief. ‘God’s boy; you are the advisor to the future king and what will be the future; if he is like you?’
‘I have no idea Ximenes, none of us do; we are not overly concerned. I think only the Shah worries about it. He seems in contact with the outside through a network.’
‘I think a fledgling people are closest to nature;’ said Ximenes, ‘growing on instinct in direction of the sun watered by hopes and slow awareness of the fates creeping from behind. Civilisation is the growth of a species, any species into an organism with its evolved rituals, customs, laws and large populations; leaving behind its connections with the land that birthed it. Even when there are traces of the natural world in their culture, it is spoken only in symbols and images, each with a deep history and meaning but little connection to what once was and no substance to the claims of their images and symbols. The roots of a civilisation do not grow from within the lands, Bokhtar,’ said Ximenes with a sudden vehemence. ‘Even worse, the plant outgrows its roots like a body outgrowing its stomach.’
‘How can a body outgrow its stomach or even a plant its roots,’ asked Bokhtar.
‘Exactly, that’s why they are unnatural; civilisations are just glorious façades, eating themselves inside out to keep their face from falling to ruin.’
‘I, I do not know what to say.’
‘Nothing, Innocent, keep your mind open and the world will form a pattern in your mind.’
‘Is that the desert we are approaching?’
‘Yes, we have to cross a small portion of it to reach the city.’
‘Ah good; I cannot wait to find a good bath in the city; don’t you just love a refreshing plunge into a pool of cool water Ximenes.’
‘Yes, even someone like me luxuriates in the barbarities of civilisation once in a while.’ They both laughed out loud, happy in the company of one another.
‘So silent; I can hear the sands shifting. One area so hot and now so suddenly cold, the winds strip the skin dry and the body seems as if all its water has entered the ground. What a place this is; so vastly superior to us.’
‘It is unconquerable and pure, Bokhtar. Not an easy place for a weak will but it is the best prescription to draw from the desert’s unforgiving nature.’
‘Do your philosophies shift with the landscape, my friend?’ asked Bokhtar.
‘Yes, because they are shaped by the nature of the land.’
‘And,’ asked Bokhtar with a slight smile, ‘Were your philosophies shaped by that woman’s body you were overpowered by?’
‘She destroyed them in that moment.’
They came upon the city at noon, the next day.
‘What a place,’ said Bokhtar, ‘I have never seen anything like it.’
‘You do not come across such places too often. The gates are the darkest red; so much blood has been poured over this city, that over the ages it has turned almost black. Look there at the words written above the gates’ –
Today we are the strength of the world
Tomorrow ash on a field
‘If you will notice Bokhtar, the buildings and homes closest to the gates are at the lowest height; this is meant to help the city defend itself in times of war, which it never does since the soldiers meet the enemy outside the walls.’
A woman approached them at the Gates and immediately broke into a smile when she saw Ximenes. ‘Ximania,’ she shouted in absolute glee, ‘where have you been. The Warlord will be happy to see you. Come with me. I will take you to him.’ She walked down one of the streets, her petite frame moving quickly even with all the armour and weaponry that covered it. ‘So who is your friend?’
‘A friend from another city, far from here, that does not have any warriors.’
‘What,’ cried the woman, ‘no warriors, so it is true; there are yet cities that we have not taken, it’s unbelievable?’
Bokthar’s eyes widened at the remark and he whispered into the ear of his friend, ‘What kind of people are they?’
‘They are the opposite of what your people stand for, and your Shah would ask them for help!?’
At this remark Bokhtar fell into a thoughtful silence.
The palace was a citadel, strong looking with tall, slim towers at all it’s four corners. It had massive front gates through which there seemed a constant issue of soldiery – some appearing to leave and others returning travel stained and battle weary. The entire city seemed to be on a war footing; children could be seen being taken through all sorts of training. The younger ones though were not engaged in any form of physical activity, but were sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed.
‘Why are the little ones not doing anything at all?’ asked Bokthar.
‘From a young age they are taught to focus on finding the darkest part of their minds and then fight their way through to arrive at a state of heightened awareness. Here we are and remember stranger, when you meet the Lord of War, do not avert your eyes; keep your gaze steady and strong. Do not allow it to waver; there is a custom here that no warrior will avert their eye to anybody.’
‘Quick, before we go in, tell me who is the Warlord.’
‘It is Hardol, Ximania, the other went not too long ago,’ said the girl.
Hardol, why he should never have been allowed to take power; what were the people thinking of; has nobody tried to depose him yet.’
‘Tried and failed Ximania, he is too powerful for anybody to defeat.’
‘You mean if you are not happy with the king he is killed,’ asked Bokthar?
‘No Bokhtar,’ said Ximenes, ‘in this city the King’s right to the seat is openly challenged, this leaves no room for deception, since backstabbers are executed as traitors’
They entered the Room of the Seat, where the King held court. Bokthar felt extremely uncomfortable in his presence.
‘Welcome Ximania, great warrior, and a welcome to you Bokhtar, acolyte from the City of Spring.’
‘Do not look so surprised, my friend; it is necessary that I know everything just as I knew when the Diws would attack your people.’
‘That is incredible sire, your network is better than even ours.’
‘Yes, your Shah has built an impressive information network in such a short time but ours is far superior in numbers and has people that we can depend on.’
‘Then sire,’ said Bokthar, ‘you probably know what I am about to request.’
‘I do to a certain extent, but carry on and let me hear what you have to say.’
‘Sire, the City of Spring asks for your help in destroying the Diws from the Sands that have plagued our city. We ask for the assistance of your army and later in training our people to learn how to fight.
‘I know, I know all this Bokhtar, and I also do know that I will not and cannot stop the inevitable.’
‘What is that Sire?’
‘The clash of the ideologies - the order your people believe in and Chaos that is incarnate in our spirits far deeper than it would be for you all who find it only in the expression of craft and symbols which is but a weak embodiment of your principle. The order that you all profess will bring more misery and hardship, because without chaos order will stagnate. Through our actions we renew life and maintain it’s vitality.’
‘What are you saying sire,’ asked Bokhtar.
What I am stating most simply, Bokhtar, is that we will soon march on your city when the Diws who stand between your city and ours have been annihilated; it will take time but we will soon come to you. Go and find your mercenary army elsewhere, here you have found only the desert.’