Posts Tagged heresy
He would forget all of this. He would return to his Tribe and report that he had found a Barrow, that he was triumphant. His family’s status would be restored… In privacy he would tell the Rain-Keepers of the dead hermit, of the unholy blasphemies that were waiting inside the new-found Barrow. He would say that the man spouted off unspeakable things, that he was turning feral from time in the Forest, and that Roob had killed him in the name of the Rain when he had begged for his life. He would say that he found the canyon when he followed the… Beast, from the Forest, watched it walk down the canyon and into this crevice. Yes, he would say all these things, and any other lies that would return the world to what it was.
He could see light: first the walls glowed faintly from the sigils, then true light from the outside. It would seem that he had not wedged the screen tightly enough in his haste. He processed this only faintly, continuing towards the exit; never mind his things, never mind his goggles. Roob needed one thing right now, and that was to step out into the light and look.
When he did, he was blinded briefly. The canyon was still present, although more rubble lined the floor of it from overhangs that had slid down. The light was diffuse through the clouds, as it always way, seemingly coming from all angles. The floor of the canyon had taken on the rust-colored tinge that indicated the critical material was close to being finished, and some places within the walls, new and recently revealed, seemed to indicate that they too were close to being finished. For the first time, Roob had a chance to take stock of this place, and he realized just how rich, how fertile in critical material this place had the potential to be. With its proximity to the Forest… yes, it would be perfect.
Roob would return, and telling them of the abundance of critical material, of the rubble of the canyon, of what he thought could have been a Barrow-mound, of the area itself, his family would be returned to more than their previous status. He would be eligible to marry anyone, and he would take for his first spouse someone from the military families. He would gather with his friends who were Scouts, with those who were Raiders of other Barrows; he would request the Magi who knew the Words. He would build a family of his friends and allies, with his spouse hopefully; a new family with status and respect, and they would come and live in this Barrow. They would come and do what the Rain-Keepers had always said should be done: they would fight the blasphemous Forest.
Roob thought this, knew all of this with certainty, as he stood in the floor of the canyon. The Rain, plop-HSSSSSSSSS, onto his armor, onto his neck as he stood tall; he felt the agony on his skin, burning with the mistakes of our ancestors, as he turned back into the crevice. He stripped his chest armor off, gritting his teeth, refusing to scream, refusing to give in. The Rain was a blessing, and though he would let it be nothing else, the words still made him afraid.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story. For now that’s everything. If I come back to this it will be because people asked me to, and it will probably occur before the narrative’s current-time; I feel the society I have presented is rich enough to deserve its own explorations.
The old man watched him go. He had misjudged the youth’s tenacity for the lie, and that was unfortunate. He got up and moved quickly between the youth and the door. To let him go would mean losing this store-house of knowledge, and that the old man could not bear.
“Wait please, young-one. You cannot leave; there are many things, precious things here: recipes for our weapons that can help us win against our enemies!”
“There is no ‘we’, Heretic,” the words fell out of Roob’s mouth as though dripping from a serpent’s fang. The old man recoiled, moving back towards the door. He fell to his knees before Roob.
“Please then! I beg of you! Tell no one of this place! They will rape its knowledge, forbid it from the public. There are others who would use it for the betterment of all! Please young one!”
The weight of the knife felt heavy in Roob’s hands, and he was preoccupied with its presence, more so than with what the old man was saying. No suitable Rain-Keeper would beg. They would be taken outside, chained to the ground, and left for the Rain; and they would suffer it all with dignity. Hatred filled him, hatred without reason, hatred without boundaries. How dare this being beg. How dare he promise him absolution and deliver him only heresy. How dare he promise truth and deliver only lies. The force of Roob’s heritage dictated the only thing that could be done in this situation. In a flash of movement driven by reflexes that were honed by years of avoiding the Rain, Roob’s arm drove forward, knife coruscating in the lame light of the fire. The old man’s eye popped quietly, blood drooling down his face as the knife slid quickly into his skull. The former Rain-Keeper died instantly.
Roob stepped back. It was not murder that weighed on his soul. All his life, Roob had been familiar with murder. But something weighed on his soul, and it was something Roob could not identify. It was an emptiness of the self, and once again Roob felt disoriented. He stumbled towards the door, sheathing his knife without cleaning it, and opened it. He stepped out into the larger Barrow, forgetting the door, seeing only the passageway ahead of him. He forced himself to walk, to take step after step, to climb up towards the roof of this place; towards the exit to the cavern. He realized when he got to the lightning passage that he had forgotten his lantern. It was of no matter. The path did not branch, it did not deviate. Roob crawled into the narrow, crimson passage. He navigated the corners, felt along the uncut, glassy walls. Always pushing forward, struggling through the narrowed sections, pressing himself against the wall as though he could draw strength from it, draw in comfort. But the wall remained cold, congealed remnants of a lost age… the words came without prompting into his mind and he struggled forward harder. Drowning out his thoughts by focusing on the passage, burying what he had learned under the toils of the flesh and the scraping of the rock.
At this Roob looked up at the old man, looking for signs of deceit or trickery. Surely the old man knew what that entailed; he was a Rain-Keeper. Would he think that Roob had not considered that possibility? Carefully Roob spoke, “I have considered the Ritual of Attonement, Ex-… sir. But there are other ways than giving myself to the Rain. Our family is small, and given our place only by our profession, as is the way. We cannot spare our patriarch or the eldest son to the ritual.”
“What if there was another way? What if the way was truth, or knowledge.”
Roob was well beyond confusion by this point. He felt the desire to know what this Rain-Keeper meant, the desire to be exonerated of his guilt. It was a strong desire, but Roob knew that it could be heresy. If it was a Rain-Keeper telling him though… perhaps this old man knew something that his Rain-Keepers couldn’t tell him? Certainly there was more written in this dome than in all his Tribe’s Barrows combined. Roob’s desire won out.
“And what is this way, this knowledge that is true?”
The old man smiled, happy to finally be sharing this burden with another. “The truth is that the Rain is not a divine force. The truth is that all we know is a lie. The rain is nothing more than the death-throes of an older time, the last remnant of a civilization that we cling to. It burns with the mistakes of our ancestors, if it burns with anything more than acid, NOT to punish us for leaving the waters, NOT to push us deep within the Earth. It is a chemical, a substance. It creates the things we are dependent on, yes, but only because we choose to be dependent on them. If we are ever to be free of this barren existence, to rebuild the glories of the Lost Days, as the Rain-Keepers claim to want, it is not through the rain that we will do this, but through the Forest.”
Each sentence was as though the old man was reaching into a bag and pulling forth something new, something he longed to show another, to share. In Roob’s mind the worst part of all of it was that the old man was pleased to be sharing this; as though this was not high blasphemy. Heresy even, if you considered that the old man was a Rain-Keeper. The worst part of all of this was that Roob could not stop listening. The desire for release was too great to not consider these things. Finally though, the force of Roob’s belief, of what his family would say to this, was enough to win out. He stood up from where he sat and walked towards the door. He would leave this place of heresy. He would tell his Tribe of this Barrow-in-the-Canyon, he would tell the Rain-Keepers of this heretic and they would come in force and take what they needed. His job here was done.