Thursday, April 9, 2015
Grab an advanced read on Tony Hillings "The MA'APONE"
About twelve Marches to the east of the City, in one of the many caves in the Ma'apone Hills, an elderly man was surrounded by a flock of young pupils who attended him in wrapt concentration. He was dressed in a grey robe with a blue teacher's sash over his left shoulder, his long iron-grey hair mingling with his beard. The caves were frequently chosen for meetings because the slaves could the more easily hide and keep a look out for any Davarenge intruders. School meetings were no exception: it was forbidden to teach the Bladowrete tongue or to have meetings of more than three persons.
Avran Banyonan viewed the young faces before him: the hope for his people. It was imperative that the traditions be passed on. If not, then though they might continue to live in Aedistamen, the Breath of their nation would be lost. So, at least once in every Season, the children’s teachers, their classes scattered throughout the Ma’apone Hills, would ask the elders of their people to address their students. This Dark, in the dim light of the oil filled lamps of the cave, Banyonan had been invited to speak to children about the beginnings of the Bladowrete, the Chosen Ones, in the Homeland far across the Great Sea. He told them of how the Ghaedesh-Mor had created the father of the Bladowrete, Chenomi and had commanded him to be faithful to true worship.
A child stood, the signal for a question.
"Yes, Dorene?" said Banyonan
"Why did we come here if we had a homeland?" asked Dorene
"For the very reasons that I told you, my child," explained Banyonan. "The Bladowrete were unfaithful despite the warnings of the Ghaedesh-Mor that we were bringing evil down on our heads. In seeking after demons and worshipping them, we opened ourselves up to evil and abandoned the protection of the Ghaedesh-Mor. Some ten generations ago, about 290 Full Seasons, the Davarenge Imperial fleet invaded the Homeland and destroyed our city, Donchenomi. They put most of the Bladowrete to the sword and burned the temple. Those who survived were brought here to be slaves to the Davarenges; to till their fields if we were cooperative, or to be imprisoned in their silver mines if we were difficult."
Another child stood. Banyonan nodded at the young boy to speak.
"Yes, my child. Some of our strong young men have spent time in the Davarenge army," explained Banyonan.
"I am Bantreman. Are you not strong too, Master Banyonan?" Another little boy asked while remaining seated.
"Don't forget to rise and be noticed before you ask a question, Bantreman," gently chided Banyonan.
The child rose immediately to snickers around him
"I was not forced to join the army, my child. I have spent most of my life as a servant to one of the Davarenge nobles; teaching their children and advising them," continued Banyonan.
A young girl naming herself as Revene rose and asked, "Did you not work in the fields, Master?"
"Actually, I did that too, Revene. But the Ghaedesh-Mor has given me the gift of ‘seeing-through’, a quality that is highly regarded by the Davarenges. So, I was taken to a large house in the City and remained there until about two full Seasons ago."
"What is, 'seeing-through'," asked another child as she stood.
"It is the gift of the Ghaedesh-Mor, to see the heart of any matter, to understand things that are often hidden," explained Banyonan patiently.
"Master Banyonan?" It was young Bantreman again, this time swiftly rising. "Are we going to stay here in Davarensrod forever?"
The children listened, their mouths agape; the atmosphere was palpable in that small, damp, poorly-lit, cave. Banyonan seemed to soar as he continued, "...so that is why we must always be faithful to the Ghaedesh-Mor, my children. Even though we struggle and fall sometimes, we must always turn to the Ghaedesh-Mor, because His mercy is great and He has preserved a remnant of His people even in this land of slavery. And you must pray that the Ghaedesh-Mor brings the Deliverer upon us even sooner, if it were possible than the prophecy. Who knows but this Deliverer may be in our company already, being prepared for the task ahead of him. Know that you yourselves, my children, have been spared for this time. There are brothers and sisters of yours in the flesh who were not so fortunate and were sacrificed as infants on the altars of the Davarenges....." Banyonan caught himself as he realized that his face was wet and his voice hoarse.
Another question saved him from embarrasment. "Could the Deliverer be one of us here?" It was a tiny mite named Bantoller. The question was greeted with much laughter by the other children until they heard Banyonan's response.
“Quite possibly, my child."
"How will we know who he is?" continued the mite.
"Another good question, and I'm afraid I don't know the answer," admitted Banyonan. "The Book does not say. We think...."
Revene had stood again, and Banyonan nodded in mid sentence. "Tell us more about the Book, Master Banyonan?"
“It is the chronicle of the Ghaedesh-Mor's words that we have written down, my child," explained Banyonan. "It contains the history of our people, the law that the Ghaedesh-Mor has given us and words for our future. There used to be six copies, but only two remain and are hidden in secret places. The Davarenges have forbidden us to read or have the Book in our possession. They have burned four copies and also burned those who were caught with them.
"Is the Ghaedesh-Mor angry with us, Master?" It was young, forgetful Bantreman again. He rose suddenly to the prodding behind him.
Banyonan smiled, ignoring the infraction. "And that was probably the best question of all, my child. No! The Ghaedesh-Mor is not angry with us. He was angry many years ago when we abandoned Him, but He has forgiven us. The Book tells us that His memory is long on His love for us, and short on our failures. He is faithful and merciful, even when we are faithless...."
Banyonan felt his voice wobble again as viewed his young audience. 'How many of these innocents would make it to manhood and womanhood?' he wondered.
".... so we must keep our knowledge of Him alive, my children. It is the light that shines in our present darkness. It is the pathway to freedom. One day, when I am gone, it will be for you to pass on to your children the knowledge and love of the Ghaedesh-Mor.... Never break faith or lose heart…"
He felt he was rambling a little but continued, "... even though we have been exiled a long time and it seems that we have been forgotten, never doubt that we are loved and cherished. Each of you will know the bitterness of slavery as you grow, but remember always even as you serve the Davarenges that you are free sons and daughters of the Ghaedesh-Mor, and that one day He will visit us in His mercy and deliver us. Pass on this hope to your children in turn so that our people will stand fast..." Banyonan noticed the teacher trying to get his attention.
After the children had been dismissed, Banyonan turned to the young woman who was the teacher.
"Will they be safe, going home on their own?"
"They are instructed to return two by two, taking different routes to the village," she explained. "They know the pathways perfectly. Even so, we usually miss two of them every Full Season. The Davarenges are always on the lookout for innocents to abuse…"