A singularly uninspired day today, as I just felt blocked and the words would not come. this wasn’t helped by having a scene that was heavy on exposition that I know is going to be ruthlessly altered when i’m out of NaNoWriMo’s word count at all costs way of thinking and am actually trying to edit into coherency. Incidentally, that scene is the excerpt below. And in my pre-NaNo notes, the character of Inigo is described thusly – “Inigo: Mr Exposition. Looks like a renaissance version of douchebag Guy Fieri, which is rather mean to a certain celebrity chef. Also, I still managed enough word count to be above par for the day, if barely.
Inigo turned out to be a great deal more foppish than Nikolai was used to finding in priests and preachers. The man wore so many rings, bracelets and necklaces of clashing colors and metals that every time he moved, it sounded like the bells clanging to announce a royal betrothal. On top of that, the man seemed incapable of stillness. Nikolai fancied that if you cut inigo’s hands off, you would render him mute.
In contrast to the preacher’s ostentation, the temple was austere. There were no icons of religious figures, or gilded symbols of office, or even the stained glass that Nikolai had come to associate with worship. The walls and floors were all of a slate grey tile with only an offering pool less than three feet around hinting at the building’s spiritual nature. The vast shelves of bound parchments made it seem more library than temple. Perhaps the priest’s bold claims to be the keeper of a house of knowledge were accurate after all.
“Revered one, I come here to seek wisdom,” Nikolai said.
Inigo grinned and rubbed his hands together in a gleeful manner. “Then, I believe I can help you in that quest. What do you seek to understand?”
“I would have knowledge of the Judgment of Andraste, both here and in the realm above.”
“Andraste, Andraste…” Inigo said, licking his fingers and sliding various scroll cases aside as he sought to answer Nikolai. After a few moments, the preacher found the scroll he wanted and passed it to Nikolai.
Nikolai dutifully unrolled the scroll and squinted at the spidery text thereon. It meant nothing to him. “Revered one, though it pains me to admit to such weakness, I cannot read these writings.”
“There are few who can, but prophecy says that such a one will find this temple soon.”
“I am not he, I am a seeker of knowledge, not a provider.”
“So I understand. Tell me, venerable knight, what do you know of Andraste?”
“I know they were judged, and found wanting.”
“All in the realm no that, even babes at their mother’s breasts. What do you know?”
“I know nothing of Andraste. I am of the faith of Satiada.” Nikolai said. In truth, he was of no faith at all, but one didn’t get to move in knightly orders or royal households professing such apathy to spiritual matters.
“Then let me begin by telling you this. Andraste was the third Creator. Lenus was of the Sun, Satiada was of the Moon and Andraste was of the firmament that both sun and moon are suspended within. He was the guider of the in between spaces, of the border between sky and ground, between day and night and some say, between gods and mankind.”
“That’s absurd. The sky gives way to the ground and the day eventually surrenders to the night but there is no transition between gods and men. We do not become gods, and they certainly wouldn’t accept being humbled into such spare forms as our own,” Nikolai said.
“Spoken like a true Satiadan,” Inigo said “though there has never been a crossing over between gods and men, who are we to say that such things are beyond the power of the heavenly inhabitants?”
“Okay. So Andraste was another Creator.”
“Yes, and He was the one who bound together the creators and that which they created. Andraste proclaimed to the other gods that the creatures that inhabit this world had wisdom greater than of the gods. And that they should grant their power to one creature to prove him right or wrong.”
The preacher stared at Nikolai, who kept his face carefully neutral. This is dangerously close to heresy he thought. I am already exiled as a traitor, and if I’m found cavorting with heretics, I am thrice damned.
“You don’t look well, sir knight.” Inigo said.
“I’ll be fine, preacher. I’m just struggling with the wine.”
“You haven’t had any wine.”
“And that is why I am struggling.”
The priest ignored him. “Naturally, the other gods dismissed Andraste for a fool and told him to watch how petty, ugly and small-minded the creatures of this world were.”
“And are,” Nikolai interjected.
“I, personally, like to think that we are better now than we were then.”
“How long ago was this?”
“As ever is the case in the divine realms, time is something nebulous, but at least seven centuries ago.”
“How does this godly curiosity tie in to the burning skies that were the Judgment?”
“All in good time, sir knight. All in good time. Suffice to say that Andraste never lost his conviction that we mortal men were as worthy as his fellow gods of power and to rule. It is written that after two hundred years, Andraste found a human woman, Lauren, that he knew to be better than all the gods. He desired her as His consort.”
Nikolai looked to the heavens. Surely the workings of mere mortal man was far beneath the notice of gods, he thought.
“Of course, the other gods mocked Andraste for this affectation. They said that his championing if this world had clouded his mind from the truths. And the harshest truth of all was that the lifespan of this Lauren was as tiny to the scale of a god as the mayfly’s life is tiny to the scale of ours.”
“Andraste would not hear of it,” Inigo continued, “and he made the mistake that would bring his Judgment down on this world and upon the very heavens themselves. He brought this Lauren into Shnyheim, the realm of the gods themselves.”
“How?” Nikolai asked
“The scrolls and texts do not tell us of the method Andraste used, though I’m sure it was trivial for a being with the power the gods had then.” Inigo said.
The priest gestured skyward, his bangles clashing together in a cacophony of noise. “Mortal minds aren’t meant to inhabit Shnyheim, and it broke Lauren, driving her to madness as her mind cracked in two. Andraste was devastated as the fragile soul spirit departed from Lauren. In his grief, he tried something that the other gods declared as anathema. He imbued Lauren with a portion of his divine essence.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad…”
“It diminished a portion of his godhood, and Andraste’s fellow deities understood that if he could lose his power to mortals, then so could they. Of course, now that Lauren contained an infinitesimal portion of Andraste’s essence, she was no longer mortal, but something more.”
“Did she get her mind back?”
“No, though it did not die. In truth, the fractured shards of Lauren’s sanity were cast from the heavens by Lenus and Satiada. Lauren’s thoughts were given the forms of fine jewels and scattered about the world.”
“But the Creators are noble deities with honor, why would they do such a thing?”
“As punishment for Andraste. The sharing of divine essence with lesser lives was, to them, a crime and so they convened all the inhabitants of Shnyheim and held a trial for Andraste. We know not what form that trial took, only that it lasted twenty days and twenty nights. We only know that because the sun and moon were absent from the skies for that time.”
Nikolai remembered a time from the histories his masters at the Order had taught him “The Long Dark.”
“Yes, the Long Dark was the tie of Andraste’s trial. And at the end it came time for his Judgment. The verdict was unanimous: guilty. The sentence was swift and carried out the same instance guilt was rendered. Like yourself, wooden-necked knight, Andraste was punished with exile, never to cross the threshold of Shnyheim again. Lenus bound Andraste in chains crafted from the celestial rays of the sun and drove her chariot from the heavens to the land, with Andraste and his chains of sunlight in tow. The exiled god was thrown to the ground and his cosmic bindings came down with him in the form of fiery rains that altered this world permanently.”
“Thank you, preacher.” Nikolai said, and prostrated himself before Inigo.
“I thank you, sir knight. It is always a pleasant duty to share the truths of the heavens with the unenlightened and in so doing bring them to understanding.”
“I confess that I don’t know if you have brought me understanding,” Nikolai said, “but I now have clarity on Andraste’s Judgment and I name it harsh.”
“I would not dispute the ways of the gods, exiled one, they are often quick to anger.”
“Indeed, revered one. I will pray forgiveness.”