Journey to the South: Three of Thirty

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Fiction
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     I left Minister Udanni Minjohn Yal’s office with a continuing feeling of astonishment and surrealism.  The Moynama himself had picked me by name for this post – it was almost too much to believe. On the carriage ride back to the lodgings that the Bureau had provided I sat in a shocked silence, the weight of this revelation consuming my thoughts until the driver stirred me from my reflections with the announcement that we had arrived.

    I informed my wife, Viro, of the appointment and that it meant traveling to a land even more foreign and strange than Harran had been. For the Tainir are not Men, even though they bear a vague resemblance to us in their appearance and some of their customs, and the strain of such an alien environment might put such stresses upon my family that it worried me to have them accompany me. But, Viro – with a smile and a touch – assured me that she and the children were stronger than I gave credit, and that if they could survive the barbarism of the Mughri’i every day for thirteen years, this land of strange creatures would be no harder for them to adapt themselves.

    Over the following days our time was divided between making the arrangements for the journey south – confirming the itinerary, making sure that our provisions were sufficient, meeting with the legionary escort – as well as taking advantage of the opportunities of being in the capital. A few days after my meeting with Minister Yal, Udanni and his sons invited myself and Rajak to the chariot races on Kravtal. The boys raced about the ferry playing as Udanni and I shared stories of the past few years and conversed about politics and the state of the Moy. Once on Kravtal we rode a carriage to the circus and Rajak, I must say, was overjoyed to walk the stone halls of the circus, to climb up to the sectioned off seats that Udanni had procured for us, and to witness the excitement of the races. It warmed my heart to see the boy so astounded by the sights and activities of the Imperial City: all he had ever known was the makeshift city of Harran, raised up by the High Chieftain as part of the Plateau Accords. To see the majesties of Kravnu and of what his people could achieve, I knew that it would inspire the boy to achieve his own greatness.

    The day before we left was the Triumph of Krinai, the festival and parade commemorating the god’s victory over the giant, Yetimij, who was both his father and grandfather. Never before had I had the good fortune to be in the Imperial City during mid-winter when the festival takes place, symbolizing the consumption of Yetimij’s heart by the primordial fire-dragon, Tulaar, becoming the sun that shines down upon us all. The parade is initiated at the cavern-shrine at the base of the Mount of Vines that the Priesthood of Krinai holds that his mother-sister, Namshiir, hid him away in until he was grown; having him nursed and tutored and trained far from the jealous eye of Yetimij. A spearfish is offered to the god of sea and battle, since the stories tell of how his first weapon was made from the bill of the fish, and then the High Priest of Krinai leads a winding parade from the mainland across the rings of the city, crossing the open waterways by the many stone bridges that link them. Finally, the parade comes to an end at the Imperial Temple that lies upon the palace grounds, and a ritual re-enactment of the giant’s slaying is performed by priests of Krinai upon a great, clay effigy of Yetimij, which is filled with sweetmeats and other delicacies that are given out to the Imperial family and other, select attendees. With that climax to the parade, three days of festivities are begun in honor of the act that inaugurated the reign of the Kritanoi over the world.

    We were lucky that our lodging on Namshital overlooked the route that parade took on its last leg before crossing to the Isle of Sovereignty, and we could watch the procession from the terrace of our rooms. It was amazing to see the war-priests of Krinai, all dressed in their ritualistic lorica marching in lockstep formation, the movement one long cyclic ritualized dance that they repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times between the Shrine of the Cave and the Imperial Temple. They were not the only ones, though: the priests of Krinai were followed by the priests and priestesses of Bianulii, dancing their seductive dances, symbolizing the aid and support the goddess gave to her brother as he went off to slay their tyrannical progenitor. Behind the devotees of Bianulii came wagons bearing the clerics of Tule, the wily smith-god, with them imitating their patron’s forging of the mighty weapons that he armed his siblings with prior to their battle with the giant. All of the Priesthoods had representatives in the parade, but as it went by the sights and sounds all blurred together into a riotous experience of emotion and awe at the displays of piety and exuberance.

    Of course, Viro and I – like many others – had shared several drinks of the holiday’s traditional corn-spirits. That may have blurred my recollection some, but I still look fondly back the memory of looking down from the terrace and seeing all of the denizens of the Imperial City gathered in the streets to celebrate the Kritanoi, and being awed by it.

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