Prologue : Saint Maria
Chapter 3 – Modus Ponens – Part 1[4207 words]
Judah Fayol was in a good mood. Truthfully, he was kind of proud of himself. Rod Drick had given him 30 gold parans to award the craftsmen, but those were still in his bag. What he had put on the anvil for the boy was 30 silver coins, which was of the same size of a gold paran but weighed about half. The 30 silver coins were worth one and a half gold paran. The rest was his now.
He wasn’t afraid of Rod Drick blaming him for it. It was impossible that Lord Drick would descend to that tiny shabby shed with the smoky furnace. It was an honor for them to have him, the clerk of Lord Rod Drick, attend. He had gotten what Lord Drick had asked him to get, the Gods’ Tear. As such, Lord Drick would be happy and reward him. Judah knew him well. He wouldn’t care about those trifling things.
Even for Judah, it was the first time seeing a Gods’ Tear. He had never even heard of it before. Rod Drick had told him that it was a parangon that looked blonde and near-transparent. He did have seen one at Amon’s house, and he took it.
Judah could not spend one more second in that house because of the awful stench of wine and the sweating smoke of the furnace. He took the Gods’ Tear and left. Judah was also extremely curious with this legendary substance, the symbol of God’s mercy. He could hardly hold himself back from closely examining it, or even putting it in his bag. Those sort of fantasies could just stay in his head. He dared do nothing but hold the golden box carefully and go back to Lord Drick.
A short while after Judah Fayol had left, Amon left the house too. He went to Crazy’Ole’s. Amon was still a boy. He could not tell his grievances to his unconscious drunk father. It might be a relief to listen to some nonsense rambled by the lunatic.
He spent about half an hour at Crazy’Ole’s. Then he slipped around to the west of the town. To the west of Duc was a series of hills full of atroceruleous, strangely-shaped rocks. Nearer to the town were some grasslands that fed small groups of goats. The further one went, the more dangerously steep it became. The hills weren’t very high, but they were terribly rugged. It was like a dark rocky forest, full of shrubs that resembled messy, matted hair.
The shrubs reached the height of two men, but had rigid branches. They could only be cut down by quality cutters and axes. These could make the best charcoal that was used in smelting iron ores. It was how this place got its name: [the Charcoal Forest]. It was on the only way from Duc to Syah, part of the courier routes of the state of Syah.
Most of the visitors of the Charcoal Forest stayed on the well-built road that had state-owned stations of warriors every thirty miles. Few were willing to deviate from the path to the deeper parts. The big rocks and tall shrubs severely limited one’s sight, making the Charcoal Forest a labyrinth full of unknown dangers.
Crazy’Ole had told Amon that in a place deep in the Charcoal Forest, there was a cold spring. The water there was bitterly cold, but could temper and purify one’s body. Bathing regularly in it made one’s body stronger, more sensitive, more agile and defter. But one must bathe in the special way which Crazy’Ole had taught Amon, otherwise it would do no nothing but frost one’s organs and leave hidden wounds that could be fatal if they burst open later.
Amon was taught the way, but whether he could protect himself from the chilliness and bear it depended entirely on himself. Amon had asked what other benefits could bathing in the spring bring? The answer from smiling Crazy’Ole was simple. it sobered you up.
But when Amon tried to bring his drunk father to the spring, he was stopped by Crazy’Ole. “Do you want to kill him?”, he cried, ” He can’t bear it. Only you can go there, and don’t let anybody else know!”
So Amon went alone every time, and bathed in the moonlight of midnight. At the beginning, he could hardly withstand the biting cold, but when he finished bathing and sat beside the spring, a warm current would circle inside his body. It made him feel so good that he wanted to moan. Amon gradually fell in love with this feeling. Everytime he was in a bad mood, he went to the cold spring.
Another special thing about the spring was, chilling as it could be, it thoroughly washed the body. Not a speck of dust would be left after he came out from the spring.
Rod Drick was indeed happy. To be more precise, he was in a state of euphoria. He had obtained the Gods’ Tear, as he had planned! Enveloped in the praises about how wise and brilliant and lucky he was from Judah Fayol and other servants, he turned a little dizzy. Rod Drick had not had any dream about Isis giving him guidance. He had made that up. But now, watching the goblet of wine in his hand, he really started to think that he might have been guided by Isis in some indescribable way.
The first thing he did after he had got the Gods’ Tear was to kneel down and praise the mighty gods. Then he awarded Judah with three parangons. He also sent a munificent gift to Mayor Dusti, which the latter would understand.
Fayol did exactly as he had been told. He took the Gods’ Tear right after it had appeared, in the name of Isis. This could save a lot of trouble. It would be quite difficult to get the Gods’ Tear if it had been turned in to Syah through standard procedures. It was still possible if Rod Drick had used his personal influence, but nothing would be sure then.
The Gods’ Tear was certainly wanted in Hittite. Even within Ejypt, there was more than one candidate of the Adoratrice. It was a hunting game. But now, the humble miner who had discovered the Gods’ Tear followed the will of Lord Rod Drick and presented it to Mother Isis. Nothing wrong could be found.
As for Mayor Dusti, Rod Drick would make it up to him. There were still chances to deal with him later on, he was a friend that shouldn’t be lost. The miner that had discovered the parangon? Who was he? What did he get? Rod Drick did not care. He sent Judah Fayol with 30 gold parans and Fayol did his job. That was all.
Psychology is a subtle thing. Not long ago Rod Drick was drinking and whining that it was better praying to the miners than to the gods. Now, when the Gods’ Tear was in his hand, he forgot all about the miners and thought he had the pity of gods and thanked Isis sincerely.
The Gods’ Tear did not stay long in Rod Drick’s hand. He gave it to Gabriel. He knew that it would be coveted by many, so the essential thing now was to have the acknowledgement from Isis Shrine. He was going to leave Duc the next day to avoid any possible new troubles, but Gabriel had passed on some bad news. Maria was ill, and she had to take a rest of three days in town before she was ready for the tough long trek across the desert.
The next morning, not long after the people in town had gotten up and smoke began to rise from the chimneys, the bell of the shrine of Mourrin rang. It was the town’s way of asking everyone to assemble for important affairs.
The bell ring broke the good mood Mayor Dusti was in as he enjoyed the breakfast that was served to him by four of his servants. Who dared to disturb him when he was enjoying his comfortable morning time? There were only two people qualified to ring the bell in the shrine of Mourrin. One was Dusti himself, the major priest and oracle of the Mourrin Shrine, the other was the executive priest Shog Macrobe.
Shog was simultaneously the clerk of the town of Duc and of the Mourrin Shrine. He was in charge of all the writing and registering works, like recording the tax paid by the people in town and their tribute to the shrine. The status of a clerk was higher than the commoners. It could be counted as the lowest rank of nobles. Shog was at the same time the priest of the shrine, which made his status even higher. He was the second chief of the town.
A clerk was not a nobody, because one had to know reading and writing to be a clerk. Only the nobles had the conditions to learn to write, no matter in Hittite or in Ejypt. As the first clerk of Rod Drick, though Judah Fayol was just an aide, he could have almost the same social status as Mayor Dusti who was noble of Hittite.
Duc was merely a town. It had no need and no room for too many noble officials. Nor did Mayor Dusti want too many of them here to share his power. So simple was best. According to the laws of the state, a clerk was necessary, as well as an executive priest to handle the shrine. Thus Shog took both. Dusti knew well that the Lord of Syah liked Shog, or more precisely his bribe.
What was more funny is that, after the shrine of Horus had been built, in order to save manpower and to centralize power, Dusti became also the main priest of the Horus Shrine and Shog followed to become the executive priest and clerk.
When Mayor Dusti had changed to his luxurious coat and arrived at the square in front of the shrine of Mourrin with his servants, a crowd had gathered. Amon and his father stood before the crowd, heads bowed. Shog stood on the footsteps to the shrine, facing the crowd.
People made a way for Dusti. He walked in and cried, “What are you gathering us for, Shog? Lord Drick is still in town, don’t you know that you may disturb our dear guests?”
Shog rushed down the footsteps and bowed to Dusti, “My dear chief priest, my dear lord, someone has profaned our patron, Mourrin the great.” he lowered his voice and continued, “My lord, there’s something you might still not know. Someone in our town discovered a Gods’ Tear. But he did not turn it in. Instead, he presented it to Lord Rod Drick. You know that even if it has to be presented, it should’ve been done by you or me…. ”
Dusti cut his speech, “Don’t raise this issue any more, Shog. Lord Drick wants that Gods’ Tear. He waited right here in the town. We cannot stop him. By the way, who is to take the responsibility if the state asks us why we didn’t turn it in by law? Now a miner discovered it and tributed it to Isis with Lord Drick as witness. That will save us from all the trouble! Relax. The gift from Lord Drick will be in your hands tonight. It won’t disappoint you! …… Anything else?”
Shog froze for a second, then replied courteously, “I understand. I will do what you say. But there is still one thing. Somebody has violated the majesty of our patron……”
The crowd could not hear the conversation between the two. They saw them whisper a little, then Shog turned his head to the crowd and said in a loud voice, “Amon, the son of a miner, has violated the oracle from the old time of Duc. Last night, he opened an ore and extracted a parangon, without the approval and blessing from goddess Mourrin. I confirmed this last night from his father. ……. Now under the eyes of dear Lord Dusti, people of Duc, please tell me your opinion. What should we do about him?”
Dusti frowned, but he did not say anything, instead standing solemnly. He was upset at Shog’s timing, but he could not stop him. Care was always needed when it came to the gods. He could not let Shog have him on this issue. Besides, the rule was the rule, it was about the dignity of goddess Mourrin, the patron of Duc. He could not help but think — What does he want, this Shog? Would it be about me?
Shog looked at Amon when he spoke, like a ruthless eagle at a quaking rabbit — although Amon managed not to quake. Shog had disliked the boy for a long time. Duc had been producing a seemingly unending number of parangons, which meant endless wealth. But only four people in this town knew writing: Dusti, Shog, Crazy’Ole Nietzsche and Amon.
Dusti only knew the [wedge writing] used in Hittite, Bablon and Assyr. The wedge writings were cut on the mud plates by knives. Shog knew two writings: the Wedge Writing, and the [pen writing] used in Ejypt written on the papyrus. Both had been taught by Crazy’Ole. But then Crazy’Ole had also taught the two ways of writings to Amon.