Prologue : Saint Maria
Chapter 3 – Modus Ponens – Part 2
No one knew how Crazy’Ole had learned these writings. He was the oldest person in this town. He had been living here long before all the current inhabitants of Duc were born. It was said that he had travelled through many faraway places across the continent. No one knew his age, but he was certainly over a hundred. In a time where people could die very young, longevity itself was an admirable feat, a gift from the gods.
After Shog became the priest, he had the chance to learn another method of writing, which was called the hieroglyph, or the sacred writing. It could only be used to praise the gods. No one other than the nobles and the priests was allowed to learn it. The hieroglyphs were almost the same as the common method of writing, but had strict and unique rules concerning the forms and orders it should be written in. It was difficult to understand for those hadn’t learned it. Rumor said that it had the mysterious power to communicate with deities.
In the eyes of the plebeians and slaves, all writings were mysterious, awe-inspiring symbols. Duc had a clerk appointment, as did the shrine. Presently, Shog filled both positions. But two years ago, the situation changed when Crazy’Ole had started to teach Amon the two forms of writing. He had even drunkenly told the mayor, “We have three clerk positions, but unfortunately we don’t have enough literate men. At least the clerk of Mourrin Shrine and that of Horus Shrine should not be the same person. It is even more inappropriate when this person is the clerk of Duc. Amon is beloved by the gods. He’s been learning how to write too. He writes well both by knife and by pen. I’m sure that he’ll be a very good clerk, and a very good priest too.”
What upset Shog the most was that Mayor Dusti did not oppose. Instead he laughed and said, “Oh, then he really is beloved by the gods. When he grows up, he should be a good clerk.”
To Shog, this was like a poisonous snake bite. He could barely sleep every time he realized that he would one day lose his power and wealth to the son of a dirty drunkard. But there was one more far more painful and important reason why he decided to punish Amon in front of everyone.
The legend of the Gods’ Tear did not only exist in Ejypt. A high lord in a faraway state had told him to look for a very special parangon since long ago. If he could get it, there would be a great gift for him. Shog was in charge of the registration of all the parangons produced in Duc, which gave him all the advantage he needed.
However, the Gods’ Tear had appeared and he was a step too late. Even if he wanted to, there was no way he could get it from Rod Drick. His highness was resourceful enough to wait at the right place at the right time, and beat all his rivals.
Shog felt the wave when the Gods’ Tear entered the world. When he arrived at Amon’s house, he saw two armed soldiers at the door. Then the clerk of Lord Drick walked out carrying a golden box in his hand with two other soldiers. When Shog was able to enter the house, Amon had left the house through the backdoor. There was only a drunken man, and when threatened, he told Shog everything.
Shog did not dare ask Rod Drick. But he had found a chance to deal with Amon. So he rang the bell in the shrine of Mourrin early this morning. Though Mayor Dusti had stopped him from talking about the Gods’ Tear, he raised another issue, one which could be a disaster for Amon.
The people of Duc were shocked, then they started to whisper. Amon had violated the ancient oracle, this had never happened in Duc. The technique passed from generation to generation required great strength, making it nearly impossible for underaged children to master it. Even if this had happened before, no one would have mentioned it to the public. Mining and extracting parangons was hard work. What was bad in a young, qualified craftsman? If the family kept silent about it, who else would care about it?
But now, in front of the shrine of Mourrin, announced by the priest under the eyes of the goddess, it became a serious problem. Nobody could say anything for Amon, or he would be judged as blasphemous. Oracles were laws.
Since nobody broke the silence, Shog coughed and said again in a loud voice, “Tolerance is virtue, but so is integrity and obedience to the goddess. Amon, are you ready to receive punishment from the goddess? …… In the name of Mourrin, our patron, how should this boy be punished, with maximal tolerance of course?” He said the last phrase to all the people on the square.
Dusti frowned again. He was displeased. Shog obviously had made arrangements for this situation. A voice rose in the crowd, “According to the oracle, he owes the goddess a finger, your kindness should decide the one he must give.”
Amon shuddered. His face turned pale and his lips twitched. He held back from saying anything but his father kneeled down and begged with a trembling voice, “Please forgive him, he is just a child. He didn’t know what he was doing. I taught him everything. I violated the oracle. Please just punish me.”
Many people in the crowd seemed to agree, “Lord Macrobe, forgive the innocent child. He can work hard and pay more tributes to the goddess.”
Shog pretended that he heard nothing. He lifted his hands and pressed them down, gesturing for silence. He turned to Amon and said in a calm and indifferent tone, “Amon, do you know the oracle when you began to learn the technique? Although you are a child, you should have known it as one who lives in this town.”
When he talked, he was thinking — which finger should I cut?
Dusti coughed. He felt that he should say something in this situation. At the same time, a voice rose loudly behind the crowd, “Whose ignorance is this? Priest, you forget the meaning of the oracle. This lucky child did not violate it at all!”
The voice shocked everyone. Shog turned his eyes to the source of the voice. A young man walked through the crowd and stopped before him. He was about 20 years old, wearing a clean white robe and a headring made of fresh twigs. Shog knew this man. He was not an inhabitant of Duc. He had came to the town several days ago with Rod Drick and was one of his valued staff. It was said that he had travelled from a faraway land. His name was Aristotle.
Mayor Dusti asked, “Mister Aristotle, why are you here? Does Lord Drick have something to say?”
Aristotle nodded with smile, “I came here for some other business of my lord. I happened to hear the argument with this boy. My dear mayor, may I ask some questions to this priest?”
Dusti nodded politely, “Please go ahead, Mister Aristotle.”
Shog was confused. He was not sure what this young man wanted with him, nor why or how he defended this boy. Aristotle greeted the mayor, then asked Shog in a peaceful tone, “My dear priest, please answer me seriously in the name of the goddess in your shrine. Is it true that according to the ancient oracles, only the ones who have had the approval and blessing from the goddess can master the unique technique of Duc?”
Shog answered solemnly, “Yes my lord. In the name of my goddess, that is true.”
Aristotle nodded and continued his questions, “Is it true that this boy has mastered that technique?”
“Yes, but —”
Aristotle interrupted loudly, “Then this boy has had the approval and blessing from the goddess, hasn’t he?”
Shog was stunned. He refuted in a high voice, “No! He violated the oracle, that’s why he should be punished!”
Aristotle humphed and argued, “No, it is you, my priest, that forgot the meaning of the oracle! It says that only the ones who have had the approval and blessing from the goddess can master the unique technique. Without the approval and blessing from the goddess, one cannot. Since this boy can master the technique, it proves that he has had the approval and blessing from the goddess……If you deny it, you deny your goddess’ oracle!”
Now everyone but Aristotle was confused. Most of them were just miners that dealt with hammers and fire, not the sophistry of the philosophers from exotic lands.
Shog was stuck. It was said that the shrines were places that repelled reason because the oracles were the laws to obey, not to be argued with. Nevertheless, under the eyes of the gods, they were indeed the places that needed reason the most. Every word should be said with caution to show the due trust and respect to the gods.
Aristotle felt the confusion around him. He smiled, pointed his hand to the shrine and said, “Only the gods can give oracles. Mourrin can give you oracles. Thus Mourrin is one of the gods. Clear, isn’t it?”
Then he pointed to Amon and said, “Only with the approval and blessing from the goddess can one master the technique. This boy can master the technique. Thus he has the approval and blessing from the goddess! What can be wrong with this conclusion? ……. Do you understand now?”
Things became clear with analogies. Many people seemed to be enlightened and began to nod. Some became more confused and still thought there must be something wrong with Aristotle’s logic. But they failed to find the fallacy. Shog’s face turned purple. Mayor Dusti seemed to be trying to restrain himself from laughing, which made his face look funny too.
“But he has not gone through the ceremony. It’s against the rules!” Shog finally shouted out angrily, but there was a sense of weakness in his voice.
“No. Amon has had the the approval and blessing from Mourrin, our goddess. It is you, my dear priest, who was abandoned and warned by our goddess!” Along with the voice came Crazy’Ole Nietzsche. He separated the crowd with his stick and came to the front.
Crazy’Ole was old, with his greyish white hair and beard tangled. He wobbled on his feet rather like a toddling child than like an old man. His stick was dark brown with jumbled golden lines on the surface. He waved the stick violently, forcing people near him to quickly dodge.
Nietzsche passed Aristotle and threw a mixed look at him over his shoulder, a look that contained appreciation, examination and interrogation. He stood in front of Shog, by the side of Amon, pointed at Shog with his stick and said, “Three years ago, I got the order from goddess Mourrin in my dream. Amon was approved and blessed to learn the technique of Duc. He did not learn it from his father, but from me.”
Shog took a step back and asked, “How can you prove that?”
Crazy’Ole smiled. He pointed the stick to Shog’s nose, “What blinds your soul to not see the proof, my dear priest? Pray to the goddess and repent! Did you not hear the words of this sir? Our goddess has already showed you the proof!”
[List of Characters]
Shog Macrobe: Clerk of Duc, the executive priest and clerk of the Horus Shrine and the Mourrin Shrine of Duc.
Aristotle: Rod Drick’s staff, travelled from a faraway country.