23 August 2020 / Fiction The Dialogues of the Acolytes: Interlocution Achieved Redemptoral Day came to be celebrated in the days of the Olden King, in his twenty third year of life, the seventh year of his reign, in the summer when he danced before the One in the cool of the evening, as the hearts of the people became glad in their remembrance of the One's beneficence in redemption. In the King's remembrance, he danced, while the people made melody and song under trees and by every thicket of fragrant flowers, praising the One for his atonement before the All-Father.In the earliest years of the King's holiday, which he proclaimed by edict to occur every midsummer's eve, before the Silver Prophet's constellation arose in the sky, the day was a day of solemnity, but a solemnity in dance, a solemnity in merriment: a most strange amalgament of seriousness in happiness. The King saw to it that the people of the kingdom were most serious about their happiness in holiness, not merely the dour-handed holiness of monks, recluses, or acolytes. In later years, as the King aged, the Day became a different matter indeed, as the Acolytes came to hold more sway over the doings of the people. In place of song was instituted a forty day fast, where the people were commanded "touch not", "taste not", and to abstain from the pleasures of love-making that they might mortify their flesh before the One in repentance. It was a most solemn occasion. Many lessons were held for the people, some of which were titled, "On the Superiority of the Celibate and the Necessitude of Abstainment from Marriage," as well as "Towards the End of Lessened Involvement in Extraneous and Needless Forms of Distraction in Worship." The people were in awe of the Acolytes' wisdom, and the King sat on his throne on the festival grounds watching and delighting in the delight of the people, and also in their youth. The King espied the Preacher walking amid the crowds of the city, for once quit from his study in his chambers, having read of the righteousness of the old King and how he delighted in living so vigorously before the One all of his days. The Preacher thought it good to imitate this, and so he left his studies that day."Hail to thee, O cleric," said a knight on guard beside the King to the Preacher as he passed by, "the King requesteth thy presence on the dais before him.""Verily, 'tis an honor to be sent for by the King. Might I approach his seat?""Thou mayest."So the Preacher climbed the steps of the dais which had been established on the festival grounds before the sight of the people. The King lifted his sceptre to acknowledge the Preacher, and the Preacher knelt."Blessings be upon thee thrice over, young Preacher. Rise.""Blessing upon thee, O King, and thy heritage.""Come, young cleric, sit at our right hand, for a matter of some significance hath gone on within us, which thy youth may find words with which to speak towards.""Let it be as thou hast said.""In the old wyrd, the wyrd of our people in the pagan days, there walked a knight up and down the lands, who wielded a cunningly wrought blade of dragon-tempered steel, such that none stood before him. His writings might be found in the hall of archives unto this very day; verily they were all of my attention before the sun broke the vault of heaven this morn'. The knight was faced in his latter days with the deepest query of his existence, the question of how to love, and what to love. Such did he consider after all of the years of blood and iron, the slaying of armored dragons, and the ripening of his kingdom in might. He looked upon all of it and said within his heart, "What profit have I gained under the sun, for shall not I also die by the sword?" His struggle did arise in crystalline clarity upon the realization that he might either love himself or love the folk within his kingdom, thereby redeeming his lot; but nay, even so did he realize that to love the kingdom was to love himself; to love his sons and daughters was to love himself; to love those knights of his who did battle in the north, south, east, and west was to also love himself. All things that promised a nobility of deed became empty before him, for all his loving was but cheap self-love, that which even the commonest criminal held in precious grasp. Every thing precious to him withered in his hand as the moth-ridden garment, falling to pieces in many torn shrouds. What counsel mightest thou give unto the knight in his lot, so torn in his way by a lack of any ability? Verily, the answer unto his quandary defieth us even after these many years.""O my King, in the scroll of the Prophet, it saith that to love aright is to love the One. Shan't he love aright by learning His ways and doing His deeds?""The knight never came unto the knowledge of the truth, yet verily, if he had known of the One, we fear even this love might have been the deepest sable cloak for the deepest self-adoration. Such hath vexed me. Thy Acolytes gave the answer of Wisdom: know the one in Truth. What profiteth the truth of the One if the heart of a man cleave not unto it in all of the fruits of delight? Thus do I fear for my people, for they live and walk according to the statutes of the One, to all outward visitations delighting in his way. But their delight is the measure of my kingship, the ruling rod by which my name shall be remembered in the inscriptions on the stones of remembrance. How easily they might be lead astray! And who might tell of their hearts? For they may draw near with their lips but remain far away in heart, far away, in love with games, parade grounds, song, and dance..."A silence reigned on the dais broken by nothing save the revelry below on the parade grounds, the laughter of children, the cries of men guiding herds, and the song of maidens under trees."Shalt thou speak unto their place if thy time shalt arrive?""Verily, O King, we all await thy word, and will do as thou hast commanded.""Consider ye how the Acolytes love the One, and contemplate deeply, O Preacher, for such hath attracted our sovereign eye."That day, as the king and Preacher talked upon the dais amidst the parade grounds, the Guild of the Heralds and the Guild of the Preceptors held a joint meeting in the northern market hall, just south of the old pagan wall. "Hast thou any new business, O Preceptor?""Nay, naught but that which thou bringest.""Verily, then if the assembly assenteth let us consider the admittance of the new business from one Master Myrthan, the recently made citizen come from the furthest reaches of the east to take up his residence here, enjoining himself with the Guild of Heralds in all wisdom.""The body doth recognize the Master Myrthan. Let him assume his seat."A man in a black cloak and shroud arose from the gallery and made the long walk unto the seat nigh the throne of the moderator."Shalt thou remove thy hood, Master Myrthan?""Verily, it shall be removed at the removal of the shroud upon these lands, that the truth of the One may be seen by all.""Amen." Said all in assembly with utmost reverence."Let the Master Myrthan state his business unto the body assembled herein. Scribe, prepare thy pen towards the record.""Hear every word," Master Myrthan said."Let it be considered how greatly the people are lead astray by the weak words of the Scrolls of Telling hung on every wall from the gate of meeting to the old pagan wall, for the people, verily, at any time, may hear of a most devilish lie concerning the king or his knights or his many wise dealings, through direct misadventure or through unlearned interpretation, being childish and in need of constant shepherding. Let it be recommended unto the assembly that such be remedied with immediacy, that the scrolls be directly disallowed of any future saying of any word of the King's doings, for to speak of him in a common scroll offends his nobility and royalty, and verily his subjects know not how to speak of him in the truest beams of reality. Rather, let the Scrolls of Telling recite truths about the One! For verily, hath not His might and grandeur eclipsed that of the King, though long may he live? Let the wisest teachers of the land, the Acolytes, tell of Him, in all of his splendor, for why shall the learned cease to be so after this good Redemptoral Day? If it pleaseth the assembly, such that verily they vote unto the affirmative, let me take the request unto them in most humble fashion that they may hear and do as we have sought.""Let the new business be carried for voting, and the scribe take note of the request: 'To strike the mention of the King from the Scrolls of Telling, that the people not think unjustly of their king, but rather think upon the One at all times. Moreover, that the Scrolls of Telling be written by the most learned of the land, the Acolytes, for such might be trusted with the shepherding of the flock of the city. Master Myrthan seeks to carry the request in completion.' Hast thou insribed it, Scribe?""Yea, O Moderator.""All who wish it so, declare thy consent!""Aye!""Art any opposed unto the business?""The ayes have the day. Go thy way Master Myrthan, unto thy appointed place, with posthaste."