19 July 2020 / Fiction The Dialogues of the Acolytes: The End of the Age Foretold "And I saw the Wynd blow seed from one field uncultivated to the next, where a home didst prepare itself, for whither goeth the Wynd but where He willeth? So began the age of planting of the One, an age of great and mighty works, where men stopped their mouths and said naught a word, for the One moved in their midst."Such was the beginning of the Acolyte of the North's oration, a prophecy which proceeded to him in some hour of darkness, against the rising of the sun; when, in his bedchamber alone, the wind of dreams blew a vision to his mind's eye. Clothed in garb of moderate display, the Acolyte of the North continued his oration:"Come from the north, O Wynd; Come from the South, East, and West, wynding wynds of regeneration, that the season of planting, the year of the favor of the One, mayst not be a year of human contumely, but of human renewal! Amen. Let us begin, friends."The University for Learned Clerics of the Oracle, dubbed in simplicity with the title, The University, by the Acolytes, held its first class in a stone hall, over which a dais stood, with oaken banqueting tables spread down the long lengths of the hall, at which sat the eager hearers of the teachings of the Acolytes, from the hours of dawn to just before sundown. After this, the torches lining the banqueting hall were lit from the single Eternal Flame in a ceremonious fashion, during which the clerics received their daily charge and then received their sup, satiating a hearty appetite cultivated through a day of rigorous study. On this day in memory, the Preacher sat near the front of the hall, having arisen from slumber an hour before his compatriots to take his morning movements, after which he gat himself in posthaste to the banqueting hall, whereat he poured over his tomes eagerly, devouring every word with an incensed zeal, his activities lit by a row of candles he himself lit and placed on the oaken table. Every morning proceeded thusly, and he spent his days in such affairs as befitting discipline and self-control of the highest. His thoughts coursed with a primal energy before dawn, when the only light illumining the darkness of the banqueting hall was the single Eternal Flame, set upon the dais, tended through the Night watches of dreams, lighting the darkness as if it were the One set amidst the pagan heathen. From this flame he lit his candles and set about his labour. That morning he studied the scroll entitled, The Oracles In Relation to the Pagan; the Oracles in Relation to the Learned; the Difference Thereof, in preparation for the Acolyte of the North's oration and lecture. It read so, in a script ancient and foreign, requiring immense decipherement:"Comprehend ye the way of the mind of the Pagan: the which toss'd by fears of Nature, apprehended by the stars in their blazings across Heav'n, and, having settled in a way which seem'st pleasing unto him, reacheth out, calleth the Stars god, wherein lieth his chief sin without let, idolatrous living, wherein the same finds a respite. If thou comprehendest this error most grievous, thou may'st correct the Pagan in the granting of truer reasons, which thou fittest cunningly unto his mold and daily life, wherewith his mind's tempest receiveth succour, after the which thou may'st then grant him the seed of the Oracle, implanted therein by the wynding of Wynd."So read the Preacher before the sun rose, and now heard he the oration of the Acolyte of the North upon this very passage."Learned men, understand ye that the Oracle standeth as a birthing of our very own cities, our way of life, the ways of the sons of Shemah, the ways of the sons of the One themselves? If thou understandest such, thou knowest that the heathen fail to understand the meaning of the which, for their people are foreign, their speech is foreign, their ways are foreign. Therefore, the scroll upon which study hath focused in this week speaketh aright: We must speak to the heathen first of his erring in matters cogitative, and then, only then, might the words of the One be spoken to the implantation of the wynding Wynd. Thou durst not defy the sanctity of that good Human Spirit, Reason, or Her compatriot, Skepticism, for so goeth the course of human thought. These things doth the man hold against his salvation; these things require answers, lest the seed of the Oracle fall upon a tempestuous soil, unfit for growth and regeneration." The men of the University listened intently, speaking not a word, writing notes in scrolls granted them for that purpose. The lecture continued, until the Acolyte of the North seated himself and allowed for his peer, the Acolyte of the West to rise and begin his own lecture, entitled On the Efficacious Nature of Extraneous Dreams, Prophecies, and Visions not Contained in the Oracle."Ye men of learning, have ye not heard the words of the good prophet, Embradais, and how, when the Eastern Cities were young, he stood before the king of those days and rebuked him before the people for taking foreign wives? If thou hast heard such, surely thou knowest that his words failed to be taken down for the record of the present Oracle till some span of years after his Embradiad against the king's wickedness? What is the meaning of such a thing? If thou shalt follow the line of this inquiry, thou wilt come to understand that the words in and of themselves matter not, but chiefly the Wynd in His sovereign wyndings, for he wynds whithersoever he wills, as the prophecy spoken by the Acolyte of the North foretells and illustrates. The words matter inasmuch as they be vehicles for the Wynd to play upon the hearts of men; the words, if thou hast studied thy scrolls aright in this first week, are fallible. From this you must conclude that the words do not build the scaffolds of doctrine. People build the scaffolds of doctrine; fallible men commit themselves to the doctrinal path of the people. One must only hope and humbly devote themselves to the leading of Wynd in this endeavour, for words possess limitless limitudes."Having seated himself, the final Acolyte rose, the Acolyte of the south, for the Acolyte of the East had dissapeared some years ago without a trace. He simply was not."Hail ye, little ones in the knowledge of things too wonderful for your comprehension..." His voice lingered momentarily in the hall, as every eye transfixed itself on him."Behold, the end of the matter, a little matter, a matter of less import than perhaps the past generations shouldst have granted unto it: the matter of your tiny child's eyes, unable to discern the truth of a word, unless the Wynd grant it thereto. In this field of little poppies doth the wise man wander and delight himself therewith, yet the study of such wearies the flesh. The flesh cannot know the deep weariness thereof, for verily, it is a very deep weariness. Therefore concern ye only with these studies forthwith: Know the One in truth, focus not on petty words of men, focus thyself on the imbued presence and brightness of the One, seen throughout the veritable fields of being. Open thy mind before Him in the Night watches. This presence, this containeth all the needs which thy soul doth require of being. Hear ye the words of thy teachers in the days to follow, and we shall show thee the way most good, excellent, and desirable. Amen and amen.So went the day's lecture in some cursory detail, with the Acolytes presenting their introduction to the course of studies which they had prepared for the young clerics in training, along with the aims thereof. The King continued about his business politic, leaving the Acolytes to their own devices, while the Preacher listened, pondered, and stored up these things in his heart, most chiefly the prophecy shared by the Acolyte of the North, a prophecy left uninterpreted and unknown to the mind. What the Acolytes had spoken failed to breach the walls of this saying, and this fact lodged itself in the Preacher's heart like a southern rider's dart cast from a bow of yew. That night, the lighting ceremony began with the ringing of bells and the slow walking of torch bearers, lifting aloft their arms in unison as the Acolyte of the South waved incense over the room in wafts of mystical smoke, obscuring all and casting the sweet savors of charcoal and charred venison throughout the nostrils of those present. They ate on ceremony's completion, talked of their hopes and dreams, and went to bed, the Preacher earliest of all, as he looked forward to the coming day of vigorous labor towards the One in his tomes and scrolls – a young man incensed with zeal.