The Count of Years : 8    [ Commentary ] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [9] [10]

Coming to know Iáinos / Bavissanavas Iáinex


After this time, the Metailō grew tired of wandering the land, and learned anew how to grow grain and raise cows and sheep. They built cities, and each of these cities chose its own lord. None of them knew Iáinos, but worshipped gods of lakes and rivers.

There was no king over all the Metailō. Instead, cities formed leagues, and each league chose one of the lords to be its duke.

There were six Metailo duchies in Cēradānar. The oldest was Metayu, which was on the Metōre. Downriver, at the meeting of the Cayenas and the Metōre, was Ocayami. The middle stretch of the Cayenas was the duchy of Davūr. At the mouth of the Isrēica and extending eastward was Agimbār; farther east, on the coast of the great sea, was Nūōr. Finally, on the upper Isrēica was the duchy of Tevarē.

These duchies were constantly at war with one another; but none of them ever conquered another, because their armies were weak, and because if a duke lost several battles, his people tired of him and killed him, and chose another duke, who would make peace with the victor.

Iáinos's lament

Iáinos gathered the Guardians, and said, --Go look at the men of Almea; what do you see, how is it with them?

The Guardians searched through all of the lands of men, and examined everything closely, then they returned to Iáinos.

Xlainamo the Strong said,

--Of the ten lineages of men, heirs of Árrasos
and Denūra, only one knows your name:
the Meīrigō, the Unfallen.
Of the spiritual world, of wisdom, of disciplines,
of the Spirits, of your Dream, of the end of the world,
there is no knowledge.
What do they worship? Ancestors and monsters,
blocks of wood carved by their hands,
silent and deaf.

Beautiful Têllênamiēi said,

--To create beauty is no affair of theirs;
their houses are dark, their kitchens bare;
they live in squalor.
Instead of community, strife and oppression.
There are no kings, only strong-armed chieftains,
no better than bandits.

Sistenamo the Wise said,

--Not one of them knows how to read or write.
Place a holy book before them; they understand it
no better than dogs.
Do they know the iliū, who were established
as teachers and elders? They don't speak to them
or know where they live.

Têllênamiēi said,

--Metailō still live in the House on the river
where their father Árrasos ended his life;
they know nothing of it.

Xlainamo said,

--The Giants were born in that land as well;
the people live in their very footprints;
they know nothing of it.

--You have seen for yourself how it is, said Iáinos. Going on this way, they will never fulfill their role in my dream.

--Send Einalandāuē to them, working in might and power, said Xlainamo. No one who sees your majesty can ever forget it!

--Give them gifts, food and linen and jewels, said Têllênamiēi. They will be grateful and come to worship you.

--Cause Ulōne to work in them, said Sistenamo. Give them a thirst for knowledge, and they will not rest till they know you.

--None of these ideas are wrong, said Iáinos. I can impose my will on men, as I do on the elements. Water is wet at my command, and fire burns. But this gives little honor, because they have no power of rebellion. With the Thinking Kinds it is different. I will send messengers to each of the lineages of men, and ask them what they know of divinity. Some will be content in their ignorance, and those I will leave alone, for now. Whoever thinks he knows about divinity cannot be taught. But those who wish to know more, I will give them the means.

The messengers

Iáinos sent messengers to each of the lineages of men who did not know him, and each messenger asked, --What do you know of divinity, and do you wish to know more?

The Metailō said, --There are gods of places, especially of mountains and lakes, and ancestors who have become divine. We know everything we need to know about them.

The Cazinorō said, --There are many gods, more than you can count, each with their own temples and priests and holy places. We are content with them; but if you wish, we will worship you as a god as well.

The Mavoripomi said, --The animals and trees are our gods, and we fear them very much, and don't want to know more about them.

The Xavigō said, --We carve our own gods from stone, and because they are ours, we know them and they suit us. If they don't satisfy us, we destroy them and carve new ones. You can't teach us anything new about building gods.

The Crummâlligō said, --We have no gods, and if we reject all the gods of men and iliū, we reject yours as well.

The Ōibotōuyi were afraid of the messenger, and refused to speak with him.

The Laleîsigō said nothing, but took the messenger and sacrificed him to Amnās.

The Masāntigō said, --We know that there is divinity, and we refuse to follow the silly stories of our neighbors. But what that divinity's name is or what he is like, we don't know. If you have true knowledge of him, tell us; but if you have only false knowledge, be off.

The messenger responded, --You have answered well. Not knowing is the first step to knowledge. To show that my knowledge is true and not invented, I will transform myself into an object, which points to further knowledge.

Before their eyes, his form changed; he shrunk down into a small hollow object like a reed, but made of silver, and sharp on one end.

The Masāntigō argued for days over the object, and what should be done with it. Some said it was a totem, which should be worshipped; some said it was a weapon; some thought that they should look through it.

Finally a prince of the Norunayigō, named Lerīmanio, said, --It's clear that we don't know what this object is. Why don't we take it to the iliū? It's said that they are mighty in knowledge; they can tell us what it is and what it points to.

Lerīmanio's father Lēviūde said, --You are still a young man, and if your brother dies you will be lord after me; should you go off speaking to strange blue creatures?

-- It's more important to know what divinity is, said Lerīmanio. If we don't know, we must talk to those who do know, no matter what they look like.

The council of the Masāntigō was impressed with Lerīmanio's wisdom and resolution, and entrusted him with the task of taking the silver object to the iliū. They appointed his cousin Tīblicolê to travel with him, and gave them swift horses to ride, weapons, and food for the journey.

Lerīmanio and the Metailō

Lerīmanio did not know where the iliū lived; men had forgotten where their land was, only that it was near the sea.

--The land doesn't go on forever, said Lerīmanio. Whatever direction we go, we'll come to the ocean.

He and Tiblicolê decided to ride north. They rode for many days, and after a time came to a city.

There were guards at the gate. They were startled when Lerīmanio and Tiblicolê rode up to the gate; they had never before seen horses. But they blocked the way. Lerīmanio asked to be let in, but he and Tiblicolê didn't understand the guards' language, nor did anyone there understand Cuêzi.

They were considering whether to fight their way into the city, or give up and ride onward, when an old man came up to them and addressed them in Cuêzi.

--O strangers, you come from the land of the Masāntigō, he told them. My name is Zemu; I have travelled in your country, among your great riders, and that is how I learned your language. I will be your guide in this city, which is called Comex, which belongs to the duke of Metayu.

They had never been in a city before, and it seemed great and rich and very strange to them. The city was built on a large lake, and they came to its shore, where they saw a huge building made of stone, nearly a quarter of a lest around.

--Is this a house? asked Lerīmanio. It's bigger than any of the other houses; perhaps giants or iliū live here?

--O prince, that is our temple, said Zemu. Our gods live in the lake, and we come to meet them here.

--The iliū live in the water, said Tiblicolê to Lerīmanio. Perhaps their gods are the iliū!

--Let's see, said Lerīmanio.

They entered the temple, and found statues of the gods. Some of these were formless lumps, some of them in the shape of mountains or monsters, and some looked like men, but were painted bright blue.

--These blue gods, what are they? asked Lerīmanio.

--You have discernment, O prince, said Zemu. Those are the gods of the lake; they are the chief gods around here, very strong and powerful.

--Those are certainly the ones we are looking for, said Lerīmanio. Can we talk to them?

--Certainly; go ahead.

There was a silence. Then, seeing that Zemu was saying nothing more, nor moving anywhere, Lerīmanio said, --Where are they?

--Why, right here in front of you!

--These are simply statues, said Lerīmanio. We want to talk to the actual iliū.

--You are barbarian horseriders and can't be expected to understand, said Zemu. However, these are the actual gods. You can speak to them if you like; otherwise don't.

Lerīmanio now understood that the Metailō did not know the iliū any more than they understood divinity; they must seek elsewhere.

Meeting with the elcari

They were told that to the north was a great desert; so they rode west for some days, till they came to the great river, the Isrēica, which was then part of the duchy of Tevarē. They rode north along the river, passing by the Metailo cities except when they needed provisions.

When they came to the Luōre, they found a camp of elcari between the two rivers.

--Hello, O strangers, said Lerīmanio. Surely you are not Metailō!

One of the elcari, who knew the Cuzeian language, responded, --Certainly not! Haven't you met an elcar before? I am Cisrên of the lineage of Gāxre.

--No; and it is precisely to increase our knowledge that we are travelling. I am Lerīmanio of the Masāntigō, and we are looking for the iliū.

--If a man is looking for the iliū, either he's gone mad, or the iliū are looking for him, said the elcar.

The elcari invited them to eat and camp with them, which they did. Lerīmanio showed them the silver object, which they admired, saying it was a noble substance. When they learned that it had been a divine messenger, however, they said that only the iliū could tell them more of such things.

--You are on the right road, said Cisrên. Due north is Atêllār of the Lords, on the great sea. You will find many iliū there. In between, however, is a huge and dangerous swamp. It's best to go around that.

Lerīmanio and Tiblicolê were grateful for their meeting with the elcari, who had given them friendship and true knowledge, and moved by Ulōne they made a Glade at the location of the camp, and gave their thanks to the divinity whose name they did not know.

The monster in the swamp

They rode several days north, till the land became wet and gloomy, and the trees choked with vines. This was the Lacatosūelo swamp, which was then even larger and wilder than it is today.

The land was muddy, and their horses walked only with difficulty. To lighten their loads, the men walked beside them. Their feet sank into the mud to their knees.

After a day of travel they came upon a monster, a huge figure larger than a man, with green skin and a crown of tentacles. They could not flee, so they drew their swords and confronted it.

--Ho there, bold little men, said the monster. What are you doing in the swamp?

--We are travelling, said Lerīmanio, distrustfully.

Tiblicolê whispered to him, --It's green, but could it be an iliu? Perhaps the stories got the color wrong. He's certainly large, as in the stories, and lives in the water.

Lerīmanio said, --We are seeking knowledge.

The monster grinned, showing large teeth. --Men do come to us for knowledge, it said. We are ancient, and know much more than men do; look, you don't even know how to make swords out of iron!

--What can you tell us about divinity?

--I'll tell you, if we are friends, said the monster. But friends don't wave swords at each other, do they? Sheathe your weapons and come closer, and I'll tell you.

Tiblicolê looked into the eyes of the monster, and without consulting Lerīmanio he sheathed his sword and came to stand next to it.

Lerīmanio didn't like this, but he came closer as well. He sheathed his sword, but kept his hand on the hilt, and avoided the monster's eyes.

--Closer yet, said the monster.

--This is close enough, said Lerīmanio. Tell us what you know about divinity.

--Very well, said the monster.

It sat down, and Tiblicolê sat next to it. It told them that the chief god was named Amnās, and it told them of his pride, his power, and his great knowledge. It told them about the wars of the iliū and the ktuvoks, some of which were won by the iliū, some by the ktuvoks.

--The iliū lost wars? asked Lerīmanio, surprised.

--Of course. That is because Amnās is very powerful, said the monster.

--He certainly must be, said Tiblicolê.

As they spoke, the ktuvok had placed his arm around Tiblicolê, as if out of affection. Tiblicolê kept looking up at the ktuvok, with admiration in his eyes.

--Which side does Amnās favor, the iliū or the ktuvoks? asked Lerīmanio.

--The ktuvoks, said the monster. The ktuvoks are very strong-- stronger than the iliū and much stronger than you little men.

Finally Lerīmanio understood that the monster was not an iliu at all, but a ktuvok, and it intended to make them its slaves. Lerīmanio still had his hand on his sword-hilt; but the monster's clawed hand was close to Tiblicolê's neck; he could be killed before Lerīmanio could draw his sword.

--We will accept your god, said Lerīmanio. However, we have a ritual of submission to a lord. We place a silver token on the ground, and the lord picks it up, and thus becomes our master.

Saying this, he walked several paces away from the ktuvok and stuck the silver object in the ground.

Drawing his sword, he said, --The subject must also draw his sword and pledge service to the new lord.

He walked back to where the ktuvok sat next to Tiblicolê, and said, --Please go and pick up our token, and be our lord.

--If it amuses you, said the ktuvok, with a grin.

It rose, and leaving Tiblicolê where he was, it strode forward to pick up the silver object. As it walked away from them, Lerīmanio gathered his strength and pierced the ktuvok in the heart.

How it wailed, the ktuvok! How angrily it thrashed,
like a horse shaking a rider, like the sea tossing a ship.
Lerīmanio, implacable, held the sword-hilt.
Cursing, screaming, the ktuvok wished
to reach and rend him with its terrible claws.
But like a man taming a horse, he held tight;
like a captain who knows storms and seas
he kept his head. He twisted his sword
in the creature's heart, till it died and was still.

Tiblicolê shook his head as if waking, then threw himself down on the ground and cried. --I have disgraced you, O prince. I don't know what happened to me; it was like being in a dream, and I had to follow the monster.

--You looked in its eyes, said Lerīmanio. These are dangerous monsters, these ktuvoks! Let's hope that we don't meet another one; but if we do, we must attack immediately!

It took more than seven days to find their way out of the swamp; but they didn't meet any more ktuvoks.

The instruction of the iliū

Once they had left the swamp, Lerīmanio and Tiblicolê rode north for several days, through the country known as Lācatur. No men lived there in those days. Finally they came to the great sea, and saw a beautiful city. This was Atêllār of the Lords. They marvelled greatly, for it was more lovely and more ancient than any of the cities of the Metailō that they had seen.

The iliū came out to meet them, and greeted them kindly. They brought them to a palace in the city, and let them rest from their journey, before bringing them to a dinner with the king. They were given fish, scallops, and fruit, bread, olives, and sweet wine. Their king was Rāviciu, who was tenth in the line of Omontāsio, and his queen was Ridinari.

--O Rāviciu, we have travelled for many weeks to find you, and before you tell anything else, please tell us the meaning of this token.

He took out the silver object and handed it to the king.

The king laughed. --It's a pen, he said.

--What is a pen?

--A device for reading and writing. This is a sign from Iáinos that he wishes you to know the history of the world and the nature of divinity, which are written in our books.

When the king said this, the silver object transformed itself back into the divine messenger.

--I am pleased with you, the messenger told Lerīmanio. You have come to where there is knowledge. Knowledge is the first step toward wisdom, and one which many refuse to take. Listen to the iliū, and Iáinos will make you into the core of mankind, those who know his name, and you will be called Cuzeians.

--Should we put a token down so that the divine messenger can pick it up? asked Tiblicolê.

--No, I created that story to fool the ktuvok. We are here to learn, and ceremonies do not teach; only listening teaches!

Lerīmanio and Tiblicolê spent a year in the city of the iliū, learning to know Iáinos the maker, Eīledan the shaper, Ulōne the response. They were the first Knowers of Iáinos among men for ten thousand years. They learned the history of the world as well, exactly as it has been related in this book, and they learned many other things as well.

Finally they departed the city of the iliū, with gifts from Rāviciu and Ridinari, and travelled back to their own country, Tīblixūnas. The Masāntigō were delighted to learn the nature of the divinity they had acknowledged but not known. All of them came to know Iáinos, and they were now called the Cuzeians.

© 2003 by Mark Rosenfelder
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