Virtual Verduria Almean Belief Systems


Location and origin + Philological notesCalendarHistorical contextThe Hermit Masters
Basic beliefs + The Greater and Lesser PrinciplesThe cosmic danceDivine atheismCosmologyThe soul
Endajué morality + The Path between AllUnencumberednessUnillusionEqualityUnity vs. togetherness
Practice + The three levelsThe seminariesThe disciplinesPublic servicesThe commemorationsMarriage and sex PacifismEsoterismThe appeal of Endajué
Royal and imperial Endajué + Valid authorityThe glass ceilingWar and empireAristocrats into artistsScholarshipSome are more equal than othersEndajué law
Revaudo + The revivalThe crisisCivil warAftermathThe Revaudo stateClass structureRevaudo and sex
Variants + Mešaic survivalsTheistic cultsThe LegalistsDarkness cultsThe rationalists vs. the mysticsCaďinorian Endajué

Location and origin

Endajué is the majority religion of Xurno, Čiqay and Tásuc Tag, a strong presence in Cuoli, and a minority religion in Čeiy, Sevisor, Luṭay, and even Cerey in Eretald. Within Xurno the only unbelievers are the Seia of Bukanel, some nomadic Sainor, and a small minority who have embraced Bezuxau.

The first teachers of Endajué were the Hermit Masters (kešaup dzuséy), who began criss-crossing the divided realms of Xengiman from about 1800, in the Age of Small Kings (Biaup ni mu súmex). They preached an atheistic Greater Principle and the Path Between All to worshippers of Meša and the seven hundred gods of the Mešaic pantheon. At first they were ignored; then they were persecuted; within two centuries they had overthrown the gods, and the kings had Endajué spiritual directors.

The Hermit Masters were pacifists, but their successors devised martial doctrines, the Ways of War (Jueši endi); these were an essential support for the new empire of Xurno, established by Rejabriš king of Curau in 2530. Endajué became a staid established religion, the new orthodoxy of a strong, stable state.

Then came the explosion of Revaudo, the grassroots revival which, when the nyei attempted to put it down, blossomed into a revolution (2984). Two generations of civil war followed, and then the establishment of one of the strangest regimes in Almean history: a religious republic run by artists, radicals in the service of the Path.

Old-style royalist Endajué also survived; and to this day the two strains coexist, and compete with their offshoot, the nihilist Bezuxau cult.

In recent centuries Endajué clerics have penetrated into Eretald, and from them Xurno has achieved a reputation for calm and wisdom that confound anyone who knows the history of Revaudo.

Philological notes

For convenience all terms are given in modern Xurnese (Corauši). The language of the Hermit Masters, who flourished almost 1700 years ago, is known as Old Xurnese, which was midway between Axunašin and Xurnese. Its characteristics are however obscured by the partly logographic Xurnese script, by the conservativism of religious language, and by haphazard transmission. The Masters wrote nothing down; oral versions written by their disciples proliferated; when this was all sorted out the final language was close to modern Xurnese anyway.

The Masters wandered Xengiman, the greater Xengi, which was divided into numerous warring kingdoms— Axunai had fallen centuries before. It was still common to call the people of Xengiman Asuné or Axunemi.

Rejabriš gave his new empire a new name, Xurno, the Dawning Nation. Its people are Xurnéy, singular Xurney (stressed on the first syllable), its language Corauši after the first capital; I anglicize these as Xurnese.

The name of the religion, Endajué, derives from ende dzu ez ‘the path between all things’; a follower may be called an endajuésu, though it is more common to use jivirc ‘walker’, the first level of initiation into the religion.

Xurnese does not distinguish ‘he’ and ‘she’, using toš for both; likewise it rarely uses gender-specific titles; a dzusey may be male or female. I’ve often rephrased translations to avoid ‘he or she’, which sounds pedantic, the reverse of the Masters’ immediacy and pithiness. If any generic ‘he’ or ‘she’ remain, they should be taken as unisex.

If you’re puzzling out pronunciations without looking at the Xurnese grammar, note that c is always /ts/, and x should be pronounced /s/ beginning a word, and /ks/ elsewhere. If it’s not indicated, stress falls on the last syllable if it ends in a consonant, otherwise the previous syllable. Thus Xurno = ['sur no], Inex = [i 'nɛks], Endajué = [ɛn da dʒu 'e].


Years are given here in the Verdurian Zonî Erei (Z.E.), under which the current year is 3480. The Xurnese reckon years from the foundation of Xurno in 2530; those most ideologically committed to Revaudo use the date of the revolution instead (3017).

The Xurnese year begins 16 days before the summer solstice, while the Verdurian year begins with the winter solstice. In olašu 3480 it is therefore 949 in Xurno, or year 462 of the revolution.

The Xurnese divide their history into these epochs:

-1550 Ediri súmex Primeval (Wede:i) period
-325 Ezičiri súmex Ezičimi period
100 Maus ni o súmex Age of Many Kings
890 Ezir torew o súmex Age of a Thousand Suns (height of Axunai)
1300 Caunetri súmex Age of Decline
1682 Biaup ni mu súmex Age of Petty Kings
2530 Xurno o súmex Age of Xurno
3017 Revaudo o súmex Revaudo Revolution

Historical context

The continental upheaval that led to the rise of Caďinas and the Kurundasti Tej (which together conquered Munkhâsh) precipitated the breakup of Axunai. The emperor Bijereis invaded Bukanel hoping to profit from a Bucair civil war; he only found a quagmire. His bottomless need for money and men angered many, especially in northern Čeiy, which finally rebelled as Amurineli (1628).

The Munkhâshi offered Bijereis an army if he would accept the worship of Gelalh; he turned down the offer, but Neirimi the governor of Moun province accepted it (1635). Neirimi conquered half of Axunai before the Munkhâshi were forced to recall their army to defend their homeland.

Neirimi was defeated and his capital (modern Nirau) burned to the ground along with its temple of Gelalh (1648); but Bijereis’s son Xuruwaruz was unable to reconstitute the empire. The generals and governors who had made up the anti-Moun coalition preferred to be independent kings (ni). Xuruwaruz’s son Murešopivu was assassinated in 1682, formally ending the empire.

The Xurnese distinguish two epochs of division, the Age of Many Kings and the Age of Petty Kings. Whether they were qualitatively different is questionable, but in perception they certainly were. The ni were petty tyrants who embroiled Xengiman in endless wars— a shameful contrast to the great empires in the north.

People were ready for a doctrine which told them that the problem was deeper yet: the entire system was rotten— petty kings, absent gods, rapacious nobles, arrogant warriors, corrupted clerics.

The Hermit Masters

The kešaup dzuséy didn’t exactly mean to start a new religion; they only wanted a little peace and quiet. They retired from the world to meditate and escape its temptations, and sought no followers. They attracted them anyway, and some of these became their successors.

As teachers, they were difficult. They spoke in short teachings called dzusuisi; if these did not get the point across they shut up, or responded with another dsusúis, perhaps one advising quiet reflection. They were known for sending their disciples away; if this was meant to get rid of them it backfired, for the followers sought out other masters, building a social network, exchanging stories, asking questions.

The dzuséy abandoned their old names and took new ones that seemed to mock the whole idea of guruhood. Some of the major names, the dates of their first known teachings, and their chief haunts:

Master meaning of name gender martyrs year location
Krosámis twig m 1800 Rajjay
Nauni Čeykirc soldier of peace m 1800 Tanel
Zim the woman m 1810 Gotanel
Rúmeš redhead f 1825 Šinj (Šuzep)
ne-Duox daughter of no one f 1840 Nior
Bodeusirc stumbler m + 1840 Bozan
Komel homely f 1840 Bidau (Šinku)
Dogemirc contradicter m 1850 Doju
Dogerač the not insane m 1860 Jeor
Šika mouse m + 1860 Rajjay
ne-Zim daughter of a woman f + 1860 Lij (Rau Xengi)
Kissuy the big kid m 1875 Reyruni (Rau Xengi)
Bukameša Bucair Meša m + 1875 Niormen
Bezleš sad face f 1880 Tanel
Xumaur the human m + 1890 Lozauš (Šuzep)
Ma-Podi son of a dog m + 1890 Curau (Šuzep)
Eynu lucky f 1900 Niormen
Dučisi whiskers m + 1910 Četas (Čeiy)
ma-Pipidzu son of a drunk m 1925 Inex (Šinku)
Čáujuc birthmark f 1930 Nogali (Šuzep)
ma-Peyga son of ‘however’ m 1930 Yeš (Šinku)
Sindačirc not-saying m 1960 Lozauš (Šuzep)

There were several times this number of minor Masters, some of which are known for only one or two quotations. It’s said, in fact, that one Mulayc is only remembered for this line:
I’ve spoken a hundred dzusuisi, but which ones are wise? Perhaps only this one.
But this may be apocryphal.

The Masters were at first tolerated as eccentrics— hermits were an old Mešaic tradition, and their doctrines were not at first seen as exceptional. By midcentury they had a sizeable following— entirely due to their disciples, as they still refused to set foot in the cities.

As they strongly preached against the gods and the kings, they were increasingly seen as a threat, and around 1900 they began to be persecuted; the + in the table indicates Masters put to death by the authorities. These are known as the xaučipeje, the Loyal to Death. Their stories, and the commemorations of their deaths, add an emotional, human element to a religion that would otherwise perhaps be aridly philosophical.

The survivors lauded their names, but also retreated from some of their more extreme positions (such as attacks on meat-eating and marriage), at least in public. They stopped speaking against the authorities, and indeed many worked to convert them instead. The persecution died down.

As the table shows, the later Masters lived in the cities as often as not, generally in dzusnari (seminaries or retreats) built for them by disciples.

In 1977 Xoramin, nye of Lozauš, accepted the dzuséy Sindačirc as his spiritual master— the first ruler to do so. (This increased Sindačirc’s prestige as well; he is considered the last of the kešaup dzuséy.) In 2053 the nye of Inex converted to Endajué. The new religion was now the mainstream.

Basic beliefs

The Greater and Lesser Principles

The basic doctrine of Endajué is the Greater Principle (rum šweriju), the oneness behind the cosmos, which unifies everything from brains to butterflies, from comets to cancers. The Principle underlies both mind and matter, good and evil, and the quest for enlightenment consists of ever greater apprehension of it.

Šweriju originally meant ‘basement’, then ‘foundation’; it shouldn’t be thought of as an insight or a proposition, but as an organizing pattern, a way of being (ende) that can be investigated, though never fully understood.

‘Na’ šači, ‘jende’ ze.
It’s not a ‘that’, it’s a ‘how.’

This is the principle which cannot be taught, but which infants know, and women wear behind their foreheads.

There is also a Lesser Principle (teyk šweriju), which is simply the obvious division into different essences and different categories that is also a fact— the most obvious fact— about the universe.

The Greater Principle is ungraspable precisely because all predicates (male and female, good and bad, matter and spirit, light and dark, movement and repose) are instances of the Lesser Principle. To describe is to separate, to reduce, to disintegrate.

The Greater Principle cannot be known by words, because all words belong to the Lesser, save only these four: one, everything, path, and dance.

The Foundation will not fit within your head. But relax. Your head is built on the Foundation.

Yet the Greater Principle is not to be conceived of as shapeless and formless: it does not negate but integrates all opposites.
‘Mat’ šači, ‘li’ ze.
It’s not an ‘or’, it’s an ‘and.’
Dučisi, who was trained as a lišür or debater in the Čeiyu adversarial method, explained that the Greater Principle was abstraction without division. Seeking the principle behind circles and triangles, for instance, we subtract out the circle’s roundness and the triangle’s sides and angles, leaving only the wan concept of a “geometrical figure”. At this point Dučisi liked to brandish a model of a cone.
What is the principle behind a dog and a rat? Will it bite you or run away? It is not an animal that will do neither, but one that can choose—or do both. What is the principle between a dog [podi] and ma-Podi? It may bite you or teach you or both. In fact that is just ma-Podi.

The cosmic dance

The universe is in movement: all things of worth— water, growth, animals, men, planets, spirits— are restless, are moving. The movement of all the separatenesses of the universe comprises a great dance (cauč), whose rule is the Greater Principle.
Like a dance, the movement of the All is complex, varied in rhythm, and beautiful.
Like a dance, it brings unity and harmony out of separation.
Like a dance, it may be performed imperfectly or awkwardly.
Like Dučisi’s cone, the dance makes the union of opposites comprehensible. Parts of a dance are fast and slow, happy or sad; the partners may be male and female; it incorporates music, bodily movement, and costume. And yet it is one thing— not a boiled-down common factor, but a manifold unity.

It is also an all-pervasive metaphor. The Greater Principle, the cosmos, the movement of the moons and planets, life, war, marriage, the mind, the body, and the creation of art are all compared to the dance.

Life is a dance, and you must approach it with the spirit of a dancer: with discipline, strength, grace, attention to external forms, and respect for one’s partners.
The intellectual adroitness needed to apprehend the Greater Principle— the hopping from metaphor to metaphor, relying on surprise and paradox to avoid one error or another—is also compared to a dance.

Our notion of ‘fortune’ is paralleled by reatudo or movement. People’s positions, their success or wealth or companions, change with suddenness, and one must accept this as part of the dance.

Do not scheme and worry about success, any more than you would lay stratagems to snare a beautiful dancing partner. Do not grieve loss, any more than you quit the dance when your beautiful partner is swept away.
Physical dance
The kešaup dzuséy were mostly old men and women who talked about dance while sitting down, or at best strolling slowly. Their disciples were more interested in action, and developed dance as exercise, meditation, and liturgy.

Dance in Xurno is highly cultivated and sophisticated, and divided into numerous styles and schools— from slow and solemn dances accompanied by chants, to graceful, beautiful dances of worship and joy, to long athletic dances performed without accompaniment, to dances undistinguishable from martial arts, to liberated and chaotic modern dance. There are dances for men, for women, for mixed partners, for children; dances that demand elaborate traditional costumes and dances to be performed nude; highly choreographed dances and rapid-fire improvisations; dances performed in religious ecstasy, or for aesthetic enjoyment, or for the development of strength and grace; dances to accompany suicide or to call up spirits.

Mystics hope, by meditation and dance, to be able to perceive more and more of the cosmic movement, including that of the solid ground beneath them, and of the river of time which bustles our spirits through life.

Dance is one of the nine Salons of Revaudo; because of its theological importance it is sometimes called wemoxau o geyma, the mistress of the arts.

Divine atheism

The Hermit Masters were scornful of anything resembling gods. Stories of gods were dismissed as perversions of spirituality, distracting to the educated and misleading to the masses.
The pagans pollute knowledge with talk of gods— gods of cities and rivers, even of hamlets and bends in the road. They see a wild animal or a bright light in the sky and call it a god; and as time goes on the gods multiply like rats... children of gods, gods of new planes. And how these gods behave! Like little human children, greedy and demanding, and yet unwilling to do anything for their followers without mortification and bribes. And how the worshippers cower to them, and beg them for favors, and abuse them when they do not answer! The Divine is not this way.
—Nauni Čeykirc

Listen to the stories of your gods. If your child told you these stories, would you not slap it for obscenity and foolishness?

It was often pointed out that the gods were projections of the kings; if the kings were now seen as brutal and immoral, the gods were too. A few Masters had kind words for Jippir, who enjoined a strict morality on his followers; but most dismissed him as well: the Tžuro simply projected their emperor into the sky, and Jippir’s calls for conquest showed him to be no more a spiritual force than any other god.
If a man has food and his neighbor has none, and he gives him food only on the condition that his neighbor ceaselessly beg and abase himself, would this be honorable? No, it is only a pathetic case of exploitation! Let the man work as a paid laborer at least, that he might stand on his feet and care for a family. Now does your judgment change if I say “god” instead of “man”?
The Masters did not reject the gods out of materialism, which they considered laughable. On the contrary, they rejected the gods for insufficent spirituality. They were disgusted with Mešaic myths, with the character of the Mešaic gods, and with the venal motivations of their worshippers.
An enamel portrait of Krosamis To accept gods is to deny the Greater Principle.
Ultimately, however, gods are rejected because the cosmos is one. A division into divine and non-divine, created and uncreated, would simply be another of the oppositions created by the Lesser Principle.

The Masters are free with the word nanaur (divine), which they apply to the Greater Principle, to the cosmos, to the Dance, and to righteous behavior. They are not saying that everything is God; they are expressing the awe appropriate to the contemplation of the cosmic Dance. The better one perceives the Dance, the more precious and holy it appears. But to attribute personality and intelligence to it is simply an error.

The All includes humans, but it is not human. To say otherwise is like a man who sees himself in a puddle, and maintains that water has a face.
Minor beings
The Masters did not rule out the existence of supernatural beings. Indeed, this would be difficult on a planet where the secretive and powerful ilii lived. But such beings would be fellow creatures, not gods, and ought to behave irreproachably, like the ilii.

Popular thought was not willing to be so circumspect. There were no gods, fine, but surely there were still xušeš. The name means ‘evil spirits’, known from medicine and magic, fields that were slow to be revised by Endajué ideas. In Mešaism these had inhabited lower planes, so they were not cosmic adversaries or devils, but petty malignancies. They were presently joined by ghosts, monsters, icëlani, and then by heroes, saints, and a few demoted gods. The dzuséy might not approve, but the people saw nothing wrong with propitiating them a little, telling stories about them, and occasionally seeking their help.


In line with the Greater Principle, the Masters liked to talk about the cosmos— the Ez, the All. They were perhaps the first Almeans to consistently reify the entire universe; other traditions liked to contrast the world to something else. The Cuzeians and the Jippirasti contasted the universe to God, though differing on whether he was responsible for it or not; the Caďinorians called it prironda, what is real, implicitly contrasting it to fantasy and story. The Ez included the supernatural and even the imagined.

It was customary to take delight in the Ez; more curiously, perhaps, many Masters viewed it with affection, even turning it into a diminutive, Ezis:

Ezis, riezeč zimaysu li xwemel mavirc cumoro.
Little All, you are as adorable and as fierce as a lover.
Since there are no gods, there was no creation; the universe has always been. This isn’t to say that it’s always been as it is; change is a part of the Dance.

Perhaps because of this. Endajué accepts the Mešaic idea of cycles (šaraup) of the world— though it rejects most of the specific content once attributed to earlier cycles.

The idea of an earlier šáruc dominated by ilii was retained. Once the idea of even earlier ages of men was tossed out, however, the idea arose that humans had actually been created after the end of the iliu šáruc. Humans were sometimes called the rey šeš, the new thinking species, a doctrine which suggested future development and excused some of humanity’s obvious immaturity.

There was an answer to the long dissension over milennialism, at least: a new šáruc began with the appearance of the Hermit Masters. The creation of a new empire, Xurno (from 2530) was at first considered a sign of further progress, as the emperors were Endajué and, in theory, rejected the absolutism and corruption of the Mešaic rulers.

But could not further progress be expected, perhaps a state which expressed the Masters’ disdain for kings and emperors? This question never really went away, till it flared to new life with the appearance of Revaudo.

The Mešaic conception of planes of existence (moreš) was not exactly repudiated (except for the gods and other spirits said to inhabit them), but the idea of a series of increasingly perfect worlds didn’t fit in with Endajué, which emphasized the unity of the cosmos and saw perfection as the continually greater apprehension of the Greater Principle in this world.

The word was used, however, to describe altered states experienced in visions. It was felt that the trance revealed something real, only it was not a higher world, but a transformed version of this one. It was said that the world had many playmbeseš or guises.

The soul

Endajué’s skepticism about gods does not imply a monist or materialist worldview; it’s unabashedly dualist. In a premodern age it’s difficult to avoid dualism, not because of superstition or irrationality, but because the laws of the physical world are not usefully related to those of the human mind. Indeed, the Hermit Masters associated attempts to find physical (jamuš) explanations for mental behaviors to be magic (or medicine— not much more respectable a practice).
No accumulation of exotic substances and occult procedures will ever bring the dead branch to bloom, or transform a stuffed doll into a living being.

The physicians seek to heal the spirit with potions and minerals and poultices. They had might as well attempt to fill the belly by reciting dzusuisi!

Body (xe) and spirit (seč) were two of the oppositions of the Lesser Principle. All such oppositions are integrated into the Greater Principle, and in fact a human being (or any other Thinking Kind), at once physical and spiritual, was as favorite example of how this worked.

The Masters were divided on the question of the afterlife. The earliest Masters taught that the soul was a movement of the Dance which ended at death; they emphasized the momentary precariousness of life.

Rir xal xalc.
The soul is only a breath.

My friends, you want to survive the end of your dance. But the slow dance must end for the fast to begin; one day must fade for morning to return. No movement is eternal. Yet the Dance continues.

You have but one dance; so dance fiercely.

One of the Xaučipeje, the Loyal to Death, taunted his judges with this thought:
By killing me, you hope to stop me; but you will only end me. I am a movement that has extended sixty years and up and down Niormen, and you have control only over its last few days. Sharp as your blades are, they cannot cut the past. I have already happened.
This doctrine had a certain impish grandeur, but it isn’t much in the way of consolation. Other Masters reconsidered.
Is not movement transformed into movement? Toss a rock into Lake Van, and its forward motion is turned into waves on the water. Can it be less with the soul?
The soul is perhaps transformed into a purer sort of spirit.

Others noted that the body does not disappear at death, but becomes a corpse— a ruined body. That suggested that the soul must persist as well, but in a deteriorated form. In popular thought this became the xaučayc, the dead one or ghost, persisting in hopes of vengeance, or called up by magicians. More happily, the dead may be resting, as befits the end of the strenuous movement of life; this metaphor also permits uneasy or interrupted rest.

Modern dzuséy generally teach that the end of the soul is compatible only with the Lesser Principle. Death is the great ender of illusion, including the illusion that all things (including ourselves) are separate. It does not lead to another existence as a separate being, but to a direct participation in the Greater Principle.

In popular thought, dead souls are resting, but take some time to settle down and get used to their new condition. During this time it’s best not to do anything that may agitate them, including saying their name or moving their remains.

The Dance is always in balance. For every motion there is a counter-motion.
—Nauni Čeykirc
From the principle that all motions have counter-motions, and that the human soul is itself a movement, some Masters derived the idea of a counter-soul (ešintri seč)— each of us is accompanied through life by an invisible companion soul, which is opposite us in every aspect of the Lesser Principle as well as in temperament and actions. Occasionally, signals got crossed— the counter-soul could be blamed for one’s mistakes (or, conversely, praised for the redeeming qualities of a scoundrel). There were disciplines to draw on the power of the counter-soul—for inspiration, as for artists; or for doing harm, as for soldiers and magicians.

Endajué morality

This section describes the original thinking of the Hermit Masters. Changes once Endajué became a state religion are described later.

The Path between All

The chief moral doctrine of Endajué is moderation (dzumeludo). All extremes are to be avoided (separateness is the Lesser Principle). As one of the most sacred sayings, from which the name of the religion derives, has it:
Enda dzu ez orap ez e.
The Path between All leads to the All.

The ideal dancer is neither drunk nor abstemious, neither angry nor passive, neither zealous nor mocking, neither male nor female, neither strict nor loose, neither proud nor servile, neither talkative nor silent, neither wise nor a fool; but rather imitates the completeness of the Greater Principle.

Moderation can be boring, and many dzuséy instead emphasize a balance of opposites: for instance, once should be not simply lukewarm in belief, but both zealous and cynical. Such advice is not easy to follow, but it does at least recognize the value of variety, both among different people and within the individual; and in the hands of some masters this leads to a fairly flexible and sophisticated morality.
The vices
Bodeusirc, who had a schematizing sort of mind, divided the vices (zorti) into opposed pairs:
This habit of thought produced a more subtle morality than simply listing sins. For the first time in Xengiman, for instance, there was solid condemnation of the vices of the powerful— arrogance, avarice, oppression, indifference.

Religious disapproval of conformity was also something of a novelty. Bowing to the authorities and to the community as a whole was a Mešaic virtue; but in the Age of Petty Kings the old virtues were discredited.

Xezidaudo, the opposite of perversion or dissipation, literally means ‘hatred of the body’. Like most ancient philosophies Mešaism considered the spirit superior to the body, and late cults even suggested self-mortification as an aid to spiritual development. The Masters found this ridiculous.

The spirit is not above the body; the body is not above the spirit. Neither hate nor worship them. After meditation, take food and exercise the muscles. After resting, listen to dzusuisi and counsel the newcomers. If you baby the body and ignore the soul, you become a fool. If you develop the spirit and abuse the body, you become a monster.
—Nauni Čeykirc

Do you admire a monk who never fucks? I look at him and see him a slave still to his body— does he not eat and breathe?

Walking the path
The ‘Path between all’ began as a metaphor for moderation— walking on a narrow path between abysses, perhaps. But it was too useful a metaphor to leave there, and soon became as common as the Dance—more so, perhaps, since it can express more disapproval. Dancing clumsily only makes you look foolish; leaving the path can get you lost or in serious trouble.

The Path (ende) comes to mean not only moral moderation, but the progress toward understanding, the following of disciplines, one’s artistic career, the way things happen in nature, the way things should be done. The universe itself may be described not merely as dancing but as following a path, with connotations of purpose and progress.

About the strongest insult in Xurnese— charged with religious disdain, far stronger than sexual references— is tegendi ‘pathless’. Our closest equivalent is ‘damned’. It conveys not merely being lost (a better term for that would be šwečirc ‘striving’) but willful disregard for proper behavior.


A particular virtue of Endajué (founded after all by hermits) is the simple life (jitračudo ‘unencumberedness’). Excess and luxury are to be scorned, and the self-indulgence of the élites is blamed for the miserable existence of the poor. A life of simplicity is the ideal, neither too full of luxury (which deadens the spirit and brings the illusion of understanding) nor of deprivation (in which the struggle to survive leaves no room for spiritual growth).
A dancer in iron armor: they cannot run or jump; it is dangerous to embrace them; they are grotesque figures. This is the rich man in the dance of life.

Wealth is the traitor which throws open the gates of your soul to invite in worry, greed, avarice, arrogance, foolishness, and perversion.

Have you come from the cities to hear me— an old man who lives on a hilltop, who owns two robes, whose mouth waters when the farmers down the hill cook chicken soup? I suppose you have! Then hear me indeed. Give away your extra robes; they only clutter your closets. Grow your own patch of oats and make oatmeal; it is nourishing and the exercise will keep you supple when you are my age. And instead of painting landscapes to remind you of the hills, make your house among the real ones.

Šika was held up as an example: once a noble, he gave up his wealth to live as a hermit. If the wealthy were not willing to give up their encumbrances, they should at least take on a humble attitude—dopaludo, modesty or understatement.
Do not boast; indeed, if you have ten oxendays of land, say that you have two; if you own a closet of robes say only that you do not lack; if you studied with Dučisi say that you met him once or twice.
The Xurnese are not as egalitarian in manners as Americans: they believe in respect (xušu) for superiors, who are always addressed by title, and are expected to have the first and last word in every discussion. But they do not have our idealization of the rich. Where Americans seem to find that there’s something morally dubious about being poor, the Xurnese feel this about being rich.


Human perception, to the dzuséy, is an astonishing amalgam of misperceptions; our normal state is illusionberiludo, literally ‘seeing through a cloud’. Where we speak of enlightenment or illumination, then, Endajué speaks of overiludo, unillusion.
I don’t teach; I unteach. To advance in understanding you must correct misconceptions and penetrate the omnipresent cloud of illusion.
Bodeusirc, the schematizer, listed these categories of illusion:
Later dzuséy paid careful attention to the process of illusion— creating some of the first works on logic (erijaudo) and clear thinking in Xengiman.


As a direct consequence of the Greater Principle, the Masters rejected all hierarchy based on birth. There was no difference in value between Ezičimi and Wede:i, men and women and ewemi, nobles and commoners.
The ethnic division between Ezičimi and Wede:i had long ago become a class division. By late imperial times edem (from ‘Wede:i’) simply meant ‘slave’. And even this slave class would have disappeared, if it were not reinforced by warfare and punishment.

However, prejudice persisted against Wede:i features: blond or red hair, pale skin, green eyes. The Masters condemned such bias as both laughable in itself, and a betrayal of the Greater Principle. This campaign was successful, perhaps because many of the Masters themselves had these traits. Rúmeš, for instance, really was a redhead.

Many Masters condemned slavery. This was a harder sell, since it was still widely considered just for criminals and war captives to be sold into slavery; there were also noble families who saw no harm in keeping a lineage of house slaves. The dzuséy did manage to outlaw the purchase of slaves from primitive peoples (mostly Čia-Ša sold by the Gurdagor), and established that slavery for punishment would not be inherited.

Women’s equality
The Masters criticized the men of their time for the ill treatment of their wives and daughters, and for their sexual double standards. They spoke of male and female virtues, and said that the latter (understanding, beauty, compassion) had been devalued for too long, and were fully the equal of the male virtues (valor, strength, integrity).
The penis of this one, the vulva of that one... why do you honor the one and despise the other? These are only the costumes you wear in the Dance.
One of the first Masters took the name Zim (woman) with the same sense of irony that led others to name themselves ‘Twig’ or ‘Stumbler’. The first generation, however, did little to act on these principles; they considered women childish and refused to accept them as disciples.

This situation was challenged by the appearance of Rúmeš, the first recognized female Master. Though she had undertaken the customary solitary hermitage, she lived and taught in a city (Šinj, near Curau), which gave her added visibility. Of equal importance was ne-Duox of Nior, whose pithy statements had wide appeal; her phrase enda dzu ez ‘the path between all’ became the name of the religion.

Men must study and struggle to learn the Dance. For women it is as easy as waking. But men, do not take offense at my words! The dance is not a kingdom with one ruler; it is not a race with one winner.
—Rúmeš (from this dzusúis)
These ideas were not immediately accepted, but caused a good deal of controversy. However, history is written by the victors; the next generation of Masters accepted female equality, and the detractors of Rúmeš and ne-Duox are largely forgotten.

The Axunemi instituion of the third sex, the ewemi, arguably prepared the ground for sexual equality. Most of the Masters and their disciples were ewemi, for whom the biological difference was supposed to not matter anyway. The concept was not really believed in any more; but the tendency was to replace it with a male/female distinction assuming male superiority. Endajué pressed its believers, and later society as a whole, to discard the concept of ewemi but to retain the equality its members had enjoyed.

The Masters expressed little but scorn for kings and nobles, as well as for their chief enforcers, soldiers and taxmen. Sometimes they sound like anarchists:
Who is more likely to achieve unillusion, a thief or a lord? The former, of course: thieves often repent of their crimes, lords almost never.

Because the king of Rajjay desires more gold, or despises the hair color of the king of Niormen, a thousand peasants will take a spear in their guts, a thousand women will be raped. And this butchery will be blessed by priests and approved by the gods! In justice, it would be better for those two kings, and no one else, to be murdered.

Or they simply underlined that kings were normal men whose prominence had no spiritual import:
One day there is one ruler; another day, another. It is no more meaningful than which dancer is closest to the front of the room.

The king and myself are both ugly old men who will soon be dead. My only wisdom is that I know this, and he doesn’t.

As an object lesson, the Masters treated humble persons with elaborate courtesy, and rulers with disdain.

Asked who should rule, Dogerač replied, wem. This is a word whose meaning has shifted dramatically over the centuries. In Axunašin the ewemi were considered a third sex, consisting of men unsuited for war and women unsuited for childbearing. By imperial times they had simply become the intellectual class, which formed the bulk of administrators, teachers, and clerics— most of the Hermit Masters (with the noted exception of Nauni Čeykirc, a former soldier) were ewemi. In the Xurnese era the word had come to mean ‘artists’, making Dogerač’s comment seem like a prediction of the Revaudo revolution.

The period of persection ennobled the xaučipeje, the martyred Masters, and the rituals and celebrations of these always worried the authorities— and for good reason; processions of hundreds of thousands of believers more than once turned into riots or rebellions.

This anti-authoritarian message was toned down considerably when rulers accepted Endajué; but the words of the Masters were not forgotten, and inspired many a call to reform or revolution.

Unity vs. togetherness

Xengiman has always been a highly communitarian culture, laying great stress on subordination to authority. The main river valleys (the Xengi, the Ran, and the Idéis) supported a dense population with state-run irrigation systems, which only underlined the individual’s dependence on the community. Someone who wished to live outside the system would be reduced to isolation and poverty.

This of course the Hermit Masters accepted. Only by leaving the current system, physically and intellectually, were they able to reform it. In essence they created a space for individualism within the Axunaic sphere, not by encouraging enterprise in the European or Verdurian sense, but by passive resistance, principled criticism, and acceptance of deprivation.

The Masters did not approve of mere individual action, which would be the vice of selfishness. But there was little need to warn about that. They find it much more necessary to break down their listeners’ need to defer, to hide in the mass.

Where there are two, teaching may occur, but never unillusion.

Ros ceš sindayc, cuš sindayc. Ros rilačuc. Palači syu li riezič rilayc.
“The people say this, the people say that.” There is no ‘people.’ There is only you and me.

‘I agree, I agree!’ If Krosámis had ‘agreed’, we would be worshipping statues of Meša and licking the boots of kings.

Conformism was a vice, and the Masters disliked the word ameatudo (unity), a favorite goal of the Mešaic priests. Instead they coined the word muizaudo: ‘being together’, solidarity. Ne-Duox expressed the difference with her customary terseness:
‘Am’ šači, ‘mu’ ze.
It’s not ‘one’, it’s a ‘with.’
The goal was not to meld into union— which in practice would mean deference to the powerful. It was to form a cooperative society which recognized that it was composed of separate persons— a reflection of both Greater and Lesser Principles.

Once Endajué became a state religion, most dzuséy made their peace with the system, and were strong on community, hard work, and respect (xušu) for authorities— though they insisted that this was ‘respect for the movement of the dance’, not respect for the person.

Nonetheless, an undercurrent of eccentricity, protest, and passive resistance continued to run through Endajué. And this alone moderated the behavior of the powerful to some extent.


The three levels

There are three levels of initiation in the new religion: The population of Xurno is 47 million. There are about 10 million titled jivircú, 300,000 beylusú, and 2,500 dzuséy.

In addition we may speak of šwečircú (‘strivers’), those still lost in confusion. (The word actually derives from the Mešaic word for a sage or enlightened person; the Masters considered Mešaism worse than mere ignorance.)

The dzuséy do not have to answer to one another; this has allowed a good deal of variation in teaching and practice. At the insistence of the emperors, a procedure was instituted that allowed a dzusey to be removed if he was confronted by a committee of ten other dzuséy and refused their counsel. This provision was abused during the Revaudo civil war. After the revolution it was rescinded; instead, the Academy or the Council may vote to remove a dzusey.

The seminaries

There are no Endajué places of worship, as there is no worship. Rather, the centers of Endajué practice are the seminaries or dzusnari. These may be divided into two classes:
Both are run by a dzusey, but in the first case he serves as a pastor, in the second as a sage. When he dies or retires, the dzuc dzusnar will choose one of its own belaysú as the new leader; the lišu dzusnar will search for one among local dzuci dzusnari.

The distinction is similar to that between churches and monasteries, but is not so clear-cut. A large city lišu dzusnar may have some back-facing scholars; a dzuc dzusnar in a tiny settlement may offer public services as the local people have nowhere else to go.

In the early centuries some belaysú and even dzuséy were mendicants (komatesi), wandering the land teaching in return for alms. The Empire considered this distasteful and prohibited clerics from asking for alms; itinerant clerics had to be registered and supported at a dzusnar.

The disciplines

Today, practice the six disciplines. Tomorrow, the same. What is that? You wish to quickly become a Master? Such a hurry you are in! Very well then, concentrate your efforts on turning your hair gray. I shouldn’t say it, but now you know the shortcut.
The basic practices of Endajué are those of a group of disciples attending to a Hermit Master. Bodeusirc listed the six reataup (disciplines) for us: These are still considered the basic training for a beylusu.

The Masters warned also about the dangers of relying on rote disciplines, however good in themselves. The goal was understanding and effective action, not memorization.

The mind can only embrace unillusion when it is awake. Study, meditation, and repetition of beloved doctrines only reinforce the sleep of the mind. Cherish whatever brings wakefulness, whether it is a year spent alone in the hills or a sudden pinprick.

Why do I speak, and not write? Why do I forbid you to write down my words? Because the pen is the mind’s way of vomiting out a thought: once written, it is gone from the mind and troubles it no more.

You wish to read a book about enlightenment. When you are hungry, do you read a book about food?
There are no books in Bodeusirc’s portrait of community life; teaching was entirely oral. Eventually, of course, followers wrote down the Masters’ sayings— though rather haphazardly, with enormous variation.

The compilers, now dzuséy themselves, wrote explanations and commentaries of their own. The result was a proliferation of books, a different collection in each region and institution.

In theory the words of any dzusey were equally authoritative. Those of the Hermit Masters were more highly regarded, but were scattered like random jewels in commentaries and memoirs. With the proliferation of dzuséy over the centuries, there were literally thousands of holy books.

Study (xau) of these books was called the šizaur reátuc, the seventh discipline; increasingly it took the bulk of the young beylusu’s time.

Students copied manuscripts as a way of study. They might visit several dzusnari in order to study rare manuscripts; but generally students could only study whatever was in their own dzusnar’s library. This created a wide diversity of belief and practice which I can only hint at in this brief treatment.

I have seen the Dance, watched the world coil up till it everything was visible, every person, every animal, every movement. It is perfect and it is terrifying. Seen right, the whole world is not larger than a house, but everything is inside.

The Dance has many guises, which we see in visions, rushing past in all their unfathomable splendor— who has stopped to count them, or can say what they all mean?

Everyone talks about visions. If you want to see things, get drunk on beer. Visions are for understanding.

The Masters tried many means of enlightenment— each had their own story and their own methods. Especially in the western regions, many tried pepec, a plant from the mountains whose smoke induces hallucinations, long used in Bucair shamanism.

Pepec seems to give visions of movement and complexity; reports talk of leaving the body, rushing through the air, or seeing the world get smaller and bend itself in constantly changing forms. This was interpreted as a direct vision of the Dance and a perception of the Greater Principle.

However, the Masters were sparing in their use of visions (torbeseš); jivircú were not allowed to use pepec, and beylusú only under strict supervision and following careful ritual.

Public services

For the jivirc, the non-clerical believer, the lišu dzusnar offers several services.

The commemorations

Around 1903 the master Bukameša was put to death by Suswensu VI, the nye of Niormen. A year later a hundred of his followers gathered outside Suswensu’s palace. The guards were uneasy, but hesitated to attack a crowd that was mostly weeping and indulging in self-mortification— cutting and bleeding in tribute to Bukameša’s beheading. Every year the spectacle was repeated, with more followers each time; and as other xaučipeje accumulated, vigils and marches were mounted for each of them.

As the crowds mounted into the tens of thousands, rulers grew alarmed. Rulers generally don’t like to see large numbers of their subjects in one place, especially if they are exalting the victims of arbitrary rule. There were riots and massacres; this only seemed to add to the fervor. Believers began to gather not only for their local xaučipeje but for those of other regions.

These pucigeseš (commemorations) never ceased, but became the chief public manifestation of Endajué— days when this normally somewhat staid and abstract religion, so focussed on reflection and personal enlightenment, becomes an explosion of raw emotion and mass action. Teaching dramas have been added to each pucigéseč, with costumed actors re-creating the Master’s discipleship and martyrdom. There are special dances, artistic performances, personal rituals, costumes, and approved self-mortifications.

Master season/day costume special art martyrdom mortification
Dučisi summer 10 multicolored poetry crushed weights
ne-Zim summer 56 women’s pants weaving rape + strangling bindings
ma-Podi fall 20 purple/red robes painting starved fasting
Bukameša fall 72 warrior’s outfit gymnastics beheading cuts
Xumaur winter 29 loincloth music burning whipping
Šika spring 1 black skirts sculpture stoning blows
Bodeusirc spring 48 red robes drama disembowelment moaning
The ‘arts’ correspond to seven of the traditional arts; the eighth is dance, featured in every pucigeseč. The newest Salon, Prose, is sometimes added to Dučisi’s commemoration.

The dzuséy have mixed feelings about the pucigešeš. On the one hand the people’s fervor certainly communicates the power of Endajué and their devotion to the martyrs. But there are worrisome points.

In the Xurnese era a commemoration of Krosámis and Rúmeš was added (on the 44th day of winter), and after the Revaudo revolution, another (32nd of summer) celebrating the rey xaučipeje, the new martyrs, those killed by the emperor Imdax in 2984.

Marriage and sex

The end of the third sex
The institution of the third sex (ewemi in Axunašin) was already moribund in late imperial times. It had been a long time since big burly warriors were the obvious god-appointed rulers; kings and nobles were often enough of the ewimo physical type, occupied themselves with ewimo business (administration, law, art, ritual duties), and shared ewimo aesthetics. As many as 40% of boys were classified as ewemi, and more than half in elite circles; with these numbers it became impossible to maintain the social fiction that ewemi were sexless or free of aggression.

In effect ewemi ruled or at least managed the kingdoms. Strictures on who they could marry, what they could inherit, or what positions they could take, had long seemed absurd and were increasingly ignored.

The Hermit Masters delivered the final blow, but not on these grounds; they mocked the very idea of ewemi.

Because they both wear robes, we can’t tell the difference between Zim and ne-Zim?

There are two types of sex organ, so why did the Wede:i invent a third? This is overdiscrimination. Is it because of temperament? But cannot we distinguish sex from temperament? This is underdiscrimination as well!

(Bodeusirc is slandering the Wede:i here; the ewemi were an Ezičimi idea.)

The deepest objection to the idea of ewemi was aesthetic. The thinking of the Masters favored binary patterns; the three sexes were an embarrassing anomaly among the dichotomies (light/dark, noble/commoner, matter/spirit, good/evil, movement/repose, life/death) used to illustrate the Lesser Principle.

In Endajué kingdoms, legal restrictions on ewemi were removed and the pagan šešedu (sex selection ceremony) died out.

However, the ewemi, or wem in Xurnese, remained as a social or cultural category— namely, the intellectual class, including clerics, scholars, artists, and the aristocracy. For the most part, they maintained the social mores of the ewemi, including their distinctive dress (wrapped robes rather than the armor and skirts of soldiers, or the trousers worn by working women).

Sexual spirit
The Masters discarded one strange idea about sex and invented another. This was sexual spirit, or elimel myun.
Do not over-spend your vigor (elic), lest you become weakened with its loss. Be neither promiscuous nor abstinent. The body stands neither overexertion nor inertness, neither overeating nor starvation; the sexual organs are no different.
—Nauni Čeykirc

The union of bodies and spirits is a beautiful step in the Dance, and necessary for the movement of energy from one to another.

The idea came from unexceptional passages like these. Influenced by the dynamic language of Endajué, physicians began to speak of fluids (myuni) in motion rather than the Mešaic static substances. It was an easy step to reify a non-physical ‘myun of vigor’ which was passed between people during sex, and which could be corrupted through stagnation as well as weakened through over-use.

The idea of elimel myun was increasingly elaborated.

In the popular mind, elimel myun was strongly identified with semen; this led to oddities such as men attempting to facilitate more frequent or more fertile sex by eating semen (their own or another’s).
Marriage was a family rite under Mešaism. There were a few pages of marriage ceremonies in the Axunemi dusočuvax or book of rites; but these were optional blessings for those who had a priest on call. This attitude persisted into Endajué. You celebrated your marriage with a big party, but there was no ceremony.

This is quite different from American culture, but perhaps it’s our culture that should be considered unusual. American culture isn’t sure about God; despite or perhaps because of that, it’s increasingly sure of the sanctity of marriage. The wedding becomes a staggeringly expensive performance loaded with exhortations and blessings. The birth of a child is low-key by comparison. Xurnese society reverses these attitudes.

Axunemi society allowed ewemi to marry each other (and no one else). Curiously, the wem class retains this prerogative. Men can marry men, women can marry women— so long as they belong to the educated classes— e.g. not peasants, servants, or soldiers. The purpose isn’t always sexual, especially among women, who may marry for companionship and financial security— or to avoid having to marry someone else.

Unlike (say) Irreanism, Endajué is not very interested in domestic life. Its cosmology is focussed on understanding the universe; its disciplines are those of monks. Few of the Masters were married at the time of their ministries— neither marriage nor small children were conducive to the solitary vision quests that were generally the starting point of a Hermit Master’s path. The advice they offered (e.g. harmony, mutual adaptation, respect for women) were general lessons not specific to matrimony.

Sexual immorality
The Xurnese divide up sexual sins according to the predominant vice:
The Masters were guardedly positive about sex— they warned of its many pitfalls, but also disapproved of high-mindedness or abstinence. They sometimes shocked their followers with their frank language.
Some worthies look at a woman in shock if she speaks any word of wisdom. They simply do not realize that a vagina was attached to speech organs.
Nonetheless, Xurnese culture (if not precisely Endajué) tends to think of sex itself as something disreputable, half comic and half repugnant. This attitude is particularly pronounced among the uneducated, who disapprove even of public kissing, and consider the intellectual class to be rather loose morally.

Some of this attitude is perhaps inevitable in a premodern society, where disease makes promiscuity dangerous, lax standards of cleanliness render sex a perversion, and a lack of reliable contraception ensures that sex can never be entirely casual. But of course cultures vary in what exactly they consider perverse.


Endajué shows a deep ambivalence about war. On the one hand it is a religion of mercy, and the Masters expressed disdain for soldiers and warlords. On the other, the arts of war have been spiritualized (the Dance after all includes the death and cruelty of nature), and Endajué is described as the secret weapon of the Xurnese.

The early Masters, teaching in an epoch of frequent war, preached open pacifism. None was clearer in this than Nauni Čeykirc, a former soldier.

The pagans think that war is glorious. War is nothing but misery, exhaustion, brutality, and destruction. It is no more glorious, and it is easier, to kill a man than to slit the throat of a cow. The ktuvoks once, for their sport, made Axunemi kill each other. Is it glory that we continue to do so, without any ktuvoks to order us?
—Nauni Čeykirc

War is murder. Who takes up soldier’s armor, he is less than a šwečirc [striver].

What should you do if your nation goes to war? Above all, do not fight, for this is murder. Always counsel the end of war; seek out your brothers in the other kingdom and let them do the same. Do not hate the other kingdom; for by the Greater Principle this is to hate yourself. If asked to fight, ask instead to tend the wounded and rebuild what is destroyed. If this is refused, to slake the king’s blood thirst, offer him your own body.

Even today beylusú are not allowed to serve in the army.

In 1863 the Master Bodeusirc was eviscerated by a soldier when he refused to accept him as a disciple. (This was a generation before the persecutions began, but Bodeusirc is counted as among the xaučipeje as a result.)

Other Masters were not so unbending (or so stubborn). The first Master who taught soldiers was ma-Pipidzu; as he unfailingly pointed out, he also taught prostitutes, prisoners, and foreigners. Ma-Peyga, who was something of a contrarian, said that he preferred soldiers to intellectuals; their xal or trained energy was a reflection of the Dance. Sindačirc, as advisor to the king of Lozauš, was the first to qualify the blanket condemnation of war, allowing wars of defense.

I will not praise the king for protecting his estates by war. But I will praise him for protecting the lives and goods of his subjects. Is it compassion to allow the invader to destroy these? It is greater compassion to save them. If possible, exhort the invader to remember his humanity. But if he does not, exhort the king to resist him.
It was left to later thinkers to elaborate the Jueši endi, the Ways of War.


Overiludo šigri.
Enlightenment is difficult.

The wisdom of a beylusu is in clearly explaining the Path. That of the dzusey is in not doing so.

If I ask ten students if they grasp the Greater Principle, six will say yes. How advanced we must be! Krosámis on his deathbed admitted that he had not yet fully done it.

Endajué does not by any means explain all its doctrines and practices to anyone who asks. Its founders achieved their insights after years of isolation and hardship; their successors have retained a deep distrust of anything that can be easily grasped. Not only is enlightenment difficult, as ne-Duox said; it should be difficult.

To reinforce the idea that enlightenment was a process, not a study, the masters used paradox, contradiction, tricks to unsettle the student, physical trials, and secrecy. Teachings were not supposed to be obscure; but they were not to be facile, either.

Sacred relics or objects were used to focus meditation and were shown at public celebrations; the sacredness seemed to increase as the appearances grew rarer, with the result that some objects were shown only at intervals of a century or more, and a few have been invisible for so long that it’s no longer remembered what they are.

As a corollary, many Endajué clerics would maintain that a précis of their religion— such as the one you’re reading—was incomplete if not iniquitious; no outsider could even begin to explain the Path.

This attitude has permeated Xurnese aesthetics. Architects designed buildings with hidden rooms; poems and music encoded hidden messages; painters experimented with disorienting trompe l’oeil and anamorphic images.

The appeal of Endajué

Why did a religion without gods take over from Mešaism? What was its appeal?
We can see perhaps why Endajué appealed to the intellectual class, but why did it appeal to the rulers? To a large extent, the answer is that the rulers belonged to the intellectual class. They were not warlords; they were refined people who associated far more with clerics, artists, and bureaucrats than with pikesmen. There were things they didn’t like about Endajué, especially at first; but like most educated people they were not fervent believers in the Mešaic gods either.

Royal and imperial Endajué

In 2053 Arusbárex, the nye of Inex, converted to Endajué. Within twenty years all but the most remote areas had followed his example.

The rulers were not given a free pass; they must begin their study as jivircú like anyone else; they were expected to meditate and accept counsel; they must renounce their support of the Mešaic temples. But the process worked the other way as well; a rather freewheeling religion invented by hermits and suited to small monkish communities had to adapt to become a prop of monarchical rule.

By the 2200s, Endajué was the majority religion, and the authorities distrusted the surviving Mešaists— if you didn’t worship as the nye did, you were surely some kind of subversive. Many of them closed the temples and prohibited open worship of Mešaic gods. This fairly quickly destroyed public Mešaism, and anyone who wished to rise in society got the message and converted. These measures ended long before the rise of Xurno— indeed, the Xurnese made a great show of tolerating Mešaism in Čeiy during the centuries they ruled it.

Valid authority

The dzuséy now explained that the condemnations of the Masters applied only to unjust and arrogant rulers. They expected four virtues (isaurim) of a ruler:
During the period of small kingdoms guided by Endajué— from the 2000s till the Sainor and Gelyet conquests of the 2400s— the acceptance or rejection of a ruler by the dzuséy carried weight. The bureaucracy and the merchant classes accepted their judgments, and the nobles could use their disapproval as a pretext for rebellion (and neighboring kings, for invasion).

From an anthropological point of view, religions that glorify mercy and simplicity (such as Endajué, Christianity, and Buddhism) appear when traditional tools of the state no longer suffice to keep the masses content, or at least subjugated. It’s easier to keep order by preaching benevolence (and reining in a few abuses) than by amassing police.

However, the new empire of Xurno, founded in 2530, was much harder for the clerics to influence. There were no rivals to appeal to; dissident clerics could easily be squashed. The emperors made a show of supporting Endajué and following the four isaurim, but they had little to fear if they didn’t. Or so they figured.

The glass ceiling

The idea of female equality was accepted in clerical communities, but stalled in larger society. Pre-Revaudo Xurnese society was still male-dominated, for several reasons.
There are cases of girls disguising themselves as boys to join the more prestigious infantry or cavalry, and at least one high-ranking officer who was revealed by enemies to be a woman. The Emperor ordered a duel between the woman and her chief accuser. She prevailed, and retained her position.

Nonetheless, there were changes. The practice of the dowry and the šišeidu (gender selection) ended; girls as well as boys were sent to school; the intellectual professions (religion, teaching, law, medicine, in that order) were opened to women.

Xurnese society should not be interpreted in terms of our own imagined past— the ’50s or the Victorian era. The reality of life for the vast majority of Xurnese— the peasants and urban craftsmen— was one of hard work for both sexes. Power was not a monopoly of men; it was a monopoly of the well off.

War and empire

The Ways of War
Starting in the 2200s an entire theory of war was developed within Endajué— the Ways of War (Jueši endi). The great names here are Pwes, a Rajjari dzusey who worked with soldiers, and Nekangri, an Inegri officer who applied Endajué principles to military problems.

Pwes elaborated a set of disciplines, modelled on those of the beylusú: study, meditation, dance, training exercises, self-control, as well as a code of conduct. He spoke of developing xal, martial spirit— the state of vigor, alertness, readiness, toughness, and fairness characteristic of the ideal warrior. The warrior with spirit, the xáleš zalay, became the xaleza of later times— the knight, the samurai, the elite warfighter.

The warrior of spirit is bold in battle, yet gentle with women, and just to the conquered. The child and the young woman are nowhere safer than in his hands. With the dzusey he is a willing student; with the king, a loyal retainer. His aggression is directed against warriors and barbarians; and then it is precise, quick, and deadly.
Nekangri, one of the generals responsible for the resurgence of Axunai from 2295-2310, concentrated on strategy and tactics. His chief doctrine was movement— applying principles of the dance to warfare. Some of his maxims:
The dull general trusts in numbers; the wise one in movement.

Let the enemy strike. Welcome this, for he has shown his strength and his plan. Let your forces move away as quickly as birds from a branch. Committed, spread out, alertness lost, his strength has become weakness, and you may destroy him.

The enemy has set up a gate, and behind it he waits for you. Find this; and then find the back entrance which he believes you will not use.

A recruit will not survive if he does not learn how to wield his weapon. But he will not survive to become a veteran if he does not learn its limitations.

The enemy army is a bear, great and powerful. But bears do not rule us; men capture bears. Dogs harrass and tire the bear, and nimbly dodge his claws. The bear makes enormous noise so we know where he is; ropes entangle him and traps snare him. Do not fear power; counter it with speed and cunning.

Nekangri also stressed training; he put his troops through exercises designed to increase physical strength and endurance, unit cohesion, and tactical options. He was also one of the first strategists to emphasize logistics: supply lines, quick communications between units, good equipment and food, medical support. He recognized that disease and deprivation killed more soldiers than the enemy, and deserved at least as much attention.
Barbarian invasions
The invasion of the Sainor in 2430 and the Gelyet fifty years later were an enormous disaster for Xengiman. These were not like the Bucair, half-Axunized nomads normally content with raiding, and who if necessary could be divided by bribery and appeased with titles and marriage alliances. The Sainor and Gelyet aimed to conquer. They plundered the cities and stayed there to prevent recovery. They dispossessed nobles from their estates and kicked peasants off land that was suitable for their herds.

Nekangri had made his reputation by fighting an earlier generation of Sainor, and his doctrines of movement owed much to his observation of the devastating speed of the Sainor horsemen.

His successors attempted to apply his lessons, but inexpertly. Their chief idea was to hire barbarians of their own— Bucair, Lenani, or Tžuro; but these could not be found in quantities to resist the hordes that pushed into Xengiman in the 2400s. Their failure did not lend much luster to the Ways of War.

In 2483 the Gelyet conquered Inex, looting what they could carry, and burning the rest— destroying thousands of years’ worth of books, artwork, architecture. This was also the death blow for Mešaism, since so much of what was lost was the glory and flower of the old religion. The new buildings, books, paintings, and sculptures would exalt Endajué instead.

Rejabriš, king of Curau from 2518, took a different approach. The strength of the Gelyet was speed; let them encounter obstacles where it would not avail them. He surrounded Curau and Xiau with immense fortifications. They were begun under Gelyet eyes, disguised as aqueducts and irrigation works, and hastily finished when the bulk of the Gelyet army had marched north to conquer Sarnáe. The walls were large enough to contain wells and fields; they could resist a siege for a year or more, longer than the nomads were willing to wait.

The Gelyet tribes were military machines: every member (including the women) had horses; all were trained for battle. Rejabriš applied the same principle to his own people: everyone must be a xaleza. The nobles served as cavalry; the peasants as pikesmen; even women were trained as archers.

He explained that his methods were learned by a close reading of Nekangri.

From Nekangri I learned three things: Frustrate the enemy; turn his strengths into weakness; and win the battle before the battle by careful preparation.
When the Gelyet returned from Sarnáe they counter-attacked fiercely; but Rejabriš’s walls and discipline held. He extended his system to the other cities of the middle Xengi, and declared himself nyei of a new empire, Xurno Ros, the ‘dawning nation’.

His son Miudis reconquered the delta as well as Rajjay and Niormen , and his grandson Isaoric pushed the Gelyet out of Jeor, Bolon, and Tanel. The Xurnese resurgence might not have the grandeur of Ervëa or Attafei, but it was a remarkable achievement for an agricultural state in the age of nomads.

Aristocrats into artists

With the Gelyet invasions, the old aristocracy was thrown out of power, their estates and mansions confiscated by barbarians. The rise of Xurno offered no restoration; the new empire created a new aristocracy out of its generals.

The old lords had to make a living somehow; about all they were suited for was intellectual pursuits— especially art. The wem were now above all artists, which is the meaning of the word in modern Xurnese— but artists with the tastes of former aristocrats, devoted to sophisticated schools which took decades to master, and an aesthetic of quiet elegance and esoteric meanings. Rich materials were used (carved wood, steel, enamel, oil painting, linen)— but the richest (gold, silver, gems, Northern silk), which were too expensive anyway, were dismissed as gaudy.


The Endajué canon
By Xurnese times, the proliferation of religious literature was a serious burden for the student. Several developments offered some relief:
Movement in medicine
Where Mešaic medicine was concerned with the proportion of the nine bodily substances, Endajué physicians emphasized movement. They prescribed exercise and massage to keep the body supple.

They paid special attention to the bodily fluids (myuni), which had to be kept flowing; when the explanatory power of blood and urine and semen was exhausted they posited invisible fluids which regulated growth, healing, and cognition (kistri, nustri, geri respectively). There were ‘anti-fluids’ (rauc) as well, such as bile and sorirc (virulent, disease-causing spirit). Poisons were considered to kill because they contained jesirc rud ‘killing bile’.

(See also the discussion of elimel myun ‘sexual spirit’ above.)

Cosmic movement
Meditation on the Dance led the Xurnese, first of any nation on Almea, to posit a heliocentric solar system. Some Axunemi thinkers had proposed the idea, but it had always seemed unlikely because there was no sensation of movement. But this was no obstacle to Endajué, which maintains that many cosmic movements cannot be perceived by human senses.

The inspiration for heliocentrism was metaphysical: a perfect object like the sun should not be a satellite of the imperfect earth. There were some attempts to work out the mathematics, but the simplicity of the Keplerian system was not achieved, as astronomers assumed that orbits must be circular. However, at least in theory it was understood that heliocentrism could explain the observed retrograde movement of the planets without epicycles.

Some are more equal than others

The emperors disliked the equality of the dzuséy and pressed for the creation of a hierarchy, or at least a ranking. When the dzuséy dragged their feet, the emperor Aulinir simply started awarding titles.

To forestall further action, the dzuséy agreed (in the 2630s) to create their own array of ranks:

These titles were intentionally vainglorious— an attempt to distract the emperor into taking them more seriously than the dzuséy intended to. They considered them largely honorifics, and made no promises that supervising dzuséy would actually be obeyed. ‘Supervisors’ would be consultative, and above all the process for choosing leaders of dzusnari wouldn’t be affected.

But an emperor who thinks something is true has a certain power to make it so. If he told the auliri ez dzuséy o gies crack down on a dissident or to favor a certain candidate for dzuséy o gies, something was going to happen, probably pretty close to his wishes. And for that matter, there’s a power in titles even without perks: award a title for the most scholarly dzuséy, and scholary dzuséy will compete for it.

In the last centuries of imperial rule, then, Endajué came to possess a somewhat loose hierarchy. It was nowhere near the top-down control of Mešaism or Eleďát; but it recognized influential dzuséy and ensured that these held a rough consensus. And anyone interested in ecclesiastical power paid it very close attention indeed.

Endajué law

Mešaic law was as absolutist as its rulers; it was entirely a matter of the state defining and harshly prosecuting crimes. By the Age of Petty Kings, to the extent that the system functioned at all, it was cumbersome, corrupt, and cruel.
I have faced enemies without fear, for battle may give death but also honor. The judge is more fearsome, for he may destroy my life and my family and my honor.
—Nauni Čeykirc

We have courts only because great criminals despise little ones.

Fortunately a model already existed: the dzusnari had worked out means of conflict resolution. Its basic principles were: If this seems rather gooey, it should be recalled that these were mostly quarrels among clerics, and that dzusnari were ultimately voluntary associations.
If a walker has a dispute with another, let them be invited to resolve their dispute. If this does not succeed, let them be invited to compromise. If this does not succeed, let them be compelled to compromise.
How would change be compelled? Sometimes it sufficed to bore someone into compliance:
Bezleš once learned that a disciple had been stealing. She brought him to the study alcove and invited him to meditate.

They meditated in silence for an hour. She then asked him to discuss his crime, but he would not admit it.

She invited him to meditate again, this time for two hours. She asked him again to discuss his crime, but he would not speak.

She invited him to meditate again, this time for four hours. She asked him once more to discuss his crime.

“The next meditation period will be eight hours, right?” he asked.

“That’s right,” she said.

He confessed his crime.

Most likely Bezleš and her disciple adopted the first meditation posture, kneeling— a position which the less trained disciple would find highly painful after a few hours. Other disciplines could be assigned for chastisement, especially labor and self-mortification.

The Endajué kings did not reform the court system; rather, they revived the ancient tradition of holding audiences to hear petitions, and then delegated this to officials or clerics.

Rejabriš, the first emperor of Xurno and a devoted Endajuésu, overhauled the legal system. Where Axunai derived from conquest and could afford a cavalier attitude toward its subjects, Xurno depended on the solidarity of the people, trusting everyone to do their part to cast out the Gelyet. He melded the clerics’ dispute resolution process with military law, which was the most humane portion of Mešaic law, and also took the opportunity to rewrite and modernize the legal code.

The disputes to be resolved were between citizens; Rejabriš saw no reason that anyone should be able to bring a dispute against the government.


The revival

The emperors liked to refer to Xurno as cir cívlex ‘our army’. The state was organized to resist the Gelyet; when these invaded Čeiy it pursued them. By the early 2900s improvements in technology— black powder, better armor, better fortification— had finally given the upper hand to the agriculturalists. But still the militarization remained, as well as a near-permanent state of war against the nomads in the northwest.

Gotanel and Tanel, in the southeast, had not seen a horselord for centuries, and resented the heavy hand of the state, especially its high levels of taxation. A group of beylusú reading the words of the Hermit Masters found them highly applicable to their own times.

Kings go to war, and lay waste the country. They are like a pestilence, they are like a tornado, except that these scourges relent after a time.
The beylusú made no political demands, but called for revaudo ‘newness’, meaning a rededication to the understanding of the Greater Principle and to following the Path between All. They concentrated on the Hermit Masters, considering that since the time of Sindačirc the dzuséy had been compromised by aligning themselves with rulers and warriors.

The state was nonplussed; it could hardly oppose a revival of its own state religion; and yet its subversive potential was clear. The authorities ordered the hierarchy to discourage it. This proved difficult; the relatively new process of silkscreening allowed Revaudo manuals and manifestos to spread widely and quickly.

By midcentury the beylusú had become dzuséy, and the movement had achieved explosive growth, spreading to every province (but especially along the Xengi and along the coast) and was widely supported by the masses and the intellectuals.

The message was still largely one of personal renewal: self-examination, repentance, asceticism, unillusion, following the purest expression of Endajué, that of the Hermit Masters. The Masters’ egalitarianism and pacifism was underlined; some clerics went so far as to preach communism, free love, and the replacement of an ungodly (nanač) regime with a milennial paradise of peace and harmony.

And seven times a year there were the pucigeseš. The emperors had attempted to make these into patriotic festivals, even adding barbarian enemies and virtuous emperors to the dramatics. But now these events regained their character as popular commemorations of resistance to tyrants. Attendance rose— in Curau and Inex hundreds of thousands shouted and roiled in the streets, an alarming vision for almost any government. There were riots and brutal crackdowns.

The crisis

The nyei Yungec (2952-2973) fitfully attempted reconciliation. He invited clerics to his palace; he built a grand new dzusnar for the auliri ez dzuséy o gies in Curau; he lowered taxes slightly. He had trouble understanding the dissidents— what was wrong with monarchy? Wasn’t he already a believer? Shouldn’t Bolon be recovered from the barbarians? They seemed unable to formulate clear suggestions; when they did they were utopian (eliminate levees in favor of volunteers) or absurd (give away his fancy clothes and wear robes). Yungec gave up in disgust, and even raised taxes in order to finance a war against Čiqay.

His son Imdax IV had even less time for the dzuséy. He concentrated on defeating Čiqay; would not victory gladden the people? Everyone was part of cir cívlex, after all. But the radicals were now preaching nonviolent resistance, nonpayment of taxes, and the creation of a senate. Worse yet, the pucigeseš were becoming festivals of Revaudo, increasingly defiant displays of dissidence.

In the summer of 2984 he ordered the arrest of the Revaudo dzuséy— just the leaders; the beylusú were not going to resist if their leaders were gone. In most areas his orders were quickly carried out; but in many cities the dzuséy went into hiding, or the military refused to arrest them. The governors of Rajjay and Gotanel provinces declared that the dzuséy were under their protection.

Then came the pucigéseč of ne-Zim, and the streets exploded. There were riots in a dozen cities; in Yoki the mob broke into the city jail to recover their dzuséy; in Inex imperial buildings were set aflame and the city was out of control for days. The riots were harshly quelled by the army— except in Ranj and Neuič, where it obeyed the governors’ orders to hold back, and in Jinayzu and Lij, where it joined the rabble.

Imdax hesitated— lacking not resolve but targets. Who was the enemy— his own people? He sent the army into Niormen and Rau Xengi to end the military rebellions, and personally took a force to Ranj to confront Uris, the governor of Rajjay— who received him with smiles and invited him to the palace for dinner.

For six months the country seethed, its attention focussed on one crisis after another: riots at each pucigéseč; a rebellion of the troops facing the Seia; the suicide of several imprisoned dzuséy, leading to fervent protests. Imdax released a few of the prisoners, then changed his mind and arrested them again. He marched his army around the country, but there was rarely anyone to attack, and the marches annoyed both the locals and the soldiers.

In midwinter he marched again to Ranj; this time Uris locked the gates against him. This was clear rebellion, and Imdax ordered an assault. The Xurnese city-fortress functioned with its customary effectiveness: the battlements bristled with women archers; men knocked down siege engines; cannonfire boomed across the plain—only this time the enemy was the nyei rather than the nomads. After a week Imdax realized that his forces were too small to accomplish anything, and retreated to Curau. He was greeted by a riot; news of the successful resistance had beaten him to the city.

Civil war

Slow start
The civil war lasted a generation, with too many twists and turns to summarize here. It started slowly because Revaudo was barely a rebellion, only the idea of one. It had no armies, no leadership, no program. There were times when there was no fighting, just restless agitation, like our 1960s writ large. But the rebels soon had provincial garrisons, urban militias, and their own peasant levees.

They were able to seize a number of cities: Lij and Reyruni in Rau Xengi; Šawatu in Tanel; Yeš in the delta; Jinayzu in Niormen. These were largely insurrections in areas where imperial forces were weak or could be subverted; but Šawatu was captured in battle, with the help of Gotanel.

The emperor had his own problems getting traction. His armies wavered in their loyalty. Garrisons were intended for defense and were mostly manned by locals, who were unwilling to attack their own city. Xurnese cities were built to resist sieges. And logistics were plagued by tazmorudo— sudden sabotage by persons thought loyal, a strategy devised by the rebels to make the most effective use of units or functionaries who converted to their side.

Imdax had to segregate his forces, attacking one province with soldiers from another; but this caused its own problems: the soldiers didn’t like fighting far from home; the locals resented being attacked by ‘foreigners’. As well, garrisons had to be strong to put down insurrections in the major cities, tying down his army.

The middle slog
A key victory for the rebels was winning Etak, Xurno’s chief port, in 3002. The city lies on an island; the rebels destroyed the bridge connecting the city to Inex, while merchant ships landed a force from Šawatu. Tuor and Bidau fell the next year; and the emperor himself died in the battle for Bidau. He was succeeded by Siluri II.

The rebels hoped to capture Inex the next year; but they were simply not strong enough, and Siluri’s forces managed to recapture Jinayzu. The war dragged on; but to a large extent Siluri was already defeated; he just didn’t realize it. A tipping point had been reached: too many factions were now allied with the revolution.

It’s useful to compare this list with (say) the supporters of the Navirora party in Verduria. The chief difference is that the religious establishment in Xurno sided largely with the rebels, bringing their supporters along.

The emperor’s chief support came from the military, from nobles tied to the royal family, and from regions (mainly Niormen and Bozan) that resented the central Xengi provinces, and thus a movement centering on them.

After a relatively quiet few years, fighting flared up again. This time the rebels fielded large trained armies, and marched them in support of carefully nurtured urban insurrections: Lozauš (3009), Yoki and Širbika (3010), Musi and Lirau (3011).

The next year, the emperor received some good news for once: a rebellion was going his way, in Yeš, upstream from Inex. There were reports of quarrels among the revolutionaries; the masses were tired of war. But rebel forces were closing in. There was no time to lose; Siluri ordered forces from Inex to rush to the aid of the counter-rebellion.

It was a ruse. Once the garrison in Inex was weakened, an insurrection broke out there, supported by a large rebel force. The fake rebellion in Yeš ended and the citizens and the ‘besieging’ rebel armies rushed to destroy the imperial forces from Inex, meeting at Duga Zu (Whale Beach). The entire delta, and Xurno’s largest city, were now in rebel hands.

Though this was a disaster for Siluri, it helped him in the short term. His forces were now concentrated in Šuzep, the middle Xengi. He no longer had to traipse about the country, nor worry about betrayal by his battle-hardened forces. The rebels took Nogali and lost it, lost Yoki and retook it. Ironically, the last heir of Rejabriš lost his capital city after a three-year siege. The Gelyet were unable to choke a Xurnese city for that long, but the Revaudo forces could.

In popular memory, the chief battles of the Revolution were Šawatu, Etak, Bidau, Duga Zu, and Curau; these names have great patriotic resonance and were often used as given names.


The first phase of the revolution ended in 3017, with the conquest of Curau. Siluri was executed; but royalist forces continued to hold Niormen, Jeor, and Bozan. Each of these areas chose their own new nyei from the royal family, the Matora.

The stronger western state is known as Dzunye Xurno (royalist Xurno); its capital was the large seaport of Jinayzu. Revaudo sentiment was strong in Jeor, and Jinayzu’s attempts to cement its control were resented. Revolutionaries in Momor and Nakan proclaimed a new state, Tásuc Tag, in 3025; in the next decade they conquered most of Jeor province. They were invited to join Revaudo Xurno, but it was too radical for them; they established their own more conventional republic.

The second phase of the revolution was the civil war of 3080-85, which ended in the decisive defeat of the royalists and the incorporation of their lands into a unified state.

The Revaudo state

The Revaudo leaders were an eclectic mixture of reformist clerics, urban intellectuals, merchants, generals, and ambitious nobles. Thirty years of war had radicalized and united the rebels, who once in power embarked on a much more profound reconstruction of society than the first preachers of Revaudo would ever have envisioned.

The ruling class for the nation as a whole, and for urban areas and the densely populated central and coastal provinces, is artists (wem). A prerequisite for the exercise of power is demonstrated mastery over any of the recognized arts.

Why artists? In part this was historical accident: the dzuséy had no interest in ruling, and the artists were the most organized and most zealous of their followers, who played key roles in leading and coordinating the urban insurrections of the revolution. Historically, they were the intellectual and even aristocratic class of Axunemi times. And they were something of an ideal class in Endajué thought, their creative spirit close to the divine power of the Dance.

They were also an open class which did not exclude other groups. It took years of study to master an art— but many of the upper and middle classes had already done so, and if not, they could easily have their children trained in it. Revaudo falls short of complete egalitarianism, in that the peasants and lower classes are not likely to be able to join the ruling class; but exceptional children with great artistic talent may.

For us, the artist is a Romantic, ideally wild in lifestyle, work, and hair. The Xurnese artist is a disciplined and religious person. A young dramatist, for instance, would begin by sweeping stages and painting sets; then spend years as a performer, working up the cast list; writing original works only in middle age. They do tend to have long hair, however.

The Academy
The highest organ of state is the Academy (Bicikes, named for the school founded by the ancient philosopher Jausiros), originally composed of eight Salons (xamunari):
In the 3230s, following the acrimonious and sometimes violent Prose Wars (Gejupudo nao onomú), a ninth Salon was created, that of Prose (gejupudo), which comprehended what we would call non-fiction and scholarship (and thus modern science), but not journalism.

The Salons were divided into apprentices (ammircisi), members (raysu), and Academicians (bicikeséy); each Salon had 99 Academicians, for a total of 891. Every practicing artist in the realm was expected to be attached to the appropriate Salon. Ministers of state (as well as the highest army officers) were chosen from among the Academicians; while only the lowest levels of the bureaucracy were open to non-artists.

For most of the year the Academy is more theoretical than actual, but it sits together in Inex for a month each winter, and during this time politicking and intrigue are intense. (The Salons however are permanent institutions.)

The Council of the Academy (Bicikesu jurumíex) is a permanent body of five to ten top Academicians which oversees the workings of the government and selects the ministers. Its authority over the government is absolute, but it can be recalled at any time by a majority of the Academy.

In time of war— frequent to constant in the early years of the revolution— one of the Council is named Supreme General (imaur newe). Revaudo did not win the revolution without learning military efficiency.

Government structure
The government itself is divided into nine dausi ‘ministries’, each headed by a dausimex ‘minister’ appointed by the Council; these are normally Academicians.

Each ministry is associated with a Salon which provides oversight, counsel, and high-level personnel; the relationship is similar to that between a congressional committee and the corresponding executive department. When the Salon of Prose was created, the Zezunas or Registry Office was split off from the Treasury to be its realm of responsibility. The ministries are often referred to by their associated Salon; e.g. the irrigation works are described as being under Painting.

ministry responsibilities overseers
Lujidax treasury treasury, coinage, language poetry
Šeledaus customs customs, excise, foreign ministry music
Ešaudo building roads, buildings, fortifications sculpture
Cívlex army defense and war gymnastics
Midzudo justice criminal courts drama
Besčeyséy couriers trade, post, maps, patents, civil law weaving
Lučasú engineers irrigation, canals, ports, coast guard painting
Zendzudo education culture, education dance
Zezunas registry property registry, property law, records; astronomy and cartography prose
There are four separate law codes, each with their own courts: What’s “language” doing in the treasury ministry? That’s the Language Agency (šundaus) in Curau, which defines standard Xurnese; it’s under the treasury because the treasury in turn is under the poets. The Agency also serves as a scholarly resource for studying and translating other languages; it is particularly expert in Axunašin, Wede:i, Cuolese, and Tžuro; in the last decades it has even achieved fair competency in Verdurian and Kebreni.

Class structure

We’ve already discussed the artists; what happened to the other sectors of society?

Revaudo and sex

The Revaudo revolution can be seen as the final victory of ewemi values. Women could take full roles in the Academy, and indeed dominated some Salons (especially Drama, Dance, and Weaving). Many were even military leaders: the successful insurrection in Inex in 3012 was coordinated by a female gymnast named Raujic.

The intellectual class had always allowed female inheritance and equality of the sexes, and this spread to the merchants and the remaining nobility. (In exceptional circumstances, pre-Revaudo Xurno had allowed women rulers—notably the sole female nyei, Siluri I, founder of the Matora dynasty. Siluri II was male.)

Another practice of the wem spread widely: the use of the condom (napásis), generally made of lamb intestine. This was effective against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and allowed a great relaxation in sexual mores.

We would likely interpret this as either liberation or dissipation; but the Xurnese don’t think of it in either way. To them not just unusual sex practices, but all sex, is somewhere between shameful or ridiculous.

These changes did not proceed without resistance; in A Diary of the Prose Wars, for instance, we find some of the diarists expressing strong sexism, or complaining of it. Today about 30% of the Academicians are women, which compares favorably to the 17% in the current U.S. Congress, but suggests that there is still a male advantage.

Endajué does not maintain that men andwomen are the same, but that one is not superior to the other. Women are still considered better at raising children— though the upper classes can afford to delegate this to servants.

The educated notions of women’s equality never really spread to the peasant class. Peasant women are still expected to work harder and do as their husbands tell them.

Endajué morality derives from the mores of the wem class, which had always allowed same-sex marriage and relationships. These too spread to the entire educated class, though not to the peasantry.

In one respect, homosexuality even became the norm: it was common for members of a Salon to have an older mentor (endevausirc) of the same sex, and the relationship was often sexual. However, these relationships were not exclusive nor even indicative of sexual orientation in our sense.


A religion doesn’t last for nearly 1700 years without accumulating controversies, dissent, and variation. Here’s a whirlwind overview.

Mešaic survivals

Among the people, especially the uneducated, there were many survivals of Mešaic beliefs or rituals. After a point no one maintained the temples any more, and the statues of the gods were looted. But many of them turned up in hidden places, which became centers of devotion, along with roadside shrines and other holy places. No one talked about nanú ‘gods’ any more; they referred only to xumú ‘holy ones’, or even xušeš ‘demons’.
Family rituals contain recognizable Mešaic elements.
The pucigeseš contain Mešaic survivals. For instance, that of Xumaur includes references to elks and emeralds, emblems of Jeywelis, patron goddess of Lozauš; that of ma-Podi includes owl dancers and references to the moon Iliacáš, both allusions to Nejimes, patron goddess of his city, Curau.
Similarly, the owl, associated with Nejimes, was often used as a symbol of the Xurnese empire, while the hawk was used by the Revaudo revolutionaries, largely because it symbolized Axunai— and because Almean hawks eat owls; but Axunai’s hawk was associated with Meša and with Inex.

Bozan was under Jippirasti control during the time of the Hermit Masters, and Mešaism was still openly practiced there even in Xurnese times. It is richer in Mešaic survivals than any other region, and the Hermit Masters (particularly the xaučipeje) were associated with Mešaic gods— e.g. Imbam with Bodeusirc (the only Bozanese Master), Dučisi with Xiaz, ma-Podi with Nejimes.

Xazno, the Xurnese colony along the Xazen river in the Barbarian Plain, was settled in the 2670s; but central control was lost around 2800. The settled population included Naviu as well as migrants from Eretald, who brought their gods along. These mixed with old Mešaic traditions and produced a syncretistic set of xumú, not so much cosmological gods as supernatural powers who could be worshipped and asked for favors. Xurno recaptured the area only in 3284; this has led to a new overlay of Endajué and the establishment of dzusnari, but little change in people’s devotion to the xumú.

Mešaic concepts survive strongest in the realm of magic (mujiludo). The Masters generally condemned magic as a form of illusion. The magicians and alchemists incorporated Endajué ideas such as the dance, the disciplines, and the myuni and rauc, the positive and negative fluids. However, they also kept their ancient manuals. These were already written so obscurely that gods were rarely mentioned by name.

Theistic cults

Krosámis said that he had never seen a god. But he had never seen an iliu either— he lived on a hilltop! I don’t let my disciples worship gods, because gods too must learn the Greater Principle and not lord it over us. But it does no harm to talk to them.
Not all of the Masters were equally atheistic. Many were agnostic, reasoning that human beings could hardly know everything that exists in the universe. Dučisi was from Čeiy, and had met ilii; he didn’t accept their stories as fully as the Cuzeians did, but he respected them. Šika claimed to have seen gods during pepec-induced visions.

Of course, none of these believed in the Mešaic gods. While Mešaism still existed, the dzuséy strongly discouraged open theism. But in Xurnese times, there was no threat of the revival of paganism, and some thinkers revived the idea of gods, or suggested that the Greater Principle, or the universe as a whole, was conscious and rational, though in a very inhuman way. (Again, on Almea there is nothing exotic about the idea of non-human minds, and it is easy to generalize the idea of a transcendent divine consciousness.)

In the confusion of the Revolution, some openly theistic cults arose. Generally they believed that Nanaur, the Divine, was active in the world and should be worshipped. There were both royalist and Revaudo forms. The Dzuni (royalists) in Niormen were open theists and even began to use the word nan (God).

Cuoli briefly conquered Bozan (3120) and Rau Xengi (3180), and this created some interest in Cuolese pantheism, which some found to be perfectly compatible with Endajué.

The Legalists

Why do you ask what to do? Embrace the Path, that is all. If you require more, hasn’t Bodeusirc set it all in order for you? If you require even more, what can be done with you?

If you asked ‘What?’, ne-Duox would tell you to meditate. If ‘Why?’, you must discipline yourself. And if ‘How?’, you were sent to do physical labor.

The Masters were disdainful of rituals, rules, and books. But there was always someone who, if told to meditate, would ask what position to use; if told to fast, would ask how long and whether water was OK and what penances to undertake if he ate something anyway.

Some of these became dzuséy and founded the tradition of yunraudo, legalism. The opposing movement was andesic ‘simplicity’. The two divisions have fought bitterly for the last thousand years. To the dzuandesi the legalists had missed the Masters’ entire point, wishing to reestablish the rigid, meaningless strictures of Mešaism: unillusion happened freely in the mind, not by following recipes. The dzuyunraú retorted that the Path was narrow and difficult, and people needed clear helps to stay on it; they were only following in the footsteps of Bodeusirc who codified the Masters’ discipleship and system of morality.

The division is nothing so clear-cut as a schism; it’s more of an ongoing family argument. Moreover, the factions tend to succeed each other: lax practice invites legalism, while too much legalism creates a liberating counter-reaction.

Legalists tended to get along well with the authorities, who by nature like to have things spelled out— they were deeply involved in Rejabriš’s creation of Xurnese law, for instance. They also do well in times of tribulation (such as the Gelyet invasion, or the 2800s), when it occurs to people that their troubles are due to laxity.

Many of the early Revaudo beylusú were legalists who believed that the nation, authorities and all, had strayed too far from correct practice. But the revival was embraced by dzuandesi who wanted to return not to the legalists’ regulations and prohibitions, but to the near-anarchic spiritual renewal of the Hermit Masters.

During the civil war the legalists tended to be royalists as well— the Dzuni in Rajjay were a particular hotbed. The radicalism of the revolution naturally favored the dzuandesi. But a new form of yunraudo soon developed as revolutionary methods became rigid formulas. The Prose Salon was opposed by the legalists, this time not on the grounds of laxity, but because it embraced dubious foreign ideas.

Darkness cults

The Masters spoke of illusion, but they did not go far enough. All this world is an illusion. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. Do you value your life? Why should you prolong being fooled?
—Bezu ma-Veon
Nothing stops a religion from getting a little crazy. Indeed, extreme views and practices are self-reinforcing: extremists are concerned to propagate their views; while moderates tend not to bother. Belief systems usually tell us to distrust common sense and to believe unlikely things— if they didn’t, after all, they’d just be collections of prejudices and truisms. By a compelling turn of illogic, then, the more unlikely the tenet, the more true it may seem to be. And once disciplines exist, someone will want to make them even more severe.

The Masters had many negative messages: against kings, against the gods, against prejudice, against arbitrary thought. Some later masters, collectively known as the xoren dzuséy ‘dark masters’, took this tendency farther, questioning common morality and even the tenets of Endajué. Some pursued magic, a study which discourages squeamishness and moral scruples. The authorities often persecuted the darkness cults; but under some circumstances, especially during the barbarian conquests, they achieved great popularity. When the world seemed given over to thugs, only the dark masters seemed to have the toughness to respond.

The most successful of the darkness cults— arguably a new religion— is Bezuxau (Ṭ. Bôsuzäbu) founded by the dzusey Bezu ma-Veon around 2670. Bezu attacked all existing systems equally— this world was entirely illusion, and there was no such thing as good and evil. The real, positive structure of the universe was revealed in pepec-induced trances; but this was strictly incommunicable; followers were forbidden from distorting their visions by attempting to reduce them to doctrine.

Bezu was named auliri ez dzuséy o gies, direct spiritual advistor to the emperor Aulinir II, and then chief minister. However, his views outraged the establishment, and more conventional dzuséy convinced Aulinir to have him arrested. He fled instead, finding refuge in the fortress of Šušumbör (X. Šumbeor) off the coast of Čeiy (2692). From here he assembled an army of devotees who advanced his political aims with assassination and other acts of terror; pepec was freely used to motivate the zealots.

Bezu’s criticism of the absolutist Xurnese state made him popular with dissidents and progressives, especially as he preached zeycuačudo, a concept which conflates absolute freedom, infinity, and immortality. As he supported Čeiyu independence, Bezuxau spread quickly in Čeiy (indeed, more so than Endajué, which had never appealed much to the Čeiyu).

Čeiy was independent by 2840, aided greatly by the Bôsužumi, the followers of Bezu. For over a century, though power nominally belonged to the restored Senate, the country was dominated by the shadowy masters of Šušumbör. A whispered hint from a minion of the Master was louder than the clamor of a hundred Senators; if that didn’t suffice, there was always open violence.

The influence of Bezuxau was one factor in the Čeiyu civil war (2940-61); Bezuxau was most popular in Tädda, the south. The north not only defeated the south; it used the new technology of black powder to destroy Šušumbör. This unleashed a wave of terrorism; but without their home base, the Bôsužumi lost most of their power.

Less anti-social forms of Bezuxau developed. Curiously, some of these merged with offshoots of Mešaism, creating a cynical, amoral, authoritarian religiosity which might seem contradictory if we did not have examples in our own culture.

The rationalists vs. the mystics

Write the book on spiderish inspection. We need this book in this country— we are asleep here. We have our revolutions, yes, but a revolution is nothing but tossing in one’s sleep. We are asleep and dreaming, and we must wake.
—Enirc (Diary of the Prose Wars)

Our capital of Inex is larger and more magnificent than Verduria... You may judge their refinement from their enjoyment of watercolor, the art of merchants’ children. Their social system is archaic— they are still ruled by nobles and kings; they restrict their women to their houses, and they still worship idols and animals. Many have admired their large ships, which are somehow supposed to be a sign of advanced, arcane knowledge. But if they are advanced, why are they eager to buy our manufactures?
—Uvimel of Yeš, a modern essayist

For centuries a dispute simmered between rationalists (dzuzerijú) and mystics (dzutorbesi). The rationalists maintained that Endajué required no leap of faith, and that all its doctrines derived from pure reason; the mystics insisted that mere thinking was worthless, and that enlightenment proceeded through vision, intuition, and discipline. Both sides claimed clear support from the Hermit Masters.

The dispute flared up during the Prose Wars. The rationalists championed the new scientific thinking; the mystics derided it as petty materialism, dangerously unspiritual, and damningly foreign. They allowed that perhaps things like celestial mechanics might be studied, but certainly not as an art form, much less anything related to religion.

Terrestrial readers have probably just taken sides. But parallels to our world should not be overemphasized. Endajué is not threatened by any scientific discovery: heliocentrism was a noncontroversial local invention; evolution does not dethrone a cosmology without gods; archeology or geology have not cast doubts on any old stories. Rational inquiry is familiar from the Čeiyu adversarial method, which even somewhat influenced Endajué. Some mystics dislike the new science, some consider it merely irrelevant to religion or a distraction from it.

In Xurno, there has been no movement away from Endajué: the science of the northern countries is now studied (though not as diligently as in Čeiy or Belšai), but their religions and political systems are still considered barbaric.

Caďinorian Endajué

Soa berda cel fsën duise fsën.
The Path between All leads to the All.
—ne-Duox (Verdurian translation)
Endajué being a universal religion, some beylusú have taken it on themselves to preach among the benighted foreigners, starting in the 2100s. There has been some interest in Gurdago, the Xoranas, and the Uṭandal states, more in Cuoli, and perhaps the most in southern Eretald and Sarnáe.

The chief difficulty for converts was, what do you do once the beylusu has moved on? There’s no local dzusnar, and not even a holy book to read. These problems were not addressed till the settling of Xazno in the 2600s. Dzusnari were established in Lepcer, Sarcer, Aránicer, and Liynnor, with support from Xerúy in Xazno; these were enough to create local converts who spread the religion further. Books and pamphlets were translated into Caďinor, still the local literary language. These in turn were used to establish a presence in Sarnáe in the 2700s.

Southern Eretald is very attached to its gods, and little progress was made among the peasants. Intellectuals and bourgeois were more interested, though even here Endajué ideas were often taken as an overlay rather than a replacement for Caďinorian ideas.

The pucigeseš proved hard to transplant; the people most attracted to Endajué were the least interested in processions, and few understood who exactly the xaučipeje were.

An enthusiasm for things Xurnese swept Verduria during the Eleďe dynasty in the 3200s, and resulted in a few converts as well as, again, many who adopted Endajué ideas without abandoning their own religions.

For reference, here are some key Endajué terms in Verdurian:

Xurnese Verdurian English
Endajué Andažuei Endajué
enda soa berda the Path
cauč soa lavísia dance
rum šweriju larže polfond greater principle
teyk šweriju tesny polfond lesser principle
overiludo istromeyá unillusion
jivirc prosec initiate
beylusu beluso enlightened
dzusey duisec teacher
dzusnar duisnáe seminary
reátuc uleta discipline
Jueši endi Berdî belgei Ways of War
xaleza haleza ideal warrior
Revaudo Revudo Revaudo
xamunar hamunáe salon
Bicikes Bisicés Academy
Bezuxau Behusa Bezuxau
pucigeseč pusigéč commemoration

Virtual Verduria Almean Belief Systems