Shallice and Morband: Chapter 7

Paltrus followed Mr. Why once more, out the front door of the great house and into the forest.  He heard no music this time, for he was deep in thought.  He had just given his loyalty to the One, the leader of those against whom his forefathers had fought and thought of as simpletons who craved power through evil conquest.  Many times in his life, he had sworn an oath to give his loyalty to Dhelianos.  Now Paltrus began to feel ill in the pit of his stomach, knowing that today he had become an oathbreaker many times over.

“You were an oathbreaker before that,” said Mr. Why.  He had turned around and stopped in the forest.  Paltrus did not remember vocalizing his concerns.  He looked up at Mr. Why and saw the shade once again emphasizing a great strength.  “I am not hearing your thoughts,” continued Mr. Why, “but I saw your emotions in your face, and I remember the guilt that I felt upon that realization.  I felt shame in learning that my values had been wrong, but I have already sworn oaths, and I am scum for going back on my word, even if my oaths were misguided.  ‘Should I not continue to follow Dhelianos so that I do not break my word?’ I thought to myself.  Even the One would believe in keeping honor.

“But I learned something else.  By taking those oaths to Dhelianos, I was breaking another oath.  My oath to the One predates my oaths to Dhelianos.  It even predates my entrance into the temporal realm.  It was wrong to enter into those oaths to Dhelianos.  Yes, I am an oathbreaker.  I have taken opposing oaths.  There is nothing I can do to regain my honor.  But there is something that the One can do to restore my honor to me, and he has broken my oath to Morbannius for me, and done the work that I cannot do.  Now I hold my first oath: My oath to the One.”

“Many of the things that I now know to be true,” said Paltrus, “would frighten and worry those whom I love at home.  We considered such things to be not only nonsense but obvious nonsense.  We thought of it to be cultish stupidity.  We thought of people who began to believe such things to be ill.  We thought of them as sheep, too stupid and gullible to have any real wisdom or even basic understanding, who allowed themselves to be led around thoughtlessly to no end.”

“Many people who have been shown what you have just seen continue to believe such things about us.  In fact, they often believe it more strongly after being shown this, and look at us with even more incredulity than before.  And this is far from the first time that I’ve heard Northerners try to associate us with the religion of the Eastern Barbarians.  Rest assured, we are not cultish, as you can now plainly see.

“As for the sheep accusation,” concluded Mr. Why, “We are very thankful to have a Good Shepherd.  But do not think that that means we do not study His every move.”

Paltrus and Mr. Why now continued down the forest path, now side-by-side instead of Paltrus behind.  They exited the forest and reentered the one-story, ceilingless, gated building by which they first entered the forest.

As they walked down one of the hallways, Paltrus looked into the rooms they passed by between the bars of the gates, and in one room he saw a woman so beautiful that he stopped moving, and Mr. Why stopped with him.  The woman was standing in front of a bookcase and writing in an open book in her hands.  She turned and smiled at Paltrus, then looked back at her book and continued writing.

“Who is that?” said Paltrus.

“There are some that call her Venus,” said Mr. Why.  “But those who call her that misunderstand a great deal about her.  We call her Listhunia.  She is one of the Firstborn who did not betray the One, whereas Morbannius is one of the Firstborn who did betray Him.  She governs love and beauty, and she oversees that love which is reserved for a man and his wife.”

“What book is that in which she is writing?”

“Someone’s diary.”

Paltrus looked for a little while longer before saying, “May we stop and speak to her?  I have many questions she may be able to answer.”

“I am sorry, but we cannot.”

Paltrus was surprised to hear this, and he turned to Mr. Why, not having to even ask him the question before he said, “Our work is to be done alone, save for the One and each other.  In some ways we are more fortunate in that.  In other ways we are less fortunate.”

Paltrus looked back at Listhunia.  She had put the diary in which she was writing into the bookcase and was searching for another book that she could not seem to find.  Finally, she turned back around and looked at Paltrus, and he could see tears on her face.

“Like us, it sometimes pains her to do what she knows is right.  But she will do it.  That is why we have not heard her voice.”

Paltrus continued to look into the room.  Listhunia wiped her tears and took another book from the bookcase.  She opened the book, took her pen, and began to write.

“Is it wrong of me to look into this room?”

“No, not at all.  It would be wrong for you to enter, and I know that you will not do it.”

“No, I will not.  I would be frightened to do anything against her conscience.”

“You might be surprised at how many have no such fear.”

Paltrus began to move away, and Mr. Why with him.

“There is more for you to learn, and more for you to see,” said Mr. Why.  He then led Paltrus through a gate and into a room.  He sat on one side of a large wooden desk and motioned for Paltrus to sit on the other.

“Listhunia also works with another, Tyerias, to oversee the love between parents and their children,” said Mr. Why.  “They work very well together, because the love that two parents have for their children is a natural extension of the love that they have for each other.

“There are many like her that oversee various realms of the created world.  Moscannis, who is sometimes mistakenly called Jupiter, oversees the physical parts of the created world.  The One Himself set forth the rules to govern the physical world, and Moscannis’ most wise decision was to make those rules into laws which do not change anywhere in Extension or Time.”

“The One has so much power.  It seems that He could do all of that Himself with no effort at all.  He would probably have more success, as well.”

“That is true.  In fact, the word ‘effort’ itself takes on a very different and much more meaningful definition when applied to the One.”

“Then why does He give such important duties to lesser deities?”

Mr. Why paused for a moment and pondered the question.

“There are many things about your question that are not quite right.  It is to be expected that you err, but that fact does not nullify the error.

“At any rate, these are not deities.  They are Overseers.  They were created long before we were and have a great deal more power than we do, but nevertheless they are created beings, just as we are.  Secondly, it is not quite right to say that they are lesser beings.  Nor would it be right to say that they are greater beings or equal beings.  The very idea of ‘value’ does not apply to them.  When applied to living beings, such descriptions are only fitting in describing the unclaimed fallen.  Even then only the One has the knowledge to say who is greater and who is lesser, but the greatest among them is still lacking that which is necessary.”

“What is necessary?”

“For them?  Redemption.  And only the One can give it to them, for they have not the power to redeem themselves.  For the Overseers who never turned away, that which is necessary is that which is a very part of their being: The One.  ‘Redemption,’ for the claimed fallen among us, the Secondborn, concludes with the restoration of that part of our being.

“Now, the heart of your question was not invalid.  You can now see that it would have been correctly stated as ‘Why does the One delegate important duties to Overseers if He can do it Himself with no effort at all?’  The answer is that He does so for the same reason He calls us to be with Him.  He does not require our presence, but He desires our presence and wants to become a part of each of us by creating a relationship with us and by enriching that relationship with interaction.  We cannot even begin to know how many creatures, maybe in other worlds even, that he creates with this in mind, but I would imagine that He never stops creating new creatures with this in mind, nor does He stop enriching the relationships of many of those He has already created.”

Paltrus was beginning to see that this conversation was beginning to be quite different from the previous ones.  “I have not heard you speak of desire before now in such a way,” he said.

“I suppose not, but it is still something that I would naturally speak of.  Desire, as well as the rest of the realm of emotion, is a part of both temporal and eternal reality.  To look at the whole of Existence, even to look at it emotionlessly, which is often beneficial, is to include the presence and the causes and the effects of emotion.  A truly reasonable person must recognize emotion in some sense or another, even if reason lacks passion while observing it.”

Mr. Why then continued his description.

“The Overseers are much the same as we are.  He has created them, and given them these duties to enrich His relationship with them.  It is very similar to the way in which a parent may assign chores to a child.  The parent does not do it because he does not wish to do the chores himself.  In fact, oftentimes the parent sacrifices a great deal by having the child do these chores, because the child cannot do them adequately.  The parent assigns these chores knowing full well that he himself will likely need to repair the damage done by the child.  The parent assigns the chores because he wants the child to grow, and he wants the relationship between the two of them to grow.”

“But I suppose that the Overseers do not have any failings in their tasks?” said Paltrus.  “Then the One does not need to correct any of their mistakes?  I don’t suppose He would assign such an important task to an Overseer should He know they would fail.”

Visibly surprised, Mr. Why said, “That is a very large leap.  Of course they made mistakes.  Their mistakes were of an extraordinarily different nature and impact than the mistakes of a Secondborn child, but they were still mistakes.  Their mistakes differed from ours in that they never originated from the naïveté of a child, but always the rebellion of a child, whereas ours originate from both.  The One told you of the one whom was assigned to govern temporality, did He not?”

Paltrus thought of this a moment, and he remembered the timeline.  Mr. Why continued.

“He was given a responsibility that had dominion over most of the other realms that govern the Secondborn: the physical, the emotional, and a great deal of others.  Only the realms of the logical were outside of its dominion, because they were realms that the One governed directly, and still does to this day.  When the temporal realm was in harmony, it was ruled by an Overseer named Itera.  The same people that use the names Venus and Jupiter called him Chronus, but in their lack of understanding did not realize that he was the same as he whom they called Prometheus.  Itera turned from the One and His purposes and destroyed a small part of temporality before the One prevented him from laying waste to it all.  The effects were devastating to the realms within its dominion, and some of the Overseers embraced the destruction rather than resisting.  Many realms were completely destroyed, and those of us who were Secondborn, who depended upon those realms, lost many things that were precious to us.  These are things that we cannot even begin to imagine now, as a man blind from birth cannot begin to imagine sight.  Indeed, the number of physical senses possessed by the Secondborn was reduced to five basic senses and a small number of minor senses.  Other realms, such as the temporal realm itself, were damaged but not destroyed.  The Overseers that remained loyal to the One now spent their time trying to maintain their realms amidst the chaos.

“Itera then ceased to be whom he had been, and became Morbannius, whom your people call Dhelianos and often revere for his supposed wisdom.  Morbannius and those who embraced his destructive ideals were stripped of their Overseer status, and they were cast away.”

“What became of them after that?”

“They became mostly nothing.  That was the beginning of Un.  The remaining Overseers now maintain what they can in their realms, awaiting their restoration.”

Paltrus thought of this, then asked, “Itera ruled the temporal realm, but it seems that his actions must have been performed in the passage of time, is that right?”

“Yes, that’s very perceptive of you.  But it would be more correct to say ‘a passage of time,’ not ‘the passage of time.’  The Firstborn dwell within a temporal realm themselves; otherwise the rebellion would not have been possible, as you said.  But it is a radically different sort of temporality than that which we experience here in Extension.  Their temporality is based upon different and fewer principles and is independent of space.”

“Does that have anything to do with why you have said nothing of the ‘claimed fallen’ of the Firstborn?” said Paltrus.

“Yes,” said Mr. Why.  “And I am quite impressed that you see that so quickly.”

Mr. Why stood from his chair.  “Now,” he said, “it is time to return to the cave to release the other prisoners.”

“Arrburdak?” said Paltrus.

“Yes, as well as the other parts of the Unknown Lands.  Follow me.”

Mr. Why began to leave the room by turning a corner opposite of the door by which they had entered.  Paltrus followed around the corner and through an open gate leading outdoors.  There, he saw a military’s horse stable, where many knights adorned in armor were tending to their horses as if they were preparing to depart.  Among these knights, Paltrus noticed Wolvus and Pantheus.

“Therefore,” Wolvus began to say, continuing the conversation he was having with Pantheus before Paltrus entered the stable, “if we define division of any number a by x as the multiplication of that number, a, by the multiplicative inverse of x–”

“Which we already do for any meaningful definition of division,” said Pantheus.

“Correct, we do– Then we have that zero multiplied by b will result in one.”

“But, we have already demonstrated that any number multiplied by the additive identity zero will result in zero in any ring.”

“Correct.”

“But, then, b cannot be a member of a ring.”

“Yes, correct.”

“Then nonsense numbers do not make a ring, and most certainly do not make a field.”

“Yes!”

“Then there is very little, if any, meaningful algebra in these nonsense numbers!”

“That is why they are called nonsense numbers!”

The two men roared with laughter and Paltrus continued to follow Mr. Why into the stable.

Chapter 8

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