21 Senessay (continued again)
When I wasn’t bitching about Sai Aleynten, I had all sorts of questions about the Eddon book. I stayed up far too late reading it, but aside from not wanting to give it to Terrael without finishing it, I was fascinated by it.
The short version: Eddon was a king of Castavir in the dark time after the disaster. The royal family still existed, but people were so busy scrounging for a living they didn’t have time for kings. Eddon had a vision—Okay. This is the part I didn’t understand. Eddon had a vision where he learned he was God and that he had a duty to make Castavir the greatest nation in the world. So he used his personal resources and what was left of the kingdom’s treasury to build an army and levy taxes. Then he used the taxes to build up the kingdom’s infrastructure, improve its economy and so forth, and by the time he died Castavir was the region’s economic powerhouse. Interesting, because in my world most rulers would interpret “greatest nation” to mean “the one with the biggest army.” So whatever else Eddon was, he was practical. And he taught his heir that he would become God, or at least God’s avatar on earth, as long as he was worthy to hold the throne.
Well, I suppose most of that makes sense. What didn’t make sense was that I couldn’t tell if the author of the book believed in Eddon’s godhood or not. So that was what I asked Terrael and Audryn. And they became really quiet and furtive, and Terrael started on this long and complicated explanation I couldn’t understand, until Audryn shushed him and said, “As far as anyone is concerned, as far as people will say, the God-Empress Renatha is God on earth. She certainly believes it. Whether that means she’s really God is more complicated. But no one would ever come out and deny her status.” And she gave me a very meaning look that I understood perfectly. It said, She’s not God, but who knows what she might do to someone who doubted that?
So now I know a little more about the ruler of the Castaviran Empire, but it only raises more questions. Like: Is her rule benevolent or despotic? How far is she willing to go to enforce her dicta? Is she as unstable as Audryn hinted at? How much power does she actually have, versus the power of the individual countries’ rulers? I’ve traveled in countries where the rule of law was overtaken by martial law, and it’s not pretty. I’m just happy it’s unlikely I’ll ever be in a position to care about what God-Empress Renatha does.
More I learned from the book: Another thing Eddon did was make Castavir welcoming to mages, who were hated and feared because of their role in the disaster. The book says they were blamed for things they hadn’t actually done, which suggests that the author was fairly sympathetic to mages himself. And of course I already knew about Audryn’s namesake founding the Darssan. Then there was the growth of the Empire. During Eddon’s time, Castavir absorbed a couple of smaller countries, but peacefully—they saw the benefits of being part of the Castaviran economy. Castavir conquered Helviran a century later, when one of Eddon’s successors realized that not having a seaport (Castavir is land-locked) was hurting them, and since Helviran had a history of killing off its mages, Castavir and its battle mages conquered them readily. Then much later there was a Castaviran Empress who wanted to conquer the whole world, and she managed to triple the Empire’s size before her death. Her successors weren’t so talented, and the Empire shrank back to almost its original size, with the addition of Endellavir and Viravon. The book was written about a hundred years ago, just after that conquest, so I had to ask Terrael and Audryn about what happened next, and they said Endellavir assimilated into the Empire very well, though it has a strong cultural tradition and all these holidays specific to Endellaviran history, but Viravon is this tiny, scrappy little place whose people still resent being annexed, and there are rebels there who fight the Empress and whom the army hasn’t been able to suppress. I think I like the Viravonians.
Let’s see, what else…I had some interaction with the mages in the other groups. Sovrin’s group had some very specific questions about the water-summoning pouvra, and we all went to the bathing room (her group is all women, I don’t know why) so we could take turns summoning water in our different ways. I asked them to show me how they draw th’an, and it turns out they all have fat writing tools they use to write on their boards. The th’an for summoning water is relatively simple, which means it’s still incredibly complex, but it’s fascinating—they use one of those fat writing tools to draw the th’an (I guess it’s actually a pair of th’an linked or overlaid on each other) and then the th’an disappears and a gallon of water appears in midair and splashes into the pool, or whatever they summon it over. The way the water from the th’an appears is identical to mine, though it turns out I have better control over how much I create (or summon from elsewhere, I don’t know exactly), so Sai Aleynten’s theory that my magic is the same as theirs, only done in a different way, might be true. They were disappointed that I couldn’t show them the water-summoning pouvra—I mean the shape I have to bend my will to in order to make things happen, not the effect—and I tried to draw it out for them, but it was too difficult to show the three-dimensional shape on a piece of paper.
There was something else that happened, something I didn’t tell them about. I had this feeling, looking at the th’an, that it was familiar somehow. As if I’d seen it before. But I know I’ve never seen th’an in my world, and though my first guess was that it was a visual representation of a pouvra, it was obvious the th’an wasn’t complex enough for that. Which, now that I think about it, is a little strange, considering I don’t think I’d ever be able to master their th’an, and yet pouvrin are more complex than that and—well, I wouldn’t say it’s easy to learn them, because it’s definitely not, but they make sense to me in a way th’an and kathanas don’t. I don’t know. I’m going to pay closer attention to the th’an they scribe and see if I can figure out why they seem familiar. I haven’t told anyone about this yet because I’d like to be certain of it first. I hate to look like a fool.
Something I should probably ask Sai Aleynten tomorrow morning is why some of their th’an vanish when they’ve been executed, and others, like the ones on the light baskets and the aeden, are permanent. I don’t know if it means anything, I’m just curious.
I’m going to read a little now, but I’m too tired for any real study. That will have to wait for tomorrow. I’m not even sure what pouvra this book hints at, which would be exciting if I weren’t about to fall asleep.