Posted: June 28, 2017 in 1. Norasburg, Rears Its Ugly Head, Tall Tales
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Welsley rubbed at her eyes. She had spent all her waking hours digging through the tower’s archives in her search for the elusive name of the ruined thirteenth tower. Welsley, Morah and their four companions had sifted through what felt like an endless pile of scrolls and tomes. The handwritten manuscripts varied in legibility from almost an unreadable scribble to nearly perfect lettering. Some of the pages had darkened almost to brown, some of the ink had faded nearly completely. It strained their eyes and slowed their progress to a crawl.

Except for her daily trip to the tower’s baths she had barely left the dry, dusty confines of the archives. She ate all her meals there and even had a small bed set up in a corner for when she was too exhausted to continue her research. She would drop herself into the pile of blankets and pillows and awake to go directly back to her quest. She focused on deciphering faded text and poor penmanship and left Morah to administer to the daily drudgery of the tower.

Delving into the records for Norasburg had yielded no name for the thirteenth tower, there was little mention of any community outside of Norasburg. There was good reason for that.

The initial rise of the Goddess was not as peaceful as they taught in schools. The written histories from the tower’s initial Lights described less of a common sense revolution and read more like a bloody coup. Welsley could remember being taught of the irrational violence the male was prone to and how the Goddess came and brought peace to the land by removing the males from power and replacing them with women. Women nurtured and built, men could only destroy.

Here she had documents in the Lights’ own handwriting that contradicted that teaching. There were numerous tales of executions, floggings and public massacres of any group that so much as looked at one of the faithful “wrong.” It spoke to an attempt to consolidate power rather than bring enlightenment to a people. The violence committed by the initial faithful was equal to that committed by the men of prehistory. Violence seemed to be the only tool used to claim power over others. If it had been this bad in Norasburg, Welsley had no doubt it would have been worse at the other towers.

This consolidation of power went on through the first six generations of Guiding Lights. Each one dealt with uprisings and protests in the same brutal fashion. The spilling of blood was the only response to any questioning of their authority, divine as it was. As the population’s memory of the brutality faded the myth of a peaceful enlightenment was created and repeated for centuries until it was accepted as fact.

There were still remnants from these days around if you knew what to look for. Every tower kept a standing force of men to ensure the people’s safety, this despite there being no conflict with any neighbours in many lifetimes. The faithful were quick to condemn men for their baser impulses but more than happy to use these same men as disposable pawns on the battlefield. Welsley could remember being regaled with the exploits of dozens of sister-warriors but not a single tale of male heroics came to mind. A woman’s memory of an event was taken as gospel while a man’s recollection was questioned on every detail.

And yet Welsley had just spent days reading testimonials from the Goddess’ chosen ones that contradicted what she had been taught about the nation’s birth, what countless generations had been taught.

None of this came as a surprise to Welsley, she had long suspected the Goddess was less about divinity and more about power. The division of society along the line of gender was a useful tool to distract from the grab for power, the drive for dominance and control. The revelations from the first Lights convinced her that her appointment was a result of coin changing hands and not divine selection.

Welsley raised her arms above her head and yawned. The information was dry, the writing tedious. It was interesting from an historical, even a political, view but had no connection to her search. These events had occurred centuries ago, whether influenced by a deity or a lust for power made no difference to today’s world. The Guiding Lights ruled by Her will and no revelations about past violence was likely to change that.

It did open up questions about the council of Guiding Lights.

How many believed in the Goddess? In Her words? How deeply did their belief go? How many saw the Goddess as solely a way to wealth and power?

Her predecessor, Light Amoren, had been a true believer. Welsley was sure of this, the faithful of Norasburg described a woman of unwavering faith. Amoren had lived and breathed the word of the Goddess. Light Amoren had devoted her life to studying the scriptures, to wrestling with the nuances of Her word. She had ruled Norasburg with a pious, iron fist; a reputation that had reached Welsley while she still served in Marton.

Welsley found the scriptures to be preachy. Philosophy was best discussed late at night over a bottle of chilled wine. There needed to be freedom and flexibility to life, punishing a man for the use of a poorly chosen phrase went against all she believed in. Wisdom was found in the study of the past, of histories, fables and myths. Divine laws were dangerous, used more often as a tool of subjugation rather than a path to freedom.

There would be others on the council who had similar views toward the Goddess or Welsley would never have been appointed. The better question might be how someone like Light Amoren might have been chosen.

“Your lunch, Your Eminence,” Morah interrupted her thoughts. Platters of various fruits and vegetables had been placed on a table with pitchers of water and fruit juices. There was enough to feed all the researchers, Morah had outdone herself as usual.

“How do you always know when I need to eat, Morah?” Welsley asked.

“It’s nothing special, Your Eminence,” Morah replied, “just a little magic.”

They shared a laugh as they all sat down to eat. A week ago they would not have been able to do that, Welsley’s companions were far too anxious in her presence. Spending a week with their noses buried in parchment had eroded that anxiety. They now joked, gossiped and waxed philosophical with each other throughout the day. It was a casualness that was new to the Illuminated, an approach Light Amoren would not have allowed to develop.

“Have you had any luck finding the name?” Morah asked between bites.

“Not in my era,” Welsley answered. Negative shakes of the head were the only reply from the other women around the table.

“Ravensbrook,” a strange voice announced from the doorway. “The name you are looking for is Ravensbrook.”


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