The first part of Tri-star I created was their god, Mayen. Like most things, I went in half-cocked, and it shows. Still, it created a sort of impromptu religion that would extend to all three Stars, Tau Ceti, Sol, and Gliese. They all believe in Mayen, and by all means Mayen’s power is real.
Still, god being real wouldn’t stop people from having different versions of scripture, especially when they have been divided by vast distances of space. So I imagined for this story, a council of Nicea for the faith of Mayen.
Then I regretted that immediately. I tried to finish this last week, and could barely squeak out 3 pages over a week. Something wasn’t right, and it still isn’t. I still wanted to finish though, and so I fought through it this week, and here is the final product.
“Quiet, friends,” Luka shouted, “can I please have quiet!”
He felt like his smock was trying to suffocate him. All the eyes in the room focused down on him at the podium. Even without him saying a word, he could tell they were questioning him. This whole meeting was built on disagreement, nearly fifty men and women crammed in together, many more in the libraries and study halls adjoining. The great reliquarium was busier than ever. It was Luka’s task, his duty as its administrator, to run this meeting of faiths.
“I know you are all anxious to begin,” Luka said as he squeezed one hand under the other on the podium, “I too am excited for what we may learn today.”
An unintelligible jeer came from the back of the room. The tone sounded like a Glie, those massive horned men that still disturbed Luka at night. They were too close to a man’s nightmares, powerful, boisterous, aberrations growing from their skulls. Still, when they made up a third of the room, it was best to keep his fears quiet and go where Mayen’s teachings lead him.
Others started to murmur, some in the Glie tongue he heard so often now, still others in dialects from the nations he knew well.
Luka put a hand up, “Friends, we are here because of something all our peoples recognized when we first met across the terrifying raw. It didn’t matter what what languages we spoke, it didn’t matter how different we looked, or how we lived, we all praise a god that is one and the same. You all speak for those who follow Mayen. This is no coincidence, in our faith to Mayen, we are all brothers and sisters. That’s why you answered my call today.”
At least that is what Luka hoped. As the whispers rose again, he thought about what he did know, what he was sure of. When he first got access to foreign scripture, he was afraid. It always came untranslated, and trying to pick it apart himself was time consuming and inaccurate. But one problem rose to the surface, their faiths were as different as they were similar. It posed a problem that he couldn’t solve with prayer and some research. As he spoke with others around the nations, through letters and meetings face to face, he realized the best solution was to bring them all together, Sol, Gliese, and Ceti. It was easier said than done.
“We all worship Mayen, and some aspects of him are the same across no matter who worships him. He fought against the raw nothingness, he created our worlds and us with them, but the differences are just as profound.”
Luka reached under the podium and brought out a large book of old murals. He opened it to a marked page, and turned it to the crowd.
“To the majority of Sol, Mayen is the liberator,” He said as he pointed to a painting of the Old Tyrants, “when the world was first created, kings rose to rule over us all. They took the world, from coast to coast, and they abused the beauty that Mayen gave them. He watched, and let them build their towers and castles dedicated to their own power, until he could not ignore the screams of the meek. He went to the tyrants, and he asked them to relinquish what was never theirs. When they refused, they came to blows, Mayen freeing the people of Sol man by man, until the Tyrants were all defeated.”
It was the short version of just one story, but it was the story. Every child heard of Mayen and the Old Tyrants, it is how Sol was created, how the continents were crafted, how men came to be free, and why the old Spinder had to die. Luka loved the story as a kid, it was exciting, especially the long form that detailed the battles between Mayen and the three Tyrants.
Luka could see the dissent in the eyes of those in front of him. It wasn’t just the foreigners, men from other stars, but even some of his own. The story was hard to lock down. Were there three tyrants, or four? Was Mayen one of the tyrants? He kept his rendition short, so even those with complaints would be hard pressed to bring them forward.
“This is our story, in short,” Luka said, moving aside from the podium, “But I know that among you, there are different versions of our god. Now is the time to hear it.”
The voices rose again, and for a moment Luka was afraid that no one would answer his request. There was always that chance, that they would simply retreat into their arguments, voices bouncing off the walls until they marched out of the room.
Then a man rose in the seats, and held his hand up. The others from Gliese went silent, and soon the room followed. He walked forward, and Luka could immediately see why he was the one who would speak.
He had horns like a great buck, they twisted up from his head, branching out far enough that Luka wondered how he navigated doorways. His eyes were a brilliant green that stunned Luka with a glance. His clothing was fine spun, with what looked like precious silver and gold on the fringes.
“I am Toth Goldbranch,” The man said to the crowd, “Many of you know me. Some of you in person, others through letters and word of mouth.”
Luka stepped further back from the podium and listened to Toth speak. The man clearly had a way with words, and the respect of his people. Still, it always surprised Luka the level of wealth owned by the voices of Mayen among the Glie. They had no shame in showing it either, they wore trinkets and rings, and glimmered in the light. Often they had branched horns, but Luka didn’t know if that was related.
“Among my people, Mayen takes on a different face. We don’t have grand books dedicated to him, though I respect your works of art. Instead, Mayen is respected in grand tales, and just as often, song. The song of Mayen, our greatest poem, is the lifeblood of the kingdoms.”
Luka was thankful Toth avoided calling their government what it was, an empire. When talking with other Solites, Luka could feel the disgust when Glie talked about their ‘empire’ under the branched crown.
Toth cleared his throat, and then spoke again with a musical note. It wasn’t singing, just sing-song, a tone that said this was from memory, ancient and exact.
“We were yours once, Mayen. You wore our horns, and sang our song. You felt us in you, even then. You broke your horns, and bled us out. The land was your scars, mountains of scabs, and rivers of red. We rose in your image, your branch, your coil, your curve, and more. We served you once, Mayen. We bowed at your feet, built mighty towers to your crown, and relished in your praise. We were children, and took your every word as law.”
Luka nodded, he could see the similarities. If he had the text in front of him, there was even the possibility he could find the confusion between the Solite texts, and the Glie stories. But he had tried this before, and most of the tales of the Glie were kept oral, as a tradition. He took down what he could, but they insisted on keeping the tales away from pen and parchment.
“But we were foolish youths, and one of the tribes wished for godhood as well. They crowned their own king, and they took their own land. They built their own towers, and they called Mayen coward. Armies joined them, or died, and through this Mayen stayed quiet. They marched to him, blades at the ready, standing behind the Coilhorned king…”
An uproar began, and Luka was snapped back to reality. The other Glie, they were nearly at blows in the audience, holding each other at arms length and shouting in their own language.
“Whoa brothers!” Luka said as he raced to the podium, standing beside Toth, “Please, let him finish. Whatever the disagreement is, we can discuss it after.”
One of the Glie with spiraling horns forced himself toward the front, pushing others behind him, “He would spread his lies even here!” He shouted.
Luka looked to Toth, and saw that the speaker’s face was passive. Still, something was just below the surface there, a compressed aggression. Luka turned back to the crowd, and put his hands up.
“Please,” Luka shouted, “Can we just have peace? We will make it nowhere if we fight each other instead of listening. We will hear many different versions before our work is done.”
Toth stepped forward, and spoke with a voice that dwarfed Luka’s, “I take back my words, brothers. It was a slip of the tongue.”
His apology spread through the room, and everyone headed back to their seats and tables. Toth nodded to Luka, and after a moment’s hesitation, he backed away from the podium again.
“There isn’t much left to say, I’m afraid,” Toth said, “We struck Mayen, and Mayen’s blood struck back. He struck with black claws, the power of the raw. He smote our king, and shattered the land that once was. For a time, we learned a lesson only tragedy could teach.”
Toth spoke with a flourish, and then bowed. It seemed with that small addition, he was finished.
Luka could still hear the murmuring in the crowd as Toth returned to his seat, but the horned men were still not at rest. In reality, he didn’t know how to calm them because he couldn’t understand what had roused them. He could tell it was some part of the Mayen tale, but the history wasn’t his. The coilhorned king, that was what made them angry, and Luka could already imagine the different tribesman blaming the others for their downfall before time.
To Luka, the chance that their story was the literal truth ended at his own lack of horns.
Then Luka noticed a woman and man walking to the front. They both wore the simplistic brown robes of the Ceti, their skin nearly matching in texture and color. They didn’t say a word as they came to the podium, but Luka stepped away regardless.
Only three Ceti came to his gathering. Of the worlds, they were most resistant to his idea. Ceti was ‘of one mind’, on their faith to Mayen. That was the message he received again and again in reply to his letters. They didn’t want to talk to him, they saw no reason to question the lord chief.
The three who came were a surprise to him. He tried to reach out to the growing radical element within the Ceti, but not even they would attend. As far as he could tell, these Ceti were from the main tribes, which meant to Luka that they spoke for the lord chief as well.
They stood at the front podium, and the female Ceti reached into a side bag.
“We come to tell you the truth of Mayen, the deliverer,” She said, her Sol still rough, “for we have listened, and you could not be more wrong.”
Her language was a little harsh, but he could blame that on their lack of exposure to their tongue. The fact she was speaking Sol at all was impressive, with how little trade the Ceti allowed.
She pulled a statue from her bag, and the room erupted in bright light. Luka winced, and heard screams of panic from across the room. Even blocking his vision, he could barely look in the direction of the podium, and he could barely make out others hiding behind their tables.
The Ceti was yelling over the screams, “Mayen built paradise,” She shouted, “Mayen built the Ceti, and his brothers built others. But Mayen was the strongest, and when his brothers saw his great works, they poisoned the Ceti. For their folly, Mayen banished his brothers, and their creations, from paradise. But it was too late, the Ceti were now weak, and unfit for paradise. So we seek it, forever under Mayen’s eye, and hoping to find the home we deserve.”
The statue’s light had died down, and Luka could see now that it was a statue of a god, arms out and welcoming, a wreath of light around it. The statue seemed to be made of a glowing metal, he recognized the material from one of his studies when he first entered the church. They called it, Ichorite, Mayen metal, the blood of god. It was rare to see even a sliver, and here the Ceti had a small statue.
“So now you see,” The Ceti said, “You’re just another abomination, and an obstacle to our deliverance.”
The room burst into chaos. It started with shouted accusations, then a Glie threw a punch at his own, then someone charged the podium. There was nothing else to learn here, not today.
Now Luka saw the flaw in his plan. Yes, they all worshipped Mayen, and they all saw him as god. What he did not realize until it was too late was the danger of telling, no showing, a people that there was no chance they were the chosen ones.
Mayen had either made them all, or had just made one. Either all their legends were wrong, or they were now neighbors to monsters.
Luka backed away from the arguments as they grew to a peak. He had to think, and he couldn’t split his mind between breaking up the frustrations in front of him and breaking apart the puzzle in his mind.
Still, one matter was growing plain to him. After listening to the three stories, which were just small pieces of greater lore that had grown among three great peoples over generations, something was plain.
Mayen was not guiding them. If the great god was still out there, alive, and speaking to his children, how could their stories have grown so radically different? Luka knew men who had vivid dreams of speaking to Mayen, or wrote new verses in fever fits. He either had to believe this was unique to Sol, or admit that the Ceti and Glie had felt the same in kind. Mayen was silent, and they were in this fight alone.
He watched as holy men and women brawled in front of him, spitting curses he would expect from soldiers on the battlefield. No, they weren’t alone. They had each other, and Mayen’s power was still in the land, and moreso in them, his greatest creation.