The Fights Left Behind

Chapter Four

I could tell something was bothering Master Lossurp.  While he was the odd member of our group, Krachern and I did not ostracize him.  We were actually glad to have his company, and the young man had qualities that made his presence a positive addition to our lives.  He stayed unusually quiet as we ate however, so I waited for Master Lossurp to say what was bothering him.

"Sha Inchell?"  When I responded, he asked, "Doesn't the people here have to worship at least one of their gods?"

I actually waited for Krachern to speak.  He actually was the authority, especially since this was his world.  After a moment of silence, I accepted that Master Lossurp had directed his question to me.

"Let me first state that a casual worship of a deity is no worship at all.  You should have seen that, Master Lossurp.  Princess Jelnaya, Honored Makinor, and Grace Bechorei were all strong advocates for their deities.  While divine champions, so definite ambassadors for their gods, they are still the bar for others to aspire to.  Remember what Princess Jelnaya kept saying to you.  She kept telling us to commit.  Well, that is the message for those turning to the gods to understand.  You either commit or fall short."

Now Krachern felt able to speak.  "Some say it is simply honest to not worship at all if they are not willing to commit.  That is stressed by what you heard us say of our religion.  The actual tales are so unreliable in authenticity that it takes complete devotion to truly claim to worship one of our gods.  Inchell is correct.  Jelnaya would tell you to commit.  Most of our priests will tell you to commit.  Honestly, though, most of us don't."

Master Lossurp looked at Krachern to say, "But you have seen so much."

"But I have not seen any evidence of our gods.  None.  I have seen some fantastic things.  That is true.  I have convinced others to accept that some fantastic things are real.  I however have not seen or sought to have others accept any evidence of the deities of this world."

"But you have spent time with Honored Duchess Jelnaya.  You have traveled on this mission with Honored Makinor.  You met Grace Bechorei."

"You are phrasing your accusation improperly, Master Lossurp.  I will try and work with you on that."  I believe he paused to see if the young man would allow a change of topic, but seeing the eyes continue to glare at him Krachern continued.  "Now, as to your accusation I would counter that they are evidence of gods existing, being active presences, on their worlds.  That does not mean every world, or specifically this one, has active divine presences.  Let me further propose that the literature we have say what deities we claim to have are as false as Yenostron on your world."

I did not like the expression that came to Master Lossurp's face, so to help him I said, "Remember what Princess Jelnaya told you, Master Lossurp.  She told you to commit.  Well, that is what you, Krachern, anyone will have to do.  It does not matter what world you are from, or what the evidence says about the gods.  Some people prostrate themselves before rocks and trees.  In all cases you however have to commit to your perception of the divine, and in many cases you simply have to hope your faith is in something actually existing."

There was some satisfaction in seeing the countenance of the young man settle into the face of someone attempting to determine his own thoughts, and I could not help but smile when he focused on the other man.  "Doctor Krachern, are you saying that you do not believe in any of your gods?  You have to believe in something."

For a moment I wondered how Krachern would respond, but a smile stayed on my face seeing him dig into a pocket to take out a medallion.  "For the record, Master Lossurp, you are correct.  To have gone where I have gone and seen what I have seen, I have to believe in something.  Thessadori, the only female in our pantheon, is who I give honor and respect to.  One of the reasons Inchell is not troubling me is that she worships a female deity as well.  What Inchell has in Munulva that I do not have with Thessadori is conclusive proof of the divine presence.  I want to go to Davelda simply to see that evidence."

"You went before the presence of Jemaloran."

"So you also have evidence of your deity existing.  If you ever fail in your devotion to Him, the sin is surely doubled for you.  I don't have that, Master Lossurp.  Excuse me if my devotion is a little lacking."

"Honored Duchess Jelnaya would still tell you to commit."

"Then do me the honor of judging me, Master Lossurp.  Listen to our myths, then tell me if you would commit to Thessadori, or any of the other three."

Hearing a moment of silence, I interjected, "You don't have to do that, Master Lossurp."

The young man replied, "My God was nice.  I was going to listen to them anyway, but I will honor Doctor Krachern.  I will see if what is available for people here to recognize their gods is sufficient in my opinion."

I had to softly say, "Go easy on him, Krachern."

He replied, "Me?  Dear lady, I watched Master Lossurp just as you did.  He was right there with us.  Master Lossurp gained the honor of Jelnaya.  That is not just some token he has, but he earned that coin.  When I issued the challenge I fully accepted that it might be me suffering from being shown the errors of my ways."

Master Lossurp said, "Even if the stories are less than good evidence, you still must commit."

"With those words I am issuing a second challenge to you.  Vedicran, Kashord, any of the demi-gods would work for me.  Give me evidence.  If you do that, Master Lossurp, you will put me on the same level as you.  You have undeniable proof of Jemaloran existing.  Give me the same, and we can talk as equals, at least on divine topics."

When I saw the eyes of the young man turn to me, I said, "You cannot take the conversation any further, Master Lossurp.  You need to listen to the stories.  Krachern however needs to spend his time going over his material.  I thus should have some peace and quiet while the two of you prepare."

Krachern had to ask, "Is that what you want?  Peace and quiet?"

"Trust me.  After centuries of being in my rut on Davelda, I'm used to it."

Once back in the apartment I did not get the complete peace and quiet I was used to, but I told myself I had it better.  I just knew there were others in the living space with me.  Both were however not just honorable men, but active in their tasks to the point of being completely absorbed in what they were doing.  Instead of relegating the time to my periods of being able to enjoy my apartment, I felt as if given a cozy assignment with my team members focused on assuring their part of the mission would go smoothly.

Unsure of the capacity of the cartridges given to Master Lossurp, I accepted he had enough material to keep him occupied.  He did come out of his room to get something to eat or drink, but in those periods he really did not speak of what he was hearing.  It took me directly asking him about the stories to get him to pause, but then he took off to his room only to return with a notebook.  When he set it down in front of me, I felt he needed some advice on the material he presented to me.

"I can read it, Master Lossurp.  I was on your world for some time and learned your language.  Krachern however probably cannot."

He nodded while saying, "Which means I need to wait until he is done with his lectures.  Still, I am getting my thoughts together on what points to make to him and how to support my opinions."

Scanning what he had, I felt the need to say, "You seem to believe that the gods here are not isolated as Jemaloran was."

"The stories make them rather accessible.  I am getting the impression that having interactions with the demi-gods, and probably the gods as well, is not strange at all.  What is strange, or what is wrong with the modern society, is that they simply are refusing to accept that they are really in the presence of the divine."

"What I would suggest, Master Lossurp, is that you visit a church.  See if the clergy have the skepticism of the people, or if they are trying to present the message of their divine beings truly being a part of their creation."

"That does sound like a good idea, Sha Inchell.  The first lecture is not until tomorrow.  Would you go with me?"

Feeling Krachern probably also felt the presence of others keeping him from the comfort of true peace and quiet as he worked, I told Master Lossurp that I would be glad to join him.  I did bother Krachern to ask if he wanted us to get something while we were out.  He mentioned coming back with food or with the attitude of cooking a meal, and accepting my place as the one not actually involved in any tasks I assured him that I would consider what we might eat.  Feeling all was well, I then left Krachern to the peace and quiet of his apartment.

It took Master Lossurp and me by surprise to learn there were various denominations of churches presenting differing interpretations of the tales.  The religions were not separated by deity, as was true for Jelnaya's world, but there seemed to be certain philosophical threads in the myths that certain religious groups proposed as having the proper perspective of interpreting them.  As Master Lossurp and I stood before the sign identifying one church, it took us by surprise to find the one we had earlier met, who identified himself as Kashord, next to us.

Seeing us look at him, he said, "They're wrong.  I would not go to them."

I replied, "Our question is whether they present the divine presences as actually being real.  Skepticism among the people is one thing.  To have it in the priesthood is another."

"They don't care whether we exist or not.  Their arguments do not need any proof.  The fact actual substance is available to support or challenge their claims does not bother them.  They would argue their points, and do argue their points, whether there is evidence or not."

Master Lossurp asked, "Are you speaking about the priests or the people?"

"I am speaking of any with religious intentions.  It seems the philosophies are what is treated as being of worth.  The people of this world could have the direct confrontation you experienced with your God, and not understand its significance the way you have."

"But surely they want answers."

"When the argument is considered important, the answers are not wanted."

I had to comment, "Those of us of Davelda never fell that deep.  While we came to doubt our Goddess being active in our lives, we trusted in Her influence.  When we had the direct recorded evidence of Her existing, we all accepted things about Her that were in the holy text.  Our religion has changed to present Her teachings as not just important to some ideal state of existence but actually applying to life as we know it."

"Well, don't worry about this world.  We are working on it.  Krachern has helped.  Not only his time as a horse person, but what he has brought back has done well to get the people to realize that there is something more than what they consider reality, and answers to most questions are available.  What he has seen however has challenged his perspective, and that is good – for him.  Take him away.  What more he might see will only help him."

Master Lossurp said, "He has lectures, then Vedicran is supposed to meet with me."

"What I am telling you is to go away whether you accept her proposal or not.  The fight here is not your fight."

I assured Kashord, "We plan to leave for Davelda after the lectures, then we have another destination.  After that we are unsure, so we will consider what Vedicran proposes."

"That is all that will be asked of you.  Go back and relax, as the lectures can get taxing."

And Vedicran does make another appearance.