“1 It was in the city of Deśian where Paiman was betrayed by her follower Śadh, the son of Ecra.
2 For Śadh had been taken by the promises of the false priests of the Three Immortals. Chief among the false priests was Putram, who spoke blasphemy to the many.
3 And the false priests spoke unto him, ‘These men of the Sepulcher are not of the peaceful sort; they will bring ruination to the people of Deśian, and you must know this.’
4 ‘They have spoken much of holiness, but brought none of their gods forward to worship, and so they are deceitful and perfidious.’
5 ‘And you, Śadh, must know this. We will give unto you many lands and titles for only the place where this Paiman lays at night.’
6 ‘You, Śadh will be the new lord of Deśian, and you will be given the name of a devil and a place among us.’
7 And so Śadh went from the house of the false priests and to the shrine, and said to Paiman, ‘I ask only that you bring forth the god of the Sepulcher in a form I can see as proof to our faith.’
8 And replied Paiman, ‘What form has the Godhead that you can see? The Godhead has no one form,’
9 ‘The Godhead-form is in the earth that bears up your feet’
10 ‘The Godhead-form is in the earth that takes up the seed, and bears the grain and fruit.’
11 ‘The Godhead-form is in the metal that springs from the earth, and in the precious stones.’
12 ‘The Godhead-form is in the river that springs from the mountain and in the ocean that springs from the river.’
13 ‘The Godhead-form is that which creates all things, that which sustains all things and that which destroys all things.’
14 ‘It is all-present and all-time; it is the form of pure virtue embodied, and it is not in any one thing. The proof of my god is all around you, and it is in everything good around you.’
15 ‘Take patience, Śadh, and know this.’
16 But Śadh was not convinced, and returned to the false priests and said, ‘I have thought long about this. I ask only that you treat her fairly; Paiman is only misguided. She lays in the shrine at night.’
17 And so the false priests gave Śadh a deed, and sent guards to take away Paiman.
18 Her followers protested, trying to protect her, saying ‘There is no Paiman who lives in this place.’
19 Paiman did not heed them, and came forward, saying, ‘I am Paiman, and I alone stand to account for any misdeeds done here. Take me, and leave the rest to their ways.’
20 And the men of the Immortals took Paiman unto the false priests, and they began her trial.
21 They asked, ‘Have you claimed your rulership over this city?”
22 And she answered truthfully, ‘No, my claim is to that which lies beyond your material world.’
23 And they asked, ’What is beyond the material world?’
24 And she answered truthfully, ‘The creator and maker of the world, the Godhead, who has protected me and taught me right from wrong.’
25 And they asked, ‘So it is that you deny the Immortals? That you deny our gods?’
26 And she answered truthfully, ‘All your gods are devils; your Immortals are rulers by the power of the profane, not the divine. Do not speak to me of denial, for it is you who denies the truth.’
27 And the false priests cried, ‘You speak blasphemy in the house of the gods! For this you must be put to death.’
28 And Paiman’s followers were many about the court, and said, ‘No, do not take her.’
29 But Paiman spoke unto them, and said, ‘I abandon now only a body.’
30 And her followers were silent.
31 So they took her up to the place called the Hill of Blood where the bodies of the many enemies of the Immortals were lain, and the false priests said, ‘For the crime of your blasphemy, we will cut your breasts from you.’
32 And so they did, and set the dogs to eating her holy body, and the dogs came running.
33 And she did not die, and Paiman spoke, and said, ‘I await you, Godhead, I await.’
34 A crown of light appeared about the head of Paiman, appearing as the mountain peaks, and the dogs ate of her flesh, but she did not die. She spoke then to the false priests:
35 ‘This pain, this pain, it is all that awaits you. What has been done to your lessers shall return as torment in death.’
36 And the false priests were greatly disturbed and left quickly, and the followers of Paiman gathered round and wailed for three days and three nights.
37 And upon the third night, Paiman said, ‘Śadh, you are forgiven. All of you are forgiven. Go forth and do good.’
38 And Paiman went forth to Paradise a saint.”
– The Book of Patience, Chapter 16
There is an empty little spot in Danza Karona’s heart. She thinks she has debased herself. And day by day, the spot grows.
“First among them shall be the Inquisitors of Piety, who are of the Order of Tattered Skin and devoted to Saint Curna, who shall be the keepers and inspectors of the other Inquisitors. They shall be given full power to prosecute other Inquisitors, to investigate them, and to bring them into court for their crimes…”
-Dispensation of Memra II
Judge Tyeli writes slowly, deliberately to his colleagues at Dzhemor. Opening an investigation into the conduct of a member of the Order of Tattered Skin was hard enough to give him a headache, but he had enough reason to do it. As the ink dries on the first page, he starts on another, an injunction and investigation by a third party into the treatment of Verat. It had been a long time since they had captured a covener, and the rumor spread quickly among the higher ups of her inability to lie. If he had been threatening her lifespan, that was a crime that needed swift correction.
He sighs as he signs the second letter. Over fourty years serving the Church, and things never quite seemed to change. For a while, he blamed it on the old influences. Lead still in the waterways, old pagan beliefs not going away, the old impudences and excesses of paganism haunting his nation, not yet dead. That excuse only got him so far. The lad here was an Agoran, full-blooded and from a land where the Church had a hold for centuries.
Tyeli hunches himself in contemplation after writing the injunction.
“I dispute now all other histories of this nature; no such immortality exists. Only the vampires of Koletya and the liches have achieved anything similar, and did so with great cost and with a requirement for subsistence. It is thus that I consider the possibility that the Three Immortals were truly so improbable at best. Instead, we must look to other explanations for their long reign. I propose, that like many of the other peoples of antiquity, they saw the chain of father to son and mother to daughter as a transference of the immortal soul, or at least some form of the personality. The old kings of Miskaea and Kaga thought as much, and it stands to reason that the Three Immortals could have thus been a dynasty, not singular individuals as some claim.”
-T’en Sung, Court Sorcerer to the Lord ‘A’an.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of the court building, Nyate sharpens a long blade. She washes it in wine and water, and prays over it again and again. She is barely out of apprenticeship; the upcoming execution is slated to be her first one, and it’s to be of one of their own. She runs the blunt-tipped sword over the dark whetstone, and prays again. It weighs on her, the possibility of casting someone into the Every-Nowhere, into the realm of the Godhead. She knew that it was
Something is off about this execution. The usual procedure, the one she was taught, was that if possible an execution was to be done in private, particularly if they were a former member of the Church. Instead, the judge’s messenger told her to look her best, because she was going to be performing in front of an audience – the whole of the city would come and see the traitor’s shame.
Something is wrong. She can feel it in her gut. She finishes her sharpening, and hardly sleeps the whole night.
“The War of the Two Prophets was, Godhead willing, the last, great heresy. In short, since the long days after the Council of Isoma, the Inquisition of old had grown greedy and unvirtuous in their conduct. They had become a sort of nobility within the Church, against the original doctrine of the Saints, and so Memra II attempted to reorganize the institution. While she partially succeeded, a tenth or so of the Inquisition at the time openly rebelled against the authority of the Sepulcher.
What ensued was bloodshed on a massive scale. Even in those days, the body of sorcerous knowledge obtained by the Inquisition was vast, particularly in the realm of warfare, and so while they were outnumbered the heretics had access to some superior tactics and equipment. These false inquisitors then arranged a false prophet to match, and established a new rebel state within the territory of Veleda. It was only after five long years of war that the heresy was crushed and the institution was properly reorganized.”
–A Record of Heresy, Inquisitor Uhain Bertedh of The Order of The Slit Belly
The guard at the door stays quiet. He hears the yelling, but the fellow in blue was an inspector, and questioning him seems like a surefire way to lose his trusted position.
“I am writing to you now anonymously, on behalf of a thaumaturge named Verat. She has been terribly mistreated and I send this at considerable personal fear as well, as her handler, I-Merach-Lluar Miaza, has been horribly cruel and violent. Please, if you have any sense, remove her from his charge and investigate him for corruption immediately. He is not well; he may not be fit for the station at all.”
Thin strands of moonlight shine through to the armory. In an unmarked corner sits a mask, a flail and a few other possessions. Elsewhere, a uniform is being burned, years of work going up in smoke. A diary is quietly placed in a room full of records alongside a court report, to be forgotten with decades of other cases. It will not be opened again for a long, long time.
“I am a paradox. I am alone so often, and very rarely lonely, and at the same time I feel this desperate need for another. I am hollow, and full; I am lonely, and surrounded by family and my fellow man. I simply want love, but I am forbidden from it. That is the riddle that cuts me the deepest. My family, who professes love to me continually, gives me no warmth. What I crave must lie elsewhere. Perhaps in the Church, or perhaps in the arms of another.”
-Edamosfa-Iforfit Miaza, Undated Diary Entry