Though this interlude is clearly not within the gift of characters to know, it will set the scene for what follows.
Baron Jharmok Redlee Neheli stood atop the small hill, looking down over the scattered homes and farms that dotted the landscape. In the distance, miles away, a faint glow illuminated the edges of the Rushmoors. Behind him stood his brother Stoakdor, who also scanned the countryside. Jharmok's wife, Baroness Lobana, used her long cloak to shield her young son from the dank wind that blew from the Rushmoors. The boy huddled close to his mother's legs.
"I think we have found the location," said the Baron of Shelspring in a loud voice, trying to be heard above the wind. "This hill should provide us with a defensible position. It is in the centre of our land, and we are within a short march of the Rushmoors if we need to deploy troops." He turned to the younger man, who was dressed in thick robes. "What do you think, brother?"
"I agree. There is sufficient farmland to feed our militia and our army. The plain below will hold the town that will be built." The smile on the young man's face broadened. "I can think of no finer spot in Shelspring for your capital."
"And so it shall be. I will send a messenger to report to Duke Cedrian that Redlee Manor will soon be built. I'm sure the Duke of Dorlin will be pleased that we have finally made our choice." The grey hairs surrounding the Baron's mouth bristled when he mentioned the Duke. "He will be more pleased that my army stands between him and the moors. But we must make preparations. Before breaking ground on the building of our manor and its fortifications, we must ask for Lydia's blessing. The ceremony will take place in two weeks."
The Baroness stepped forward. "With my Lord's permission, may I suggest a festival."
The Baron frowned. "This is no lark. My cousin has bestowed upon us much responsibility, as well as great honour. I will not shirk my duties with frolicking."
Lobana bowed her head and stepped back, but her eyes raised slightly to seek out Stoakdor. The robed man stepped closer to his brother. "Jharmok, I think the Baroness has a point. While our duty is weighty and must be treated as such, the people of Shelspring Barony must know joy as well. They must know that their new lord is a man who will bring happiness and peace. Considering their former ruler..."
Jharmok squinted into the wind that blew from the Rushmoors across his lands. "Very well. Plan this festival to coincide with the consecration of this ground in Lydia's name."
The boy stepped out from behind his mother's cloak and turned his small, fine face up into the darkening sky. "Father? Will there be jugglers and acrobats?"
Jharmok scowled, but then with great effort he lightened his features. "You will come to learn, Pross, that the Redlees have little use for clowns and buffoons. Our people have been burdened with a dread task, and we must never waver in our vigilance." The boy's eyes grew watery, but he set his small jaw firmly and nodded. Only he knew if the tears that ran down his cheeks were from dust carried by the wind or from sadness.
...and while the division within the church of Dalt between secret keepers and secret revealers is perhaps indicative of an antagonistic yet symbiotic relationship within a religious hierarchy, the evolution of the worship of Lydia is intriguing for other reasons.
A study of ancient texts reveals that early followers of the sun goddess often argued vehemently and sometimes violently over the best course of action when dealing with issues regarding the keeping and revealing of secrets. Indeed, a great schism appears to have occurred at some time before the Twin Cataclysms within the church of Lydia.
The two factions disagreed to the point where civil authorities were forced to intervene to quell the open violence. In the end, one faction - the group that espoused a doctrine of keeping secrets hidden from those unprepared for such truths - was implicated in a plot to overthrow the leader of one of the ruling Suel houses. The trial of the members of this faction was tense, with the accused being found guilty and executed but going to the gallows protesting that they were wrongfully accused based on evidence planted by the other faction of Lydia. One can see the roots of the current worship of Lydia in the tenets and beliefs of the surviving faction, who vowed to shine the light of their goddess' power on injustice and evil for all to see. The other faction's members were hunted as traitors.
While some renounced their beliefs and converted to the worship of Dalt in order to be spared execution, others were rumoured to have continued to worship Lydia in the belief that the goddess wished them to hold certain secrets and knowledge away from prying eyes. Whether these alternative Lydia cults ever existed is debatable, but there is no evidence that any have survived to the present day.
This page last updated: 13th October 2008
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