Myths of the Veritas: Book II

{Translator’s Note} In what follows, I was able to make use of a new class of self-correcting statistical algorithms that allows for a more detailed depiction of the spoken and drum languages of the Veritas. This work has been aided immeasurably by archaeometrical modeling and, in particular, the Schliemann-Baudhayana equations. Needless to say, these advances notwithstanding, narrative reconstruction is still fraught with numerous perils and is still as much an art as a science — a distinction lacking, so far as we can tell, in the thinking of the Veritas themselves who conceived of truth and beauty as tree and fruit.

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Feast and Fire

“Well, why wouldn’t we? It is faster, right?” Tu-Swift grew impatient with his older sister. 

Many-Paths however, simply smiled as she answered. It was a genuine smile too, not the patronizing smile of an older, wiser sister; nor the forced smile used today as a means of manipulation; rather, her smile was nothing other than a genuine expression of her heart. 

Many-Paths could don an expression and feign a tone of voice as well as anyone. She, like most of the Veritas, simply chose not to feign feelings with other members of their own tribe, or indeed, with any other tribe excepting only in the case of true enemies like the Cupiditas had been. 

The reason that Many-Paths smiled was this: she appreciated the passion of her younger brother and his single-mindedly determination to prove his point even if it meant overlooking things that he himself knew to be true. Many-Paths was of an entirely different nature, as indicated from her name. As leader of the Veritas, Many-Paths had passed many trials of empathy and fair judgement. And as a leader, she was well-aware that the tribe needed people like Tu-Swift who would press on and on for something no matter what. And as a leader she was also well-aware that the tribe needed people like Many-Paths to provide a check on such ill-conceived enthusiasm. 

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So, Tu-Swift felt the actual kindness in the voice of Many-Paths as she answered gently. “I think you yourself know the answers to why we might not choose to do it even if it is faster.  I also think you can imagine conditions under which your method would be considerably slower.  But meanwhile, I can  hear that the voices of the people are happy and loudening. We ourselves should also be making our way to the feast.”

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Tu-Swift needed no further encouragement to attend a feast, especially the feast of Bel-Tanay, with its promise of fresh greens, strawberries, grilled fish, and honey-sweetened ground nuts. He spun on his heel and hurtled toward the Center Place. So quickly did he turn and so quickly did he begin to sprint, and so thoroughly did the image of honey-sweetened ground nuts capture his attention, that he immediately slapped his body into a small sapling which rebounded him backwards at the feet of Many-Paths. He was a tough little boy, graced with a lithe and muscular frame. Hence, he sprang back up almost as quickly as the sapling had slung him backwards. “Sorry,” he muttered to the sapling as he once again sprinted toward the feast. 

Many-Paths shouted after him with good humor: “Are you too swift Tu-Swift?” She shook her head slightly, still unsure whether he had even heard her gentle rebuke let alone truly processed it. There would be other opportunities, she thought. Many-Paths had no more desire to change the nature of To-Swift than she did to change a rabbit into a tortoise. She pictured a brown rabbit with a white tail plodding methodically along with his long legs splayed out sideways. Without a shell, such a slow and furry tortoise would stand no chance to survive the predations of eagle or fox. As She-Who-Saves-Many-Lives had taught her, each branch of life must be its own form. Yet, rabbit, tortoise, and human beings also made choices. One of the most important a human being could ever make was simply accepting that no one path is most appropriate for every occasion. 

Many-Paths could still have caught up with her younger brother for she had also inherited feet that flew. And, this natural talent she had nurtured. She had explored various loping, skipping, and sprinting gaits thoroughly to see for herself how various gaits worked best under various circumstances of terrain and weather. This day, this moment, however, require no speed whatever and Many-Paths found it more pleasant to stroll to the Center Place, anticipating the savory salmon laid on a bed of wild lettuce and garnished with grape tendrils; the rich warm acorn and wild rice pudding; the tangy sweetness of fresh strawberries. 

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Before she rounded the guardhouse that blocked her view of the gathering throng, she tried to imagine the various groups and sub-groups that would be eating together. As leader, it often proved useful to be able to predict such matters. Her predictive skills improved daily though perfection at such a task might be years, perhaps even decades away, as She-Who-Saves-Many-Lives had explained soon after she had bestowed upon Many-Paths the Seventh and Final Ring of Empathy. 

“Your skills will continue to improve,” She-Who-Saves-Many-Lives had explained, “provided only that you walk a balanced way using both legs and both minds – the mind that sees what may be and the mind that sees what is actually there.” 

 

Many-Paths had nodded solemnly because she “understood” what Saves-Many had meant though the depth of that understanding had deepened considerably over the years. In her mind that sees what may be, Many-Paths first pictured Shadow Walker and she predicted that he would likely be already chatting with Eyes-of-Eagle and Fleet-of-Foot whom she had seen for nearly a year. Many-Paths thought it likely that one of the Nomads of the South would have accompanied them. Trust was still a bit fragile between the two tribes but trade, and games, and sharing stories, and playing drums, and dancing, and sharing meals — all of these had served to grow many bonds between the two tribes. And surely today’s feast with the wonderful aromas she now inhaled could only serve to strengthen ties between the tribes. 

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Many-Paths walked into the clearing of the Center Place. She glanced around quickly to see how people had arranged themselves. The groupings largely confirmed her hypotheses except that strangers occupied the space near — no, wait! There they were! Eyes-of-Eagle, Fleet-of-Foot, and even Shadow Walker had donned robes in the manner of the Southern Nomads. The craftily constructed garb fooled her eyes so badly that she had not even recognized her friends at first, not even Shadow Walker! She laughed at how she had been fooled. In this case, she had even know where to look, but she had still found it difficult to see what was truly there. Walking a balanced way did indeed prove to be a life-long challenge. 

As Many-Paths made her way to her place, she exchanged many small waves and nods with other in her tribe. Though all were aware of her role as leader and the vital role she had played in the storied victory in the war with the Cupiditas, the people did not indulge in various displays of deference or position. They gave great weight to her words, despite her youth, because of her intelligence and competence, not because she held some “position.” Unlike the Cupiditas, no-one bowed deeply to her or waited to see what she thought before offering their own honest opinion. She dressed in deerskins much like the others of the Veritas. Typically, as today, she wore the Seven Rings of Empathy threaded onto a knotted necklace of leather. Only this and her radiant manner set her off from her compatriots. 

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As she approached, the animated chatter of her friends stopped and they all rose to embrace her. Shadow Walker’s embrace held the most strength and the most warmth. She found herself blushing slightly. She wished to clear her mind so she could properly welcome the visitors from the Southern Nomads. That took precedence over her own considerably awakened desire. 

“Well met, new friends from the south. I am Many-Paths and I am much impressed with the raiment you provided! These, my friends from birth, I at first did not recognize so cleverly did you fashion these robes! My congratulations. I must confess that I am led toward three paths at once. I wish to know more about such magic and skill. I want to learn about you and what you think of the Veritas and yet, I also want to learn from my friends about their adventures in your lands as well. Sometimes, you see, Many-Paths are too many to chose from.”

“I am happy most glad to meet you at last, She-Who-Walks-Many-Paths-to-Save-Many-Lives. I am happy most glad you like the robes of. We have brought such a glad one for you as well. I am known among my tribe as ‘Lion-Slayer, The Silent One’ and this is my wife, Hudah Salah.”

Hudah Salah now stepped forward and took both hands of Many-Paths in hers and looked into her eyes. Many-Paths returned the gaze. “It is nice. I to meet you in person. My husband is yes glad to be Lion-Slayer. He does not often be called ‘Silent One.’ 

Lion-Slayer chuckled. “I make joke. I like talk.” 

“I do too,” chimed in Fleet-of-Foot. “I like to eat even more! Please pass the salmon!”

Tu-Swift, grabbed the plate quickly and passed it to Fleet-of-Foot, his favorite ‘Uncle.’ Before he had finished handing off the platter, an urgent cry rang out in his ears, sharp above the general happy din. 

“To arms! To arms!” It was Many-Paths issuing commands! Tu-Swift wondered whether she had gone mad. Why was she saying that in the middle of a feast? He shook his head to wake himself up in case he had been dreaming. Again, she was shouting, “To the Cottonwoods!”

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But shaking his head changed nothing, everywhere warriors were readying their weapons and now Tu-Swift’s consciousness seemed to shatter into an incoherent blur of sound and color and pain. He heard whooshing arrows twang into wood. He saw an arrow land on a table near him. Color shot out from the shaft. He could feel the heat and taste the pain. Fleet-of-Foot wrenched him around and in one swift motion snapped the arrow in two, pulled out the shaft and wrapped a makeshift bandage around Tu-Swift’s forearm. 

All around him, Tu-Swift saw arrows streaming and flaming down from the sky; he saw his people gather weapons. He saw his sister leading a band of warriors out across the water toward a stand of trees. This, he thought, is where the arrows come from. This arrow. This arrow came through my arm. I am shot. That’s why I hurt. I have to help fight. Tu-Swift rose to his feet and immediately felt very light-headed. He grabbed a large flint carving knife. He fell to his knees, crawled under the table and fainted. 

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Author Page on Amazon

Creation Myth of the Veritas

Fragmentary Myth of the Veritas

The First Ring of Empathy