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  1. Ethen12


    You’ve just arrived in a swampy, dim town. As you look around, your gaze is met with shacks and cabins. It smells of rotted wood and wet moss. You duck and step into a tattered tent, illuminated by a series of candles suspended in the air. At the back of the tent, an old hag raises her head, “What brings you to this dingy town? she begins, then pauses to study your face—”Ah, it’s you. I’ve been expecting you. Sit,” she gestures at a cushion, “Tell me your story.” ((How do you respond?)) He pauses for a moment. Collecting his thoughts. Despite how often he had thought about this conversation, he hadn't come up with a good answer to something as simple as "what happened?" "I... well, I never thought I would say this, but... I found religion. I visited the Qalasheen as was suggested to me. I wasn't keen on dealing with outsiders, but when researching world cultures, it can't very well be avoided. I arrived in one of their settlements, Vainor. Dainty place, compared to Haelun'or. Yet... I found myself enthralled with the local way of life. They follow this philosophy, the "sunnah." Essentially they are just following the example set by a man who lived a long time ago. At first, I thought it was quite quaint. No drinking, no gambling, love thy neighbor, et cetera, et cetera. Nothing I'm not used to. Then, I read their Book." He holds up a book with intricate designs on the cover. He leafs through it briefly, before placing it back within his pack reverently. "Written in such enthralling prose, at first I thought it may have even been written by a Mali'Thill poet! Yet, there is no poet in history who could match the complexity of it. No dialectician who could weave such a complicated web of forward and reverse reference. I digress... Needless to say, I was amazed. It gave a short story of the origin of the world; of the origin of all worlds. The point, however, was not to educate on history but to impart a lesson for life. Every verse, a lesson." He stares blankly at the walls behind the hag, thinking deeply. Just as the silence starts to grow uncomfortable, he continues. "When I first arrived, obviously I went straight to the libraries. I spoke with the Mesakha there, and I was given a tour. I noticed immediately that almost everything in their library was, in some way, related to religion. I was interested, but I had so many questions. I kept asking the Mesakha about the reason the literature was all so theological in nature. She was patient with me for a while, though eventually she got frustrated and threatened to hit me with her sandal unless I directed my questions toward the Court Imam. He was able to answer many of my questions, and somehow ended up asking more questions of me than the other way around. A fan of discourse, of course I obliged. After all, what are we if not seekers of wisdom?" Once more as he finishes, deep, lasting silence returns. He mutters a few words, seemingly in some foreign tongue, and takes out a journal. Inside, he quickly notes, "record dialogues. review notes. find more sources." Regaining focus, he looks back at the hag. "There's so much more to say... But for the sake of brevity, I'll say that I have accepted their faith, ahem, our faith, Iman al-Rashidun. If you really need to know more, I'll copy my report for the Vainor Archive and give it to you before I leave. The Court Sahooru taught me this incredibly practical spell that copies text word for word, nearly effortlessly. They've been using it for over a thousand years to ensure their Book is never altered by this editor or that. "As for my mission, I've learned so much about the culture of Qalasheen. I still need to return home and review, but I believe that this will make for a fine dissertation. I ask that you alert the relevant parties and secure a way home for me. Of course, I'll make sure you're well paid for your services. "If you'll excuse me, it's nearing sunset, and I've a prayer to attend to. You wouldn't happen to have a clean rug and some water around, would you?" Upon receiving a spare rug and some clean water from the hag, he starts to clean himself. He speaks a few words and then washes his hands, followed by his face, scalp, ears, arms, and finally his feet. He then places the rug on the floor in a seemingly intentional way, facing an odd direction, and starts to alternate between short recitations and prostrations. When he is finished, he counts on his fingers while repeating odd words, and stands up. He thanks the hag for her time and her hospitality, then sets out once again. Home awaits.
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