- Face-up artist(s):
- Purchased from first owner
- Cerberus Project
- Head Sculpt:
- Delf Type 2 Boy
- 18mm Brown glass
- Luts DW-152 in Black
- Offsite roleplay:
- This doll's character is not available for offsite roleplay.
The young priest sits with closed eyes, pulling a set of prayer beads slowly through his fingers. “You ask my name. You ask what land I come from…” One bead falls against the next with the clack of heavy ironwood, and he pauses. “You think that these things will tell you what manner of person I am... Perhaps you’re right. But the true sum of a soul can not always be found in the past.”
“In the west, there is a kingdom which has three Princes. Each Prince rules a valley, and in the center of each valley there stands a city, and in the center of each city there stands a temple. The first is the temple of Sang Rho. The second is the temple of Shan Sul. And the last was the temple of Li Meng Lun. It is the third which was my home.”
“I don’t know what caste or clan my family came from. My father drove an ox cart. My mother had rough and calloused hands. I think... that they were farmers. I remember a field of lentils and the smell of grain, but nothing more. They brought me to the third city and they gave me to Li Meng Lun when I was still too young to have a name. Perhaps their crops had been ruined. Or they had made a pledge to the gods. Or they were burdened already with too many children…Whatever their reasons, they left me to the temple and did not look back when they did so.”
“I became a serving boy first. Drawing water from the wells in the deepest parts of the temple. Grinding coal and gall for ink. Scraping parchment scraps to be reused… Menial tasks fit for one with neither the knowledge nor the skill for any other. I was never strong and the work was sometimes very hard. It made my arms ache and the ink room floor was very cold. But even so, what the Novices and the Brother Scribes accomplished in the scriptorium was a miracle to me. Magic more wondrous than the moon and stars, and I wanted nothing more than to be one of them.”
“It was my second summer at the temple before the Brother Scribe in charge of the Pages gave me a name, and I became a person. He called me Shijin-Po. It means “the one who remains still”. He chose it because I was the most peaceable of his charges. I was taught to read, and to do sums, and to trim quills, and to smooth parchment. And finally, I was taught to write. Not with a brush, or even a quill at first… but with a simple length of bone and a tablet made of wax. I felt as if I had become a king the day I was praised for the steadiness of my hand.” The young priest smiles, and lets another prayer bead fall.
“I was an ardent student, and became a Novice in another year. I was given my first quill, and then my first brush. I learned seventeen syllabaries and all nine Holy scripts. I learned the secret of making the finest papers from the cocoons of silk worms and the inner bark of the fai nuin tree. And I was content. I thought that I knew then what my fate would be… I would become a Brother Scribe and spend the rest of my days among words that would last until the end of all things. Words that were important to the well-being of the Kingdom of the Three Princes, for many matters of business and of state passed through our scriptorium doors in those days, and our Brother Scribes traveled widely to the courts and the merchant houses of other lands.”
Another bead falls, and the young priest opens his eyes. “It was a pleasant dream. I treasured it, and the thoughts of what might have been.”
“When I was eight years old, the old Karrusatva fell ill and died. I had seen him only once… He was a tall man, and he had served for many years, but he had never spoken to me. I was only a Novice and much too humble for such an honor. The temple and the city mourned for him for a whole turning of the moon, and then we prayed to our mistress, our Maiden of Words, to bless us with her wisdom by choosing another Karrusatva to take his place.”
“She came to us on the tenth day of prayer. A shining light spread with the most perfect calligraphy surrounded her, and her hair was wreathed in jasmine flowers. She was the most beautiful being that I had ever seen, and as she looked at each of us in turn, with eyes darker than the finest ink, I wanted nothing more than to serve her, heart and soul. I would have done anything that she asked of me in that moment. I would have given her anything… I’ve often wondered if that was why, of all the people gathered there, she chose me.”
“After that,” the young priest shrugs, a gesture of resignation, “My life and my fate were not my own. I became the eighty-first Karrusatva of the temple of Li Meng Lun, and my dreams of becoming a Brother Scribe were lost. From the day that Meng Lun stopped and met my gaze, until the day that I left the Third City forever, I never once ventured outside the temple walls. To do so was not a Karrusatva’s place, and though I learned a great deal from the Brother Scribes and from the temple elders, I was no longer as content as I had been when I was nothing but a Novice struggling to perfect his script and dreaming of distant places.”
He raises a fine, long-fingered hand. “Do not misunderstand. Mine was not a solitary life despite these things. Remembering that my predecessor had never spoken to the Pages or the Novices, I sought to do things differently. I tutored some and was a councilor to many more. It was by my decree that all in the Kingdom of Three Princes who wished to do so should come to the temple of Li Meng Lun and be taught to read the common tongue... Even the most perfect script is mute if one doesn’t know how to decipher it. Also, I studied many things… The cultures and languages of distant lands that I could no longer hope to visit, and the stories of travelers. I learned to oversee the functions of the temple and the scriptorium, and to adjudicate the conflicts of my brothers. I spent many hours in conversation with visitors from other places, with the people of our own kingdom, with my fellow priests, and to my wonder… with Li Meng Lun. My life was cloistered, that much is true, but it was never empty.”
“I suspect that my life would have been much like that of the eighty Karrusatvas that were chosen before me, were it not for a Dynast named Tepet Lasri who came to the Kingdom of Three Princes with a company of monks and men-at-arms, and an order from the Realm. 'Pay more tithes into the coffers of the Empire and the Order', he said, 'and cease the worship of your heretical gods. Bow to us and praise our Empress.'”
“He went to the First City and the Karrusatva of Sang Rho refused him entrance and left him standing in the street. He went to the Second City, and the Karrusatva of Shan Sul had two of his messengers beheaded for dishonoring the temple with their profanity… But I was not told these things, and so when he came to the Third City, I greeted him as I would any visitor from abroad. I accepted he and his men as honored guests.”
The young priest passes two more beads through his fingers, and bows his head. ”In hindsight, I should have seen what manner of man he was, and what wickedness he and his company were capable of. To my eternal shame, I did not. They took the temple in a matter of hours… ours has never been a martial order… and I found myself a prisoner, along with many of my brothers. My guardsmen, the loyal hareshi who had protected me from the day of my Choosing, could not stand against the might of the Dragon-Blooded noble.”
“The monks who had come with Tepet Lasri burned the temple and the scriptorium of Li Meng Lun when morning came, to bring the Karrusatvas of Sang Rho and Shan Sul to heel. ‘Obey us, or your brothers will suffer the same fate as the priests of Li Meng Lun, and you will find yourself imprisoned like Shijin-Po’. I don’t know if Han Lon and Danmi obeyed, or if they continued to defy the foreign monks… But I hope that they endured. And that their gods are not forgotten.”
The young priest allows a final bead to fall. “The Novices and Pages were to be sold into the chains of the Guild for heresy. For the crime of worshipping our calligrapher goddess, as the people of the Kingdom of Three Princes had done for many centuries. The Brother Scribes and I were to be executed. A warning to the people of the city what it meant to be subjects of the Scarlet Empire.”
“I did not care what became of myself… With the temple and scriptorium gone what need was there for a Karrusatva? But without the Brother Scibes, Li Meng Lun would be lost to the world. Her name would be forgotten and her holy script would fall into silence. As my last service to her, then, I asked for an audience with Tepet Lasri. To ask for his mercy. To plead for the lives of my brothers.”
The young priest looks up, turning the beads and starting again from the beginning of the strand. “I prayed for my patron’s aid that day, but it was not Li Meng Lun who answered my prayers, and for the second time I did not receive the fate that I thought was mine. For the second time, I was Chosen. 'Know now that you will speak in My Name,' the great Sun said, and when I was called to Lasri's court I did.”
“He released the Brother Scribes and pardoned them, and by his order the Novices and Pages were freed also. I agreed to leave the Kingdom of Three Princes, never to return, and never to seek vengeance against the Dynast or his House for what they had done. Since that day, I have been free to determine my own fate, though I still choose to serve Li Meng Lun as her priest, so that her name will not be forgotten. But now I must also serve Him, as well... The Unconquered Sun... The light of all Creation.”
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