Moses was a Liar: 3 EXODUS 2: How man creates his gods and devils.

Posted: October 14, 2011 in SciFi

It was still pitch dark when the Red Priestess and her acolytes crept quietly out of their shelters and stealthily tiptoed to the forest.

Behind them the camps were quiet except for some loud snoring which emanated from a number of lean-to’s. One villager however, watched the women depart through half-closed eyes. As soon as they had entered the forest, Karl quietly got up and taking his weapons with him, followed them without a sound.

Inside the forest it was even blacker and with no natural light, progress through the bush and trees was slow. Ahead of him he could hear the priestess speaking in a low voice. He crept nearer to hear what she was saying. He made absolutely no sound. He stalked like a python.

The small group was sitting in a semicircle with a small fire burning in the centre. The Red Priestess was standing and talking to the girls who were watching her every move.

“Are you all awake, girls?” she was asking the bleary eyed youngsters. They nodded in unison.

“Now before we get down to our morning talk, I want you all to stand up and stretch your arms as high as you can above your heads. Now breathe in deeply and on my count breathe out very slowly. One, two, three, four, five and six. Let’s do that again.”

Karl was astounded. He didn’t know what he’d expected but not this. She was giving them exercises. By the spirits of the Ancients, this was not witchcraft!

As he watched, the girls were thoroughly woken up with quiet breathing and stretching exercises. After that she instructed them to sit with their legs crossed and for a while they all went silent as he watched. When they had done the priestess told them all to sit down.

She started speaking in a low melodious, almost sing-song voice:

“The New World was borne from the world of the Ancients. The world we all lived in and in which you now live is not flat as you were taught by your parents in Caesarea or the City of Jesuits. The earth is almost round and we cannot fall off because we are held back by something called gravity, which is like power the earth has, to hold us down. Indeed the Jesuit Bible has a great story in it concerning the creation of earth. When you read it carefully it transpires that according to the writers who were said to have been inspired by their god, Jehovah, the earth was indeed flat. Of course this is nonsense as was proved many years later by discoverers who sailed round the world in their ships. The lesson in this is that one should beware of the stories mystics hold forth as the truth lest they be proved incorrect by the facts. When you leave the Red Valley you will find that the horizon continues to stay far away and that mountains and trees will seem to rise from the very earth as you approach them. This is because you are walking around the earth and not on a flat world from which you will fall such as a cockroach from the edge of a table in your house. This is a legend the elders have created to scare you away from wandering too far.”

Karl was softly chuckling to himself. This is as he had experienced it in his distant travels beyond the Great Divide, but he had not been able to explain it. The Red Priestess had solved a problem that had been bothering him for some years.

“The reason I tell you girls these things is so that you will be able to speed up the discovery of the New World without being held back by fears based on lies and folk tales. You will be the new Navigators.”

“What is a Navigator?” one of the girls asked.

“It is someone who is able to plot a path through unknown regions or can find the way forward especially when no-one knows where to go. In my metal bird which crashed here on KRAT we had a Navigator who could read the stars, the setting of the sun and the beautiful moon which you will see sooner than you can imagine.”

Now Karl was really fascinated. Navigation sounded like the stuff he does when he hunts, except he used trees and mountains and even small signs on the ground to guide him. What were the sun, stars and moon? His father would merely chase him away when he asked after these things with the instruction not to meddle with the ‘stuff and nonsense’ of the Ancients. And why did the woman talk of seeing these things again; what is it she knew that no-one else did? He had heard about the metal bird and knew that some of the older villagers in Caesarea even burnt incense to the Metal Bird Spirit in the sky. How could metal fly? He needed to spend much time with this woman; much time has been wasted by the tales and warnings of witchery from the elders; the demonization of the Red Priestess.

“But how will we know to navigate?” the same girl asked.

“I am not a navigator my child, but I will teach you when the stars come out, where east, west, north and south are. From that you will have to learn through experience and trial and error. The important thing is to understand that these things are natural and not divine or magical. The priests and diviners will tell you it is the will of a god or spirit to go one way while you will want to go the other, knowing that the stars will show you the path. They’ll also warn you not to search for the unknown or to reach beyond yourselves. They may also accuse you as they have me, of witchery and evil. They do this when they themselves are unable to understand things. This may be difficult to understand now but know this: there is no god or spirit to tell you what to do. What you decide to do is your decision and your decision alone. If you make a mistake, you will face the consequences of your own mistakes.”

“Why did the metal bird crash?” another young girl asked. The questioners were all from the New London village. This was their way. It was something Karl was not familiar with. In Caesarea, children were told to be quiet and not to ask questions.

“You will remember that I told you before in the cave, that the whole world was destroyed by big earthquakes such as you have never experienced in Red Valley. We were flying very high in the sky far above the clouds when this happened. The red dust and the gases from the volcanoes such as Brutus caused our bird to crash.”

“Like the birds die when Brutus farts?” the girl cried out. The other girls all giggled.

“Yes exactly like that,” the priestess replied with a laugh.

“When this happened, many people in the bird died as well, but we who lived to tell the tale, started living here on KRAT and eventually we created the three villages.”

“Why?” the same girl asked. “Why did you not stay together?”

The Red Priestess’ sigh contained so much pain and sadness. “That is a long story, maybe for another time, but understand this, people are strange animals who like to believe they have all the answers to everything; if they don’t agree about things they fight and then start hating each other. That is what happened to us. The ability to allow other people the space to have their own opinions and beliefs seems only to develop as one becomes wise in the ways of the world. I have seen how one villager killed another merely because the other refused to believe in him and his gods. I have also seen how members of the Lost Tribe who were banished from KRAT for attacking us, tried and succeeded in terrorising us; how they kidnapped a good friend of mine. I never saw her again.”

The girls cried out in shock.

“Kill! Do you mean you actually saw a person kill another here in the Valley?” one of the girls cried.

“Yes, one day I will divulge this to all. Now is not the time.”

Karl started understanding. He also started to realise that the differences between the villages had nothing to do with the Red Priestess; that it was the culmination of decades of intolerance and fighting, first among the survivors of the metal bird which then continued among their descendants to this very day. He also realised that they all came from the same history and background; the differences between them were often imagined or engineered to create division. Their similarities were thus buried under misconceptions, rumour mongering and a basic refusal to acknowledge these similarities.

He was suddenly shocked out of his thoughts, when the priestess said, somewhat louder: “You can join us now, Karl.” It was not sorcery; she had noticed him following them as they had entered the forest and had known all along that he had been eavesdropping. She welcomed it. What she had been telling the girls was intended for his ears as well; hence the lecture on navigation which she knew would interest him.

Sheepishly he emerged from his hiding place. The woman was more than he had bargained for.

“You knew I was there?” he asked.

“Yes, Karl. I told you before that I know your every move. If I had not wanted you here, I would have asked you to leave. You are welcome, although the gathering was for the daily talk I give the girls to educate them and open their minds.”

She then dismissed the girls who ran back in the slowly dawning morning light to the camp. They knew what they were expected to do before the priestess arrived back at the camp.

Meanwhile, Karl and the priestess remained sitting.

“I was listening to what you were telling the girls. It was very interesting. Clearly very few people know what you know and have seen what you have seen. Indeed as you say, you are an Ancient and have seen the Ancient world of which we have no understanding,” Karl said.

“Yes Karl, that is true. What was it that interested you most?” she asked, watching him carefully. His answer was very important to her.

“What you were saying about navigation was especially interesting but also about the reasons for the three separate villages. The killing is something we will have to discuss as well.” His answer was as she had hoped.

He continued: “I have never seen the stars and the moon you speak of but I have been able to find my way back to Red Valley even when animals have led me into places I have never been before. I used marks such as mountains and rivers that tell me the direction to take.”

“Then you are a navigator Karl. You must learn to lead the way. I believe that you will be our new Moses. About the killing I will keep that for the right time, but know this Karl; the story of this murder will shock especially you,” she said with some conviction.

“Why?” he asked puzzled.

“Let it be for now. The time is not right. Let’s talk about the exodus and Moses,” she countered.

“Who was Moses? What did he do?”

“Moses was the leader of a small tribe of people called the Israelites which the Bible of the Jesuits speaks about. At one time in their history many thousands of years ago, they lived in a country called Egypt where they were slaves to the Egyptian kings. They hated the Egyptians but like the Egyptians, the Israelites worshipped many gods. The most important of these gods were Baal, El and Yahweh. The history of the Israelites was based on oral legends. The different tribes of the Israelites embroidered their legends to suit their particular followers as was the case with all tribes who lived during those times. There was much fighting between these tribes just as we have here in Red Valley. It is said that Yahweh who was later combined with El, was a god of the southern mountains in the country they called Canaan while Baal was the storm god of the northern regions. He was a warrior god who rode the clouds and fought great battles.”

“Like our gods of the clouds?” Karl interjected.

“Yes, but a lot more violent according to the legends on the Israelites. Moses told his followers that Yahweh had given him commands that they were to follow on the pain of death itself. One of these was that only Yahweh should be worshipped. Originally Yahweh was seen to be but one of a group of gods called the ‘holy ones’ who sat in the divine assembly. Following Moses’ instructions, the people of Israel burned the effigies of Baal and other gods. Often times they would revert back to the other gods much to Moses’ disgust. He realised that to lead and unite his people he would have to get them to believe in only one god. He consequently used parables, legends and quite frankly threats of death and destruction. According to legend as was orally transmitted through the generations, Moses regularly spoke with Yahweh who instructed him to ensure that the Israelites do not worship any other gods. In the instances where they faltered he would threaten that Yahweh would rise up in anger and destroy them. Legend has it that Moses would then on their behalf beg Yahweh to have mercy on them and he would relent. This made Moses a very powerful and revered leader among his people but you must realise that when he told them Yahweh had spoken to him, he was merely using mysticism to manipulate the people. Through the centuries which followed, these myths were embellished and strengthened to the extent that they are taken for the absolute truth. Indeed for them to question the ‘truth’ as depicted by their scriptures was considered to be heresy and therefore punishable by death.”

“So what you say is that the Jesuit Bible contains stories which do not agree with each other and that these were not always truthful but merely legends? Why then was this Bible important to the Ancients?”

“It was the book upon which many religions of our world were based. It started with the Israelites but then over thousands of years spread around the world in different forms of which Christianity became the biggest religion. Most religions ensured that their followers adhered to their rites, laws and practices through the use of coercion and even force. If you wandered from the straight and narrow you were banned, stoned, flayed or beheaded, depending on the traditions at the time. Christianity was quite different from the original Jewish religion. It however still used the so-called Old Testament as a historic base. The Christian religion developed from the Jewish tradition and was named after Jesus who was believed to have been the Christ or Messiah whose coming the Jewish tradition had predicted many centuries before and who was destined to save them from their oppressors.”

“Why did Christianity then become so popular? Why not just believe in this god you call Yahweh?” Karl asked. The beliefs of the Caesareans seemed quite simple in comparison with the complicated history the Red Priestess was telling him about.

“You would not understand Karl, but it was basically good marketing. Yahweh was ultimately the god of the Israelites. People from other nations had their own gods. They could only worship Yahweh if they converted and practiced according to Jewish traditions. Christianity however offered other people including pagans, the possibility of everlasting life as well. Churches and religions became big business and many were very wealthy. This was based on the false realities the priests created. Promises were made of everlasting life after death coupled with threats of being caste into the fires of hell if they did not listen, and make no mistake, the churches backed their threats up with dire consequences such as excommunication which meant you were effectively banished. They also used torture, death by burning and so on. Christians say that belief in Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth and salvation of man; that he died for the sins of man. This is the fundamental reason why Christianity grew to become the largest religion. Nobody outside of the Christian religion would, in their view, be blessed with the everlasting life.”

“But this Moses, did he lie and why?”

“Yes. The person or persons who wrote these things in the Jesuit Bible about Moses, wrote them for the truth but there is no evidence that they actually happened. They were part of the oral heritage of the tribes of Israel. In their view these stories were justified. The legends around Moses were the combined legends of thousands of years compiled by different unknown writers and story tellers; there were many discrepancies as one would expect; some learned people even doubted that he actually existed. There is also no record of him actually living in Egypt. The Egyptian records which were written on stone show no evidence of him. Neither is there any record that he had caused the death of a whole Egyptian Army and its Pharaoh or king except as is told in the Bible. The plagues he was said to have visited on the Egyptians were also never mentioned in Egyptian records.  If indeed he existed, I believe that to protect his leadership and his belief in Yahweh, he manufactured instructions and even laws which he believed would be in the interest of his people. Remember that to strengthen his power base, he told them Yahweh had spoken to him. This made him the go-between between their god and the people of Israel which you will understand made him a very powerful person, even a person to fear. When people are ignorant and uneducated they are inclined to believe in ghosts, spirits, gods, demons, magic and witchcraft. You can see a similar thing here in Red Valley. Educate the people, teach them to think and ask questions then they start to investigate and become less inclined to be so naïve. Churches resist this.”

“If you’re saying Moses was a dishonest man, how can you now expect me to be a new Moses? I’m not dishonest.”

“Your concern tells me that I have chosen the right person to lead. Assuming that the legends about him are true, I don’t think Moses considered what he did as being dishonest. He believed that the means justified the ends, which to him was to unite the Israelites and to lead them to freedom. His people were weak, the slaves of others. They needed a strong leader. Moses was a master mystic and as such probably also the first real politician or even freedom fighter. It was he who according to legend led his people to freedom after some hectic negotiations with the Egyptian overlords. The Israelites who actually consisted of different tribes were fighting among each other and worshipped different gods. It was Moses who forced them to worship only one god; this was the factor which together with their struggle for freedom from the oppression of the Egyptians, unified them and so doing, created a small nation. This god was still being worshipped by most people who were living when our metal bird crashed five thousand years later. He also invented stories to tell his people why they existed; that they were the chosen ones and even how the earth and the universe including man, was created. These stories were mostly fabrications to satisfy the questions of the tribes who followed him. It was nonetheless very important as it made the Israelites feel special; they felt that they were indeed the ‘chosen ones’. This had a very powerful uniting effect, an effect which has lasted for many centuries.”

“You lived in strange world it would seem. Did you also worship this god you called Yahweh?” Karl asked.

“I was but a little girl and ‘worshipped’ if you can call it that, who my father and mother worshipped. As child you have no choice in the matter. The church, much like the Jesuits here in Red Valley, did not tolerate dissent or argument. It was not far back in the history of the Ancients that the church would burn and torture people to death, if they did not believe in this Yahweh, Jehovah or Jesus Christ, as their gods were being called. Many hundreds of thousands died in this manner, all in the name of the same god who according to legend for example destroyed and virtually eradicated their enemies such as the Midianites[1], the people of cities called Ai[2] and Jericho[3] including women and children, all in Yahweh’s name.”

“A cruel god he must have been,” Karl commented pensively.

“When you read the Torah of the Jews, the Bible of the Christians as well as the Qu’ran of the Muslims, they often speak of doom, violence and dire punishments if you wander from the faith. It is important to remember Karl, that the gods were only the result of the imaginations of people such as the Israelites and later the Arabs. Larger than life leaders like Moses used this to manipulate and influence the people. The same pattern was followed by many leaders throughout the world. Mysticism is an enormously powerful tool which people use to achieve their own twisted ends. There were many instances where religious fanatics convinced their followers that the end of the earth was nigh and convinced them to drink poisons or commit suicide in some manner so that they would be blessed and enter the heavens of the gods. When I was a little girl, the fanatics of another very large religious group called the Muslims, believed that you would live forever in their god Al-Llah’s presence if you killed Christians and Jews. This led many fanatics to blow themselves up with explosives and kill thousands of innocent people in the process.”

“What’s an explosive?” Karl asked.

“It is a chemical substance developed in my world to create deep holes or mines and which by exploding broke the hardest rock into dust. We used it to build tunnels through mountains and so on; it was also used to destroy enemies. Some of our explosives were powerful enough to destroy entire cities. You as Caesareans have also created your own gods such as Zyndileka and Mo, she continued: “I knew Zyndileka personally, her real name was Zyndile and she was a good friend of mine.”

“What! How could that be? According to our spiritual leaders, Zyndileka is thousands of stones old and is very powerful,” Karl objected.

“Exactly! That is how legends are made stronger and the stronger they are, the easier they are to believe. The more miracles they have performed the more popular they become. And sadly, the more powerful they become, the less tolerant their followers are of others who disregard them. They also used fear to scare you into believing the legends, especially when you were a child. Many gods have been created during times of great wars, terrible droughts and the suffering of people. That is when people start to think that they are being punished by the gods. That is when the priests, prophets and leaders threaten their followers that they will die terrible deaths or go to hell to burn forever. That is also how Satan was created, much like the stories you were told as child about evil spirits which would carry you away in the night. I am sure you have seen how leaders use fear to ensure that you follow their instructions. Think how they used to frighten you with stories of the Lost Tribe and I suspect also about me eating children and throwing their bones to hyenas.”

“Yes, I can remember how a man and his wife were flogged in Caesarea, because they refused to put a blood sacrifice on the Altar at the Feast of the Harvest. I was the one who had to flog them too. Isn’t the late coming of the birds being used by you yourself to manipulate people of the valley, hey?” Karl was starting to enjoy this. It was the first time he had had the opportunity to think about things which had been drilled into him from childhood. They had been warned not to ask too many questions as this would anger the gods.

“Your observations are apt, Karl and your mind is starting to be used in the manner it was supposed to, free from the fetters of fear and threats of others. To answer your question, yes I am and I do it for exactly the same reasons mystics over the ages have done it, but with one difference; I know the difference between mysticism and realism. While some would think that that makes me a master mystic, I would counter that by saying that I’ve never abused the power mysticism gives a person and neither have I used it to serve my own needs.”

“But this exodus you speak of, aren’t you also manipulating the people of Red Valley to leave the valley much like Moses did for the Israelites?” Karl asked.

“That is very observant of you, Karl. Of course you are right. I will however not force anybody to leave the valley. They must do so of their own free will. What I am trying to achieve is to encourage them to seek a better life and if at all possible to return to the world I came from. Red Valley will not be able to sustain them for much longer. Already we can see that the smaller bird migrations and droughts have caused hunger. Add to that the fact that the villages are all growing. It is time to leave. Like Moses, I realised that if the three tribes of the valley leave separately, very few will survive…the Jesuits are not equipped for a long trek and I have no doubt that war will break out among them if they are not united. You must help me to unite them.”

Standing up from where she sat, the Red Priestess said: “Come it is getting late. We can continue this discussion again at some later stage.”

“OK. I have really learned a lot from you. We will speak again.”

The two walked out of the forest in the early morning light, like long lost friends. It did not go unnoticed.

 

In the Jesuit camp, the Inner Circle had congregated to plan its strategy and stand on the day’s agenda. The Vicar General was haranguing the priests.

“How can you say she hasn’t actually done anything wrong? The witch is the cause of all that’s wrong in the valley; she is also the one who has caused the delays in the migration. You heard what the Caesareans said. They will side with us in this. We must take control and we must do it today.” He was responding angrily to Mark’s view that the Red Priestess had presided at the previous afternoon’s gathering with some dignity and had not done anything wrong.

“Father, what is the reason for your hatred of the woman? We do not have as much experience as you have of her,” Timothy asked.

“Is it not written that Satan shall be caste out and destroyed by our Lord Jesus, the Son of God. She is Satan incarnate, I tell you,” he fumed. The priests were showing an alarming softness toward the witch. This was her ultimate strength; she manipulated people of weaker wills to her way of thinking. That was clear.

He was extremely agitated and was ready to call for an all-out attack on the priestess. Her final destruction was all he cared about. With her out of the way, the other villagers would follow their lead and eventually they would become united in God Almighty. Dissenters would be dealt with swiftly. Isn’t it written in Exodus that Jehovah is a God of war who could give victory in any situation?

“Father, what do you propose we do?” Timothy asked again.

“She will address us today. We must not allow that to happen. As soon as she starts speaking, we will all stand up and turn our backs to her. I expect that the Caesareans will follow our lead as they are not supporting her either. This will force her to stop whatever it is she is trying to say. Then we will all walk out of the amphitheatre and leave her and her followers alone. Once we are all gathered away from the witch’s influence, I suggest we gather near the Source on the top of the hill, I will ask the Lord for guidance and the blessings of Our Saviour Jesus Christ for all those who have congregated with us. I will also call the Lord our God for His divine intervention and that He gives us a sign.”

“…and if no sign comes forth, father?” Timothy asked.

“All you are called upon to do brother Timothy is to believe,” came the sarcastic reply.

“How sure are you that the Caesareans will support our walk-out?” Mark asked.

“I will speak to them and warn them what we’re planning,” the Vicar General replied confidently. He had no real hatred of the Caesareans and believed that they had merely wandered from the Way. With guidance and prayer they would convert to Christianity. It was his mission to see that that happened.

Suddenly the discussion was interrupted by a loud and strange noise. “Boom, boom da boom — Boom, boom da Boom” a rhythmic double beat of a large drum could be heard coming around the hillock approaching the amphitheatre.

A slow procession of blue-robed priests could be seen walking in time with the rhythm of the drum which was being played by a young acolyte of the High Priest. The Red Priestess was nowhere to be seen and neither were her red-headed girls.

The small procession entered the arena and slowly approached the altar at the front with the eye watching them. The villagers ran up to watch the proceedings. They had not been summoned but within minutes everyone had taken up their seats in much the same fashion as the previous afternoon. Even the Vicar General arrived as if called upon.

As the High Priest, who was at the rear of the line of priests approached the altar, he turned around and with a slight gesture the drum was silenced. The High Priest wore his customary long robe which shimmered blue in the daylight and on his head he carried a shiny crown made of the shiny material which most of the audience had never seen before. In his arms he carried his sceptre of polished wood upon which the beautiful carvings of animals and spirits had been made. In the audience, the New Londoner called Peter looked proudly at his handiwork on the sceptre. He had made it at the request of the Red Priestess at least one stone ago and this was the first time he saw it again.

Without a word, the High Priest turned to the low stone tablet in front of him and spread out his arms as if in benediction. The Vicar General shuddered at the symbolism and its sheer blasphemy.  No-one could see what lay on the stone table.

Slowly, at half the rhythm of a few moments ago, the drum beat started again, this time softly but somehow conveying a more insistent message to the audience. Everybody was quiet. The slow double beat had a calming effect on everybody or maybe because it sounded more sinister.

They did not know what to expect as this performance was totally unexpected, totally alien to them.

In his right arm, the High Priest raised his sceptre and struck the stone tablet in front of him a mighty blow. A loud explosion echoed through the amphitheatre scaring the wits out of the audience to the extent that some of them fell over backwards from their seats while others ran from the amphitheatre in fright. In time with the explosion, the drum stopped beating. The acolytes expected the explosion so sat unmoved, mostly. Red smoke filled the amphitheatre with an acrid smell.

The atmosphere was tense. Everybody including the Jesuits, cowered to avoid being struck by a lightning bolt of the gods of the clouds. They had heard the rumours that the sceptre of the High Priest was used to call on the gods in the clouds who answered with lightning and thunder. This was their first experience of its terrible power. The Red Priestess was still nowhere to be seen. Her absence added to the drama.

Arms outstretched, the High Priest turned around to face the gathering. In a loud and clear voice, the High Priest started a sing-song intonation which was to become a historic prophecy of significant import to the citizens of Red Valley: a prophecy which would survive many.

“Be not dismayed, people of Red Valley

Our triumph is near as our skies clear

Our destinies are nigh

as are the fires in the sky.

We shall answer the call and rise to face the challenges ahead.

Those remaining behind shall only be the weak and the dead;

they shall be accompanied by the Angel so Red;

And in the first day of the light

We shall be blinded in the night

Only to witness miracles of creation

And in the second day of the light

The valley shall stir and shake to the rhythms of the sky;

And we shall fail as a nation, but

Fear not as I say unto you

During this the third day of the light

The sky shall darken and the light be swallowed forever more until

with the blessing of the light, twice shall cometh the dawn”

The priest paused momentarily and then continued:

 

“Listen, you who destroy what is good and uphold all that is evil.

Listen, you who speak of treason

You shall be struck down by the wrath of light

You shall be banished into the night.

Let those of good heart and mind be strengthened to be wise and kind.

Let those of gentle nature and of courage know that warriors they be

To lead the way without fear and doubt

that worms the soul

Know too that o’er the seas and mountains and in deserts

Which burn like fire a toll shall take

Many shall live to tell the tale but liars and lies shall be put to the stake.

Know too that those who tread the path

Shall find enlightenment

While ye who resist, shall feel the lost souls’ wrath.

 

As he finished, he sank to the ground in a dead faint. Slowly the drum started its beat again.

Behind the audience a low murmur and song started; they turned their heads to see whence the new sound came; the young red headed girls appeared, marching in single file to the altar whilst humming a song. Behind them, the Red Priestess strode. She was resplendent in her red robe which covered her body. Over her back she wore the hyena’s head wrap with its death grin whilst its eyes stared out behind her. The Vicar General imagined the eyes to be watching him in particular. Just as he had used fear to manipulate people, he realised the Red Priestess was doing exactly the same. The bile rose in his throat.

When the females reached the altar, the priests stood up leaving the High Priest where he still lay on the ground and the drummer behind, and left the arena.

The Red Priestess walked up to her son, tapped him on the shoulder. He raised himself from the ground to stand alongside his mother. Nobody in the audience was aware of their relationship.

The Red Priestess and the High Priest slowly ascended the throne and turning around, sat down to face the audience, Jesuits, Rationalists and Caesareans alike, who by now were spellbound by the drama and the expectation of more to come.

After a few minutes the Red Priestess stood up.

“I have heard your call. Yes, I have heard you too Joshua, Vicar General of the Jesuits.” She paused and cast her eyes straight at the priest who squirmed in discomfort as he recalled what he had told his priests half an hour ago. Had she overheard them? That is not possible!

“…and you Benedict; I have heard the Counters from each village. Some of you dared challenge me and even blamed me for the late migration of the birds. It is the way of the coward and the mystic to blame others. It is written in the history of mankind in the Ancient world that it is only the brave who are prepared to accept the consequences of their own actions and it is only the way of the wise to understand why this is fundamental to life and to justice.” With her voice rising to a pitch, she further exclaimed: “and it is only the fools who would tell those who would listen, that it is not they who have erred but that the fault lay elsewhere, they are not to blame.”

“Listen ye to the calls of the victims who listened to these fools and who cried that the world was unfair and asked for protection. Protection from the gods, protection from the rulers and kings, protection from evil and protection from death, nay they did not ask, they demanded it as a right. This is the ultimate call of the weak. Let ye not be found wanting; let ye not ask for manna from heaven; let ye not beg for deliverance from the unknown for that will lead you into poverty, hunger and disease. Such prayers are the sign of the ignorant and of the weak.”

Her voice calmed again as she looked at her spellbound audience: “Know ye who sit here today. You are the future of the world. You are the New World. By your actions today and forever more, shall ye be judged. You shall not be judged by what you call the gods. You shall not be judged by your ancestors or by angels or demons. You shall be judged by those who follow you and come after you. Nay, your children shall be punished and cry for your mistakes and be rewarded and justly rejoice when you do right. You shall err on your paths of discovery; that is the way of learning the true lessons of life, but you shall also succeed. You are the future and I say to you, believe in yourselves; believe in the power of your minds which have the capacity to create and add value to things deemed non-valuable to fools and looters. But know this; your minds also have the power to destroy. Fear not that power; harness it to ensure you create a world that is better than the world of the Ancients; a world that is better than Red Valley.”

“If the morality of the future is to be based on using the strong to protect or help the weak because that is the only moral thing to do, you will create a society of parasites and dependent people because the weak shall suck the strong dry while the weak shall nonetheless remain weak. Strengthen the weak through learning; open their minds, let them see the error of their ways. Let them too learn that the pursuit of happiness is the only way to find enlightenment. Let them learn to face reality and appreciate and value the present instead of relying on the past or be terrified by a secret and unknown future. Teach them to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions, not because some mystic or deity demands it but because it is their just reward.”

“The ultimate morality of life must be based on your pursuit of happiness through the fulfillment of your ambitions to create a better world for your children and their children. This will not come about through mysticism and false promises; only through the belief that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions and that the consequences of these actions should be what you will be judged against.”

“As the Makers of the New World, it will be your task to define the moral code by which your descendants must live. I say to you that this code is not found in mystic rites and magic. It is not found in the denial of your own right to be happy and to seek happiness. It is not found in the sacrificing of your mind or of the right you were born with to think. No, the code of a moral life is to define and to recognise that that which exists, exists; that reality is real. It is contained in the recognition that self-esteem is developed by creating value and happiness by creating virtue.”

“A moral code is able to distinguish between the actions of man that are evil and those that are good. Such distinctions will test your thoughts and your value systems. I say to ye now, nature cannot be evil; earthquakes and volcanoes are not evil; a wind that destroys your crops or your homes is not evil; a lion which kills a lamb is not evil. A disease which strikes you or your loved ones down is not the work of a devil or evil spirit. It is only man that has the capacity to be evil. So too can man be good and his goodness must be judged by the value he or she has added to the world we live in; such value will be created by his thinking and by his productive efforts, by the knowledge that what he creates, he is free to create as he chooses and free to risk as much as he is prepared to risk. It is this freedom that is your task to create, indeed to protect with your very lives in the New World that you will be creating. The real evil can be found in the lies and mysticism of those who wish to control the minds of others. Beware those who use fear and threats to achieve their ends; beware those who promise things that they are unable to produce. Beware those who are unable to create value and seek to usurp the value created by others; above all beware those who create guilt where no guilt exists and who through lies and the generation of fear, create dependence upon them.”

By this time the Inner Circle had completely forgotten their instructions from the Vicar General. The drama and spectacle which was taking place before their very eyes had mesmerised them. Now they suddenly remembered. The Vicar General suddenly stood up and turned his back on the priestess. His timing was all wrong but the rest of the Inner Circle did the same. None of the other Jesuits followed suit. They had not been briefed and quite frankly felt that the Vicar General was obstructing their view of the Red Priestess.

“Sit down,” someone shouted from the rear.

Craning their necks to see the front, the audience heckled and jeered the small standing group until the Vicar General sat down abruptly, followed by the other priests. The support he had hoped to get from other Jesuits and Caesareans had not materialised.

The Red Priestess had observed the actions carefully and made no comment. She carried on with her address:

“You have heard the predictions of the Counters. You have also heard the prophecies of the High Priest. Now hear this. I say unto you: the birds shall arrive in the next two days. But I warn you also that they shall be few and not sufficient to stock your larders for the winter. I also say to you, that this shall be a winter such as you have never experienced. The ice shall cover the world, the snow shall be white and nevermore red and the rivers shall stop flowing; yes even the Source shall cease giving its wonderful bounty and River Esme shall be but a mere memory.”

A gasp rose from the gathering. This was impossible. It had never happened before.

“Yes, I am foretelling these things not because of witchery and magic but because I know that it will be. I also say to you that the winter shall pass and with its passing, the dead shall remain behind. The valley shall be left desolate and the light shall show the way. You must prepare for this. You must produce and gather what you can and live from the unknown lands you will pass through.”

“The winter shall come and go before you depart and in the new spring you shall start. A leader shall arise from among you. He shall have the strength and wisdom to unite all the villages who shall become one; he shall be your new Moses. I also say to you that your journey shall be difficult and many shall perish along the way. Those who start the journey young shall end it old; those who start it old shall not see the final land. Your way shall be shown by your leader who will be a navigator.”

“Now I bid thee to return to your fires and await the coming of the birds.”

She beckoned to the drummer and left the amphitheatre to the throb of the double beat, together with the High Priest and the girls.

Nobody moved until the procession and the drummer was out of sight. Then the gathering slowly filtered out from the arena and talking in subdued voices split up in small groups as they walked to the camp.

Only Karl had remained behind on his stone seat. The prophecies of the High Priest and the Red Priestess’ reference to the new leader suddenly had enormous significance for him. How did she expect him to react to all this? How could she expect him to unite the three villages if history in the valley has shown them to be irreconcilable? What did the prophecies mean? His head was buzzing. The leadership which was expected from him troubled him greatly. He was not ready and doubted his own strengths. He instinctively knew that he did not possess the wisdom the Red Priestess seemed to believe that he had.

He stood up from his seat and greatly weighed down by his thoughts, trudged away from the camps towards the south west edge of KRAT’s plateau. He did not notice his unfamiliar surroundings until he stumbled over something he had never seen before. KRAT was forbidden territory so Karl had never hunted the area.

In front of him a shiny object stuck out of the ground. It had been buried by close to a century’s volcanic ash and hardened mud but he was able to dislodge it quite easily. It was made from an unknown shiny metal but was soft like the ropes of hemp which he used to capture small animals. As he pulled the cable, it ran on under the soil for about fifty paces and then lodged solidly below the ground. Try as he might he was unable to dislodge it further.

Taking his buffalo horn hunting knife, Karl dug around the buried object and after some time unearthed a solid piece of metal. On the one end it had a hole through which the wire rope was attached while the other end was free. The solid piece was quite large, flat and thicker than his knife. He was surprised when he picked it up. It was so light that he could easily lift it over his head. Such metal he had never seen. Surely this must be from the metal bird the Red Priestess had spoken to him about. This was where it had landed many years ago!

Karl stood up and looked carefully around him. His keen eyes quickly noticed that the area was littered with the same metal as well as other things which he could not recognise. Stretching away before him to the edge of the plateau he also noticed a straight indentation in the ground which looked like some giant hand had dug a deep furrow into the rock.

“I am glad you found the place, Karl.”

He spun around in shocked surprise. The Red Priestess was sitting on a large rock not twenty paces from him. How did she get here without him noticing?

“You have unearthed a small piece of the wings of the metal bird, Karl,” pointing at the flat piece of metal in his hands. “This is the place where we crashed many stones ago, even before we started counting the years with the Placing of the Stones.”

“How big was this metal bird of yours?” Karl asked with wonder in his voice. There was no doubt in his mind now. An old civilisation had indeed existed. He and all those living in Red Valley were the descendants of these mysterious but wonderful beings.

“It was very big. It could carry the whole village of the Jesuits plus the New Londoners at one time. Its wings stretched from that rock you see over there to the one you can see there.”

He gasped as she indicated two rocks quite distant from each other. “Its tail stretched up into the sky higher than the highest tree in Red Valley and it flew faster than the strongest wind you have ever felt on your face and it roared with flames streaming from its wings”

Karl was unable to grasp the description and its implications. What she was telling him was beyond his comprehension; he had no framework of reference to measure and evaluate what she was explaining.

She laughed with her single tooth showing: “I know, I know. How did it fly and stay in the air, you will wonder? They were miracles made by man; man who used his brains to design and construct amazing machines which could swim under and on the seas; machines which flew so high in the skies that you could not see them; machines which looked like humans and walked and talked; machines which could travel over land on roads built of black stone at speeds faster than the winds. Man’s genius created these wonders, these included replacing a sick man’s heart with that of another man’s healthy heart; it included generating power which could be transported by wire such as the one you are holding in your hand over very long distances. They also built terrible weapons and poisoned the earth; made wars in which millions of people were killed, often because of intolerance based on religious differences and cultures or purely for reasons of greed and unbridled ambition to rule and dictate others. Man’s creative genius often led to his downfall and you, the seedlings of the New World must ensure that this does not happen again. You will be called upon many times to answer difficult questions but if you are prepared for this, you together with the young girls I am training as historians, will know what the right answers will be. In the next six months and during the winter, I will ensure that you are ready for the challenge. What say you now?”

“To be a leader, one needs followers. I have no followers,” came his simple yet accurate response.

“You will have,” was her equally simple answer.

Karl and the priestess returned together to the camps, talking all the way with her answering the barrage of questions which kept bubbling from his heart. He felt like someone newly born; someone who only now started to see the world around him. The realisation that he was descended from these wonderful miracle creators gave him a feeling such as he had never before experienced. The blood in his veins seemed to flow with a force never before felt. The hunter had new eyes and new ears.

 

The Vicar General was fuming. The Red Priestess had upstaged him again. Had she overheard their strategy or was there a traitor in their midst? Impossible! They had not even finished their discussions when the drum had started beating. There had been no time for her to be informed or to plan a defensive strategy. No, it was most surely witchcraft. And what was the prophecy by the so-called high priest all about? The Vicar General pondered the meaning but could not fathom what the High Priest had meant. He turned to the other members of the Inner Circle.

“What did you understand in the prophecy of the pagan shaman?” he asked irritably.

Mark, the Counter who was more intellectually inclined than Timothy, replied: “He forecast things which I had some difficulty with. He started out with a so-called clearing of the skies which will lead to the fulfillment of all our destinies. What I interpret from this is that the clouds above us will disappear. This will be the signal that we embark on the foretold exodus from the valley. He followed this with a three day prediction saying we shall be blinded at night on the first day while in the second day the valley would tremble and shake. That sounds like an earthquake to me. But it’s the third day which I don’t grasp. The light which he talks about must be the sun of ancient and biblical legend. He said the sky shall darken forever until a second dawn shall come. This seems to be a contradiction. First the light of the sun will disappear maybe forever, and then by some intervention I don’t know from where this will come, it will return. And then he seemed to warn all of us; those who destroy what is good and uphold evil shall be struck down and banished into eternal darkness, while those of good heart and mind are expected to be the leaders. He warned of the perils ahead, of the exodus the witch spoke about. He also spoke of lost souls which I think is a reference to the legend of the Lost Tribe which as you know, is but a child’s legend. I don’t know what it means though.”

“And how do you read the witch’s address?”

“Well it’s along the same vein I guess…”

Timothy not wanting to be upstaged by the older man, interrupted: “She is the dangerous one as we all know. Did you hear her direct accusation? She started off saying she had heard you, Vicar General. What did she mean by that?”

“I read that to mean she had heard us plotting to embarrass her in front of the gathering today, but she couldn’t have. She was not even close to us and the drum started its infernal beating when we were still talking about it,” the Vicar General replied. It was clear that he was concerned. They were all puzzled.

“Could she have been referring to the Inner Circle when she said only fools lay the blame on others or was that a hidden message to the others that they shouldn’t listen to us? And what do you think about her prediction of a new leader… who will that be?” Timothy asked.

“Fools you are for being drawn in to a debate concerning her predictions,” the Vicar General replied crossly. “That is how she hopes to divide us and sow dissent. She is a sly one that and you need to be constantly on your guard. 1 Corinthians 10 says “that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgement.” We shall see what so-called leader she produces. I suspect she is grooming that sinner and Satan’s fornicator, Karl the Hunter. I saw them walking together twice now and I trust them not. Anyway we must spread the word immediately. Go out among the Jesuits and warn them not to be misled by the prophecies and predictions. We must stand together.”

The four members of the Inner Circle dispersed and in quiet discussions with the delegates in the Jesuit camps, spread the word as instructed.

 

The New Londoners were also debating the High Priest’s prophecy.

“We know that what the High Priest was chanting had to do with visions he has had about the very near future. I’m not sure what they meant. The more important issue in my mind is how can it be possible that a person can see anything in the future?” It was Alan who was speaking to Susan and some of the other villagers.

“The Jesuit Bible is replete with these prophecies and predictions. Many of its books are based on the sayings, visions and what have you. Clearly the early Jews were quite adamant that these were important enough to listen to and where relevant, to obey,” Susan replied. She had actually read parts of an old Bible she had found in her house which had belonged to one of the original survivors, a woman named June.

“But it flies in the face of reason. It suggests that there is something after all to consider; something we don’t really understand,” Alan continued.

“Maybe it’s merely because nobody has thought to explain these powers that some seem to have and others don’t, Alan. I think we’re all born with different talents. Some of us can create beautiful figures with wood and if I try that the result is only good enough to make a fire while others can sing. I think the High Priest was born with a peculiar but nonetheless special gift; he seems to go into some type of trance and then has these visions,” Susan replied.

“We were taught that the talent to think is special and unique to man. Added to this, we were told that by using our minds to their fullest capacity we would indeed be able to create wonderful things,” Ahmed, who was sitting listening quietly to the debate, commented. “We can see it in New London where we have a better quality of life than in any other village. Maybe the real issue here is how do we learn to use our minds to their fullest capacity? And who will teach us this?”

Alan looked at his friends and wondered at how different they were to the Jesuits and even the Caesareans: “As much as I detest mysticism, maybe we should speak to the priestess or even the High Priest and ask them these questions. She certainly has more life experience than all of us put together.”

The debate fizzled out after that but in the back of Susan’s mind she made a mental note to pick this issue up with the Red Priestess. It was in her nature to look for answers to vexing questions.


[1] The Bible: Numbers 31:18

[2] The Bible: Joshua 8:25

[3] The Bible: Joshua 6:21

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