On Your Feet or Not At All

“What is the meaning of this… display?”

The kneeling petitioner winced as my steel-shod flamestaff slammed into the flagstone by his ear, then winced again as, looking up, he caught a glimpse of my face.  “Stand up, man, you and these others.  We’ll have no such heathen prostrations here.  You insult the Flame.  Lord Elmiríën will not be pleased by this.”

They quickly scrambled to their feet, their leader white-faced and stammering.  “Forgive us, ah, my lady – um, your holy -”

“Acquiescent.”

“My lady acquies-”

“Just ‘acquiescent’.  Acquiescent Muetry of Elmiríën.  What is your purpose here, postulant?”

“We are travelers, Acquiescent, from Indimór.  We sought only to give thanks for the safety of our journey, and intended no offense.  We ask forgiveness.”

“I see.”  I sighed inwardly.  One day, it would be nice to hear of a foreign god that didn’t expect people to plant their faces in the dirt.  “Then know, postulant, that the eikones of the true faith desire no worshipful subjection, no flattering prayers or praise of their magnificence rendered meaningless by the praiser’s offered lack of worth.  Such things insult the Flame that burns within you as within Them; as above, so below.  They desire rather that you grow along Their path of principle so that you may stand in Their sight and have your worth be known.”

“They are the light by which we see the perfection of the Twilight City, and hope to emulate it in ourselves.  To worship the light, to bow before the light, rather than aspire to the light, rather than seek the light, is to condemn your soul to a base nature, forever lost in shadow.  Do you understand this?”

“I… not completely, Acquiescent.”

“Think upon this matter, postulant.  If three days hence you still wish to seek the favor of Elmiríën Patterner, seek out cleansing at the House of Entélith, and First Instruction at the House of Aláthiël.  Until then, this place is closed to you.  Now go from here.  Thus speak those who acquiesce to Elmiríën, the One Word of Truth.”

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