The square stayed quiet. Crazy’Ole used Aristotle’s argument to conclude, “Our goddess has proved that Amon is approved and blessed. The fact that he has mastered the technique is the manifestation of the oracle.” It was hard to refute, unless someone stood out and said, “The technique can be mastered without being approved and blessed by the goddess.” But who would say that? The people in Duc had deeply believed in Mourrin for so many years; that belief was etched in their very souls
Even the sceptics could only hide the doubt in their hearts because speaking out would only risk them being spurned with scorn. So it was not a problem of choice, but of self-protection.
Turning his head to Aristotle, Crazy’Ole broke the silence, “Mister, are you aware that your reasoning contains some dangerous assumptions?”
Aristotle saw a teasing sneer in Nietzsche’s eyes. Aristotle knew perfectly well that the reasoning could lead to dangerous conclusions if he switched its assumption. For example, the boy was not approved by the goddess, and yet he mastered the technique. It can set a precedence for people to try and master the technique without approval from the goddess.
It was why some people in the crowd felt it wrong but couldn’t point it out. No one could deny the oracle. It was the beginning, the premise of everything. But Aristotle could feel that Crazy’Ole was indicating something else when he asked him that question.
Amon tried his best to stand still, but he couldn’t help but turn his head and give Aristotle a grateful look. Then he turned back and watched Crazy’Ole with questions in his eyes. Unlike most people in the crowd, he could hear the implication in Crazy’Ole’s words. Nietzsche was not just asking Aristotle, he was also suggesting something to him.
Numerous thoughts bombarded Amon. Now, he was more agitated than when he was being questioned by Shog. Crazy’Ole’s question suggested many possibilities, such as that Mourrin might not exist, that she existed but she might not care about this place, that mastering the technique might not need approval from Her, or that it could be mastered with the blessing of some other deities, etc..
Amon’s face flushed like a drunkard. His sight went dim. For a miner’s son, it was hard to digest all this information. But today, being the one in the thick of things, he was forced to think of them.
Aristotle read the doubt in Nietzsche’s eyes. He put his hand on his chest and smiled, “I meant no offence to any god. The faith in gods comes from what we will, not what we desire. We should have faith in whatever we believe in, but the gods’ existence does not depend on our will.”
He intelligently avoided falling into the rhetoric, and Crazy’Ole did not go on. He turned back to Shog and gave his last reprimand, “There is only one explanation. Your dear priest has done things to damage the glory of the goddess Mourrin, so our goddess did not bless Amon via you. We know that the glory of the goddess is eternal while the loyalty of the priest is not always tested. Now that everyone’s here, what, according to you my mayor, should we do with this priest?”
Shog’s face turned completely pale. Sweat ran from his forehead and his legs started to tremble. He had no idea that the situation would turn dramatic, that the interrogator would become the interrogated. Crazy’Ole was questioning if he was still qualified to be a priest. He could see the gleam in his eyes.
Dusti remained silent as if he had decided to be a bystander in this farce.
Shog was used to being an important figure in this town. He had forgotten how he had first gotten this position. Crazy’Ole supported him the entire way. Crazy’Ole once praised him, “You are decisive and smart. What is more important is that you are honest with yourself. No one is more suitable than you to be the priest and the clerk of the shrine.”
Time changes many things. Shog began to make acquaintances among the dear lords of the states. He even coveted Dusti’s place. But he forgot about Crazy’Ole, who had always kept a low profile. Now he knew what it was like when he turned the pressure on. He was dragging him off the high chair of the priest in front of everybody, like what he had done years ago to push him into it.
“Oh, Mister Nietzsche. It seems that we had a mistake. I didn’t know that you had received the order from Mourrin in your dream. This is rare but not unprecedented. In the holy books, there are records about the goddess giving her blessings directly to the craftsmen and teaching them the technique before there was even a shrine. Amon is a goddess-blessed child,” Shog blurted out and took another step back.
Shog was in such panic that he brought out the records of the holy books. They were the oldest legends of Duc that explained the origin of the craftsmen’s technique. According to them, people built the magnificent shrine many, many years ago. Now Shog’s priority was no longer Amon. He was doing everything to cover himself.
Mayor Dusti decided to finally comment. He nodded with a half smile and said, “It is true. There are such records. Mister Aristotle, you have said that you came with the mission from Lord Drick. Please don’t allow yourself to be interrupted by a meaningless fight.”
Now the mayor deftly changed the subject. Aristotle replied, “Miss… no, Lord Maria is not feeling well and her attendant is ill. I am looking for an attendant to serve Lord Maria for three days. He should be able to do all the rough work. ”
Dusti puzzled, why did Rod Drick need to find a servant in the town when he had so many of them with him? Instead of expressing his doubt, he asked innocently, “What kind of attendant are you looking for?”
Aristotle glimpsed Amon and replied slowly, “First, not a woman who has had a man; second, not a grown-up man; third, there should be no dust on his head and no mud under his nails.”
Once Aristotle had finished listing the conditions, Crazy’Ole cut in to add two, “Fourth, he should have a pure heart; finally, he should have the blessing and approval from Isis.”
Aristotle was a bit startled, but nodded and continued, “Yes, with these two as well. Is there anybody in town who is qualified? If yes, he’ll be paid a gold paran per day. Lord Drick’s generosity is remarkable.”
Dusti understood now. If the original attendant had fallen ill, it would be really hard to find someone from Lord Drick’s servants who met all those conditions. They were actually given by Gabriel. When she received the Gods’ Tear, she required that Maria stick to the standards of the Adoratrice, because she would be the Adoratrice soon.
Gabriel came up with five conditions. Aristotle only stated the first three, because there was no need to state the latter two to the Ducians. To his surprise, Crazy’Ole completed them.
The Ducians dealt with fire and rocks every day. The recent order from the mayor to cover all the arrears and the busy trades with the merchants forced them to work day and night so they would have the parangons to pay the tax or to buy goods. Thus, it was nearly impossible to find one with no dust on their head and no mud under their nails. There were only three Ducians in the square who met the cleanliness condition: Dusti, Shog and Amon. Amon was clean. He had just bathed in the cold spring. He even washed his clothes and dried them under the morning sun before he dressed and went to town.
Crazy’Ole smiled, “You are lucky. We have one and only one person that meets your conditions. He is an underage boy, and you know why he is standing here – because of the blessing from Isis. Amon, go with this mister. And mister, please give his father his three gold parans.”
The mayor went down the footsteps and patted Amon’s shoulder, which hardly ever happened, “Go with this mister, my boy. Do as he tells you to. Don’t fail our dearest guest.”
The crowd parted once more as Aristotle left with Amon. Before he left, Amon raised his father who was still on his knees. Crazy’Ole whispered to Amon, “Don’t worry about the things here from now. Everything is going to be fine.”
The crowd was still in the square after Amon had left. Crazy’Ole said to the Mayor, “The priest shows that Amon is innocent with the records in the holy books. That he is blessed by goddess Mourrin. But it also shows that our priest has forgotten the oracles in the holy books. His soul has been blinded. Without the warnings given by our dear guest, Mister Shog would have removed the boy’s finger. My mayor and chief priest, what should we do about this?”
The sweat ran on Shog’s forehead again. Crazy’Ole wasn’t giving him the slightest chance. If he continued raising the issue, things would certainly become very difficult for him should the information get to the ears of the high priests in the state. Shog stepped forward and cried desperately, “It was my mistake. I have never encountered such a thing in my term of service. Thank you for the reminder from dear Mister Nietzsche. I shall make amends for my reckless behaviour and apologize to Amon.”
The dear priest walked down the footsteps, leaned forward and brushed a speck of dirt from Amon’s father’s knee. The crowd were shocked. Amon’s father jumped back in fright and said, “You don’t have to do this, my lord. You should decide what to do. Our Goddess will decide what to do. I believe that Mourrin blessed Amon.”
Crazy’Ole sneered on his side, “You shouldn’t refuse the kindness from our priest. How merciful and generous he is! He is making amends for what he has done. You should accept it. My mayor, I suggest that Mister Shog should pay this year’s tax for Amon’s family.”
Shog got up and nodded, “Not a problem.” He sighed with relief. This drunkard extracted almost the least parangons in the town, not much more than the four for the basic tax. But then he frowned because he realized that Amon was a good craftsman. If he happened to extract a lot in the coming year. Shog had to pay the nine for every ten he got, which could be painfully expensive for his coffers.
But now in this situation, he had to say yes.
Mayor Dusti concluded, “So this affair is over. I will keep a record of what happened but just as a record. I will not report it to the shrine of the state as an incident of blasphemy. Well, there is nothing further, so feel free to dismiss yourselves.”
What the mayor had hinted was that he now had one more thing to hold over Shog. He was going to write a record, not a report. But it also meant that it could become a report at any time. As a priest, Shog violated the oracle. The story was detailed and the witnesses were numerous. Mayor Dusti vaguely knew that in the recent two years, Shog made an effort to make acquaintances among the great lords in the state and that he had designs on the position of mayor. But the time was not yet ripe to condemn their relationship. There was still nobody who could replace him. A warning today was enough.