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The Council of Arganath – by Daniel
Enrothor blew the shavings off of the wooden horse he was making. It stood nearly two feet tall, its eyes caring and loyal. He smiled as he gazed on the finished work, each contour working together in perfect harmony to create a masterpiece. The high level of detail almost made it seem like the statuette was an incredibly small steed.
He placed it on a table beside him and grabbed four blocks sitting on an otherwise empty shelf. He still had no idea what they were to become, but as he would work, they slowly took shape. He remembered when his father had purchased the wood for him years ago.
When Enrothor went with his father on one of his travels to the capital, the governor held a parade. The crowds that were drawn there provided good business for people selling goods. One man approached them and offered the large blocks for an extremely low price. He claimed that it was a rare species of wood and that if they were to buy it from anyone else, the cost would be crippling.
Enrothor touched one of the blocks. He had determined to make something of infinite worth out of them, which was one of his barriers to know what it was to be. They were all somewhat shapeless, though each had distinctive characteristics. One seemed to be forming a tail, another had some sort of claw-like protrusion near the base. The largest seemed like a head was forming, though the shape gave no indication as to the animal it belonged to. The smallest was difficult to discern, though it had shallow, intricate lines that almost looked like chainmail.
“Enrothor!” somebody yelled from outside the barn. Enrothor went to the door and looked out. His brother, Sarinothor, was approaching. He smiled as he neared. “Mother wants you inside for supper.” He looked at the workbench. “Have you finished it yet?”
Enrothor nodded. “I think that I’ll give it to Serunet on my way to Gaoren next month.”
Sarinothor slapped him on the back. “You are the best woodworker I have ever even heard of. You can make things look so natural I sometimes fear that they will jump up and start running.” He let out a sarcastic huff. “And I don’t want to have to catch it. You know how hard it is to catch a chunk of wood.”
Enrothor laughed with his brother and walked up toward the house, ready for a good meal and an evening spent with his family.
Enrothor stopped and looked through the crowd that was gathered around a wagon in the town square. He pushed through as a man climbed onto it and faced the people. As Enrothor neared, he heard two men talking.
“He’s a Phanor,” one man said.
“Do you mean one of those priests?” the other replied.
Enrothor cocked his head. Only twice had a Phanor been through their region of Chornia. Despite the fact that many Phanorrim traveled habitually, few had even heard of Enrothor’s village.
The Phanor spread out his hands to silence the murmuring people. “Citizens of Chornia, in the village of Arbet,” he began, “I am here because of a rising rebellion in our great empire. Radical people from all kingdoms are rising up against Lord Árganath, our gracious ruler. They oppose the state and all that it stands for. They have killed the lawful protectors of our cities and robbed farms of their produce.”
At this the people began moaning and shouting. Enrothor had to move closer to be able to hear the Phanor’s attempt to quiet the people. When their protests diminished, he continued.
“They openly criticize our god, Gornin. This is their worst crime because it is the seed from which their rebellion grows. I am here to recruit strong, able-bodied men to join the fight against the rebellion. I, myself, will be joining the army in a few months, when I have finished recruiting.” He held his hands out to the crowd. “If any one of you is willing to protect your freedom, step forward.”
For a full minute, absolute silence dominated the crowd. Enrothor wondered what the others were thinking. He knew some well enough to know their first impulses and concerns, but most were an enigma. Finally, one man spoke. “What about our families and farms? What will happen to them if we go?”
Murmurs ran through the people. The Phanor held up his hands. “If you cannot get help with your farms and businesses, by all means stay. Know, however, that you can request to be assigned as a guard over your own city to protect it. As for your families, our gracious governor has stated that he will support the families of all Chornix men that enlist as warriors.”
Behind Enrothor, the man that identified the Phanor spoke. “You speak of Gornin as though he was a god,” he said, adding disdainful emphasis on the word Gornin. “What of Helaris, the Lord of all?”
The Phanor cocked his head. “I do not personally believe in the existence of Helaris, though Gornin’s laws are all-encompassing. He states that an individual may believe in any gods that they desire, only if they give him supremacy over other deities.”
Enrothor turned and looked at the man who had spoken. His face was like flint, his countenance fierce. “Helaris commands his followers to be loyal to Him only.” The man’s voice was laced with anger and carried a deep resonance, as though he spoke with two voices. One sounded rough, common for the Chornix, in a tenor pitch. The second was baritone and polished, though slightly more subtle.
He continued. “Helaris deems worship of any so-called god as an act of heresy, especially if the god is elevated higher than Helaris. ‘Gornin,’ as you call him, is emphatically against the Lord and all his servants.”
The Phanor raised his chin slightly. “You say that we call him Gornin. Do you have a better name?”
The man stood firm. He glanced at Enrothor, his eyes cutting deep into his soul. The brief moment lasted a lifetime as this stranger seemed to search his heart. Just before they broke eye contact, something akin to golden fire flashed in his eyes.
He looked back at the Phanor so intensely that the priest flinched, his confidence draining from him. The man opened his mouth and spoke in a foreign tongue. “Rooth ek re Talir: ek Sathnakh.”
The air was sucked out of Enrothor’s lungs, causing him to drop to the ground. He tried to inhale, but the air was cut off. He faintly heard the Phanor give a confused reply, but Enrothor was not listening.
Just as he thought that he was going to fall unconscious, a gentle, yet firm hand gripped his shoulder. “You know who it is, son of the Drake.” The voice was the same as that of the man who spoke of Helaris, only now the deeper voice was prominent while the other was faintly babbling nonsense.
Air instantly rushed into Enrothor’s lungs. The hand released his shoulder and he looked up, but nobody was there. He shook his head, wondering what had happened. He pushed himself to his feet and exited the throng of people to complete his errand and return home.
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