What is your position in Arh’et?
Well, I am the High Priest of Arh’et, of course, ruler of my realm in the absence of Lord Faeran.
What are the people of Arh’et like?
Ignorant, all of them. Just stupid peasants. They spend their days raising crops and livestock to feed the world, and they do it without question. Can’t even read, you know. We keep them that way, makes ’em easier to control. We make them go to our schools when they are very young and teach them how to be good peasants and to not think too much. And they seem quite happy with their lot in life. We allow them to marry and live in whichever village they choose. They think they’re free, of course. But only as long as they follow the rules and perform the rituals. We teach them to be humble in all things. They dress plainly to signify their commitment to their place in the world, but we allow them to display bright colors in their homes as a mark of their contribution to our world. The more they have produced, the more colors they can display. If they haven’t produced enough to be able to trade for the banners and bright tapestries, everyone will know. We have to allow them some pride, you know, so they will work hard.
What are the rules?
The rules are simple; do something useful, like raise crops. Send your children to the Arh’et school when they are old enough and encourage them in their studies. Instill in them a sense of duty to do their part and follow the rules, and to work hard in their community. We allow them to have donkeys, goats, pigs, oxen, chickens, and cattle. But they can’t have horses. Horses are too easily used as animals of war. So, we keep the horses for ourselves; myself and my Priests, to remind the peasants of their status compared to ours. They must be obedient to us in all things because we will guide their way so they don’t bring the wrath of Lord Faeran to our realm. They can keep enough of what they produce to feed their families, but the rest must be brought to Koss for trade. You see, we trade the food for fire, water, and the good weather we need to raise the crops. If they don’t bring enough to provide for the land, then we take what they’ve saved for themselves. If that’s still not enough, well, then we punish them. But that doesn’t happen often, they’re quite obedient, you see.
What about the rituals?
There are several, the most important is the ritual of the Trah’ez. Each man and woman over the age of 12 must perform the ritual every day at sunrise. It is more powerful as a group…and it gets them out of bed early so they will start their work day and be the most productive. We tell them that the ritual helps control the magic and whenever someone fails to perform the ritual the magic is in danger of escaping. That’s how we explain the tremors; someone failed to do the ritual and the magic is in danger of being unleashed. It isn’t true, of course, but when they ask about the tremors we tell them it’s because too many people are failing in their duties so they must encourage their neighbors to do their daily ritual. We can make them monitor each other that way, you see. But what the ritual really does is keep people fearful and that powers the magic Lord Faeran gives us so we can control the Trah’ez. Here in Arh’et we must suppress the power of the Trah’ez or there would be chaos again; earthquakes and such, at least, that’s what we tell the peasants.
The other rituals have to do with trading with the people of Dai’awin, Z’lea, and Tav’res. It’s all silliness, of course, but we’ve trained them all to believe that violating the trading rituals will spark a war. It’s just another way to keep them afraid of each other and increase Lord Faeran’s power. Divide and conquer, so to speak.
What is causing the tremors?
Suppressing the Arh’et Trah’ez keeps it’s magic trapped in the ground. It rumbles around, unable to escape. It wants to shift the land, make new mountains or new islands in the sea, but we’re controlling it so it can’t do that. We must limit the resources of the people so we can control them. We think the conjunction of the three Moons is pulling on the magic and that’s what’s caused the increase in tremors in recent years. It should settle down again when the Moons move apart, two years from now, and when it does we’ll tell the people it’s because they did such a good job working together to perform the ritual. You know, to reinforce their devotion. (scoffing laugh)
Where do you keep the Arh’et Trah’ez?
In a secret location. You don’t really expect me to tell you, do you? It’s in a safe place with many guards and anyone who tries to approach will surely be killed in the traps we’ve set along the way.
What kind of traps?
Well, there’s a poison forest guarded by giants where just touching the trees brings a horrible death. And there’s a labyrinth of death built of sand that shifts in the wind so the landscape is never the same, and the creatures that live there…well, you have never seen such terror. And even if a person were lucky enough to find the entrance to the fortress, well, it can’t be found unless you know where to look and even then, you must know it’s secrets to open the door. The Trah’ez is quite safe, I assure you.