Travels on Kyspert
It was cooking time! Ro-Ro-Ku had been charged with cracking nuts, using an ingenious hinged-board nutcracker, and after that she was to wash and chop succulent leaves. Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-twu-thu did the actual cooking, about which more later. Cooking leads naturally to conversation, which is an excellent opportunity for spycraft. “Tell me the truths of Ko-Go-Nwa, for I yearn to hear them,” said Ro-Ro-Ku, knowing that Ka-twu-thu in particular was quite devout.
“Oh! Ko-Go-Nwa the New Prophet came through Nwa-Bher three years ago! We saw her then, and listened to her words ourselves!” [The dice say I should call Ko-Go-Nwa female, and I will call her opponent Vem-Thu male for contrast. Also, ‘three years’ is an estimate only, since Kyspert does not have obvious regular cycles like years. The kysps use biological terms. ‘One year’, literally ‘neuter-duration’ is ‘The average time a normal kysp is neuter or hermaphroditic’. ‘Three years’, literally ‘shortest-female-duration’, is ‘the shortest time that a normal kysp is male or female’, and ‘Six years’, literally ‘longest-male-duration’, is ‘the longest time that a normal kysp is male or female’. None of these is a precise interval, nor does one expect the ratios to be exactly 1:3:6.]
“Oh, that must have been glorious!” said Ro-Ro-Ku, following my advice. “Tell me what it was like!”
“She told us all the true things of the age! Of ko-oc, the color of the blessed! The history of the world from the union of Dwwir and Fra-Dwa down through the present day! Of the wickedness of Vem-Thu, which is compelling the gods to roast sin out of the world even as the toxicity is roasted out of those gnacorns you are cracking!”
This will be a lot easier to explain as an essay than as dialog. I’m not entirely sure that it all correct — rather, that it is exactly what proper Kogoans and/or Vemians believe. Not very much of it is actually true. To start with, there are no gods on Kyspert, so Dwwir and Fra-Dwa and Nir-Wo aren’t real.
Oh, and apologies for any Kogoan bias. We — Roroku — learned more from them than from the others.
Compare and Contrast the Major Religions of the Kysps
First of all, the kysps have at least four main religions, or sects of a single religion. Two of them are new: Vemianism, from the recently-assassinated Last Prophet Vem-Thu, and Kogoanism, from the now-middle-aged New Prophet Ko-Go-Nwa. We estimate that these include nearly half of the population; both sects are growing, and quite energetic. The other two-or-three-or-whatever, Yarsianism and Swetate and such, are still a majority, but diminishing, and lack intensity. Many kysps who are counted as attached to an old religion are somewhat involved with a new one as well.
Now, all of these religions have a lot in common. They all worship Dwwir and Fra-Dwa and Nir-Wo, though they don’t exactly agree on the details of their story. They share many important doctrines, including concepts of ritual purity and major ceremonies. So, from a sufficiently removed point of view — like that of the dragon queen of Hove — they are all essentially the same religion and the holy wars are massive fights about approximately nothing. The kysps involved see it rather differently.
So: everykysp is required to be consecrated in one of the religions, on pain of being tossed off of their scoral. (Not quite a death sentence, as one frequently will manage to land on another one and survive, but a guarantee of exile and injury and humiliation.) Changing sect is not too hard. Religion is mixed completely with civic governance, with the sects acting like political parties. So they have scorals like Nwa-Bher, in which Kogoans are dominant, and others in which, say, the Swetate bosses and ministers kept most kysps consecrated as Swetate even though they are following Kogoan practices and beliefs.
Beyond that, there are tons of details of more or less common theology, but I don’t see any point to describing it here. The fun is in the differences.
Vem-Thu introduced a caste system. (Technically not castes because they are determined by vatic Vemian priests, not heredity, and people can be recasted in certain situations.) There are seven castes, with nearly everyone fitting into the middle three castes. The lower castes are required to obey the upper ones, on pain of Hell. Somehow (the Kogoans point out), the most useful converts and church hierarchy wind up in the upper castes, and this system is a hypocritical means of putting the Vemians in charge of everyone else.
This might have gone over much better with the Kogoans, except that Vem-Thu placed Ko-Go-Nwa in the lowest caste. This puts her in a very small and select category indeed, accompanied by the greatest traitors and villains and evildoers of all time. Not only is Ko-Go-Nwa herself damned, but merely listening to her say a word is enough to damn a kysp for weeks.
The Kogoan saint (or fanatic, or devil-man, depending on one’s perspective) who assassinated Vem-Thu made sure to do it soon after this proclamation, so, by his own theology, Vem-Thu is damned for the contact he had with Ko-Go-Nwa when he inspected and conferred with her.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.