Mirrored from Sythyry.
Jyondre and Yerenthax chatted for quite some time with Octagons, Folded, and Gaming. The primes told the Elfimel many things about us and the World Tree, but few things that need to be said here, and the Elfimel had answers for some of our questions too.
Yerenthax: “Why were you so nervous when we came in?”
The named Elfimel are a small group, no more than a dozen at the best of times. The nameless Elfimel, far more numerous, consider the activities of the named to be blasphemy and wickedness. Sometimes the nameless punish the named, if they catch them — even dragging them to the chamber of Lights and Daggers, cutting their limbs off, and then killing them.
Yerenthax: “How is it that you have names?”
47,388 cycles ago, all Elfimel were nameless. Some offworlders came and explained the concept of names (which the Elfimel knew), and of individuality (which they sort of knew), and that there might be purposes in life beyond an endless round of enjoyment (which they didn’t have any examples of). The offworlders even left some books, which a few Elfimel struggled to learn to read.
One of the Elfimel proclaimed herself Namie the Namegiver, and strolled around giving names to everyone. This brought a controversy — the first one that had happened in Heaven, or at least the first one that wasn’t cleared up by acclaim, anonymity, and the gods. (“Because by this point most of the gods had left,” said Octagons.) Anonymity failed, of course, because some of the Elfimel went around telling people their Namie-given names.
Well, the nameless Elfimel took matters into their own hands. They made sure that everyone else was resurrected. Namie was dragged to the room of Lights and Daggers, and killed. When she started to regrow in the graveyard, The nameless pried some bits off the silver pyramids and placed them around her phallus, so that everyone else would know it was her and would not resurrect her.
Jyondre: “So she’s …”
Octagons: “She is asleep, cuddled pleasantly in the soil, dreaming softly of nothing in particular, waiting for someone to take her into their womb and bring her back to Heaven.”
Yerenthax: “Is that bad?”
Octagons: “It is the least good part of Heaven, save for the instant of death and a few other unfortunate times. Also, it keeps her out of circulation”
Yerenthax: “Our friends saw three circles of plates.”
Folded: “There have been two other heretics since then.”
Jyondre: “Which accounts for three of the four missing Elfimel. How about the last one of the nine hundred?” For we had told Jyondre and Yerenthax as much as we could.
Folded: “The last one crept onto the world-boat of our previous but one visitors, and left, gone, gone away and never back yet. We do not know what became of her.”
Anyhow, the unnamed Elfimel do not know that any named ones remain — or so the named ones think. They think that all the ones who had names have recanted, have put that shameful and heretical incident behind them.
Jyondre: “Could you explain to us about how you live and die?”
From an arbitrary point in the cycle: The Elfimel are born in the manner of mammals. They are born fairly capable, as a ten-year-old prime child. They mature quickly, over a matter of a few dozen cycles, and become full adults. (It is of crucial importance that, unlike primes, Elfimel do not forget anything when they die; the newborn child is a true adult, an ancient far beyond the age of my grandparents, in a small body.)
At some time, Elfimel die. Perhaps they are killed in the room of Lights and Daggers. Perhaps their bodies fail. They don’t seem all that well-built really. They are more than half vegetable: their bones are like tough turnips or parsnips, not true bone. An Elfimel might easily die in a fall off a small pyramid, say, which would leave a prime merely bruised. In any case, Elfimel do not seem long-lived.
After death, the Elfimel are brought to the graveyard: usually by their companions, but their remaining god will do it if the Elfimel do not. They lie, comfortable and nearly asleep, for a short time until one of those tall pale phalli grows from their corpse.
Another Elfimel (or, if all the Elfimel are dead, their remaining god) will, eventually, come to the graveyard, and mount one of the phalli there. The spirit of the dead Elfimel will enter the living one’s womb. This evidently is a matter of great pleasure to both parties. Over a few cycles, the dead one will quicken and grow a body, and be born. Birth is a pleasant exertion for both parties, without pain or other risks.
Jyondre: “Who is that god who stayed here?”
The goddess is Thefefy. She governs Airador, Pyrador, and Durudor. She is the remaining Power of Heaven. Mircannis, Lenhirrik (who does Corpador here as well as Herbador — hence the upsetting blending of flesh and vegetable matter that compose the Elfimel), and Gmirzuf (never heard of her before; she does the other arts, I guess) were here for a time, but drifted away, appearing less and less often, and now nearly never.
Thefefy, who seems rather like Flokin, protects Heaven from invaders. She has injured hCevian severely and driven him off before. Thefefy was unable to keep him from killing all the Elfimel off, then or various other times, so Thefefy buried them all, and was the mother for a few of them until enough were alive to resurrect the rest.
Yerenthax: “How do you feel about Locador demons? One of them brought us here.”
They are a bit nervous about it, but reassured that it hasn’t gone on a rampage and killed them all again yet. Thefefy is a low-to-medium grade god. She cannot be harmed, but she’s not all that fast or even all that aware of things outside of her immediate chamber. She is a god and does have many subtle tricks and methods, but I think I might bet on Vae if it came to a fight.
Which, given that we’ve got hCevian with us, and given our other personality flaws, it might well.
(Or maybe I shouldn’t bet on Vae, except in the sense that I have to. Thefefy cannot be harmed, so, presumably, Vae can’t harm her. Depending on how broadly that works, Vae might not be able to do anything to her. It is hard to see how even Vae would win a fight like that.)
Jyondre: “You don’t sound as if Heaven pleases you in all ways.”
The Named: “We hate and despise Heaven as a terrible trap! It is a cage, keeping us in. It contains nothing for nobility of spirit, for honorable exertion, for challenge, for intellectual curiosity. It is an endless trudge around a circle of mere bodily pleasures, coupled with occasional moments of spiritual yearning for a goddess who is absent. We construct the nobler things as best we can!”
Me: “I suppose I can appreciate their spirit there. But the somehow sound just as naive and ignorant as the other Elfimel, but just pointed in a different direction.”
Jyondre: “What was the game-table spirit complaining about?”
The named Elfimel resent the rules that Heaven imposes on them. They use the gaming tables, but play games that do not follow the rules the tables impose. In particular, the games naturally available in Heaven are cooperative; it is possible and desired for all players to win. The named, and a few of their friends, play competitive games, where one player wins and the others lose — another offworld concept, promulgated by the second of the three Elfimel who are imprisoned in the graveyard.
Octagons: “But the approved games get so boring after a few myriad cycles! “
Jyondre: “I can imagine! Only barely!”
The tables don’t like to be used for competitive games. They complain and bitch about them — which adds to the spice of the event — and sometimes rearrange the pieces when nobody is looking.
If the unnamed discover the named doing this, they spank and sometimes even lynch the named. (They don’t know that they are named though! They thought that heresy lies in the graveyard with Namie.) This is only approximately true — there are a few unnamed Elfimel who like the competitive games, but don’t know that the other players are named. The unnamed ones sneak out to one of the pyramids to play these games.
The named ones try to live away from the unnamed as much as they can. They want to enjoy whatever scraps of nonymity and other forms of noncomformity they can.
Yerenthax: “By my Word of Honor, I will rescue you!”