From the journal
of Berl the Sorcerer,
written in the fifty-seventh season of
the Dragon Emperor of Hcrat, Dal Thos
Lord of the World
It is a time when the word empire is a new concept to the masses, when stories of gods walking the lands are old memories that warriors tell to their grandchildren. Magic falls on the land as commanding and as powerful as the storms in the north; both are in the hands of wizards and witches who control the world alongside great and powerful kings and queens.
I am on my way to Kothos for the simple reason that it is unique; it is a matriarchal society in a world of men. The purpose of this entry is to make note of some details for reference regarding this city of female warriors. My main source material is their Batfi.
The Batfi is the accumulation of all the histories of any important house, either noble or merchant class, as well as any relevant institution in Kothos, such as temples, guilds, and schools. If you are important enough, your Batfi is assigned to a Librarian by the Royal Family. This Librarian will write and keep the document in order by Kothian standards to be included in the official history of Kothos.
The Librarians, the keepers and writers of the Batfi, are a sect of men that have devoted their lives to the task of keeping the Batfi an honest and loyal accounting that their goddesses may use it to judge their civilization at the end of all things. Each member must take a vow of celibacy to allow for no distractions in their task. These Librarians maintain a written chronical of all the important events of their assigned house or institution, as well as how these events were handled, and make sure that these histories are kept by standards created by both the blue and green temples and verified annually by the Queen's KanTi. These libraries house the various Batfi, and the Batfi tell the history of Kothos.
There is the Royal Batfi, which contains the records of the Royal House, and the Blue and Green Temple Batfi. The three combined texts chronicle the events of the religious and political powers which govern the city. The only female Librarian is the one serving the queen, maintaining the Royal Batfi. The Librarians of the Blue and Green Temples, respectively serve as the Librarian of the houses of the Mistress of each temple.
Some of the lesser houses and institutions, ones that are rich or powerful but without commercial or noble associations, pay for a Liber to keep their Batfi. A Liber is not part of the Librarian Sect, nor are they limited to only male members. The only requirement to becoming a Liber a high level of literacy and someone willing to pay for your services. Those Batfi that are written by Libers are more a source of pride for a family or institution than considered part of the official history of Kothos.
While literary researchers have known of the these lesser Batfi done by Liber for generations, gaining access to one is nearly impossible as they reveal deeply kept secrets that are meant only for trusted members of the family or institution.
Through various connections as well as the manipulation of promises and favors owed, I managed to purchase the Batfi of a merchant who died apparently leaving her husband without enough funds to continue living as he was accustomed. This Batfi was written by a Librarian, which makes it very valuable indeed. I also have another document that is an analysis of the Batfi of both the Green and Blue Temples, written by a Liber who claims to have seen and read much of the actual documents. The authenticity and reliability of the latter is questionable, but in its details, much is reveal to a discerning eye such as mine, trained to garner information from obscure sources.
Here is a summary of what I have learned from these documents which have given me an overall view of the current historical, political, and social situations in Kothos.
Bella To is Queen. She is very popular, a possible rallying point in the future after Kothos falls. Bella To and her sister, Tuppa (rumored to be a budding witch), must obviously die. One of the first rules of power politics in the Wizard's Handbook is, “After a successful coup, all with royal blood should die. Anything less increases the chances of revenge or uprisings, which spoil the prize.”
Batuma Kan is the woman who controls the magic: The Mistress of the Blue. She will be my first contact. There is talk that she wants to be a ruling empress before she dies, or so says the gossip in wizard circles. A person's desire for power is an excellent tool, if used wisely towards my own ambitions and goals. I shall link her desires to mine and meld them into … but I digress.
Sal Li is the muscle; she is the Lady of the Green. She's rash, young, and malleable (if my research is to be trusted); there are indications that Batuma Kan is manipulating her already. Sal Li is the official leader of the warrior class of Kothos. If she can truly be manipulated and given that the royal sisters and Batuma Kan, a powerful sorceress with goals of her own, will obviously have to die, this Sal Li could be a good candidate for Empress when I take over the city. The people will need someone of the old leadership to look for continuity in facilitating a smooth transition of power to me. I'll keep an eye on Sal Li and see where the bones fall.
Below is an excerpt from the analysis by the Liber, discussing Kothos and its forms of worship:
Kothos is a city of women, joined by the union of their three theologies, which manifests as the worship of the three goddesses that created the universe. Aria, Tara, and Karpa each represent a part of the triad of reality.
Aria is the beginning. She was the first consciousness to rise into being, developed from the necessity of an awareness to be conscious of the concepts NA (nothing) and U (unknown). With the consciousness of Aria, the reality of nothing, and the possibility of the unknown, the first triad was created. This first triad is the precept of all aspects of Kothian life and the fundamental aspects of their philosophies: NA, U, and Aria are the Genesis Triad; earth, water, and life form the Foundation Triad; Woman, Seed, and Child are the Life Triad; Aria, Karpa, and Tara are the Triad of Goddesses, the Immortal Trinity.
This first consciousness developed I (identity) by naming itself Aria and, in developing ways to relate to reality, created Tara (physical reality) and Karpa (metaphysical reality). Together, they created the world and then the universe to hold it in place. They created the sun, moon, and stars to use as their eyes to look upon their creations.
Karpa manifests as water, the mysteries of the deep, the unknown, the spirit, and the soul. She controls the waters with magic that controls the tides, rains and currents. She rules the unknown and unseen. Her knowledge and control of these concepts and the mysteries therein make her a powerful magical force in the universe, to be used for good or ill. To honor her, her factions wear blue; this shows respect for her element. The priestesses of Karpa worship Karpa for her wisdom in creating magic to protect Kothos, and practice magic, in her name, to show their devotion.
Tara manifests as earth, the firmament which gives Kothos a place to stand and bears the harvest that feeds the women of Kothos. She is also the hunter that brings the game to the larders of the land. Tara is worshiped by the respected hunter/warrior class of women that has protected the city of Kothos from domination since before history was written, and with the grace of Tara, will continue to do so. Her color is green, to show respect to the life-giving plants which her soil provides.
Aria is the creator of life. Her color is red, for blood. Once she had taken a part of herself to create Tara and Kara, her mind created new ideas for the manifestation of life, and so she created the fish, the fowl, and the game, and with them populated the world. They were the first great spirits, and great knowledge of the world was given to them. With this knowledge, they can live in the world as they do, without developing civilization.
Aria then created man to populate and manage the lands, and to sail the waters in ways that would please the three goddesses. Man soon became restless and wanted a mate, someone with whom to share the wonderful world that the Immortal Trinity had created. Aria loved man with all her being and could deny him nothing but could take no more from herself. Because of this love, she agreed to mate with the winner of a contest wisdom and strength. The winner mated with her, and thus a race of women was born. These are the women of Kothos.
The man that mated with Aria is never named, nor is there anything else written about him. Some versions of the Batfi are said to reveal that he also mated with Karpa and Tara to create the other two Clans of Kothos. When Aria discovered this, she, in a burst of jealousy, wiped all reference of him from the records of womankind so that he would not benefit from his prideful acts. What little that is known about him is due to references of his participation in the games, found in the original “Scroll of Batfi” written by the Royal Line. The text explains that the winner of the contest, after offending Aria with his hubris, had “his name taken from all history, by her power, his crime never to be heard by ears or seen by eyes.” He is now known only as “He Who Has No Name.”
The Blue and Green Temples have not challenged or affirmed this version. It is believed this is because it implies to the general populous that the Temples have divine purpose. It implies that the temples represent divine lineage, while not stating it outright, thus implying humble service.
I think this will be a very interesting environment to plan the next few seasons of my life. I sent a drib to Wen Ta, Batuma Kan's right hand, with a scroll detailing my feelings of the future of what these barbarians call civilization. It should eventually get to the hands of her mistress.
Ah, Marta has arrived with a new costume to show me. She has grown well in the past few seasons. It will be a waste to lose her; maybe I will go back on the deal made with my son. We shall see...