Chapter 14 - Godless
Remy wasn’t sure if she would fall asleep when she finally made it to her bed. But as she lay her head down it took only moments for her lids to fall. She slept until the first hint of light - it was then that she woke with a start. Her mind felt refreshed and from the moment her eyes opened her thoughts raced in attempts to process the events from the day before. There was so much, however, that Remy couldn’t see it all clearly. She needed to map it out and she couldn’t do that from bed.
The ground was damp with dew and Remy could see her breath as she made her way to the dojo across the courtyard. There were no shadows yet for the sun hadn’t risen above the horizon. The steel blue sky of dawn provided Remy just enough light for her to make her way to the back storage room. She pulled the memoirs from their chest and brought them with her to the East side of the wrap-around deck of the dojo.
There was just so much information to process. She had come into this world not knowing anything about it. Since the day she arrived she had learned a multitude of things. Starting with the primitive setting - the world was roughly 500 years behind Earth’s modern civilization. Remy had grown to accept that. She had also grown to understand, through Rojin’s guidance, that the people of this world were very religion oriented. He had explained to her the memoirs and the rarity of her gift in being able to read such an ancient language - but until now, Remy hadn’t any context for the information that her gift was capable of revealing to her.
From what she understood so far was that there were ten different sets of memoirs - each in reference to a God and their teaches. Judging by the information Hisao had given her yesterday these Gods had their own following. Study their philosophises and thus gain their powers based on those teachings. It was from such memoirs that the philosophies were being taught - it was from the memoirs that warriors gained their special abilities.
Remy opened the second volume of Orodoki’s teachings. The spine was well worn and the pages yellow with age. The words had been documented approximately one thousand years before by an Eiraf - a holy man connected to the God, himself. The instructions in the memoirs were there to teach man how to walk in Orodoki’s footsteps. Originally, Remy had approached these memoirs with the same skepticism that she held with any religion back on Earth. She knew that holy scriptures were used as tools - tools that taught lessons on the do’s and don’t’s of life. She, personally, had never followed one particular religion - in fact, she considered herself, not an atheist, but instead an agnostic for her skepticism never fully allowed her to believe either argument; there may not be proof that there is a God but also, that there was zero proof that there isn’t a God. Science often answers questions with more questions - perhaps a higher power is involved - it’s an answer Remy wasn’t willing to discount.
But here… in this world - the Qi of Faith was something that was real - that was tangible - that was usable. It was proof that something within the teachings of the scriptures allowed access to a higher power of some kind. Whether it was an actual God, Remy couldn’t say - but still, there was something beyond just plain old ‘faith’; something that granted a normal human beings supernatural gifts. And Remy - given her special ability - had direct access to that information.
Remy pulled open her notebook and flipped to a blank page. Remy’s original goal, when reading the memoirs, was to find reference to how she got here - as the her gift to read the language came when she had arrived. Now, there was so much more too it. Now, it wasn’t quite that simple. She numbered the lines from one to ten. In the top four lines she wrote: Orodoki, Gennu, Aione, and Fuchou. Beside her list she wrote the words ‘Obwatu?’ and ‘Children of Chaos?’. Her pen tapped the edge of the page and Remy chewed on her bottom lip. Hisao had said that when this ‘Obwatu’ arrived the Qi of Faith gave raise to the abilities granted to the warriors. For thousands of years these people had known about the Qi of Faith - but only recently has it allowed for these super humans to exist. Hisao was one of them.
“Oooooh,” whispered Remy in revelation. Hisao must be a war hero - he must’ve battled against Obwatu - that’s likely why the town folk treated him the way that they did. She just thought he was some kind of star athlete but now - now she understood that he must be much more than that.
Remy’s ‘oooooh’ went from one of revelation to one of confusion. Juyong had showed up claiming that Hisao was ‘spawn of Obwatu’ - that he was this so-called ‘Child of K’aos’. Juyong also claimed that Hisao must be brought to justice as if implying that Hisao was some kind of enemy of the state. Remy’s pen tapped at double the speed now - her mind raced to straighten the story.
She had no proof either way. She was so isolated at the temple that it was difficult for her to grasp the entirety of this civilization’s history. Apparently there were ten gods - of which she knew four. Additionally, there was some kind of war that happened over 15 years ago that ravaged the country - leaving behind super humans. She couldn’t blame Rojin for wanting to keep her sheltered. To him and Hisao she must look so fragile - so naïve - so delicate.
Remy’s cheeks burned at the thought. She remembered the way that Hisao changed when he found out that she would be staying with them permanently - or at least until she found her way home. For a guy who shirked his daily responsibilities regularly - he now had to deal with her. To him she must look like a helpless lost puppy.
Remy grumbled under her breath. She wasn’t helpless - was she? Her eyes drifted from her notebook to the open pages of the memoir. She had tip toed long enough - listening patiently to Rojin’s cryptic teachings and tolerating Hisao’s annoyed eye rolls. Remy read the top line of the open page, “A path is a result - not a direction - all depends upon the choice to walk it”.
Remy had been standing still long enough. The time for playing coy had come and gone - now she wanted answers.
It was hot. So bloody hot. Even in the shade Remy felt the trickle of sweat travel down her forehead, roll along the bridge of her nose, and drip off onto the page in front of her. She brought the back of her hand up to wipe her face. It was noon and Remy had but left her perch on the deck once to check on a sleeping Juyong. His fever had reduced and his vitals were stable, but he was still out cold. It had been hours since then and she thought of going to check on him again soon - just after she finished reviewing one more page.
The memoirs had held her attention for most of the morning. She had looked up a few times from her studies to see Rojin doing his morning meditation. She did not join in - she considered it but something kept her rooted to the books - a new found ambition of sorts.
Hisao had remained unseen for the day. When she had gone to bed the night before he had stayed up - for how long she didn’t know. He was frequently a night owl - which is why she and Rojin would catch him napping all over the complex regardless of the time day. It wasn’t a habit she was fond of considering the lack of sleep made him rather unpredictably moody and cranky.
“At the center one’s direction infinite. Possibilities bombard the senses - but which is most probable? Do not discount circumstances - for it frames the outcome,” said Remy. The words swirled in her mind. Each line read like it was from a poem - and it was infuriating. She filled in the last line of her page - “To which circumstances is it referring?”
Two pages of questions she had written. Rojin had told her - it was her choice whether or not she wanted to share what she had learned from the pages of the memoirs. She had decided, early that morning, that she would have to - it was the only way to give the words any context - the only way to truly expand on her understanding. She hadn’t known the value of her talent until now - that knowing the teachings in the text was the best way to gain access to the Qi of Faith - and that meant gaining unbelievable abilities in strength, speed, and even elemental manipulation.
Remy slid her notebook away from her in a gesture of finality. She reached her arms up for a stretch and tilted her chin from side to side to relieve the kink forming in her neck. Upon turning to her right she saw that sitting beside her was her patient - Juyong.
“Good morning, Healer,” said Juyong. He was smiling. His arm was still wrapped tight in the sling and his right eye was slightly shut due to the swelling from the cut on his brow. His smile, however, was revealing of his youth. The day before he looked so severe when he was calling for a battle to the death - now his eyes looked welcoming and kind. His tone was polite and calm. Remy had forgotten to factor in the rapid healing time - still she was surprised by his condition.
“The old man said that you were over here - he said that you helped me get better,” Juyong pointed at his sling, “I am grateful. Thank you. And Oh - ”
Juyong slid off the edge of the deck to his feet. He laid his free hand by his side and bowed deeply, “My name is Juyong Gu. I am a follower - ”
He stopped but didn’t rise from his bow, “I regularly follow Gennu’s wisdom. His temple is my home and his worshippers are my family.”
Juyong rose from his bow with a pleasant smile, although, to Remy it looked slightly odd. He sat again next to her and his smile faded. She could tell he was taught to smile and be pleasant - as if instructed by a parent. Out of the corner of her eye she could see that he looked dejected. He had introduce himself without claiming his defining aspect - his religion.
“I’m Remy Dalton,” said Remy. She bowed her head slightly toward Juyong.
“Rem-ee,” Juyong tried it out, “that’s a different name - are you a traveler?”
Remy didn’t know exactly what Juyong meant, or perhaps she had her words mistaken, she answered anyway, “of sorts, I guess.”
She saw Juyong look past her to the memoir and reactively she closed the book. She was going to share her knowledge - just not yet. Not with Juyong, anyway.
“Are those - ” said Juyong.
“Uuuuhh…” Remy cut him off, “Juyong - you’re right. I’m not really from here. And I did travel from a long way.”
Her distraction worked. His attention was back on her.
“I’m from a land that is…. Uhh…,” lying was not her forte, “well it’s far. And yesterday you mentioned a ‘Child of K’aos’ - what is that exactly?”
Juyong looked taken aback - but by now it wasn’t something that Remy was embarrassed by and with her new found ambition she forged shamelessly forward, “You called Hisao a Child of K’aos. I’m not familiar with the term.”
Juyong looked at his feet, “It’s a term used to refer to those who wield Qi but lack a God’s guidance. In the eyes of Gennu they are considered dangerous - that they are imbued with Obwatu’s evil spirit.”
Remy was watched him shift uncomfortably. He wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the day before. What had changed - was it embarrassment? Juyong continued, “We Sons of - I mean - the Sons of Gennu have pledged to protect the people - from any and all things left behind from the time of Obawtu.”
Remy watched Juyong struggle with his words. He was staying true to the wager from the battle - to walk without Gennu as his guide. He had even denied himself the title of ‘Son’. Needless to say, Remy was impressed - this kid had honour. She had to wonder why such a seemingly good kid was doing here - challenging a seasoned warrior to a battle to the death. The answer to that question would have to wait - for now the issue was Hisao. He was what - Godless?
“But why would Hisao be considered a someone without a God? He’s a Son of Orodoki, no?” asked Remy.
“At one time there was a God named Orodoki - but he has been dead for many years,” said Juyong.
Remy had always been under the impression that immortality was sort of a given when it came to being a God - but maybe that was just an Earth rule.
“I’m sorry - did you say dead?” said Remy.
“Mmmm - yes, for many years - before the arrival of Obwatu,” said Juyong, “you have noticed? You live here, right? Temples are places where many come to worship - not just on holy days but any day. This temple hasn’t been used in a long time.”
He wasn’t wrong. Remy hadn’t seen anyone come to the temple since she had arrived. None of the town folk came to visit, even though Hisao was often given gifts when they went to town. Rojin, too, would say he was helping one person or another from town and his payment was in food or supplies - or anything that was supplemental to the what they already grew themselves. But, as a practicing religion - the Temple of Orodoki had no parishioners.
Remy looked around and now it became apparent - the fading paint, the over grown vines - the Temple seem to be falling apart before her very eyes. She recalled Rojin spending days repairing leaky roofs, loose boards, rotting window frames - often asking Hisao for help and Hisao reluctantly assisting. It was only the two of them who kept the place together.
“Orodoki’s following left after his Qi faded. The followers said that he had died and abandoned his teachings. Then Obwatu came and when the other nine Heroes of Faith rose from their temples - Hisao Hajime came from Orodoki. It was said that the followers came back - but still found that the Qi wasn’t there - that Hajime was getting his power from elsewhere.”
Remy listened intently. She wanted to ask about the Heroes of Faith but didn’t want to interrupt Juyong, afraid that he’d stop.
“It was when other people - those who didn’t belong to a Temple were gifted the abilities of a Warrior’s Qi that Hisao Hajime’s powers could be explained. It was only after Obwatu was entombed that Hajime was deemed a true Child of K’aos.”
“So, why are they considered dangerous?” asked Remy. As far as she could tell - Hisao would never used his power to harm someone. She couldn’t see him doing anything of the sort.
It was Rojin who answered her, “unguided unbridled power corrupts the soul. A true child of K’aos grows into a monster; sick with Qi. This kid wouldn’t know a Child of K’aos if one sat right next him.”
Rojin had come from the direction of the living quarters. His old robes were wet with sweat and his chest glistened in the sunlight. Just seeing Rojin reminded Remy of how hot she was feeling too. Juyong, however, showed no sign of feeling the heat. An added bonus of being able to shoot fire from your hands, Remy guessed.
Juyong scowled and Rojin ignored him.
“Come along, you two - it’s time to eat” said Rojin