Ravessa’s Ride

The Exemplars of the Orthodoxy came into being when a plague – the curse of the troll-king Beyhalt – swept the empire of Giralliya. The emperador, then each paucitor, and then each prince and king were stricken, along with many others. The disease was a lingering agony of wasting and fever and delirium. As the months went by and the representatives of government fell, one by one, Giralliya lay rudderless and vulnerable. The emperador’s daughter, on whom the sickness lay more lightly, rose from her bed in a valiant attempt to stand in her father’s stead. Flushed and chilled, Ravessa occupied the imperial pivot, issuing decrees and commanding the heros who arose – briefly, before disease felled them too – to save her people.

But the ninth such to come forward – Eliya – was not struck down. She was an old woman, wizened and wise, the member of an obscure order of antiphoners who practiced an equally obscure posture sequence to greet the sun at dawn and again to dismiss the light at sundown. All of her order remained untouched by Beyhalt’s curse.

Ravessa’s first thought was simply to co-opt these Exemplars of Gebed to hold the vacant posts of the royal and the pauce. Desperate times called for desperate measures. A second thought stayed her impulse.

Dost thy exemplars dwell only within Bazinthiad?” she asked.

As it chanced, they did not. Many small hamlets in the countryside of Cambers sheltered chapters of the sect. The cathedral city in Solmondy, the origin of the order, housed its oldest chapter. And a sprinkling of these unusual antiphoners could be found in all of Giralliya’s other cantons.

Then it was that Ravessa began her great labor for her people and their land.

She went to the ruins of the temple on the sacred isle in Lake Argiyaen and prayed. Her pleas to heaven were answered by three winged horses – fierce and fey and glorious. They bore her on their backs throughout Flaumivar and Lillyoise and Brabante and Belline, and also into Cambers and Solmondy. In each canton, Ravessa addressed any citizenry able to rise from their beds: seek amongst yourselves for an Exemplar of Gebed to care for your interests and beg him or her to stand as prince or paucitor in Bazinthiad that you may not be forgotten.

Thusly was the Chamber of Princes and Kings filled once more; likewise, the Chamber of Paucitors. And when plague at last left the land, Giralliya was a different realm from before. No hamlet or village, no sea port or river port, no cathedral town or capital, no hill or valley where people dwelt was devoid of exemplars, were it only a lone proponent teaching and leading the locals in the postures for dawn and dusk. These sequences of bends and holds and breath control had proved an antidote to Beyhalt’s curse. Those yet well who performed the postures never fell sick with plague; those ailing under plague threw off the illness that gripped them. And without his army of disease – Beyhalt had no other – the troll-king proved easy to defeat.

When Beyhalt lay dead and all Giralliyans rejoiced in their newfound health, the emperador declared that each elected exemplar should keep his or her post, but not as royal or pauce. They would sit in a new chamber, one created especially for them. And they would be chosen, always, by the people of their lands.

The pauce are appointed by lot and by imperial decree. The royal hold power through tradition and inheritance. Let now these exemplars serve at the commons’ choice.”

How they came to earn their later name – the Orthodoxy – is another story, but this tale is almost done. The three pegasi who appeared to fill Ravessa’s need were seen no more, but desperate folk dreamed of them. And the dreams inspired solutions of all magnitudes: healing between feuding parent and child, peace between nation and nation, beauty under an artist’s paint brush, safety from an inventor’s imagination, or tranquility within one conflicted soul. And the citizenry of Giralliya, discovering other posture sequences through the centuries to add to those for sunrise and sunset, became avid contortionists who visited their town retreat centers for daily practice in the conviction that there lay health and harmony and wholeness.

* * *

More stories of old Giralliya:
Legend of the Beggar’s Son
The Thricely Odd Troll
The Old Armory: Blood Falchion

 

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