Friday, April 13, 2018

On the Origins of Haraal.

Despite my strong feelings on the subject, I have to retain some small shred of impartiality, lest I become no better a writer than any member of the mid-tier faculty back at the ITU. In writing for a broader potential audience (all half-dozen of you), I must assume that no piece of history is universally-known. And that even extends to the life of Haraal, who incidentally was exactly the sort of figure who wanted his own name to be universally known.

According to the most common legend which supposedly stems from his own account of his early life, Haraal was not born. But he was birthed.

Upon the slopes of a mythical peak known as Yorl'di, there stood a weathered old tree which could generously be called a pine, alabaster in color and of the bristlecone variety. It was gnarled, bent and bowed by the unremitting wind and cold of those desolate slopes, such that it could scarcely grow more than a few needles facing away from the breeze. To any observer, it would appear almost completely dead.

But what it was actually doing was channeling its life inward, rather than expressing it outwardly. Over the span of a year, the tree's bent trunk swelled and distended until bark split and the integrity of the whole plant was compromised. When this massive protuberance at last ruptured, out came the body of a fully grown adult male, a bit sticky with sap but otherwise no worse for wear considering the year he'd just spent inside of a frozen tree. As popular depictions are quick to agree, he was bronze-skinned, black-haired, and possessed of a smoldering icy-blue gaze the likes of which one could see in an ice floe shattered by a sudden winter storm. It is no coincidence, I think, that he so closely resembled the aesthetic ideal of the old Ersuunians.

In all of his glory he stood up, dazed and nude, and turned to behold his dead "mother".

Instantaneously, the full scope of knowledge of life and death and the nature of the world blossomed within the man's mind. This would not be the only time the man would be known to instantly acquire knowledge- time and time again, often at the most convenient and dramatic moment possible, he would suddenly come into complete and masterful knowledge of whatever practical or philosophical issue was at hand. Whether this knowledge was gifted to him by a miraculous source, or it was innate to him and merely needed "unlocking" has been a topic of hot debate among priests and scholars alike for several centuries.

Whatever the nature of his genius, he did not however obtain the knowledge of how to walk properly in that first insight. Upon turning away from the splintered tree, he tripped and fell down a precipice, nearly painting a cliff face with his own insides.

Fortunately for this as-of-yet unnamed man, he was not killed by the fall, though he was badly hurt. Miraculously, the daughter of a shepherd from the lowlands just so happened to be gathering herbs and berries from the more mild scree-fields by the base of Yorl'di, and saw the man fall. She then took him back to her family's home and nursed him back to health, and in doing so, the man learned language. When he rose from bed one day, having healed at an astonishing rate, he pronounced that his name was Haraal.¹

This was also the moment of awakening for two of Haraal's other remarkable qualities; the Presence, and the Gaze. Both of them abilities which would be instrumental in his future successes.

Somewhat (un)fortunately for the shepherd's family, Haraal thanked them for their hospitality by testing both of these qualities on them.

¹ Officially, Haraal learned how to speak the language of the shepherds (as well as all other languages known to man) simply by watching and listening to them from his bed. Controversially, some scholars have argued that it may be that the shepherd's daughter was the one to directly teach him the spoken word, or even to name him, when he had neither before then. This theory pokes a hole in the idea of Haraal's immaculate or innate knowledge however, as well as places him in a position of tutelage--and therefore subordination--to another person, and a woman at that. To see this theory in full, as well as the rebuttals to it by Haraal's hardline faithful, look to the expanded introductory chapter found in annotated copies of Origins of Instruction: A Comparative Examination of the Earliest Instances of Formal Education in Recorded History by Apla the Elder, BR 82.

No comments:

Post a Comment