Friday, February 17, 2017

Saint Be'lak the Bard

"Saint Be’lak the Bard (Be’lak-Or, The Walking Writer, The Bard)"

"Alas, very little is known of the person of Saint Be’lak the Bard; various traditions portray the figure as male or female, Nordic or Surdic, and, curiously, fully human or partially something else (sometimes demi-elven, sometimes even demi-fey!). Such variety results from the fact that no testimony as to The Bard’s person exists - only many artful poetic works and fragments of poetic works, all marked by a sigil which scholars identify as the combination of the proto-Nordic characters for “beh” and “lakh” - thus The Bard’s common name, Be’lak."

St. Be’lak’s works are often short narratives written in an ancient poetic form making use of couplets interspersed with single or repeated lines for emphasis. The content of these narratives deal prominently with natural cycles, mysticism, cataclysm, and apophatic contemplation of the divine (the last of which marks him as a thoughtful and saintly individual, though the wise Saint continues to have doubters and detractors who question his sometimes esoteric insights). His magnum opus, the Vessels cycle (as reconstructed by sagely scholars), continues to be studied as a transcendently inspired work, though doubtlessly the absence of several important fragments (and, likely, entire episodes) render its final meaning obscure."

"Scandalously, readers of The Bard’s writings have often been accused of immoralities such as heresy, treason, black arts, or even atheism, though doubtlessly any opprobrium should fall upon the pernicious and irresponsible mis-interpreters themselves rather than the sagely Saint."

"For instance, it is known that the infamous Order of the Fist were influenced by the writings of St. Be’lak, and it is even supposed that he was one of their dastardly number; such accusations are surely false, however: it is far more likely that the Order mistook The Bard’s emphases on the limited span of human knowledge, the fierce beauty of the natural world, and the brotherhood of all life, and twisted these truths into their own treasonous creeds."

"It is true that St. Be’lak's writings may be misconstrued in those woeful directions, though careful and devout readers will find the Saint’s works to be not only free of moral corruption but furthermore a powerful aid to deep contemplation of the true and necessary nature of our world."

"The veneration of St. Be'lak is a varied and obscure affair, due both to the dearth of knowledge as to his person and to the occasional censure placed upon his name by those who do not consider carefully the merits of his work. For example, the Magi of the Fifth Circle consider him to be the patron of careful thought and the independent mind (represented by the auspice of the looking-lens), while many of the literati of the Inner Six hold him to be the pinnacle of poetic inspiration and of the bardic craft (under the auspices of the quill pen and of the blank mask), celebrating The Bard’s feast day with theater and readings of poetry. In the slave-marts of Syr-Marad, the chattel unfortunates have begun the curious practice of venerating St. Be'lak as the patron of stoic resignation and as an aspect of the blasphemous god Fate, represented by a mighty chain woven of a million silk threads. Finally, there are whispers that the cursed spirit-speakers of the Northern Vales image him as a female of bastardized blood, misusing his inspired texts in loathsome rituals of black magic under the sign of the forked tree, one half leaved and the other bare. Surely such wild tales are false, however; the Most Holy Father would not allow the name or works of such a blessed Saint to be so desecrated."

The background stage screen used during The Red Jesters' theatrical interpretation of The Bard's six-part work, The Frail Tide, in each city of the Inner Six. Only one act was performed per city, so only the very wealthy could afford to see all six acts! The tour itself is still legendary, both for the audacity of its stagecraft and the dark events that surrounded its progress.

"I leave the reader with one of the Saint's more celebrated (and complete) works, which has been commonly named 'In Parting:'"

"After one but before the next,
In a tree where new life writhed and flexed,
Two birds emerged to hold the world
And grow from feeble talons curled."

"But fate would see them part that day
As lightning cut their branch away,
By winds to distant places sent,
Almost as if it all had meant"

"That though their bloodied wounds would fade,
They’d wonder where their brother lay;
For every day from that day on
They’d wait to hear a certain song."

"In vain, for years the one was strong,
And one was not for far too long,
Until his bones and thoughts were old,
And feathers burnt and lost and cold."

"The stronger of the two could see
A distant bird - how weak was he! -
In drawing near but knowing not
Just who he was, or why, or what."

"The stronger talons tore at flesh
And stripped away that feathered mess,
And all without a sound or cry,
Or even ever knowing why."

"Yet as the sun began to sink,
He seemed to sense, he seemed to think
That soon his brother might appear,
From somewhere close, from somewhere near.
Convinced this was his brother’s fate,
Above his corpse, he sat to wait."

- From the Hagiograph of The Hundred by the Venerable Viebalde

This post is the second in my The Hundred Saints series, updating Fridays!
Previous Saints:
Saint Cryndwr Firebeard of Wealdvale

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