The Trial of Zel Gothen
Amongst the Grassland Tribe
A1. Zel Gothen was a pious man who had spent many years in study of The Just God. 2. With The Just God by his side, he had overcome many hardships in his life. The loss of his home and wife, due to war. The loss of his two children each to a great sickness. 3. Though he bore great sadness for his losses, Zel Gothen had never lost his love for The Just God, nor his belief that his humble losses were somehow part of a greater Justice in the world beyond his ken. 4. With no earthly ties to a home or family, a venerable Zel Gothen felt a calling to go out into the unknown regions of the realm, serving The Just God as an ascetic.
B5. Zel Gothen came upon many wild peoples in his years of travel, and to each of them he preached the tenants of The Just God. 6. He lived among the Shore Walkers of the Marble Coast, culling the warring clans into a cooperative society governed by law. 7. He spent countless moons traveling with the nomadic men of the River Valley, educating their leaders to become fair and ethical adjudicators of their people's disputes. 8. He lingered for years with the reclusive warriors of the Reaching Stones until he could coax them out of their secret places and forge a lasting peace between them and the nearby people of Drury. 9. Through such methods did Zel Gothen spread the love and law of The Just God, and The Just God smiled upon him.
C10. In his fifty-second year of life, Zel Gothen crossed over the long barren expanse of the midrealm, seeking the Grassland Tribe of the Ghe. 11. Zel Gothen followed the will of The Just God and came upon them as the sun was just rising over the distant hills, and he beheld the great beauty of that land, and of the sprawling villages and tended fields that the Tribes of the Ghe had built. 12. The Ghe were a farming people, and had cultivated vast areas of land called Milpas for the growth of their livelihood. The Milpas stretched out far and wide and spoke of a people that understood that there was an order to the world. 13. The chief of the Ghe was a welcome and honorable host. As Zel Gothen expressed his desire to live among them for a time and share what wisdom he could, he was gifted by the Ghe people with a small house, and a Milpa of his own to work so as to grow his own personal crop.
D14. Having lived many years as an ascetic, Zel Gotten had little need of food. In a small corner of his Milpa he planted a humble crop of onions and potato, and went out amongst the Ghe to learn and teach what he could. 15. He found the Ghe to be a surprisingly cultured people, with art and dance that reflected a deep understanding of the beauty of existence. 16. He saw that they held the land itself up with great reverence, but had given scarce little thought to the pantheon of the gods. 17. In his observance of their peaceful and ordered life, Zel Gotten knew that the Grassland Tribes of the Ghe would do well as worshipers of The Just God.
E18. The first days amongst the Ghe were a source of great satisfaction to Zel Gothen. He spoke often with the chief of the Ghe, sharing his knowledge of The Just God and learning about the Ghe way of life. 19. He spent hours in meditation and thought with the priestesses of the Ghe as they divined the will of the land and he imparted to them the will and necessity of law. 20. He spoke with the children, smiling as they played their childish games, but also sitting them down to teach them the written word using texts of The Just God. 21. And he went amongst the Ghe people, tending their Milpas, listening to them sing to the land, letting them tell him the stories of their lives and their families, and telling them of his own travels, the other people of the realm, and how The Just God has guided him in his life's work.
F22. The days turned into weeks, and the humble crop of Zel Gothen began to grow. He had his first true meal in many days as he feasted on a broth of onion greens before he again went out to do the work of The Just God. 23. Yet, as Zel Gothen went to the door of the chief of the Ghe, he found it would not give way to his knocking. 24. He still sat amongst the priestesses, but they were slow to share their wisdom and paid him little import. 25. He went to the children and saw their play stop as he came nearby, and their attention drifted easily as he taught them to read the stories of The Just God. 26. He traveled to the people in their Milpas but found them uneager to share stories and impatient to listen to his own. 27. Zel Gothen grew confused and he went to his small house to pray to The Just God for guidance.
G28. The weeks passed and the moon ebbed to complete darkness, and the humble crop of Zel Gothen continued to grow. He felt a pang of satisfaction the first time his daily meal could be a bowl of boiled onions rather then simply a broth of their greens. 29. Zel Gothen then set out to spend another day learning what he could of the enigmatic Grassland Tribe of the Ghe. 30. Knowing the door of the chief would be closed to him; he went instead to the temples to pray with the priestesses, yet found them closed as well. Nor did the priestesses respond to his summons with Zel Gothen appealed to them to appear. 31. The children shied away from him when he walked to their playgrounds, and only very reluctantly did they sit to hear their lessons. 32. The Ghe people working their Milpas would not make eye contact with Zel Gothen, and they excused themselves quickly when he began to tell them his stories or speak of the Just God. 33. Zel Gothen knew that his presence among the Ghe had offended them in some way, but he could not discern how, nor coax any of the Ghe people to speak of it.
H34. The moon waxed and waned once more and Zel Gothen's crop was beginning to reach its time of harvest. He began to delight in his daily meal as he was able to season his modest bowl of boiled onions with the flowers from his potato plants. 35. Zel Gothen went out again amongst the reclusive Ghe people. His task was to accomplish the will of the Just God, even if it had become a more difficult task then when he had first started. 36. He knew that the chief and the priestesses would not yield to him his desire for audience, and so he went to the children for their lessons. 37. As Zel Gothen approached their playing grounds, however, he lamented at the faces of the children as they recoiled from him in fear. As he called out to them, they scattered and fled. 38. Crestfallen, Zel Gothen went among the Milpas to speak to the people of the Ghe. He found them stoic and unresponsive, and many bore him no mind at all. Worse yet, Zel Gothen felt from them an ire that he could not comprehend. 39. Zel Gothen felt despair for the first time. He felt in his heart that he had failed The Just God, but he could not understand why. 40. Zel Gothen retired to his small home and lamented.
I41. The moon waxed and waned again, and a weary and defeated Zel Gothen dug from his Milpa a harvest of dark potatoes. Finally able to eat a meal in full, Zel Gothen buried the starchy roots in the ashes of his hearth and smelled the deep aroma that pervaded the room. 42. As Zel Gothen had risen to his feet to retrieve them and fill his belly for the first time in many years, a loud knock resounded on the door of his home. Outside he could hear many voices. 43. In his venerable age, Zel Gothen moved slowly towards the door, but it burst asunder before he could reach it. 44. Into his home poured the Ghe people. Many looked angry, but what struck Zel Gothen the most were the few that peered into his eyes with great sadness and hurt. 45. The chief of the Ghe people spoke then with a voice full of thunder and spears. He spoke of a great injustice, a great evil. He spoke of a wound that the Ghe had sustained, greater than any other in twenty generations. 46. He spoke of the crime of Zel Gothen and the Milpa that had gone untended.
J47. In that moment of fear and confusion all of the efforts of Zel Gothen were finally torn asunder. His eyes widened as he began to comprehend how extensivly he had offended the Ghe people. 48. Zel Gothen understood then how sacred the link was between the Ghe and the Milpa, as deep and as profound as that between soul and flesh. 49. He realized the selflessness of the gift he received when the Ghe had allowed him to cultivate a Milpa of his own, and the honor they had bestowed upon him, an unknown guest, by allowing him to partake of the sacred connection between their people and the land. 50. And he recoiled in horror at how he had abused that gift and violated that trust by allowing so much of the Milpa to remain fallow. 51. Zel Gothen felt a weight upon his heart as great as the loss of his family, for his ignorance had hurt too many people too deeply to ever be pardoned. 52. He shuddered at the depth of his sin.
K53. Zel Gothen, truly alone and despised amongst the Ghe people, fell to his knees then and cried out for forgiveness. 54. But it was not to the Ghe, nor to the sacred Milpa that he appealed. From the deepest regions of his soul, he knew that he had failed The Just God. 55. In neglecting, even through ignorance, the imporance of the Milpa to the Ghe, Zel Gothen had visited upon those people a great evil, a terrible wrong. 56. In front of the bewildered Ghe people Zel Gothen wept openly, choking out a plea to The Just God that his foolishness and his nescience had not shaken the faith and the profound harmony that the Ghe people had when he first wandered into their lands. 56. Zel Gothen, prostrate before The Just God, begged that the wrongs that he had done could be righted in some way, yet that his body, his mind, his soul, must be the payment for it.
L57. Zel Gothen's prayer did not go unanswered by The Just God. 58. There, as he cried before the people he had so greatly wronged, Zel Gothen was visited by the spirit and wisdom of The Just God. 59. His brow shone brightly as he was touched with the countenance of The Just God's mercy and forgiveness. 60. From his brow, the wisdom shone into the eyes of all of the Ghe, and through them into the land itself where the Milpas drank of it deeply. 61. In a moment that went by like an aeon, true understanding of one another resounded within the souls that were there. 62. The moment of clarity passed, and Zel Gothen rose unsteadily to his feet. He and the chief of the Ghe people exchanged a long look, for no longer were there any words that could be said. 63. Zel Gothen had been Judged and given penance by The Just God. 64. The Ghe people understood and accepted this judgement, and had forgiven Zel Gothen within their own hearts. 65. No person's tongue moved to labor this holy moment with speech.
M66. Zel Gothen, moved towards the door as the Ghe people made way for his passage. 67. With an aged, but purposeful hand, he picked up his trowel and walked with heavy steps toward the Milpa he had been granted. 68. Zel Gothen, Judged and sentenced by The Just God, began digging. There was much of the sacred Milpa that he had never touched, much of it's strength and kindness that he had never felt. 69. Zel Gothen knew now that in leaving idle this holy earth, he had lost out on so much of what he was there to learn. 70. The Ghe people watched for a time, and began to walk away one by one until only their chief remained. The chief of the Ghe stood in patient sentry as each clump of dirt was turned by the laboring Zel Gothen. 71. When the task was done, and the whole of the Milpa was ready for planting, only then did the chief of the Ghe finally speak; weighted, slow words that were in equal parts stern and kind.
"N72. You are Ghe now." said the chief of the Ghe. "You will plant and tend the Milpa. You will eat of its harvest and share it with others. You will learn how deep the roots of the Ghe hold onto the earth. You will comprehend the things about us that have remained hidden until now." 73. Zel Gothen opened his mouth to speak, but could find no words. 74. Zel Gothen met the steady gaze of the chief of the Ghe, and nodded his understanding. 75. "Good," responded the chief of the Ghe, "Tomorrow, come once again to my home. You will find that my door will be open to you. 76. Go then to the homes of the priestesses, there is much they will wish to teach you. 77. Go afterwards to the playing fields of the children as they will have need of the knowledge that you wield. 78. And finally, spend time again amongst the people and their Milpas and talk to them all about The Just God. We have all felt His presence in our lives now, and we will need you to guide us to his worship." 79. Then the chief of the Ghe walked away, leaving Zel Gothen alone with his thoughts, and the lingering blessing of The Just God.