Second letter of Aetherius to the Aderans,
May the light of Aarith guide you! I bring good news. Your days of persecution are almost at an end. The death of our leader, the scion of Sidonius, at the hands of the king’s fleet and the wicked sorcerer Erabulus, was not in vain. Together we grieve at the deaths of so many of Adera’s sons at the Aegis, but those who survived witnessed a miracle not seen since the eldest of days. While Aria is gone, her sacrifice, like that of Johanna of the Nail or others who have gone before in the cause of good, has inspired others. You surviving sons will tell the tale, and together we will grieve at the loss of so many and celebrate the greater knowledge that your people will gain. The wisdom of Aarith is without equal, and it is free for all.
As a child I was a warrior, clinging to the banner of the ancient gods, Eos, Lumia, Carnus and the others. I made the sacrifices the priests required and warred on those whom I saw as evil. This is true. I did not believe for belief’s sake, but due to habit and the power I saw I received in exchange for believing.
In time I learned of Johanna of the Nail and her sacrifice at the hands of the Eterian armies all those years ago. It was a major movement for peace. Like many, I believed she was inspired by Eos, but not so. Some three hundred years after her sacrifice her cult was integrated by the emperor into the official Imperial Cult, and over the centuries became lost in the cycle of augury, sacrifice, and prayer – all to uplift the tyrannical rule of one emperor or another.
But when Sidonius began his collecting of ancient works before the exodus of the hundred, myself included, he discovered Johanna’s writings. The original ones held deep in the Imperial Archives, hidden for nearly a millennia. This is what they said:
The human condition is a mental struggle between truth and lies, between knowledge and ignorance, and between peace and war. This duality is found throughout the world. This concept is part of what I call the aari, the foundation of our universe, though the followers of each individual god would deny this. The opposite of this is malo, or willful evil, ignorance, and deceit.
If there is a god, let it be the personification of aari, or an aarith in the old tongue. Indeed, as there are unknowable powers of death and life, chance and law, necessity and triviality, there must be a power of knowledge, creation, and existence itself. That I call the aarith, though it knows me not yet, by my free will I cannot accept a world without such a truth. I have envisioned such, the light beyond the light, that which gives Eos its radiance, and Lumia its sublime beauty. I still worship Eos, but yearn for an Aarith to which Eos is but a mirage.
The purpose of humankind, like that of all other creation, is to sustain aari. For humankind, this occurs through active participation in life and the exercise of constructive thoughts, words and deeds. Sadly my land yearns for destruction, for ignorance, and for obedience over all. This must change
Johanna emphasized the freedom of the individual to choose right or wrong and individual responsibility for one’s deeds. This personal choice to accept aari and the divine order and shun ignorance and chaos (the Malos, or evil ones), is one’s own decision and not a dictate of Aarith. For Johanna, by thinking good thoughts, saying good words, and doing good deeds, for example assisting the needy or doing good works, we increase this divine force aari in the world and in ourselves, celebrate the divine order, and we come a step closer on the everlasting road to being one with creation where our experiences live on forever. Thus, we are not the slaves or servants of Aarith, but we can make a personal choice to be his co-workers, thereby refreshing the world and ourselves.
Aria knew this and lived it in her deeds, giving her last full measure. She felt the grace of Aarith and by her actions and that of other prophets and martyrs, brought the attention of Aarith back to a world once lost in darkness and dispair. Take the good news! Tell all young and old that there is hope. That all they do, all they know, and all they sacrifice is not in vain. The mirage of the invented gods of man and the brutal old gods of beast is lifted. Truth is here for all.
May Aarith keep you in his thoughts,
Aethrius of Thalassa