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The World Walkers: Quiar: Mothar: Kenichi: Converting

Posted in return for a poem by Elizabeth Barrette – if you’re interested in a setting rental or character adoption then these will be the sorts of stories you’ll receive. (Email me for more information on the barter system.)

After the long journey to Mothar he’d been told to choose a new name. It was normal for converts, because it meant that they were leaving their old self behind and becoming someone new. Someone who had chosen to leave behind everything and everyone he knew. Working out who he had become, strangely, had been the hardest part. There was a mirror in the bathroom that he found himself staring into more often than he thought he would. He was a raven, the same as his brothers and sister, but he was the one who had decided to leave Larnach behind because the religion of Mothar called to him. Unsurprisingly they hadn’t been happy with his choice and all he could do was hope that one day they would understand that he did what was right for him. Sometimes that meant leaving your family behind to travel to a different hame so you could begin a new life.

Finally, after sitting in the contemplation hut for three days longer than the mouse he had travelled all the way from Sheepshank with, he decided upon the name Kenichi. Kenichi, according to the books he’d read, was a kinkajou who’d met the great and powerful Emrys. No one knew if the story was true, but Kenichi felt it was a good name to have. It had been years since a convert had chosen the name Kenichi, which was another good thing. Some felt it was too good a name for them, like the wolf they’d picked up just outside Seahorse Port, while others couldn’t connect with it, like the cat he’d become good friends with during the journey to Mothar. They’d all chosen names that were used a lot by converts, as though they hadn’t wanted to stand out in any way, which wasn’t really a bad thing. He’d been tempted to take a name that wouldn’t draw attention to himself but none of them had wrapped around him the way Kenichi had, like it was always meant to be his name.

They all knew it would take a lot of work for them to ever be accepted into Motharan society, but they’d all felt the call of the religion of one of the larger cities. Like all of the converts they lived in a small settlement just outside the city, a place where they could all study together to become the people they wanted to be, even though a couple of the new converts were beginning to feel like they’d made a mistake. It was easy to understand why once Kenichi’d had a chance to wander around the settlement and get to know it. Everyone there was Larnachi, everyone had converted to the Motharan religion, and there were some who had been there, like the cow priestess, since they’d chosen their Motharan name. Stories were told of those who had been accepted, what their life in the city was thought to be like, as though that was the only thing they’d ever wanted from their lives.

Kenichi couldn’t help thinking that they were wrong. Getting to the city would be nice, but if that was all they had to look forward to then there was something very wrong, because he knew that the reason he’d chosen to leave Larnach behind with the religion. That had seemed to be the reason the others had travelled from Larnach to Mothar. He knew he might have been mistaken, although it seemed more likely that talking to the older converts had changed things for the new arrivals. Less than three hours after he got out of the contemplation hut he made his way to the temple where he could talk to the sheep priestess.

Fioralba was another name that wasn’t often taken by a convert. She was one of the first priestesses of the Motharan religion and, according to what Kenichi had read, was believed to be one of the fae reincarnated as a Motharan. Again no one knew if the story was true, but he could understand why it had become one of those names that was only taken by those who were certain that they’d made the right choice. He watched Fioralba the sheep as she made her way towards him and could see the certainty that wreathed her.

“Good afternoon, Kenichi,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here so soon after you left the contemplation hut.”

“Good afternoon, Priestess,” he replied, wondering if there was a reason he recognised her even though he was certain she’d been in Mothar too long for him to have met her. “I wasn’t planning on coming here, but…” He shook his head, not certain how to bring up the subject of what he thought was wrong with the settlement. “To be honest I probably should have left this until I was here for longer, but I can’t help feeling like there’s a aura of disappointment shrouding this place that shouldn’t exist.”

The look the sheep gave Kenichi made him feel better for talking to her. “I’ve been doing my best to convince everyone that we don’t need the Motharans to accept us to be Motharan, but it’s one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever taken on. When I came here I don’t think I ever expected to become an inhabitant of the city, because I knew what the races of Mothar were like, and yet it’s something too many of the converts who come here aspire to.” Fioralba shook her head. “Instead of making the most of what they have they want more, even though they’ll probably be disappointed when they do finally get to the city.”

“You’ve been there.”

“I have and I never want to go back, but I will because my son lives there.” Fioralba studied him, as though she was trying to work out exactly how much she should tell him. “Kenichi, I don’t know what it was you were expecting when you travelled to Mothar, but I think it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be accepted in the city. You’re a raven though, so, maybe, if you got in with one of the quetzels you might have a chance at being a helper in the temple there. I doubt you’ll ever become anything more.”

“The city isn’t important to me, Priestess. Not now.” Kenichi tilted his head to the side as he tried to work out how best to word what he wanted to say. “Making the settlement the best it can be seems much more important, because we made the choice to come here to follow the Motharan religion. I’m not entirely certain why the converts here feel they have to live in a certain place to be Motharan, because right now just being here, being in a Motharan temple in a settlement they created for us, is making me feel Motharan.”

“It makes me very happy to hear that.” Fioralba breathed a sigh of relief. “The problem seems to be that a lot of the converts who came here expected more than they’re getting and I’m not entirely certain why. The jaguar that I travelled with made it very obvious that we were welcome in Mothar as long as we converted to the religion, but it was unlikely that the races who inhabited the hame would ever truly accept us. It’s different for the children who are born here, like my son, because he grew up worshipping the fae, which seems to make the Motharans much more comfortable.”

Kenichi nodded. “That’s understandable. I guess they can never truly know with those who have chosen to convert if it’s a true conversion or not.”

“Exactly. I’ve tried to explain that, during my sermons, but there seem to be more people who don’t want to listen than who do.” Fioralba’s worry filled her voice. “I have a feeling that something bad is going to happen if they don’t start to understand that we don’t have a right to live here or practice the Motharan religion. The Motharans permitted us to have a settlement here, taught us how they worship the fae, and it’s possible for them to take everything away again.”

“Is there anyone you can talk to in the city about the problem?” Kenichi asked, understanding immediately why the priestess was worried.

“My son may know someone, but I doubt they’ll help us.”

“They don’t need to help us, Priestess. What we need is for them to know that they have a problem here that we’re trying to fix, with little success, so if something does happen they’ve been warned. I’m not saying they’re going to believe the warning, but it’s us being proactive and will hopefully give us a position of strength.”

“In that position of strength we may be able to convince the Motharans that we did what we could, we accept the eviction of anyone they believe is a troublemaker, but we would appreciate it if they’d allow us to stay in the settlement they permitted us to have.”

“At least it gives us something more than we would have had if we simply let things happen. I doubt they’d evict the newer converts, but that isn’t a certainty and I don’t want to have to return home so soon after leaving.” Kenichi shook his head. “Or without having a chance to learn more about the religion that I came here to convert to.’

“I’ll send a letter today and see if he has any ideas. Normally I don’t talk much about the problems we have here, because I didn’t think there was any way for him to help, as well as not always wanting to admit I need help. I’ve been a priestess here for a long time now, so I’m always the one others come to for help.”

“How long have you lived in Mothar?” Kenichi asked, turning the conversation to a less troublesome subject.

“About fourteen years now. I chose to follow a jaguar priest during my sixteenth year, because I connected with the Motharan religion, and I’ve been here ever since. Occasionally I think about returning, if only to see my brother and sister, but this is my home now.” Fioralba looked around the temple, smiling. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve been here my whole life, because I felt happier here from the moment I arrived that I ever did on Larnach.”

“Is this the only Larnachi settlement?”

“No, there are three that are connected to our closest city, and then almost every city in Mothar has at least one settlement connected to it. Almost all converts are Larnachi, but there is, I believe, a couple of Fasachi settlements and one Inishian. The Motharans often don’t feel safe enough to travel anywhere other than Larnach and it’s easy to understand why.”

“I’m surprised there are so many settlements.”

“The Motharans seem to like it when they find people who want to convert to their religion, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever trust us, Kenichi. We may still be loyal to our birth hame.” Fioralba shrugged. “I remember hearing stories, from long ago thankfully, that once the Motharans only accepted converts if they permitted one of the quetzels to repair their soul. It went wrong more often than it went well, in part I believe because the quetzels have the most trouble accepting converts to what they feel in their religion, and in the end they changed the law so that anyone who was willing could convert to the Motharan religion, as long as they followed the rules they were given.”

“Which, obviously, included staying within the settlement they were placed in when they first arrived.”

Nodding, Fioralba smiled at Kenichi. “That is still one of the rules now. My son has to send me an invite so I can travel to the city to see him. He was permitted a place there because he chose to study the religion of Mothar under one of the jaguar priests and the priest put in a good word for him.”

“You mentioned you have a brother and sister. Where in Larnach do they live?”

“My brother still lives in the town we were all born in, Sheepshank, while my sister moved to Seahorse Port.” Fioralba’s confusion showed in her eyes. “Is there a reason you ask?”

“I was born in Sheepshank and you looked familiar, so I wondered if there was any chance I might have met your family.”

The confusion faded. “I’m pretty certain you would have, as my brother is currently the mayor. He sent me a letter to tell me about it when he was elected and I was so proud of him. The last I heard he has three beautiful daughters.”

“I met him a few times,” Kenichi said, remembering the last time they’d happened to be in the same room together, a few moments after he’d had an argument with his brother about the choice he was making. “He said if I was lucky enough to come across you that he would appreciate it if I could tell you that he isn’t angry any more. Coming to Mothar was obviously the right thing for you to do and he’s happy for you.”

“How did you happen to have that sort of conversation with him?”

“My brother, Bertram, is the PA for one of the mice on the council. He wasn’t happy with my choice, so when I went over one day to have lunch with him we ended up arguing, and I have a feeling the mayor overheard us, because he came over to talk to me.” Kenichi would always be grateful for that. “We talked about the choice I was making, which was how we ended up talking about you, and in the end he told me that my family would realise, eventually, that I had to make my own choices. If staying in Sheepshank was going to make me unhappy then I had to come to Mothar.”

“Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that. My sister’s still angry with me.” Fioralba sighed. “I sent her a letter, once, and she sent it back to me unopened. My brother keeps me informed about my nieces and nephews, but sometimes I wish I could tell her that I never made the choice I did to spite her in any way. I loved her then and I still do now. I just had to come to Mothar.”

“I felt the same way, so all I can do is hope that my family comes to accept the choice I made.”

“After you’ve been here for a year I can give you permission to write to them and it’s possible that may be the reason my sister’s still angry. She doesn’t know that there are rules I have to follow in order to live in Mothar and be the priestess of this temple.” Fioralba looked around the temple once more. “I tried to tell her about them, to apologise for having taken so long to write, but as she didn’t read the letter there’s nothing more I can do.”

“Maybe you should go back to Larnach and see her.” Kenichi wondered what he’d do if he was in Fioralba’s position. “At least if you try going in person she might be more open to listening to you, because of the journey that you’d undertaken.”

“I have thought about it. Going back to Larnach, for a few days, would be nice. There’s just so much I have to deal with here and so few people who want to take on any real responsibility that I don’t have anyone I can ask to take over my duties as priestess.”

“When I’ve been here longer I’d be happy to take on whatever duties you have, but I can’t do that for some time.” Kenichi shrugged. “Unless there’s a faster option.”

Fioralba shook her head. “Five years, Kenichi, is how long you have to be here in order to have any position of responsibility. By then who knows what might have happened.”

“Does there have to be a priestess in the temple?”

“No, but I’d feel wrong if I left my people here in a time of crisis to do something so selfish. Maybe, once everything is sorted out, I might think about going to Larnach without there being someone in my place.” Fioralba sighed. “When I arrived there hadn’t been a priest or priestess within the temple for nearly a decade. There were plenty of teachers and mentors, but no one wanted to take on the responsibility of looking after the settlement. It was too much work for them, when all they’d done was come to Mothar to convert to their religion, and I think for so many the plan was always to move on to the city or travel to another part of the hame. Unfortunately for them they were never given permission to move, but a lot ended up leaving Mothar and returning home.”

“From what the priest I was talking to said it seems they think that many see travelling to Mothar, and converting, as a great adventure, but too few see it as a real way to change their life. I don’t know if that’s really the way converts view things, because that didn’t seem to be the way the converts I was travelling with thought, or if it’s the Motharan’s problem for seeing us as something less than we are.”

“I think it’s a bit of both. There are a lot of converts who come here and leave within the first year, or the first five years, because Mothar isn’t what they expected it to be, or learning the religion is too much work. Once the converts get past that five year point it seems like they think that the Motharans should see that they’ve followed the rules and it’s time that they should be integrated into Motharan society, but when they don’t they then have one of two choices. They leave or they stay within the settlement feeling as though they’ve been duped.”

Mirrored from K. A. Jones Writing.

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I think this story reveals a lot about Larnach and Mothar, how the two hames relate to each other, and a different perspective on Motharan religion.

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