I am feeling really bad about the lack of updates over the past two weeks. So today I am giving you a special super long update (over 2,500 words). I hope you enjoy it.
Oriana walked into her father’s factory that morning, still wearing the same clothes from the day before. This wasn’t out of the ordinary for her. She would often be out all night and instead of coming home just head back to the factory. She expected that her father would just give her his usual nod and say “hi, honey,” as she walked in but instead he looked at her sternly and used his finger to indicate that she was to follow him to his office immediately. She sat down opposite her father’s desk while he stood for a few moments with his back to her facing the white board behind his desk. Oriana thought she saw his hands tremble slightly as he opened and closed them.
“Ana, I had a conversation with two policemen yesterday evening.”
Oriana gasped, she could hear the fury in her father’s voice.
“What? Peterson and Nix-,” she was cut off.
“They told me that you interfered with their investigation into a religious cult they believe are operating in this area and they are considering pressing charges against you for your own safety.”
“Dad, there’s something you should know, those men aren’t cops. I have a video of what really happened.”
Her father just shook his head slowly in disgust.
“Ana, shut up.”
Oriana’s mouth gaped open, “Excuse me?”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear any of your lies. You are just like your mother. You don’t care at all how your actions could impact other people.”
“Woah! Why are you bringing mum into this?”
Her father reeled around and slammed his palms down hard on the desk.
“Because your mother lied to the police too. She lied and told them that I raped her, that I hit you, that I was a bad father. She went to court and she lied over and over again under oath because she wanted to hurt me and she knew taking you away from me would hurt me!”
Oriana stared wide-eyed with terror at her father as he was smouldering with rage before her. She couldn’t find any words in her throat and so opened and closed her mouth silently.
“The years of court cases I went through for you almost killed me, my business, and everything I ever cared about. I won’t let you finish the work your mother started. For once in your life you are going to do what you are told to do. You are going to be home by 6pm tonight and you will not go out again unless it is here to this factory or to school. No more late nights hanging out with these crazy idiotic bums you get mixed up with the police.”
Oriana tried to speak but the words got stuck in her throat, she cleared her throat but instead of words coming up she started sobbing uncontrollably.
“Oh, cut it out, you women make me sick with your tears. Instead of feeling sorry for yourselves all the damn time maybe think about how your actions impact other people!”
There was a knock at the door and her father moved over to the door to peek through, it was Maggie who whispered something to her father. Oriana was trying to stem her tears when she heard Maggie murmur the name “Suvarin”. Straight away she looked up towards the door.
“Who’s this person, ‘Soovereen’ who’s waiting for you outside?” demanded her father.
“Suvarin!” exclaimed Oriana, “She’s a friend from uni. I have to go we were going to study in the library today.”
Oriana ran out the door and pushed passed her father. She saw Suvarin standing at the entrance of the factory. She was taken aback at the immense long trail of scarlet hair that seemed to float in the breeze behind Suvarin. When she was out of her white uniform, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, with her hair out, she looked much younger than Oriana had thought she might be. Oriana grabbed her back pack and indicated to Suvarin to follow her with her eyes. Suvarin looked about the place alertly instantly perceiving there to be some kind of danger. The two young women marched out and started down the road towards the university.
Suvarin asked Oriana a couple of times if anything was wrong as they walked, but Oriana ignored her and marched on. When they rounded a corner and were finally out of sight of the factory Oriana turned to Suvarin and a fresh set of tears flooded gushed forth. Suvarin’s face was one of immediate concern and pity, before she could say anything Oriana had grasped her and was empting her tears onto Suvarin’s bosom.
Suvarin held her and gently rocked Oriana reassuring her she was safe now. Oriana tried to speak but Suvarin urged her to wait and focus on her breathing instead. Fifteen minutes later the pair were sitting in a café nursing a cup of tea each. Oriana filled Suvarin in as to what had just happened.
“When did your parents get divorced?”
“When I was two, my brother was six.”
“What happened to your brother?”
“He decided that he wanted to live with mum instead of dad.”
“But you preferred to live with your father?”
“Yeah, mum never had much time for me. My brother was clearly her favourite. Dad had always been nicer to me, well, had been until today. I have never seen him so angry before.”
“I feel sorrow for what happened to you both. Having your family broken up like that is a terrible thing to go through.”
“Ahhh, it’s ok, it’s pretty normal these days. It isn’t like it affected me that much; I was too young at the time to remember.”
Suvarin went awkwardly silent, Oriana noticed.
“What is it?”
“Nothing, I was just thinking about what you said.”
“What were you thinking?”
“That divorce is a crime.”
“It’s not, it is perfectly legal.”
Suvarin shook her head, “it may be legal, but it is still a crime.”
“You sound like Kent.”
“We’re both religious nutters remember,” joked Suvarin smiling.
Oriana took in a deep breath. She had only met Suvarin last night yet already she felt at ease around her. There was something different about her. Most people wanted to be the centre of attention when they spoke, but Suvarin didn’t seem interested in attention at all. Instead, all her focus was on other people around her. She didn’t need to say that she cared about other people, nor do anything, it was just obvious by the way she looked at others. It puzzled her because she could think of anyone else she had met who was settled.
“Why were you at the factory just now?”
“Well, Kent was busy, and with the Tyranni around I thought it would be safer if I came and spoke to you today. Check in on you, walk you to uni and make sure you’re safe. Since the Tyranni don’t know me I think it’s safer for me to keep in touch with you until this blows over.”
“Thank you,” said Oriana sincerely, “You turned up at just the right time. Sorry I was rude to you last night.”
Suvarin explained that the apology as unnecessary, but nonetheless appreciated.
“You have such an exotic sounding name. Suvarin. What does it mean?”
“It is just my name, it doesn’t mean anything.”
“What language is it?”
Suvarin shook her head, “No language, it is just my name. At least that’s the name I picked for myself.”
“Oh, is it a religious name?”
“No. It is just my name. Maybe you can come up with a meaning for it yourself?”
“Certainly, I shall think of something. Say, don’t you have work to do for the Salvati or something? That super secret work you are doing?”
“I do, but my work today is at the hospital.”
“The Ormond Clinic? You work at the hospital?”
Suvarin nodded, “I’m a nurse.”
“Of course, that fits with your group.”
“It fits with my personal values: I value health, wellbeing, fitness, and life. That’s why I joined the Salvati order because their values agree with my soul.”
“And you believe in god?”
Oriana shook her head gently and breathed out a quiet, “wow!”
“Why is that such a surprise? When I was chatting to your friend Paul yesterday he told me he was Christian and believed in god.”
“Yes, but lots of people believe in the Christian god, but you’re different, you believe in a different god altogether. That’s really bizarre to me. I just thought religious people would be crazy.”
“How do you know it is a different god? Certainly, I don’t agree with all Christians, but there are definitely some that I find agreement with. Do you think Paul is crazy?”
“Of course he isn’t, Paul’s lovely, I like him a lot. I feel awful about him getting hurt the way he was yesterday.”
“So why did you think that religious people should be crazy?”
“Well, I guess it’s just what they say on the news and in school, anyone who believes in god who isn’t a Christian, Jew, or Muslim is just crazy, right? Although come to think of it, sometimes they say anyone who believes in a god is crazy.”
“Do you know any crazy religious people?”
Oriana thought about this hard for a few moments, “You know I don’t think I do, but for some reason I feel like I do. I mean, I’ve seen heaps of crazy religious people on television, which doesn’t mean anything, they could just find a few rare examples and give so much air time to them that one thinks there are more of them than there actually is, but I don’t think that I’ve ever met a crazy religious person ever. Well besides Peterson and Nix just yesterday.”
“Yes, but are those two really crazy or are that something else? Evil perhaps?”
“Evil?” Oriana let out a chuckle, “What a melodramatic word to use. Surely no one is actually evil. It’s just the environment, they’re poor or they’ve been hurt, humiliated in some way.”
“Do Peterson and Nix look like they are poor?”
Oriana shivered slightly as she realised, “No. They looked quite well off, and yet they had so much hatred and rage. How could someone be wealthy and want to hurt other people so much?”
“Perhaps they are evil.”
“It sounds somewhere between mean and silly to call someone evil, but those men were certainly bad. Especially going back to my father and lying about me and what happened to him. Yet, they seem so organised. What are they? Lawful evil?”
Survarin didn’t understand the reference to lawful evil, so Oriana had to explain.
“I actually think evil by its nature is planned, organised, and lawful in a sense. Because to be evil requires one to know the right thing to do, but deliberately choose to do the wrong thing instead.”
“Are they evil? I mean, are they actually bad people or do they just have bad beliefs?”
Suvarin shook her head, “That’s a false dichotomy. There can be bad people with bad beliefs and there can be good people with good beliefs as well. It is always a blend of nature and nurture.”
“How do you know they’re evil though? Maybe they just don’t know any better? Maybe because they were raised up in that Tyranni religion they think what they’re doing is the good?”
“Most people do the wrong thing out of ignorance, others do it out of panic, but when a person is informed and calm, but does the wrong thing nonetheless, that person is evil. That is the kind of person who joins in the Tyranni, and the kind of people we are dealing with unfortunately. There’s nothing silly or mean about it. The Tyranni are evil.”
Oriana felt the shiver again, “The way you describe evil gives me goose bumps.”
Suvarin smiled, “I can see that Kent was right about you, you are intelligent and have a lot of potential for wisdom.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You have the divine touch of Verina. You know instinctively what is right and wrong.”
Oriana giggled, “You mean my shivers?”
Suvarin nodded earnestly, Oriana blushed from receiving the sincere admiration from her.
“So if evil is knowing the right thing to do, but choosing to do the wrong, then what is the good?”
“The good is living in harmony with god, not against him.”
“But how do you know that? Does god speak to you? Do you have prophets?”
Suvarin frowned, “Maybe it would be better to ask Kent to explain? He is a druid and this is his area of expertise.”
“Why can’t you tell me? Are you saying that you just believe without understanding? I mean, if you can’t explain to me why you believe something then why should I take your word seriously?”
Suvarin smiled again, “You have a philosopher’s soul, Oriana, I think I like you. Yes, you are correct; it isn’t enough to say one believes in such things, one ought to be able to give an account for why they believe it.”
Oriana blushed, “thank you Suvarin, you say a lot of nice things about me.”
“I don’t just say them, I mean them, I admire your thirst for truth. That’s the first virtue, the goddess Verina is close with you.”
“Woah! Goddess? Weren’t we just talking about god as a man? Do we now have two gods?”
“No. This is the part where it gets harder to explain. I don’t have all morning to sit and explain it to you unfortunately. See, we have two types of gods: the external and the internal so to speak. Kent can explain it better. Basically we have one god we might call the demiurge, the creator of the universe and the supreme law maker. However, we believe in many other gods. You might call them ‘lesser’ gods.”
“Wow. Like how the Greeks believed in many different gods, but Zeus was the supreme god over all the others?”
“Yes, similar to how Odin, Ra, and Jupiter worked in the Norse, Egyptian, and Roman religions. We differentiate them more distinctly of course. The demiurge’s influence surrounds us, but the influence of the other gods is within us.”
“Isn’t it interesting how all those religions are so similar to each other?”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence, I think they were all ancestor faiths to my own. We are just more informed than our ancestors were.”
“Informed? You make it sound like it’s a science.”
“Perhaps it is not a science, but definitely a legitimate field of study. If you want to learn more just ask Kent the next time you see him to explain the first revelation to you. You appear to be ready to listen to it.”
“When will that be? I don’t think my father would allow him in the factory.”
“That’s ok. Kent usually spends Saturday afternoon in the library. You can go and meet him there tomorrow. Will your father calm down, do you think?”
“Maybe, I haven’t ever seen him this mad before. It’s scary.”
“Yes, it is definitely concerning to see how easily influenced he was. Well, I need to get to the hospital, so how I about I walk you to university and on Monday we can do the same again?”
Oriana agreed, the idea of being friends with Suvarin appealed to her, and in a few moments the two young women were out setting off towards the university together.