Ascent

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Sat, 2013-02-09 21:20

Once there was a truly great man who lived in a wretched Dark Age. His name was Rylek; his home town was Revenna, Italy; and his years of trial and triumph the 700s.

"Thank Zeus for the Greeks," he said, "and good god damn the Christians!" This wasn't a particularly popular sentiment back then -- even in his native country. But no-one dared oppose him. "And what in hell is up with these accursed Muslims?" he added. "Why, they're the worst yet!"

"And royally fuck god," he thought to himself, but prudently did not say aloud. Still, everyone who knew him decently rather heard it anyway.

Ry' had three wives -- two of them teenage sisters. All were intelligent, educated, virtuous, sensuous, and absurdly beautiful.

They got along well enough. His imperious demands for their general submission saw to that. Thus they were more like friends than rivals. Or at least partners and allies. Rylek wasn't easy to manage and control -- so they had to work together.

But he took care of them quite nicely. And their marriages to him were overwhelmingly enjoyable and profitable.

Domestically, Rylek absolutely demanded that his women treat each other with respect and courtesy. But he did not demand that they stay with him. Nor did he circumscribe their freedom in any way. Willingly, for many long years, they chose to avail themselves of his company and ardent affections, as well as his wealth and power.

By age forty-six, Rylek was virtually the emperor of Revenna. But formally and officially, the thriving city-state was ruled by a small senate of wise men, most of which were his friends.

By this time "the legend of Ry'" was rather spectacular. He came from utter poverty but made a small fortune by buying and selling rare books to the town's aristocrats. Virtually all his books were Greek or Roman classics. He also made a fortune off selling exotic fish delicacies to the wealthy -- which only he knew how to locate and catch. But these financial achievements, however remarkable, weren't what he was really known for.

Mainly Rylek killed religious tyrants. Anyone who showed unusual piety, and was within a week's ride of his home, and was a political dictator, invariably incurred his wrath. He rode off with small but deadly bands to brutally slaughter them. Afterwards, he took most of their valuables, and those of their cronies as well. This yielded him some genuinely massive windfalls.

His activity also created a kind of circle of civilization and buffer zone centered around Ravenna. And all these nearby cities and nations tended to support each other.

After each victory over "god" Rylek threw an extravagant party, and danced many dances of raucous celebration. He also took powerful drugs and had wild sex. Rylek brought many of the surviving vanquished to his parties, just to let his enemies know that they had been terribly defeated. And to make sure that they felt bad while he rudely gloated.

All told in his career Rylek had burnt down the homes of forty-two religious leaders, and fire-bombed twelve separate churches, mosques, and synagogues which had taken over a thousand men to build. What a series of triumphs by Good over Evil!

Still, he wasn't satisfied. And everyone kind of knew it.

So he suddenly switched gears, and dedicated his life to philosophy. Rylek swore off energetically killing enemies.

Well, mostly. He did need a part time hobby to entertain himself with!

Rylek worked long and hard, and eventually made great progress in his intellectual pursuits. But he still couldn't come up with the results he wanted. Neither philosophically, nor personally.

Even so, he was quite prepared to enjoy his life as best he could. And he was extremely well-situated to do just that.

Then one day -- out of the blue -- an observant and highly superior alien species of complete rationality, and stunningly high civilization, stopped by. They said hello and gave him their compliments. Then they offered him a way out.

It was an escape from both cultural Darkness and human limitations. Based on general principles of justice -- which they worshiped -- they offered Ry' an opportunity to transcend his situation.

And Rylek took it! He went to live with them over a dozen centuries ago -- and hasn't regretted a nano-second since!


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