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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 112: Kondor 37
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Previous chapter: Chapter 111: Slade 37
The new guy was a bit odd, Kondor thought. He'd known him all of about twelve hours, but nothing about Bob Slade made much sense to him. He was an auto mechanic who fancied himself some kind of super soldier. And he always had that piece of wood in his mouth, like a lolly with no pop. Lauren had introduced him to the parakeet people, and was showing him around.
"Well, like I told Joe," she said, "I think we're here to help these people build the basics of civilization."
"Build the basics of civilization? There's no war?" he said.
"I haven't seen a war. The sparrow people in the mountains are a bit antagonistic, but they generally stay on their side of the lake."
"No, there has to be a war, or something like it. I'm one of Odin's chosen warriors, honing my skills for Ragnorak."
"Odin's warriors? You believe in the Norse gods?"
"Yeah, when I found out I wasn't dead, I figured I must have been spared to prepare for the battle."
"I remember," Lauren said, "C. S. Lewis wrote that the Norse faith was the most noble religion he knew. 'The giants will beat the gods in the end, but I am on the side of the gods.' The idea that you will do the right thing, even though the good guys are going to lose."
"What do you mean, the good guys are going to lose?" Slade said.
"That's part of the Norse faith, or at least that's the way I heard it. The evil giants are more powerful and are going to destroy the good gods; the gods hope that they can take the giants with them. But I've never seen any Norse scriptures. Do they say something different?"
"Oh. Well," Slade answered, "I guess I couldn't say. I never read any Norse scriptures; I'm not sure whether there is such a thing. I just read the Viking Raiders series by James Thompson, and learned about it there."
"That's a history of the Viking age?"
"No, actually." Slade looked a bit embarrassed. "It's a series of fantasy adventure novels."
"You got your religion from a set of fantasy adventure books?" Lauren almost shouted, and Kondor couldn't tell if she was more angry or more amused. Flabbergasted was the word that came to mind. But this was more than he could take.
"You're laughing at him?" he said. "You're no better. You get your religion from a collection of myths."
"They're historical records," Lauren retorted. "They tell the events surrounding God's dealings with men in real time."
"They're filled with fables and fantasies, impossible stories of magic which have so corrupted whatever history was there as to be completely useless. Obviously they were written long after the events they report, and have been highly embellished."
"I don't see that as obvious. There are pieces of pages from those books dating from a very few years after the events."
"I don't know about that. I do know that they can't be true, because the stories are impossible."
"So let me get this straight. The records have to be false because they report miracles, and miracles are by definition impossible. So there's no proof that miracles ever happened, because any report that they did happen has to be false."
"Magic is scientifically impossible. Miracles can't happen. Any person who says otherwise is either lying or mistaken, and any document which reports them is wrong."
"Now wait a minute." Bob Slade was going to add his thoughts to the mix. "When I rescued the djinni, I knew a wizard with some impressive spells. I saw him pull water out of the air to use against an efriiti. He taught me to do a few things, and left his books to me so I could learn more. And I brought a few of them with me. Want to see them?"
"I'm not interested in nonsense," Kondor said.
"Well, you've got two of us arguing for it," Lauren said. "I called on God for help, and He answered with power. Besides, magic isn't about science. It's about God and the devil and powers beyond the natural world."
"Look," Kondor objected, "I'm not saying there aren't strange things in the multiverse. I saw a guy lift himself in the air with just the power of his mind. He said it was magic. Maybe he honestly thought it was. Maybe you've got psychic powers, too, and maybe you think it's magic."
"I have psychic powers," Lauren argued. "And I've also used magic. It's not the same thing."
"You think it's not. I say it is. And I can't think of anything you could say or do which would prove that you were actually tapping power from some kind of heaven or hell or god or devil."
"So, what then," Bob Slade said. "Are we liars?"
"I didn't say you were lying. I'm sure you believe that it's magic. I just think you're wrong."
"But what if we're right?" Lauren asked. "What if there is a God, a heaven, a hell? What if there's more than you know?"
"Oh, we've covered this ground before," Kondor said. It was an unwinnable argument, and he didn't want to push it. "You guys are both crazy, but you know that, and it's probably beside the point. I'm sorry I said anything. Go back to your debate about myths and legends; I'm going fishing."
And he headed down to the lake to see what he could catch.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #64: Versers Gather. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: