The book of
as written by Batlin of Britanny
i. Salutations to the Traveller
Good morning to thee, gentle friend and traveller!
No matter what time of day it might be when thou art reading this – no matter what the hour of the clock – I say good morning to thee because this very moment brings to thee the coming of the dawn. The dawn, as everyone knows, is the moment when illumination comes. The dawn marks the end of the long dark night, and a new beginning. It is my humble hope that these words may be for thee a dawning, or at least, a type of awakening.
I call thee “traveller” no matter if thou hast never left thy home town, no matter if thou wilst never again leave thy room, because all of us are travellers. I call thee traveller for truly all of us travel a spiritual or philosophical path – even if it is simply by living the life that we choose to live, or by searching for a new life when our current one fails to satisfy our needs as thinking spiritual beings.
It is past time that I introduce myself to thee, gentle friend and traveller. My name is Batlin, and indeed I have been following this quest all of my life. It has been a long road, but the rewards have been beyond measure. If thou wouldst permit me, I would very much wish appreciate sharing these rewards with you.
ii. The Story of Batlin – Part the First
There is much that I have set out to tell thee in this book. Some small part of it involves my own personal story. As that is the least important part of this book, I shall quickly relate my tale first, gentle friend and traveller. In that way we shall soon have it over with and then be free to pass on more important concerns!
I was born in the forests surrounding the city of Yew and educated in the traditions of the Druids. Having been raised in North Paladis, I was taught to always strive for fairness in dealing with others, and these teachings left a lasting impression upon me. But while I found trees, birds and moons to be very beautiful, I determined to dedicate my life to the service of people. So it was I left to seek my fortune in the world.
This was a time when, over King Brutan’s objections, unruly lords waged war against each other, so there was little else to do but become a fighter in the city of Valhold. I regret killing, although much of what I did helped bring peace to our land once more. I learned well how to defend myself and to find the courage one must have to survive in battle. I also learned respect for those of valor who earn their wage by combat. Eventually those little wars ended, and I found myself penniless and without a trade in the capital city of Britanny.
I became a Bard simply because a Bard was needed at the Blue Boar. There were none about, and I had the loudest voice. Never had I considered myself to be musically inclined, but it was a fair alternative to starvation. My voice was painful. My mandolin strings would break rather than let me stroke them. After much heckling and many a thrown bottle, my talents did slowly develop. As the years passed I began to feel the deep compassion that bards known when singing of heroic deeds. I discovered that sharing a spiritual rapport with my audience was very moving. Several of my ballads are still sung today (although by tradition, the player will no doubt take credit for composing them himself).
While in Britanny, I met two remarkable individuals. They were twins, Elizabeth and Abraham. They were also well versed students of philosophy, and many were the hours we spent in discussion and debate. We did raise our voices on occasion, Gentle friend and traveller, but that did not prevent us from becoming fast friends. Although I would never presume to intrude upon their privacy by revealing the many fascinating details I learned about them and their lives, I will say that they play a truly significant role in the part this book that is my story.
A mage from Aerie who had heard me perform came to offer me employment as his assistant. Magic has always fascinated me, and so I became his apprentice. I will always remember his teaching that if I was to successfully commune with the visible world without lapsing into madness, I must ever retain my honesty – if one is to live outside the laws of reality, one must first be honest. He taught me well. It was with great sadness that I ended my studies in the magical arts when my master, who was most elderly, passed away.
While drinking at the Blue Boar soon after his passing, Elizabeth, Abraham, and I each decided that we needed something to which to dedicate our lives. On a youthful whim, we made a pact that we would go our separate ways and spend the next decade travelling throughout the land to find adventure, and to find ourselves as well. We agreed to reunite at the Blue Boar in exactly ten years. Our departure was exciting yet melancholy, as my life began a new chapter.
iii. The Old Man and the Bandits
On the road leading out of Britanny, I met a man bent with age, but still possessed of keen wit. As we walked he shared with me his tale, and I in turn shall share it with thee.
During a stroll through the woods one day, this man was kidnapped by a group of vicious bandits. The poor man had just left his nephew’s family and had no one else in the world. Woe to them who have been kidnapped when they have no one to pay their ransom! The bandits soon began to loathe their captive and did make plans to kill him.
One wanted to hang him, while another wanted to stab him. Still another wanted to burn him at the stake while yet a fourth wanted to tie rocks about his waist and throw him in the river. So angry did they wax in their disagreement over what manner of violence to use, that they did break into an awful, bloody row.
And so it was that this old man did escape from the bandits, who were distracted with their brawling. Upon noticing their victim was gone, they continued to fight, this time over whose fault it had been, until all of them lay dead, murdered by each others’ hand.
This old man was later reunited with his nephew’s family and all were joyous of it. For as he had learned, Unity is essential for survival, and unlike those reckless bandits, he still wished to live for a good many years yet.
iv. The Story of Batlin – Part the Second
My travels took me to Resolute, and there I encountered a group of men at arms with whom I became most impressed. Many fighters I have know were men of valorous heart on the battle field, but off it little more than thugs. These men were not mere fighters, but Paladins. They were all skilled swordsmen and expert horsemen, as well as learned scholars and perfectly mannered gentlemen. Above all, they were devoted to the preservation of honor. It was with eager gratitude that I accepted their invitation to join them. The following years were filled with excitement, as we journeyed through the land, righting wrongs and helping those in need!
During one of our adventures I was injured and forced to remain in Port Graff while my companions rode on. A healer there told me that without the proper treatment (for which he charged outrageous prices) I would most probably die! I angrily sent him away. After a time I did mend. I had learned that the healing process takes place mostly in one’s mind and have since placed no trust in healers who greedily prey upon the afflicted.
At that time, the town of Port Graff was in need of a Tinker. As I heard, I supported myself by fixing, building and inventing things. I had never before realized how much a town is reliant upon its Tinker, nor how appreciative the local townspeople are to those who sacrifice themselves to continuously solving the problems of others. So welcome did they make me feel that I stayed for several years.
Then, filled with the urge to roam and longing for the outdoors once more, I joined a band of Rangers in the Savrenoc Timberland. Rangers are a deeply spiritual people. Living with them reminded me very much of my druid childhood in Yew – with one big difference. These Rangers drank the most wonderful wine I have ever tasted! The bottles came from the old winery at Desolis, having survived the terrible fires which ravaged that island. Later I made a pilgrimage to the blighted ruins of Desolis and there I had a spiritual experience so profound that I have vowed never to relate it to anyone.
Leaving their band, I gave away all of my possessions and for months I wandered aimlessly. Eventually, I arrived at Jaanaford where I sought employment as a Shepherd. Most of the following two years was spent in perfect solitude, living in complete humility. It was an experience that left me significantly changed. When I noticed that ten years had almost passed, I began the journey back to Britanny.
v. The Two Brothers and the Trickster
On the road back to Britanny I noticed a small mine being worked by two brothers. They greeted me suspiciously but eventually shared with me their tale, and I shall share it with thee.
Their father died and left them a map to some unclaimed land that contained valuable minerals. By law a claim can only be made in one name, and this led the brothers into conflict. One brother was the eldest, the other was more worldly- both wanted the claim. They became so fearful that the other would make the claim that each spent all his time spying on the other. No work was done.
One day, they met a stranger who said he was a mining engineer. They did not trust him at first, but he assured them that their claim was too small to be of interest. He was on the way to stake a much larger claim. The stranger turned their heads with tales of the riches they could have, replacing their distrust with avarice.
The brothers asked the stranger to make their claim for them, and went back to working their mine. They worked without stopping for months, and afterward travelled to the mint to sell their ore.
At the mint they learned the stranger had staked their claim in his own name and then sold it outright for a fortune. As the brothers had taken ore from land they did not own, they were sent to prison for many years.
Their sad fate taught them to be more trusting of each other, for a man who does not trust his brother is always vulnerable. After hearing their tale, I went to the mint, for I was curious which of the two brothers held the claim to their new mine. I had tried to guess and was quite surprised when I saw the answer. It was in the name of their father.
vi. The Creation of The Fellowship
I was overjoyed when Elizabeth and Abraham both arrived at the Blue Boar safe and sound. It was a splendid reunion. The tales they told me were truly astounding, gentle friend and traveller. But as I have mentioned, I do not wish this tome to be and intrusion upon their privacy.
Not all of our memories were pleasant ones. Most of the people of Novia, it seemed, were more interested in helping themselves than in helping their fellow person. As travellers – strangers wherever we went – we had become used to the cold eye of suspicion upon us. Everywhere there were people who expected something for nothing, as if owed a debt by the world. Most of all, each of us had met many people who were fundamentally unhappy. Everywhere there were people who knew that they needed something in their lives, gentle friend and traveller, but that they had not a hope of finding it.
The three of us had learned much of history. There was once a time when life was infinitely more fragile, but was cherished much more dearly. We yearned to recapture that aspect of Novia’s former glory. After much discussion, we decided to found a society called The Fellowship. At this time I was also conceiving what would become its philosophy, but that will be discussed further in another chapter. It was Abraham who suggested that I propose The Fellowship to King Brutan. I agreed, little realizing the task I was undertaking.
vii. The Ratification of Wise King Brutan
It was with much anxiety that I stood before the throne of wise King Brutan. I was in a long line of subjects as our Liege made numerous pronouncements. Although I had been waiting for hours when I at last had my audience, I still felt unprepared. His unwavering glance fell on me.
I said that I had a modest proposal. My colleagues and I sought to establish a philosophical society known as The Fellowship. King Brutan asked me who would see the benefits of this Fellowship. I replied that no one would benefit from it, for it would not be run for profit. With a word I was dismissed. I found myself leaving the throne room before it had even sunk in that I had been refused.
By the look on my face Elizabeth and Abraham knew I was not the bearer of good news. In discussing the matter, Elizabeth suggested that King Brutan had desired a tribute from us. If we could present an impressive enough tribute, he would grant his favor. After a time we raised a thousand gold pieces by selling nearly every possession we owned. With renewed confidence I returned to the castle.
This time there were several women with me to carry the chests of gold that were our tribute. As I reached the front of the line I spoke boldly. I said that I wished to discuss The Fellowship, but first wished to present King Brutan with suitable tribute. With consternation I realized that I had spoken before King Brutan had finished reading an important looking scroll placed before him by one of his advisors. He signed it as he spoke, not even bothering to look up at me. First he ordered my workmen to remove the boxes. The he ordered the workmen to remove me as well!
Angrily I stormed from the throne room. Once more did I face my two friends. We were most disappointed. The dream we shared now seemed to have no hope of becoming reality. I spent days somberly brooding over my failure. One morning found me so completely lost in my thoughts that I did not hear the passing beggar approach. When at last I noticed him he spoke. “A coin for one denied the rewards of worthiness.” The illumination was pure and instantaneous. He thought I had gone mad when I gave him my chest full of gold. I ran back to the palace as fast as I could.
At first, King Brutan would not see me, but I implored him. He looked me over, and seemed to see something different about me. He listened as I spoke.
“Our society, The Fellowship, will be a union of spiritual seekers that shall strive to bring Unity to our fractured society. We will promote Trust and understanding among all the people of Novia. With your approval our society will teach one to seek Worthiness, rather than mere personal reward. To that end, I seek your recognition of The Fellowship.”
After a long moment, King Brutan replied.
“Batlin, thou dost know the meaning of perseverance. I care not for what thy Fellowship dost wish of me and I care even less for what thy Fellowship would seek to do for me. But if thy Fellowship would seek to serve the subjects of my land then my support is unequivocal.”
Thus was born The Fellowship.
viii. The Value of Virtues and the Virtue of Values
In creating the Fellowship philosophy I had no intention of cobbling together a collection of platitudes that would be presumptuously intended as a replacement of the Eight Virtues. I knew there would be those who would accuse me of doing just that, no matter what philosophy I developed! I hereby wish to state that The Fellowship fully supports the Eight Virtues, and as one who has endeavored to follow their example I can personally assure thee of their immeasurable worth.
But as one who has followed the Eight Virtues, I know whereof I speak when I say that it is impossible to perfectly live up to them. Even the Avatar of Virtue was unable to do so continuously and consistently. Can anyone say that they have been honest every moment of every day of their lives? Can anyone say that they are always compassionate, valorous, just, sacrificing, honorable, humble or spiritual at all times? The philosophy of the Eight Virtues does little more than emphasize our own personal deficiencies. I have met many adherents to the ways of the Virtues who are racked with guilt over what they perceive to be their spiritual failures, for that is what the Virtues are based upon. Having been shown our weaknesses, now is the time to strengthen them. The philosophy of The Fellowship has been created to eradicate the failures from one’s life. It is a philosophy based upon success and it enhances everything that has come before it. The Fellowship philosophy can be expressed as three values derived from the personal experiences of my life. They are
known as The Triad of Inner Strength
ix. The Triad of Inner Strength
The Triad of Inner Strength is a rigorous mental discipline. It takes concentrated effort to apply this triad of values to thy life. But in doing so thou will see a change in thy life so significant that thou shalt no longer be able to look at the world in the same way again.
The first value of The Triad Of Inner Strength is expressed as “Strive For Unity.” People apply this value to their lives by working together to achieve that which shall benefit everyone in a state of mutual cooperation. We have seen by the parable of “The Old Man and the Bandits” how Unity is essential. If we are not working together then we are certainly working against each other.
The second value of The Triad Of Inner Strength is expressed as “Trust Thy Brother.” People apply this value to their lives by dealing with others without accusations or suspicions that limit others and themselves. We have seen by the parable of “The Two Brothers and the Trickster” just how vulnerable lack of Trust makes on. Without Trust we restrict ourselves from that which we wish to accomplish.
The third value of The Triad Of Inner Strength is expressed as “Worthiness Precedes Reward.” People apply this value to their lives by placing a greater emphasis on their accomplishments rather than on personal gain. We have seen by the parable of “The Ratification of Wise King Brutan” that one must not expect something for nothing. Blindly chasing reward is a path that leads nowhere.
x. The Philosophy of The Fellowship
The scholarly name for the Fellowship philosophy – which I did not personally coin – is “sanguine cognition.” This is merely an important-sounding way of saying “cheerful knowledge,” and that is as accurate a description of The Fellowship philosophy as any I can imagine.
As long as on maintains his confidence and hopefulness one is continuously open to the opportunities that perpetually exist in life. I firmly believe that, gentle friend and traveller, and thou shouldst believe it as well.
Without confidence, one does not perceive the world correctly and hence one misses opportunities. This sad sate of “fevered” reason currently holds the majority of the population in its icy grip.
Such “fevered” persons begin to adapt illusory notions to their thinking and entangle themselves in twisted, conflicting emotions which reinforce their failures. These sad people become afraid of themselves. They begin to believe that they will fail, and this belief can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Such a fevered person, whether he realizes it or not, desperately needs to recognize that the world is not a tangled know of failure. The entire process of thought needs to be permanently fixed to a confident nature. Such a person needs to “find the best in himself,” and accept his basic worth. This is rarely an easy task. It requires a reflection upon one’s self that can be emotionally painful. But as we say in The Fellowship, “Sometimes one must face harm in order to find healing.” Upon achieving Recognition one will follow his own inner voice of reason that will guide him through life and help him avoid failure.
One of the most difficult things to accept is how reliant we are upon others. We fear the rejection, the real or imagined hidden motives, and the potential deceit of others. Accepting our inevitable reliance upon others as an integral part of our role in this world requires the courage to walk on fire.
To achieve the recognition necessary to break free of the fever, one must dedicate every fibre of being to accomplishing that end. We of The Fellowship travel that path, and I extend my invitation to thee, gentle friend and traveller, to join us. Together we shall reach our destination.