Yi Be-Pian Old Zorai of the Company of the Eternal Tree - Part Two

As I silently observed the camp, I didn't immediately see Yi Be-Pian sit down beside me. Smiling, he finally broke the silence.

Your respect for our traditions honours you. It seems that the day hasn't yet come for my return to Ma-Duk. So some of your questions will be answered.

There's something I don't get. You swear by the Kami and yet you don't seem to have that bad a relationship with the Matis.

We may condemn their tendency to help the Karavan, but we respect their love of plants and the research they carry out in that field. We only hope that one day we can open their eyes and convince them to use their immense scientific learning for the good of the Kami and the fight against the Goo. No, those we consider to be real fools are the Fyros. They're worse than children. We can't tolerate their government's acceptance of their dangerous games with fire. They say that they're devoted to the Kami but, like the sages of the past, they put their own personal interests before those of Atys.

How does one become worthy of serving the Kami in the Company?

The Kami alone decide. Those who respect the sacred rules most faithfully and learn to know all the Kami have the immense honour of being chosen to serve. Before, when the tribe was respected for its immense valour, its members were considered by all to be sacred beings and, although there existed many religious orders, the Company of the Eternal Tree was considered to be the elite and we were regarded as the most pious of the pious.

How do you serve the Kami?

There are a thousand ways of serving the Kami. Dedicating prayers to them and looking after a corner of the land is already a way of honouring them. However, the tribe's most important task is spreading the teachings of Ma-Duk, may her sap flow eternally, and making homins aware that they must safeguard Atys. Those who have been chosen to serve the Kami directly have the honour of serving as their spokespersons. They go to live with the Kami in order to familiarise themselves with their way of life and to better learn their language. These elect will be the first to attain the Kami Age, I'm quite sure, because they understand the word that they bring to us better than anyone. Our devotion also requires lots of practical action to safeguard Atys. We work the land to remove harmful things or, conversely, to resow the springs which have been dried up by unscrupulous foragers. Finally, we try to protect Atys from its most dangerous enemies: The Karavan and the homins who have debased themselves to serve them, the Kuilde. One of our encampments is situated just inside Nexus in order to try and restrict their harmful actions.

But why in Nexus?

There you go again, asking questions without thinking. Consider the geographic location of Nexus, which is strengthened by the three vortexes. You see, the answers are sometimes closer than you realise, you just need to take the time to think about it. Nexus occupies a central position on Atys. Nowhere else are you so close to all the regions at once. The Kuilde tries to use it to strengthen its control over all of Atys' resources and in particular those of the upper Primes. The Karavan cares little for the equilibrium of Atys; we have to stop them from using those stinking, toadying ragus, the Kuilde, to devastate the regions. Mind you, at least by concentrating on Nexus, they leave us alone to carry out research into our ultimate enemy, the Goo.

Tell me about the fight against the Goo. How can it be that with all the time the Kami have known about it, they still haven't found a way to eradicate it?

The Kami are powerless against it. What's more, they are extremely vulnerable to it. I've seen with my own eyes a Kami being sucked up by the Goo before I could intervene. No, I tell you, it's up to us to protect them. Did you know that homins have a better resistance to the Goo than most other living creatures? Our latest findings seem to bear this out.So the Kami protect Atys and we protect the Kami. There is equilibrium in everything.

How do you explain the fact that it's only in the jungle that the Goo is to be found so persistently?

Despite all our research, unfortunately we haven't found the answer to that question. However, our most recent observations lead us to believe that if the Goo attacks Atys in the jungle, it may be due to the greater presence of plant life. The Goo attacks any living matter. If it feeds off it, it makes sense that it will take hold where life is most flourishing…

Does the upcoming conflict risk compromising your fight against the Goo?

We fear so. All our forces will be mobilised to defend Ma-Duk, revered creator of everything, which will stop us regulating the Goo. To that is added our fear of seeing the Karavan try to use it to attack the Kami and, in doing so, hastening the end of Atys. We hope to be able to stop those fanatics before they resort to such extremes. Part of me, though, is happy to know that I will soon join Ma-Duk. I no longer have the strength to take up arms and it would eat away at my soul to witness an event, one which is likely to be a major turning point in the history of hominity, and not be able to take part in it. May I attain the Kami Age before the arrival of Jena!

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