Archives for posts with tag: SolTanZoZon

The political system in O (the “western lands”) is a four-thousand-year-old empire, the SolTanZoZon – “the Empire of the Pure Way”.

After an indefinite period of time known as the Clouded Era, the empire was created, and in some ways based upon, the lost ancient civilisation of the race known as the ‘Metallic ones’.

The empire was initially created by armies of clans originating in the geo-political centre of the continent, the Metallic city of LuinShar. These clans followed certain traditions, and grouped together in Marks — a Mark is thus an association of like-minded clans.

At the centre and summit of the city — well over 1,000 metres above sea-level — is the SuMu, the sacred, Metallic citadel. Here, the court (the GoMin-U) is housed.

The emperor – the ShionDo (the “lord over the lords”) – is a dynastic ruler. When, for whatever reason, a dynasty comes to an end, a new dynasty must be inaugurated.

The organisations responsible for inaugurating a new dynasty are known as the Five Bodies. These are all ancient, pre-imperial institutions, and were all based in the SuMu, a place considered sacrosanct by even most degenerate warlord of the Clouded Era.

The Five Bodies are:

ShimThet – the ancient “celestial” police force, who used to police the SuMu.

ShoKun – the Mark of the Hatching Egg, who since time immemorial, have been responsible for collecting the blood of all aristocratic families, and of overseeing the matrimonial arrangements of the clans of the western lands. Their responsibility is to ensure the “purity of the blood” of the people of O. Their headquarters is based in the complex of buildings around the great Library of Blood, up in the SuMu.

ViwaShar – the Mark of the Five Towers. The body of people who, before the formation of the empire, guarded the SuMu from any external threat. With the foundation of the empire, the Five Towers Mark becomes an organisation dedicated to guarding and serving the emperor, and of ensuring continuity across dynastic changes. The ViwaShar organise the emperor’s household, and supply him with his personal bodyguard.

MarZom – the political body responsible for governing the Marks. The empire is a clan-based system. Each clan is governed by its aristocratic head, and each noble clan is known as an hereditary House. The heads of the clans (Isens) are in turn governed by the head of whichever Mark the clan belongs to. The heads of the Marks meet in council and are governed by the MarZom.

MuKesho – a highly revered monastic body, whose monks and nuns were responsible for guarding and maintaining many of the most precious buildings of the SuMu. Above all, the MuKesho are responsible for the metal books — books of sublimely complex signs, known as “hypergrams”, or “Shofi” — which are the indecipherable texts of the Metallic ones, and are stored in SharAmor, the “sacred tower”, at the absolute centre of Shar.

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Dustless | Volume 7

It is RoMayZine to understand: battle is endless.

Men and women struggle in the act of love, they battle: and in the act of birth, women struggle with their child: they battle. Born, a child struggles with the first blazing of the light: the battle of sight begins, and of all the senses.

Decision is battle: life is fought by decision.

Having won the first light, children battle to see and to grow. Men and women battle to keep their children safe. Death battles to take all the living prisoner, to subdue all armies of life, to grow greater the already vast armies of dust.

In a remote province of the Desolate Cantons, two exiles meet, and speak of decisions, speak of war.

One describes a duel with the King of Swords. The other describes life by the sword, in a place humanity may be cast off: the Place of No Footsteps.

To each, battle brings a kind of liberty, freedom from a world of laws, a victory for intense life.

Yet, when their battles are over, have they not drawn closer, after all, to joining the ranks of the armies of dust?

•DUSTLESS-FIN7

Dustless | Volume 6
New worlds are being born all the time. These are young worlds, and young worlds, like young children, grow.

Old worlds await them. Into the old worlds, these young worlds rise.

If worlds are made of dust alone, like people they must age and die, and their dust blow into the wind, and fall away.

Must all growing be dying? Must all the young age, and all youth only fall away?

If there was something more than dust — greater than the dust, higher than the dust — would that mean a life that could keep growing, and not die? An ageless life, forever open, never closed?

Is there a life beyond the dust?


Into an old world, a young child travels, further and further, from the edge of a great empire slowly towards the centre.

And the edge, abandoned by the centre, withers in the freezing depths of a northern winter.

Dereliction and negligence: immense distances, isolated settlements where people survive or flee, and little more.

The law has retreated, the teachings of the book become confused, His Majesty no longer shelters and protects his subjects, no great clan orders and guards the struggling villagers of the Endless Plains.

To a dying world, what can a growing child bring?

From a world of dust, may a Dustless vision rise?

•DUSTLESS-FIN6

Dustless | Volume 5
The sun is hot, and the fields are wide.
I walk, head bowed, towards my village.
The path is hard, the earth is dry.
There is dust on the road, but no horses.
I am thirsty, but the well is far away.
The plains stretch on towards the horizon,
where my way goes.
This is all there is –
and all there is, they say,
fits in a hawk’s eye.

All places, it is said among the Pure, are places of TanZo. Yet, if you are not Pure, what might you think of a place?

For a civilised person, the Endless Plains are famously empty. The air is polluted, the climate extreme – ferociously hot in summer, gnawingly cold in winter.

A civilised person, in a civilised place, may enjoy many aspects of life, but for those condemned for a time to dwell in the Endless Plains, life may well dwindle down to consist of one master wish, a single, essential aim: survival.

A RoMayZine general once looked down at the pitiful remnants of a barbarian force, taken prisoner near the BisMarian Mountains. “They have survived – but what has survived?” he said.

“A human being plots a course between the animals and the angels”, an old ZirCong philosopher once said. And in a SurGaKu amendment: “A human being is a contract between an animal and an angel”.

What might happen, should that ‘contract’ be broken? What might a human being then become?

•DUSTLESS-FIN5

Dustless | Volume 4
It is natural, when embarked upon an arduous journey, to wish for shelter, to seek dwellings. And it is also natural, when circumstances within a particular dwelling place prove too much to bear, to wish to move on, to embark upon a journey, even if that journey should prove to be an arduous one.

The land wants nothing of us, it is only the land. Rocks seek no destiny, thorn trees ask no future, but simply adhere to the natural laws of thorns and earth, winds and water.

Upon a barren road, in the north and east of the empire, three travellers face the challenge of the wintry land. Here, shelter is hard to come by. The tanzo is unyielding. This is a place where space and time have settled, where space eats up the days, and the years dine on the endless plain.

For a poor human being, there seems no escape: it is a place the body must be, and suffer.

What does it avail a traveller upon such a road, to wish and to dream and to question? Is it that, faced with the bitter cold and the hostile earth, the delicate things of dreams and wishes and questions might give some form of shelter? And that questions and dreams and wishes may be the very things to help the traveller to survive? Or do they merely lead further into delusion, back to the bones of the hands and the skull?

•DUSTLESS-FIN4

Dustless | Volume 3
The purpose of a road is to connect one thing with another, and to enable travellers to traverse the landscape with greater ease. Yet, what happens when the land seems too great for the road? and when the road seems endless, connecting the traveller to nothing? What becomes of a journey once it appears to have no destination?

Is this not TanZo? Is this not the Way?

Through remote cantons, on humble beasts, a great lord for a guide, the travellers must follow the road, and endure the land – because there is no other road, and there is no other land.

It is said, among the SurGaKu: “For us, all things, eventually, turn into stories | and only by following the story | do we ever come to know of things”.

The SurGaKu teach: “And all stories, of course, come from the past; and to the past, of course, most stories return”.

And some among the SurGaKu add: “The past is a lost place. Do not go there”.

Dustless | Volume 3

Dustless | Volume 2
At the heart of all things, there are moments; and at the heart of each moment, there is change [Dust Sutra]

It is said, among the ZirCong, that “each thing is complete | yet each thing is also incomplete | and it is us, poor human beings, who bring our incompleteness to all things | with our yearning for power or with our yearning for | the resignation of power”.

Even a world that seems entire to itself, contained within its own boundaries, may neighbour another world. Is not the world of the seen forever at the mercy of the world of the unseen? And the known world, fragile before the jaws of the world of the unknown?

Change is inscribed in the heart of the atoms. The young grow older. The innocent grow corrupt. Those who have homes, lose them. Those who have lost homes, seek them.

Although yearning is a great power, sometimes, even in a vast land, protected by the emptiness of a continent, it is not enough.

•DUSTLESS-FIN2

Dustless | Volume 1
Far to the east and north of the empire, there are roads untravelled for years. What can it mean to keep watch over a road along which no one travels? What is the purpose of such vigilance? To a true sentinel, any tanzo is the TanZo: any road is the Way; and a man of TanZo will always be vigilant, even if those who charged him to keep watch have long ago forgotten his existence…

Unfathomably remote, this is a world unto itself, a polluted and a desperate land, which surely even the Dustless One has abandoned. Yet, even here, where so much is dying, life is stirring. What is it? And how will it grow?

Dustless | Volume 1

…‘Well: how will you get justice, now? The whole power of the state is behind Azulsokul and the Xira clan. You yourself referred to the rumour: that the ShionDo is not just Azulsokul’s nephew, but…’

Berensota’s hesitation before finishing the sentence once again alerted Zy to the difficulty people found in discussing the internal affairs of the Dustless One and the imperial clan. The Dustless One had to be… well, Dustless. No dust of ordinary life should be able to cling to His Majesty’s person. Even in private, out of earshot of anybody else, Berensota still couldn’t speak of the matter without unease, as if he was sullying something within himself by opening his mouth and voicing these unflattering things. And in a sense, to deprecate the ShionDo was to cast oneself down, too, for the ShionDo was the Purest of the Pure, the Guardian of the Law, the Lord who was Vigilant over the Lords: the emperor was simply the purest person in O, the quintessence of the whole labour of the state to maintain the TanZo, to practise vigilance and to achieve purity. If there were specks of dust on the ShionDo, then there were specks of dust at the centre of the world. And if there was dust upon the Dustless One, where wouldn’t there be dust? Dust would have reached heart of the empire. And if there was dust at the heart, who could escape dust upon themselves, as well? It would mean a profound collective failure of the SolTanZoZon. No wonder, then, that people were deeply hesitant to criticise His Majesty…


Excerpt from Master Darkness [i], Volume 21 of Dustless

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Dustless | Volume 9

 

In a moment, the universe had changed. In an instant, the ground beneath Zy’s feet was no longer the same: its meaning had altered, or had been altered, rather. Even more impressively, Zy intuited, simultaneously, everywhere in the SolTanZoZon, everything was placed in a new relation. The centre of the circle had changed – and with it, the perimeter. Or it was like a raindrop forming on the petal of a cloudberry: the drop grew more and more swollen, more potential with itself, more pendulous, more tear-shaped, until it seemed that it must roll off the petal, and fall to the ground; and so it did – but until that last, last moment when the thread of lucid water finally gave up its allegiance to the cloudberry, and declared itself for open space and then the ground, the raindrop still belonged to the petal. When it fell, it all fell, together. And perhaps that was what had happened in LuinShar. The raindrop had slipped off the cloudberry petal.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless