Symbol (Re)Interpretation

The following was a writing assignment from the Seed Writers Group. The challenge was to write an interpretation, possibly of a symbol. As I’m currently in the middle of my second book, I chose to make this part of my plot. My wife has reminded me over and over to include strong female characters and this provided the perfect opportunity. My new character is not introduced here, but is hinted at. Unlike Revealing Dreams, this does not appear verbatim in my book, but gives insight into the mind of the chief wizard, who is not a major character. In case it’s not clear, the Grand Order of Wizards has lost three members (out of twelve) in a very short time.

Dear Laralei,

Considering our positions, you have long been the only person to whom I can turn. I crave your wisdom once more, and pray that we can remain friends.

I have stood on my balcony overlooking the Grand Divide almost every day for the past 36 years, ever since I achieved the Robe of Many Hues. I have a most excellent view of not just the plaza but the Cathedral opposite me and Lake Eslän beyond where it sits, the jewel of the Karillion Mountains. There is rarely a morning when I do not marvel at the sight and the Most High’s marvelous work of creation.

For 36 years, Laralei, I have gazed down on the Grand Divide to watch the College students milling, the supplicants on their pilgrimage to the Cathedral, and the citizens of our beautiful city as they make their way across the broad plaza. For 36 years, I have admired the beauty of the plaza and the way the paving stones were designed so that those looking down from the height of the Cathedral’s tower might enjoy the symbol of Saal the Just, god of Law and Order, and what has become the symbol of both Man and the Path of the Grand Order. Never once did I see what should have been obvious at first glance.

For a thousand years, that symbol has been the representation of the men who make up the Grand Order of Wizards, men who are to be honest, brave, merciful, just, and most of all, righteous. Never once have I read any other interpretation, and never once have I had cause to think otherwise.

Today, however, was a red sunrise. There have been fires in the east, a result of the wars with our enemies, and the haze filters the sunlight. Today was revealed to me a new interpretation, one that could test the faith of millions if I choose to share it.

Laralei, you know that the Grand Order does not like to be proven wrong and, when we are, we have gone to great lengths to carefully provide a reason why.

We are faced with a dilemma. The loss of three members in less than one week is unprecedented. Only a handful of times in the past five centuries have we needed to replace two members at once. The newest member has always been paraded through the Grand Divide before the throngs as a unanimous choice. There has always been a man, and sometimes two, who is the obvious choice once we are done with our debates.

This time, however, there are only two men, and they are both inferior to the best two female students in the College. There are no other men who even compare with these two women in wisdom, magical strength, or righteousness. Only, our interpretation of the Holy Books makes it clear that no woman should ever be allowed to be a full wizard, let alone a member of the Grand Order.

However, the symbol on the Grand Divide’s paving stones, when seen upside down in the red light of the sunrise, is not the symbol of man but of woman. Indeed, it is truly the symbol of the goddess of dooms herself. How can I interpret it otherwise? But who will believe me? If I present this to the rest of the Grand Order, will they not reject me and cast me out? Will this interpretation cost me friendships? If any so support me, will the inevitable schism destroy the Grand Order? We face two great enemies; can I risk a divided order over a debatable matter of truth? If you can provide any insights or answers, I beg any advice you would share.

In closing, I can only wonder how many others over the centuries have stood in one of the towers here at the College and seen the same thing, yet kept silent due to similar fears.

As always, I remain your friend and confidant,

Uzzoran, Wearer of the Robe of Many Hues

Head of the Grand Order of Wizards

College of the Wizards and the White Magic, Quoque


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