NPS 053

On the war against the wicked Magnalbians

Now to the north of New Tradicarus was the land of Magnalbia, and behold that it was a land most wicked, and wicked were its ways, for the vile Pandal was great in power there, and the holy Travancus did send Ranvodratus there as his emissary thereunto; and Ranvodratus arrived in the land of Magnalbia in the seventeenth year of the reign of Zunurut, usurping emperor of the Magnalbians, and he arrived unto its capital Lacraptus; but he did not long remain there; for he was not long there before he became familiar with their ways, and their ways were utterly alien to the Cause to which he had vowed his service; therefore he left that land, and returned unto New Tradicarus; and he gave his report unto Travancus and unto the holy Council, concerning all the things that he saw therein.

Now in the land of the Magnalbians, Ranvodratus was guided by Medatrapus, who was an official of the court of Zunurut usurping emperor of the Magnalbians. And Medatrapus was pleasant to Ranvodratus, and hospitable; but as much as Ranvodratus did try, he could not bring Medatrapus to the truth of her Cause.

Now the first peculiar matter which Ranvodratus learnt in his journeying among the Magnalbians, was that while in other lands there is the female and the male, by which the two genders are constituted; but among the Magnalbians four genders are observed – and they are known as the full-male, the female, the half-male and the quarter-male.

Now at first when Ranvodratus heard this, he did not understand the manner in which the additional genders were constituted; therefore, the matter which he found most repugnant to her Cause was not their numbering of genders, but that they treated people in accordance to the paleness of their skin, with those having the palest skin being accorded the most rights, and those having the darkest skin being accorded the least. And  Ranvodratus said, This is utterly alien to her Cause; for her Cause accepts all people, their skin be dark or pale, for all are welcomed in her Cause in equality. But among the Magnalbians, those of the palest skin are placed above the darker skinned, and the darker skinned are divided into degrees of darkness, from fully dark, to half dark, quarter, one-sixteenth, and so forth.

And Medatrapus said, There is salvation however for the dark-skinned; not for they themselves, but for their descendants. For through successive generations there may be a diminution of the darkness; when it has become sufficient, a woman may request the imperial officials to issue a decree that she is among the pale-skinned, and if they so grant her request, then she will be considered thereafter among the pale-skinned. But if she marries, or is found to be with child, then her request cannot be accepted. And they will only grant her request, if her skin is sufficiently pale, and if she is otherwise beautiful. Indeed, my friend Ranvodratus, it is the case that some among the dark-skinned peoples are nearer to paleness already, such that in few short generations they can be brought to the proper paleness; whereas for others, being more distant, a greater number is necessary.

Medatrapus then explained to Ranvodratus the law of marriage in the land of Magnalbia, and he said: You, my friend, have travelled many lands, so you must surely be familiar with the great variety of laws and customs in different lands concerning marriage – in some lands a man is permitted only one wife, in other several, and so forth. Let me then explain to you the law of our land: The full male, who is of pale skin, may have only one chief wife, who must also be of pale skin; and the children thereof shall also be counted as among the pale-skinned. However, he may have one or more further wives, of lesser status, who must be of the darker skin.

Ranvodratus was most disturbed by Medatrapus had to say, for this was most contrary to the law of the Cause of Maratrea. He asked, What of his children by his lesser wives? Medatrapus responded, The female child of the lesser wife shall be kept, and may be given as a lesser wife to another – or become counted among the pale-skinned, if she be worthy, and thus become a chief wife, and her children be counted among the pale-skinned also. Ranvodratus asked, And what of the male children? Medatrapus replied, The children of the lesser wives who are not female will be delivered up to slavery. Now let me explain to you a matter which as a foreigner you will struggle to comprehend. You may speak of the lesser wife, the non-pale woman, as having male children; but to us that is an impossibility, for only the pale-skinned may be male: no, her children who are not female are not male, but rather half-male or quarter-male. Ranvodratus asked what was the distinction between the half-male and the quarter-male; Medatrapus answered him: All slaves are not pale, not female, neither fully male; they are half-male or quarter-male. The half-males have their privy member removed, but their stones are allowed to remain; the quarter-males have both privy member and stones removed. Ranvodratus asked, greatly disturbed by what he heard, Why would one do such a thing? Medatrapus answered him thus: We take from them their privy member to ensure that they breed not; since among those lacking in paleness only the females breed, this ensures that over successive generations the paleness must increase, until at last the impure blood be purified by dilution with the blood which is pale and delightful and pure. And furthermore, we take from them their privy member, that they will remain in their slavery, and seek not to escape for it – for they will never have a wife, nor any children – thus they be less likely to seek to escape from their slavery. Ranvodratus asked, Why also the stones? Why the stones from some yet not from others? Medatrapus replied: The stones of the half-males are kept, for the deprivation of stones reduces that strength which is necessary for physical labours – the working of the land of the mines, the building of buildings, every manner of craft, and warfare. But the stones of the quarter-males are removed, that they be more docile, and more suitable for domestic work, and some among them are trained as scribes, and to them is also given the task of raising and educating the slave-children, and the supervision of their fellow slaves – whether full males or quarter males. And though the half-males be lacking their privy member, their stones cause them to have designs on the female, as hopeless as they are to carry out such designs; whereas the quarter-males, having been deprived of their stones also, we find to be comparatively lacking in such motivations. Therefore do we keep the quarter males nearest to us, and the half males furthest away. Ranvodratus asked, Do you enslave also the females? Medatrapus replied: According to our law, slaves must be only half male or quarter male, not fully male, neither female; neither may they be of the pale-skinned. The female may not be enslaved, but she is subject to obedience to her husband if she be married, or to her father if she be unmarried, or to a guardian  if her father be deceased or otherwise unavailable. Ranvodratus stood there in silence, thinking, struggling to comprehend the enormity of the evils which Medatrapus had described to him – a nation whose ways were most contrary to her Cause! Finally he broke his silence, and cried out: Surely they will resist your attempts to deprive them of their stones and of their privy member! Medatrapus responded, The male child of the lesser wife is removed at birth to the slavehouse, to commence a life of slavery – it is taken to the most distant slavehouse possible, and there is no record kept concerning from whence it was taken or to where it is sent – therefore even if she comes after him, she will find him not ever! Now on the day they arrive at the slavehouse, it is then that the master of the slavehouse makes his decision, whether this babe become a half-male or a quarter-male; at once, he is so rendered. Ranvodratus asked, How does he make this most unpleasant decision? Medatrapus said: Unpleasant? It is far from unpleasant! To be a master of a slavehouse is a great honour among our people, in our land. How does he make his choice? He considers what is the greatest need among his buyers, be they more demanding of half-males or quarter-males; he also considers, in the case of each babe, whether in his judgement, it would be more suited to become a quarter-male or a half-male.

Ranvodratus asked, Separated from its mother straight after birth – how shall it feed? Shall it not die? Medatrapus replied: The lesser wives of the master of the slavehouse act as wet nurses; but their own male children are sent to another slavehouse; and when the slave child is older, it is sent unto yet another slavehouse, that the child sees not the wetnurse as its mother, neither the wetnurse see him as her child. Once the child is weaned, it is cared for by the quarter-males alone, until the age come for it to go forth into labour.

And Medatrapus continued his discourse on the ways of the Magnalbians, ways which were strange and cruel, and most contrary to the way of her Cause, saying: Now, as I have explained, the lesser wives are the women of the darker skin. As to their use, as well as for bearing children – the females to become lesser wives, and also the half-males and quarter-males – they are also of good use as domestic servants; indeed, it is most fitting that they wait on the full wife, and obeying her, do whatever she desires. Amongst the lesser wives there is a natural gradation of status, with those of the palest blood being of the highest status, and those of the darkest blood being of the lowest.

Now hearing all of this, Ranvodratus: What of I? Is my skin pale enough for you? Or will you desire from me my privy member, and my stones also? Medatrapus responded: Friend, though your skin be not pale enough for one of our own kind, we do not forget that you are a foreigner – we permit foreigners, be they emissaries or merchants or so forth, to reside among us, being exempted in this matter from our laws. For we find their presence beneficial to us – the merchants bring us the wealth of trade; the emissaries of foreign lands help ensure peace – for we do not seek war hastily – and thus we have allies for when we do. Now the resident alien is not permitted to marry any of our own people, but the resident aliens are free to marry one another, and to come and go from our lands as they please. And if they wish, they may even pledge allegiance to our Emperor Zunurut, renouncing their former ties, and becoming one of our people. But that is permitted only for those of suitable skin – my friend, we will allow you to dwell among us, but we will never count you among our own people, for the shade of your skin is offensive to us. Ranvodratus replied: Neither would I wish to be counted among your people either. Medatrapus said: Very well then, my friend! All is well!

And Medatrapus continued his recounting of the most aberrant ways of the Magnalbians, saying: Merchants we welcome to our lands, and also slavetraders. Now although, under our law, we acknowledge not slavery for the female, only for the half-male and the quarter-male; and yet, we permit the slavetraders to bring female slaves from abroad, for sale unto our menfolk, to be lesser wives thereof; but upon so being sold, we consider them no longer to be a slave; indeed, under our law, they are considered never to be slaves, but simply females under the guardianship of the slavetrader who claims to own them. And likewise, as to the male slaves, under our law a male cannot be a slave if his privy member be present; but our half-males and quarter-males, whenever there be an excess of them, we will freely sell unto other lands, for our wealth. Ranvodratus asked: And male slaves be imported also?  Medatrapus replied: They may, although the imported male slave must either be an eunuch, or made an eunuch before sale. But we prefer those who have been eunuchs since they were in their swaddling clothes, for they will be more accepting of their state, having never known anything otherwise.

Ranvodratus asked: How many wives is a man allowed? Medatrapus responded: A man may take as many lesser wives as he wishes; he needs not the permission of his chief wife or of any other of his lesser wives to do so, provided that he has the means to support another wife.  Ranvodratus asked: Must he have a chief wife before he may marry a lesser wife? Medatrapus responded: By no means! He may marry a lesser wife first, or two or three, and then marry a chief wife later; and he needs not the permission of any of his lesser wives to marry his chief wife.

Medatrapus said: In our land we worship one god, Albemanus, and his consort the goddess Albemana – and as the woman serves the man on the earth, so does Albemana serve Albemanus in heaven. And to the people of our land, we permit no other gods; but as to the foreigners to whom we extend our hospitality, such as yourself, we permit you to worship however you wish, provided that you do not seek to seduce the people of our land to your foreign worship. Ranvodratus said: I can see why you pale-skinned ones would worship this god, who has ordained you to rule over others; but surely those whom you oppress in his name must detest him! Medatrapus replied: On the contrary, every segment of our people love him – our menfolk and our pale-skinned women, our darker-skinned women who are our lesser wives or who will become as such, even our half-male and quarter-male slaves love him. For our lord and god Albemanus loves most especially the pale skin, and seeks that the entire world be of such skin: that those of pleasant skin reign over all, and that in the end the unpleasant skin be extinguished. Through holy war we gain further lands for our god, lands for the people whom our god loves, the people whose skin is a pale, delightful colour! Ranvodratus asked: What attraction could such worship have to those who are held down thereby? Medatrapus replied: Those of the darker skin, if they are faithful in worshipping Albemanus, and in obeying the requirements of their state in life, they will be reborn in paler skin, and after several rebirths may become among the pale-skinned; but those who fail to worship Albemanus, and who rebel against their state in life, our great god will cause them to be reborn in a darker state – for the colour of the skin reveals the colour of the soul: a pure soul, which loves what is good and abhors what is evil, is lightly coloured; but the wicked soul, which abhors what is good and loves what is evil, it is a pitch black soul, coloured as the evil which is the night, and when that soul enters a body, the skin of the body becomes the same colour. Albemanus has in his heaven the bath in which the souls are washed unto paleness, but only the obedient souls are admitted thereunto. Thus the half-male may be reborn as the quarter-male, and the quarter-male as the dark female, and the dark females as females if successively less darkness, and then at last reborn among the pale-skinned! That day will come when every soul is washed pale, save those incorrigible ones which will be committed unto the everlasting night; but we his children will live in an everlasting daytime, and the evil night will fall upon us not again! We abhor the night, for it is the domain of the spirits of darkness, who darken souls and who are the cause of dark skin; we love the daytime, for it is the domain of the spirits of paleness, over whom our god Albemanus is king; we look forward to the day when the night is at last abolished, and all of its fruits visible even in the light of day, and an everlasting daytime endures! Praise Albemanus!

And Medatrapus recounted that when a man marries his chief wife, then he may do so only by her consent; but when a man marries his lesser wives, he needs not her consent, but only the consent of her guardian. And Medatrapus said, Without doubt, as the pale is greater than the dark, so is the man greater than the woman; but the dark woman is greater than the dark man, even as the pale man is greater than the pale woman, and the pale woman better than the woman of darkness; behold that this be the will of our lord Albemanus, the will inalterable.

Ranvodratus, hearing this, said: What vile practices and teaching have I heard from you! How vile must be any god who revealed such things! Now Medatrapus took offence at what Ranvodratus had said, and yet he was moderate in the offence which he took: My friend, it is not polite to come as a visitor into a foreign land, and say such things of the ways of its people, neither to blaspheme the god worshipped in that land. In our land, those who say such things as you have said, are considered among the gravest of criminals, in many cases worthy of death; but as you are but a foreign visitor, and it may well be usual in your land to say such things, we will extend to you our forbearance on this occasion. Ranvodratus realised that by his hasty tongue he was placing himself in danger, and he said: I am sorry, my friend, that I have offended you by my overly hasty words; your ways are strange and peculiar to those of my own people. Tell me more concerning your laws, that I might take care not to transgress them while I am a sojourner here.

Medatrapus said: Very well, let me tell you. First of all, I know it is the practice in many lands, that those who are condemned to death, may in place of being executed, be instead reduced to slavery . But I tell you, in our land, none may be reduced to slavery on account of their crimes. Whoever is of pale skin, and also the dark-skinned females, if they commit a serious transgression, we will put them not to death, but rather send them beyond the boundaries of our land – what happens to them upon their exile is not our concern. No matter how serious their transgression the answer is the same – save that, if they be stirring up rebellion, they may be executed instead of being exiled, if being exiled they might foment war against us from outside, or foment rebellion by those who remain within us. But if a slave, being a half-male or a quarter-male, commits a like wrong unto that of the pale-skinned or dark-skinned female who is exiled, they will be put to death. Even lesser wrongs – the slave who misbehaves is threatened with death, and the slave who continues in misbehaviour is submitted unto it. Also the slave who on account of age or injury is no longer of use, and will put out of his misery; if he has been of good behaviour in his life, he will be promised rebirth in a higher state by will of our lord Albemanus – thus may the obedient half-male be reborn as a quarter-male, and the obedient quarter-male be reborn as the darkest female. If there is an excess of slaves, those who cannot be sold to another land will also be put to death; and the deformed child, female or male, white or non-white, is put out of its misery shortly after birth.

And Medatrapus said: We punish with exile the fully male who lays with another fully male, and the female, be she pale or dark, who lies with the half-male or the quarter-male. But the half-male or quarter-male who lies with the male or the female we punish with death. Ranvodratus asked: What of the female who lies with the female? Medatrapus replied: Be they of paleness or darkness, or one with the other, that is not condemned by our law.

Now having heard all these things of Medatrapus, Ranvodratus decided at once to return unto New Tradicarus; and he came unto Travancus, and delivered unto him the report of all the things he had seen and heard in the land of the Magnalbians. And Ranvodratus said: I have never seen a land with practices so vile, so wicked – truly their god is none other than Pandal himself, having Pandal for their religion and their government. O most holy Prophet, may it be your will that we declare war on them, for their destruction.

And the holy Travancus replied: I had already heard report of their filthy practices, and what you have told me has confirmed to me the same. Many are their crimes against love, and their crimes against the law of heaven. I tell you, without doubt, that we will move against them, when the time is right. But let us not be hasty in our motions; though at times blood must be spilt, let us proceed cautiously, that we may spill as little as we need.

Now seven years did pass; and Zunurut, usurping emperor of the Magnalbians, did perish in the twenty-fourth year of his reign. And he died without a son, and therefore there was dissension over who should succeed him, and his brothers and his sons-in-law went to war against each other over who would be his successor. Then the holy Travancus did say, Now, my friends, is our moment, the moment for her most holy Cause to progress; and he said unto Ranvodratus, I appoint you to lead the armies of her Cause, in the conquest of the lands of the Magnalbians.

And Ranvodratus led the army of the Cause to the north, into the lands of the Magnalbians; and their war against each other had weakened them, and therefore this army found great success. And on the banks of the river Zastor, nearing Lacraptus the capital of Magnalbia, his army met an army of the Magnalbians. And how it surprised Ranvodratus, that the general who led this army, was none other than Medatrapus. And they met together under the sign of peace, that they might negotiate. And Ranvodratus said unto Medatrapus, My old friend, who long I have not seen, abandon all this evil, and embrace the cause of goodness and beauty; I promise you solemnly, that if you and your men lay down your arms, we will kill you not, neither enslave you, neither in any way harm you. But Medatrapus replied: I will never abandon Albemanus my god! Then Medatrapus lifted up his sword, and struck Ranvodratus, and Ranvodratus was slain. And the men of Ranvodratus were angry, so they took up their swords, and slew Medatrapus also. Then they advanced in rage and anger against the Magnalbians; and the Magnalbians fled, for they had tired already of battle. Thus was the land of the Magnalbians subdued, and added unto the lands of her Cause, in which the place has been assumed; and the worship of the vile god Albemanus, form of Pandal, was utterly prohibited.

But the army of her Cause did ravage the land of Magnalbia, robbing the people of that land, killing them and raping them; and word of this reached unto Travancus at New Tradicarus. He at once proceeded north, and brought with him a second army with which to subdue the first. And he gathered up all the men of the first army, and brought them back to New Tradicarus, and he said unto him: How have you brought her Cause and her name to shame, and my name to shame also! And several among them said unto him: A wicked land were they; and how did they anger us by killing Ranvodratus that we loved! Travancus responded: That they have done evil, is no excuse to do evil unto them; by doing evil unto them who have done evil unto you, you render yourselves as much evildoers as they are! Have you not heard my teaching, that to kill even the killers is a grave wrongdoing? Though Medatrapus had done evil by killing our dear friend, you did like evil in killing him; though your evil then be not as bad as those who put a pretence of law and courts before they kill, which evil you did not. And then the evils many among you have done unto the people of Magnalbia – murdering them, raping them, enslaving them, depriving them of their possessions – I sent you forth unto that land to rescue it from the evil of Pandal, yet you who call yourselves servants of her Cause proved yourself to be his servants instead! And those among the army of Ranvodratus who had done evil in the land of Magnalbia were cast out of the army of her Cause, never to be readmitted, so long as they live.

Now though New Tradicarus did conquer Magnalbia, it conquered not its vassal lands to the east and the west thereof, which with the coming of New Tradicarus did cast off the Magnalbian yoke.