Stanza VII: The Parable of the Nameless

“The Parable of the Nameless”
Lecture given in the Citadel of Eladya
57 standard cycles before the Crescendo

During the Middle Asarian period, it was a widely held belief that if a person was to encounter the Nameless — by chance or otherwise — they should avert their eyes and promptly walk away. This advice was grounded in the belief of the desert basin families that no words or actions by a lesser thing could be of any possible interest to the Nameless. To attempt communication is to risk drawing attention to oneself. No mortal would ever be able to hold the attention of the Nameless, anyways.

Regardless, all Asarian scholars of the Middle Period agreed that it would be ill-advised to take such a risk. The Cult of the Dying God, however, well that’s a matter for another lesson.

One parable of the time tells the story of a woman who felt the presence of the Nameless at her back as she was walking along a mountain path at night. The woman froze, too frightened to face the inconceivable and so she remained there, taking shallow breaths, and keeping her eyes planted on the mountainside until star-rise. In the morning, she continued her journey without a single glance behind her shoulder. A passing gem-trader coming from the opposite direction stopped and offered her a drink of water. The woman asked this man if he had seen the Nameless by the mountain the night before.

The man said “I don’t know. That depends. What does the Nameless look like?” The woman replied that she did not know, for she had refused to look. The man laughed. He wished her safe passage through the mountain pass and resumed his own journey.

The next night as the gem-trader was rounding the same bend where the woman had felt the presence of the Nameless, he came to see it with his own eyes. He hurried back along the path he had already traveled to find the woman. It took two days but once he found her, he excitedly told her of his encounter. The woman thought in silence for several moments and then she began to cry. The merchant asked her why she was crying. The woman told him to lean in closer and she whispered in his ear. Upon hearing her words, the man broke down and cried as well. The parable ends there without ever revealing the words whispered by the woman. 

The spiritualists and priests of the basin became divided because of different interpretations of this parable.

Half of the holy men believed the woman whispered to the man “I do not believe you.” They claim she cried because she realized that she could not blame the man for not having believed her either during their first encounter.

The other half of the holy men believed that the woman’s words were: “what useless beings are we, who only speak of greatness?”

A few soon forgotten holy men believed the woman was telling the man a joke which only the Nameless would find funny due to its infinite wisdom – and by extension – infinite humor. This interpretation was later understood to be a joke in and of itself since it does not provide a satisfying explanation for why they were crying and how she could possibly invent a joke so clever that it would be beyond the appreciation of mortals.

One holy man preferred to leave the words a mystery rather than ascribe to them an interpretation. This man was swiftly dragged from his home, beaten in the city square of Agharath, and buried in the cold desert sands.