Most people have heard the story of how the gods possessed their priests and ended slavery in Everway's Court of Fools. They descended on the Slave Market (now known as the Court of Fools), broke the slaves' chains, and changed the city forever. Thanks to the beloved Sage Sits-beneath-a-tree, we all know this story with its promise that "A slave who breathes the air here is free." Every Everwayan today knows that story - from the newest escaped slave fleeing the realm of The Market and arriving in Strangerside ("Strangerside, no need to Hide") to the oldest Mother, now being cared for by her children.
But there is another story to tell. It is the story of the barbarian known as The Gorgeous Liberator. He came from the realm of Never Yonder, taken as a youth to be a slave in the Diggers' mines. He escaped, and had many adventures. And he changed history.
It is said that if you go into the Palace on the first day of The Convening, you can still hear the The Liberator's bare feet slapping their way down the Palace's numerous floors and galleries. Or hear the click as he re-positions his iron slave collar - in truth, he was overly fond of it. Or hear rummaging sounds as he searches The Palace for edible food - for when the Emerald's household slaves ran away, they took everything, and went off in search of their own families.
Yes, The Convening commemorates the inaugural Council meeting of The Brief and Pitiless Reign of the Forgotten Regent, as The Liberator's reign is described in Molt Snakering's unremarkable thousand-page history of the Council. The Liberator was indeed pitiless: to the Stonebreakers' taskmasters, to the un-calloused Diggers, and to the envious Emeralds. Thanks to this holiday, the poor remember an army that truly fought for them. The Convening gives the poor hope, and the high-born pause.
Yes, slavery by custom is forbidden in Everway, but always and ever it returns in new forms. Even the scholar Brief Message Scratch himself noted its continued existence in Everway in the First Little Book of his triptych. Of the Stonebreakers, he wrote: "In the same family, there are members who work side by side with slaves and convicts in the quarries" (p. 12, emphasis added).
One also notes the existence of the Ape Trade. The Council continues to turn its eyes away from that trade. The Mankines, they argue,are animals.
More on the Ape Trade and The Mankines next week.
Happy WisCon, Everyone!
This post is for Samuel R. Delaney, the creator of Gorgik the Liberator and
Tales of Neveryon.
Tales of Neveryon.