In Pan Post 35, Maharashtak, patron god of the massive city Indrakata, attends the Family Remembrance Festival where Indrans honour their ancestors with masks and flags. After the parade she meets with Litik Map and Litik Rjingi. She insists they stay in Indran Cathedral before they move on with their quest. After Litik Map makes a mask of his ancestor, Phita Doon, he takes Rjingi to the shrines where they get doughnuts from the God of Jam Doughnuts. Maharashtak reveals that the Gods of Indra knew of aliens already but don't reveal things to the Indran people as interfering would render their free will meaningless. Yet she advises that they should seek out the lands that once were home to Kavili, who left Indra to venture to the centre of the NeSiverse in Pan Post 21.
While Kajadat may hold the title of being the most sprawling metropolis on the planet Indra, it is filled with automata numbering in their thousands. On the other hand the immense city of Indrakata is populated by eight million Indrans. When its vast superiority over all other cities of the world was well-known the city executives changed its name to reflect its status as the centre of Indran civilisation, slotting 'Indra' into the title.
It was fitting, then, that Maharashtak would leave the Jaravinjia Isles and migrate to Indrakata. God of all Indran people, warden of newborn children and a symbol of Indran progress, love and respect for their deeds as a people - seating herself at the centre of Indran culture with the greatest numbers of her people was a clear move.
Now she floats down through the air. She hopped from the the top of her cathedral, which towers over most buildings in the city, and now glides gently down towards the massive courtyard where she can see the bright colours of the Indrans' clothes, masks and flags. The Indran Cathedral has long been considered the unofficial seat for all of the religious ranks of the Indran Pantheon, despite those ranks being ordained only by their own chosen gods in their specific dwellings. But as the cathedral served to celebrate the deeds of the Indran people, and the people of Indrakata considered the gods their servants and not the other way around, it is natural for the people to feel like this the centre of all divinity on the planet. As the large figure of Maharashtak draws closer to the courtyard, the people begin to scream with cheer. She smiles serenely, gracing the people with her good nature.
She reaches the floor but she never touches it, forever floating at least inches from it. The people have gathered in set formations, practised all year round, and fall to a hush. They then begin to parade, performing a synchronised dance in their lines. Singing is heard from some of them, all singing the same song of pride and success of the Indran people. Outsiders might mistake these sentiments as the same of the patriotism that Kamal inspires, yet they'd be wrong. Maharashtak doesn't inspire patriotism in the planet, she inspires love of the people themselves. She commits her own dance, though her is improvised and mellow. She sways gently, listening to the heartbeats of her beloved children.
The people are marching and dancing while in groups. At the head of each group is a flag-bearer that shows a complex sigil of pictures and designs that all elude to the past exploits of their respective families. These flags are often incredibly long and they blow out above the heads of the entire dancing troop. On their faces the Indrans are wearing masks, usually much bigger than their heads. These masks always bear huge grins, originally inspired by Maharashtak's usual loving smile but they came to be hyper-exaggarated into toothy grins that conquer most of the actual mask itself. Each mask, however, is meant to represent some ancestor of the family that the specific Indran wants to commemorate for his or her deeds whether they were big or small. Indrans normally choose a different ancestor each year, meaning the Indrans that attend the festival regularly are normally very interested in their family histories as they would scour the family albums for clues for long-forgotten ancestors.
When the dancing and celebrating is done most of the Indrans move on to celebrate the after-party elsewhere. Many, however, seek to gain a quick kiss of Maharashtak's hand, which she allows. Usually these Indrans are parents, hoping a kiss of her divine hand will bless their children. She must lean over to make her hand easier for the Indrans to kiss. If a child approaches she crouches low and she kisses their heads. As she's doing this she notices one of the worshippers is a litik.
Maharashtak: "Welcome litik of mine."
Litik Map: "My Lord Maharashtak. I'm happy to be back! And on today of all days!"
Maharashtak: "But where is your mask, Litik Map?"
She isn't angry and actually smiles sympathetically, stating without words that she is sorry he missed out on the chance to honour someone.
Litik Map: "I only arrived today. The truth is, my Lord, I'm on a quest!"
Maharashtak: "Is that so?"
She narrows her big, white eyes playfully. When she speaks, she speaks quite patronisingly - an motherly tone that doesn't see Map is an adult.
Maharashtak: "I recall sending you on a quest already, Litik Map."
He reaches into the crowd and drags Litik Rjingi out. Rjingi looks baffled and uncomfortable with being manhandled.
Maharashtak: "I see. I did hear of your new vision, Rjingi. It gladdens me. But Litik Map, what is this new quest you have undertaken?"
Litik Map: "To visit each of the gods in turn and seek their wisdom and knowledge on the matter. Perhaps we might be able to settle the differences between the gods enough to work together on the destiny of our people!"
Maharashtak: "I believe in you, Litik Map. I trust your talents will lead you to success."
She leans over and kisses his head as she might one of the children.
Maharashtak: "But I hope you'll be staying in Indrakata at least for the night? The Cathedral is open to you both."
She sweeps her dark blue arm towards the cathedral doors. Around her neck is a necklace of heads, each looking the same as Maharashtak's own face, and they all become excited and giddy at the prospect of entertaining the litiks. They make little peeping noises and bounce up and down with happy faces.
Litik Map bows exaggeratedly, one arm expelled up and away while the other holds his stomach.
Litik Map: "If you demand it, my Lord."
She watches at the two men walk into the cathedral and she returns her attention to the populace. While her skin is dark blue, her bulb is unusually pink. The pink represents the act of pregnancy, pink being the cultural colour of all babies. When a father approaches Maharashtak with his baby she leans down and lifts the baby from his arms. The tiny infant looks up into her large, elegant face and becomes mesmerised. Blessed by Maharashtak like this, the little child will be content and healthy for many of his early years.
Inside the cathedral Litiks Map and Rjingi are in a lounge room. It's wide and tall with many, many windows that allow the light to stream in. During the festival the room is changed into a room for arts and crafts with long tables on which lie materials and tools for making masks and flags. Litik Rjingi is seated upon a chair, relaxing and watching the sunlight. Litik Map is busy with a pair of scissors as he hungrily cuts up paper to stick to his mask. When he is finished he puts it on and pounces at Litik Rjingi.
Litik Rjingi: "What is that supposed to be?"
Map is dejected, not that the mask's massive, happy smile would tell anyone.
Litik Map: "It's a mask of my ancestor. I'm being Phita Doon. He was a book thief."
Litik Rjingi: "Isn't the festival supposed to be celebrating your ancestor's merits?"
Litik Map: "He was the best book thief!"
Litik Rjingi: "... If he was anything like you, I don't doubt he was."
Litik Map: "Thanks!"
Litik Rjingi: "Yes... take that as a compliment if you'd like..."
Litik Map: "I'm pretty hungry. Lets go check out the shrines."
They leave the lounge and walk down a corridor. It's very tall, with an arching ceiling high above them, and made entirely of stone. While the cathedral isn't as old as the Ziggurat of Pesu, it comes fairly close. Originally the cathedral was meant to be the palace of the president but was then left abandoned for decades when the presidential apartments were built elsewhere in the city. Eventually Maharashtak took possession of the cathedral when she moved to the city.
Litik Map: "You know, I was actually born in this cathedral?"
Litik Rjingi: "Really? Why weren't you born in a hospital?"
Litik Map: "My mother was having problems during childbirth. I know it wouldn't happen anywhere else, but in Indrakata you come here if you can't deliver properly - better than the hospital."
Litik Rjingi: "Because Maharashtak will aid the birth? I understand."
Litik Map: "That's it. Afterwards my mother decided to devote herself to Maharashtak in appreciation and became a Nayarak here."
Litik Rjingi: "Was she ever promoted higher?"
Litik Map: "Yep! But she didn't like it. She preferred being more... hands-on with helping people, you know? To be honest if I hadn't trained as a litik, I think I'd want to be a nayarak. What about you? If you didn't have the gift of sight, what would you be?"
Litik Rjingi: "Kara. Obviously."
Map laughs a little.
Litik Map: "That would suit you, I think. Here. The shrine room."
They enter a semi-circular room with a semi-circular pillar before them. The tall, fat pillar is home to several, small alcoves were small shrines are laid out for minor deities. These deities are usually more unusual than the greater gods of Indra and they do just small, minor functions that no greater god encapsulates. Most Indrans of the orders don't take these gods seriously but appreciate them in their own way with small offerings such as bread, art or they may kneel and regale the minor deities with stories.
The two litiks pass a shrine for the god of locked doors where they see a Kara place a set of keys into the shrine's bowl. Each shrine is bordered by a bubbling wall of sutade, meaning people could see through into the next shrine. They pass the next shrine, which is to the god of cold places. Nobody is there, which doesn't surprise Map because no Indran likes cold places and they never visit Trijara in The Tandras because he wishes to be left alone. As though to reflect both the domain of the god and the loneliness, the area around the shrine feels particularly cool.
God of Cold Places: "I never get any love... why am I always on planets where nobody likes the cold?"
They finally come to an unusual shrine as it's a little larger than the others. This is because this particular deity constantly sends gifts to the Indrans, even if nobody is there. No one is sure why he does this but he does. The God of Jam Doughnuts is one of the more popular minor deities because everyone loves a good, jammy doughnut. The god appeared almost as soon as the baked good was invented and, unfortunately, put the inventor out of business by bombarding people with random jam doughnuts. They'd appear in people's beds, toilets, hats. Litik Map found one wedged into the lock on his door, which probably annoyed the god of locked doors. Eventually they had to build him a shrine and his baked gifts were finally concentrated in a single location.
Map grabs one and chews into it with glee. Rjingi picks one up and sniffs it before chomping down. They see a few doughnuts have accidentally wound up floating within the walls of sutade around the shrine and they watch them bobbing merrily about.
Maharashtak: "How is your rest?"
They turn to see the god standing in the doorway. She is wearing her usual garb, which is a robe with elements of armour that is somewhat reminiscent of the ornate, ceremonial armour of the karas. Her tendrils are wrapped up around her bulb with ribbons of sky blue to match the colour of the robe. On her feet, however, she wears sandals that are laced up her legs.
Map waggles his jam doughnut.
Litik Map: "Blueberry!"
Maharashtak: "I suppose blueberry is as fitting a way to describe your rest as any..."
Litik Rjingi swallows his doughnut as quickly as he can before speaking.
Litik Rjingi: "My Dear Maharashtak, is there anything you could do to help us on our quest? Any information you may be able to share?"
Maharashtak: "I doubt anything I have to say would be especially useful to you, Litik Rjingi. However I should tell you that the gods of Indra have long been aware of the sentient life that exists beyond the boundary of our own world."
Map chokes on his doughnut and Rjingi has to slap his back before the litik can speak in shock.
Litik Map: "B-But why didn't you tell us this?"
Maharashtak: "It is not in our nature to trespass into the affairs of your people. You were given free will, what would be the purpose of that if we led you by the hand?"
The two litiks fall into contemplative silence.
Maharashtak: "It was my ruling on the matter when the gods chose a stance of non-interference. I, as do we all, believe in the spirit of Indrans. You can strive for greatness without our intervention. We are merely here to aid you in your progress, not lead you towards it."
Litik Rjingi: "Is there anything you can tell us of the people out there? I know you cannot lead us in this, but some advice might help save us all from destruction..."
Maharashtak: "There are endless beings out there. Creatures just like you. Some are immensely terrible and powerful. Other beings seek nothing but peace and harmony. Eventually your progress will take you out there to meet them. Perhaps even this event will speed that eventuality. The alien being that comes... I do not know them. I have no vision of the future nor do I see this person. She is clouded from the sight of any of us. Only you, litiks, have ever seen this... harbinger."
Litik Rjingi: "Endless beings... that's... unbelievable."
She smiles with her usual patronising smile as she looks sweetly down at the young Indrans.
Maharashtak: "Is it? Perhaps you have indulged in Kamal's presence for too long, Litik Rjingi. Indra is not the centre of the universe, no matter how wonderful a world it is. But I do have some guidance for you..."
They look up with hope.
Maharashtak: "Amongst the pantheon there is one of us who is absent..."
Litik Rjingi: "Kavili. She... ascended to the sun."
Maharashtak: "Not to the sun. As she left us we able to feel her as she crossed the galaxy. She was bound for the centre of the universe on her great quest. She was beseeched by alien gods--"
Litik Rjingi: "Alien gods!?"
Maharashtak: "--and so she left us. Perhaps there still remains some clue or tale from the lands she left behind..."
Litik Map: "Did... did Kavili ever reach the centre of the universe, My Lord?"
Maharashtak leans down conspiratorially.
Maharashtak: "That she did!"
She smiles at him and his face lights up with wonder.
Litik Map: "Then... why didn't she return?"
Then the god grows sorrowful and rights herself.
Maharashtak: "We lost her. Once she reached her destination she was gone from our sight and we have never been able to re-establish a connection."
Litik Map: "You mean she..."
Maharashtak: "I feel she is on a greater quest than even we, gods of Indra, could comprehend. Go to her lands, Litik Map, Litik Rjingi. See if there is anything there that could illuminate your quest. She was a crafter of a great many things, just like Jitarayara. Perhaps they still remain..."
"When creating this god and the post I looked at the month of June[Ext 1], which led to the god Juno[Ext 2] after whom the month is named. As she was the patron god of Rome I decided to make Maharashtak the patron god of Indra's most important city. The population of Indrakata was meant to be similar to New York City[Ext 3]. Her dedication to the Indran people was partially inspired by this role as patron of the city but also because June is home to the World Humanist Day[Ext 4]. Her role as mother and blessing children comes from the supposition that June is auspicious for children.
The festival seen in the post was initially inspired by Phi Ta Khon[Ext 5] festival from Thailand, which is a ghost festival, but I decided it would be more interesting as a festival of ancestors. The use of masks comes from the Phi Ta Khon festival while the big grins comes from National Smile Month[Ext 6] of June. The use of family flags and the regimental parade that the Indrans dance was inspired by the Trooping the Colours[Ext 7] ceremony of Great Britain. Finally the inclusion of the minor deities, culminating in Nick's reference, was used because National Doughnut Day[Ext 8] of America is also in June." - Britt the Writer
- ↑ June article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Juno (mythology) article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ New York City article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ World Humanist Day article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Phi Ta Khon article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ National Smile Month article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Trooping the Colours article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ National Doughnut Day article, Wikipedia.