This is the second iteration of the Malis relics in RELIC.
You know I try to protect the identity of my clients – how else would a merchant make it in the galactic black market, I ask you? – but there was something off about this one. She was clearly a Zaxon using a cloaking device – a cheap one, I might add – almost as if she wanted to get caught. Most bizarre of all was her request: one of those old Malic timepieces. The only one I had in stock was a rusty red mess – why bother restoring a piece of junk no one in their right mind would want? I almost let her have it gratis, but I can’t let word get out that I’m just giving things away. Bad for business.
Don’t rightly recall how they’re supposed to work, but that crotchety Lady Jenser said something during my youngling studies about how Malic timepieces measure energy rather than time…or some such nonsense. I’ll never understand those Malics – mad wildlings with their incense and their special herbs and Creator knows what else. And don’t get me started about whatever those Comet Rider fairy tales are about. Their system has some kind of unique energy signature that makes them all feel connected, especially when they wear one of those timepiece things. If you ask me, that’s a little too close for comfort.
Can’t imagine what that was about; not my place to ask questions. Seems a Zaxon wouldn’t know how to even use such a thing…come to think of it, maybe I should’ve kept it out of Zaxon hands. A Malic timepiece – even a worn out hunk of junk – could still probably pick up energy readings that’d give its wearer an idea of Malic affairs. Maybe I’m just being a silly old man who remembers the times of the Revolution all too well. But I figured you should know, just in case it’s some kind of warning…well, I don’t want to think about that.
-- A letter from a merchant of conflicting ethics to a member of the Guild of Elite Thales (GET). Both names have been redacted to protect the not-so-innocent.
Fan the coals. Check the pumps. Not too hot. If I burn, I stop. If I stop, I die.
A Malic priest named Kell was arguably the greatest practitioner of artisanal meditation of all time. In order to connect with the heartbeat of the universe, all Malic priests must choose a craft that will induce a meditative state and also fulfill a need of their community. But it was the art of glass blowing that chose him.
They’re gone. Did the night come? Always watching. Can’t stop.
At the age of nine, Kell collapsed on the doorstep of an orphanage on the icy planet Vedi. He could not remember his name or origin, but the Malic priests who ran the orphanage welcomed the boy, teaching him their craft: blowing glass. A quick study, Kell soon surpassed the skill of even the most talented priests among them, and it was not long before wealthy benefactors learned of his talent. They fought for the privilege of funding him, but Kell insisted on continuing to provide his creations to the community without making a profit.
Can’t anymore. Can’t fight. Just one left. Then rest. Finally rest. Coming home.
During the Zaxons’ enslavement of the Malic people, a nameless general captured Kell; word of his talents had reached even the remote regions of Zaxon Prime. Zaxon soldiers forced Kell to blow glass for Zaxon dignitaries at all hours of the day, allowing him only three hours of rest each night. Unfortunately, Kell died two weeks before Thalish soldiers arrived to free him, and thus the Zaxons’ greed snuffed out the closest any being ever came to looking in the eyes of the Creator.
Upon first encountering the Malics during his travels, Thalish explorer Phren Maron wrote:
I admit that, at first, I could not distinguish the tribe from the trees. Perhaps I was not meant to. I had been told that they breathe light, live on the wind, and speak as animals, finding words for concepts beyond Thalish comprehension. But who can believe such fancies without seeing the truth for themselves?
It was not until one of them – a short, green- and red-speckled creature that I initially mistook for a mulberry bush – unfurled from his disguise that I realized that I had stumbled upon the very people for whom I had been searching.
The creature explained that his tribe was simply conversing with nearby flowers about the prospect of picking them. When I asked why the flowers would agree to this fate, he assured me that these flowers would not die and pulled an indigo vase from his cloak. It glowed with a slow, throbbing pulse that only seemed to grow stronger when the creature finally placed a flower in the vase.
Several days later, I looked again upon the vase and was astounded to find that the flower had dissolved and become one with it. Its pulse had increased in speed and intensity, a curious result that seemed to satisfy the creature. “She has transcended,” he sighed with gladness, bowing his head in reverence. I learned later that the vase was made of ja’dan, a dark blue stone capable of harnessing and spreading the celestial energy of all lifeforms. To my new friend, the flower had simply returned its energy to the collective, living on in every Malic that is, was, or ever will be.
I imagine that I am not the first traveler to encounter the Malics only to feel, upon leaving them, abruptly, painfully alone in the universe.
“How will doing the same thing day in and day out connect me to the Creator?” I remember asking the same question when I was a just a novitiate, like yourself. The best I can do is tell you how I found my way, though every priest’s journey is different.
As you no doubt learned during your first few weeks of training, we practice a daily spiritual regimen to nourish all five parts of the self. These five parts are, in order of practice: the waking self (First Glow), the physical self (Bonfire), the mental self (Glimmer), the social self (The Rekindling), and the spiritual self (Candlelight). A mouthful, I know, but don’t forget, young one: we must cleanse ourselves to receive both the Creator and our fellow living things. As the Creator’s prophet Amalfia once said, “All we are is all we are.”
Each step requires a cleansing action that we must perform five times, thus counting off five beads on our prayer cords during each step. For instance, upon waking, we cleanse our feet and welcome five creatures to the day. For the physical self, we channel the trees, opening our minds to their ancient strength. And at night – my favorite step, I must say – we gather together to welcome each other and share our joyous experiences.
And so what of connecting with the Creator? You need only look to the trees, listen to the creatures as you walk amongst them, and let the heartbeat of the earth move through your cleansed feet into your own heart…and you will know the face, the hand, and the love of the Creator and all that it made, including yourself.
One cannot visit a tavern in the Malic kingdom of Hearth without hearing tales of Lumena the Silver, a just and gentle queen from the ancient times of First Glow. Lumena reigned over all that the suns and stars could touch, tending to the heartbeat of the earth by favoring structures and rituals that preserved its treasures; for this, her subjects worshipped her happily. This was also due in no small part to the fact that her bloodline was intermingled with that of the Comet Riders. The proof was in the lady’s radiant silver hair.
Alas, her lineage did not grant immunity to misfortune. Queen Lumena bore a dark-haired girl called Mira, whom she loved more than the stars. But those who would wish the queen harm looked upon her joy with only hate and jealousy, and a short while later, the girl fell ill from an unknown poison. Healing salves had no effect, and Malic priests kept vigil over the princess. One priest was so deeply moved by the queen’s sorrow that he ventured to Mount H’ol’Abi, the most revered mountain in Malic Mysticism, for spiritual guidance. Once he reached the summit, the priest collected a jar of soil, as the mystics believe that Comet Riders once visited the peak. Grateful for the gift, the queen kept the jar by her daughter’s bedside.
No one knows for sure whether the soil was the cause, but the princess arose in perfect health the next day. Her dark hair had become a radiant shade of silver, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity throughout Hearth.