The young man was angry.
He was angry because Koruni had clearly struck and – possibly – violated his sister. Her left eye swollen, she had run to him when he returned from his fruitless hunt for pear scorpions, to try and explain that it was her fault. She claimed that the specks of blood on her stonecat-skin skirt came from skinning Koruni’s latest kill.
Koruni was the best hunter in the small village. He was the strongest, the fastest, with three wives and five lion manes adorning his hut. Lately, he started calling himself the Prince of North Kutnarmu – with the shaman’s blessing.
Confronting Koruni straight-on was an act of suicide. His brothers-in-blood, fourteen in number, would probably slay him before he even had a chance to brandish his spear.
That same night, the young man packed provisions for three days, a large waterskin, left his hut and started travelling south.
A year ago, after the shame of his first unsuccessful hunt, the young man had fled the ridicule of his peers, and travelling aimlessly he ended up near the caves, a days walk to the south of their village. The barren land surrounding the caves was empty of game with no water to be found for miles. Exploring the caves in the hope of finding a stone cat or even a lion – a kill which would make him a hero to the eyes of the village – he discovered an old man living in one of them.
He was a bearded northerner of many summers, dressed in robes and with the glint of madness in his eyes. Their friendship was a thing born of boredom. Despite the fact that he came this south to die, the old man craved the occasional companionship of another being and the young man was intrigued by this northerner who was plagued by nightmares all night, yet would unfailingly wake up every morning before dawn to sit cross-legged in the lip of his cave and greet the morning sun.
The young man was present when the old man levelled a pack of water-crazed stone cats with a few impossible words. Their hunt for sustenance had brought them near the caves. The schoolman’s eyes had eyes lit up, his mouth had uttered sounds no Kutnarmuian throat had ever made and six stone cat carcasses collapsed in the ground, brains empty of what makes them meaningful, eyes filled with blood and most of the large bones in their bodies shattered. The schoolman would have nothing to do with the bodies and the young man was afraid to bring them back to the village as his own kills, worried that the women would raise questions about the unnatural way the animals died.
Today, when the young man entered the cave, calling a greeting in passable Ainoni, the old man would not rise from his rough bedding. Parched lips, skin sticking to a frame devoid of any fat, the Schoolman was ready to greet what came next.
With urgency in his voice, the young man asked the Schoolman to teach him the words that kill. Words that he could use to put Koruni in his place, once and for all.
The schoolman tried to laugh at that but all that came out was a dry chuckle. People would spend lives trying to master even the basic intricacies of the Gnosis and most of them failed.
Yet, what did he have to lose?
In complete contrast with his past teachings and methods, the schoolman spent the last three hours of his life talking to the young man about the true *meaning* of things. He wasted no time warning about Seswatha’s dreams or about the responsibility that came with knowledge. He would point to his face, his body, his arms, his legs, to his surroundings and name them using the Logos, impossible words stripped of all cultural influence and filled with semantic – and powerful – meaning. The young man would probably not even be able to register them but the schoolman was past caring. He did not stop, he did not offer any explanations or extrapolations on deeper concepts, he just talked and named things. And before the sun came out, he closed his eyes and expelled his last breath.
The young man built a stone cairn for the Mandate Schoolman and left the caves.
He reached his village the next day just after sunrise. He purposefully walked to stand outside Koruni’s hut and called him out. At his approach, Koruni’s blood brothers stood up from their places around the fire, smirking at the young man. Koruni himself, wearing the mane of his latest kill, exited the hut and wondered aloud what the “Brave hunter with no kills” wanted, a question which was greeted by laughs from the whole village.
The young man blamed Koruni for the violation of his sister. He blamed the shaman (who was still drunk and sleeping on his hut) for letting this pass and blamed Koruni’s blood brothers for being cowards who would ignore the code of their village.
And when Koruni and his fighters started moving towards the young man with murder in their eyes, the young man leaned forward and screamed the word “Stop”. Yet his voice carried in it something more, something *potent*.
The men were brought to their knees, still alive yet stunned, trickles of blood evident in their eyes, noises and ears. In a circle around them, the dry grass was flattened and the earth slightly depressed, as if a giant’s fist had gently pushed it down.
What the old schoolman failed to perceive in his isolation, was that the language of the Kutnarmu tribes was out of necessity stripped of lies or anything else that might corrupt the true meaning behind a word. In those three hours of teaching, the young man’s mind did not have to shed any cultural bias, it simply absorbed everything it heard. And somewhere a connection was made and a very tiny and – relatively speaking – ineffective door was opened to the Logos.
Many years would pass until the next Mandate Schoolman would walk the deserts of Kutnarmu, but when that happened, she was surprised by the warm welcome offered to her by the recently appointed King of the Tribes.
It was after that visit that the Odaini Concussion Cant was added to the syllabus of the Mandate School, named after the young man who unknowingly uttered it first, all those years ago.