... Tempus Thales on glory, life and death

Janet und Chris Morris... Tempus Thales ...
on glory, life and death

Zur deutschen Version Some know Tempus Thales from the »Thieves World«, some from battlefields. But who is Tempus Thales, the ›Riddler‹, who deals with gods like we does with our neighbours?

For the first time, Tempus Thales has now agreed to answer some questions. We thank his chroniclers Janet and Chris Morris for this opportunity.

Stay tuned ...

Zauberspiegel: Greetings Tempus. Would you mind introducing yourself to the earthworms (shame, and eternal torment over them) that do not know you. Who are you and where you come from?
Tempus Thales: I am Tempus, called the Riddler; the Obscure; the Black; the Sleepless One; favorite of Enlil, Storm God of the Armies.  You may know me as commander of the Stepsons, or of the Sacred Band of Stepsons, or of the Unified Sacred Band.  Or you may not know me.

Zauberspiegel: Why did you just select Janet and Chris Morris, when you were looking for someone to record your stories?
Tempus Thales: I selected them so some will be left who remember.  These two I chose to record our exploits: they ride with me, in their way, but do not interfere.  They speak with the right voice.  They are among us, like Fates or shades.  I trust them with the truth and they do not disappoint me.  This can be said of very few, gods or men.

Zauberspiegel: Where do you want to go? What did you do? What actions are left for you to accomplish?
Tempus Thales: Go?  Where the struggle rages; where men fight men and gods mix in; where all is unformed and Chaos decides the winner of the day.  We throw our weight on the side of righteousness, if there is any.  If not, we bring it, in honest battle, to the enemy.  We go where the gods allow, where battles of the heart, and of the mind, and of the body are being fought.  We venture into new lands and face new challenges, wherever imbalance reigns, where there is a strangeness in the proportion between the worlds of gods and the worlds of men:  to restore the balance; bring order; fight for justice and freedom of the human spirit.  It is the mission of the Sacred Band.
What I have done, I have done with clear purpose – on more battlefields than I can count, and in more councils of fools than any man should see.  Sometimes, when I was younger, I acted out of rage at the stupidity all around me, to teach lessons men should not forget.  People forget what they should know, remembering little more when awake than when asleep.  So battle lines form up, and war comes.  Men disappoint Nature, and Nature restores herself.  War is all, and king of all, and all things come into being out of strife, so I have said and Herkleitos has said something much the same.  Battles stretch out, neverending, in the climb from slime toward understanding.  All things come into being out of strife, and there I will be, to tip the balance if I can. Where do I want to go?  Ask better, why.  I go where I must; I do what the universe has fashioned me to do.  Restoring equilibrium is difficult, and long, and hard, and not for everyone.  We fight on the ground but the battles are always of the soul.  I want to see my partner Niko through his trials:  the greatest of battles are never over place, but struggles for the greatest prize:  understanding.  Niko is one who could outstrip me and all I have done.  Nikodemos is a child of the balance and precious to the future of us all; a hero partly made, and a great one coming into himself.  Too many powers vie for him, a soul that remains pure and knows itself, and holds a chance for all men within it.  But that road is full of peril, and long.  And that road will my Sacred Band travel, to times and places unformed, and see Niko on his way to understanding his fate.  And help him, if we can.  Next for us is a trek northeast, where none of my Band have ever ridden in all the days of man.  On that foray, we will fight the battles within and the battles without, and hopefully those among us such as Nikodemos and Straton will find a way to free their souls from forces seeking to bind them.
So someday, when change is truly rest, then Cime and I will rest content in Lemuria.  But not yet, while fools still reign and chaos rules.

Zauberspiegel: What are you aiming for? What is your goal?
Tempus Thales: The goal is balance between the heavens and the earth and between men and the creatures of the field; the goal is nature understood and man enlightened, acting in harmony.  In this battle, there is never a final triumph – there is only the satisfaction of winning today so you can fight again on other days.

Zauberspiegel: What happens when Janet and Chris, out of dramatic reasons, want to act other than how you desire?
Tempus Thales: There is only one story, and that is what really happens, as it happens.  When our chroniclers tell our tales, they tell the truth.  If they stray from the truth, then we restore their understanding of why they are among us.  Until then, we call a halt.

Zauberspiegel: And another question for those who have not heard from you (and again, shame and condemnation upon these creatures): By your side is Niko. Can you introduce Niko us and explain the nature of your relationship? Maybe there is something Niko wants to add.
Tempus Thales: With me is Stealth, called Nikodemos.  He  is my right-side partner, the most deadly of my young fighters, and the most talented.  Niko is an adept of maat, who seeks balance, justice, and truth in all things.  Niko has been on my right since he was a boy.  Now he faces his greatest test, since a goddess has taken him up and brought him back from death.  Niko, what have you to say?
Nikodemos: Riddler, you better than any know I am a weapon of the god, nothing more.  A son of the armies, and honored to be on your right.  To the rest of you:  you who have been among us know I am not a man for words.  You strangers:  know that I am hipparch of Tempus‘s Sacred Band.  Know also this:  My commander has given me so much, I cannot count the glories.  In his service, I have grown wiser, stronger.  Yet now I need him more than ever, to teach me and guide me.  Tempus took me up when I was nothing, a boy mercenary with no prospects, and made me a member of the Sacred Band of Stepsons.  All I have done that matters, I have done serving the Riddler.  He has my allegiance:  to the death, with honor.  I learn what I can from him, every day.  And this goddess who has helped me, saved me, she is a friend of the Sacred Band.  I will prove it, if maat allows.  The Sacred Banders say, “Life to you, and everlasting glory.“  We pledge our hearts, our bodies, our lives to the Riddler’s service.  So it has been and so it will always be.  We serve with unflinching determination; we serve with unflagging devotion, wherever and however the commander decides.

Zauberspiegel: Eternal glory? What is this intended to tell us? Everyone should aspire for eternal fame and is the only place to win this on the battlefield?
Tempus Thales: Glory wears a dreadful face when war takes its toll.  Glory is of the heart, and of the soul, and of the spirit:  glory is not found in other men’s eyes, but in your own.  All men battle, every day, in every way.  Is the battle in your home, in your fields, on your travels – or even within you?  No matter where or how, each of us fights the same battle.  One victory is as precious as another.  It is how you live, the quality of deeds done every day, that sums to glory – or not.  And we all fight on, each in his own way, until Death ends the struggle.  Battlefields are everywhere, but the greatest battles are fought within each human heart.
We fight for life and everlasting freedom of the human spirit.  It is the only struggle of consequence for us.  So again I say:  Each fights that battle in their own way – or fails to fight it.

Zauberspiegel: What did you feel when you killed someone for the first time?
Tempus Thales: You count up your dead, every one.  Always.  I recall them, each and all – every face, every heart.  My dead are always with me, never separate from me.  My ghosts are here with me.  I bow my head and greet them one by one.  The first is no different from the last.

Zauberspiegel: What is death for you?
Tempus Thales: Death?  Death rides on my right hand. Death is all around.  Death is the price we pay for life. Death comes cold and bold and takes the living by the hand.  But death is denied me.  Perhaps forever.  The storm god is not done with me yet.  Yet death is always with me.  Shades and revenants from years gone by crowd in, murmuring like the dead I carry in my heart.  In these days it is hard for me to keep man and god separate, distinct from one another; when so many, many wraiths come with me, walk with me, ride with me from battlefield to battlefield, war to war.

Zauberspiegel: What have you done over the years when neither Janet nor Chris wrote down your story?
Tempus Thales: Done?  I have lived and fought the battles brought to me.  In my youth, I rejected a kingship and wrote a treatise on being.  I fell in love with Cime and saved her one peril, only to bring us both to this path we now walk.  I was cursed by a sorcerer thusly:   those who love me die of it and those I love are bound to spurn me.  For hundreds of years, I fought this curse long and hard, and perhaps eventually overcame it.  Perhaps not.  This is my story.  Some of that story, you know if you have read the tales my chroniclers have so far told.  But you don’t yet know the story of the days when with my Band I trekked east, a world away, into unexplored lands.  And north, beyond Mygdonia.  Nor do you know the stories of battles beyond those days.  Those stories are still to come.

Zauberspiegel: You deal with gods. How is that and how do you resist them? How do you manage it? You were already involved in it, so perhaps you might give us some important hints on that subject.
Tempus Thales: My advice about the gods is to stay away from them if you can.  Gods deal with me.  I fight to keep my heart separate, my soul separate, but storm gods have long been within me.  The struggle of a mind to be free is the struggle all of us undertake.  As Niko says, “What is between a man and his god is theirs alone to say.“  Gods are users.  Gods are meddlers.  Gods are capricious.  Gods are tricksters, hungry for power and blood.  Gods that come from outside to reside in you are different from the God in Man, whom Stealth, called Nikodemos venerates.  With the god Enlil within me, I fight deeper, harder battles than I could fight before.  Gods are not butlers, or slaves.  Gods are not absolvers.  Gods are taskmasters.  And the war gods ask most of all from their servants.
You want advice from me, about gods?  Ask another, one who has fared better against the meddling of the angry gods.  But I will say this:  Be wary.  Choose cautiously whom you serve, and why.  Hold your human soul as your greatest treasure.  As Heraclitus said, ‚“To gods, all things are beautiful and just, but men think some things to be just, others unjust.“  Thales knew that all things are full of gods.  Not selfish gods, but the intelligible light steers all things through all things.  So be careful what you pay for what you pray for.

Zauberspiegel: What does love and hate mean to you? What is passion?
Tempus Thales: Love?  Hate?  Passion?  These words call men to war.  When supernal passion is unleashed, war rips the world asunder with sack and pillage, torture and death.  So what are love, hate, and passion but the tools of the greatest war of all – the war for order in the human soul?  The goddess Harmony says she is the goddess of love in war, and I did not at first understand her.  Now I do:  I cursed love for many years; it cursed me in return.  Love is my curse, yet without it one is nothing:  love of duty, love of commitment, love of the world itself -- love rules men and gods.  The more we understand, the deeper our love...and, if we are not strong, the deeper our hate.  Hate fuels destruction in all its manifold furies.  The goddess Harmony says “Love sees all; hate is blind.“  When love and hate mate, their offspring is anger.  Abarsis says that anger takes its payment from the soul.  Love and hate can make fools of us all, so beware.  When passion oversweeps us, reason is the first casualty.  Passion is power.  Passion is inspiration.  Passion is risk, for it can be ungovernable.  Passion is madness.  Passion is how we meet the world, at our best and at our worst.  Passion in a fool is danger; in a wise man, passion leads on to glory.  Passion gives us life and gives us death.

Zauberspiegel: Does Tempus Thales also have a soft, romantic side that shows up every now and then? And if so, who is the person that does attract you?
Tempus Thales: Cime, once called the Free Agent, was my first love; saving her from me and myself from her has been difficult; but love her I do, and always will.  She is my greatest love and my greatest trial.  Our relationship has been stormy, but once again now we spend time together – although not too much.  I won Lemuria for her and gave it to her to rule, although she would say she won it for me, and gave its mysteries unto me.  I loved Abarsis, the Slaughter Priest, and love him still now that he is a shade in service to the gods.  In one way, I love Jihan, the Froth Daughter, she who is a primal expression of wind and wave.  And I love Nikodemos in another.  Nikodemos means enough to me that I offered my immortality for his life, but the gods declined the trade.  And I love all my Sacred Band; my Stepsons are life to me:  in Niko and my Sacred Band lie my hopes for the future.

Zauberspiegel: What does Tempus Thales feel on the battlefield? What drives him there?
Tempus Thales: Only on the battlefield am I truly at home.  The gods are all around.  Breath is precious.  All is sharp and clear.  My strength and the god’s strength merge.  I am closest to gods and men when at war:  War is all, and king of all....  Combat is life to me.  On the battlefield, the storm god of the armies, Enlil, comes into me, is one with me, and sometimes I cannot tell where I end and the god begins.  So it is bittersweet, with men screaming and dying and the gods of death all around.  Some say I am one of these gods, but I am not.  Yet in battle Enlil comes up in my eyes and breathes through my lungs and challenges all with my sword and my forces.  On the battlefield I am faster than mortal men, and at one with the nature of conflict itself.  Only when the battleplain is still and lifeless can those who live to fight on other days count the cost.  And those lessons are beyond words:  they are lessons of the heart and of the soul.  So am I fully alive when not at war?  In former times, I thought not, but now I understand that war is in us all the time

Zauberspiegel: Many thanks to Tempus. We are deeply honored by your answers and wish you eternal glory. And we send greetings and the wish for eternal fame also to Niko.
Tempus Thales: Life and glory to you, Zauberspiegel, and your band of brothers and sisters


#1 Tempus Thales 2011-06-29 05:58

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