Over the next few months, I am going to post some fictional writings that I have been working on over the years. Many of these, I began prior to becoming a Freemason, but interestingly there are elements within them that may seem Masonic in some sense. I have many of these unfinished projects that I am seeking to finish. Help me decide which one I should finish first.
I will post a portion of the beginning of my works and I hope you will leave COMMENTS as to whether you would like to read more. The work that has the most COMMENTS will be the work I will finish first. Also, I will randomly draw the names of FIVE of the commenters to receive prizes, like signed copies of the novel when it is finished.
The current posting is an early draft from the first chapter of a middle-grade chapter book I am writing called The Children of Dynoliaeth, which follows a young boy living in an Utopian village in a non-distinct time or place. Although it is a work of pure fiction, one may recognize some obvious influences. I began writing this just prior to becoming a Freemason. Leave COMMENTS, letting me know what you think.
Remember this is an early draft, so if editing is needed, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that I may make the necessary changes. Thank you!
Purple petals of the Jacarandas bloom and fall in the morning light, shining in beautiful violet heaps upon the cobbled stone streets of the quiet village. Hans watched them fall from his bedroom window on the second floor of the stone home his father built the year before he was born. In his eyes, the eleven year old home had stood the test of time, showing no signs of age or ware, unlike the ancient stone and wood grand edifices in the heart of the village.
He had not yet fully grasped the idea of the passage of time and its effects. To him, those ancient structures were not much older than his home. Though he did find them much more beautiful, even in their slightly dilapidated state. He could not actually see them from his window, as it faced to the west, and he lived south of the village center.
Beyond the treeline and the stone cobbled streets of his view, he could see something even more beautiful than those grand old structures. From his bedroom window, he could see Élet, and the place he and the other children played after school along her shoreline.
After spending a few moments in a wishful gaze, imagining the colors and shapes of invisible, magical objects erected before him, he noticed the early risers carrying their gifts to Élet and realized he needed to get ready for school. He blew the candle out, as he ran from his room and down the finished wooden staircase with the inlaid stone steps.
“You’re late again,” said his mother, as she handed him a shiny glass plate covered with his favorite breakfast, a scramble of eggs and fresh vegetables. He enjoyed the pleasant aroma before taking his seat and gobbling down the grub.
His three-year-old sister, Talya, sat quietly in her highchair, poking at her food and watching her older brother carefully. She was born suspicious, always seemingly scrutinizing his every move. He loved her with all his heart.
“It’s good. I promise,” he told her with a full mouth, spraying eggy bits onto the table in front of him. She laughed. He always made her laugh, eventually. Even so, she still did not eat her breakfast.
Usually he would eat hers as well, but today he could not have a full stomach and suffer those embarrassing repercussions. All eyes would be on him and the other children his age. He thought for a moment about the magnitude of the day and how it would impact his life in Dynoliaeth.
By most standards, Dynoliaeth is a smallish village, though Hans had nothing to compare it to. He had never traveled beyond the southern forest, beyond the Twins in the east, or passed the farm and herding fields to the west and north of the village. He had heard that people lived beyond those boundaries, but having never encountered any, he counted it all as imaginary.
He knew what he knew, what he could see, and what he was taught. That was all that mattered to him.
He knew that Dynoliaeth was nestled in a serene valley between ice-capped twin mountains and next to a flowing stream, because he could see that. He knew that the stream was the source of life for the villagers of Dynoliaeth and revered as the goddess, Élet, because he was taught that. He knew that the villagers thanked her daily for nourishing the crops in their fields, powering the water mill’s many cogs and gears, and quenching their thirst when needed, because he saw them present her with gifts upon her shoreline every morning.
He was taught, according to the village folklore, that she was the holy daughter of the Twins, Éadrom and Dorcha, who loom in the horizon, catching the sunrise between their majestic peaks. He saw that her life began as water droplets from the melting ice caps of those twin peaks, cascading into one of the twin falls, pouring into the basin lake on the upper valley floor before funneling through the foothills into the stream of crystal clear mountain water that flows alongside Dynoliaeth.
Most of the children of Dynoliaeth are born in the early spring months. Hans was no different than any other child. He was born three days after his cousin, Dolph, a month after the butcher’s son, Ludo, a month before the twins, Marko and Manja, the same day as the farmer’s daughter, Lizbeth, and even a week after the baker’s daughter, Katerina. They were all the children of his age.
Like most children, he spent the first years of his life learning from his parents. He spent many days with his mother collecting a myriad of multicolored berries, petals, and resins she later used to make paints and various other supplies necessary for her trade as an artist. Sometimes he would spend the day with his grandfather, Opa, the Master Glassblower. He would sit with Dolph, watching Opa and Uncle Bernerd blow glass of various types and colors. Less often he would visit the Trade House of his father, a mason. He would play with the smaller cut stones, stacking them up in ways that would give his father great pride, saying, “Look, he will be the next Master Architect!”
In all ages, the most prestigious of the Trades and Crafts in Dynoliaeth was that of the Master Architect. Though it was a small village, sparsely populated by rural folk of the outlying region, it was wholly defined by its architecture. Several grand ancient large stone and wood edifices still loomed in the city center, serving as the community hall and centers of fellowship. They were built in a time when the ancient architects and builders believed that “Bigger was better,” creating grand ornamental structures. Though bigger is indeed grander, many of these larger buildings could not withstand the wear of time and fell into disrepair.
Until recently, the builders of all ages have only used stone and wood. Even after the ancient architects and builders were long gone, the newer architects and builders continued in their footsteps, if only on a smaller scale. These more recent builders saw beauty in the simple and compact structures they created. They built smaller wood and stone structures throughout the village, often reusing the refuse left behind by the larger, older buildings.
Though Master Architect was indeed the most esteemed position in the village, two others were close behind: Master Carpenter and Master Mason. Hans’ father was in line to be the next Master Mason. All three of these great Trades belonged to the class of builders. The Master Architect led the Architects Guild, consisting of the architects, drafters, and surveyors, while the Master Carpenter and Master Mason jointly presided over the Builder’s Union, consisting of the Woodcrafters Guild of carpenters, woodworkers, and sawyers and the Stonecrafters Guild consisting of masons, stoneworkers, and quarriers.
Hans’ father hoped that Hans would one day become the Master Architect, as all Dynoliaeth villagers secretly hoped for their own children. The Master Architect was an elected position and did not need to have been a part of the Architects Guild prior to election, although it certainly helped. Only two of the ancient Master Architects had ever been elected from without; one was a Master Carpenter and the other was a Master Mason.
The time Hans spent with his father usually involved learning about the Master Architect and the Builder’s Union. He would often hear the same lectures over and over, until he could finally repeat them verbatim, though he often did not know the meaning of the words. He knew that the Master Architect set the work, plan, and action, delegating each aspect of the construction to those members of his guild who were trained in the necessary skill and enlisting the Builder’s Union to labor the construction to completion.
His father taught him that the surveyors mapped the build areas in a two-dimensional plane, drafters drew the Master Architect’s plans on a three-dimensional grid, and architects managed the construction of the structure to completion in a timely manner within the specified space. Hans learned that the architects did not directly manage the laborers. It was the Master Carpenter and Master Mason who gave orders to the Builders Union at the behest of the Master Architect.
He also learned how the Master Carpenter oversaw the Woodcrafters Guild and the Master Mason oversaw the Stonecrafters Guild within the Builders Union. Under their watchful eyes, sawyers felled the trees and quarriers cut the stone from the quarries, woodworkers and stoneworkers moved the uncompleted materials to and fro, carpenters and masons worked the materials to completion, and the woodworkers and stoneworkers placed the completed materials according to the design of the masters. This had been the way of construction since time immemorial. That is, until the discovery of brick.
His father disliked brick. He was a classically trained mason and saw the material as a ruddy-colored, disease upon the face of the city. There was no brick whatsoever in the home he built for his family, and he often refused to use brick unless the Master Architect specifically asked for it in his design. His distaste for brick likely had less to do with its use as a building material and more to do with the nature in which it was introduced to Dynoliaeth.
When his father was a stoneworker training to be a mason, a new group of builders littered the landscape with new brick and mortar structures, freckling the gray and brown village with shades of red here and there. Initially seen as a novelty, the brick caught on and soon many villagers wanted it incorporated into their buildings, forcing the Master Architect’s hand. He acknowledged the newly created Brickworkers Guild, allowing it to compete with the Builders Union for various construction works.
Hans’ father always overwhelmed with emotion when he recalled this point in the story. He was classically trained in the longstanding traditions of the ancient builders. The idea of changing to a new style of architecture was too much for him, and he was not the only one. His father, Liam, who had been Master Mason of the Builders Union for nearly twenty years suddenly vacated his seat in protest. Without a Master Mason to command the Stonecrafters Guild, no more stone work could be completed. The quarriers stopped quarrying, the stoneworkers stopped carrying, and the masons stopped carving. To support their brethren in the Builders Union, the Woodcrafters Guild stopped work soon after.
Although the Architects Guild enjoyed planning with the novel and versatile material, the Builders Union’s refusal to work with the Brickworkers Guild made it impossible to complete any of their grand designs. Without the ability to utilize wood or stone in their brick constructions, the Architects Guild was forced to intercede and mediate the tension between the competing unions. They called for a Summit of the Building Trade to open negotiations.
Because the Stonecrafters Guild still had no Master, the Builders Union promoted Hans’ father to Mason and asked him to represent them in the proceedings with the Master Architect and the Brickworkers Guild. As the son of the previous Master Mason, they believed he would uphold the standards his father upheld before him. After long negotiations, the Master Architect convinced the Master Carpenter and Hans’ father to allow Brickworkers Guild to join the Builders Union.
The Brickworkers Guild accepted the proposal, quickly electing a Master Brickworker to gain equal status among the Masters of the Builders Union. Hans’ father proved to be a great emissary for the Builders Union that day, declaring that the Brickworkers Guild would not have equal footing within the Builders Union, but would fall under the auspices of the Stonecrafters Guild and authority of the Master Mason. They attempted to counter, but Hans’ father spoke with the determination and command of any grand orator, claiming the new material to be nothing more than reconditioned stone.
The Brickworkers counterargued to no avail, as the Master Architect and Master Carpenter agreed with Hans’ father. The Masters immediately disbanded the Brickworkers Guild, granting the Brickmakers and Bricklayers the same rights and privileges as the Quarriers and Stoneworkers, respectively. They now belonged to the Stonecrafters Guild under the direct authority of the Master Mason.
As would be expected, the former members of the Brickworkers Guild initially refused, but the Master Architect pleaded with them to join the Builders Union without conflict to establish an era of peace and harmony. With the assurance on the part of the Master Architect that they would be treated fairly, equally, and judiciously within the Builders Union, they conceded to the demands and begrudgingly joined the Builders Union, putting their ambitions of master building behind them.
Hans’ father was the first to allay their fears. He assessed each of the Brickworkers and presented the most skilled and knowledgeable to the Council of Nine, which had been recently formed to elect the new Master Mason from among their rank. Four of those Brickworkers were promoted to Masons and one among them was chosen to sit on the council of Nine, replacing the newly elected Master Mason, a seat originally intended for Hans’ father. He renounced his claim to it, so that the new members would have the assurance that they would be treated in the same way as all members of the Stonecrafters Guild.
“But father, you don’t like brick. Why would you give up your seat to a Brickworker?” Hans questioned as he demolished his small stone structure.
“Sometimes self-sacrifice is necessary to assure others that the path you have asked them to take is paved with righteous intentions,” his father answered, mussing his hair. “You’ll realize that when you are the Master Architect.”
Hans smiled lovingly at his father. Even at such a young age, he knew his father had only the best intentions, but those words caused him such discomfort. He loved his father and did not want to disappoint him, so he always smiled and nodded. He never dared tell him that he was uncertain whether he wanted to follow in his footsteps, let alone become the Master Architect. Those words were best left unsaid.
“Eat! Eat!” Talya demanded, tossing her bowl at Hans, jolting him from his memory. He barely caught the bowl unscathed. She riotously laughed at her flustered brother.
He patiently gave her back her bowl. “I can’t today, Tee Tee. Today is the Ceremony of Purification. I’m already nervous.”
She reluctantly took back her bowl, poking its insides once more.
Watching his little sister, Hans pondered his life so far, and what hers would be like in parallel to his. His parents were teaching her, just as they had with him, how to be a part of the community in the most basic sense. They would teacher her morals they valued and reverence for the goddess. She already attended them as they brought a gift to Élet each morning. Soon, she may be lucky enough to choose what the gift should be. Though, she would not be able to present the gift until she was an adult, except during the Ceremony of Purification.
Hans’ stomach grumbled anxiously. Hunger had been satiated. This was not one of those pangs. It was the discomfort caused by nerves… by overthinking. He felt this many times before. He felt it on his first day of school, the first time he had to read in front of his class, and the first time he had to speak in front of his class. Having never done the thing before and fearing he may do it incorrectly, resulting in some calamity always weighed heavily upon him until the thing had been carried out… usually with great success.
Although he had fears, they never stopped him from trying something new.
When he turned six and began instruction at the School House, he stood in front of the class next to the farmer’s daughter, Lizbeth. They were born the same day, so they started school the same day. Ludo had begun a month before them, Katerina a week before, and Dolph just a few days earlier. As they stood there, Hans’ stomach nervously growled for the first time. He looked surprised at Lizbeth. She just laughed and playfully punched his shoulder. She seemed to have no fear standing next to him, smiling so wide he could see the two gaps on each side of her mouth where baby teeth once were.
The Mistress of Innocence, his teacher until eight years old, warmly welcomed him and Lizbeth, inviting them to sit next to the other children of their age. She sat next to Katerina and he sat next to Dolph. Two more empty seats separated them from the older children in the class, who sat very quietly and well-behaved. By the time the first lesson had begun, Hans’ fear was no more and his stomach returned to its usual silence.
“Just as the physical foundation of Dynoliaeth is the building of a structure, there is another, more important foundation without which no such structure could be built.” The Mistress of Innocence began her lecture. Hans and the others of his age, darted confused looks at one another. The older children sat quietly, hands folded before them. “We find ourselves in that most important of foundations today. What is it?”
One of the older children raised her hand, “Education.”
“That’s correct, Meriden.”
Meriden smiled and bowed her head humbly in response. “Thank you, Mistress.”
One of the most important contributions a villager could ever make to the community is to teach the young of Dynoliaeth how to become productive members of society. Education begins with parents and grandparents during the Age of Innocence. Children are regarded as Innocents because they are born with innocence and naiveté, unable to care for themselves or understand the vast world around them without the constant protection, care, and explanations of their parents and grandparents.
While parents and grandparents plant these initial seeds of being a part of a community, the cultivation of those ideals are nurtured at the School House by the teachers, the Masters or Mistresses of their Age. At six years old, they are taught lessons that encourage tolerance and cooperation, presented in the form of old stories, myths, and legends. Although these fables and parables form the basis of their education, each of the stories convey more than just a moral message. They teach the children the basic histories, sciences, language skills, and arithmetic as appropriate for their age and as necessary for their development.
At first, the newness of the education system is daunting for the Innocents. By introducing them to it on their sixth birthday rather than all children of the Age at once, they can have more time to observe and learn from the older students and then serve as models to the younger students. Within two months, Hans and the other children of his Age were experts in the decorum of the School House thanks to the mimicry and modeling of the older students.
Like those older students before him, Hans graduated from the Age of Innocence and entered the Age of Purification on his eighth birthday. No longer an Innocent, he was now called by the middle-age nomenclature Purificant. A week before his birthday, the Mistress of Purification gave birth to her first child, so the Master of Ritual appointed a replacement from his pool of Ritualists, who could serve as a substitute for instruction.
When Hans walked in on his first day as a Purificant and saw the tall, young man standing upright and pious in his simple white robe, he stopped suddenly shocked at the sight. Lizbeth pushed passed Hans.
“Come on, silly.” She tugged at him, as he stood momentarily dazed.
Ritualists in their unadorned white robes frightened Hans. They were quiet, unassuming, and pious. They confused him. He did not understand how they contributed to the betterment of Dynoliaeth, as they were generally found walking slowly around the village with their hands folded in front of them or kneeling by the shoreline of Élet in some silent prayer. Now as one stood before him, a substitute for the Master of Purification, he could not help but wonder the meaning of purification.
“Are you all right?” The Ritualist said in a low, almost comforting tone.
“Yes, Master of Purification…” Hans started, but the teacher held up his hand to stop him.
“I prefer to be called Oliver.”
He never called a teacher by their name before, always their title. His face emptied, confused. He stumbled momentarily. Lizbeth caught him, stopping his off-kilter steps. “Sit next to Dolph,” she pushed him toward his desk, and then sat in an empty desk between Ludo and Katerina.
“Do you have any questions before we begin?” Hans shook his head. “Good. Let’s begin with a discussion of the symbolism of the white robe and how it relates to purification.”
The lessons during the Age of Purification were not so different from those during the Age of Innocence. The morning sessions revisited much of what was taught during the Age of Innocence, but with more focus on a deeper understanding of the allegorical stories. They also learned more advanced histories, sciences, language skills, and arithmetic. They had Oliver for one whole year, then the Mistress of Purification returned for the morning sessions.
In the afternoon sessions, Oliver would return to discuss the philosophies or take them on field trips to various Trade Houses to gain a cursory understanding of what their futures may hold. As his tenth birthday drew nearer, Hans discovered that he no longer feared Oliver, or any other Ritualists, and that he even deeply admired and respected them. He also realized that he would miss his lessons with Oliver, if not Oliver himself.
This morning, on his tenth birthday, Hans mentally prepared himself for one of the most important days of his life. Today, he and Lizbeth would wear the unadorned white linen robes of the Ritualists, symbolizing their innocence, and step into Élet to bathe in her life-giving waters, symbolizing their purification. Nearly every adult in the village would be in attendance.
This ritual was called the Ceremony of Purification, and on this morning the children would be the gift to the goddess, Élet. Through her, they will be purified and advance to the Age of Application. Oliver had been preparing them for this moment since their first day as a Purificant.
“Are you ready to go?” Hans’ mother lifted Talya from her highchair. “Hans, I’m talking to you.”
Deep in thought, Hans showed no sign of acknowledgement. His mother stepped forward and snapped her fingers in front of his eyes, startling him. He laughed, realizing what had happened. “Sorry, Mama. I’m ready.” Hans looked confusedly around, “Where’s Papa?”
Please leave COMMENTS as to whether you enjoyed or disliked the story so far. What did you like or dislike? Would you want to read more?
Thank you for reading!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Jared K. Chapman