The sacred mountain of the Sarns is being engulfed. Turlough tries to persuade Timanov and the faithful to flee.
“Leave us alone,” says Timanov, “We wish to die with our settlement.”
You have to wonder if some of the others are truly eager to die needlessly, or whether they are just still under the spell of Timanov’s authority. This is a man who has condemned people to burn many times.
A silver figure walks into the room.
“Logar!” cries Timanov, thinking he is seeing his god.
“On your feet!” shouts the figure. He is offended by bended knees, yet he is hectoring in his command. He removes his helmet. It is Amyand, ‘leader’ of the unbelievers, wearing a heat-proof suit. (The Sarn religion is a ‘cargo cult’, but we’ll complain about that – and everything that goes with it – some other time.)
“A deception,” says Timanov quietly, a bitter laugh in his voice, “Another deception. And from a heretic.”
Amyand holds out his hand. There is a way out.
“You will never understand, Amyand,” says Timanov quietly, “Logar is everywhere. He cares for the faithful.”
But perhaps it’s Timanov who doesn’t understand. After all, why expect a pantheistic god to walk in through a doorway?
Here is the split in the belief. God is everywhere; God is a king on a throne. God is love; God is power. God cares; God is to be feared. God is a comfort; God demands obedience on pain of death.
Timanov’s oligarchy has rationalised itself along this split. Religion is the expression of, and protest against, a world that hurts us. That’s why, ironically enough, it can be so useful to the people who run the world that hurts us.
Stripped of his power, Timanov will subject himself to burning – his old punishment for doubt – as a reward for faith. This Logar’s care. At least Timanov is not a hypocrite.…