Quatria
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Quatria

The Priestly Castes of the Hypergeum

TThe center of life in Classical Quatrian society issued forth from the Temple Mount of the Hypergeum, located at the anti-nodal point immediately south of the ring of mountains which encircled the Hypogeum itself. It served as a point of pilgrimage for people from all over Quatria, and was the basis for the circuits which the traveling minstrels followed as they ministered across the lands.

Looking down the white cliffs over the Bay of Erasure, temple life was governed by a hierarchic priesthood of musicians. It was their purpose as keepers of the Hypergeum to ensure the production of a constant cacophony of musical prayer to ward off the gaping silence and emptiness of the node of the Hypogeum, whose main life and body lay somewhere beneath the surface of that region.

It was said that the resonance of the vibrations of their voices and instruments uplifted shaped the underlying essence of all things, the flux from which existence itself arose in the give-and-take of node and anti-node. Though this conception may be considered primitive to the modern Pantarctican way of thinking, in its poetic conceit, our scientists recognize one possible reading that the Quatrian priestly caste were perhaps aware of branespace. This has, however, yet to be proven by scant historical records found from this period.

(Image source)

What we do know, is that the priesthood was strictly divided into castes, at the top of which were the troubadors (or virtuosi, by later tradition), or those ecstatic few (typically born of noble families) who had “found” the source of all music (or variously, who had been found by this source), and as a result were said to exist in a state of singular flow or harmony with the available spectrum between node and anti-node governing all things.

Below them were the minnesingers, those who having glimpsed the far shore of beauty to which troubadors had crossed over and lived, instead took a vow of poverty, and opted to stay behind, and sing to others of the love, longing and suffering for those far reaches, in the hopes by their music of ferrying others across. In their way, minnesingers thus functioned as the anti-node to the virtuoso troubador class. Their music governed tears, and they worshiped literally the Bay of Erasure, often setting out on small fishing boats to try to walk across the water.

Below them were the bards, whose focus was order, composition, and transmission of the chronicles through time and across successive generations. Their music was epic poetry, the re-telling of myth and history, of the doings of heroes and gods, which were contiguous in the reality of these peoples at this time. They were also responsible for the recitation of the law, and judges were chosen from their ranks based on skill, completeness of knowledge, and wisdom. In a sense, they did much of the practical work of governance which the two priestly classes above them were too ecstatic or self-effacing to be much bothered with.

At the anti-node of and below the bards were the jugglers and gleemen, who performed the bawdy tales and jokes, acrobatics and tricks so beloved by the common people. From their ranks were constituted the players in the great mystery plays of the many holidays which dotted the Quatrian calendar. Though they were considered among the initiates of the Hypergeum as the lowest of the low, they were perhaps the most greatly esteemed by and closest to the commoners.

Typical jugglers performing for locals

Lastly were the waits or watchers, whose role was to watch over and ensure the physical safety of the Temple Mount. They took an oath to never pass out of the walls. And on the approach of danger would set their mouths to the great horns whose pipes were the network of natural tunnels and chambers below the city, which linked the anti-node of the Hypergeum to the Hypogeic node to the north. Thus, when they blew their instruments, great and rumbling low notes issued forth which could be heard to the furthest reaches of Quatria, calling the people to arms if need be. Their sounds had not been struck in many thankful ages.

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