The Second Restriction/Eralon Explains
Originally posted January 2013

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 "There's a problem with the second restriction."

The country of Foros had a lot of gods, and, like any good nation with a lot of gods, it had a lot of priests. 

Several dozen of them were, at the moment, staring at their holiest of holy oracles. 

The oracles were not supposed to say things like that. They weren't, for one things, supposed to be capable of that much coherence. The ones who could hear the god Eralon - or any of the gods, but Eralon liked to talk the most - they tended to go mad very quickly. And the rest could be induced to simulate madness with the right smoke.

The Lesser High Priest of the Evening was the first to recover. "Ye who is blessed with the voice of the gods, ye who sees the truth to save us weaker vessels from that which would break us, say again, please?"

The oracle looked at the Lesser High Priest of the Evening. He was a clever man, brighter than his superiors, and did not flinch when he felt the eyes of divinity looking back at him. "The second restriction of Eralon. There is a problem with it."

Eralon, of all of their myriad gods, had given them the most stringent restrictions and the most elaborate requirements. "Oh voice of the gods, please tell us what the problem is, that we might correct it."

He had never been all that fond of the second restriction, after all. Several of the others made sense, and, of those that didn't actively help make Foros a better place, only the second and the seventh seemed to make it worse. 

"It's wrong." Her eyes rolled back in her head, and when they focused on the Lesser High Priest of the Evening again, the oracle's gaze - and her voice - were her own again. "It's not a restriction at all. The girl who relayed it just had an allergy to frogs."

The temple erupted into shouting. Showing wisdom that would probably save his life on more occasions than this one, the Lesser High Priest of the Evening grabbed the oracle and the duty scribe, and got them both out of the temple before someone could erase this conversation from the records. 

Possibly someone with an allergy to frogs. Or someone with a bridge-making business. 

 🐸 

 It had taken a week for the temple to settle down. 

In that time, the Lesser High Priest of the Evening had been induced to return the Oracle and the Duty Scribe to their rightful places in the temple, and every priest in the nation, or so it seemed, had gone over their interpretation of the Oracle's words. 

In that time, no Oracle had taken the holy seat, and none had attempted any of the other six methods of contacting the gods. The priests were, although they would never admit it, playing it safe.

Finally, however, tradition and the weight of a holy bureaucracy insisted that they put the girl back on the chair, and call forth Eralon's voice again.

She rolled her eyes back in her head, and her voice became thick and deep. "You think to question me?"

"Err, blessed light upon the morning, blessed waters we shall not sully, of course we do not question you." The Higher High Priest of Evening was not going to be outdone by a mere Lesser High Priest; he stepped to the front of the dais to speak, perhaps not entirely mindful enough of the thin line of red tiles, or having forgotten their purpose. "We simply seek clarification as to the Oracle's words."

"Are not the Oracle's words mine? Are her throat and her lips not the vessels you have chosen through which to hear me?"

"Well, yes, oh highest light on the sky..." The Higher High Priest stepped forward again, heedless of others around him stepping back. "But it's just... it is, to us, strange, to hear you contradict that which you have said before. And are not the restrictions holy and to be kept, regardless of all else?"

"The restrictions and the requirements I gave you are holy and of the highest importance."

"But, oh brightly shining..." The Higher High Priest got no further. The Lesser High Priest found it promising that he did not burst into flames, but simply sigh and fall to the ground. Three burly acolytes pulled him away from the dais, and, with considerably more caution, the Lesser High Priest of the Evening stepped forward, mindful to keep his toes behind the red line of tile. 

"Oh brightly shining beacon in the sky, we thank you for correcting our ignorance. Know that the second restriction shall be stricken from the books, and that none shall be required to build bridges where the path should be passable by foot."

"Good." The voice of the god in the oracle sounded sullen. "It's a silly restriction. There are far better things to spend your money on, your time, and your energy."

"We thank you, oh sun of the morning. Ah... what about the third requirement?"

The Oracle's head swiveled until the god's glance was firmly upon the Lesser High Priest. "That one stays. Know you not why you are required to do so?"

"Ah..." He didn't dare look down, but he did shuffle backwards as subtly as he could. "No, exalted lord."

"Well then." The Oracle crossed her legs and leaned forward. "Get this vessel some water, and get your scribe some more ink. Today, Eralon will educate you."

The Lesser High Priest of Evening scrambled to do as his god had bade him. He had a feeling this was going to be an interesting evening. 

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