As I was finishing up another drawing of the “Magic Tea Party” series, I figured it might not hurt to have a background story. So, I made up one for this particular picture. So, here it is – Ashtagnan and Sterdior. (you can expect either A4 prints or cards or both to be available in the near future, I think)
You know there is a land high up in the mountains, but with a coastline, although it is so steep that getting down to salty waters is a several days hike down narrow passages, stairways and even caves. This land is called Agnashia, and it’s located in a fantasy world you have never read about, yet.
These people, Agnashians try to see and preserve what they perceive as goodness in everything. Don’t mistake them for a bunch of defenceless sissies, though. They’ll fight evil, they have stern laws and there is not turning the other cheek. But they hate mindless destruction and they do not glorify revenge and holding grudges. It’s the deed (or intent, or state of mind) that is bad, not necessarily the whole person.
Some centuries ago this land was really suffering a pair of seriously deviant (by local standards) mages – a man called Ashtagnan and a woman named Sterdior. There was something very wrong with those two – the seemed to have no care for anyone else, but themselves and empathy must have been a strange and empty word for them with a meaning really hard to grasp. But somehow a miracle happened, and the two of them met and somewhere in the process of nearly killing each other both of them suddenly realized that they really really would like to keep seeing this entity of another person around even if it meant a risk as great as trusting someone they barely knew not to betray or kill them. In short – they fell in love. This was not yet a blessing, though. At least not to anyone but the two of them. They continued to be as cruel and indifferent to suffering and paired up as a team they were even more clever and even more dangerous and dark ripples of pain and suffering broke the smooth surface of peace and happiness of Agnashian society. There was more mistrust, deceit, selfishness and fear in this beautiful mountain kingdom than there had been for a millennia. Eventually the wisest of the sages tracked the pair down. They were identified and things fell into the place. Books were written, leaflets were sent out and the source of so many troubles and grievances were found. Thousands of mindless and cruel deaths were upon those two, and it was quite certain there would be no avoiding the final sentence – which had not been used in a thousand years – the death sentence. Because these two were too powerful and wise (although that wisdom lacked any benevolence or empathy as we know it). There would be no way to safely contain them or it would be even less possible to ‘help them learn better’ as there could be no-one that much advanced in knowledge, wisdom and the understanding of human soul and mind, as to take the role of a teacher. And more importantly, neither of these two had even a slightest sliver of regret over anything they had ever done.
As I already said, Agnashians did not believe in revenge and holding grudges. They believed in finding out all the facts and making informed decisions, though. So these two were carefully and impartially studied, before they had to reach the unfortunate conclusion that there just was not enough material of “goodness” (at least the kind of goodness needed to function in a human society) to work with in either one of them, and therefore their continued existence would be too great a threat. In this process, however they found a one preciously good thing held in high regard in the society – the most dedicated, kind, selfless and overwhelming love between these two, and there was not one person in the country who didn’t feel that this was a thing of goodness worth preserving.
The sages did find a way to do just that. Mages and those of higher spiritual learning had a special place for meeting up, communicating, meditating and dreaming – let’s say that it was a sort of spiritual plain you could consciously enter and move about only when you reached a certain level of training or awareness. Among other things, one of the characteristics of this plane was a certain level of detachment of things that usually motivate or concern people. And sages made it so that even though Ashtagnan and Sterdior were completely destroyed in their physical form their mental projections (or at least partially) were set loose to wander about the mental plain. It made sure that they never again have the ability to influence anything other but themselves, and so they wondered about the spiritual plain meeting up for a cup of tea to tell each other everything that they had seen that day each evening. That is what they have done for hundreds of years. Quite often Agnashians who have just acquired the ability to reach the plain join in one of the guided tours to find their meeting place for the evening and observe the tea party. Ashtagnan and Sterdior always have eyes only for each other, though and they can listen endlessly to each others stories of everything and anything as long it is the other one telling that. Sometimes Agnashian lovers go in pairs and look them up to bask in the brightness of their dedication. At other times a scholar goes and spends even months observing them every night as they are writing an article or a dissertation on the nature of love or about the coexistence of good and evil in human beings, just so they can have a fist hand observation of the (in)famous example.
I would really like to visit Agnashia now – that climbing down to the ocean thing and the whole society sounds like a really great tourist experience. Too bad I only just made it up …
In the drawing they are obviously just conjuring up a tea-party. It appears that they manifest as wisps of steam rising from the cups – how curious. I wonder if everyone visiting that plain must lug a cup and a saucer with them everywhere they go or is that tea-party thing just a peculiarity of these two …
PS: Pointing out just in case that please do not use the story and/or drawing anywhere without my permission. You know, there’s this thing called copyright and all.