This book, Ptolia, is a reflection of my own spiritual understanding and is not intended to speak for any spiritual path, teacher, or religion. In this book I have made occasional use of certain terms (Eckankar, ECK, Soul Travel, and Mahanta) that are trademarks of Eckankar. This does not imply any endorsement or sponsorship by Eckankar. I have intended only to make a “fair use” of such terms, recognizing that the rights to their trademark usage belong entirely to Eckankar.
Definitions of these terms can be found in A Glossary of Eck Terms at Eckankar.org.
Additionally, this is also a work of fiction. Ptolia may exist–it is said that anything one can imagine does exist somewhere–but I can’t prove it, though several readers of the First Edition told me they recognized the planet. So, please feel free to take it as a purely imaginative tale or something else entirely; the choice is up to you.
During various periods in the history of Earth, Eckankar was taught openly by the Masters of this ancient spiritual teaching, in accordance with mankind’s state of consciousness at the time. In 1965, Paul Twitchell, the 971st Living Eck Master in the unbroken line of Eckankar’s Vairagi Adepts, once again brought this direct path to God into the open through his written works, taped lectures, and personal appearances. We who are able to study and practice this spiritual way of life are fortunate indeed to live at this time.
Not so fortunate are the inhabitants of Ptolia. Their time may come, but for now the spiritual secrets of Eck remain necessarily hidden on that troubled planet. Only a chosen few realize Its sacred existence, and seldom if ever do they speak openly in Eck terms. It would make them targets for those who seek to withhold spiritual freedom from the masses. Therefore, they prefer to speak of the spiritual principles in general terms and act as quiet examples for their fellow Ptolians.
It’s safer that way.
The author is indebted to the Council Records of the Ptolian plains dwellers, as well as to numerous living Ptolians who passed along this information at great personal risk. In recognition of the necessary struggle to uplift each Soul that It may realize Its divine origin, this book is dedicated to the Mahanta, the Living Eck Master.
Purple-green sun glare made seeing difficult, but he finally spotted them. A band of three. The lead figure could be none other than Ghian the Great, Spokesman of the Clan. Fully eleven feet in height and weighing seventy targs, or four hundred pounds by Earth figures, the huge Ptolian closed the distance in purposeful, swinging strides. At his back, two others nearly had to run to keep pace, but they managed somehow to retain an appearance of inbred dignity.
Garrhan sighed. The warning zap in his right forearm was too intense to ignore; there could be no mistaking the visitors’ purpose. Gar was prepared; he did not have to like it. Fleetingly, wistfully, he thought of the Tunnel, then began inwardly chanting the ancient HU to center his attention on Spirit. By now, the trio realized he was field-working rather than at the hut. Their course altered; they had arrived.
“Greetings, Leh Garrhan!” Ghian’s soft-booming voice closed the remaining gap between them. Gar almost smiled at hearing the formal way of address.
“Greetings to thyself, Leh Ghian, Spokesman of the Clan!” Full Title rolled easily from his tongue in spite of the painful forearm. “You are well in time for tea-break. Will you join me?” He did not expect a refusal. Yet.
“Of Course, Gar,” replied Tinan the Lean, ignoring formal style and reverting to a familiarity born of long friendship. “Bring on thy best.”
The four of them trooped to the mud hut, visitors settling in its shade while their host prepared steaming mugs of whotol tea. He would have liked to surprise them with the flavor and aroma of his new alfalfa, but this was not the time. His training on Earth had been long and careful. The Luminous Being, the Mahanta, had drilled and counseled him for many cycles regarding this enterprise. For now, careful defense was the only option. He checked his mental processes during the tea steeping lull. Was he vulnerable anywhere? He thought not. It was good; every faculty would be needed. The HU chant rolled within him, silent, steady….
With the first sip of tea, Ghian got right to the point. “Gar,” he began slowly, “the Clan Council is concerned about the strange crop you are growing. As all know, a Ptolian’s fields are his own. It is not required to grow the blessed whotol, even though it grows strong to fifteen or twenty feet in height and gives us all strength, growth, and long life.
“Yet the plants in your fields this cycle are unlike any reported anywhere on the planet in Ptolia’s great history. Why, this…this…thing you tend would appear to be lucky to reach three feet in height by cycle’s end. Its leaves do not intertwine with neighboring plants; there can be no strength in it. Even its color is small and evil, a single dark green like some balk-bred benestoth. We ask you to explain, and when you are done explaining, to see our wisdom and plow it under.”
There was a pause. Finally, choosing his words carefully, Garrhan spoke. “First, Ghian the Great, hear my statement as to the nature of my crop, which is called alfalfa.”
He waited, watching word-shock hit the trio. His use of formal address to Ghian during tea-break had served notice: He was not interested in changing his mind. They were almost war words. Using the plant’s name! No sane Ptolian ever dared utter a new word prior to formal Council approval. His own utterance damned him with the Council; such would be the report of Ghian, Tinan, and Dethor. Three such redoubtable witnesses sealed any such matter, and he would after today be no longer Leh Garrhan the Sure, titled and respected in the Clan for all his eccentricity. Now he would be Gar only, the name spoken with a barking in the throat that radiated contempt and hostility. None would speak to him in friendship, for he had just seceded from the Clan. All of this he knew.
Continuing, he spoke of the plant. “Alfalfa is a plant from a far land. The ancient Egyptians spoke of it as the father of all foods.” Shock waves continued to hit his visitors as he threw the word Egyptians into the fray. Evil and magic spells were indeed being cast this day. “While it does not grow tall above ground, it makes up for it beneath the surface. The root system grows deep, even thirty feet deep, tapping rich water and food stores the other crops of the planet can’t even scratch. Strength grows in the plant, not visible in its height, yet sufficient to make a Dwagel as strong as even a Ptolian Clansa.”
This was too much for the Council Trio. What had gone before had stunned them, pounded their senses, boggled their minds. But a Dwagel! One tall Ptolian warrior could take on a whole troop of dwarflike Dwagels in combat, armed or unarmed. Not one of the officials, despite the vicious appearance of these stunted fields, had dreamed that Gar or any other Ptolian could amass such a group of insults, heresies, blasphemies, and foul magic spells in a single conversation. They were frightened and angry and unable to contain themselves any longer.
Ghian the Great, naturally, led their response. “Gar!” The name had spitting contempt for Outcast dripping from it, though Council would not meet until later. “You have spoken too much! Unless your mind is totally gone, as well it may be, you know what punishment must be voted. Your wife Marna will face the same unless she renounces you in life’s favor. It is fortunate for your heirs that you have none. There is no more to be said. Since this is the last time any utterance of yours will ever reach Clan Records, speak briefly if you will. Do you speak?”
“I do,” replied the blasphemer evenly. All four were on their feet, trembling from the encounter’s terrible vibrations. Gar could feel the little hut rocking with upset, yet he sensed also the invisible presence of the Living Eck Master and continued.
“The words I have spoken are a statement of truth regarding alfalfa. We all know every word here said is bound by law to be recorded verbatim in Council Records, since yours is indeed an official visit. My statement of purpose is simple. All Clan Council members must read those records in cycles to come. Some few such readers may see the truth of my words, and the simple benefits of alfalfa to the Ptolian race may sink home, slowly but surely. My own fate matters not, for I am committed to this task.”
He did not add that his heart ached for his beloved Marna. She would be coming soon; emanations from this meeting would draw her. Now she would face the most terrible choice of her life, and he could do nothing to help her. The thought almost unbalanced Garrhan’s delicate defense for a moment, yet he recovered and stood facing the Trio, hot-eyed but otherwise impassive.
Ghian the Great spoke once more. His words were slow, spaced, thick with emotion. “To deliberately use Council Records in such manner is a crime against Ptolia the like of which has never been contemplated by mortal Ptolian. You know that from this night forth, your life is worth nothing beyond the borders of your own fields.”
The mighty Spokesman of the Clan turned heavily and made his way from the hut across green fields to neighboring whotol plantings. His pace was labored; the pair at his heels showed similar effort in attempting merely to put one foot in front of the other. Such confrontation would have killed lesser Ptolians. Even these would require weeks to fully recover from the drain of this encounter.
Gar stood rooted in his tracks until the Trio had disappeared into tall whotol masses northward, then began gathering his will. He was nearly dead, himself. His vibrations–thanks to the Mahanta–had withstood the combined onslaught of a full Council Trio, but there was little left in reserve. Marna would be en route already; she must not find him dead or dying.
With a tremendous concentration of attention, he forced one foot to lift, body to turn, other foot to lift. It was too much, almost costing him a fall. Step…by step…by tortuous step…there…. He fell. Up. Must get up. Crawl, belly drag, squirm, clutch, groan, up, up, up…. For the last fifty feet, he never made it beyond hands and knees. His consciousness was gone; unaware, the physical body half-tumbled, half-slid headlong into the hidden but well worn Tunnel entrance.