The story of Bethany Mboya is perhaps best conveyed following the order in which facts became known, otherwise it is hard to convey the serious impact she had upon the political, religious, scholarly, and artistic life including, above all, the impact various sensations had upon the Housewives And Nannies' Debatory Banter Association of Ghyll, who have still not recovered from some of the later revelations.
The birth date of Bethany was never clear, but upon her entering the public eye (so to speak) in -11 EC, she was apparently 19 years of age. There being no record of her before than, her name was assumed to be a pseudonym; while there are now many girls called Bethany between the ages of 2 and 11, and though the name has again returned to popularity this year (recorded by the Bureau of Numbing Research as the 4th most popular name for girl babies), it sounded quite exotic to the ear of her contemporaries.
Bethany is, of course, a feminine version of the common name Bedanant; Mboya is so common as to be almost a default when creating a pseudonym on the spot. Of course, since using a pseudonym is common in Ghyll (all the more so amongst those who move in artistic circles), her use of a pseudonym was not remarkable save to add to the mystique surrounding her past and had little immediate impact.
At any rate, it was at the age of 19 that she was rumoured to be the romantic partner of the artist Siam Sinch and to be the inspiration for much of her work, both in the rôle of muse and as an intellectual force behind Sinch’s still rather daring ideological views on the use of light in artistic expression.
Sinch denied all such rumours, or any knowledge of anyone by the name Bethany Mboya. However, she was at that point entering the final tri-menth of her betrothal march before marrying Gabson Foye. Many therefore assumed she was indeed involved with young Bethany but wished to keep it secret for, while it had not been enforced in law since the Karcist Truce, taking a lover during this period still brought scorn from all but the most perversely depraved members of society.
The rumours intensified throughout the tri-menth especially after an incident, that they quite likely precipitated, when Sinch and Foye were entertaining guests that had travelled far to attend the marriage, then a mere two days away. Reports say that Foye was talking with some distant relatives and became visibly pained at what was being recounted to him. Abruptly, he left that knot of people and approached another where Sinch was in the middle of an anecdote about a daring trip to Alezan with a childhood friend. Just as the friend and her began to argue about which had wet themselves when startled by a swarm of Burnflies and which had fainted, Foye leapt upon them, forcibly grabbed Sinch by the elbow, and led her into a private room while her childhood friend fainted in shock.
Some indistinct, but clearly heated, words were heard being spoken by both Sinch and Foye. Then the argument abruptly stopped, Foye emerged from the room bleeding profusely from his nose, and left the party. He was not seen again until the day of his wedding at which he had prominent bruising beneath both eyes. After the wedding, Foye and Sinch were the very model of a happily married couple, and Mboya’s involvement with Sinch seemed less likely... she never featured amongst the series of lovers Sinch would later enjoy.
Already at this time, Mboya was being featured in a series of pictorial luminous manuscripts, or lumograms, which showed her wearing a light robe of sheer coomecloth which fluttered, often revealingly, in the wind (indeed there was rumoured to be a limited collection of further lumograms which had a heavier emphasis on revealing and a considerably lighter emphasis on robes). The largest collection of these published contained the following accompanying text, which is attributed to Mikel Mboya (who did not claim to be a relative):
Bethany’s hooded eyes shine from underneath her flowing red hair. A light sprinkle of freckles, like that of stars on a clear summer night, sits delicately across the tops of her cheeks and decorates the wind-pinched blush that speaks of innocence and knowing at the same time. Her thighs are enticing curves of flawless white...
Bad purple prose aside, suffice it to say that she was considered attractive.
Mboya was soon reported to be lovers with a variety of artists, scholars, Bindlet Ball players, and politicians of every persuasion. Many denied or ignored the rumours, but some openly admitted to such affairs, like the performer Pararariax who claimed to be involved in a complicated relationship between himself, Mboya and Bunny Hutch. He later claimed she could be considered a 6th muse and was convicted of numerical heresy.
It was around -9 EC that the first writings of Mboya were published. These small pamphlets, invariably featuring a lumogram on the back in the familiar situation of wearing clothes suitable for calm conditions in near-gale conditions, addressed a variety of subjects researched (if that word may be applied at all) through inspirational techniques that at best led to hard to verify results. The effects of these pamphlets are hard to measure now. They tied in to various current trends in intellectual circles, in particular the morality of studying light, the benefits of publishing regained knowledge, and the wisdom of commencing a project whereby a large body of scholarship would be published in the form of an encyclopædia.
None of this was entirely new, and some of it had peaked as a matter of controversy some time before, but it was in balancing the generally scholarly, scientific, and occultological nature of these trends with a poetic and irrational component that Mboya added a new flavour to intellectual life.
"We are all enthrall[sic] to the beauty of Bethany Mboya" notes a comment scrawled in the margin of a draft index to this very encyclopædia – adding the suggestion that the gender balance of the encyclopædia’s scholars, being strikingly different to the more egalitarian balance in much other endeavour, seems to match the proportion of male and female lovers Mboya was said to have taken. In fairness, a further comment scrawled below the first refutes this, and yet another states "Just because none of us want to bring your putrid body to our beds does not mean we’re keeping the space warm for Bethany".
By -5 EC, it was common for people, especially men, from all strands of cultural life to openly boast of nights spent in Mboya’s company, and of the considerable pleasure such encounters would bring. Perhaps most remarkable is the general warmth felt towards Mboya from most quarters, including those who strongly resisted the scholarly and artistic movements with which she was associated. It is hard to find record of an unkind word being spoken of her, though clearly the mother mentioned in this extract from the Folktown Records was an exception:
The question: My mother says that Bethany Mboya is "no better than she ought to be". What does this strangely formed sentence mean, and is it true? And the reply: I can assure you from personal experience that Bethany is considerably better than any one woman has any right to be.
By -3 EC, it was clear that it was not physically possible for Bethany Mboya to have the estimated 6,437 lovers she was said to have taken that year and still have time to publish a pamphlet on the importance of light in the racial memory of Ghyll, let alone with posing for at least 27 lumograms on at least 3 different windswept moors wearing (or nearly wearing) at least 7 different robes or gowns alike in the lack of resistance they posed to the slightest breeze.
More pressingly, it was increasingly clear that Mboya did not appear in public and was seen only in lumograms. Gabson Foye, perhaps still smarting from the events some 6 years previous, began to research the source of the pamphlets and lumograms. Early in -2 EC, he located Bethany Mboya.
Upon discovering that Bethany Mboya was in fact Spearholder Jan ver Daath (Retired) of the Tarkherk Corps – a fat balding man lacking his right eye and two fingers on his left hand (a legacy of his part in the Conflict That Is Not Happening) and afflicted by an immediately perceptible lack of personal hygiene and tendency to scratch his genitals with his injured hand every few minutes – claims to have slept with Mboya immediately dropped in frequency.
The writings clearly lost their market, and Bethany Mboya soon became no more than a memory.
--Talliesin 11:41, 14 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Nice entry. Surprising such a brilliant mind retired at the lowly rank of spearholder. But that's the Tarkherk Corps, for you, I guess -- full of brilliant people accomplishing great things, yet so few rose to the ranks of the elite dullards who ostensibly led them. --Bast ResNovae 11:57, 14 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Bethany was not of the privileged élite. Well, while the ranks of Swordwielder, Spearholder, and Reconnaissance Background Magnetic Field Mapper are considered lowly for those commissioned into the forces (and recent moves to remove the ranks references to obsolete military rôles shows how little regard they have for the history and honour of those ranks) for someone who rose through the enlisted ranks to them they are still a matter of some pride. The fact that he kept the rank into retirement shows that Jan ver Daath was such a man.
He had indeed a great mind, but a deeply perverse one, and while his ideas influence much of the way we currently think as scholars, to express them primarily through the production of mildly pornographic material and through seducing people under a false persona, doesn't indicate a balanced mind, even if it is a great one.
But then I suspect you share scepticism here and that you are indeed the author of the "putrid body" comment I noted in the article. Is this the case? Has there been any inappropriate pressure put upon you by the more putrid of our colleagues (which would be perhaps most of them)? Would you be interested in selling your story? --Talliesin 19:42, 14 Sep 2004 (EDT)
Not at all. I've studied the original and current incarnations of the Tarkherk Corps rather extensively. Traditionally, this storied service has embraced, at least in theory, the iconoclastic but eminently sensible practice of promoting officers out of the enlisted ranks. Because they work in very small and highly specialized groups, this - at least in theory- helps ensure that authority is accompanied by experience. But in recent times, a relatively green recruit can in fact advance to the highest levels of leadership rather quickly, if the right amount of expensive education is noted in their records. One example of this decay is how it has even become fashionable in some circles to have a son or daughter -- highly placed, of course -- in this esteemed corps. But for such a great mind to not even ascend to the rank of brasshat over an entire career, esp. in the "old corps," is an oversight that borders on criminal, to my mind. I wonder if in fact he actually achieved some higher rank, but lost it due to some undisclosed indiscretion. Now put down your sword, you can put an eye out with that thing! --Bast ResNovae 21:43, 14 Sep 2004 (EDT)