The Isis Shrine Is Ransacked

The day after Cleopatra’s proclamation she rushed to see the first high priest, who was meeting with the oracle in the temple of Osiris, and told him, in character, that she had been attacked and warned she was in danger. She felt sure the rest of the priests had it in for her and had organised the attack due to her opposition to the army of Min. Seti calmed her and told her he was sure that wasn’t the case but then the oracle took her to task saying it was she who had divided the priesthood and that she should respect the high priests’ council and not sow dissent.

Chat Excerpt – The Oracle Chastises Cleopatra

Berenike: Do you think I see only pleasant things when the Veil is drawn aside?
Berenike: Hardly ever.
Cleopatra shakes her hear
Cleopatra: head
Berenike: I see the ambitions, the greed, the fear....
Cleopatra: No I imagine not
Berenike: and the consequences of every foolish act.
Berenike: That affects Egypt.
Cleopatra: And you see that I have so harmed our lands?
Berenike: I do.
Cleopatra: By mistrust of this army?
Berenike: No... but speaking and acting before acquiring knowledge.
Berenike: That was less than wise.
Cleopatra: My guidance... like yours... comes from the Gods
Berenike: Does it? Or from an attempt to raise yourself in power?
Cleopatra: No ... I assure you not
Berenike: There is no wrong in such an attempt.
Berenike: But the wrong comes by how it is attempted.
Cleopatra: trust in absolute power and authority... especially armed authority is always a dangerous path
Berenike: And, who is armed and in absolute authority in Egypt?
Berenike: And, it is truth that some in the armies and in the priesthood struggle for power, and maybe the ultimate power.
Cleopatra narrows her eyes
Cleopatra: Yes ... of this I am sure
Berenike: I am not blind.
Berenike: I see the smiles behind some words...
Berenike: And the frustrated anger behind others.
Berenike: And, they lead to the same thing...a struggle for power by those who wear blinders.
Cleopatra nods
Berenike: Both are foolish, and one will go to the chopping block.
Cleopatra Looks shocked
Berenike: I am the Oracle at Siwa, servant of Amun-Ra.
Berenike: I may not choose sides.
Cleopatra: /nods and bows to the Oracle
Berenike: but I see the Gods smile.
Berenike: Continue to amuse them.
Berenike: But, do NOT destroy Egypt while you are about it.
Berenike: THAT is NOT permitted.

Some time went by and things seemed to have calmed down a bit. Cleopatra had never returned to the temple of Osiris. She had set up an additional shrine to Isis in Cyrene and had been soliciting priestess to join her Isis cult. One had joined. I arrived in the sim one day to find the Isis shrine in the temple of Osiris in disarray. There were several priests there and then Cleopatra arrived, with the general of the army of Ra and the vizier in tow. Cleopatra was screaming that the shrine had been destroyed and the priesthood must be to blame. All the priests present were denying this when I arrived. It is interesting to note that no one but Cleopatra or Horemheb could have disturbed the shrine as all the objects in it were Cleopatra’s and so she and Horemheb were the only people who could move them. The only reason the Isis shrine was still intact at the temple of Osiris was that we had been waiting for Horemheb to come along and remove the items as none of us could move them.

I launch into the role play. I relate that I had had a dream the previous night in which Osiris came to me and told me that he was displeased with the division in the priesthood and that he wanted order restored. I explain that he had said he wanted the Isis shrine removed from his temple as it was the seed of distemper, and for the priesthood to be reunited. Cleopatra explodes “IT WAS YOU!!!!!!”. She launches into a vitriolic attack on the priesthood in general and me in particular. Not my character, but me. She swaps in and out of character. Both in the local channel and to me directly. She instant messaged me OOC abuse about how I had always wanted to get rid of her and how I was an evil misogynist.

Soon many more members of the army of Ra arrive in the temple. They too all verbally attack me in particular, as the alleged destroyer of the shrine, and all other priests present as subverters of their control of the sims. We ask them to leave the temple as they are all armed and weapons are prohibited in the temple. They refuse to leave. They began trying to goad me. The general clearly wants to attack me. He advances and draws his weapon, only to realise he can’t attack me as I don’t have a meter on. He shouts at me in local to put on a meter, an OOC action, and to face him like a man. He IMs me and says how evil I am for telling Horemheb that Cleopatra had put a donation box in the Isis shrine. I tell him that I did not do that, and that Horemheb was in the shrine and saw it himself. He accuses me of lying. I ignore him while myself and the other priests continue to ask the soldiers to leave the temple. They continue to refuse. This goes on for some time. We priests send a messenger to the Pharaoh asking him to send help to resolve the situation. The messenger arrives back from the Pharaoh saying that the Pharaoh had the same dream as I. He says the Pharaoh has ordered the soldiers to leave the temple immediately and the priests to cleanse the temple and remove the Isis shrine. The soldiers continue to refuse to leave and there is agitated milling around.

Suddenly Cleopatra says she is feeling unwell and has to lie down. She goes into a part of the temple only allowed to priests and lies down. Myself and another priest go into the room Cleopatra is in, role playing attending to her health, the other priests remain in the outer temple trying to get the soldiers to leave. The vizier starts attacking the priests saying that by restricting entry to the temple to only priests we are trying to subvert control of the sim. She alleges we have a “secret plot against all those who are into Gor”, then correcting herself for an OOC usage, says “into combat”. We reply that we are abiding by the law of Egypt. She accused us of lying. Then the soldiers enter the restricted area. We tell them they are not allowed into that part of the temple and they began to abuse us saying that we priests think we can run the sims how we like. Not that we priests can run Egypt how we like, but the sims. They refused to leave for some time. Then suddenly they all leave. Cleopatra says she is feeling worse and calls for wine. The other priest with me goes to fetch wine for her and I stay to try to calm her down. The moment he is out of the room Cleopatra’s meter declares she has been killed. As the members of the army are outside, many tens of metres away, they can’t possibly have heard the announcement of her meter. But they all instantly rush back into the temple and declare her dead and me the perpetrator.

In this moment I become Thutmose. I experience a moment of blind panic. Real panic. I am being framed for murder. There was no one else in the room who can witness that I didn’t kill her. What will I do? I am only aware of the temple. The meatspace world has totally disappeared from my consciousness, even though I am typing and using the keyboard to move the avatar. The soldiers of the army of Ra are surrounding me and accusing me and threatening to drag me off to the Pharaoh. Several of them are IMing me to accuse and threaten me, both in and out of character simultaneously. I decide to flee from the crowd of soldiers and begin to leave the room. Then something clicks. Wait on. I couldn’t have murdered her. To do so I would have to be wearing a meter. I don’t ever wear a meter. I again become separate from my character. I realise that an OOC circumstance (no meter) is my defense for an in character murder. I begin to express my defense in role play. I say how much my character is renowned as a pacifist and never carries a weapon. The general replies that it is not fair that I never wear a meter. The army demand I be brought before the Pharaoh. I agree. Let’s go see the Pharaoh.

We arrive before the Pharaoh and he hears explanations from both sides. During these explanations the general of the army of Ra accuses me of murdering Cleopatra. I say that I am a peaceful man known for his non violence. The general replies that anyone can pick up a weapon in the heat of the moment. I reply that I had taken a vow to the gods and would never do so. The general replies that Cleopatra’s meter showed she was dead and I was the only person there. The Pharaoh remarks that he doesn’t know what this meter thing that the general is referring to is. This is a common role play tactic used when someone refers to an OOC thing in an in character situation. The general launches into a speech about how I never wear a meter and that I should be made to. The Pharaoh gives him the ‘no idea what a meter is’ line again. But adds that he knows me to be a peaceable man who would never raise a weapon. The general replies that he thinks the priests have their own way too much in the sims and that we never should have been allowed to start an army. The Pharaoh replies that the general must be afflicted by heat stroke as he is raving about sims, meters and other nonsensical words.

The Pharaoh tells the combatants that they are not to enter the temple areas forbidden to them again and adds that they should go back to their duties. He asks the priests to resanctify the temple. Horemheb then IM’s me to say that the vizier had been complaining to him about how the temple had areas restricted to priests and how she thought we were up to something. He suggests that rather than having the prohibition being only a rule we set up the restricted areas using locking scripts on the doors as this would only allow members of the priests’ group to open particular doors. I implemented his suggestion that day.

Chat Excerpt – Thutmose Is Framed For Murder

Cleopatra: Why would anyone anger the Gods??
Khasekhemui: I do not know
Djoser: brother Thutmose
Khasekhemui: I do not understand
Djoser: have u seen this
Thutmose: no I have just arrived
Djoser: someone has destroyed the temple of Isis
Cleopatra: {sobs}
Khasekhemui: Have the Medjay been alerted?
Serethor: omg
Khasekhemui: where was Min?
Serethor: is there any of them here?
Serethor: everyone is ok?
Thutmose: I think they are all asleep at this time
Cleopatra: Aaaahhhhhh h whhhhyyyyyy?
Cleopatra shakes her head
Serethor: em hotep
Djoser: em hotep
Cleopatra sobs
Khasekhemui: Has anyone looked around for culprits still lurking about?
Cleopatra tears at her hair
Cleopatra sobbing
Thutmose: did anyone see anything?
Djoser: no everything was silent
Serethor: general want me take a round at the desert?
Djoser: until I came here
Cleopatra: no ... no ... I just arrived at dawn to find this!!
Thutmose: it is as I feared
Khasekhemui: Yes check the area Serethor and be careful
Serethor: yes sir
Serethor: draw bow
Khasekhemui: and why would only this area be attacked?
Cleopatra: Who would do such a thing brother Thutmose??
Khasekhemui furrows his brow
Thutmose: let me tell you all
Thutmose: I hid this because I hoped it would not come true
Thutmose: last night I had a terrible dream
Cleopatra: What?
Thutmose: Osiris came to me and warned me
Thutmose: he was enraged
Thutmose: and flew about the temple
Thutmose: it was terrible to see
Thutmose: he said
Thutmose: "I am Osiris, lord of the underworld"
Thutmose: "mightiest of gods"
Thutmose: "I shall share my temple with no one"
Thutmose: "not even my sister wife"
Khasekhemui eyes the priest with suspicion
Cleopatra: Noooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thutmose: and then in my dream he did exactly what I now see before me
Djoser: he has destroyed the temple of Isis
Cleopatra: This cannot be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111
Thutmose: we will ask the oracle
Cleopatra: No no no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
Thutmose: if she had any similar premonitions
Thutmose consoles Cleopatra
Thutmose: sister
Thutmose: be at peace
Thutmose: I know this is hard to take
Cleopatra sobs hysterically
Thutmose: but we must go with the will of the gods
Thutmose hugs Cleopatra
Thutmose: shhh child
Thutmose: the gods love us but they are also capricious
Cleopatra: no no no ... shaking him away ....
Khasekhemui: And where were you two when this happened?
Thutmose: and we cannot know their meanings all the time
Cleopatra: IT WAS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! she screams
Cleopatra sobs
Thutmose: calm yourself
Thutmose: you are a high priestess of Egypt
Cleopatra: why would the Priesthood turn against the Goddess???
Thutmose: you must set a fine example
Thutmose: the priesthood has not turned against the goddess
Cleopatra: Nooooo!!
Thutmose: no one in their right mind would turn their back on the mighty Isis
Thutmose: for she is a powerful goddess
Khasekhemui: Where were you when this all happened?
Cleopatra shakes her head ......
Thutmose: to whom are you speaking general
Khasekhemui: I am speaking to you
Cleopatra: I just arrived this morning from Cyrene
Cleopatra: We were attacked this morning
Khasekhemui: Did you see anyone Thutmose?
Thutmose: I have been consulting the high priestess of set for the last couple of hours and before that with the priestess of Nepthys
Cleopatra: They came after the grain
Serethor: sheath bow
Serethor: em hotep
Khasekhemui: ((Thutmose you don't have a meter on))
Cleopatra sobs hysterically
Khasekhemui: Find anyone Serethor?
Serethor: no one suspicious
Khasekhemui nods
Khasekhemui: So no one saw anything?
Cleopatra: Aaaahhhhhhhhh whyyyyyyyyy???????!!
Thutmose: child we cannot know the way of the gods
Thutmose: if they have decreed this we must accept it
Serethor: I see something
Khasekhemui: I expect the Medjay will be here shortly
Serethor: draw bow
Thutmose: you will have your temple elsewhere
Serethor: closer the river
Cleopatra: Men did this!!!
Thutmose: how can you know this if you did not see it happen
Khasekhemui: Who is that masked person?
Khasekhemui: Stop!
Khasekhemui: Who are you?
Meresankh looks around
Cleopatra wails
Meresankh: Me?
Djoser: brother Thutmose turn around and stand back
Khasekhemui: Yes, what are you doing here?
Meresankh: I am just a visitor of this temple
Serethor: yes you
Meresankh: I wish to pray to the Gods
Serethor: why are you masked?
Khasekhemui looks to the approaching Medjay
Meresankh: Because I don't want to get sunburn
Nebet: looks to Khasekhemui
Khasekhemui: Serethor inspect her for weapons
Serethor: sheath bow
Meresankh: I am unarmed
Serethor: sheath bow
Serethor approaches the stranger
Nebet: ok sorry
Meresankh lifts up her cloak to show she is carrying no weapons
Serethor: and start looks for hidden weapons
Serethor: I believe she is clear sir
Khasekhemui nods
Meresankh: You surely know that I cannot enter the temple with weapons
Khasekhemui looks around at the mess for anything left behind
Meresankh: weapons*
Nebet: looks to Serethor
Thutmose: she is correct
Serethor: what is your name lady?
Cleopatra: Brother Djoser ... will you escort me to my chambers ... I must lay down or I will certainly die
Thutmose: you should all not have weapons here
Djoser: yes
Djoser: please follow me
Khasekhemui: I am her for protection
Thutmose: whose protection?
Khasekhemui: protection*
Khasekhemui: The temple and priest's
Meresankh: Now excuse me. *ignores the Squad leaders question*
Thutmose: we are grateful to you general
Khasekhemui: Excuse
Thutmose: but I say to you this deed is the work of the gods
Meresankh: Oh
Khasekhemui: Please come out of there
Meresankh: What is this?
Meresankh: Who did this?
Nebet: what is going on general?
Khasekhemui: We are trying to figure out
Meresankh: Who has insulted the Goddess like this?
Meresankh: She will punish them!!
Thutmose: it was Osiris himself
Nebet: wow
Meresankh looks around "Oh no my dear priest, it was not Osiris."

It was clear from these events that a deep division had developed between the combatants and the priesthood, and that this was overflowing from in character interactions to OOC. It was in fact so severe that it would have a terminal effect on the community. This was however not, for me, the most interesting revelation to arise from the abovementioned events. Rather it was that I had become Thutmose. But Thutmose didn’t exist. Thutmose was a fiction that I had created, but who nevertheless had become me. By becoming me he had acquired the capacity for subjective experience. The ability to partake in the divine purpose of being. Granted it had been for only a couple of minutes, but nevertheless, what I like to think of as my primary self, my meatspace self, the self that thinks and acts and reacts and feels, had assimilated the character of Thutmose so completely that I had experienced a moment of fear and panic when he was threatened. What’s even more interesting is that there is no way that either my meatspace self or Thutmose could have been actually harmed in any other way than emotionally. My body was safe at the other end of an extremely long and technologically mediated distance and Thutmose never wore a meter. Why then had I (we?) panicked? The only answer I can see is that I had become Thutmose and thus the consequences to Thutmose were real consequences for me.

Thutmose, if he had his own consciousness, would know that, even though he was a priest and a pacifist, it would have been completely possible that he could be attacked by the evil transgressors who had violated the holy temple space with their weapons and their uncleansed presence. In that moment Thutmose did have consciousness, he had my consciousness. He had become a thinking, feeling being. He had, by means of his possession of my consciousness, the ability to act in the meatspace world. His panic had caused me to move my meatspace body to effect his fleeing. He also had the ability for subjective experience. My consciousness was having his subjective experience. He had become an expression of the divine purpose of subjective being, albeit through a borrowed consciousness. Perhaps our meatspace selves are the same? Sometimes we lose control. In extremis, say hyperventilation, something shuts down the consciousness so it can restore regular breathing in order to achieve homeostasis. Is this only our consciousness being hijacked by the body, or perhaps is it our higher self acting, in the same way Thutmose acted by hijacking my consciousness when he feared for his survival?

Whatever the truth is, this experience is an exemplar of the ontological status of virtual worlds. It is Thomas’ Theorem1 in action. I believed that the situation in the world had real consequences for me to such an extent that it provoked my fight and flight response.

  1. Thomas, W. I., Thomas, D. S., (1928), The Child In America: Behavior Problems and Programs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, p 572. ↩︎

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