By Marty Nabhan
Or, right-click here to download the audio file: The Epistles of Kishkumen and Gadianton
An assemblage of the reportings and communicatings of Kishkumen and Gadianton, who founded a band of robbers and murderers.
I, Kishkumen, leader of the band of patriots who seek to keep their acts secret, do write these words with the intent that they may find Gadianton, who roams throughout the land surreptitiously so as to lie in wait and soon meet with me.
For Gadianton, word has come to me that you do seek to join with us in our attempt to monitor the affairs of the government, to assure that we can continue to thrive in the land, using means wherethewhich we may keep our identities unknown to others.
I commend you and welcome you with open arms, whoever you are.
Let me begin by telling you of our organization:
We have very little structure at this point in time.
Though our band is in its infancy, the lack of structure is more by design than through any lack of time to develop it.
Our structure, or absence thereof, allows us to be flexible.
In fact, we only have two rules:
1. Do not share information with anyone about our organization.
2. Through a consistent and complex policy of disinformation, we maintain our anonymity to best serve our government, even if it means overthrowing it.
Once again, it is good to have you on board. You shall receive more information as it becomes necessary.
Behold, I am Kishkumen.
I, Gadianton, do write from the mountainous regions outside the city, and expect that this communication will find its way into the hands of Kishkumen, cohort in chaos.
I would love nothing more than to be able to work alongside you and your band to enable an atmosphere of change within the land.
One thing, however, concerns me.
You mention you have “a consistent and complex policy of disinformation.” If this is true, how do I know you are telling me the truth of anything in your letter? Could you simply be misinforming me as to your true intent, even with regards to your consistent and complex policy?
Perhaps more troubling, if you were telling me the truth in confidence, it displays an alarming lack of caution. After all, who am I? I could be a spy from the government, someone from Pahoran’s inner court, lying in wait to deceive you. Anyone with “a consistent and complex policy of disinformation” should at least exercise a little healthy distrust. Of everyone.
Hopefully you can ease these troubles of my mind. I bring to the table many characteristics that would suit your cause, and am eager to contribute my efforts.
Behold, I am Gadianton.
Or am I?
To the man who calls himself Gadianton.
I am Kishkumen, leader of the greatest band of secret robbers and plunderers this land has yet known.
Ah. You see through me, Gadianton. You did not fall for my ploy of false confidences. You were perceptive enough to understand my paradoxical parlance. Of course I was simply testing you. And you have passed.
Now you are ready for the next test: a face-to-face meeting with me. I am a very good judge of character, and shall be able to see in your eyes in a moment if you are ready for the marvelous and terrible tasks at hand before us.
In this meeting there are to be no weapons and you are to come alone. No one must know of your whereabouts. The messenger who brings you this communication will lead you to our rendezvous.
Esteemed Gadianton, I look forward with anticipation to finally meeting you and admitting you to our secret society. Until then, I am most humbly your partner in patriotism.
Most benevolent Kishkumen, who art interesting.
You will forgive me for sending a representative messenger on my behalf and not actually coming to the meeting myself. One cannot be too careful, and I couldn’t help but note an air of menace in your most recent communication. I hope I am mistaken, as I am willing to dedicate myself to your mayhemic cause.
Once again, I am puzzled by your apparent forthrightness. I can only assume that you are so cunning that you display an openness that masks your secrecy. Nevertheless, I am most puzzled by your declaration that you are “leader of the greatest band of secret robbers and plunderers this land has yet known.” By declaring that, doesn’t the band cease to be secret? I realize that this note was meant for my eyes only, but had it been intercepted, it seems a dangerous thing to say. Why not just put the statement on a billboard for all to see?
Unless this is your intent: that the public at large may learn your identity to throw them off the track of your true plan to make me the leader of the band. Gadianton Robbers!
I like it, Kishkumen. You are a true visionary. I stand in awe of your master plan.
I am forever your servant,
who is now your leader,
This will be my last written communication to you, as it is apparent you are either a complete buffoon, or are deliberately twisting the meaning of my letters. Besides, it is important that these messages do not fall into the wrong hands, and the fewer of these written, the better.
First, before you add to the confusion that has been circulating around the camp, I am stating outright that this is my band of robbers, not yours. It is not—nor has it ever been—my intention to abdicate control of this old gang of mine to anyone else. And no, this isn’t disinformation as a part of our “consistent and complex policy.” It couldn’t be more simple: I’m in charge.
Second, I have no desire whatsoever to do you harm. You are our ally. We cannot achieve separately what we can assail together. Please hasten to meet with me in person. As soon as possible.
May we go forth, covertly conquering an enemy with neither the means nor moral strength to stop us.
Commander in Chief,
and Most Powerful Leader
I hope this letter finds you in high spirits and higher ambitions.
I appreciate your desire to end person-to-person written communication. Such communication certainly has limitations, and is so easily misinterpreted. At the same time, I apologize in advance for sending one myself. It is my interest in self-preservation that behooves me to do so.
You have convinced me that you are being genuine in your letters. Your directness is refreshing. I am left, however, wondering why you have abandoned your ideals of a “consistent and complex policy of disinformation.” Such a policy was innovative and revolutionary. I suppose my high expectations of your vision will have to be more realistically adjusted.
Until we meet, I remain respectfully,
From the desk of Kishkumen
Meet me by the mark of the Devil’s Backbone at midnight on the morrow. It’s time our cause becomes united.
Couldn’t come last nite. Bad time 4 me. LOL
I DID send robberz there, to scout. They said place was surrounded by armed men. Yours? Hope not. Hope U R OK. J
We gotta get together. Only way this’ll work is 2 trust each other, IMHO. Let’s do this!
Missive to Snuff from Kishkumen:
Find Gadiaton. Take care of business.
Greetings to all robbers, murderers, plunderers . . . patriots! I hope this epistle finds you in good spirits, ready to answer the call. Take flight from the land by secret way and join us in the wilderness. We’ll be here for awhile, but certainly not forever. For we shall soon lay scourge to the land, to purify the people from their errors.
Behold, I am Gadianton, leader of this band. May chaos reign!
I first want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Kishkumen. I count myself among you, and I am most grieved by his recent demise. He was a great visionary, and it would be my honor to call this band after his name. But let’s face it, that would be confusing, right? He’s dead, after all, so we will hereinafter be known as the Gadianton Band.
And rest assured, I will do everything in my power to bring the servant of Helaman—a scoundrel and coward—to justice for the murder of Kishkumen, my dearest friend and colleague in the good fight. I will not rest until we find this servant and kill him until dead.
This will be no easy task, for not only do I not know who this servant is, I have never met him, and doubt that I ever will meet him. Any knowledge of him, or of his actions, is unbeknownst to me, either his history or comings or goings or beings. I do not even know that he was a servant of Helaman. These facts are unknowable, as is the fact that he double-crossed Kishkumen and stabbed him in the heart.
But one fact is true: I will find this rogue and provide the fatal blow.
Until that happens, we must be engaged in menace and mayhem. For that, my fellow combination members, is why we’re here.
I will see you in the wilderness.
I, Gadianton, approve of this message.
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