So, about four years ago, I was on a trip to El-Kharak, and...
What? You never heard of El-Kharak? You never heard of a city where you can find quantum physicist playing chess with cave painters? A city where blessed cheesemakers and damned tofu-pressers wage their eternal turf war? A city where soap merchants earn more on the packaging than on the soap...?
What about soapboxes? Wait - you never heard about prophets, either? Yes, prophets. If you know where to look, you'll see it's chock-full of them, each preaching their divinity like there's no tomorrow. And, for most of them, there isn't, since almost none of them has any valid claim to divinity.
Which brings me back to the point - as was I saying, four years ago, I was on a trip to El-Kharak, when I met a particular prophet that was a bit different than the rest.
You see, I was finishing my red herring when I walked past stalls with woolen fluff into a small, circular plaza. In the middle of it, there stood a young man (in fact, incredibly young for a preacher), surrounded by a thin crowd. It looked mostly displeased – but I couldn't tell whether that was a reaction to the prophet's words, or a horrible, rhythmless mess produced by assorted musicians behind him.
Curiously, the prophet himself seemed to enjoy that cacophony, and even gesticulated along to the noise from time to time.
I came closer, and I heard:
...for I have vast and varied powers! For I shall shower you with boons, for I shall save you from harm, for I shall pave your way to victory!
You might be of a common profession, and you might lack knowledge and skill, and the land might be swarming with ones superior to you. But believe in me, and employers shall fight for your attention, and they shall cover you with gold, and they shall praise your name to the skies, and praise your name alone! (Just don't think your peers will do the same.)
You might get bald and old, and your good health might sail away on the rivers of booze, and you might forget how it is to see your feet when looking down. But believe in me, and you shall have the stamina like you never drank, and you shall have the strength like you never ate, and you shall soar through the air like you never aged! (Just don't think it'll get any better once you actually put the bottle down.)
Your prodigal child might live the life free of care, and they might sleep on bags of gold, and they might dream of gag-tying you, and throwing you into a sound-proof room. Behind several locks. Inside a maze. Underground. Beneath a deserted island. In the middle of the ocean. Infested with sharks. Which are carriers for several flesh-eating bacteria. But believe in me, and every time you have a need, they shall come to you with tears in their eyes, and they shall crack their back for your spare change, and they shall proclaim, with truth in their heart, their undying love to you. And there will be no obstacle too steep, no sacrifice too high, no adversary too innocent, for them to save you from harm! (Just don't think they'll come to you by themself on weekends.)
The sky might be falling on your head, and everyone might tell you there is no time, and you might feel like you need to be in a great hurry. But believe in me, and I shall hold the sky, and I shall stall the ruthless hands of clocks, and you shall have all the time in the world! (Just don't think anything good will happen behind your back.)
In dangerous times, from lands ever far, invaders might come into your home, murder in their eyes, blood on their hands, with hate in their hearts. But believe in me, and believe in me truly, and you shall be surrounded by the brightest of my auras, and you shall channel the full might of my divinity, and it shall cut deep into them!
They might have the courage of a thousand men, and they might have delved into the dark places of the world, and they might have gazed into the unspeakable without a single blink. But speak a single whisper, and they shall know fear, and they shall scatter like roaches beneath your feet!
They might have the strength of a thousand lions, and they might have torn flesh like paper, and they might have lifted the mountains without a single drop of sweat on their brow. But place a single touch, and they shall know weakness, and they will bend like reeds under your hands!
And they might have cut down a thousand innocents, they might be the very incarnation of ruthlessness, and in their souls they might be not a single spark of humanity left. But give a single look, and their hearts will beat again, and they shall finally know peace, and they shall know value of all life!
Believe in me, for I can do all of this, for my name is-
...and before he could finish, out of nowhere came several angry scholars and chased him away.
The cacophony suddenly stopped, and the crowd started to disperse. I tried to ask bystanders if they knew his name. But most of them didn't know it – some, in fact, were surprised, because they were simply looking at the musicians and hadn't seen the prophet.
The only person who knew his name, refused to tell me, and advised me not to pursue him. She warned me that in his speech, he had spoken about giving his followers the blessings and giving his enemies the curses, but in fact, he always gave both, and always to those who could worship him. And before I had a chance to respond, she walked away, and so did the crowd.
And that's the story. I've been thinking about the prophet ever since, dreaming about what I could do with his gifts.
You're always a great help when somebody's puzzled, so I wanted to ask you:
Can you figure out the prophet's name?
I know that this might be hard, so I'll try to jog my memory and give you details that might have been important in the hintsight. I mean, hindsight.
#1 Hint about the words:
While what the prophet said is what the prophet said, I feel that a few select phrases might have a subtle double meaning. Just don't overthink it. Also - the formatting is for your reading convenience only and carries no special meaning.
#2 Hint about the musicians:
The musician were grouped into two bands.
#3 Hint about the scholars:
The scholars carried small boxes. They were of no particular colour, but many were white.
#4 Further hint about the musicians:
Some of the musicians belonged to a three-person band. There were only two of them present, though. When asked about that, they said that the middle one rarely shows up, partly because most critics refuse to recognize him.
#5 Even further hint about the musicians:
The remaining musicians were members of a single band. They used to work in the textile market, but were forced to change careers. Since they looked as if they could be revolutionaries, I asked them if they were anti-establishment, but they said no, they were the opposite.
#6 An actual hint that's also the last, that also will probably solve the puzzle all by itself:
The names of the music bands, when combined with their "music", actually form a pun on the prophet's name. Because of the nature of the prophet's name, each band of musicians represents something specific and relevant to the prophet's name - but that is totally not obvious unless you know about the pun being there in the first place.
#7 Extra hint:
To determine the names of the bands, you need to look in the theory of literature for one and in the history of England for another.
#8 Extra-extra hint:
About that double meaning from #1... On your second reading of the prophet's speech, you should be aware that not every ailment is caused by an enormous belly - even when you assume it is.
#9 Extra-extra-extra hint:
I have it on a good record that many of these scholars are fond of jam. Especially the kind that's made of boars, deers, rabbits and pheasants.
#10 Yet another hint:
The bigger band's lucky numbers are 1811 and 1816. As for the smaller band, I'll rephrase what I said: the second person was missing.
Not-really-a-hint about an inside joke you probably won't get, but if you get it, the puzzle will solve itself (no, seriously, it's a non-hint if you aren't from that community):
Actually, I just remembered, that one person from the crowd told me to go to a place where, err, they play dies, I think? And ask for, uh, that one president? And something about the beard? And he will tell me all about it? Hm. No, that can't be right.
EDIT: I have numbered the hints for convenience.