Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Sixty-Five

My head was spinning.  Before me sat a man with answers to questions I had never even thought to ask and now that I was faced with them was unsure that I wanted the knowledge.

He did not give me time to answer any questions however and without preamble struck to the heart of what I had only begun to wonder about.

"There are many factions within my people but there are only three main ones that you need to know of.  The first and most influential are the Priests of the Damned.  They inherited the mantle of those once known as the Darkfriars.  The Darkfriars no longer exist but their reputation and beginnings are at the same time reputation and beginnings of our Priests.  They are powerful and power hungry.  Some are so corrupted in both body and spirit that your people might not even recognize them as human but in fact they are.  The Priests are the physical embodiment of the human spirit of humanity."

I shuddered like a goose had crossed my grave.

"In our people's history there is a prophecy that the darkest sect of the Priests believe in and use as the reason why they do much of what they do.  According to lore the prophecy was given to the original Darkfriars by a man that was captured by them during the chaos that followed the Days of Destruction.  This man, during torture to find out if he was a spy, and with his last breath told the Darkfriars that a descendant of the Linder and Harper lines would wreck his revenge and destroy them by fire, incinerating them all to ash and sending them to hell.  That prophecy was inherited by the Priests of the Damned."

I asked, "Why would they inherit a prophecy?"

"Because the Priests took into themselves everything else of the Darkfriars ... knowledge, corruption, flesh, blood, and bone."

"By the martyrs ... are you saying that ... that your priests ... cannibalized the Darkfriars?!"

"Keep your voice down young woman.  We do not want attention.  But yes, that is what the lore says.  We have drawings and writings of antiquity that give enough evidence to support this though you must be a priest to see such things."

"Which means you ..."

"At one time, yes.  I was a Priest of the Damned."

"No longer?" I asked trying to remain calm.

"No.  No longer.  I will explain but you must let me tell it my way."

Upon my nod he continued.  "This prophecy was a point of contention during the civil war and resulted in the two other groups I will mention - those that would prevent the prophecy from coming true at all costs and those that wish to bring it on to create a conflagration through which our people could rise once again like the phoenix.  You know the bird?"

"I know the mythology."

"In my youth I saw the metal birds that rode the death currents that came off of the hot zones.  They were menchanicals left over from the ancients' war machine.  Sometimes those birds would fall into a firestorm and just when you think all possibility had been lost, they would rise from the flames to continue their flying and watching, recording the life that wandered and died in such places.  But they never died."

"Mechanicals do not live so therefore cannot die."

"Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  I am an old man and have seen many things that should not be yet are."

"I'll cede such a point to you as I cannot disprove it."

He looked at me quizzically.  "Had my granddaughter cultivated you as were her instructions I believe my life would be quite different now.  Perhaps I would not yearn for death to hurry and take me in its grip."

I would have asked a question but he continued speaking preventing me - perhaps intentionally - from getting him to unscramble that puzzle for me.

"Once, the group that wanted to cause the prophecy to happen was very small with little influence.  But for the last quarter century they have been ascending in power and are now at a dangerous level of control within the priestly hierarchy."

"Do you belong to this group that seeks destruction?"

"No ... and yes.  No for the reasons some of my people seek and yes ... for reasons of my own.  It is actually the Phoenix Sect that caused me to doubt my priestly beliefs and look into the true origin of the legend.  What I found was the actual origins of my people.  And they align very closely with the beginnings of your own."

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