Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Faith: prologue

This is a story of a world that is not ours. There, as in our world, there are many faiths; but a few have more sway than most. And the greatest of them all, ruling most of the world in one form or another, says this: that the world will end in fire and death, and all of mankind will perish. And in their deaths, they will ascend unto heaven.

In what one might call the centre of this world (and certainly its inhabitants do), there are a cluster of high mountains and steep-walled valleys. There the refugees of civilization live: strange cults, weird peoples, driven out from their homelands and settled in a place far isolated from the rest of the world. Many of them die out there, lasting years or generations. Others have lasted for centuries, forgetting their origins. And a few - a very few - burst outwards from their sanctuary, entering once more onto the stage of the world.

Deep in the mountains, there is a cult, which holds in large part to the beliefs of the majority religion. But they fled because of one adjunct - the idea that the time has come for the world to end, and it is their role to end it by killing every living human. They found a rugged, but habitable valley, deep within the mountains, and have lived there for nearly eighty years, forgotten by the outside world, but still dedicated to their mission. Their faith is unwavering - yet their religious elders still sit, interpreting and reinterpreting their holy writ, and their war-leader sits pat, idly drafting plans for the Invoking of the Endtimes, repelling half-hearted raids from neighboring valleys. They are, in other words, nearly harmless, and seem unlikely to be of any importance whatsoever.

It won't last.

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