Spread the Word of Priarch to Every Nation
Prion Lorral sat in his dimly lit cell, contemplating the future.
In a few hours, he would be executed.
Perhaps this too, Prophet Imran had foreseen.
And if he had, then the old man surely had the most wicked sense of humour.
Ten years ago, he had become the first Prion in existence. He had been the first to read Prophet Imran’s Holy Order, one year after the man had departed the world to be with Priarch. He had been personally taught by Prophet Imran, and had received the most direct instruction of all the Pre-Prions.
And yet, after following Prophet Imran’s words to the letter, he now found himself on the verge of meeting Priarch.
Where, exactly, had things gone wrong?
He had left Origin full of hope and eager energy. He had preached the word of Priarch to every man, woman and child who would listen. He had traveled the length and breadth of Vuria, and then, he had reached the border. Crossing into Dogain, he had been welcomed as a brother and friend.
For several years, he had preached to the locals, as they showed him the hundred and one festivals of Dogain. He had even met with the Kais, the Dogain equivalent to Vuria’s King, and personally taught him about the wonders of Priarch.
Although they had made no firm commitments to take on the worship of Priarch, they had allowed him to build a shrine in Firenz, the capital.
When at last he had felt the tug of destiny on his robes, he had left the nation with a grand procession which had lasted for weeks. After stopping in Origin to report his success and teach a few classes for the new Pre-Prions, he had headed Dawnward, towards the mysterious nation of Bartha.
Upon arrival, he had been searched, stripped of his possessions and made to swear that he meant no harm to the Eternal Emperor. After doing so, he had been left in the street, possessing only the robe on his back.
However, despite the difference in welcome, he had not given up and returned home. Starting in the outlying villages, he had preached the word of Priarch. Many laughed, and many more jeered, but a few… a precious few, listened.
One by one, his followers had grown from a small rabble to a mighty crowd. No longer did they jeer when he rode into the towns and villages. Now, they cheered.
He had believed, at the time, that he was doing Imran’s will. He would personally convert an entire country to the Church of the Priarch, and by doing so, save their souls from an eternity in the Void.
However, everything had fallen apart after that. Men and women, tired of the Eternal Emperor’s cruelty and high taxes, had ingrained themselves amongst his faithful and had used his followers to commit atrocities. Overnight, his peaceful group became murderous rebels, intent on tearing the Eternal Emperor from his silver throne. They didn’t care about Priarch or the Parabils… All they cared about was that by claiming his name they could transform their petty rebellion into a holy crusade.
How many had died in the ensuing battles? How many had fallen, screaming for Priarch to come down and save them? How many had cursed his name for bringing the Eternal Flame to their nation?
And now he sat in a cell, waiting to die.
In the end, his followers had been too undisciplined, divisive and unruly to properly carry out a rebellion. They had lost battle after battle against the Eternal Emperor’s well trained soldiers. Finally, they had been cornered and, with the sole exception of their leader, they had been massacred.
Why had they not killed him? Simple, they needed to send a message.
A moment later, a group of guards appeared. The looks on their faces did not convey even a hint of mercy. In their hands they held tongs, pliers and knives. It was clear what their purpose was.
They took him to a room far below the surface, where his screams would not reach the outside world. They tortured him, in every vile manner they knew of, until his body gave out.
When he regained consciousness, he was kneeling before the Eternal Emperor himself. Whenever his followers had spoken of him, they had mentioned his wisdom, his tactical genius and his merciless nature.
But they had never mentioned his age.
Staring at the man before him, he could see why.
The Eternal Emperor, the Scourge of the Flamelands and the Mournstar, sat before him.
He could not have been older than ten.
So it was true then, the rumours he had heard. The Eternal Emperor was not one man, but a title passed down through the ages. Whenever one died, he was immediately replaced by a younger man who had been raised to believe that he was the continuation of the dead man, instead of a separate entity.
“My soldiers have informed me of your actions, rebel,” the boy snarled.
Prion Lorral said nothing. He was barely conscious, and had enough energy for only a few words before he died.
And he knew exactly what they would be.
“Your followers are scattered, your attempt to kill me has failed, and you yourself will soon be dead!” the boy screamed, yet Prion Lorral did not recoil.
“Say something, you fool!”
“Very well! Let us see if the flames will loosen his tongue!”
They picked him up and carried him over to a mound of broken planks. Throwing him down, he felt hundreds of wooden shards pierce his back.
And yet he did not cry out.
If this was truly Prophet Imran’s plan, then he would see it through until the end.
He had played his part. He had spread the word of Priarch to the world. Whether the people listened, however, was beyond his control. Perhaps he had struggled for naught, as the Eternal Emperor claimed… but as he lay there, moments from death, he thought back to all those he had helped.
He had no regrets.
“Light the fire, and send this man to his imaginary god!” the boy called.
A moment later, the fire was lit, and Prion Lorral felt the flames begin to lap at his skin.
He expected pain, and yet it did not come.
Perhaps he could no longer feel agony, or… perhaps Priarch was with him, even now.
Turning his head to the Eternal Emperor, he looked at him with pity. For he would never know Priarch’s light.
“I am destined for the light,” he said, voice cracking, “but you, I am afraid, are destined for the Void… May Priarch have mercy on your soul, and all those who follow you…”
At that moment, a great wind blew through the throne room, causing the soldiers and the Eternal Emperor to shriek and panic. The wind infused the fire with strength and it grew in size until it towered over them. It hurled itself against them, claiming dozens of men with tongues of flame. From within the inferno, clear as day and devoid of pain, the survivors heard a voice.
“My guidance has ended.”
And then, all was silent…