Build the Church of the Priarch
Rion Imran, third son of Marra and Saed, was in trouble.
He hadn’t caught a single fish in three days.
He had spent the past few days fishing in the Southward section of Lake Elcaro. Normally, the lake would be teeming with Whitefins and Dusty Rakes; however, he had seen not a single fish since the start of his search.
At this rate, he would be forced to beg his neighbours for enough food to feed his family.
It was not a thought he wanted to entertain.
Aside from begging or hoping for a sudden influx of fish, there was one other option.
The Northward side of the Lake.
He had grown up hearing about how dangerous the Northward side was. The narrowing of the canyon and the turbulent waters beyond often produced flash floods which could occur without warning.
Many a fisherman, hoping to make their fortune, had lost their lives to the sudden wave of water which they could not hope to avoid.
But Rion was hungry, and his parents were counting on him.
Bringing in his nets, he picked up his paddle and started to row.
It took him three hours to row to the Northward side, but it was worth it.
As soon as he had cast his net into the water, he had felt that familiar tug. Reeling it in, he had found two Whitefins and a Dusty Rake. Perhaps the fish on this side of the lake, having never known the danger of fishermen, had abandoned all sense of caution.
So he threw his net again.
And each time, it came back full.
However, at the same time, he noticed a cloud gathering above the canyon. When he had arrived, it had been white and airy.
Now it looked like a storm contained.
But he still had space in his boat. One more haul, and then he would go home a hero. His family would not know the pangs of hunger for a very long time.
Just one more…
He took hold of the net, keeping an eye on the heavens above. The storm rumbled, letting him know of its presence. This would not take long.
He threw the netting as far as his arms would allow. A heartbeat later, the braided rope sunk beneath the surface.
Lightning suddenly lit the sky, illuminating the canyon outlet. Was the water level rising?
No. He still had time.
He counted to twenty, and then he started to pull in his haul. From the weight of it, it would be the largest one yet. Once he returned to the village, he would be a legend amongst fishermen.
Only a few more seconds, and he would return with a month’s worth of fish.
And then… everything fell apart.
He pulled, but the line did not respond. It had gotten stuck.
“No!” he cried, but only the storm heard his words.
And then, it replied.
A lance of lightning struck the water before him, blinding him. When his eyes finally blinked away the darkness, he saw that the lighting had only been the storm’s introduction.
But now, it roared.
It had sent forth a great torrent of water which came rushing into the lake faster than he could believe. There was no time to panic. There was no time to pray… not that there were any gods worth praying to around here.
The water rose into a wave which towered over him, and in that moment, he knew that his greed had been his undoing. He would die beneath the waves, and his body would never be found.
A moment later, the wave hit, and he disappeared from the world…
Rion floated in the void. Before him, and around him, was infinite darkness.
So this was death? It was bleaker than he had imagined.
Nothing to do but float around in the void for the rest of eternity?
Surely there must be more to this?
And then the words came.
“Come forward, my child,” said a voice that belonged to no man.
There, in the distance, was something other than darkness.
A point of light. A tiny, flickering flame. It did not illuminate the darkness. Instead, it accentuated it, giving it contrast and definition.
Rion came forward. Anything was better than an infinity of being bored and alone.
“What are you?” he asked, as he reached the tiny flame. It hung in the void, unsupported and unattached.
“I am the Eternal Flame,” It said, in a voice that flickered and changed with every word, “I am the Rising and the Setting. I am the Beginning and the End. I am what I am… and I am what you will make me. I am a spark of truth. A shard of faith. A cornerstone of belief. I am… Priarch. And I am your God.”
“Fishermen have no need of Gods,” he replied, eventually, feeling foolish, “All we want is fish, and all we need is fish. Where does religion come in?”
The voice from the fire said nothing.
Instead, it chuckled.
“To the fish below, you are a God, no? You appear without warning, take without explanation and kill without remorse. Such are the qualities of the greatest Gods. But I do not wish for you to be a God. I want you to be something…more…”
“What’s more than a God?”
“I thought that Prophets served the Gods?”
Again, silence was his reply. Eventually, however, the fire flickered and said, “I do not ask your subservience. I ask only of your cooperation. I will give you power, and you will tell mankind of my name. In this, we shall both fulfil our purpose.”
Rion thought about this for a while. If he refused, and if he could somehow escape the void, he would be returning to a life of hardship and hard work. Compared to that… being a Prophet didn’t sound so bad…
“No one will listen to a fisherman,” he said, after a time.
“They will listen,” replied Priarch, “For the gift I will give you is one of foresight. Everything that can be, and that will be, will be revealed to you. Use the future to better the present. Spread the flame of faith, and you will see the faithful grow in turn.”
“And if I don’t like what the future holds? Will this power allow me to change it?”
Priarch said nothing. Instead, the flame pulsed and changed. As it did so, Rion felt something within him change. A spark, a light, which had not been there before.
“I will not tell you what is right and what is wrong. I will not force you to obey the threads of destiny. All I will say is that sometimes, the things that you create can turn against you.”
“You speak from experience?” Rion asked.
In response, Priarch grew larger, until he was a massive sphere of flame which stretched out into every direction.
“I once sought to create something from nothing. I poured the entirety of my being into it, and it came alive. While I rested from my great expense, I entrusted my children with its care. However, when I returned from my slumber, I found that they had stolen it from me.”
“So what did you do?”
“In my anger, I struck out at them. But they were prepared, and they overwhelmed me. All that you see before you is all that remains of my flame. But I do not hate them. All shall be mended in the future, once I have regained my strength. But that day shall not arrive for a very long time. We must instead focus on the present.”
Rion nodded. What else could he do?
“What would you have me do?” he said, after a time.
“Talk to those around you, for a start. Your parents, your brothers, your neighbours. Tell them of me, of my light, of my truth. Make them believe.”
“And if they don’t?”
“Then use the power that I have given you. Show them where the rain will fall. Show them where the fish will spawn. Show them where the bandits will strike. Once you have their trust, their hearts will not be far behind.”
“As you wish, Priarch,” Rion said. Something inside him had changed, and it wasn’t just the light. It was a sense of purpose… a sense of destiny. He would go forth, and spread the word of Priarch.
“Good. Now, leave this place of darkness and death! Go forth, and build a Church which will endure for all time!” Priarch said, sending forth a wave of energy which struck him in the chest. As it hit him, he did something which he had not done since entering the Void.
He took a breath.
And then he took another.
Slowly, with one breath at a time, he returned to the land of the living.
A moment later, another wave him, and he disappeared from the Void.
He woke up on a bank that he had never seen before. Nearby, looking as if it had never even heard of a storm, was his boat. Inside, to his delight, was his catch.
But that was a small delight. For the man who had weathered the storm was not the man who now stood beside the water. That other man would have been overjoyed to see both his vessel and his fish untouched.
But that other man had been a simple fisherman.
The man who, even now, could feel Priarch’s warmth, was a Prophet.
Closing his eyes, he thought back, to his childhood.
And then, he thought forward, to the future.
Both images had the same clarity.
The time he had decided to row out onto the lake in order to prove his worth, compared to the time he had returned to his village with a boat filled with fish and a heart filled with flames.
He saw his parent’s scepticism. But eventually they would believe.
He also saw the rock, thrown by the village drunkard, which would leave a scar upon his face.
No. He would not allow that future to come to pass.
He would make a new one, one that suited him better.
And so it was, that Rion the fisherman entered the storm, and Prophet Imran emerged from it.
The world would never be the same again…
For truly, his guidance had begun…
Read Be Good to find out these events changed the world a thousand years later…