Destroy the Council of Faith
Prion Slovek held the spear up to the light, inspecting it for any flaws. It, along with the sword at his side and the dagger on his belt, would soon be used to commit the greatest atrocity in the history of the Flamelands.
But that was what his Prophet had asked of him, and he would not fail.
The Council of Faith was set to begin at Priarch’s Hour. It was now the Rising Hour, so he had only a short time left to prepare. He had poured over the plans to the meeting encampment, memorized the guard patrols and practiced his assault.
Forty men and women were set to gather in the central area, ten representatives from each major religion. Ten Prions, his brothers and sisters, waited nearby. Ten Kindred, followers of the abhorrent Church of the First Son, were located on the other side of the encampment. Ten Unifiers, faithful of the Hexacracy, had arrived just the day before. And finally, ten Lastborns, members of the Lusetan Faith, were already seated at the meeting grounds.
They had chosen a region of otherwise unimportant land for the greatest religious gathering the Flamelands had ever seen. It was equidistant from the religious capitals of the participating religions, favouring neither one nor the other.
For centuries, the various religions of the Flamelands had existed in a state of wariness. So long as no religion overstepped its boundaries and tried to convert the members of one of the other religions, then the fragile peace would hold. However, to many, this had not been enough.
And so, the Council of Faith had been proposed. A week -ten days- of meetings, cultural and religious exchanges and, out of sight, secret diplomacy on trade and borders. Not since the appearance of Prophet Imran had the world known such a momentous event.
And Prion Qumare Slovek was going to destroy it all.
He did not know why his Prophet had chosen him for this task, nor did he know why Imran had desired for the destruction of such a rare chance at peace amongst the various nations.
But then again, he did not care.
He was a Prion, an envoy of Priarch himself, and he would carry out the orders of his Prophet without question or hesitation.
Even if that meant killing others… or himself…
Prion Slovek watched as the envoys began to assemble. Even now, moments before they were to officially welcome one another as brothers, they stood apart. Undoing centuries of distrust and conflict would not be easy, apparently.
And he was only going to make it harder.
But those were thoughts that meant little now. He tried to steel his heart against the coming violence. He had spent ten years learning how to preach and spread peace, and now he would break every vow he had ever taken.
No… not ever vow. For he was obeying the word of his Prophet, a vow which superseded all others. No one knew what Prophet Imran had asked the thousands of Prions who had come before Slovek, but to his knowledge not a single one had failed him.
And he would not be the first.
However, as he took in the arriving men and women, he saw someone who did not belong.
Prion Mikal Suturb, the 2072nd Prion and his closest friend.
Why was he here?
They had grown up together, entered the Church together, and trained together…
Gesturing to a nearby servant, he asked, “Excuse me, but I thought that Prion Rella was supposed to be a part of the Council, so why is Prion Mikal here instead?”
The servant sadly shook her head before replying, “Prion Rella has departed this life and has begun her journey to Priarch. Her body was discovered only this morning, thus the last minute change to the delegation…”
“I see…” was all Prion Slovek could say.
His mission had not changed. He would destroy the Council of Faith… no matter who stood in his way…
“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen of the cloth!” one of the Unifiers announced. He had been chosen by lottery to open the meeting.
“May Priarch and his Divine Offspring watch over us with pride today, as we attempt to bring about understanding and peace to our splintered factions!” the Unifier, an old man with a perfectly trimmed beard and a mess of unruly hair everywhere else, addressed the gathered dignitaries.
They were still sitting apart from one another, keeping to their groups. Of course, if the Council was successful then by the week’s end all of this would change.
Not that Prion Slovek was going to give them that chance…
He checked his gear for the hundredth time. He was dressed as one of the guards, so as not to raise any suspicions. In a few minutes, he would begin the massacre. He had prepared well, and knew the meeting area better than his quarters back in Origin.
The great tent under which the Council was gathered had four exits, guarded by two guards each. If this had been a gathering of kings or nobles, then doubtlessly there would have been several armies’ worth of protectors. But this was merely a meeting between a handful of old men and women, and as such the guards were more of a formality than a requirement. Each delegation had been told to elect two men or women to serve as their guards, and each pair would guard one of the entrances.
His own guard partner, a stoic woman who had introduced herself as Mirrah the Merciless, lay dead in their shared tent. She had accepted the poisoned drink without a hint of suspicion, contrary to her earlier boasting of having the best sense of danger in the Flamelands.
He felt a pang of regret for her death, but he pushed it down to the deepest reaches of his conscience. There would be much more killing to come, before this day was done, and he could not be held up in mourning for each and every one he slew.
Refocusing on the Council, he saw that Prion Mikal had stood. His friend had always been a gifted orator, no doubt the reason for his last minute admission to the Council. He was currently telling the foreign dignitaries about the Plasmology, the Church’s account of the creation of the world and Priarch’s battle with his traitorous offspring. It was meant to bridge the gap between the assembled religions by showing that they had a shared history.
From the enraptured faces of the Kindred, Unifiers and Lastborns, it was working.
A few seconds later, however, Prion Mikal stopped talking.
He had seen something in one of the entrances.
Prion Slovek knew what it was, naturally, since he had been the one to start it. A great fire, encircling the tent, created using a set of carefully measured wicks and some very flammable oil which had been intended for the night lanterns.
With the flame wall in place, the Council would be trapped inside the tent and any outside help would be delayed until they could bring something to douse the flames.
The guards, having been reasonably trained, drew nearer to the unarmed dignitaries. However, they did not move as one, no doubt they still suspected the other pairs of being the perpetrators.
Hefting his spear, he charged forward, focused on the nearest guard pair. The first went down without a cry, not so for the second. But he had planned for this. Wrenching the spear clear from the corpse, he turned and threw, managing to impale two more guards.
It would seem that luck was on his side…
The final two guards put up more of a fight, breaking his spear in the process. But Eventually they too fell, one to the sword and the other to the dagger.
Wiping the blood off of both blades, he turned to the assembled men and women. They cowered before him, panic and fear evident on their faces.
“May you find your peace with Priarch, those of you who can, and for all others may you be lost to the Void!” he cried, as he leapt forward, wielding steel and death.
He would not stop, until all before him lay dead…
Prion Slovek was breathing heavily, the heat from the flames turning his lungs to ash. He had not realized how flammable the tent was, and as a result he was now surrounded by a fearsome inferno. From the gaps in the burning tent he could see scores of servants struggling to put out the blaze. He had lost his dagger and the use of his left arm to a stubborn Kindred, but he had almost accomplished his mission.
All but one of the Council was dead or dying.
Only Prion Mikal remained.
He was holding a sword in one trembling hand, taken from one of the fallen guards.
He too was breathing heavily.
He too bore numerous wounds and cuts, inflicted during their fierce exchanges.
But the wounds on his body were nothing compared to the pain on his face.
“Why?!? Why do this, Qumare!” he screamed, once again.
He had not answered him, fearing that if he did, he would fail at the last hurdle.
But between their wounds and the fire drawing closer, it would end one way or another.
He deserved to know, him most of all.
“I only do what my Prophet commands!” Prion Slovek screamed, tears running down his ashen face.
As the words reached Prion Mikal, however, his friend’s expression changed.
Amazingly, a smile broke out on his haggard face. With a simple movement, he threw away his sword and began walking forwards with his arms outstretched.
“Forgive me, my friend, but I have been most foolish. I read the words, but I did not understand them, until now. Prophet Imran has commanded me as well, and I too intend to do his bidding. Please, strike me down, and let us both bring an end to this,” he said, with a peaceful expression.
Prion Slovek struggled to bring up his sword. He thought that it would be easier, without Prion Mikal fighting back.
As it turns out, killing a man who wanted to be killed was harder than killing one who didn’t…
However, he had come too far to fail now. With tears clouding his vision, he brought his sword to bear, pointing it towards his friend’s heart.
Prion Mikal stepped closer, until the blade was pressing against the fabric of his robes. He reached out with both hands, clasping them around Prion Slovek’s.
“My guidance has ended,” he said, and then he pulled hard, driving the blade into his own chest.
He struggled for a moment.
And then he fell.
It was done. The Council of Faith had been destroyed, just as Prophet Imran had commanded.
He had carried out the will of his Prophet, but why then, did he feel so wretched?
He was aware of men breaching the flames, bearing buckets of sand and wielding swords. He saw them coming towards him, swords raised, but he did not care.
Throwing down his own weapon, he sunk to his knees. Placing a hand on his friend’s chest, he wept.
As they reached him, he let out a wail that shook the burning tent.
“MY GUIDANCE HAS ENDED!” he screamed, as they took him.
Read Be Good to find out if the various religions ever reconciled after this tragedy!