Seek out a child from the slums who has lost his mother twice. Make him a Prion.
Prion Uther Pathos tried to quell the sick feeling in his stomach.
How did people live like this?
He was standing at the entrance of Slumtown, a shantytown sitting in the shadow of the capital, Pyre. The houses ranged from wooden structures with more nails than was surely necessary to shacks made from whatever had obviously been on hand.
Yet, even in a place as wretched as this, there was life.
Children played in the streets, tossing rocks at handcrafted bronze targets. Adults went about their day, looking for work or begging for coin. Elders sat in the shade of the tallest buildings, waiting out the last of their days with admirable serenity.
This was not a dump, as he had been told by his parents, nor was it a den of evil, as he had been told by his teachers.
It was a town, just like any other…
Well, mostly… After all, it was surely the only town in Vuria where you could build your own house in the span of an afternoon…
“Excuse me, child, but I have a favour to ask,” Prion Pathos inquired, facing the young girl.
She couldn’t have been older than ten.
“Mommy said that I’m not supposed to talk to strangers… otherwise I’ll end up like Old Man Crogan!”
“Do not worry, child, for I am a Prion. I come in the service of Priarch, and I promise that no harm will come to you…”
The girl thought for a moment before replying, “Mommy said that Prions are silly old fools who go around talking instead of doing… but she also said that about daddy… so what do you need?”
Kneeling, Prion Pathos sought to keep the child at eye-level. He had been surrounded by the same Pre-Prions for ten years, so his social skills were somewhat… rusty…
“I am looking for someone, you see, and I was wondering if you could help me? The person I’m looking for is a child, just like you… but there is something special about them…”
“Mommy said that I’m special…” the girl replied, looking thoughtful.
“And I’m sure that you are, but the child that I am looking for doesn’t have a mommy…”
The girl said nothing for a while, before whispering, “There are a lot of children like that… lots of my friends don’t have mommies or daddies… or anyone…”
“I am sorry to hear that, child, I truly am… However, the child that I am looking for has lost his mother twice. Now, does that sound like anyone you know?”
The girl thought for a moment, before replying, “Well… I don’t know if this counts but… there is a boy who lost his mommy twice. He lost his real mommy around when I was born, and just today a bunch of guards came and took away his second mommy…”
Praise be to Priarch, Uther thought, as a smile lit his face.
“Thank you child,” he said, reaching into his red robes, “Now, do you know where I might find this boy?”
“Of course!” the girl exclaimed, apparently happy to be helpful, “I saw him sitting on the garbage mound down the street! I think that he is still quite sad, so I hope that you’re going to be nice to him…”
“Do not worry, child, I bring nothing but glad tidings. In fact, I hope to change his life, if he will let me…”
“That’s good…” the girl said, looking slightly confused, “Maybe Prions aren’t like daddy after all!”
“I hope not,” Prion Pathos said, with a small chuckle, “And here, for your assistance!”
Pulling out his coin purse, he counted out ten coins before placing them in the girl’s hands. The look on her face told him that she had never held so much wealth in her entire life…
“Wow! Thanks mister Prion! Just wait till I tell mommy!” she exclaimed, quickly pocketing the coins.
Even at such a young age, she clearly knew how to hide her newfound wealth from the other residents of Slumtown… Hopefully, one day, a person with both wealth and wisdom would see fit to finally tear down this place and build something better…
The girl bowed low before turning to run. However, after ten steps she stopped and turned back, shouting, “I’ll never forget this, mister! And I hope that Attacus finds a new family soon, he deserves it!”
And then she was gone, back into the slums.
Prion Pathos approached the forlorn boy, sitting atop a pile of garbage as if it were a throne.
He looked… lost.
From the sounds of things, he had just lost everything… for the second time.
Hopefully he would be willing to try something new, even if it wasn’t like anything he had ever experienced before.
“That must have been awful, watching them take your mother away like that,” Prion Pathos said, approaching the unfortunate boy.
“She was my adoptive mother,” the boy said, with a sharp tone, “My real one died when I was five.”
Coming closer, Prion Pathos said, with as much sympathy as he could manage, “Then I am doubly sorry for your loss, both for your first mother and your second.”
Prion Pathos extended his hand towards the troubled youth.
Predictably, it was ignored.
“My name is Prion Uther Pathos, and I have come for you, my child,” Prion Pathos said, with a comforting smile.
“I don’t have anything to give to the Church,” the boy replied, acting defensively. He was clearly used to facing hardships…
“Ah, but the Church has everything to give to you, if you would have it,” Prion Pathos said, moving closer.
“Yeah, and what’s that?”
“Food, a warm bed, and a purpose,” Prion Pathos said, speaking the truth. The boy would have seen through any of his clumsy lies, so the truth was the best way forward.
“The greatest purpose there is. I would have you enter the Church.”
“What, as a servant?” the boy said, spitting.
“No, as a Prion. You would be like me, a real member of the Church.”
Just as Prophet Imran had willed it. Although why Imran had chosen a boy from Slumtown to be the Executor of his Will… well, only the Prophet and Priarch knew the answer to that…
“I thought that they only accepted ten people each year into the training?” the boy asked.
Indeed, and the boy before him was destined to become the 10000th Prion… the last to receive a Holy Order from the Prophet. However, it was not Prion Pathos’ place to divulge such information. Once he was safely in Origin, his destiny could be revealed…
“That is correct, and we just so happen to have one more opening. So, what do you say? Will you stay here, powerless and doomed to a life of misery? Or will you follow me, and enjoy a life of purpose?”
The boy did not answer for a few minutes.
Prion Pathos could understand his hesitation. He was asking him to leave his whole life behind, follow a complete stranger, and become a Prion of the Church of the Priarch.
It was a lot to digest.
Eventually, the boy squared his shoulders and, with determination flaring in his eyes, said, “Alright, I’ll become a Prion.”
The words that came to Prion Pathos’ lips then were pure in their intent. He had not meant to say them, and yet they came all the same. They most likely came from his soul, if he was any judge.
“Praise be unto Priarch, for he is father to us all. Praise be unto Priarch, for his light shines down on all. Praise be unto Priarch, for he shall guide us back into his radiance,” Prion Pathos said, gesturing for the boy to come closer.
After a moment’s hesitation, the boy hopped down from the garbage pile.
Together, they left Slumtown.
Together, they started the long journey to Origin.
Somehow, Prion Pathos knew that this was a special moment. Somehow, he knew that the boy would go on to do something great.
And he had been the reason for that, in a way.
He had Prophet Imran to thank for that…
As they walked together in silence, Prion Pathos felt the words come. Technically, it was a bit early to say them, but it felt… right.
Staring at the boy, he uttered, in a low tone, “My guidance has ended, and yours, my child, has only just begun…”
Read Be Good to find out what happens next!