- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 1 – The Spear and the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 2 – The Candle
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 3 – The Stones
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 4 – At the Foot of the Stairs
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 5 – The Price of Entry
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 6 – The Grand Melee
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 7 – The Broken
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 8 – A Lively Feast
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 9 – Hospitality
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 10 – A House with a Big Hole in it
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 11 – The Art of the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 12 – The Bearer of Bad News
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 13 – A Farewell to the City
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 14 – The Leader of the People
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 15 – A Dark Place
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 16 – Into the Abyss
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 17 – The Deadlock
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 18 – The Art of the Deal
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 19 – What Was Seen in the Darkness
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 20 – Graveyard of a Thousand Unburied Demons
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 21 – In the Twinkling Stardust
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 22 – “Ass Water”
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 23 – Crossing the Line
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 24 – The Tables of Death
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 25 – Waking the Son
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 26 – Arrival (Part 1)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 27 – Arrival (Part 2)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 28 – Departure
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 29 – Two Arms!
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 30 – Something Foul in the Air
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 31 – Chaos and Order
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 32 – Dal Segno al Coda
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 33 – And Then You’re Gone
He could faintly hear the sounds of someone calling to Him, commanding Him. It was a voice that He hardly knew, feminine, not a part of his core memory before the Exilium. Should He obey? By what right did that voice have to command Him? His thoughts were disjointed, broken, confused. There was so much that had happened in his exile, so many years that were lost to Him. Even His Father was missing in this broken version of their world. Why were the Gifts taken from the people? Why were His brethren subjected to such an impossibly cruel fate? Why had God forsaken mankind?
In the ethereal plane between conscious and subconscious, He found Himself stuck within His own mind, unable to grasp what was true and what fragments of memory floating around were falsehoods, a biproduct of the corporeal stasis that had gripped Him for what had apparently been thousands of years.
When enough of the pieces of his psyche coalesced into a barely aware fragment of His personhood, He determined to sort through the nebulous catalogues of disjointed thought that evaded His understanding, one piece at a time.
Swimming through the chaos, He arrived within his recent memory, the easiest to capture. It was a story scribbled hastily by hand over the faded text in the chronicles of his life. Rather than adding to the blank pages at the end of the tome, His mind had simply begun re-writing a new chapter over the top of the one that He had lived before. Because of this, neither recent memory nor His long-kept truths were easily discernable. He knew he still had to try, however. Everything that He understood was at stake, and, although He didn’t know exactly why, He knew that His re-emergence into this fallen world must not be a mistake.
Rolling back the pages of his memory, He saw the faces of the demons He had destroyed in battle alongside His newly assembled guard. There, hidden away in the scowling, spitting faces of the creatures He felled was something familiar, but He could not make the connection He needed to understand it, so He pushed further through the slough of memories to find out what was so concerning and perhaps frightening about their faces and expressions.
The vision of His soldiers slaughtering the demons gave way to the comfortable melee and cheering crowds He had orchestrated within the City. The City… What was its true name? It had a name. What was it? Why did no one dare speak it aloud? Did they even know what the City’s name was? He used to know the City’s name well, so why could he not recall what it was? Frustration overwhelmed Him, a nagging uncertainty that found Him right back to the very walls of the City, the day He returned home after his exile.
He stood there in front of the massive gates of the once gloriously maintained white walls of the city of His youth, waiting to see if a guard would address His presence. Yet there were none there to welcome Him and bid Him entry into the city. He waited, tended to only by the wild flock of sheep He had rescued on His march north from the place of His exile. He had learned the name of each of these animals through the application of the Fourth Gift and He had commanded them to follow Him after He had saved them from a small pack of beast-like demons who hounded them like wolves. Demons were supposed to be exceedingly rare, yet here they were running about the world like they were native to the wilds.
When nobody responded to His calls for permission for entry, He wondered if the City itself had fallen along with the rest of the world. The level of disrepair on the outside of the City certainly gave Him that impression. If that were indeed the case, then He worried about His father and the Sanctum which He guarded. If the Holy Chamber had been breached, then that, perhaps, would mean the world had met its doom, and there was nothing He could do about it if that were the case. Fear got the worst of Him, and He decided that He needed the gate to come down.
There were people still living within the city, but they shot arrows at Him and treated Him like an invader. Something was distinctly wrong with them, and He got the impression that something unspeakable had happened to His people, infected with a blight similar to that which had befallen the rest of the world. He knew He had to get to the bottom of whatever had happened, and quickly. His Father would have the answers.
“Tell my father – I have returned!”
The streets and buildings bore only a passing resemblance to the glory of the past. Where were the marvels from across the realm? Where were the displays of wonder that had been the hallmark of the capital? Where were the street lamps, the glowing signs and every other energy-powered object that were so typically found everywhere the eye could see? The entirety of the city’s lights and powered structures had been completely shut down or removed, as if they had never existed at all. He had never seen His beloved home so fallen to ruin. If it were not for the walls that surrounded them, then nature itself would have claimed this place long ago. His father would surely have answers.
When He arrived at the Temple, He gazed upon the Highest Height and the Pearly Stair that led up to the Sanctum. Apart from the marvelous display of lights that typically adorned the Temple, the building still looked well-enough maintained. The marble from which the stairs had been cut had seemingly withstood the test of time, an encouraging sight to see. At the top of the temple, the Eternal Flame still persisted in its dutiful beaconhood despite the miles of decay that had overtaken the city.
Two men in peak physical health wearing the garb of monks stood at the bottom of the stair, the only obstacles since His forced entry into the city that dared stand against Him. They looked at one another, most likely trying to figure out what to make of Him, as well as the mass of people that had grown considerably on the way from the gate to the Temple. He stopped in front of these men, knowing full and well that they were likely to try to stop him and he simply did not want to resort to violence if He could avoid it.
“You men guard this temple, yes?” He said, already knowing the answer. When the men simply nodded, eying Him with great suspicion, He continued without waiting longer for a reply. “Has the message been relayed? If not, go and tell my father I have returned. I have much I need to discuss with him.”
The two men tilted their chins up at Him, a clear sign of opposition. As a younger man, He would have lost His patience with such acts of defiance. Instead, He considered more peaceful ways to bypass the muscle standing in His way. His studying of the men must have unnerved one of them, as the one on the right finally spoke up.
“I know not who you are, nor from where you hail,” the monk said. “I do not know who your father is, but I can promise you, he isn’t up there.”
“I can assure you that my father will want to see me at once. My exile is complete; I have come to return to my rightful place here. If you will not permit me entrance, then you must at once deliver the news that I have arrived.”
The monk shook his head, still not understanding or not believing His claims. “The only person permitted upon these steps is the Priest Consul. If you insist that you are his son, you are accusing the highest priest of the land of adultery. I recommend that you do not do that.”
Now the crowd had amassed around Him, watching His every move. People who had bore witness to the scene at the gates began shouting at the monks, who became further and further on guard. The monk on the left apparently had had enough of the escalating situation and immediately withdrew to the side of the stair, where he hammered an enormous gong which rang out with great volume across the square.
Judging by the nervous reaction of the people gathered there, that must have meant trouble – an alarm. He had assumed correctly, as within twenty seconds, a great many additional monks poured out of the buildings nearby, each one of them as physically fit as the ones standing in front of the stair. They pressed forward and stood in His way, blocking Him completely with their bodies.
Just as the situation seemed the most dire, He caught sight of a figure standing atop the Temple, at the Highest Height. The man wore similar vestments to what His father wore, but apart from that, he did not bear any resemblance to His father. Dread swept over Him, realizing suddenly that He was all alone and the whole world may truly be lost like a herd of sheep with no shepherd.
If even Father has passed from this world, what hope is there for humanity?
His mind raced, trying to comprehend the world to which he had returned, trying to understand what could possibly be done at this point, now that all had been lost. As He looked around at the monks standing in His way and the masses of people of all walks of life eagerly watching Him, waiting to see what He would do next – He came to the realization that they were not merely looking at Him with wonder – they were the flock and they wanted a shepherd.
They long for… salvation.
The man standing at the top of the Temple called out with a well-exercised voice, clearly accustomed to speaking to the masses.
“Send him up. I would speak with this man.”
Unbelievably, the monks who had all stood in His way immediately obeyed this man’s command and split apart, leaving an opening for Him to ascend the Pearly Stair.
Finally, I will have some answers...