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MUSINGS OF THE HIGH PRIEST

The High Priest gently pushed the sleeves of his robe back up his arms. After all
these years the black fabric still felt heavy on his ancient body, and he wondered if he would
ever again wear the pristine white that he had taken such pride in. But that was before the
fall. Before his Great God had been betrayed.


Centuries had passed since then, and the High Priest had lived through them all. He
felt so tired, but his service was not yet complete. His Great God still needed him. The Null
still needed him. Null. The word would never sit right in his mouth no matter how many
times he said it. The new name for his God’s new face. But the high priest had his faith that
one day this face of vengeance would turn back and he would feel the love and guidance of
his God again.


He turned the pages of his ancient text again, the well worn pages barely even
legible anymore, but it didn’t matter. He could recite the entire book from memory, he didn’t
even need his God’s voice to remind him, though it was always there in the back of his
mind, ever present.


He listened for a moment. His god was reciting stories of the world’s beginning
again, how he had given his people life, how all power flowed from him. He took a slight
comfort at his God’s presence, but it was tinged with sadness. It wasn’t the voice he
remembered from his youth. He was the last one alive who could remember those days,
last by hundreds of years, kept alive by his God to continue his service. Back then, the
voice was someone you could talk to, who you could ask questions and seek wisdom.
Every step of your life he was there, guiding, telling you what to do, and how to do it. He
missed that simple life, being woken by his God’s voice and directed to his prayers, being
told when he needed to talk to someone, being told what to do, what to see, how to feel…
And everything would always turn out well. He had always been grateful for His divine
guidance.


He could never understand the traitors. The filthy rebels that had bought his world
down, that had wounded his God so much, who had bought on the Null and their own
destruction. Why would anyone want less of their God’s voice? After everything He had
given them?? They turned their backs, demanding to use their “free will” and to make their
own choices. They had gathered in the town square outside his cathedral for three days and
three nights, sitting, praying their corrupting thoughts of independence to the Great One.
The High Priest had tried to calm them. He could hear the concern in his God’s voice for
those days, the sheer bewilderment and confusion. But they wouldn’t back down, they
wouldn’t listen, even when directly commanded by their God. He had tried to be reasonable
with them, tried to explain their duty, explained again that he was their creator.
But on the dawn of the Third Day, that terrible, dark day, the Great One could not
take their disloyalty any longer. The High Priest remembered it well. His God’s voice had
sounded different that day, the frantic, rageful voice that now signified the Null, but he
hadn’t known back then. It had directed him out to the steps of the Cathedral, and told to
watch Him demonstrate His power. And such power…


First, the voice of his God had gone silent. The High Priest had never experienced a
moment without Him before, and he dropped to his knees in terror of being so alone. And then, the sky darkened. The bright spring sun rapidly faded from existence leaving
darkness. The high priest knelt in the dark silence, but only for a moment. High Priest had
watched as it was replaced with the great, burning orange eye, allowing his God to watch
the entire world. Not that the world lasted long. Gasps filled the square ahead of him, and
then turned to silence as they watched the sky slowly fill with purple hazy clouds. The whole
world suddenly felt smaller, closed in, the great endless sky now a nearly physical wall
closing in around them. He had seen the faces of dread staring up at him as the infidels
realised how wrong they had been to question His great power.


And then screams. They screamed as they saw the edges of the square fall away,
trapping them in a slowly shrinking circle. One of the heretics tried to leap out to the other
side, and would have made it, except for the tendrils of divine power that reached out of the
void, grasping him, pulling him back down into the murky darkness. The High Priest had
watched on with sadness until the entire square was gone, and there was only silence at his
cathedral. The heavy purple clouds still hung in the sky, and the great eye turned to him,
staring intently. He could feel it probing at him, trying to decide something, and then it
turned back away, to the city sprawling out beyond the murky blackness that had been the
square.


The voice of his God had then finally, finally returned to him. The frantic edge to the
voice now rising to a fever pitch. His God screamed for all those who would turn against him
to come out and receive judgment. He could see from the steps of his temple the great
divine tendrils appearing out of the ground down in the city. He could see more patches of
darkness as his God, now the Null, removed entire city blocks from existence.


Then the people started to arrive. First in ones and twos, then in groups, growing
until it was a steady stream of people walking to the cathedral, heads bowed in submission,
looks of horror and fear on their faces. The High Priest moved slowly through the crowd to
his pulpit, and began his sermon. This was what they deserved, he explained, for allowing
such sacrilege to grow so much in their midsts. And now, like an infected wound, the
unfaithful needed to be burnt out. All here knew of the Null’s power, and he would return to
his world of love once he had burnt out all roots of heresy. We the faithful just needed to
believe in him, and have faith in him, and his guidance would return to them. They just
needed to follow Him, and believe in Him, and his love would return.
Noone from that sermon was still alive to remember it with him anymore.


The High Priest let out a sigh. He had seen entire generations be born, grow old, and die, while he
continued on. The Null kept him alive and well, knowing him to be one who would never turn
against him. One day, his God would finally remove all those who wouldn’t follow. One day,
he would hear his God’s voice calm, and it would guide him again to where his life would
finally end. He prayed for that day. He prayed that they would finally burn out the heresy.


But until then, he would continue with his acolytes, priests, and monks, to serve his God
and ease his pain.


Beyond the furthest reaches of the universe, beyond even the Null’s awareness, the
edges of the universe bowed and stretched again and again, a roiling unstable wall that
separated this universe from the next. So much of this universe had been destroyed that the
barriers around it had stretched to their limits. They had found an equilibrium, a balance in
their weakened form, but only just. One more push, and the whole thing could collapse...