Kar-sѐr-Sephiryth reminded Hickory of an African gazelle: long limbs, a ramrod-straight nose, chiseled chin, and large soulful eyes beneath a lowering brow that lent him the appearance of wisdom beyond his thirty years.
Jess whispered to Hickory, “He looks the part.”
They settled themselves amidst the Teacher’s followers gathered on the steps of the government building. Hickory thought the Teacher’s choice of location curious. Perhaps he was daring the establishment to challenge him, perhaps he hoped to sway some of the bureaucrats to his ideas, or maybe it was simply a message to his followers that earthly matters held no authority over him.
He’d been reading from the Prosperine holy scrolls, and now he put them aside and addressed the crowd. “Know for certain that Balor has already set the day and the hour of Prosperine’s ruin. Then will the ground buckle and heave and the air be consumed with fire, and the unbelievers and the righteous will both perish in terror and agony. Beg Balor for his forgiveness now, and believe in me, then you will be numbered amongst the just and will be with my father always.”
Some in the crowd turned aside, muttering. All knew that by being virtuous they could hope for another lifetime on Avanaux. Talk of everlasting life was madness. Others, although confused, sought clarification. “When will this happen?” asked one. Another said, “My wife is a good woman, but she does not know you. Will she be counted among the just or the wicked?”
Kar-sѐr-Sephiryth spread his arms wide to encompass his followers. “My brothers and sisters, listen to what I say: in the Book of Balor, there are many signs that foreshadow the end of time. Before that day comes, Prosperine will be a shining light for many. My brothers will spread the word throughout the whole of creation. In the last days, the stars will be extinguished one by one until all is dark. When that time arrives, Balor will come from the heavens riding a shining chariot and will gather the faithful to him. He will make three lines, one for those who are damned; a second for those who have lived a righteous life, and the third line will be honored and sit at the table with my father. Those are they who are my true disciples.”
A vision of the end of the Universe, thought Hickory. It wasn’t an uncommon theme in many civilizations.She personally had listened to two versions of the apocalypse in her previous missions and several others had been documented. All had been proven to be conjured up by the creative minds of beings who were less than divine. She waited until his audience quieted, then put the test question devised by PORO. “Teacher, why doesn’t Balor reveal himself to us?”
Kar-sѐr-Sephiryth looked to where Hickory and Jess sat and inclined his head, smiling at them. “Don’t you know me, Hickory? How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Even were Balor to appear here in all his glory, many would not believe. I am here. Believe in me.”
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