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Amongst the Kingdoms Ch 5

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow combined in an era long forgotten but yet to be experienced.

Everyone needs some kind of sign to help them believe everything is going to be all right. Everyone looks to the sky; to some deity. The funny thing is there is something out there and no matter how much we cry out it whispers back that it didn’t create us in order to fix everything wrong with us. He gave us the ability to cry…to feel pain because he also gave us the ability to heal those in pain. There is no better feeling than being comforted by those you love. That is the greatest gift we were given.

-The Savior of Kingdoms


5

THE CHURCH OF CORRELATION


Far to the northwest, over one thousand miles from Vandarian controlled-lands; Gensea was said by many to be the lifeblood kingdom of the entire continent. A nation boasting the most fertile farmlands, livestock, and the greenest plains that stretched from one edge of its borders to the foundations of its capital city, Gur. Founded along the largest of five massive bodies of water, Gur evolved from a modest lakeside settlement into a grand legacy of ingenuity and determination. Stone and wooden bridges stretched over one hundred miles across Lake Gur. Floating communities extended out from their land born brethren. The home of the royal family stood tall over the mouth of Lake Gur. Though the civilization began near the foot of the lake; the castle, its walls built into the shallow edge of the mouth making it appear as if the very city itself were born from the gates of the structure.

Nearly a mile down the western side of the lake from the castle, within the walls of one of the grandest institutions of Gensea, Cleric Yuriel Posman made his way through the sunlit halls of his home: The Grand Church of Correlation. The unique scent of water, wood, sand, and stone flowed into his nostrils as he inhaled deeply while taking in the astonishing accomplishments of his people. From small one-man boats filled with produce to large ferries sailing to and from floating trade and tourist stations, the calm blue waters of Gur shimmered against light reds, browns, and dark mossy greens.

“Father?” A young woman’s voice called out from behind the priest.

Yuriel turned, his right hand pressed against the sky blue robe all Clerics of his order wore. “Valea?” The sight of the woman brought a warm smile to his face, visible even through his thick grey beard.

Though aging and bald, his blue eyes revealed no hint of regret or despair. No signs of fatigue or weariness radiated from his features as he stepped down from one of the large windowed openings of the church.

“How can I be of service to you, my child?” Yuriel asked with a generosity that could not be faked.

“Father Posman, there has been another disturbance near Ryeun square,” Valea said with deep concern.

Yuriel took Valea under his arm and gently led her down the large eastern corridor of the church. “Another demonstration?”

The halls of the church were expansive, open venues to the world outside. Not twenty feet away from the large open pathway were the waters of Lake Gur. A small fisherman’s boat glided along the blue sparkling surface.

“Yes, Father,” Valea said with a lowered gaze. “Their numbers are growing at alarming rates.”

“They grow only because the gods allow it,” Yuriel said with a light chuckle.

“But why?” Valea asked through a frustrated sigh. “Why would they allow these people to turn others away from their grace?”

The two stopped as Yuriel turned to stare out at the city once more, his arm still around Valea’s shoulder. “The answers are not with me. One can only speculate the will of the gods, but we will never know unless they decide to reveal their intentions to us.”

“It is just so frustrating hearing them in the streets. Decrying us as charlatans peddling falsehoods.” Valea frowned.

“And yet their aggression can be used to strengthen our resolve.” Yuriel proposed.

“Father?” Valea could not conceal her confusion.

“Remember your early studies from when you were just a girl. Remember the basic teachings of correlation. Think back to the lessons of Gradia and Taeda both gods of the earth. One hard as stone; the creator of mountains and rock. The other as soft as beach sand. They are polar opposites but at the same time they are the earth.”

“I…think I understand,” Valea said cautiously.

“We are the stone foundation and these decenters are the soft edges that have broken away. But we only need to stay firm in our beliefs and the onlookers who witness our unshakable faith will be moved by our resolve and seek answers in understanding our perseverance.” Yuriel explained.

“But, Father they are not faithless nonbelievers. They forsake our gods by speaking of one.” Valea said with elated worry.

Yuriel caressed Valea’s shoulder as another warm smile covered his face. “They are not our gods, child. They simply are the gods. They owe us nothing. Their will is their own. And our place is to serve them diligently.”

“Yes, Father,” Valea said with a smile of her own.

As dusk approached the still bustling city of Gur, Yuriel rose from his humble seating position as a daily ceremony of worship ended. The main church cathedral, a large auditorium, was capable of seating fifteen thousand members. Above Yuriel and the high clergy of the church, ten enormous statues lined the back wall of the auditorium. Dedicated to the ten high gods of fire, water, earth, wind, light, and darkness; the human faced deities gazed down upon their subjects with somber expressions.

“Interesting lecture, Father Posman.” An old man’s voice flowed into the cleric’s ears.

“Meister Dukram.” Yuriel’s surprise widened his eyes.

“Very inspiring words.” Meister Eran Dukram smiled.

“Ye…yes, Meister. Cardinal Epashea’s service was most inspiring.” Yuriel bowed humbly while nodding.

The Meister reached out and placed a comforting hand on Yuriel’s shoulder. “I did not mean the Cardinal, Yuriel. I was there when sister Valea sought your guidance. You have a way with words.”

“I simply reminded her of the teachings,” Yuriel said, dodging the gratification.

A small grunt escaped the Meister before his smile shrunk to a smirk. “Come. Let us walk the streets for a while.”

Amazing was the one word that pulsated inside Yuriel’s mind as he walked through the civilization his people created. The two gods of the sea, Ranea and Squalnora had blessed the fledgling nation with calm waters and the gods of air, Torna and Windena saw fit to calm the once ferocious winds of the land so Gensea could grow into the trade capital of the eight kingdoms. Early settlers realized that a storm might pop up in an instant and destroy everything they had built. To compensate for this, every structure built was constructed in detachable pieces that appeared flimsy but held together with the same strength as Vandarian steel. If needed, everything could be torn down and moved inward and away from the large mass of water. But the storms stopped only a few generations after the land was settled. The gods saw fit to choose the Gensean people as heirs to the lush and fertile lands surrounding the great masses of water. The people kept their building traditions, however, and the dirt and cobblestone roads were lined with wooden shacks and merchant stands. Combined with the knowledge of Gensean travelers who brought back tales of the many structured masterpieces of foreign lands, Gensea became the most sought after romantic getaway for the aristocracy of almost every nation.

“I think you should know that I share the concerns of your former pupil.” Eran said, breaking Yuriel’s near entranced state. Realizing this brought another smile to the Meister’s face. “It has been a long time since you’ve stepped out into the city, hasn’t it?”

“I…” Yuriel gathered himself before speaking. “Yes, Meister.”

“A wondrous place our once humble people have created.” Eran said after a deep breath.

“Yes.” Yuriel agreed and then remembered what the Meister said earlier. “I do not wish to speak above my station, Meister, forgive me but…I find it troubling that you would be concerned over these small gatherings of misguided souls. They need only our patience and when the time comes, direction from the gods.”

“But will the gods grant them direction? Or allow their numbers to grow in comparison to our own?” Eran challenged.

“That…” Yuriel shook the thought away. “That would not…”

“What? Make sense? Faith rarely resides within the realm of understanding.” Eran stated.

Yuriel took a moment to collect himself before responding. “If the gods deem it necessary to challenge our resolve with an epidemic such as you speak then it is their will and we…”

“We, as mere mortals have no place to question their divine plan.” Eran concluded Yuriel’s thought.

“Yes…” Yuriel agreed.

“There is a war coming!” A male voice boomed into the two priests’ ears.

Yuriel and Eran made their way through a gathering crowd near the center of a local bazaar. The mass of citizens formed a circle that split near the head of the crowd where twelve casually dressed citizens stood. In front of them stood three men and one woman draped in long white and silver robes with large hoods. The youngest of the hooded figures stepped forward towards the crowd.

“A war fought between your earthly kingdoms over your human desires for power.” The young hooded man said with an accusing finger. “Repent now! Relinquish your wills to that of the one true god or perish in a sea of blood and fire!”

“Piss off you fucking lunatics.” One of the men in the crowd shouted.

“Crazy are we who place our faith in the savior?” The hooded woman of the group asked with a condescending tone.

“I’ll place something in your mouth to shut you up.” Another heckler sneered.

The hooded woman grunted with a smirk as another of her companions stepped forward. He was older than the first of them who spoke but not the eldest of the group.

“Yea though the nonbelievers surround them; his willing disciples did not falter in their resolve.” The second hooded man began.

“Get out of our city.” An enraged woman screamed as the surrounding crowd began to jeer.

“For they were blessed with the power of God…” The hooded man said as he raised his arms with his palms facing upwards. Moments later, as his hands began to sway through the air as if he were cradling a large ball, a sphere of water twice the size of his head materialized in front of him. “…And when measured against his power…there is no comparison.”

Silence engulfed the mob as waves of confusion, fear, and wonder overtook their sensibilities.

“You worship stone statues crafted in the likeness of humans merged with beasts.” The eldest member of the hooded figures spoke next. “You claim they are the creators…the very embodiments of the elements but yet he we speak out against them and are able to perform miracles right before your eyes!”

The hooded woman raised her upward palms at her sides as flames shot from them. Another sly smirk spread from her lips at the sight of the astonished crowd.

“Your gods are not gods.” The elder continued. “There is only one God.”

“Blasphemer!” Another woman from the crowd roared.

“Why not let your own spiritual leaders prove us wrong?” The hooded woman proposed as her eyes locked on to Yuriel and Eran.

The two religious leaders strode silently through the parting crowd and stopped ten feet from the hooded agitators.

“The faithful do not yearn for proof.” Eran proclaimed.

“Do they not?” The elder shot back. “When your flock comes to you for…guidance…are they not in reality seeking an understanding as to why they place their hearts and lives in the hands of beings that remain silent when they cry out? Are they not seeking proof that their faith is not being wasted?”

“You seem to have very little understanding of the concept of faith.” Yuriel said calmly.

“No.” The elder replied coolly. “I know exactly what it’s like to cry out in turmoil only to have my pleas fall on deaf ears.”

“It is not our place to decide when or how the gods will answer us.” Yuriel countered.

“You speak the truth. It is not our place to decide. However, we have merely decided to follow someone who actually listens.” The elder explained. “He has saved each and every one of us, his flock. And unlike the slabs of stone you bow to everyday…” His arms rose with his palms facing upwards. “He has answered!”

The ground began to shake violently beneath the crowd’s feet. Screams of panic overtook the once astonished mob. Yuriel toppled over with several other members of the crowd while Eran remained on his feet. A stern glare covered the Meister’s face. A look Yuriel had never seen on the peaceful church leader.

“How can your gods control the elements of this world?” The elder shouted. “When we hold the power to manifest them right before your eyes?”

As the quake subsided, the hooded woman stepped forward. “It was then, during the time of the great divide. When the men of one kingdom would consume the men of another. The world would be covered in eternal darkness…” Her right hand rose and a small ball of light sparkled into existence above her palm. “Until he, the savior of kingdoms rose from the ashes of destruction to unite all men under the banner of the one true God and deliver humanity from the darkness. He, who would show us the light.”

Most members of the mob clung to the ground; fearful the Earth would split and swallow them whole. Now they rose to their knees clasping their hands together before the bright light shining from the woman’s palm. Those who remained on their feet fell to the ground and cried out for salvation.

Yuriel let his weary gaze rise to meet Eran’s stern glare. “Meister…is this some form of trial? Are the gods displeased with us?”

“This has gone well past my concerns, Father Posman.” Eran replied. “You have always been the most devout follower of The Correlation that I have ever known. If your faith can be shaken…I fear for the future…”

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