The Tales of the Head Priests
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The Tales of the Head Priests are snippets of tales from the those who are given heavy loads.
Sanath realised that everything he could see was fake, carefully staged for an audience. Even he was meant to be fake. There was a lot at stake. More power than anyone could honestly consider; and for a morally corrupt, power hungry tribal leader, who would do anything to gain more, faking something of this magnitude was nothing.
The tribe, Sanath’s tribe, held a reasonably sized landlocked area, no where near as big as land held by other tribes immediately surrounding them. While they weren’t renowned for land possession, the tribe was known for its viciousness, manipulation, disloyalty, moral corruption and a tendency towards pagan worship and rituals which called for cannibalism and human sacrifice, most notably child sacrifice. All of the barbaric tendencies and corruption had been brought into greater prominence by the new tribal leader, Eothen.
Eothen was the one who was pushing the visible conversion to Elmen, not that Sanath was going to complain, Elmen was not a pagan god and was worshipped at least publicly by all the other tribes. Eothen had shunned the practice, persecuting those who did, killing many of them until the worship of Elmen was sent underground, where it had stayed until this moment. Sanath knew that Eothen was only attempting to set up a puppet church, one which he would control.
The power that was being offered to the various leaders of the ten tribes was conditional. The power was contained in ten rings, the rings which had a possibility of limitless power, giving the weaker tribes equal footing with the large tribes. But the ring would be given only to the Head Priests of Elmen in each of the tribes, which had placed Eothen in a bit of a pickle. Since there was no Head Priest within the Sandes, that meant in order to gain the ring of power, Eothen had to recreate the religion that he had tried so hard to destroy.
Eothen had gone to a lot of trouble to produce this façade – he had invited all of the tribal leaders of the surrounding areas to bare witness and brought in a large number of his warriors so that none of the other leaders would take the invitation as one for war.
The ceremony was due to start within minutes and Sanath had yet to take his place upon the dais. In many ways he wished that it had not come to this. He knew what his role was in this farce – both the role that Eothen had given him and his second, more secret role. Now however, he did not want either role. The butterflies were controlling his nerves and sweat was standing out on his forehead. What if those who had come for the ceremony found out? What if Eothen found out about Sanath’s duplicity? If he did, Sanath wouldn’t pay a single copper for his chances of exiting the small, hastily erected chapel alive.
Sanath set his teeth as he noted that the tribal leader was heading his way. With a nod for Eothen, he made his way to the dais, slowly, his movements full of the importance of the moment. He was glad none could see his face, as it showed the heavy pressure that he was under.
He turned as he sat on the chair which had been placed there for the ceremony, noting in a dim corner of his mind that it was lower than Eothen’s throne, which he had taken in a corner of the building. Eothen was making sure, to anyone who cared to notice, that he still retained full control of his tribe, regardless of whether or not there was a Head Priest to Elmen.
It was a subtle but unmistakeable challenge to the rest of the population and a note to Sanath, since he could see Eothen most clearly, that nothing was going to change. Sanath could see the acolyte approaching him up the long aisle between the chairs and he could not suppress a shiver. From there the ceremony blurred in his mind as he was crowned – kind of with a large hat that was covered in dust. He presumed it was holy dust, as the hat had been buried in the dust of Eothen’s storage cellar since his rise to power all those years ago.
He couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t been dusted, since he had been sneezing since the first acolyte had placed the thing on his head. The sceptre which followed was no better; the robes which had been decked on his from were almost grey with the dust of a thousand years – he didn’t think that they’d been worn for that long. Tradition, it seemed had been dragged kicking and screaming out the past by Eothen. It seemed strange, since he hated tradition with a passion, especially when it referred to anything that he had not installed into the society.
Tired and overwhelmed by the amass of thoughts which had been building in his mind, Sanath slowly stood, lifting a hand to the gathered masses. The ceremony was over, but the fight had only just begun.
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