“It is time.”
Those softly spoken words rang out loudly within the snow-battered keep nestled at the top of the mountain Angthar. The heads of the two dozen priests within the great hall lifted from their scribing work to look at the figure of their leader standing where a throne had once sat.
“Are you certain, Master?” piped the youngest of their order, a scrawny fifteen year old who was swiftly outgrowing his new robe. Several of his peers shushed him but quieted when their leader lifted his hands.
Porovin Thair smiled down at the boy and answered, “All of the signs foretold to us in the Book speak to it being the time. Somewhere, perhaps at this very moment, the child who will sacrifice everything for our salvation is to be born.”
That started a twitter among the priests and another stood, pushing back his hood to reveal harsh, craggy features and a receding hairline. He scowled and demanded, “What of the fools who perverse the truth of our god? They have worshiped by their false pretenses for three thousand years and claim that they too shall have a child to save them!”
“If they do not believe,” spoke up another priest in a calm voice from the darkness underneath his hood, “then they will not be saved by the sacrifice. It is as simple as that, Baran.”
Baran turned to glare behind him at the table where the still hooded priest sat. “Are we not supposed to save all of the Woken God’s children? It is our sworn duty to spread his word and bring his children back to his feet.”
Porovin started to open his mouth to interrupt the old argument before it could get on its feet but the youngest of their order stood from the table he shared with his appointed teacher. “We are the Wise of Angthar!” he shouted. “Not some mere priests of hill and vale. We keep the true records and words of the Woken God so that he may live forever and continue to bring his children home. It is not our task to spread his word but to make sure his word survives.”
There was silence in the great hall for a moment as Baran’s craggy features turned dark with rage and the boy’s flushed pink in embarrassment. Before the balding man could reply, the head priest lifted a hand and Baran’s opening mouth snapped shut.
“Our youngest speaks the truth of our order,” intoned Porovin sagely, smiling at the boy and nodding to his teacher. “Vintor teaches him well.”
“As I was taught by my father,” noted Vintor Thair as he returned the nod.
The hooded priest who had spoken up to Baran rose to his feet as he asked, “What does the Book say of the child, Master? Does it speak of a way for us to find them?”
“Him,” hissed Baran from where he now sat grumpily in his chair. “To speak as though the child would be a girl is blasphemous.”
Porovin lifted a hand and said, “The Book speaks only of the child coming into this world to save us all. You speak with the snarl of old ways and times, Baran. A girl child is as like to save us as a boy child.” He then looked at the hooded priest and continued. “As to finding the child, the Book speaks little of such, Tivick. Other texts, however, may give us insight into the finding of the child and we may begin our search when the snows melt. Vintor, I believe you and your student will be excellent choices to head our research as it will give the boy well needed practice.”
“You honor us with such a position, Master.” Vintor looked at his now beaming student and added, “I believe our young Rallon will do us proud in our search for the child.”
There was a scoff from Baran and Porovin cast the balding priest a disapproving look. “We shall see,” said their leader, “who among you shall venture out as we do our research. Until we begin, continue whatever you are working on now but be ready. We must work hard if we are to find the child who will save us.”
Most of the priests returned to their work at that dismissal and Porovin moved down the steps towards the main floor. As he turned to go back to his own rooms to continue his search of the Book’s prophecies, the boy Rallon approached him.
“Master…” He paused and shifted nervously, prompting the older man to reach out and place a hand on his thin shoulder. Rallon ceased his movement, drew in a breath, and blurted out hastily, “Do you truly believe that the sacrifice of the child will save us? Is it not…is it not wrong to sacrifice one of our god’s children in such a way?”
“Ah.” Porovin smiled and answered, “That is a wise and good question, lad. Would it be just any child chosen from a street corner, then yes, it would be wrong. This child, however, is chosen by the Woken God himself, to bring all people’s a blessed salvation. Therefore this death is blessed by our god himself and not wrong.”
Rallon frowned at that and Porovin patted his shoulder.
“It is a hard thing to accept, I know. But accept it we will.”
“For we are the Wise of Angthar,” the boy said quietly, his expression pensive. “Thank you, Master. You have given me much to think on.”