As Time Draws Near
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Written by Wilt                                                                                                                            

"Diviner Anzak, if you'd please join me on the stage?"

Anzak took to the stage, nervously standing behind the podium as the City Head stepped aside. He could feel his hearts racing in his chest as the crowd's collective stare burned a hole through his forehead. With a few shuffles of paper and a deep breath, he began to speak.

"Good evening."

He winced as he heard the pathetic squeak that was his own voice. The quivering words hung in the air as the crowd silently stared at Anzak, waiting for him to continue. With another deep breath, he started again.

"I am Diviner and Castman Anzak Tilochtil, seer-class scholar of his Graciousness Diviner Artem and the Teachings of Marzed, the True Creator, bless His name." A few words of grace swept through the crowd. "I've come from the Crown of Velvet to deliver a message of great importance to you, the city of Tentaboe, just as my fellow Diviners have done for all other cities in the caverns."

Anzak could feel their eyes on him as they waited, hushed and still. He pondered running. His eyes turned to the right, and there was the City Head, encouraging him with a plastic smile. He blocked the path to the only ramp off the stage, and if Anzak tried to jump off, he'd be enveloped by the crowd. He was trapped, and before starting back up he whispered a small prayer under his breath.

"A great discovery has been made recently, about the caverns we all live within. Long have we suspected that something lies beyond the walls. Now, we have strong evidence to suggest that not only is there a world outside our own, but that it's closer to us than we could have known." Excited murmurs came from the onlookers, quickly dying down. Anzak looked down at his perfectly memorized speech and feigned difficulty reading it. He wiped some sweat from his brow and looked back up at the crowd, his voice trembling slightly.

"You see… well, we believe the world outside is bigger than ours. For all we know, there's billions of worlds beyond that world, and maybe those worlds each have their own interesting story, and…" Anzak was trying his best to avoid outright telling the truth, but their faces told him it wasn't working.

The City Head stepped up beside the podium, his smile turning towards the onlookers slightly. "Diviner Anzak, you're going to have to explain to us what this really means." He gave the scholar a wink, and some in the crowd chuckled lightly.

Anzak, however, seemed near tears. There was no dodging it now. "Um.. well, the world we're in isn't really… a world." He saw their faces contort with confusion, and he decided the only way to do this was to say it without pause. "We've discovered two hidden caverns, each hidden by large deposits of velvet and whitestone. One led to a massive chamber of unending, salty water, while the other led to a chamber filled with a strange, beating boulder of velvet."

He shuffled his papers and quickly continued, staring down at the podium. "It is the Teaching's personal opinion that we are within a creature of massive stature. Our velvet and whitestone are the flesh and bone of this creature, and we are living off foreign byproducts ingested somehow by the creature, for the purpose of supporting our life. We believe that this is a sign that we are somehow connected with this creature beyond our living inside it, and that… well.." His bony fingers clutched at a whitestone tablet of official decree by His Graciousness Diviner Artem, as if to defend his words.

"Because the creature is of flesh, it is not divine. It is not Marzed, and Marzed did not create us. We were born."

He stared out at the gaping crowd, and hoped that the silence would soon end.

Both Diviner Anzak and City Head Hervult hung from the curtain pole of the stage, ropes tightly fastened around their necks. Flames enveloped their now scarred bodies, the bloating in their faces further distorting their bludgeoned faces. Behind them, the curtain sat still as somebody ran up and crudely smudged onto the crisp, white sheet with charcoal.


Behind the sheet, the crowd boarded up the ground floor doors and windows of the Announcement Hall. The walls were coated with the glass and thick liquids of various alcohols as the storerooms were raided and pillaged, their sweet nectars and burning droughts flowing freely in the gutters and streets. The great statue in the center of the square lay in ruins, its terrible visage pitted and scarred by the stones and fists of the crowd. Throughout the streets the guilty and innocent met in the shared bonds of fire and blood, giving their lives for their foolish arrogance. Somebody came with flame and lit up the Hall, burning the locked Castmen within. Those who attempted to brave the fall from the upper stories were met by the bloodthirsty mob, each armed with hate and rage.

Those among the armed forces joined the mob; those who didn't were quickly put down. The city of Tentaboe was swept up in the chaos of its wrath, and those unfortunate enough to heed the words of Anzak found themselves among the growing casualty count. Housing and businesses were robbed in the chaos, and soon the mob found themselves unsatisfied with the burning of the Hall. The fire spread further into the city, and soon, it would leave nothing but an ash stain within the cavern.

Each of the five cities under the Teachings saw a similar scenario, with resistance being quickly cut down. In the wake of their own destruction, they blamed their behavior on the corrupted Diviners. The mob marched on towards the Crown of Velvet. Torches bobbed along the road in a steady, concentrated line. The crowd would see that the Teachings of Marzed were met with a baptism of fire for their sins, and in its place would come a new age.

Before this could happen, though, the Crown had to fall - and they would have to do something about this cavern of beating stone Anzak spoke of.

I feel a strange, burning pain in my abdomen, slowly filling up where I believe some of my burden to be. This feeling is familiar, but this time it worries me. It is larger than I have felt before. It lies close to one of my many hearts, perhaps my body finally starting to fail me. I wonder if it is my cargo, celebrating what I do not: that my death will be sooner than I had hoped.

I suppose my time is coming, though. After all, I am just an old man in the sea.

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