5 September 2020 / Fiction The Dialogues of the Acolytes: Lo, the Night's Descent... Before those assembled in the outer court made war through words and sword, two of the Acolytes went on an errand set for them by the Eastern One himself. Encamped to the north of the old pagan wall and to the south of the gate of meeting were two different divisions of the King's army. One was led by the knight whom the King had lifted from the darkest dungeon of the deep, while the other was led by the lad who had been saved from spirits and icy winds in the heights of the mountains. Over the moons of the Preacher's study, during the long peace before the Great Falling Away; over the great length of time when the land was vibrant in high summer, before the King's Year of Sorrow and his Winter Campaign, the two youths saved by the King led their portion of knights with passion and courage.Of all those in the kingdom, the knights felt the depths of their wicked past with shame, repentance, and belief – with great joy– in the forgiveness of the King and the One. Thus was the falling away of some a great sorrow indeed, a great detriment to the repossession of peace thereafter, and a blight on the land's memory even until the final falling away at the Coronation of the Prince. The Acolyte of the North rode north with all haste unto the camp beyond the old pagan wall, riding through felds and hills and stony outcroppings until the white tents with their dancing banners showed themselves in the receding light of twilight, painting the green side of a hill in dashes of whiteness and warm light. The sentry hailed the Acolyte,"Hail ye, rider, name thyself and thy business!""Hail, good knight, I, the Acolyte of the North, come unto thee with an urgent message from the city, and I require audience with thy commander. Whither might he be found?"The sentry recognized the figure of the Acolyte and let him pass. He rode past tent after tent with knight's sitting around fires laughing and singing, telling of the times in war where the One delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from the sword of the oppressor. Their joy was augmented by the joy of their commander who made known before them his greater joy at the unlooked for redemption he found when he was bound in the mountains. The Acolyte's dour countenance seemed utterly unplaced in that camp of joy. The commander's tent was a humble tent not unlike those of the knight's, so much so that the Acolyte, in his robes of scarlet, nearly failed to see it in its simplicity. The commander stood from his fire and hailed the passing figure of the rider."Hail, Acolyte, and well met! What business bringeth thee here?"Rearing and returning, the Acolyte dismounted to respond, "O commander of the King's legions, I come bearing a request of aid from one who hath need of thee.""Let us hear the message posthaste!" The lad spoke with fervor.The Acolyte removed a parchment from his scarlet cloak and broke the waxen seal. On doing so he commenced to read."Commander of the King's Armies, Redeemed One of the Dungeons, wherefore hath the King shut thee out of the city towards the north or south, whithersoever thou art encamped? Hath not the King need of thy arm? Hath not the King need of his legions in time of danger, or doth he realize that those who have seen what he hath seen pose too great a danger unto him, therefore lettest them from the knowledge of the truth: that in their path they possess the knowlege of the One, more than any, through physical experience, a knowledge which the King holdeth merely in the position of magnificence? In this, the King hopeth to not cross ways with thee, for he knoweth that thou hast seen the ways of the One in the great trial with which thou wert tried aforetime, namely, his punishment of thee in the first place. This trial hath lifted thee aloft, made thee wise and hale, regardless of the King's lack of right to execute such a judgement upon thee. Thou mightest hold unto the truth indeed if thou shouldest quit thyself from winter encampment to come unto the gate of meeting where I, the Eastern One, might show unto thee the trouble inherent in the course of the King in these latter days, where he, even he, hath placed himself in the place of the One, so much so that he thinkest it wise to do the actions of the One, actions upon which the One hath placed interdiction unto Himself only.Verily, the King standeth himself as a vicar of God on earth, and doth such in high treason towards the One. For such reason had I been banned from these lands aforetime, in that I resisted his will, thinking it false and ungodly. 'Tis the will of the One that His people walk in cleanness of way before Him all of their days, with a heartfulness of love and passion in obedience. Therefore, thy presence and the strength of thy arm is requested, that the foulness in the One's nostrils, this unholy vicar, may be expunged from the land."At this moment, as the Acolyte set aside his message, a sentry came running from the picket line atop the green feld, which had a promontorious view of the city. "My commander! The city is aflame! Even unto the citadel of the King!"The commander perhaps presented the picture of a man most cut in the heart, in some great impasse or in some sorrow of soul. Yet even this lasted but for a brief moment."The King's love and mercy are but one beam of the One's love and mercy. Clap this man in irons for seditious words. For the King shall be the judgement."And it was done as the youthful commander ordered.The Acolyte of the South delivered the same message unto the army encamped near the marshes to the south. The writers of histories in these lands have often speculated as to the reason that camp did rise with shout of treacherous war while the camp to the north rose in defense of their lord. No record proceeds to us of the response of the southern encampment, similarly led by one taken from great darkness and despair. If the victor had been reversed, perhaps the record would tell of such, proclaiming of the southern encampment's immense zeal towards righteousness, but we have known better in these days, for look upon the unrest in the army of the north today, that which is led by the Prince? For such must needs be another history.The army to the north broke camp immediately with armor buckled and swords at the ready, making their approach towards the city aflame at forced march speed. The men sang no songs as they trotted in well-ordered columns to the city walls. The commander smiled not as he rode at their head. In the city, the chiefest of the knights guarded the retreat of the people still loyal, along with the King, his dignitaries, and the Preacher, as they fell back into the inner court and citadel from the Eastern One's onslaught. They shut the gate, and the chiefest of the King's knights stood to face the vicious onslaught of the traitorous horde. Hear the record of the martyrs. They stood firm, even unto the end, counting not their lives things to be loved or grasped. Yea, they loved not their lives even unto the end. Let the reader understand.The struggle in the outer court continued unto the very gate of the inner court and citadel, where the chiefest of the knights, locking shields in concert, both overhead and beside, began to advance most manfully, as if some great sea tortoise, towards the outer gate, where they might had found a more defensible position. The missiles of the enemy were blocked overhead by the shields united in concord, though many of the throng had scaled the outer walls and found suitable positions for the raining down of such. Nevertheless, the ranks of the martyrs advanced on, over the bodies of the traitors, such that it seemed that they even might break through unto their escape. But alas, it was not to be so. For, as they advanced, the wall of the citadel, which proffered succour unto their rearward position, left them, leaving the rearguard exposed. Our eyes saw them smitten unto the last man. Among them were Veneratus, their captain, a most impassioned worshipper of the One; Loyala, hale and faithful; Desidera, he who loved the One more than any maiden. Many more fell there. Their true names are known unto you as they are now known in Heaven, where their songs shall thunder till Time and Death itself shall die.The King and the Preacher did climb unto the Hall of Wonders, and did reach the highest point in the city, where the view of the armies approaching from the north and south, as well as the city aflame, did present itself fully.