As continued the Preacher's course of study, the seasons began to change from the balmy days of spring, the time of feasting and marriage, to the high days of summer, when the sun beat upon the walls and spires of the city of the East with stunning brightness, reflecting on the white domes and colorful heradlry thereof.  

Those were the days of the festivals, when meat and drink were in plenty and the youth of the land gathered to give thanks to the One for the beneficence of His provision in the preceding seasons.  Their joy overflowed in games of physical prowess, dances in the cool of the evening, and mystical plays of tales from the Oracle.  It was a blessed age in the history of the cities of the East.  The King had seen to it that the land, with its times and seasons, revolved around the goodness of the One, that all of life might point to Him, his days incarnate and future return.  In every way did he take precaution against the depravity in the heart of man; in every way did he seek to mitigate for evil.  

While many of the youth of the land and the clerics of the University quit themselves from study to enjoy the festivals in the city streets, the Preacher remained about his business, contemplating and committing the words of the Oracle to ready memory, for such was his pleasure and delight.  Neither did he condemn the revelry of the land, but rather felt his revelry to elsewhere, for under heaven everything possesed its time, with all things beautiful within their season and place.  

He sat alone, sequestered once more in the banqueting hall, the torches unlit but for the Eternal Flame on the dais, for the sun beamed through the tall windows catching the gleaming specks of dust as they drifted through the hall, stirred from the constant padding of feet.  The sounds of revelry made it to him even in his lonely sequester.

A door on the dais slammed, and to his great surprise, the King appeared on the dais, standing before the Eternal Flame, gazing into its dancing tendrils without a look or recognition for the Preacher.

"Hail, my Lord King, what might I for thee do?"  Said the Preacher standing and bowing low immediately.  The King regarded him with a look of surprise.

"Thou mayst lift thyself from thy homage.  What purposeth thee to quit thyself from yon festival?"

"O King, the scrolls of the Oracle and the interpreters thereof are my daily diligence."

"I laud thee most heartily for such."  The King approached, clothed in a leather jerkin and cotton pants, the garb of a peasant, rough and uncouth, his robes of silk left for simpler attire, for verily the old king was a humble man, almost a citizen, yet grand in his mien in every way.  To the Preacher's surpise, he seated himself across from his place of study, where scroll after was rolled forth in a veritable tapestry of complexity.  

"Hast thou learned the wisdom of the Acolytes?"

"Nay, my king, for what they say is too wonderful for my mind to comprehend, let alone learn in the brief span wherewith my person hath been present here.  They say to 'Know the One!' and such is my desire, for such reason do I sit at table daily."

"Do learn ye their words and do after their ways, for the One's Wynd of wisdom is about them.  Hast thou taken a maid to wife, for thou art of marriageable age?"

"Nay, my Lord, for under heaven there is a time for all, and my time has yet to arrive."

"Thou sayest most wisely."  

The King appeared concerned with some matter of state and ceased from speech.

"O King, might I inquire after what aileth thee?"

"My scouts on the eastern steppes have found evidence of one whom We have not seen in many years.   They came upon a village and the villagers spoke of one doing great wonders, even unto the raising of the dead.  The villagers knew not by what power under heaven he did such wonders, but pointed towards the west, saying he rode in the direction of the eastern kingdoms, like Syramynth thundering from the gates of Béaléal.  Know ye the tail of the Acolyte of the East?"

"Nay my king, naught but that which all know, of his dissapearance, and how he was not."  

"He never was not.  He did lying wonders, and his power has grown, or so seemeth it.  The Acolytes claimed he delighted in pagan powers, of the earliest days of men in these lands, before the One condescended to grant us the way.  We consider his return to be a most vexing thing, for he, if he willeth, may cast darkness over the eyes of the people, and lead them astray, as a wolf among sheep."

"Surely, thy people have heard thee in the congregation, teaching the Oracle, knowing the goodness and truth of the words thereof, and therefore may not be lead into darkness thereby?"

"Such do We pray before the One day and night, and such is the cause of thy University, for the time of the Eastern one's return to these lands is verily unknown.  He may be in the city even now, but perhaps the light of the Oracle's knowledge spread abroad may bulwark the lands against him.  Unto the aim of wisdom, many shepherds must prepare themselves thereto.  This, perhaps, may keep Our people from falling away. Thou must never assume on the goodness within thy heart or within thy peers, for without the One, men's ways are evil, indeed, having searched out many devices and schemes of carnal machination."

"O King, might I make query of thee concerning a saying spoken by the Acolyte of the North in our hearing?"

"Verily, thou mayest."

"In his saying, a wagon did sit as if derelict, athwart an open plot of land, a plot of dark soil unsown.  Into this field did the seed fly, caught as it was by the winds.  Instead of the farmer's field, the which he purposed aforetime to sow, his neighbors field received the sowing, and the farmer's field was left empty.  Such was not spoken in the Acolyte's saying, but such seemed evident.  The wind stole his seed and used it after a purpose for which he intended it not.  The dream remains a dream unto me, along with the interpretation thereof."

The King sat silently in his place, considering the words of the Preacher, and it seemed a long span of time before he deigned to speak.

At last he gave a response to the Preacher.

"Thou hast considered many deep things in thy short time at study, but as the vision remaineth unknown in meaning unto you, so remaineth it unto me.  We shall pray upon this matter in the night watches. Continue in thy studies and continue in thy contemplation.  Such is the path of a shepherd.  Bless you, my child."

With that parting word, the King stood and left, with the Preacher left standing, bowed low to the ground as he departed.  

Not a soul knew that the Eastern One had come to the city some time past by night, smuggled through the city walls through ancient catacombs, and began spreading his doctrines abroad throughout the fringes of various Guilds, namely the Guild of the Preceptors and the Guild of the Heralds.  In those days, the guilds came together once every season to discuss the city's doings and organize themselves into ways befitting practical endeavour and goodness of deed, ever in keeping with the Oracle.  Every guild accounted for a sector of the city, its shops, streets, doings, and purposes.  The Distaff Guild beautified the city with many flags, banners, and tapestries, while the Guild of the Pilgrims cared for the poor and infirm throughout the city's gates and darker streets.  They renounced such physical needs which were unhelpful to their office.

Similarly, the Guild of the Preceptors cared for the halls of law, along with the execution of trials, and other things of similar nature, while the Guild of the Heralds informed the population of the various goings on of all guilds, all doings of the acolytes, the doings of the King, and many other events of note throughout the cities of the East.  Why the Eastern One came to influence these guilds did not become clear immediately; neither did his presence in their meetings reveal itself to any of the guild members.  They simply felt his counsels and betterments, spoken from the gallery or from the general assembly, as if from the voice of a common member, to be beneficial to the edification of their respective place in the workings of the city in those days.  So powerful were his words and counsels that they immediately saw the rightness of his course, without seeing his face or hearing his name spoken aloud.          

So came a serpent unto the garden of the King.