4. Era of Five | Kiei

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The Hall of Council was a grand thing, all gleaming marble and burnished gold. It would make kings mad with envy, if they knew it existed.

Of course, it being in the Heavenly Plane of existence, they would never know about it. Also, it being in the Heavenly Plane of existence, it didn’t actually exist.

Oh, it was there, alright, it wasn’t merely Illusion or some other trick – it just wasn’t gleaming marble and burnished gold. There was no such thing as marble or gold in the Heavenly Plane, so there could be no Hall of Council made of marble and gold.

Still, it looked nice – I resolved to get myself a Shrine constructed of similar materials down on the Vacuous Plane.

Heavy footsteps echoed over the marble as Tioth stomped into the Hall, expression grim. I wondered if Tioth was actually always grim, or just didn’t know how to make any other expression.

“Tioth.” I waved at the muscle-bound god, and he headed in my direction. It said much about how his Faith had transformed that he looked like he now did, as opposed to the balding, pot-bellied man of fifteen hundred years ago. It amazed me how much a god could change in such a short time.

“You are the only one here,” Tioth said curtly, glancing around as he came to a stop in front of me. I followed his squinty gaze.

I was indeed the only god currently filling a throne. “Please, sit, Tioth.” We couldn’t tire just by standing, of course, but it was our sacred, godly duty, handed down through the eons, to always seem as relaxed and uninterested as possible.

Tioth stared at the empty thrones, continuing to ignore his duty. He used to be all about duty; how times have changed.

“Where are the others.” He squints at me, grim as ever.

“At a secret meeting, planning to kill you,” I respond evenly.

“WHAT!?” His forceful baritone fills the Hall, and his bronze plates of armor rattle furiously. His people, the Agiens, will never make it to the stars. “THEY DARE TO-”

“Relax, Tioth, no one’s planning anything,” I interrupt him with a roll of my eyes. I’d normally let him rage a bit longer, but I’m not in the mood to have my heavenly ear canals subjected to such torment as his indignant screams.

He fumes grimly, fists clenched, knuckles white. “My fear is not unfounded, Kiei.” His eyes bore into mine, as if trying to convince me by the strength of his conviction alone. “I am not paranoid. They whisper and scheme while I am gone, and don masks of innocence when in my presence. They do not wish me to see their faces, for their guilt would surely be written upon their flesh.” He takes a deep breath, and his armor calms. “I need to know I can trust you. I need to know that when the backstabbing traitors come for me, I will have your support. Swear to me, Kiei, or I will have no choice but to believe you are one of them.”

He’s certainly gotten melodramatic lately.

“Swear to me!” he rumbles, finger aimed at my chest like a spear poised for throwing.

“Tioth, my delusional friend, no one is going to turn on you.” I rise and put an arm on his shoulder in one fluid motion, and am guiding him over to his own throne before he realizes I’ve moved. “Sit, relax, and let go your worries. I am your friend, and it bothers me to see you so distressed.” It bothers me to see you at all. “Here, a drink to calm your nerves. Your unfounded worries are only the product of your imagination, and will bring you nothing good. Drink, and I will return shortly with the rest of the council. We shall put this madness to rest.”

I leave him with a drink in his hand, seated grimly upon his throne of iron, wood, and bronze, carved with scenes of fantastical battles between man and beast.

The doors of the Hall of Council shut behind me with a determined finality. I meet the rest of the Council in a room off to the left.

“Well?” a Deity with a full white beard and matching hair down to his waist asks as I step inside. He adjusts his jumpsuit nervously.

“He’ll never make it out of the Bronze Age without assistance,” I say.

“Outside help is forbidden!” a female Deity cries harshly. Her red lips are pressed firmly together, narrowed eyes daring me to disagree.

“So…” the bearded god prods. A couple others are conversing quietly to his left, throwing me curious glances.

“What’s there to discuss?” one of them says aloud. “There is no doubt about what must be done.” His companion nods vehemently.

I look beyond the gathered Deities to a map on the far wall. A glowing orange dot represents Tioth’s Faith, the small number of followers whose belief gives him life. It’s a miracle he’s lasted this long. It will take an act of god to save him. Unfortunately, that is what’s going to end him.

“Very well. Take them out.”

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