Undeath and Taxes
Prologue Chapter 2: From the Highest of Heights
The land surrounding the “Holiest of Lands” was dead and decaying. Trees that once were lively and bearing of the most succulent foods were now twisted and look as if they belonged in Disney villains garden. It was as if the land that was once filled with color and life had been hit with a blight of unimaginable proportions. If such a sight were to appear on Earth, even the most optimistic of nature lovers would demand that the land be bathed in nuclear hellfire.
In this land of death and decay, something living still moved. A last shipment of food sent from those who were fighting on the bitter end. This last shipment held letters from many, many nobles and knights and even some Heroes. Each letter read roughly the same, all saying the same thing; how they were trapped and that they were going to fall and that their last act would be to send all their foodstuffs to the Holy City so it could hold out as long as possible.
As the caravan of food made its way to the gates, it was inspected, just like all the other ones. Another day in the Holy City, another caravan bringing feasts for the people within. Even though the world outside had long since fallen to the darkness brought by the Undead Hordes, the Holy City still partied and threw lavish celebrations for its citizens. As one of the previous Supreme Pontiffs had stated, “Bread and circuses keep people from questioning things or getting idiotic ideas about having liberty or equality.”
The caravans had always come, no one thought anything of this one. It bothered no-one that the people manning the caravan looked halfway dead and that the oxen looked like they had walked through a desert with neither food nor drink. Nobody cared, they would just throw these peasants out like the rest, the dead would descend on them and that would be that.
As the corpselike men and oxen were hurriedly let out the gates, a wicked smile broke out upon the faces of the caravan crew. The city guard, they must have thought these people had gone mad, smiling like devils in the face of certain death. And as the slowly shambled off into the distance, over the hills and out of sight, the city guard felt a sense of unease and discomfort. What did those devilish grins mean?
Behind a hill and out of sight and earshot of their hated enemies, the wizened and corpselike men clothed themselves in their personal affects. The one who lead the caravan turned to the others and opened his arms wide as the others kneeled in prayer.
“Brothers and sisters! Today we have had the honor of striking a great blow to our most evil and hated overlords! They thought that this caravan brought a feast, when instead it brings only our most gracious god’s gift to these unbelievers! Look around you, do you not see how our lord shapes this land? Do you see how he purifies it and makes the very air become filled with his graces? I once lived in that golden turd that sits upon that hill. Yes, my children, I once lived like them; flitting away every moment in excess and hedonistic debauchery, all of it in the name of some invisible man in the sky! But I began to question these acts. How could a god that demanded his followers practice self-depravation and giving to the needy allow his own avatars to be so decadent?”
Before he could finish his sermon, a woman yelled out, “Because their god doesn’t exist!”
“Correct! This was the only conclusion that made sense! How else could a morally perfect god allow his followers to butcher each other in his name or to commit such great acts of hedonism? They cast me out, and for years I roamed until I heard the message of our god! Now we, his chosen are ready for his final victory! The day we have long awaited is at hand! Judgment day has come for those sinners!”
In a place, high above all else, a solitary figure sits. Rapping his gauntlet-clad fingers upon his throne, he closes his eyes and issues a mental command to all his subordinates.
“Phase 1 is complete. It is time to strip the angels of their wings. March to victory.”