Seldon Vermanth marched in time with the rest of the One Thousand Chosen. They marched in five tight lines down the long path leading to the Great Arch, a group of drummers keeping time behind them. On either side of the path, large crowds watched in awe. As the Chosen marched, Seldon’s mind raced with excitement. Soon he would be in the warm embrace of Levi, living out the rest of eternity in Levi’s Temple, the portal to a realm of paradise.
Seldon breathed deeply, settling his mind as he and the rest stopped in front of the Great Arch, it’s large doors shut. The drummers filed around the Chosen, moving up to the great walls and marched away on either side, following the walls. They will continue their journey until they meet at the other side, drums beating in time.
As the drummers left sight, all noises seemed to stop, and only the sound of the wind could be heard. After a moment, the great doors gave a loud creak and opened for the first time in fifty years. Inside stood the high priest, and as light poured in, he raised his arms above his head, his large sleeves falling down past his elbows.
“As it is written,” the priest’s voice seemed to echo out, covering the land, “so let it come to pass, that one thousand of Levi’s Chosen shall enter His Temple, to live out the rest of eternity with Him and His Chosen. His Chosen who, through the pain of birth and rebirth, found the grace of Levi, who has lifted them up unto his chest, and out of the suffering of life. So has he chosen you.” The priest brought an arm down, index finger extended, and scanned over the men and women in front of him with it. He nodded, then said, “May you enter, and know the Grace of Levi.” With that, the priest turned and exited through a door hidden inside the Arch.
The Chosen marched forward, entering into the archway. Once the last of them entered, the great archway doors closed shut, sealing them in darkness. Seldon stood in place, blinking his eyes rapidly as he tried to adjust them to the darkness. Just as he was beginning to make out the vague shape of his fellows, a set of doors on the other side of the Arch began to open, blinding Seldon with the sunlight. Even after the doors had fully open, the Chosen stood still in attention, awaiting what was next.
“My children,” the voice was unbelievably loud, and seemed to come from all directions at once, “please, step out into the light, for eternity awaits.”
The voice, though too distorted to hear clearly, sounded familiar to Seldon. He couldn’t quite place it but push it out of his mind as he moved forward. They came out to a large gap between the wall of the Great Arch and the Temple of Levi. The Temple was incomprehensibly large, seeming to stretch forever in all directions. Seldon looked up, noting the clouds swirling around the wall of the Temple, blotting out the top.
If one were to look at the Temple from a great distance, they would find it to be a large, truncated pyramid with a wall around the base. When looking from a distance, the wall itself is barely visible when compared to the sheer size of the Temple. The only entrance to the Temple was through the Great Arch.
Seldon tried to take it all in as he admired the giant doors of the Temple, solid steel and shining in the sun. The doors of the Great Arch closed behind the Chosen as they stood and waited, their nervous energy thick in the air. What felt like forever was only a matter of moments before the doors of the temple started to rumble.
Slowly the doors opened inward, and a low rumbling groan could be heard from behind them. When the doors were fully open, only darkness could be seen inside. Seldon just stared, his eyes wide and his mouth dry. A low voice called from within.
“Enter,” it said.
Slowly, some of the Chosen began to move towards the door, entering the darkness. The rest waited and watched. When nothing happened, more entered. Soon there was only a handful left standing in the sun. Seldon was rooted to where he stood. He wanted nothing more than to run through those doors and enter the Kingdom of Levi, but something deep inside him kept him from moving.
Without warning, giant green tentacles shot out of the doorway. They wrapped around Seldon and the last few Chosen. No sounds were made, as the shock of their sight and the pressure of their squeezing knocked the wind out of Seldon and the others. As the tentacle dragged them into the Temple, one thought repeated over and over in Seldon’s head. The high priest, the high priest, the high pr-
The high priest stood in his chambers, looking down through a window at the Temple doors as the last were taken. His eyes were narrowed, and his face tight. As the gate doors began to close, he turned away and sat at his large, wooden desk. He began to write, scratching out the words in a mad fever with his quill. Soon, another priest entered his chambers.
“Are they satisfied?” The high priest asked without looking up.
“Yes, they are satisfied.” The priest sat down on a feathered chair across from him. “They say they are going to teach us about something called ‘electricity.’ From their descriptions, it sounds fantastical. To be able to lighthouses without the use of fire, they say this electricity stuff will last us forever.”
The high priest scoffed. “Right, I’m sure it will. Take care of it, Jerald. I must finish the letter before anything else.”
“Is it really that important to do now? I mean, the next scapegoat won’t be for another fifty ye-”
“It is of the most vital importance, Jerald. In case you have forgotten, one thousand people have just given their lives for our safety and prosperity. Just because they didn’t know it, doesn’t mean they do not deserve the utmost respect. Now, go prepare the Order, we must prepare to utilize this electricity for our people.”
“Yes, sir.” Jerald nodded and left.
The high priest sighed, pulled a long, leaf-wrapped cigarette from a box on his desk, and stood. He moved to the window again and looked down. The doors were fully closed now, and only a few footprints and drag marks remained. He lit the cigarette and took a long drag. His eyes never left the Temple doors.