Thursday, 13 October 2016

Endurance in flames

There is a city at the frozen gates of Hell.

It is called Endurance and it is founded and maintained by pious people of the land. Initially it was a just a small town, more of guerilla outpost with a purpose of sneaking around, getting an intelligence on demons and preventing the escape of stray souls out of Hell. Over time paladins, clerics and templars, holy sages and warriors, sacred arcanists and experts made the city a huge citadel, the starting point of many crusades against Hell. Its shining light was  is an obvious sore, – demons gnawed on it with siege armies, brimstone leviathans and subtle vice, yet without much success.

In such close proximity to Hell piety was not entirely a moral choice, but also a necessity, protecting mortals from vapours and whispers of Hell like a hazmat suit. Somebody’s sinning not only questioned their purpose of being there, but made them – and the city – vulnerable to environment, temptations and possessions. Through that, the holy calling and the strict moral conditioning Endurance was the most crystal-cut city of goodness in the whole land.

It still is. Amidst the ravaging, scraping, sickening, fading, cut-throat and, more than everything, dying tribes of the rest world, Endurance still stands as a shining beacon of goodness.

They still have heat and light.After all of the world, Hell including, froze over Endurance still stands, and maintain civilization, and prays, and follows the rules of goodness, justice and mercy – no kidding, no sinister underlays, no totalitarian state masquerading as goodness, it sincerely does.

They don’t venture out on crusades anymore, through. The Hell is just as dead as the rest of the world and outer gates of Endurance are pressed against a glacier tens-kilometre thick. It is the city under siege of its own world and, as in every besieged city, everything is scarce.

But to remind you, Endurance stood at the gates of the Hell. They are used to sieges.

It is just that nature of piety changed a bit.

You see, in order to have sufficient heat and light, the demons that burn in each household must be fed. Demons ‘eat’ sins and sinners, and while people are too valuable resource to waste, sin can be relatively easily generated.

Sins in Endurance are quite meagre. Household demons, those refugees from Hell that managed to reach Endurance in desperate flight before the world collapsed, would probably pass over such sins in better times. But now it is all that they have. They are part of Endurance now and have to survive on scarce resources just like everybody else.

City didn’t abandon piety. If anything, the piety became ironclad because it is now the only way of survival. Without awareness of moral decadence the sin would be meaningless – wolves don’t sin when they kill, they just follow their nature, and demons won’t be able to sustain themselves on wolves. To achieve its full potency, the sin must be raw, full of remorse and regret after the action, it cannot become a habit, just a a prayer cannot become a habit if somebody still wishes to keep their divine powers, however they are scarce after the world's end, under silent skies. On another hand, too much of the sin and the city, while shining brightly, will fall into anarchy and eventually kill itself. Immortal demons understand this too well and they feed in moderation, because neither of them wants to die.

So people of Endurance fornicate, and beat their spouses, and steal, and spread maliciously envious gossips, and pridefully boast, and stockpile more than they should. And then, after the demons are fed, they pray and atone, and give to the poor, and make amends to their victims, and humbly service to public with deep and sincere regrets. The sin tax system is set than nobody has to sin more than they should, and households take shifts. As soon as children are able to perceive and reason, they are made aware of the system and how important it is, and why. The system is just and merciful, if not for an occasional hiccup when the city is hit by ice-heavy storms and requires more heat.

Amidst the frozen world, at gates on frozen Hell, Endurance still stands, shining brightly.

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