The door to the priest's waiting room slowly opens. Pelax, with his dark robes, walks in, closing the door behind him. He takes his gloves off, puts them on the small table by the door, and rests his cane next to them.
Looking around the empty room, he slowly slips into his ceremonial vestments, which had been stored in the large wardrobe in one corner of the room. The vestments are jet black, with large, intricately-embroidered motifs along the back and sides depicting the glories of the Empire in silver thread. Picking up his gloves and cane, he stows them into the back of the wardrobe. After all, they cost him a small fortune to acquire.
Callixtus, holding a bottle of what appears to be very expensive brandy, opens a side door, liquor slopping out the neck of the bottle as he sets it down on another small table.
"Callixtus," Pelax mutters with a small nod.
"Inquisitor", Callixtus replies, shuffling over to the wardrobe on the opposite corner. Opening the door, he begins to put on his vestments: white with gold inlay decorated with various symbols and iconography of the Church spread across his breast and shoulders. An ornate gold belt holds the robe in place, the Imperial Crest as a Buckle.
The men sit in silence, the occasional burp punctuating the deep quiet of the room as Callixtus finishes his brandy. No doubt the bottle also cost a small fortune, the Trilliant Ring logo flickering holographically in a variety of colours.
Pelax breaks the awkward silence. "My dear Callixtus, what brings you so far from Imperial Prime? Itl has been quite some time since Andophael was graced with your, particular, brand of worship," he says, gesturing to the now nearly empty bottle of high-grade liquor.
"The people of Hong Lu were kind enough to host me at a banquet. The Council sent me to investigate their 'charity work' but there was nothing to be found. Directors of A.C.R.E were also in attendance. They expressed concern about the faith of their people. I decided it was in the best interest of the High Church to put those concerns to rest." The normally jubilant man sighed. "It is troubling times we live in, Pelax. I fear your skills will be in great demand."
"My skills, and those of the Inquisition, have always been in great demand, my dear Callixtus. It is only now that the Voice realises as much, and is willing to do something about it," Pelax says in a hushed tone.
A soft knock at the door, and Batukhan Alexander, Exarch of the Purists, enters the now mildly crowded room. Callixtus snaps from a slouch to attention, hiding the bottle of Trilliant Brandy behind his back. Pelax stands and bows to the head of his order. "Exarch," he says, "We had not received word that you would be arriving. What brings you from Andophael?"
"The Council thought it best a higher level representative of the Church be here," said Batukhan, attaching the stole to the back of his vestments and shrugging them into position. The cream on white gives a hypnotic effect as he moves back to the cupboard to stash his personal effects. "With the current state of the sector, there are certain things that the Grand Voice and other Exarchs want taken special care of. Besides, Tatiana never likes missing opportunities for good publicity. She is even considering a full interview with PRISM, though I doubt the others would consent. She has a tendency of putting herself in ill favor with other diplomats." Finishing belting his robes, he takes a seat near Callixtus, grabbing a glass for himself and pulling out from his sleeve a flask before filling his glass with the contents. "Not to mention the most recent bout of diplomacy we engaged in ended with a member of the church of humanity repentant daring myself, the Grand Voice and an inquisitor to kill him in an audience chamber if we deemed him a threat. Good publicity is something that would assuage any concerns of the council and the Grand Voice."
A small bell rings in the antechamber's speakers. Slow, chanting hymns slowly began to fill the room outside, a muffled creak echoing through the hall as the large steel main doors open, allowing the worshippers to take their seats for the service. Pelax, rising slowly, motions for Callixtus to join him. "Nothing too heretical, if you please Callixtus. I despise the paperwork."
Standing in the doorway, Callixtus cast a baleful glance at Pelax. "I merely say what is in the sacred texts, who am I to soften their impact?" he chortles. "In any case, I doubt many in this particular audience will be listening."
Callixtus grabs Pelax's arms as he makes to go through the side door to the main church chamber, and motions the Exarch closer. "There's a reporter here from PRISM. Morton. He was on Hong Lu with me. He intends to write an expose, so we should be very careful in our words," he whispers, glancing at the door.
"If the Network cared about such things they would have published things far more scandalous than a sermon long ago", Pelax says dryly. "With the political and religious upheaval of late, there is more than enough fodder for the tabloids for the minor heresies of two priests to make any kind of headway. Besides, the Corporatists care about profit, regardless of the truth or meaning of what we preach about here today. When the time comes, I pray the Church can right that particular Imperial shortcoming, but for now there isn't anything to worry about." Callixtus gives a small nod.
"I invited the reporter to share a drink with us here afterwards. You can keep me in check as much as you like then. I know some do not share such a liberal view of reinterpreting the older scripture as myself. I'll keep the theories and context to a minimum this time."
"Drinking? With you, Callixtus?" Pelax chuckles. "I will see if we can get a biomedical transport on standby. This reporter may need to have their organs replaced before the night is done."
Two bells ring through the speakers. "Showtime," Pelax mutters, and the three men enter the hall.
a bell is tolling, indicating the sermon will begin in ten minutes
a bell is tolling, indicating the sermon will begin in five minutes
takes a seat in the front row, putting my well worn leather bound prayer book in my lap
The High Priest and the Inquisitor emerge onto the stage from the private clergy chambers
Slow, chanting music fills the chamber.
The two priests, one in white and gold, the other in black and silver walk to the middle of the stage.
Their backs to the pews, they bow before the large, oil painting of the insignia of the High Order of the Church, framed in black.
The music quiets. From the corner of the altar, the priest in black takes a small bucket and brush.
He unstoppers a bottle of what appears to be vodka, and mixes it with another bottle of water in the small bucket.
The two priests start to walk clockwise around the room. Approaching the first pillar, they begin.
"House Crux", the priest says, chanting the recitation for the virtue of faith, sprinkling the pungent liquid over the base of the statue.
Moving to the second pillar, he sprinkles more libation "House Aquila".
He proceeds around the room, list all ten houses, major and minor, sprinkling libation and chanting the recitations of all ten virtues.
The priest in white motions for all to stand for the first hymn.
Welcome, Children of the Empire. My name is High Priest Callixtus. I see many faces in the audience familiar and new. As you may be aware this event is a refresher of sorts. We will review the Ten Virtues and what they mean in your life.
As is tradition, we shall begin this Sermon with song. If you do not have a songbook, that is fine. The Lyrics shall be displayed on the screen for you to follow.
sings along from memory
What a wonderful rendition! It always pleases my heart to hear our sacred songs filling a church hall. It gives me goosebumps.
Now. To the discussion on things above.
God is almighty. They created all things. Their favoured creation was Humanity and they blessed us all with an eternal Soul. In Order to Communicate with Humanity God sent forth Messiahs. Ancient ones who left us the Sacred Texts which we study to this day, but also A living embodiment of God's will. The Messiah, The Emperor.
From our Messiah, we have received the most important knowledge of all. How can I please God?
God, through his Messiah, gave us a way to live our life. A way to direct ourselves in service to his will.
These are The Ten Virtues.
The First Virtue is Faith. It is above all the other Virtues. Faith in God, Faith in the Emperor and Faith in the High Church. Your faith in God should lead you to sacrifice. Sacrifice of the Body, in your wealth. Sacrifice of the Mind, in your Time. Those of you who wish to earn a blessing from God should seek to make Pilgrimage to Andophal, the Holy Planet of the High Exarch.
I now invite you all to meditate on faith. Meditate on what you can do in service to God. You have made a step today by being here, for this Sermon.
A bell tolls, indicating a time for contemplation has begun. These are traditionally 15m in length.
closes my eyes and puts my head down. Appearing to focus.
big ol' alien titties keep popping into my head
The Acolyte Crestus scampers to the control panel. The lights dim slightly. A slight hum starts as a holoscreen is projected in front of the altar.
Images of a family are projected into the center of the room. Two lovers walking underneath 5 moons. A mother teaching her son to read. A farmer plowing his field. A tax collector doing his books. A soldier drilling on a sun-scorched parade ground.
The Second Virtue is Propriety. An Adherence to Tradition. Respecting the station which you are born into, respecting the order in which God places us. To please God you must respect your local authority as well as the authority of God.
A few moments of silence
The projection changes. A judge handing down a verdict. A Soldier leaping through a crumbling wall. A Farmer helping an injured man to his feet.
The Third Virtue is Justice. This is the system by which those who choose to follow the will of God are either rewarded or punished. This Virtue is evidently clear in our Faithful Noble House Crux. It also represents an Inward reflection. As the sacred text states "Who amongst you can remove a twig from your brothers eye, before removing the branch from your own."
The projection shifts one final time. A synth killing a teenage boy. A man in pain, writing as doctors scramble around him. A Farmer, staring at a blighted field, his withered children looking up at him.
The Fourth Virtue is Fortitude. Dearest members of my congregation. You must have fortitude in these difficult times! This is a Virtue of Endurance, or progressing through hard times without complaint. Do not despair when times are tough, for by enduring them happily you please God and shall be rewarded.
Two bells toll, a sign for more contemplation, as before
Children. The questions these virtues can raise within us are often not easy. Should you wish to unburden yourselves from your troubles, our clergy will be available to you in the Confessional during this period of reflection.
Mentally struggling with the second virtue.
Remembering the farm I was born and raised on before I worked my way up to being a director
stand up, heading to the first confessional
the stage is currently empty, aside from the usual furniture
Soft music plays in the background, about being champions
The music slowly dies as the congregation returns to their seats
walks back to my seat, head hung low
The next Virtue is one that comes after meditation
A Virtue that comes after growth, and after learning.
It is the Fifth Virtue, Wisdom.
Wisdom is hard to grasp if you have not first understood the endurance of Fortitude, the peace of Justice and the knowledge of Propriety
DO NOT BE MISLED.
A booming shout, awakens those drowsy in the pews
Do not just accept what you believe the world to be. See it as it actually is.
A graphic appears on the screen, it lists the first five virtues on the left. In the centre there is a mirror, and on the right the last five.
Our Virtues Mirror one another. By studying the first we study the last and by studying the last we study the first.
The Sixth Virtue is Temperance, The Mirror of Wisdom.
Temperance speaks to your wise decisions to be moderate in habits, not indulging in any vice to excess. We should have no desire stronger than the desire to serve God.
We shall now have the second hymn, as we have reached the midpoint in our discussion of the Virtues.
Please those who are able join me in a rendition of a sad story. A poor boy who needed to find his way back to God. Very much like all of us, striving after the Virtues.
bellowing along to the hymn
moves up front due to the pews getting crowded and joins in on the hymn
Comes up down the aisle and tries to be as visibly uncomfortable as she can without it being too obvious and sits
The Seventh Virtue: Diligence, the mirror of Fortitue. Endurance of hard times.
Diligence speaks to not losing focus when you have much and life is easy. Even while your burdens are reduced and you do not have to struggle so hard to feel the blessings of God, it is important you fully complete your service to God. Diligently perform all sacrifices, and attend all services and festivals even if you feel you do not currently need guidance.
The Eighth Virtue is Charity, A mirror of Justice. While Justice often falls heavy upon those who are without faith Charity is the reward who those who have faith. Although adherents to the faith must find contentment in their station and not reach higher, they also should not be forced lower than their station. The Church will provide an equalising to those who are being mistreated by those in stations above them.
Three bells toll, urging people to their seats
Soft music plays, as the Exarch approaches the altar
Hello Everyone, i will be taking over for this part of the Sermon
I can speak to Integrity, The Ninth Virtue and mirror to Propriety. Integrity to one's self is one of the greatest sources of healing for one's soul.
we must not Lie, Lying is to Damage one's soul with a false hood that can Hurt worse than any blade. Truth is the only Thing that can heal that injury.
The Confessions are symbol of Integrity, The Embodiment of that Very Virtue. to Talk with someone and have them help you Guide yourself to a truth that has been Plaguing you.
Tragedy, Loss, Anger, Guilt. all of these things are symptoms or a truth That often we are not ready to face yet and the Confessionals try to Help you.
Alas, I Ramble on, and should Return the Reins of this to one of the priests here
The Exarch makes his way off stage
Thank you, Exarch, for your wise words. It is not often we are graced with the presence of one so faithful as him. Please talk with him further for some facinating insights. And now, to the Tenth Virtue. It is last, but important. It is the Mirror of Faith. Through Faith, we find Hope. To bring back some hope to you in these troubled times you are invited to partake in some light refreshments, and the finest wine our monasteries here on Yakiyah can produce.
Music plays, Acolytes and servants appear. Trays of delicacies and barrels of wine are available in the grand hall and wine tasting room
Eat, Drink and be Merry
Ten Blessings upon all of you for listening today.
Glory to the Empire!
A Soft music starts to play, and acolytes begin cleaning around the stage area outwards to the exit. They are softly shuffling people to the door in a cordon of cleaning