The Ministry

Recorded Week Three, The Year of the Prophecy

We convened in the great hall, where stone ancestors watched from the walls as we tried to remember the words that would begin our session. We didn’t, and so we read them from ancient tomes, cracked and worn by the centuries. 

Eight councilors stood on either side, their crimson robes tied with silk and sewn with gold. I wore the demon crown—the one that once belonged to the very first Mage Queen. I couldn’t help but doubt its history even as it touched my hair, shining upon the white tresses that fell down my spine. Is it true she once defeated the demon from whom she took it? Did she really ride upon the backs of dragons and escape to the sky?

“I called the council because I believe the prophecy foretold by our ancestors has come to pass,” I said, my voice echoing against the stone. “The Divine City is falling.”

Looks passed between councilors, murmurs escaped their lips. “Perhaps it is only that the Divine Tower needs to be updated,” one emissary from the Order of Reflection finally broached. “We have some of the finest architects in the city, surely we can fix the problem ourselves.”

It is hard to believe in magic. Though we live in a city that floats in the sky, the idea that it does so because of spells our ancestors once spoke seems foreign to us now. Since the Divine City was founded, our citizens have created one of the most advanced societies in existence. We believe in ourselves now—in our industry and our ingenuity. Am I the only one who still believes in the old ways?

I wondered if I would be able to convince the ministry of my visions, but I didn’t need to. At that moment, the doors to the great hall opened and the room was filled with fog and light. A man from the Order of Vitriol ran down the aisle with haste and stood between the councilors. “I saw a demon,” he said, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath, “it crawled through the grates of my home.”

Commotion rippled through the orders, their fingers fidgeting beneath their robes. Worry struck some of their faces. Doubt beneath their hoods. I saw the looks of disbelief, the overwhelming sentiment that he must be crazy, the political condemnation that certain orders were not to be trusted—that they believed too much in conspiracy.

Then, just behind him, struggling beneath the weight of the blankets they carried were the man’s eldest sons. They laid their bundle between the councilors and unwrapped it. There lay a demon, flickering in and out of consciousness even as it dissipated like smoke, shifting in the light so that it was hard to discern whether he was real or merely a figment of our imaginations.

We have all heard about the demons, of course. They were rumored to have seeped from the crust of the earth, left behind by the first Mage Queen and the councilors who assembled this city and carried us into the sky, safe from all the demons of the earth. But those stories had become something of a mythology to us. More a symbol of the demons that exist within all of us than an actual creature.

This was the first time any of us had ever seen a demon in the flesh. 

This was the first time many of us would believe.

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