Each footstep echoes back at me as if in answer to my march forwards down the central aisle. A cold recognition of my presence in this so called holy place. Not a welcoming response but one of unwavering indifference. The floor and the pillars and the walls returning to me nothing more than what I throw at them. An indifference that is now all too familiar. The building does not answer me, but ignores my call. Just as he did, all those years ago.
I hear my own juvenile words from long before. I hear how I shouted out at him. I remember my pleading voice, my desperate cry of “Why!?”
I got no answer then, when I was younger and more naive and oh so pathetic. So stupidly naive just like the others in his flock. My voice got no answer then and my thoughts get no answer now.
He will never answer me.
Pausing momentarily I reflect on how I rushed forward bleating out my demands for explanation and screaming with fury. The place I had known so well, the place that was a guiding light in my life, had turned from a sanctuary to a perpetrator of such deep deceit.
I remember the lies all too well. I remember but I know now.
Repentance will save no one.
I remember how I took the steps in wild anger up to the high altar. Steps I take now with a cold, hard loathing. A silent hatred. I remember how I shouted at him with such passion and hurt. I remember how he turned away and replied so softly with his own delusion of security.
“I am safe here, in this sanctuary.”
“Are you insane?” My accusation so painfully accurate. The old fool believed he could come to no harm here. Despite the reality that surrounds him. Despite the war on his doorstep. Despite those brethren of his who lay dead in the world outside. My brothers who lay dead.
I remember how I felt. How I knew it was his insanity that had killed them. His inability to act.
He believed himself safe and protected from the harsh realities of life. He cared for little beyond that. The walls of his cathedral protecting him from the brutality of nature. The pillars holding up the roof that would shield him from the burning heat of the sun and the burning reality of the struggle for survival.
He had lived a long life, plump on the gifts of his congregation. A life gifted with food and wine and status he barely deserved. A life spent in pious superiority that granted him control over so many things he could barely understand. A life that led him into a position where he held the lives of his flock at his charge. A life that led him to blindness and indifference. Indifference to the changes outside. Indifference to the pleas of people desperate for protection from forces that came to ruin all they had built. Indifference to the cries of help as, one by one, his flock descended into a self-consuming madness driven by the inability to understand the destruction that fell upon them. The war that came to their homes. A madness that grew into a cancer in their society that tore itself apart to survive.
I remember him and his indifference. An indifference borne out of blindness. An inability to see reality for what it is. To see the fragility of society that so many take as unwavering. A society he made.
An inability to understand the true nature of those animals that gather in his great halls. An inability to see them as they beasts that they are. Beasts when all the veneer is gone. Beasts when all the niceties are removed. Beasts when all that stands between them and their last meal is a small defenceless child. A child that would become their last meal in their desperate attempt to survive.
I remember him and his words.
“Death cannot harm me.” He said coolly as I took my blade to his throat. “God will save me.”
I remember his face when reality sunk in. When he faltered and fell. I remember that first cut and the blood that lingered for a moment on my steel. I remember the power.
I remember it now as I repeat my steps. As I walk with ease up the aisle of this new holy place. I remember the truth I learned then. I remember it when I look upon her. A new shepherd with a new flock. I remember that first cut and my cries of anger. How it contrasts to the power I hold in my calm now.This time I smile. A smile with such deceit.
“Good morning, Mother. I was wondering if you could help…”
I remember all that was then, when I speak to her now. I remember my Blade and I imagine how beautiful she will be when she follows in my footsteps.
I remember. And I will have my answer.