"The D-Castes who are descendants of sinners and heathens! The D-Castes who must repent for their ancestors' sins and heathenry! The D-Castes who will support the Holy Foundation with their bodies!"
This tale is set in the Doctors of the Church Canon.
Besides the Monasteries of the Holy Foundations and the towns of civilians, the villages of the D-Caste formed the remainder of civilised land. Surrounded by the walled garrisons manned by the Omega Guards, D-Caste men and women lived and bred within their villages.
At the outskirts of the D-Caste village of Gock, four D-Castlings were engaged in a folk game. Three of them were children and they stared intently at the fourth, a teenager close to adulthood. The fourth D-Castling was relatively carefree, watching his three friends intently as they struggled not to blink. But in the end, it was inevitable.
The D-Castling on the furthest left blinked; his eyes made a quick sweep downwards. The fourth D-Castling noticed it, and quickly arm-locked the blinker. The other two D-Castlings did not bother to carry on, and similarly blinked.
"Second Boy D-37428353 has lost again!" The fourth D-Castling declared, his left arm still gripping onto Second Boy D-37428353's head.
"Boy D-48572946, let go of me already!" Second Boy D-37428353 pleaded to the eldest of the lot.
"Yeah, you're so big." Another D-Castling chimed in.
"That's why I get to play the Expunged! If you cannot handle me, they will really expunge you castlings." Boy D-48572946 retorted, finally letting go of Second Boy D-37428353.
"Ca-castlings… y-you're also a castling!" Second Boy D-37428353 protested.
"Not for long. I'm scheduled to be designated tonight!" Boy D-48572946 reminded his peers.
"Castlings, stop taking the Holy Procedures in vain! The Omega Guards have warned you for this already!" a cracked voice yelled furiously.
The three younger D-Castlings cowered behind the most senior among them, Boy D-48572946. A middle-aged D-Caste woman of stocky stature was carrying a basketful of vegetables and some tree bark.
"Mom, we're only preparing for our future service to the Holy Foundation!" Boy D-48572946 shouted towards his distant mother, D-83756246.
"If you kids got time to ape Holy Procedures, help out in the harvest!" D-83756246 grumbled.
"Mom, is that all from the harvest?" Boy D-48572946 asked, pointing at the basket, "And tree bark again?"
"The Holy Foundation needs more sustenance. We'll make do with all that can be allotted to us." D-83756246 said, "And son, come with me. A last chance to speak before tonight."
Boy D-48572946 parted with his friends and walked off with his mother.
"Ah, I can't wait to get out of here. There must be plenty at the Monasteries," Boy D-48572946 remarked. "The food is getting littler by the seasons, and there is the edict that prohibit us from culling our numbers after that incident last winter."
"Son, you know not of the Holy Foundation's ways. Our starvation is the Holy Foundation's love towards us, the D-Caste."
"But we are sinners, mom. We descended from sinners."
D-83756246 paused for a moment and contemplated. She then prepared to utter her response to that.
The hours went by, and it was nighttime in Gock. At the centre of the village, the Orientation Rite was underway. All D-Castes in the village were gathered, singing their folk hymns and dancing the ancient dances of their ancestors. Two D-Caste women tended to a fire, where multiple branding irons were left to be heated up. Occasionally, the women would hurl books to fuel the fire, as it was customary of Gock to use paper to maintain the fire. All the adult D-Castes were in tattered orange jumpsuits, with torn short sleeves and opened at the chest. The Castlings donned a random assortment of loincloths and rags that covered whatever the individual deemed fit.
A platoon of Omega Guards stood at the periphery, with their short swords and crossbows on hand. More Omega Guards stood watch from the battlements of their garrison, viewing the situation from telescopes and their archers on standby. The D-Castes paid the Omega Guards no mind, enjoying themselves without a care.
The crowd of D-Castes surrounded a dais protruding from the ground, and an elderly D-Caste woman in the same tattered orange jumpsuit surveyed the crowd of fellow villagers with eagle-like eyes. To her fellow villagers, she was their spiritual leader. She lived long and represented great wisdom, or whatever the Holy Foundation allowed her to have. She did have a designation, but villagers called her 'Elder' out of respect. The Omega Guards stationed there did not care about what the D-Caste called one of their own, as long they fulfilled the Holy Foundation's directives.
In due time, the Elder judged that all were accounted for. She stepped down from her dais and took out a scroll from the sash that held her robes together.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" The Elder yelled, and the village full of D-Castes halted their merrymaking. The eyes of the D-Castes were on the Elder, who uttered the words from the Nameless Pastor's Orientation to the D-Caste.
"Grace to the Lord Bright and all His Saints and Prophets." The Elder continued, "We are gathered here to celebrate the designation of our Castlings. For those Castlings are now men and women. All that is left is to be designated as men and women."
The Elder's voice grew louder. Meanwhile, the D-Caste women took out the branding irons from the flames and walked towards the dais.
"A designation to make our Castlings men and women, and they will assume the responsibility of men and women! The responsibility to cleanse our lineages of our forefathers' sins! The sins of our ancestors' heathenry! The heathenry of which we redeem ourselves through our labour!"
"The responsibility to cleanse our lineages of our forefathers' sins! The sins of our ancestors' heathenry! The heathenry of which we redeem ourselves through our labour!" The other D-Castes repeated the mantra of their people, a mantra spake of since their ancestors' repentance and submission to the Holy Foundation.
As the villagers' chants died down, the Elder began reading the contents of her scroll.
"Only one Castling for this night! 18 years ago, a male was born to D-48572946 and D-83756246. Tonight, Boy D-48572946 will be designated. No longer will he be a boy of his father. For he shall become a man. Boy D-48572946, step up and claim your designation."
Boy D-48572946 walked up toward the dais, wearing only a loincloth. The crowd of villagers cheered him on, as he laid down on the dais, face-up and spreadeagled. The D-Caste women held the branding irons above his chest and right forearm.
"Boy D-48572946, do you accept the responsibility of a man and take on the same duty as your father, and his father before him, in service to the Holy Foundation?" asked the Elder.
"Yes, Elder." replied Boy D-48572946.
"So be it. In the name of the Lord Bright, designate the D-Caste!" The Elder declared.
The two robed D-Caste women quickly lowered their branding irons; the white-hot metal made contact with his flesh. Boy D-48572946 let out a pain-filled yell, which was drowned out in the cacophony of cheers and applause from the D-Castes. The child's mother — D-83756246 — only covered her mouth at the necessary act, eyes downcast. The Omega Guards remained firm at their station, having seen the oft-repeated Rite many times.
The Elder gave a signal to the two D-Caste women, and they lifted the branding irons. Steam shot from the man's flesh, leaving identical darkened marks on his right wrist and chest. It would henceforth be his designation. No longer was he a boy of another D-Caste, for he would be a D-Caste in his own right. The following designation was branded onto him:
"Henceforth, in the name of the Lord Bright, D-34029132 has been designated!" The Elder declared solemnly.
"D-34029132!" The crowd chanted.
The newly-anointed D-34029123 stood up from the dais and observed his fellow villagers cheering on in congratulations. The Elder draped an orange jumpsuit over D-34029132, and he quickly donned the marker of his adulthood. All this time, the Omega Guards looked on with unchanging faces.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" The Elder yelled again to call for attention, "The Holy Foundation has called for the D-Caste to perform a Trial of Service. The D-Caste who are descendants of sinners and heathens! The D-Caste who must repent for their ancestors' sins and heathenry! The D-Caste who support the Holy Foundation with their body!"
"The D-Castes who are descendants of sinners and heathens! The D-Castes who must repent for their ancestors' sins and heathenry! The D-Castes who will support the Holy Foundation with their bodies!" The crowd of D-Castes repeated the Elder's words, like sheep to a shepherd.
"Who answers the call of the Holy Foundation?" asked the Elder, "The Holy Foundation seeks only one D-Caste from our village."
D-34029132, who was still beside the dais, raised his hand without thought. Some within the crowd let out breaths of relief at the newly-recognised adult's unusual initiative. Teardrops trickled from the eyes of his mother, D-83756246. The Omega Guards marched forward, with D-Castes stepping back reverently before their social betters. D-34029132 smiled at the Omega Guards and walked away under their escort.
Many seasons after, D-34029132 remained in his Trial of Service where he lived out his days in the Overwatch Cathedral. The last leg of his final task was underway, and his body was prepared for it. As per the Holy Doctors' decree, D-34029132 had fasted for countless days until he was but a shell of a man. All of his teeth, fingernails and toenails had been pulled out as well. That was the protocol and mercy of the Holy Doctors, for many succumbed to temptations and culled themselves. For a D-Caste to cull oneself or fellow D-Castes without the approval of the Holy Doctors is a sin.
But D-34029132 was calm, for he was so close to seeing his dearest wish fulfilled. As the Omega Guards tied him down with great chains, a Cardinal Doctor spoke to him.
"Yes, my lord." As he spoke, the D-Caste recalled one of his mother's last words to him, now but a distant memory:
"Yes, we are sinners. But Lord Bright loves us as well. In the Holy Procedures Lord Bright personally passed down, only the D-Castes may be indwelled by Him."