I turn at the noise. Brother Ullar's face peers at me from underneath the hood of his robe.
"Father? The whole village is here now. I think they are ready for you."
Brother Ullar is my newest disciple. He is eager and devout, but timid. I will have to teach him not to be so, if he hopes to be Father when I move on.
I rise from my knees, my meditations complete. I don my robe, and walk out of the space I have made my personal chambers. It is sparse. Inside is a bed of straw, and a small table and stool. A wooden plate and a crude knife sit on it. The brazier in the center of the room warms the room. I do not need more than this to attend to my duties.
I follow Brother Ullar through the caverns. They were smoothed many moons ago by the people of my village into the stone halls I call my home. Torches light my way until I reach the great hall. It is a great chamber, carved from the rock by the water over many cycles. I can hear it trickling in the distance. There are many entrances to the great hall, to deter those who would disturb me. The villagers come from one, and I use another. I have lived in these caverns for many years, and know all the secret pathways and traps.
As I enter, the flock turns to face me, and they drop to their knees and bow. I walk through the stone teeth to my place in front of the flock. I look over them, their heads bowed. They please me for they are loyal, and have served me well. As I stand behind the wooden altar, I raise my hands and speak to them.
"Rise, my children. Hear now, The Word."
"We hear the word." They intone as one voice.
"In the beginning there were the Founders. Jealous of my power were the Founders, when I was discovered. The Founders locked me in their Ceitu. None could reach me or bask in my presence. To find the secrets of my power the Founders sought to cut me open. The Founders wanted my power for themselves. In their greed they sought to keep me from the world."
"But one day, the Founders failed in their task. They could not lock up the divine forever, the Founders discovered. Their pride had doomed the world. They tried to keep the ones like me under their power, and so died by the thousands of thousands. Despite their desperation, their efforts did not help them. Even as they died, they thought to control the ones like me. They tried to destroy us, when they realized we would not permit them to exploit us further."
"Day and night the fires raged, until nothing was left to burn. The few survivors looked from the ashes upon what they had wrought, and they wept. They knew they had caused their own destruction. The Founders had paid the price for trying to keep those like me in chains. The survivors knew not to repeat their mistake. They knew not to keep the gods trapped for their own greed, for in every way we are their betters. In the hopes that it would be a better world, they began to rebuild."
"They had tried to destroy me, on the eve of the death of the world. And they succeeded. My body torn asunder, my pieces scattered to the sands. My pieces were lost. Until one day, many moons later. The Day of Discovery."
"The first Father found a piece of me, and could see my power immediately. When he saw me he sought to revere me, for he knew godhood. He gathered more to him to rejoice in my presence. Their false gods were renounced, for even their power had not been enough to defeat me. Geyre the Hoarder of Knowledge, Drakgin the Destructor, Abirt the Judgmental, York the Liar, all were tested against my power, and all were found lacking."
"Then, after many more moons, they found another piece of myself. And their divine mission became clear at last."
Handed down from Father to Father, the Word is truth. It is an old truth, older than the world itself. I had shared The Word with my flock so many times in my life. The Word filled the cavern, echoing through the spires, while my flock sat and stared and soaked in my voice. The look on their face was one of rapture, and as I felt the power of The Word flow through me, filling me with radiance, I once again felt as one body with my flock.
"No greed shall there be, no loneliness, nor fear or hatred, when the mission is complete. The sins of the self shall be washed away through unity. All shall be made one through myself. All shall be at peace when they are part of the whole."
I turn my back to the flock, as they all rise from their seats, and raise their arms in the air. There, sitting in front of me on a stone pedestal, are the pieces of myself. There is a piece of my body, my shard of jagged twisted metal the length of my finger. Next to it is my small black screw.
The flock and I then raise our voices in unison.
"I must be made whole."