Lies Become Truth

The court of the Supreme Pontiff was almost always in session in the Divine Hall. Representatives from all across the Fourth Imperium gathered here to seek an audience with Callidus Magna, or at least to be present when his divinely appointed edicts were issued. Every word spoken by the smiling pontiff in the immaculate white robes that seemed to actually radiate light was absorbed by those in attendance. It was a fact of the way things worked that it was the voice of a god booming clearly to the faithful through this glorious and infallible vessel.

There were however those that served in the court who saw their duty in somewhat more mundane terms. Among these were the free-willed undead that served as middle managers for all of the operations of the Imperium. Key among these tireless minions was the one known now as Penderghast. The most envied of all within and below his rank, Penderghast was the primary deliverer of messages to the Supreme Pontiff. And while Callidus Magna knew all things that were seen and heard by Penderghast the instant that they occurred, it was still a matter of regal theater to have Penderghast enter the Divine Hall and deliver his messages so that the assembled courtiers could bask in the grandeur of announced victories and ponder the wisdom of the Supreme Pontiff’s response to failure. Each and every time there would be hushed discussion afterwards among the gathered dignitaries and for Callidus Magna it gave him an even greater sense of satisfaction that all was going according to plan. Knowing the message before it arrived allowed Callidus Magna to come up with a response designed to invoke awe from his followers and further shore up the idea that he was in fact divinely appointed. It was a perfect way to do business.

This occasion was not much different. Penderghast sweeping into the room with regal aplomb, gazing casually about the room as he delighted in his own moment in the proverbial spotlight. This caused all other talk in the room to cease, and everyone would strain to hear the message being delivered. Penderghast bowed low before his master’s ornately decorated throne and said “Oh merciful Callidus Magna! Holy art thou! Holy art thou! Holy art thou! Receive your servant with kindness and mercy!”

Smiling the disquieting grin that had become his signature look Callidus Magna leaned forward in his throne with a motion that was neither natural nor organic in any way. “My dear vassal Penderghast, you have brought me good news long overdue! Speak that we might all hear of the perils of disobedience!”

Standing tall before the Supreme Pontiff but addressing the entire room with the loud hissing of his voice Penderghast declared, “Lord Unheimlich Verschlinger has been overthrown by his own people! Cornered in his palace he was beset by dragons and devoured! His realm is fallen, and his legacy ground into ashes by the fire of righteous destruction!”

A loud gasp uttered communally among the listeners was greeted by an approving nod from Callidus Magna. Raising his hand to silence the mutterings, the Supreme Pontiff’s voice now boomed across the Divine Hall. “And so it has come to pass, as was prophesied over a thousand years ago, that Lord Verschlinger turning his back upon the true and holy guidance of the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Imperium Church would lead to his ignominious end! So shall it be all across the world! Heed now the divine and sacred counsel of Callidus Magna! Do not turn away from the path that god has placed before you and your nations! If you turn aside from my sacred and perfect rule then ruin will befall you as dragons feast upon your bones and your most loyal and beloved followers loot your crypts and defile your palaces!”

The gathered mass of believers nodded their approval and murmured prayers that they should be spared such a fate. None of them wondered why it took an eon for this fall to occur, or where the dragons had come from. None of them even had the remotest notion of who the unfortunate Lord Verschlinger even was. But nobody was ever going to ask, either. It was right and true to declare that he had had it coming and his defeat was long overdue. They should all make doubly sure that they were never on the wrong end of Callidus Magna’s infallible judgement. The Supreme Pontiff was exploiting the eternal weakness of the power-hungry and foolish. It wasn’t that they sought to believe the lies they were told. They desperately sought a leader who would make the lies become truth.