by Leslie Conzatti. Used with permission.
Prologue, Part 1--Eillumaeia, The Land of the Elitinati
Dawn rose over Eillumaeia, the same hazy greyness that had overshadowed the landscape ever since the day the Council of Elitinati convened and amongst themselves decided that the entire nation should comply under one system of belief and governance, establishing the Six Pillars of Illuminus, and establishing that there would be no other law, and any voice of dissent must be silenced.
In the years that followed, the Elitinati enacted their control. The borders of Eillumaeia became readily evident, as every inch of them became lined with walls, both invisible magic and visible stone and iron. Guards patrolled the borders, not just keeping watch over the people coming in--but also seeing that no one left without proper authorization. Elitinati schools and "church-temples" were established in the large cities, and all other houses of education or worship aggressively abolished.
The Council decided on laws, the Council oversaw the training of the military, and the Council proclaimed the Principles of Elitinati as the final word in scientific discovery, both magic and concrete. Any sort of "miracle" or "anomaly" could and should be explained by the Elitinati, and anything they did not deem worth explaining or exploring was dismissed as "falsified data" or "irrelevant mystique." In order to be accepted as an influencing voice in the Elitinati Council, one had to prove their dominance over the Elitinati. Therein the peoples fell; no one could overshadow the Elitinati. Their only hope was extensive study and meditation, to become wiser than the Council; but if the Council controlled the education, what more could anyone learn beyond what the Elitinati already knew? Even the news bulletins and the entertainment was geared toward Elitinati dominance. It was a normal way of life for even the fiction world, and as for the news--well, one never heard much from the world outside, but what of that? What was so important that one could not be satisfied to tolerate the "broad" ways of the Elitinati? Could they not be content in their situation? So long as the Pillars stood, the Elitinati provided comfort for its compliant citizens. They "listened" sympathetically to all complaints and questions, then answered them according to their great wisdom, correcting the person's "mistaken hypotheses" and sending them on their way with a "better understanding" of the "right" way to view the world. A series of gas-spewing factories provided the illusion of economic and employment security, and the overrule was complete.
At Gate SE14, along the southeastern border of Eillumaeia, the captain on duty, Sir Lyam, snapped to attention as the cry of a wind-whistler echoed through the trees. There were no wind-whistlers anywhere near the gates of Eillumaeia, of course--but there were those who could make themselves invisible in the trees, and imitate the noise perfectly.
Sir Lyam peered through the fetid smog as he listened carefully to the steps approaching, knowing that this was all the warning he would get before the traveler (or travelers) came into sight, at which time an enemy would be close enough to kill Lyam and all of his men.
today, he heard one set of footsteps. A lone traveler, walking very slowly, and very softly. Lyam had to strain so hard to listen for the footfalls that he had to fight to maintain his composure when the traveler cried, "Ho!"
Lyam jerked upright and squinted through the fog; the traveler stood just close enough for Lyam to make out his silhouette, but remained at enough distance to be shrouded in fog.
"Step forth and identify yourself!" Sir Lyam commanded.
The stranger took one step forward, and in a strange, hollow voice, replied, "The Illuminus is the root, the Elitinati is the tree, and the Council is the crown."
Such was the traditional incantation of only the ones lucky enough to be selected for training as an Elitinati, at their chief Training School at the heart of Eillumaeia. Sir Lyam immediately bowed, acknowledging the Elitinati affiliation of the stranger, even if this person was only a novice in the school. Furthermore, Lyam knew that to press an Elitinati for further identification was to risk an inquiry into his own insubordination that would inevitably result in his being sent to work in the deepest regions of the largest factory.
"Enter, O Great One," Lyam replied, opening the magic gate and the iron one for the traveler.
The stranger entered the magic curtain, but paused before the iron gate.
"Tell me, captain," the stranger spoke in that same, strange-sounding tone, that bore alternately a soft treble and a firm, dark sound, "Have you served as Gatekeeper long?"
Sir Lyam considered this question odd, but he did not hesitate as he replied, "Ever since my younger days, Your Excellence."
"And you have seen everyone and everything that has come through this gate since that day?"
Sir Lyam nodded, "I have seen everything, O Enlightened One."
The faceless traveler gave a light chuckle, and responded, "Only one thing you have not seen, Captain; that which I am. Remember this day," the traveler at last stepped through the gate and into the outskirts of Eillumeia, "For today you have seen the Reckoning of the Elitinati!"