The Prophet spoke.
He spoke of dark omens. He spoke of corrupt officials. He spoke of greed, of waste, of hard times for the people. The people who roamed without aim, who had lost their homes and livelihoods, who feared for the health of their families.
But always, the Prophet brought hope. This is why the people followed him. He reassured the people that they were strong, that they had persevered through past troubles, that they carried an inner strength that could see them through the darkness, and that they had abandoned the Old Gods for his messages, his leadership.
There would be hard times ahead, but the Prophet promised he would do everything in his power to ease their suffering, to insure the health of their children, to recover from the malaise exacerbated by the terrible reign of the Old Gods.
But that he could only do so if the people helped themselves, if they forewent lives of leisure and educated themselves in these troubled times, if they could bring themselves to endure the consequences of their wanton excesses.
Then it was the opposition’s turn to speak.
They had sent their youngest, freshest representative, Jyn-dall, to ease the terrified citizenry that they no longer had anything to fear from the Old Gods: the Hand of Marquette, the Bag of Limbs, the Life Right, Rounalragone, and the Society of the Owners, all mysterious and unknowable beings, all who guided the decisions of prophets past.
Jyn-dall had taken long, slow strides toward the speaking box. Perhaps a man of gravitas who commanded authority could have done such with respect, but one so young and ambling invited scorn and disdain with this action, before he had but opened his mouth a priest by the name of Matthew was heard to invoke the name of the almighty to ward himself.
Jynd-all spoke as the former Prophet, in a falsely affected rural manner, despite his education at Oxford. Fucking Oxford, he was a fucking Rhodes Scholar, don’t you dare tell me that’s his natural voice. Anyway, he spoke of baffling miracles: the harmless volcanoes, the floating transports, and the conflation of the Old Gods with all deities, that somehow their errors impugned the entire divine race. He contradictorily reasserted, as the worshippers of the Old Gods always did, that the citizenry should not allow any deities of any sort to interfere with their lives. This despite his personal overseeing of the worst storm and flood the citizenry had seen in generations.
This confused jumble of apologies and blame could not have been spoken at a worse time. The priests would not have it. His fellows who had worshipped the Old Gods alongside him decried his nihilism. Those who were not his comrades made mock of his speaking after the Prophet; that it was like watching an angelic choir precede a band of filthy minstrels. His lone supporter, the Bag of Limbs, was heeded by few but his most devout followers, as his reputation had suffered since the whole Oxycontin thing.
Meanwhile, the Prophet continued unabated with his plans for Iraqi troop withdrawal.