J.M.M. Butterfield

Bastion: Holy City


The scrape of a quill pen on parchment ceased with a sigh.

Cappitus, elder of the Brotherhood of One, placed the quill on the table. With an unsteady hand, he smoothed his grey beard, then narrowed tired eyes to peer out the only window. He was in the East Tower of Irongate, several flights above the Depository. From such a vantage, he could see blue sky above a city of tall towers, sunlight glistening from bronze bells siting high amongst countless belfries. Bastion: where grandiose temples and cathedrals vied for supremacy in a city of splendour. Holy City, she was often called. A city of worship for a people seeking faith.

And yet her people, despite their passion, were lost.

Cappitus blinked back tears. He’d seen the writings in the chamber below, studied signs and glyphs from those who came before. War, famine and infernal heat had arrived, and there were many amongst his order who dared suggest such omens a prelude to eternal damnation.

Thoughts in his own mind, swirling unimpeded, reinforced those warnings.

So often were he and his brothers reminded to trust in the One. From their first initiation, they were taught to believe faith to be a shield against the forces of Chaos. Yet as Cappitus gazed at the bustling streets of Bastion below, he wondered whether it was all a lie.

For how could faith protect a city from unfathomable darkness, when the people it harboured were the embodiment of Chaos itself?

He’d read countless texts on the nature of Chaos. Studied its intricacies. Scholars spanning generations had penned their thoughts and beliefs on the topic. Yet the nature of mankind itself always anchored his own conclusions. Creation, so he believed, was born out of Chaos. The life of man is not without incident, nor is his journey through the ages one of peace and tranquility. It is often unpredictable, sometimes savage, on occasion primal. And it always would be. Chaotic, but also creative.

Cappitus tore his gaze from the summer sky to look down at his journal. The ink had dried, quicker than usual due to the abnormal heat, although his words, carefully written, remained dire. Every ancient text he’d come across spoke of a period of Chaos followed by peace and harmony. And all his work to date suggested now was the time previously ordained. A period of unprecedented Chaos, quickly followed by Order.

He sifted through his first lines, finally focused on the last paragraph. He’d penned two questions at the end. He paused, took a deep breath, then read his final entry. ‘What if mankind is the representation of Chaos? What if Order can only arrive once mankind has been extinguished?’

Elder Cappitus trembled as he read his own words. Despite all his misgivings, he couldn’t deny his inner belief. Concerned for the well-being of mankind, he now held grave fears for their safety.

Gnarled fingers straightened as he pressed his palms together in silent contemplation. Then he prayed, prayed with a passion his old bones hadn’t felt for an age.

Prayed that he was wrong.