According to the old stories, whispered late at night amongst people who have known each other a long time, there was a time when there were no Temples on the hills in each town or village. These old stories tell of a time from before when our grandfathers were young. They tell of a land much different from this one. The stories tell of a land of a king, of his lords and barons ruling from their castles on those hills.
That was a time before the Dark Priests came.
The castles are long gone now.
Now, we have the Temples on the hills above each town, each Temple with its own watchtower. There are rumours amongst the careful whispers down here in the town that each of those watchtowers has instruments enabling the watching Dark Priests to see and hear everything going on below. That is how, some say, they root out the heretics, the blasphemers and even those who only tell the stories of long ago.
The Dark Priests claim they came to save us, save us from the rule of kings and lords and to bring about a new golden age where we would all be free, and all would be equal.
Yes, we are all equal now, except for the Dark Priests themselves of course. They are far above us as the lords and the kings of those long ago times. They claim it is not like that now, though. They claim they are our servants, but it is only ever we who are hauled to the dungeons below the Temples. It is only we who are dragged from our beds and our families in the middle of the night and are never seen again. It is our daughters that disappear and are lost, vanishing suddenly without word or alarm from the streets as they go about their daily business. It is our brightest cleverest sons that are taken from the Dark Priests’ schools and are never seen again.
No-one knows what the Dark Priests look like under the deep hoods that keep their faces in shadow, even on the hottest days, whenever they walk amongst us. Or when their armed squads rush down from the hilltop towers to take those who the priests call the blasphemers and the heretics. Those who dare question, disparage or say anything against the rule of the Dark Priests.
They come for their taxes too, a percentage of everything we make, grow, build or create. It all belongs to us, the Dark Priests claim. They say they are using these taxes to make the world a better place for us, and for the children that will come after. They are bringing us this new Golden Age, the Dark Priests proclaim. But it seems to be such a long time coming. The way they take our boys, our young girls, and tax us to the point of almost starvation makes it seem that this Golden Age they promise gets further and further away each year, rather than closer.
Meanwhile, at night, there are the whispers that tell of the old days. Whispers that the rule of the Dark Priests is worse than what we had before. If the Dark Priests ever hear only an inkling of those whispers, the only thing we know for sure is that those that whisper and those that listen will never see that Golden Age that has long been promised, but has never appeared.