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CHAPTER 2 (excerpt)

“And is the Emperor alive or dead?”
“Caesar Automedon himself passed away over a year ago, but a psychic simulation of his judgement, the Vexillarius, is consulted as oracle.”
“For what reason?”
“For ongoing judgement on important matters.”

Oedimon looked to Auric with an approving smile.

“What do they call the Vexillarius?”
“An industrial mirror of the Emperor’s mind.”
“Is it his soul?”
“I don’t know.”
Good. Auric thought. He shows humility.

“For how long will Automedon rule in death?”
“Ten years.”
“Why?”
“A dictatorial security measure before succession is allowed. The soul-storage sentinel is consulted only by Tribunus Igoras, where he sacrifices before the consuls.”

Auric interjected. “You should know too, Telesterion, that it is said at times the Emperor’s spirit-genius manifests, as an ectoplasmic cloud hovering over those assembled, and alters in colour depending on the state of his suffering or happiness in the afterlife.”

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Brendan Heard appeared over the Nile one summer day, floating and shimmering as did the cosmic egg over the black water of Nu at the beginning of time. And he was heard at that time to say: Lo! I am Born with Ra.

And as the sun floated upon the water’s breast, he was with Ra then, as he was with Nu. And when Brendan, according to his desire, uttered the deep thoughts of his mind, that which he named had being. When he gazed into space, that which he desired to see appeared before him.

He went about among men; he took form like unto theirs, and to him the centuries were as years.

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