Clubs

This boy showed promise. This boy showed the most promise that Chou-Ren had ever seen. It was with great excitement that he finally got to lay the fleck of burning ember on this young man's forehead, thereby selecting him for the Rite which so many of his peers coveted. Chou-Ren knew by now the procedure by heart. Though never undergoing it himself, the Rite involved days of fasting and meditation, followed by an extreme physical test. The well-preparedness of the boy to undertake it would summon the presence of their God, who would assist with the boy's challenge in return for the promise of a vessel to commandeer when the time was right for His return.

Chou-Ren had been selectively breeding for this day from the moment he arrived in Pinnyance. Armed with nothing but a burned staff and a religious ideology, Chou-Ren had sought the finest warriors in the land to form his new temple and monastic order. When their training regimen was complete, he would grant the most powerful monks the right to marry one another and bear children, as long as the children would enter into a lifetime of training at the temple.

Chou-Ren was looking at the fourth generation of child to be born under his watch. Yes, his students had to breed young, but he was just a man and would not live forever. There was no time for failure. They were old enough, by his judgement. All his God needed was a healthy framework; specifics, such as the vessel's age, meant nothing to one as timeless as He. This latest child was a marvel, and Chou-Ren had great faith that finally, after so many years, he would sense the presence of his one true Lord and Master once more.

The Rite differed slightly from the one Chou-Ren's former master officiated. For one, he now required that his best warriors pass on their genes before undergoing any trials. He was a great believer in hereditary greatness, but the trial was fatal to all who did not pass, a trend in outcomes so far unbroken. While he hoped this time would be different, Chou-Ren took no chances. This was the world's most important endeavour.

After the boy's union with the temple's most gifted female warrior, he would begin his days of fasting and meditation. The other initiates would construct a wooden cage around him while he waited. And, when the time was due, Chou-Ren would ignite the cage and await his God's arrival. If the boy should escape the burning prison, the others were ready; all the initiates would take up their clubs and attack the boy. If he truly did contain God's Spirit, there would be no doubt as to the victor of this fight.

It had not happened. Four decades of trials and all Chou-Ren had to show for it was a pile of scorched bones. But this time, he knew. This boy showed promise. This boy showed promise.