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But there are others in equally poor condition whose residents should be moved, but I don't know where to send them. We have so many old buildings in this district and the residents are poor. Neighboring districts are reluctant to take in any more displaced citizens. Perhaps an edict on charity will open up a few more doors to the homeless. The crown will pay for it. How many more buildings do you think need to be emptied? They were all built during the Great Reconstruction and are at least five hundred years old. Four house local businesses and two are used for storage, but the remainder are residences.

At least a thousand people will be displaced. Begin making arrangements for the evacuation at once. I'll find places for the people to stay. Protecting the lives of our citizens must be given the highest priority. The official blinked in surprise. I shall begin at once. What did you find? Halmi was seated on the far side of the table going through a stack of papers and making careful notes on one of the city maps. We are losing too many buildings. Already some areas are starting to feel the pressure of overcrowding.

The building had been evacuated. But if all the old buildings are emptied, we won't have enough room to house all the people. We will need to build shelters. Halvar chuckled humorlessly. There is something you should see. Ordinarily, you wouldn't do this until you assumed the mantle of the Dragon King, but under the circumstances, I think we can break with that tradition.

Tomorrow, we will go to the Temple. Hadrin stared and Halvar nodded slowly. I have looked at it with my own eyes and once you see it, you cannot help but believe.

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There I was shown the fissure and felt its hot breath blowing on my face. But when the priests asked me if I would fulfill the prophecy, I refused. At that time, in my youth and arrogance, I did not believe the world would really end.

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But now these earthquakes have me questioning my belief and my decision. Hadrin gazed into his father's eyes, so like his own, and felt a great confusion. It is that prophecy which I refused. I want you to go with me. What news could the Chief Priest of Mota have to impart?

Mora loved the meditation room on the top floor of the Temple. Few priests or priestesses cared to make the long climb up the several flights of stairs needed to reach this room, so he usually had it to himself. The dark gleam of the polished granite walls looked like stone seen through clear water. The white linen curtains covering the tall windows in the south facing wall floated silently on the breeze, blocking direct sunlight but filling the room with a warm, muted light.

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The ceiling high above was covered in smooth white plaster to reflect the light from the windows and the floor was made of teak panels; dark and smooth. A dozen or so stuffed cushions were stacked against the wall by the door. Mora knelt on another such cushion with his back to the windows, contemplating the blank wall in front of him. This room was where he felt most at peace with himself. In this room, he could contemplate his future without becoming confused by fear and doubt.

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It was in this room, at the age of nine, that his grandfather had told him it was his fate to see the end of the world. When you die, the world will die with you, for there is no one left to fulfill the prophecy. Mora remembered those words now as he studied the wall and let his empathic awareness reach out into the world around him. He could feel the other priests and priestesses, in meditation like him or engaged in other business. He could feel the servants going about their duties and the guards beyond patrolling the temple grounds.

But most of all, he could feel the great fissure below the temple, slowly and inexorably sucking away the life of the world. Mora was always aware of the fissure, even when he was not meditating. It was the gift and the curse of his heritage. He was bound to that wound in the world. Mired deep in his empathic awareness, Mora felt the young serving girl slowly making her way up the steps toward him. She did not want to disturb him.

He could feel her unhappiness at being sent on this errand. Mora came out of his trance with a smile when she knelt in the doorway.

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The girl immediately hopped to her feet. Mora acknowledged her obedience with a nod and left the chamber. Partway down the stairs, she overtook him, but she remained three steps behind him. A nagging discomfort tugged at Mora just as he reached the first landing and he stopped. Turning to the serving girl, he held out his hand. Surprised, the girl clasped his hand as she stepped down onto the landing.

At that moment, the floor began to shake as a tremor rattled the temple. The earthquake had been small, but it had been very deep underground.

Those were the worst. Mora sighed in resignation. He would have to go to the bottom chamber. The fissure would have widened again. He did not speak to anyone as he made the long trek from the top of the temple to the lowest floor.

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The servants he passed watched him nervously and whispered quietly to each other as he went by. They knew where he was going. As he entered the chamber, he found half a dozen priests, including Matar, clustered around the central point of the fissure. We cannot keep this a secret anymore. We shall have to tell him everything so he can prepare. It will only cause panic if people know. Besides, don't we still have the length of my lifetime? I'm only nineteen. I only saw him once during his visit ten years ago. I would like to know what kind of man he is. Mora nodded in agreement. The priests of Mota had been measuring and recording the fissure for a thousand years.

In all that time it had never widened, until now when the earthquakes started. The first earthquake had occurred on the day of Mora's birth; the second on the day of his mother's death shortly after his second birthday.

soilstones.com/wp-content/2020-03-19/655.php The older priests whispered that the gods were out of patience. Privately, Mora agreed.