This bridge we’re on – THERE’S A TRAIN PASSING, SO I’LL HAVE TO SHOUT – THIS BRIDGE IS CALLED THE DUCHESS VIADUCT. IT LINKS CASTLE HILL TO HOLYHILL. THE TEMPORAL TO THE SPIRIT – excuse me, the Spiritual. Parliament and the Keeper’s Church. It’s built for trains and carts, but we can cross along this maintenance walkway. It’s much quicker than trying to get through the tangled streets down there. Wait, don’t look down.
To take your mind off the DROP, I’LL TALK ABOUT THE KEEPERS. Sorry, another train. After the defeat of the Black Iron Gods, the Church of the Keepers took over the city. They – the scriptures say the gods themselves, but between you, me and the wind, everyone knows it was the priests – they feared that the gods would be corrupted just like the Black Iron Cult. So, in Guerdon we Keep our gods. Worship is doled out, so the gods don’t get too powerful. And they changed the burial customs, too. See, there’s some special potency to the moment of death. Those last thoughts – they’re not encumbered by the worries and concerns of mortal life. That’s why some holy men live in the desert, or starve themselves, or scourge their flesh. They seek that moment of transcendence, when the gods are as close as your breath.
I mean, take yourself. A few minutes ago, you were looking over your shoulder for people following us. You were thinking about the history of the city. About how expensive the inns are, and how you could afford to stay. About a hundred other things. And then I brought you onto this bridge, and now all you can think about is that drop. If you were a praying sort, then your last thought would be of your god. The faith of the dead is purest of all – what remains in the brain after death is refined prayer, perfected.
The Kept Gods are rarely permitted that. The priests sank corpse-shafts to dispose of the faithful dead. The Kept Gods are kept hungry, like hermits. Only priests get to give their residuum to the Gods.
Which is a good thing. It meant that when the Godswar kicked off overseas, Guerdon wasn’t affected. The gods of other lands went mad, and started fighting one another, but our gods stayed out of it.
Look up there, on the crest of Holyhill. Those are the three Victory Cathedrals, built after the defeat of the Black Iron Gods. The crown of heaven, some call it.
A gilded cage for Kept Gods.
How do I know so much about theology? Oh, there are plenty of defrocked priests and failed seminary students in Guerdon’s underworld. A few years studying sin in the abstract gives a man a taste for the practical.
Anyway – no-one gives a damn about the Keepers anymore. They had their chance to run the city, and they fumbled it. Two centuries of church rule meant two centuries of stagnation. Let’s go see where Guerdon’s golden age began.