Pious found Seth waiting in the antechamber of the Tower and staring up at the ‘Glory Of Man’ mural on the ceiling. He paused a few feet away and studied the god. He really did look like an ass. The egyptians had gotten that much right.
They had entered the antechamber through a secret entrance in his office that led to a flight of stairs and finally to the large oval room. The room was adorned by accent lights brilliantly cascading light up and towards the ceiling. A chest high wire fence separated much from exploration and acted as a barrier for tourists who wandered in seeking to take a picture.
Seth stood murmuring, his bulbous hat in his hands, eyes glaring upwards. As Pious approached, rage contorted his features into a terrifying mask and for a second, the Reverend perceived the god who crushed the demon Apep every night ensuring sunrise.
“This mockery! Damn you and your cult!” He bellowed. It was a curse that Pious knew stemmed from Ancient Egypt. The god still thought he was in the sand churning desert. Poor fool. He ignored the insult and put a hand soothingly on Seth’s shoulder.
“Dear Seth. We all have a part to play in this new world. Don’t deny me mine.”
“Mortals.” The god whispered. He looked into Pious’s eyes. “Oh how you’ve fallen.”
“Indeed. We all have god. But at the very least we can work for mutual benefit.”
“Then you know why I’m here?”
Pious glanced up at the mural and back to the deity standing shrouded in darkness. He could smell exotic spices wafting from the god. An unpleasant mixture of balsamic and blue lotus oil. The perfume was used as currency and had been traded for other precious goods in the Egyptian empire. There were manuscripts showing priests extracting oils from herbs and plants dating back to 1500BC. Pious wrinkled his nose and nodded.
“Of course I know.”
Seth gave him a curt nod and his eyes drifted back to the ceiling. Pious noted his fascination with the art and swelled with pride. He had commissioned the piece to evoke a feeling of hieroglyphics, his instincts had been correct. The painting was otherworldly and raw. He would have to commission a second sometime in the near future. Perhaps something even more bold, a depiction of Man stomping the gods under his heel might be fitting.
“What you are going to do is dangerous.:” He said. “I don’t know that here is the right place for it.”
Seth turned until they stood face to face. Pious hadn’t meant for this meeting to turn into a battle but this Descendent was stubborn. He knew that leverage was going to be necessary to keep the deity corralled.
“Why are you holding your breath Reverend?” Seth’s voice was alien and terrifying. Before Pious could respond, he advanced and was within striking distance. Pious realized abruptly that the god had moved like a snake. A sudden chill made him quiver and he was sure he could hear his own heartbeat.
“Enough!” He snapped. Seth smiled and said in a sullen voice. “This Tower is the only place in the city fitting for what needs to be done.”
“It will probably fail.” Pious said. “Are you prepared for that outcome?”
Before Seth could answer, Pious continued shrilly: “Besides, what assurances do I have?”
“The Tower is an adequate vessel. “ Seth said slowly. “If the Descendence can be reversed somehow-”
“The idea is ludicrous.” Pious interrupted. Seth stood back and sized up the Reverend. His face blank and large eyes glittering. Pious knew that now he was in real danger. He had seen this look on predators right before they attacked. Such predators were unpredictable and quick to total and unexpected savagery.
“If the rite can re-ascend then perhaps there is a chance I can return to before.”
Return to before. Pious thought angrily. The only before is your total dissolution into nothingness. That is the only before worth speaking of.
“Perhaps.” He whispered. “It will have to be after hours and completely secret. Dead of night.”
Pious’s eyes drifted into memory. “There will be things needed to carry out the ritual.”
“They can be procured.”
“I will need my handmaidens.”
Pious swallowed. The witches of murder. Those three unnerved him whenever they entered a room. He supposed it was two now that one had met a dour end months back.
“Naturally.” He responded. “And if I allow access to my Tower for your experiment?”
Seth inhaled deeply noting the amusement in the Reverend’s tone of voice. “You will not be harassed in any way by the Descended. You may have your registry. You may have your political aspirations. It will not be a concern.”
I may have? “No it’s not just about a lack of interference. The first concern is safety, yes, but we both know that the registry will be difficult to implement.”
“We’re not going to line up.”
“No, you won’t.”
“So, you’re a powerful ally. Some would follow your lead. Some would never act unless they saw you go in their stead. And that’s why you’ll be there.”
“If someone such as yourself were there, others would, how do we say, come out of the woodwork.”
Pious smiled. “And so you’ll be registering at City Court. In full view of the cameras and press.”
Seth held his face in reposed while he considered the Reverend’s demand.
“You don’t know others will come.”
“You don’t know they won’t.” Pious countered.
Seth fell silent. “Is that all?”
“It’s not much but you may have your ceremony at the Tower. But be at the registry. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see family.”