Chapter 8:

Interlude – A sermon in the (after)life of Jacob Smith.

His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)

Back on Earth, Jacob hadn’t been a common attendant of his local church. He thought that churches in Florida were too ‘woke’, so he preferred spending his time on Sunday by ranting online about how Western civilization was collapsing or whatever.

However, things had changed when he had found himself on Gemeinplatz. The Temple of the Divine here was, according to Jacob, a fine establishment that had no problems speaking the truth. No censorship, no mobs, just pure, unaltered free speech coursing throughout the halls of the temple.

He still found the priests boring, and by the Divine were they boring, and he still dreaded having to sit on embroidered pillows during the sermon. Even the wooden pews were better, at least he could sit on them. But no, the people of Gemeinplatz sat down, legs crossed, while they listened to whatever some old git had cooked up for the day. Still, he had to endure it, going to the temple regularly allowed him to cultivate a more positive image amongst the people of Azdavay.

The temple was a cubic structure made of fine stone brick, with a wooden dome on top of it doing its best to reach the heavens. There was also a tower, part of the temple, that housed a bell used as a call for prayer. Regular glass windows adorned the building protected by iron bars; actual stained glass was too expensive for some backwater town like Azdavay.

Crowds of people streamed in and out of the temple every noon of the fifth day, to gather for prayer. Jacob, of course, was amongst the crowd going in, this going-in crowd being mostly comprised of people with skin lighter than white bread. It’d be untoward to keep their fellow Believer in bondage; slaves weren’t given any religious education. Their inferior brains couldn’t reach the Divine properly, or so mainstream doctrine went.

The crowd passed a few salutes toward Jacob, some even bowed to the otherworlder among them. This crowd was all-male, as women and men were separated in prayer. This felt somewhat odd, even to a man like Jacob. The rest of Gemeinplatz, while inequal in many ways in that regard, was mostly not separated by gender. He had seen adventuresses, businesswomen, even the occasional lady in their own right. It was as if the temple had stayed a few centuries behind, with all-male priests, and strict segregation of the sexes in their places of worship.

Inside the temple was a whole another sight. The floor was covered with a grand carpet showing even greater embroidery, the dome shone light through it that gave a hallow aura, and the stand of the priest stood tall over the flock. The walls and the ceiling were covered in various geometric shapes and patterns, this particular temple was controlled by a more conservative, Iconoclast sect. Most of the temples in Northern and Eastern Gemeinplatz were.

Jacob found himself a seat in the front row, not that he was pious, but because he wanted to be in front. Unfortunately, this meant that he had to endure the droning speech of the priest.

The temples in Gemeinplatz saw themselves as a place of enlightenment, so they always made sure to drag an old priest to impart some wisdom before noon prayer. Jacob was astonished as to how they made such a corpse of a man walk, maybe they dabbled in some necromancy to get him walking. “…and, good gentlemen, this is why we have to make sure to stick to the Divine Path: be ye kind, gentle, and forgiving in your conduct toward fellow believers. So says the Divine, praise be to Its name.” The priest heaved a cough, doing his best to read a piece of paper he was holding. This old sack of bones needed notes when he wasn’t reciting scripture. “On to a terrifying incident that has just befallen our community, one that I believe we should take as a warning for how things will be if we stray from the Divine Path. A case of a fugitive slave has been brought up…”

Jacob perked his ears upon the mention of a fugitive slave. He was slightly annoyed that his personal problems had somehow leaked to the ears of the priest, but this was no surprise. Clergymen were often intertwined in their local community after all, it wasn’t too odd for a priest to have heard about Jacob’s case from some people in the Adventurer’s Guild.

“Now, let us not forget this one simple truth: we must always make sure not to stray from the Divine Path. Let us not forget of the tribes and peoples that the Divine, praise be to Its name, condemned when they dared, with endless impudence, rebelled against Its law and word. Despite what some heretics may say, in complete blindness to The Hallow Word, slavery is a natural part of this world’s order. Being against what’s sanctioned by scripture rebellion against The Hallow Word, the Divine (praise be to Its name), Its Prophet (praise be to His name), and society itself, not to mention that abetting fugitives is a crime against the rights of your fellow Believer. One who does so is no different from a thief, equally damned in the eyes of the Divine, praise be to Its name.” The priest’s eyes directly locked with Jacob. “May the Divine, praise be to Its name, keep sending Its messengers to guide us through these tumultuous times.”

The priest looked like he intended to give further sermon, but the chime of the bell interrupted him. It was time to pray. “Praise be to Its name.” The priest put down his notes, preparing himself for prayer, which was conducted in a language that was long dead in Gemeinplatz. Jacob himself didn’t know what words he said while he was praying, so he mostly just moved his mouth around to look as if he was participating.

The prayer was conducted by the priest, with the flock following him. They sat up from their pillows, raised their hands toward the sky in unison while the priest chanted the prayer out loud for the crowd’s convenience. Then their heads went toward their stomach, then up again, then they prostrated… Jacob shut off his mind while going through this procedure. He was sure that everyone did. This wasn’t really anything dissimilar to how he had felt in church.

“Amen.” With this the flock ended their ‘hallow gymnastics routine’, this was the closest word that Jacob had to describe the experience.

He went out of the temple with the rest of the others, back to the café where Jacob would continue his Divinely sanctioned job.

Taylor J