The man was elderly, dressed in a suit. Steely grey eyes that danced with intelligence were deeply sunken into a powerful brow, with a rough shock of grey hair above and a neatly trimmed beard below.

“Augustus Zeitengel, I presume,” said Graham. “You look exactly as I thought you would.”

“That is no accident, Thomas Ellford Graham.” Zeitengel’s voice was deep and resonant, the voice of a man who had swayed multitudes and was well aware of the fact. “What you see is solely for your benefit, that you might understand what it being said. Zeitengel’s ideas have always been more important than what is behind them.”

“So are you Augustus Zeitengel, or not?” Graham paused. “Does he even exist?”

Zeitengel–or whatever it was–smirked but said nothing.

“I just want to know the truth,” Graham said. “About you, about the Temporal Anarchists who have been riddling the City’s timeline with holes, about everything.”

The old man laughed a dry laugh, the merry rustling of tree leaves and burial shrouds. “Truth? It was never about truth. It was about certainty.”


“Yes, certainty. The City today is a whirl of moral greys and conditional statements. Nothing is certain except uncertainty, and that is not what humans crave. They yearn for certain knowledge that they can be confident in, a heuristic through which all they meet and experience may be put.”

“Like the Sepulcher?” Graham said. He hadn’t been to a service in so long, even when he and it had existed at the same time…

“At one time your fellow denizens of the City would have found the certainty they craved through that miserable edifice, yes,” Zeitengel sneered. “But as their faith was eroded, they were left grasping for certainty that their worldview would no longer allow them to derive from the Sepulcher and its tired, hoary religion.”

“So that’s where your Temporal Anarchists came in,” sighed Graham. “Offering the certainty that nobody else would. Telling them the lie they wanted to hear.”

“Why, Mr. Graham, what makes you think it was a lie?” Zeitengel laughed his embalmed, deathful laugh again. “If the City had wanted a comforting lie there were myriads to be found. But why do you think none of the lies ever caught on, from the Supreme Temple of the Second City to the Obliteration of the Self to the Death-Worshipers? No. The Temporal Anarchists offer only the truth.”

“But not the truth that your…supplicants…or whatever are after,” cried Graham. “They won’t be reunited with their loved ones, or gain eternal life.”

“Who is to say that they are not? When our great work is done, when the vorhang, the blind, succeed in replacing the order of this universe with chaos, the distinction between living and dead, loved ones and strangers, or other and self will be meaningless.” Zeitengel spread his arms wide in an all-encompassing gesture.

“That can’t work. It would destroy everything.”

“Doesn’t the fish think that life in the air can’t work? Doesn’t the man with no microscope think that nothing smaller than what he can see can exist? Simply because you cannot conceive it, you declare it to be impossible. In fact, it is inevitable.”

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