The clacking thud of the Holy Guard's spears rings though the vaulted hall as the masses bow before the God-Queen. She watches from her throne plated in the soft, buttery gold. Her eyes search the mass of people who crowd into the domed temple; all worshipping at her feet. None lift their heads, though a few would afterward swear that her gaze lingered on them, burning into their backs. But who among them could dare to meet the gaze of a God?
Only the Shadow will still look back at her, but his eyes do not hold what they once did. They seem empty, and if the two of them were not so far above such things, she would almost think him driven mad by the untameable eons. But no, they were gods, and above such things as madness; unless she was mad herself.
The adulation echoes though the enormous basilica, and it is one of the few things that can still make her smile.
She had been so sure that this time, this time, there would be no resistance. She had been careful to be a benevolent Queen, to offer what freedoms she could allow with an open hand. Most took it and accepted it; accepted her reign in their souls and minds and faithfully followed the Holy Verses she had written once in a fit of poetic flight. In this Brave New World, she had been so sure she could circumvent whatever the circumstances were that would bring about the End. No Shadowgods, no Fleshless, no High Ones; though she no longer thought of them in precisely these terms, nor did they cross her mind particularly often.
But wherever there are humans willing to follow, there are those seeking to take the lead. Small bands of resistance began to crop up here and there, and though she sent her Golden Guard to crush them, they would so often rise again. There had been a legend in the Old World; half-remembered and worn by the years, of a creature of many heads that only grew another whenever one was removed. If she could only remember their names, she would call these rebel cells after them.
It was a tradition that out of every family, one must serve the Golden Queen in her Guard. Over the years, she becomes almost fond of one family; or as fond as a god could be of a mortal, or even a line of mortals. They become highly regarded by their kinsmen and those who have not offered their lives to the Golden Queen rejoice in intangible riches brought by influence.
The Aged Man is again, a character of folklore and popular tales. His puppets are the stuff of legends, and used by sententious mothers to frighten their children. Only once, on a journey to another temple in another city, did the Golden Queen happen upon one of his tableaux; and she ordered the carven wood destroyed by fire and axes. Were it not blasphemous, one would say she was angry.
The great ball, as few had seen before was ordered by the Golden Queen in her favorite temple. It was an extravaganza, filled with pious guests and spiced food. She dances with the Shadow in the center of the tiled floor, to the awe of the guests.
It was some years after that when both the Golden Queen and the Shadow disappeared, only to reappear as a corpse in the arms of a mysterious woman, swathed in dark veils and robes. Fear burst up like wildfires in some quarters, rejoicing in others. And so does one God fall, and another era of the New World begins.