Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singing
Multitudes are marching to the big kettledrum
Voices calling, voices crying
Some are born and some are dying
It’s Alpha and Omega’s kingdom come-
When The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
Chapter One- Genesis
Residents were first aware that something was wrong when they awoke one morning to find black ribbons tied to each lamp post and door knob. That morning every resident, even the youngest, instinctively glanced briefly at the Tall Tower at the center of the city where black banners fluttered in the breeze from every window. The flag bearing the Royal Crest was flying at half mast. The King, it would appear, was dead. Residents thought to themselves that few had seen the King in the streets of the city in recent years and counted themselves lucky that they were among the number who had never seen the inside of the Tall Tower. Those who had returned from a visit within its walls were rarely able to explain what they had seen and experienced. Some residents were relieved the King was dead, braver residents called him the Fat King or worse out loud in conversation.
An uneasy quiet hung over the city as this unusual day began. Mothers hugged their children a little too tightly. Men laughed a little too loudly as they passed gentle jokes at the expense of the King between them on the street. Residents greeted one another a little too brightly as they went on with the morning routines. They all knew what was coming next and each wished they were completely ignorant of The Process. All secretly hoped The Process would ignore them.
Inside the walls of the Tall Tower in one of the rooms on a higher floor the Recording Angel adjusted his wings and glasses as he sat down to write. He glanced across the room at where the body of the Fat King lay in state, took a piece of parchment and began cutting himself a new quill. The King had a small staff whose duties were purely domestic, they would ensure that the Tower was ready for when The Process was complete. There was never any question of the Recording Angel living in any other location in the city, the Tall Tower and the Recording Angel had always been there and they belonged to one another.
The Process scared the residents of the city. Some of the elders of the city had seen The Process happen a number of times in their lifetime, others noted that the frequency of needing new Kings and Queens was increasing.
The first step of The Process was clear. The body of the dead monarch was to be wheeled through the winding streets of the city, partly to prevent overcrowding at the cathedral but also to prove to the few doubting residents that the King was dead. The following steps of The Process remain something of a mystery and are the subject of many rumours and superstitions. Every resident knew that The Process could only truly start once the macabre parade had traveled through every street in the city, the funeral march played in the cathedral and the body of the monarch interred.
Every city has its own Recording Angel that writes an impartial history of the city in a book of remembrance. The book of remembrance actually takes the form of a series of volumes, tradition dictates that a new volume is started with each new monarch. The lower floors of the Tall Tower are taken up with room after room of bound volumes of handwritten history. When residents see the Recording Angel, Eremiel, taking a rare walk in the streets of the city they are unafraid because they know he does not judge, intervene or influence events. The Recording Angel only observes and documents.
Eremiel prepares a bottle of ink and a set of quills for he too knows The Process is about to start within the walls of the city. He pushes his glasses up to the bridge of his nose, glances out the window and sighs. Eremiel hates The Process and the effect it has on the city but he knows someone needs to wear the royal crown and sit on the throne in the tall tower. He remembers what happened last time the throne in the tower sat empty and vows that cannot be allowed to happen again.