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#5 - High Priest
It is time to blow off some dust from the Cabals archives and carefully open the fifth file. Decorated with hieroglyphs this file unveils the secrets of “High Priest”, the central character and one of the most prominent cards of the Sons of Osiris. Everything about this newish cabal revolves around “desert”, if this word is understood in the double sense of place (topos) and literary theme (topic). Remember the frozen wilderness of the Bearclaws and the green rural hills of the Danann? Like these landscapes the desert is packed with more meaning than just being home soil for a local secret society.
As a place the Osiris desert is probably located somewhere in northern Egypt. We know there are frequent sandstorms and falling stars there, some domination point filled pyramids and of course the city of Alexandria, where wealthy Viziers live. We also know that many British colonial officials belong to the Sons of Osiris. The centralness of the desert as a place is even reflected in the barren brown and yellow colors of the cards reminding us of sand and stone.
What about this High Priest guy then, the leader of his cabal, weaving his dark arts in some bone filled tomb with nothing but a loincloth on? He looks pretty mad alright but he could also be on the edge of some serious revelation there. Madness and revelation being after all the two interconnected meanings of the desert taken as a literary theme. Think about, for instance, Jesus Christ, who is led to the desert (or wilderness) by the Spirit. After fasting there for forty days he is tempted by the devil with some really crazy visions of power (Matthew 4:1-11). But, for all we know, this cracked retreat probably contained some key revelations for his future ministry.
We are not trying to compare the High Priest to Jesus here. The nature of the revelation the High Priest may be having in his tomb is, after all, of a scientific nature. In the flavor text of the card it is effectively said that the spirit of the dead human being can be converted into energy with the right embalming technique. The insight that makes the High Priest a high priest connects the concept of the Egyptian layered soul into energy production. It seems that the Sons of Osiris have built an infrastructure that transforms spiritual energy to orbital power stations. As a side effect they seem to get useful but soulless reanimated bodies like the ones the “Royal Embalmer” makes.
Is that too much for you? Before you go labeling the High Priest as a madman I want to point out that the desert has always had intimate connections with space. It may all have started in the ziggurats of ancient Babylon, but you have to take into account the 20th century popular culture as well, where these connections are fully explored. In that century it often had to do with science, like in the case of Area 51 and in the giant ant invasion of “It Came from the Desert”. Sometimes the space – desert axis took a more spiritual meaning, as it did for writers like H. P. Lovecraft and William S. Burroughs. And so it seems to do for the High Priest and the Sons of Osiris as well. After all, getting that second turn Apep Hatchling on board is not a bit short of a miracle.
Coming up in the next file we have some Dragons.
"Between day and night, between animal and plant, between summer and winter lies the rotting sphere of fungi, dusk, debris and decaying dwellings." -Morgana Le Fay
The Archives sheds some developer insight on how specific cards were designed. Read more.