Story Twenty Two – When Summoned
Wait, Aaron is telling me something to tell you guys.
Ok, here it is.
“Though it may seem that this story is off-topic, as no one actually dies in it, it is only the first part of a new series of shorts that does, indeed, focus on death…”
ANOTHER MINISERIES? Dude is addicted. Hope this isn’t getting boring for you guys.
God lived in a castle on the clouds, looking down on his people from the tallest tower. That’s what we were told in lessons. We would look to the sky everyday and say our prayers. Those true believers would claim to see him and say that he had smiled and waved to them in acceptance of their spiritual offering. The cynical, which I’m sure was a larger group yet I could only truly count myself, would look in search of the great watcher. I would try to peer through the cover and see his palace for myself.
I needed only to wait. When I grew to forty seasons from my birth eleven winters earlier, I was summoned to the temple of my city. The place had been familiar in my developmental years. School days were spent inside its halls. Hours would pass by as my generation played in the courtyards. But then, I had been accepted in a position of apprenticeship. I was to be a botanist. It was something I enjoyed doing and it was what they tore me from with the message that I was urgently needed.
It was hard to keep up with the priest who, though his cumbersome robes caused him to trip and slide, was running and shouting at me to keep up. I was worried. He was not escorting a guest. I felt more like a living harvest than anything seen as important for being itself. He ran into the doors, not waiting for any automatic movement, shaking the crystal panels and sending the caretakers into shock. I felt his fingers grip my hand and I stumbled in with him.
The Chancellor was waiting. I was told, in the hall, that my dawdling was impertinent. A man I had never known, seen, or heard much of, was waiting on me. He was the communicator between the cities and god’s word. He made the daily trips to the grand palace, bringing greatness from on high. His ears heard the words and his hands touched those of the lord.
He was a she. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the Chancellor’s gender was never described. They spoke of her only by title. They gave her labels of ‘herald’ and ‘Speaker’. The mayors, governors, magistrates, sheriffs, and priests were all male. Young women were bounded to working as seamstresses, nurses and teachers. The highest role I knew of, before seeing the radiantly armored ethereal leader of the four cities held by a female was high botanist. It had been my goal, but, this stoic, still, statuesque figure standing on the pillar of offering, staring into the eyes etched in the colored glass of the great window facing the morning sun became my idol in the brief moment I was allowed to view her.
The priest’s fist hit my shoulder, my knees hit the floor and my eyes were forced to the plush red carpet which led practitioners to their salvation.
“Kneel, child. Your vain, unwashed stares aren’t wanted. Hear her words and nothing more.”
I wished he’d made me aware of the restrictions before the assault. My back ached. He wasn’t large but I was smaller. Small even for my age. Her voice, an airy wisp of a whisper that somehow came to me from an impossible distance, eased the pain. She was both close and far away at the same time. It was a strange feeling. I began to believe she was god. It couldn’t be, but there was something within her that I saw greater than myself and at the same time, I saw that it within. I felt it. My heart grew warm and my eyes teared.
I couldn’t hear her words no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t see anything but the blurry world the awesomeness of that feeling brought. I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t breathe.
To the repulsion and objection of the priest, I fell to my side. A light was coming in the form of the woman. Her hand was reached out to me. Her eyes were on fire. I saw her as she must have truly been. She was not a woman. She didn’t actually exist. My lungs burned but it was as if she wasn’t aware. The tendrils of energy that were her fingers stretched and reached my face. They caressed me, creating a great ignorance of the pain. I couldn’t feel anything but the magnitude of this thing. Words were streaming through my head. It wasn’t a voice, but symbols. Strange things that meant the same as speaking but couldn’t be heard. I don’t know how but I saw and immediately understood.
You shall know.
That’s what the breathless communication said. I didn’t understand. My mind was wavering. Whatever I was seeing, whatever it was, it was shimmering. I was dying. I was sure I was going to die. The pain was returning. She seemed to be fighting it. If she was, it was stronger. The sun was in my chest and it was rising like on a summer morning. Through my misery, I could feel the heat of my breath turned to steam and as I breathed out, I was a great volcano, bellowing steam and fury.
She drew her sword. It was a massive weapon made with great care and intricate beauty. The hilt was some strange bird, widening it’s wings and crowing out the blade from its mouth. She held it over her head, over my head. She opened her amorphous mouth. Her neck pulled back and the flame-like lips licked the pommel. A jets of pure power spiraled around the metal and enveloped the edges.
I turned to look at the priest, to find some kind of connection with another living mortal such as myself. He shook my shoulders and gave no mind to the thing about to strike me down with her archaic energies. He seemed annoyed at my impudence.
I tried to speak. She was pulling back, giving room for the swing. I pushed the priest away from me. If I could not save myself, perhaps he would live and tell the others of my demise.
She brought the sword down upon me. It cleaved through the pain and left my body complete. Breath rushed in and I could finally see. She was a god, so much more than I was expecting, so much greater. Sheathing the blade, she leaned down. The heat she echoed through the air was like my own, the one that nearly stifled my spirit. It frightened and enthralled me.
She spoke in the symbols, they imprinted temporarily into my mind. I followed their lines and loops with no knowledge of where I had learned them.
You shall know.
I created my own and tried with all thought to send them to her. She smiled with no outward show of the felt and understood amusement. Whether she saw my words or simply knew of my attempt, I was not sure. She stood and became what she was, the flames solidifying in the armor I knew was her body. She stared at me with bright, orange irises.
“Come with me, Jeiveive.”