Monday, May 21, 2012
Empress Jorvan strode in to the council hall, her eyes locked on to the head seat at the round table. The counselors stood and bowed low as she walked past them. Standing tall with her dark long hair flowing down her back, towered Mythris, Head Sieth Seeker and the leader of the Sisters of the Goddess. As the Empress approached her ornately carved seat Mythris bowed again, “Welcome Great Lady, we are still awaiting the arrival of Cyrian from Asesca”
Jorvan slightely inclined her head toward Mythris in recognition and spun turning her back on her, “Sisters,” Jorvan greeted the gathering with her hands raised, “I trust you all had uneventful passages within the Gateways.”
Nods and general murmuring around the room as each watched the other with a practiced suspicion.
“Before we open our formal meeting and whilst we wait for Cyrian, I am sure all of you would like the latest news on the regeneration of our gateways. Morfarn, how goes the reconstruction of the Gateway taken from the Abby at Cora?”
Morfan hung her head. “Poorly, Empress I am frustrated and ashamed to say. Despite the intricate drawings and careful instructions I am afraid that the secrets of building a circle again has been lost to us. We have the crystal from the old circle but as yet have been fearful to test the theory that these crystals are replaceable. Thus we have not attempted to pull one out of a working circle and place another in its place; just in case it stops that circle as well.”
“What is your educated guess to what might happen, should we take a working crystal out and replace it with another?” Jorvans eyes bore into Morfans bowed head.
Morfan took a deep breath and continued to study the flooring of the council chambers. Mythris stepped forward, her face flushed.
“With all due respect Empress, educated guesses are not what our empire was built on. Observance of the ways of the Goddess and respect to the ancient sacred feminine has always been the first and only answer we have needed.”
Jorvan glared at Mythris, “Perhaps if the hierarchy were encouraged to strictly observe the Goddess’s ways rather than line their own pockets, we would not be in the situation we are. Now, Morfan, your thoughts..”
Morfan looked around the circle of desperate eyes, knowing the outcome of her findings would tip the balance for many on their faith in the empire. “All the circles stop, they don’t work again, the one we test no longer works. We just don’t know. It is a total unknown and to be honest, I don’t want to be the one to order the destruction of a working gateway. Goddess knows, the ones we have left are becoming erratic at best.”
“Our foremothers debated long into the usage of the circles and spoke of limiting travel to Essential Transportation only and yet here we are still flitting confiders from one citadel to another on a regular basis.”
Mythris glared again, “Confiders provide an essential service to the wellbeing and function of each society. Are you using this council meeting to announce your omnipotence and suggesting changing the ways of the Goddess? ”
“I understand, Sieth Mythris, more than any other the gravity of my words and decisions.You are not above the lore of the Goddess, nor should you forget your place, nor simple manners; especially amongst esteemed council members from across the Empire.”
“Perhaps Empress, a better forum to speak on the Goddesses words and interpretations would be in the council of Seith and not this one.” Tanissa stood between the two women, her tiny stature in direct opposition to the energy and power her presence emitted.
Jorvan looked about the Council. “ I am simply suggesting that perhaps the confiders function might be localized, with resident confiders within communities,rather than ones who travel throughout the Empire on regular basis. It would cut the Gateway usage down considerably.”
Shocked gasps came from round the room.
“Even you, Empress are not above the doctrine of the Goddess. You are stepping a dangerous line.”
“As are you Mythris. The ways of the Goddess seem a little too convenient for some.”
Their long stares at one another was broken with the arrival of Cyrian whose strident footsteps echoed the room.
“Many apologies Sisters, might I take the first place in reporting; especially as my lateness comes directly from our primary meeting issue.”
Tanissa looked up for her papers and nodded. “Of course, it is duly noted in the proceedings, you shall have the floor after the ritual opening. Mythris, once you ready, you may have the floor.”
Mythris swept her hand over the side wall and sang in her evenly toned timbered voice a greeting to all assembled and blessings upon them; invoking the blessings of the Goddess in each path. Her hand followed an intricate pattern in the air beside the wall and the council joined hands to complete the ritual.
A transparent image of the star system hovered over the middle of the table and then faded in and out during the ritual. As the last note ended, the image became intermittent and gratefully zapped into nothingness. Mythris’s slender hand completed the intricate closing pattern in the air and in a fluid motion, sat in her seat.
“Sisters, even our opening ritual heralds the demise of the blessed artifacts. Not one to announce my true age, however, I recall a time in this council that the images were strong enough to believe they were real objects; not mere projections.”
Jorvan looked around the room as many nodded also recalling stronger crystal power.
“Without putting too finer point on it, our Empire relies on artifacts we don’t understand and cannot replicate. The circle of nineteen Gateways are fading. I barely arrived today, thus my lateness. There are whispers of an ancient religion. I can barely say the name.”
Jorvan looked up at the waiting servants and administrators in the wings. “I would call for a locked meeting” She started hard at the staff, “Please excuse yourselves and position guards at the doorways, allowing none to enter until we come out.”
She waited for the silent feet of the excess personnel to exit before continuing. “Technology and sciences died out centuries ago. We have no need for them while we have the way of the Goddess.”
She stared at the sober faces at the table. “I cannot accept we are unable to understand even the smallest details of these gateways. Without them, travel between Abbeys not only within Terra, but throughout the Empire will be impossible. We can rely on the planetary ships, but time is of essence and I cannot wait for months for the council to assemble to discuss urgent matters. We must speak plainly as the time for diplomacy and religious correctness has ended.”
“Each of us know the power of the Goddess and have benefited from her gifts of the mind and of perception. Only recently have we rediscovered that our rituals are intertwined with the functions of the artifacts and with out completing the minutest detail, they do not operate.”
She stared around the room. The silence was overwhelming.
“We have long known that the crystals which form the heart of the planetary ships also influence and assist the circles functions. Our foremothers were unable to find a source to mine or collect more and we too in this generation have been unable to clarify any further information. So my sisters, It has come to the time to make a firm decision on the Gateways.”
“Perhaps that decision can wait until I demonstrate my findings.” Cyrian smiled a languid catlike smile, her eyes glittered with promise.
“Please Cyrian, continue with your report.”
“Thank you Empress. As you know the planet Asesca has been unstable for generations. The weather patterns have become unpredictable making sustainable farming and the functioning of citadels unbearable. Last year, with the assistance of the planetary ships the final inhabitants were moved to my planet and resettled. The Abbey’s artifacts have been stored and being brought back to Terra with the next Chosen Ship that docks for supplies. Your orders for the Circle of Nineteen to be dismantled was undertaken by our most gifted Sisters and talented stonemasons. I now bring you this.”
She stepped forward and withdrew a fist sized chunk of transparent and cloudy rock.
Each drew a breath in. Jorvan picked it up and examined it. “So this is that it looks like when not embedded into a wall.” It glowed dimly at her touch.
“We have extensively tested it, Empress – it seems to only glow when someone with Goddess gifts touches it.”
“Humm, so a similar glow to when one of us touches a planetary Ship crystal before take off? “
She nodded. “However, the Ceremonial Touch of the crystal lasts only seconds. The longer someone with the Gift holds a freed crystal like this, the brighter it glows. We tested it with different sisters until one passed out after an hour of holding it. She recovered the next day but felt giddy and drained for over a week.”
Jorvan carefully placed it on the table in front of it and stared at it.
“So instead of answering any questions it poses more. Is it ….alive?”
“Everything the Goddess touches is alive in someway, Empress.”
“Spare me the religious doctrine. So we don’t know; is that what you are saying?”
“There is something else. What else does a free crystal do?” Jorvan noted perceptively.
“I cannot explain it – its best to demonstrate it. Please excuse me for a moment.”
Cyrian walked to the door and opened it motioning someone behind it to enter.
Her two guardians marched it, restraining a man dressed in rags. His eyes rolled in terror as he saw the congregated women. Cyrian closed the door behind her and collected the crystal from the Empress.
Myrthis stood frowning, “Who is this?”
“A common criminal, I assure you.”
“Crime of most types are not common within the Empire. We live in peace and harmony, there is no need to restrain him.” Mythris haughtily barked.
Cyrian bowed in an over exaggerated manner. “With all due respect Mistress Sieth, you have not walked amongst the people within the empire for many Solar Turns. You and your priestess live an isolated life far beyond that of normal people. I wonder what you might call common in any case.”
Jorvan broke in. “ What are you saying Cyrian?”
“I am saying that within many planets of the Empire, petty crime is not the only issue our guardians are having to deal with now. This man is a murderer.”
Silence filled the hall puzzled or blank looks met her.
She stared around the room realizing that many didn’t understand the term. “He killed another person …..deliberately.”
There were immediate gasps and looks of horror amongst the council.
Tanissa grimly looked around at the faces. “Hypocrites all of them” she thought. “Each of us have ordered the death of at least one Confider to keep our secrets. Each of us would not have a second thought in arranging an accident for another counselor which would result in higher political power for us.”
Though, she mused, the death of another person for no political gain was unheard of; certainly the average person had no fear of physical violence within their society. The normal person would either purposely ignore a missing sister or not wish to be involved with Goddess Business.
Mythris approached the man and studied his eyes. She closed hers and breathed a prayer to the Goddess and held her hands in front of her, her fingers fanned out over his heart. She immediately took a step backwards reeling with horror.
“His energies are dark and unrepentful. What she is saying is true. He is an abomination to the Empire and to the Goddess.”
Tanissa stood. “ Why have you brought him here? To show him off as a circus piece? A curiosity? Our society is not equipped to deal with this sort of crime.”
“I may have an answer to the crystal crisis as well to the mounting crimes within the outer planets. The Goddess has gifted us with the perfect solution. As the Empress stated earlier, we have been unable to find a source of these items. Perhaps there is a reason. Perhaps they were manufactured rather than mined from a planet.”
“That has been a theory held for centuries, but we have no means to replicate the crystals. What little we know of this religion, Science, tells us that there are many books to learn its secrets from. Much the same with Technology. There are far too many tools which are unknown to us for us to begin to research the tenuous links we already have between that and our gateways. None of either are in existence to day. “ Cyrian’s face remained a mask of assertiveness. Tanissa leant forward on the table. “ So, tell us, what is this solution? Something that will force us away from our core beliefs and from the Goddess?”
Cyrian pointed towards the man and ordered her guardians, “Hold him tight.” She thrust the crystal onto the mans chest.
The crystal glowed, its white light growing in intensity every moment. The man’s mouth opened in a silent scream, his body stiff. Over the matter of moments, his skin wrinkled and sagged, his teeth fell out to the ground and his hair grayed and blew away by a breathless wind. Cyrian held the glowing crystal to his chest till he sagged in the arms of the guardians. They allowed the husk of the ancient man to fall on the floor.
She turned triumphantly toward the Empress. The crystal glowed with a warm pink tone, vibrating and giving off a low hum. Its cloudyness had cleared and in places looked nearly transparent. She walked to the wall Mythris had been at for the opening ceremony and swept her hand over it, her fingers delicately dancing in the air. A small opening appeared in the wall and a cloudy crystal sat ebbing intermittently. Cyrian pulled it from its cradle and replaced it with the glowing rose coloured one, closed the door and swept her hand over the wall again.
Immediately the images of the planets appeared, real enough to touch. The Empress touched Terra and the rest disappeared, exploding the tiny planet to a larger scale. An aerial view of the citadel appeared intricate with detail.
The assembled women gasped.
“I never thought I would see this. The Chronicles of the past Empresses tell of this tool , but I had imagined them to be fanciful recollections, not based on truth.”
Jorvan’s mouth was open as she stared at the images. She quickly glanced up at Cyrian.
“How long will the power from this crystal last?”
Cyrian smiled. “Again Empress, I am unsure, as you can imagine, criminals of that mans, humm caliber… are hard to come by. However, we have tested it on other men, taking the crystal away from their chest usually before they die withered and useless. They recover eventually if they are still alive once the crystal is take away.”
Jorvan began to pace the floor. “Is it possible that the answer has been at our fingertips? Our rituals state that no ungifted must touch the crystals and that each gifted using the gateway or planetary ship must touch it momentarily as way of thanks to the Goddess.For centuries, the crystals have needed regenerating with life force and we have only been feeding them crumbs with our tiny touches. It seems incredible that we have our answer to the gateways and crystals crisis. Cyrian you have our heartfelt thanks for this discovery.”
The room exploded with applause.
Tanissa looked about the room incredulously. Was this the same council who argued for hours on the possible banning of the rodeo events the men indulged in; all because some felt it were cruel to the horses and bulls?