Hell Breaks Loose
The bells began to clang above the temple in the highest tower. The scream that had broken the chanting trace of the congregation was joined by a cacophony of sounds; clanging of weapons and roars of battle. The adherents began to panic as one of the young men rushed to the enormous stained glass window behind the altar that looked out into the courtyard. He turned and weakly pointed up.
He simply said “God” and promptly fainted.
“NO!” Roared Dashkal, as all hell broke lose in the sanctum. The crowd of people started to run, a blind panic towards the great doors where they jostled to be the first out. Since the noble families were the closest to the altar, and thus the furthest from the door, daggers and swords were drawn by servants in an attempt to slice their way through the crowd for their masters.
“My People,” he tried to yell over the crowd ” this is a false alarm, I assure you! The ceremony will continue, I am sure there is nothing to fear!” and as he spoke an arrow the length and thickness of a human arm came crashing through one of the giant windows. The hysteria intensified and the attending young women rushed to the dais, to crowd around Althea, but the priests intercepted them. Throwing them over shoulders and dragging by the hair the priestesses were hauled towards the doors as the priests fought to exit the great hall. Royal advisors opened secret panels to staircases on the sides of the hall to allow the elite to vacate quickly, filing down passages that had been built against just such an attack. They quickly ran towards the various exits, where they were sure they could secretly escape.
“This is impossible!” the High Priest growled, his hands still on Althea. “This cannot be. I will get mine! I will not let a false alarm ruin my plans!” He fumbled with the long skirt that still covered her thighs, roaring out his disapproval as he muttered under his breath about “waiting too long”. Another window shattered further down the hall, and a moment later a large explosion came from the projectile. Shrapnel and rock flew everywhere, smashing into Dashkal’s side and forcing him to the ground. “Galeed’s Horns!” he muttered, painfully forcing himself to stand. “Good luck, Princess. I guess someone else is going to get to you before I do. Either way, you’re dead and I’m going to be King.”
He limped away, as Althea tried to process what was happening. She was still bound, the veil of beads still obscured her vision. She could only hear the sounds of battle outside the room, screams and the clash of weapons. Occasionally the ground would shake, and she began to pray, reciting the prayer she was supposed to speak while the Sowing took place..it was the only thing she could think of.
“I am the land. I am barren. I am barren because I am not Sown. Give me Seed. Give me water. Give me light. I will grow. I will grow.” she gasped out as another window smashed near her, the glass tinkling sweetly like chimes as it fell to the stone floor in a strict antithesis to the sounds of the fray. “I will be Sown, I will be Reaped. I will grow. I will grow. I am the wheat. Galeed will separate me from the chaff. I will feed The Bull when I am Reaped. I will grow in his arms.” She smiled and began to repeat the prayer.“I am the land. I am barren. I am barren because I am not Sown. Give me water. Give me light. I will grow. I will grow. Give me Seed...”
The prayer gave her strength and resolve. She didn’t understand why the people had panicked. God was supposed to bless them in the harvest, due to her sacrifice. It was too early, she was sure, as the ritual was not complete; but he had never come before.Althea almost smiled as she continued her prayers. She was special. She was chosen. God was coming for her.