The message read, “Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.”
Almost as soon as he had finished reading the short note, the computer alerted him to an incoming data transfer, also accompanied by a short message.
The file that was being sent was a digital version of the book he had seen in the library that he could not read, but this copy of it had the foreign language written out next to the Iscandarian translation – a language he could read.
The message read, “As I was once redeemed and given a place with Adonai, the King of all Creation, when I was not worthy of it, so Ilya has been redeemed and given a place with her mortal rulers.” It was signed by Queen Janina of Iscandar.
After his shock wore off, Asher quickly and carefully folded both messages and stuffed them into his pocket, in case Kyren came back. Just as quickly, he copied the transferred file to a data chip and deleted it off of the main computer. He stored away the precious book along with the notes.
A few hours later Kyren emerged from the back of the ship.
“So what came in from Iscandar?” she asked without looking at her husband.
“Oh, just an automated farewell message.” He lied as smoothly as he could manage.
The look on his wife’s face changed from indifference to suspicion. “They must have just started sending those out because I’ve never received one on my previous trips here.”
Asher shrugged and made an opportunity to escape. “I’ll be in the back looking through some of the information we were able to get copies of.”
From then on, Kyren and Asher wandered from world to world, seemingly at random. Asher left Kyren a report detailing all the information Queen Janina had told him about the
group called the “Mnasonim” and the branch called the “Hadassians,” hoping it might satisfy her curiosity on the subject.
Instead of contenting Kyren, this new information only spurred her on even more and she began to focus her search on the lost history of the Sedans instead of the Mnasonim as a whole.
The only mercy in her focused passion was that Kyren did not start as many heated arguments with Asher as she had before. Instead, she acted as if he didn’t exist at all.
During this interim of relative peace between the couple, Kyren began to think that she might never be able to produce the all-important heir to the title of “Guardiana.” She thought incessantly about the problem and a desperate idea began to develop in her mind.
“Oh Diana,” Kyren knelt before the odd little silver bear her mother had passed on to her when Kyren had inherited the title of “Guardiana.” She didn’t really know what the significance of the little statue was; only that it was a part of being the Guardiana.
“Diana, I have no heir to continue on after me and serve you as you see fit. Please, show yourself to me. Speak to me that I may know what you would have me do.” Kyren pleaded with the empty air.
No answer came; only silence.
“Why won’t you answer me?!” she cried out into the quietness surrounding her. “I will not leave you alone until you answer me!”
An hour of fruitless petitions went by, then Kyren left, but true to her word, she continued to return every day. Then the days began to turn to weeks, then months. Before Kyren realized it, a whole year had passed, then another one slipped by followed by a third, but Kyren continued to return persistently, every day and sometimes several times a day.
On a day much like any other, Kyren went to her room and knelt before her little shrine to her goddess. As she had done every other day, she began to petition her deity for the one thing she could not obtain on her own – as she had painfully discovered twice.
“Oh Diana, I have returned again to you to plead with you for an heir to the title of the Guardiana. Why have you abandoned my family? I know of the promise you made all those years ago to the very first Guardiana. You vowed to preserve us! Fulfill your promise!”
Kyren nearly shrieked in fright as the eyes of the silver bear began to glow and a voice seemed to emanate from it. “Your line was weak.” The voice said, ignoring Kyren’s fright, “I withdrew from them and waited for one such as you – persistent, ruthless, determined. You have proven your line worthy of my presence again, Kyren Guardiana, descendant of Delmy Guardiana.”
Kyren wrestled with a mix of confusion and shock. “Who… who is Delmy Guardiana?”
“She was the last of the Guardiana to know my presence.” The statue replied.
“Was –” Kyren hesitated, “Was Delmy Guardiana of the line of Seda?” she ventured a guess.
The statue was silent for a long moment before it answered her. “Yes… I believe you mortals would consider her of that line. The Seda you refer to was Delmy’s great-great grandmother.” The spirit paused a moment, “But that is enough of history. We must now concentrate on the present – and the future. I have a bargain for you, Kyren Guardiana, but if you accept my bargain, know that if you forsake me or renege on your part of the agreement… I will kill you.” The last bit came out harshly – threateningly.
“I will not forsake you great Diana. I have served you all my life, and I will not turn from you.”
“Very well.” The spirit said. “This is my bargain:”
Asher lifted heavy eyes from his reading. He had been studying the book that Queen Janina had given him three years ago nearly non-stop since it had come into his possession. Some of it he did not understand, and the places that the book mentioned were foreign to him. However, the Iscandarian had assured him that everything this book said was true, so he had to believe that the places it spoke of were in fact real.
He had even caught many references back to the Torah. The words were slightly different, but that was to be expected in a translated work. Even with the understandable differences between the original and this translation, the Torah was undeniably present in this book. This was both confusing and comforting to him all at once.
He knew that he would have to send his discovery back to the rabbinical order on his homeworld soon. If they somehow found out that he was keeping this information from them, they would send someone out after him to “retrieve” it, and he would be quite the worse for wear afterwards. The order didn’t have much patience for deception.
As he rested his eyes, he started to think about Kyren – a subject that was ever-increasingly on his mind as of late. These past several days she had seemed a bit more reserved than she had been over the last three or four years – ever since they had left Ilya on Iscandar.
Perhaps his wife had finally given up her obsession and accepted that she might not ever have an heir to her strange religion.
He turned off the hand-held device he was using to read the Iscandarian book and tucked it away into one of his pockets so that he could retrieve it later.
He leaned back in the comfortable chair he was in and closed his eyes, thinking of Kyren as he drifted off to sleep for a little while.
When he awoke his jaw nearly hit the floor.
“Kyren!” he exclaimed, her random appearance shocking him. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m talking with my husband.” She said sweetly. “Am I not allowed to do that?” she followed up the question with a smile.
“Oh, no – I mean yes, you are.” He said. “Please,” he indicated the empty half of the huge chair he was still seated in.
To his surprise, Kyren accepted the offer and sat with him. It was the closest they had been in far too long.
“What did you want to talk about?” Asher asked hesitantly, not wanting to offend Kyren and end this moment.
“Us.” She said simply with a smile he had not seen for a long time.
Several months afterwards, Asher was convinced that Kyren was back to her old self again. They were no longer spending most of their time apart. Instead, they searched through the information they were gathering together. And, instead of the separate rooms they had been occupying for years, they condensed their two rooms down into one again. There were no fights and no arguments. For once the ship was at peace instead of in a state of uneasy truce.
Then Kyren gave him more good news – they would be welcoming another child into their world and their lives. Kyren assured him that, no matter what this child looked like, she would keep it and love it.
Asher was so happy with the turn of events that he didn’t even notice when Kyren began plotting courses to planets farther and farther out into space.
Soon Kyren’s third child was born. When Asher first saw the baby, another girl, he was struck with emotions he had expected at all – a mix of terror and dread. He was not unhappy about the child’s birth, but her appearance inexplicably sent ripples of fear running through him.
The little girl was lighter skinned than her father and mother, but that might change with time. Then there was her hair… Blazing red curls framed her perfect face and deep-set piercing green eyes.
Kyren looked down at her daughter – the heir Diana had promised her and thought back to the bargain she had struck with her goddess.
“Because your ancestors were so weak-willed – so puny and undeserving of my presence, I left them. You have shown that you know how to persist and insist on what you want and need. You are not above using drastic measures to achieve what you want.” The spirit stopped for a moment, seeming to wait for Kyren to respond, but the woman only knelt there looking surprised, so the spirit continued, “Do not look so dumb-struck, mortal. I watched you on Telezart and Iscandar. I saw what lengths you were willing to go to obtain an heir for me. I admire you ingenuity and your determination.”
Finally Kyren responded, “What would you ask of me in return for helping me achieve this goal, my goddess?”
“In order to fulfill your request, I will need to return to you, to become a part of you as I was a part of the Guardiana of old.”
“Very well.” Kyren nodded.
“Wait, mortal. There is more to this bargain.”
Kyren nodded, feeling foolish.
“There is an… artifact that you must find for me, an amulet of great power. I had it made for your ancestor, Seda Guardiana, but it has been lost to me for generations. I know it still exists because I have seen evidences of its working, but I do not know where it is. The only piece of information I can give you is that it is most assuredly in the hands of a group of my faithful followers, though I know not where that group has gone. If you accept this bargain, you must go and find that amulet for me. It will be passed down to your heir along with the silver statue you still possess. Do you accept this offer, Kyren Guardiana, daughter of the line of Seda?”
Kyren thought to herself for a moment, giving the spirit no indication as to what she was thinking. Then she said, “I will agree, but I have a condition of my own that I would like for you, great Diana, to grant to me.”
“Tread carefully, servant.” The spirit cautioned in a rumbling voice.
“Legend says that there was once a time when enemies of Diana were attacked by shêdim – evil spirits that tormented them – sometimes to the point of insanity or death. Is this legend based in truth, goddess?”
“It is.” Diana said simply.
“Then I would have you grant me that privilege as well – the ability to call on the hosts of darkness to overcome your – and my – enemies that they may never trouble us again. Will you grant me this one other request?”
There was silence in the room again for a very long, painful moment before the spirit responded again, “Kyren Guardiana, you have shown great foresight in this matter. I will grant you this request; however, you will not be able to make use of it until you have retrieved the amulet. The only thing that I can do for you until you get it is to help you acquire the heir we are both in need of. Is this still acceptable to you?”
“It is, Diana. I thank you for your generosity.”
“So be it. The pact between you and I is now sealed.”
With those final words the spirit of Diana made its home within Kyren’s mind, seizing it for its own and further hatching its master’s ultimate plan.
Asher and Kyren’s ship sailed onward, out of the galaxy and off into an unknown portion of space, following an instinct that Kyren now possessed.
It was almost as if she were following a scent – the scent of that one group of loyal followers in possession of the mysterious amulet that Kyren now so desperately needed to find.