The first will rise to defend the meaning of spirit. The second will rise to steady the road. The third will rise to test what is understood by knowledge. The fourth will rise to save the memories. The fifth will rise to give light to all who ask for it. The sixth will rise to fix what we know of perfection. The seventh will rise to solve the essence of balance. The eighth will rise to transform what we are. The ninth will rise to show us the worlds we don’t see. The tenth will rise to bear the troubles of work and success. The eleventh will rise to question the purpose of all. The twelfth will rise to sacrifice everything that makes them believe.
Life is Death and Death is Life, we are time. We are change.
No one can be put to rest. When all have done what they need to do for their part, they can only sit and wait for their next turn.
In life, all must learn that everything cannot come to nothing. All can never meet its end. When the time comes, everything must change.
Time never stops. The cycle never stops. The wheel must keep spinning forwards and when chances come, they must be taken...or forsaken.
A woman stood alone by an altar, head bowed as her lips moved silently in fervent prayer. The age had come upon them again. It had been over two thousand years since the last. Light and darkness would always be a wage of war, and a never ending one, like time itself. But it was now approaching again. The time when the ultimate battle between the light and the dark would decide the future of all things.
“My lady! It has happened - it has begun!”
The woman turned her blonde head towards a man who had just burst into the chamber, his wild hair barely concealing the alert, almost frightened expression on his face. Whilse she herself bore an unreadable composure, this did not mean her heart was not stirring. She had to appear strong at least, if not be at her strongest. Her gaze wandered out towards the ceiling.
“Indeed. The stars have decided, and now we will do with what they give us.” The woman murmured, her response more talking to herself than addressing the other person present.
Returning to prayer, she did not hear the man walk out of the chamber. She concentrated on the silver chain wrapped around her hand, clutching between her fingers the charm attached. Regardless of what the stars may have in store for them all, she knew that good had to prevail. It had to.
Yet what of the cost?
Long ago, when she had not known such war, such power, she would’ve been far more reluctant to believe in the light, had she not taken the road of life that she had travelled through. Her belief in its entirety had not even existed until life took an unexpected turn and changed everything she had ever known. If there was one certainty in the pending storm, it would be that that the loss would be great, as it always had been for years.
But as with all things, it has been hard to accept that Life and Death cannot be without one another. This woman knew all too well. She had suffered, as had many others she had loved and known. It was something she had learned to harness like poison: it may not have killed her, but it still flowed through her veins.
Now, she dedicated herself to continual prayer, hoping that the benevolent forces that held the universe together would unite once more.
After feeling satisfied enough that she had spared enough time to building up some small amount of courage, the woman got up from where she had been kneeling and straightened out her robes. Taking one last look out the window to where the moon was shining bright, she exited the chamber to begin her work. She needed to prepare to teach the chosen twelve whatever knowledge and strength she had.
Down the corridors of the temple she went, a slow yet determined pace in her step as she approached an iron door carved with the blessed symbols of the stars formed in one single wheel. Pushing down the doors open, the woman stepped inside the new chamber and continued gently towards a large window that was open to the magnificent night sky outdoors.
So fixed was her gaze onto whatever appeared to be fascinating her amongst the vast array of stars that shimmered delicately in the dark of the night, she almost forgot what was coming to pass. What everyone else did not know was that she had already chosen who was going to restore the peace the war.
As she closed her eyes and allowed a vision of a young woman with dark hair and eyes of blue ocean to come before her, she gave a rare, faint smile.
Eirene had chosen her best robes for that day. The feast was to have been one of the greatest celebrations across the Isles of Astrum. High Priest Eldwin was to bestow the blessings of the great ones upon her, make her a High Priestess. But no blessings in the world would have prepared her for what would come.
They had ran past her in terror. Village women, nymphs, priests and priestesses alike, desperately scrabbling up the road away from the sea shore, kicking up dust with their frantic feet. Eirene had come to an abrupt halt from her peaceful walk down towards where the revellers should have been celebrating. Her mind wondered what danger must be approaching.
Up ahead where she took a couple more steps onto where the sand met forest, she could feel a faint, constant rumble under her feet. Slowly, her eyes looked to was ahead in the distance and then her heart froze in her chest.
A massive tsunami wave was rushing towards the shore, a colossal wall of water that Eirene found strangely mesmerising to watch. Her thoughts snapped back to reality when she spotted a nymph, struggling to pull her young girl from where she had tripped and started wailing with fear. Adrenaline rushing inside her, Eirene raced towards the beach, ignoring the cries from those behind her.
“Eirene - no! You mustn’t! Get yourself to safety!” The nymph protested, though her words were to no avail as Eirene picked up the young girl. She grabbed the nymph’s hand to start them running back towards inland with the tsunami close on their tail.
“Oh by the Gods, we won’t make it - it’s too powerful!”
Eirene ignored the female running beside her, clutching the infant in her grasp tighter to her chest whilst sprinting forward with even more urgency. She knew by the all means that it was no ordinary wave. She herself had seen some storms that had struck on the Isles, seen the waves that rocked by them. They did not even compare to this one devastating force of nature.
The trio could then hear the wave crash onto the beach behind them, followed by the screams and the yells from those behind them who had not quite made it, where the water swept up everything in its path and continued towards them.
“Mama?” The young girl whimpered as she looked at her nymph mother, tears spurting helplessly from her eyes. Her mother slowed down and dropped to the ground with exhaustion, unable to match Eirene’s stamina. Seeing that the nymph needed help, Eirene skidded and turned sharply on her heel to run back towards her, still holding the child whilst holding out a hand.
“Take my hand - come on, we can still make the hill if we keep pushing.” Eirene stated shortly, aware that the wave was getting closer and they were getting no farther from it. But then she saw the look in the older nymph’s eye and knew what she would have to make a pain-staking decision.
“I’m sorry,” The nymph said, getting up to kiss both the young woman and her daughter on the foreheads, “Keep running, and don’t look back. May the Gods keep you both.”
Eirene took one look at the young, frightened girl she held in her arms, and she saw why she would have to turn around once more and just keep on going.
“Mama? MAMA!” The girl screeched when Eirene took off again, her mother waving at her forlornly.
Eirene could only have wished to offer something more comforting to the young girl. So many people were dying where the tsunami was drowning them, but she forced herself focus on the precious time that was rapidly slipping away for them to make it safely onto high ground. It was too late for everyone else. Keep running.
And that meant no looking back if she could help it.
Until she could hear voices whispering her name. As if by hypnosis, Eirene could feel the voices slowing her down, slowing down time while calling her name.
She turned around and her mouth dropped open in disbelief when she saw the first most unprecedented occurrence she had ever seen in her life. The screams around her faded into the background. She even couldn’t hear the girl sobbing at her to run for the hills. Nothing could tear her eyes away from it. The giant wall of bright blue water had formed into the shape of a creature too terrifying to name, a deathly roar echoing from its depths as it sped towards Eirene.
What force of the world, or maybe even the universe, could possibly have created such a fearsome mass of destruction? The very place she had lived on since she was born was being ripped to pieces, and yet she did not tremble. She did not feel anything but a numbness. The girl and her both would be next.
By the Gods we won’t make it -
No. Eirene was determined to keep her and this young girl safe. Even if the wave did take them, she knew they would be alright. It was almost upon them now. There was nowhere else to run or hide. Whatever was in store for them next, Eirene threw caution to the wind and stood firm facing the water, stroking the girl’s head with one hand and holding her close to her chest to soothe her.
Kissing her on the forehead, Eirene looked into frightened eyes with a calm stare hoping that this girl, no matter how young she was, could see and understand that they would be alright. Whether they stayed alive or not.
The next thing Eirene knew, she was knocked from her feet as though she were flying in midair. Pain erupted in her gut. The force of the wave was so powerful that she lost her grip on the girl, the two of them struggling to hold onto to each other as the violent swirls of water tossed them around and kept them apart. They lost grip on each other. Eirene tried to grab the girl but to no avail as the water swept her away even further, her hands outstretched powerlessly in struggle against the tide.
Eirene could feel her consciousness fading. It was no use fighting it. She let herself go to float on her back, the sun shining dimly through the ripples from where she was deep down underwater. In this odd state of tranquillity, she began to think of her childhood...of her home...of her mother...
Eirene’s eyes began to close as she floated up towards light, unsure that the world she was returning to would be the same.