In the Absence of Light

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Chapter 1: Seperation

We were tired and ready to leave this mortal body behind. We again wore the ceremonial dress. Before us stood the girls that were ready to graduate to warriors and leave the city with their healing partners. The girls chosen as hosts were off to the side, ready to graduate into learning more of our mysteries. We knew that two were not ready, but the rest were ready. We had doubts early on, but most practiced till they felt sick, and then practiced more. War would tell which were truly ready, but we knew that the two we did not feel were ready would die. They would not be able to stand the hardships of war. If they did not die, it would only be because they came back to the city quickly and married.

Our Sister, Azirageanlara, announced that her students were ready to face the real world. She bowed her head, and lifted up her arms. We watched as our too bright sister moved into the realm, and left behind the mortal body she inhabited. We could tell the extreme was too much for the girl, and she collapsed into a heap.

We spoke, "The girls are women, and they are ready to try their wings. Release them into the world so that they may fight and serve us."

We raised our hands and tried to go, but realized we were part mortal. The mortal mind was us, and we were her. We frowned, and pulled the thoughts wrapped with ours apart. I screamed at the pain of loss as I watched what used to be myself move into the realm. I could still see the memories of the beautiful dark realm I longed to go to. I wanted to die so that I could join her there. I could still feel her in the back of my mind, but it was faint, something I would have to work to talk to her I used to be part of.

I felt myself collapse to my knees crying at my loss. Separation. It was a word I hadn't understood until I was cut apart into a separate entity. I was the mortal part that was our mind, and I was separated from everything I now understood. I keened with the loss of the confidence that was the immortal self I remembered. I remembered being Zedigrivikonola since light produced us, and we the gods and goddesses created the universe. The spectrum of light and color was us, but no more. Now, I was Dynara with memories and the abilities of a goddess held within mortal form.

Somewhere, I could feel the thread of connection to Zedigrivikonola that would never break. When I focused, I could hear her thoughts, and I knew that she could hear mine, but in her goddesses form, she was used to wrapping her mind around the entirety of human thought. At this moment, I could hear her thinking with Azirageanlara about how different this time was. They thought of me, and what I would be like. Azirageanlara treated Kyra like all of her hosts, stuffing her away in the back off the body's mind, and leaving her a different person who would not remember her previous self.

My mind left their conversation when a priestess came to pick me up. I shook my head and stood up. I was silent with the depression that set in from the loss of Zedigrivikonola. I could feel the priestess giving me strange looks, as if she expected me to snarl and start fighting.

"I am Dynara, and I was Zedigrivikonola. We combined, so I have been part of everything. The mortal part of us could not go back, so I was pulled off and left." The woman looked confused, but she seemed to understand I had something of the goddess in me, because she bowed to me in the bow one gives to a goddess. Then, she finally spoke, "I am a servant of the Lady Yayarachana, and I was designated to look after you, my lady. The Lady of the Absence of Light is known to often leave disoriented mortals behind."

"I am the first one the Lady Zedigrivikonola has tried this for. She will not do it again. The Lady of All Light left Kyra as she normally leaves her hosts though." I remembered the correct format for talking of the goddess after hearing the servant speak. A human mentioned no names unless she was a priestess of one, and then she only called that Lady by name, and she always used the title Lady. No one talked in the familiar about a goddess.

"It is an honor to serve you then, but I hope for your sake, as well as mine, that you do not go insane soon. Some that serve as hosts seem slightly sane at first, but eventually they all go insane." The woman was skeptical of us, of me.

"I have as much of the memories of the goddess as a mortal form can understand. I think I will stay same." I could feel myself scowling at this ignorant priestess as I spoke. I forced myself to relax and think about the fact that I probably would not have believed someone stayed sane before I joined with the Lady and saw the silliness of human life.

Suddenly the woman stopped, and she pointed to a plain wooden door on the left. "Ask for Jarna if you need anything. Everything that you should need for right now is in there. "

The woman walked off, and I opened the door. The room was a bare stone cell like all the priestesses' rooms. A small window on the wall opposite the door allowed light in from the garden court outside. The priestesses' complex was designed around five courts, the ceremonial court, the archery court, the close contact court, and the riding court. The priestesses' rooms were around the garden court. Armories and barracks surrounded the archery court and the close contact court. The stable surrounded the riding court, and the temples surrounded the ceremonial court. Arched walkways lead between the courts, and hallways led between rooms within the buildings.

I focused on the ceremonial black dress I wore and hated. The Lady's mortal magic was now connected to my body. Every host was left with the magic as the Lady went back to her realm, but most weren't sane enough to use it. I focused on changing the dress to the light armor the Lady always wore, and that I loved. The black metal woven shirt clung to my thin but heavily muscled frame, and the thick leather vest that went over it was laced up the front. The vest carried two of my daggers. Thick smoothly spun breaches clung to my legs. A short leather skirt clung smartly to my hips, and metal shin guards were tied around my legs. Leather boots laced up to above my ankles, and I had a dagger strapped to my thigh. On my right hip I had a short sword.

My personally energy left me suddenly, and I collapsed before I could put my long sword on my belt. Suddenly I came to the realization that though I had Zedigrivikonola's power, I didn't have the immortal energy to call upon. I had my personal mortal energy and that was it. I realized also that I should probably dress through mortal means from now on. Calling my clothing took too much energy.

I stood up on shaky legs and walked to the weapons rack. With shaking, tired hands I picked up my long sword and put it on my left hip. I had a strange way of fighting with my long sword in my right hand and a dagger or my short sword in my left hand. I had tried the style with two light weight medium swords, but I hadn't liked it. I created this lopsided style from my work with the double blades. Normally I just used the long sword, but the ability to fight with a second hand came in useful when hilt to hilt with an opponent. Everyone trained on different weapons, and as the host of the Lady of War, I learned to use all of them somewhat, but I always enjoyed sword and dagger more than hammer, ax, or pole arm. Everyone learned archery and riding, because we were expected to be able to kill an enemy of our employer in any condition.

That was my last weapon, my bow and arrows. I gently picked up my quiver and attached it to my back. Before the goddess, I wasn't very good at archery, but once the Lady joined with me, she created a bow perfect to this body. Her memories made my body much better and less awkward with the bow. I wanted to test and see if I still had our combined skill with the bow. I picked up the long smooth walnut wood bow.

I made my way to the garden court, and then to the archery court. I set up a target, and stood at the other end of the range. I strung the long bow and pulled out an arrow. Something triggered in my mind, and it was almost without thought that I lifted the bow, brought the string back, and released. The arrow cut through the sky like a fish moving through water, and landed embedded deeply within the bull's eye. I lowered my bow and starred at the target in shock. It was the same perfectness that I felt when I was a part of Zedigrivikonola.

“It a talent of the hosts that isn't often remembered." I started at the dry voice of the head priestess of the twins.

"What do you mean?" I could hear my voice shaking slightly, whether it was from weariness or shock, I do not know, maybe it was a combination of both.

The priestess pointed to my target and spoke again, "You will be perfect with every weapon and every aspect of war for as long as you stay sane." There it was. Why was everyone obsessed with being sane? Saneness was over rated anyway.

"How would you know this if everyone comes out insane," I had heard that some came out semi-sane, but that they quickly went insane.

"There are a few of the Lady of the Absence of Light's hosts that come out disoriented, but slightly sane. They are brilliant with every weapon because of the lady's muscle memory that she leaves behind. They also are brilliant with the understanding of war. Soon though, they start talking to themselves, and start trying to kill random people. Most end up locked up for safety or kill themselves. Most don't live more than four years afterward, and often have a reckless disregard for their own life." The priestess spoke with knowledge of seeing this first hand. With a host every year, she must have seen many girls come through that.

I could understand the disregard for life though. After being in the Lady's memories, I knew that her realm was better than anything on Earth. I also knew that I had an obligation to live until I died, and simply to not worry about death.

"I came to make a deal with you that I make with anyone that comes out seeming slightly sane. Stay sane for two years, and you can leave to serve as a mercenary until you tire and decide to come back as a priestess." She sounded serious, but at the same time, it sounded as if this deal never worked out.

"What will I do for the two years I am stuck here?" I asked her cautiously. I really didn't want to be stuck praying to what was a part of me for the rest of my life.

"You will teach and watch over the women who need extra practice during their spare time. The Lady of the Absence of Light refuses to waste her time on those that need extra practice." I agreed with the priestess's statement, because I remembered that very thought.

"I will be released to fight at two years?" The priestesses hated releasing potential priestesses, and so I was skeptic about this 'deal'.

"Yes, I already said that. I would also like it if you would try and help your partner Kyra; she has no memories of her past life. She was left with the normal attitude of wanting to be friends with everyone and wanting to heal everything. "

Kyra. I had an obligation to look after my partner even if I didn't care about people anymore. "I will agree to this deal on the grounds that I get to take Kyra with me when I leave."

"She will only be a burden to you."

"I know, but she is my partner, and I have an obligation to her." It was well known amongst the common people, but I guess priestesses forgot their partners as they served the Ladies.

"It is a deal then." The head priestess of the twins made the sign of bonding, and sealed the deal. She started to turn away, but then turned back, and with a slight sneer in her voice she spoke again, "Most hosts only stay sane for a month." Then the old woman spun around and walked away.

In a fit of frustration with everyone not believing I would stay sane, I pulled out an arrow and shot at the previous arrow in my target. My arrow spilt the other arrow, and was lodged within that arrow, within the target. I wondered if the other women went insane from the belief that they wouldn't last that was so prevalent around here.

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