In the Absence of Light

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Chapter 3: Waiting

I think after that day, all the women were afraid of a male coming in again. They wanted to kill him, but they dealt with my verdict, to afraid to go against me. Fear is a good thing in my opinion.

It seemed to me as if the two more years cooped up in this tiny compound would kill me from boredom. Two days passed quickly though, and I soon found myself standing at the end of the priestesses dressed in my warrior black awaiting the ladies to take procession of their new hosts. Before I became part of the Lady of the Absence of Light, I was friends with the girl, Carasa, who was about to become the new host, but now I looked on her with a feeling of apathy. I felt disdain toward the young girls that would one day be hosts. All of them were so young, so childish, and so human. I was above them all, but I agreed to take my place at the end of the line.

At the other end stood the previous hosts of the white Lady in their kind and benevolent forgetfulness. None of them remembered their past life, and they only remembered kindness, healing, and love for all people in the world. They wallowed amongst the hollow halls of the Lady of Light in ignorance and bliss. They were led to stand up at the front smiling kindly in blessing upon all the women that came to the compound for this sacred day. Amongst them was Kyra, smiling as blankly and sweetly as ever. They look like goddesses, clothed in white light, smiling down on their obedient children. It disgusted me.

How could they care when they had no understanding? Why did everyone believe them so perfect when they had no personality of their own? It was why she stood looking out upon the people with a scowl. If the white ladies were smiling on their children, I looked like she was the dark storm cloud ready to destroy the children for the slightest reason. I could feel the crowd’s uneasiness with her presence. They were not used to being under the gaze of the past dark lady, and they felt afraid of the strength in my gaze. I fed off their fear, and enjoyed the murmurs of that the crowd passed amongst themselves about my powers. Let them murmur, because I was the truth, and the white ladies were a shadow full of lies.

I was truth, but humans want lies, and I made them uncomfortable because they doubted their lies. I could feel the feelings of the mob as one cloud that rose over their bodies. Crowds always became one. Humans were carried away in the mob philosophy when they joined a crowd, and no one understood it better than I, as I could see the very oneness of their being.

The white host this year, Sarana, called out, and I could see the white lady coming down. She glared at me, but then she turned her head away, and I bet she was smiling brilliantly at her children.

“Have you had any great ideas,” I could hear Zedigrivikonola speaking to me as she prepared to come back to the mortal realm.

“Definitely don’t combine; that was strange enough and changed both of us. I had the idea of maybe causing her mind to sleep while you were in charge, and waking her as you left. I will then train her on her new abilities and outlook of the world. Once I leave she can train the next host on how to understand the world after being released,” I could feel Zedigrivikonola thoughts as she worked over what I proposed.

I felt appreciation for the idea come from her, “I will do that. We will be closer together again once I come down, though we will be separated. It will feel less of a stretch to understand each other, and sometimes out thoughts will swirl together again on the mortal plane.”

It was not the speaking, but the understanding. I understood what she thought would happen. It wasn’t a guarantee, as this had never happened to us before.

The dark host called out to Zedigrivikonola, and the second she came back into our world, our minds joined together overjoyed at being one again. We came down as one great being into Carasa’s mind. Her mind fought us for a second, but we overpowered her weaker mind, and quelled the shaking in her body. We were in charge, and her conscious peacefully slept.

Mournfully we forced our minds apart. I went back to my mortal, body, and Zedigrivikonola took over her new body. We were still close. I could feel another body that was in my subconscious, but though I could feel its movements, I couldn’t affect it, just as Zedigrivikonola could not affect my body now that she was not in it as a host.

I came back to myself, and found myself collapsed on the stands. Luckily, people were paying attention to the choosing of new students. I stood back up, and even the other girls dressed in black didn’t notice me. I watched as the last pair was chosen, and I felt the corners of my mouth turn up in satisfaction. No matter how much I didn’t like people, I felt satisfaction in knowing that we were better than Azirageanlara because our hosts would be left with their memories.

I forced myself to stop thinking as one with Zedigrivikonola. Both of use did not need the distraction of thinking as one. It would be an interesting eleven months each year until death. Once my mortal body died, I could join her, and in her realm without my body, we would be one again forever.

The people were leaving the courtyard, and so I filed out with the rest of the priestesses. I did not follow them to congratulate the new class. Instead I went to the stable. I enjoyed taking care of Gegarat.

I felt my lips twitch into the rare true smile when Gegarat reached her head over her door and whickered in greeting, “Hey backbreaker.” Gegarat nodded her black head up and down as if agreeing. I walked up to her and allowed her to sniff my hand. When she finished sniffing my hand, I slowly reached up and scratched the soft fur behind her ear. She always loved getting the base of her eyes rubbed, and she leaned her head into my scratching.

I let myself into her stall, and I simply leaned into the comfort of her warm body. “I want to leave,” my voice was muffled by the fur my face was pressed into. “Why are they making me wait two years? I want to get out of here and began using my skills for something more than shallow girls.”

Gegarat simply moved her lips across my hips, searching for treats. Sometimes I thought she had a simple mind, and sometimes I felt like she understood everything. No matter what, I felt like she was always there. She didn’t care that I couldn’t love. She loved me for the care I gave her. She never hated me for my cold uncaring heart. She didn’t avoid me out of fear of my powers. In fact, she didn’t seem to care when I used my powers.

“That mare is a fine horse. Best horse we’ve bred yet. Too bad her bloodline won’t carry on if she dies in battle,” I heard the head priestess of the dark twin behind me. I did not turn; I did not need to turn, for I could sense the people around me.

“Why can’t you have another like her? I asked, knowing the answer, knowing where this conversation was going, but playing the innocent anyway. I played my part, so that the priestess could manipulate me like a sheep. I knew she was right, but it did not mean I wanted this.

“Her mother was old, as you already know. Her mother died bearing her last foal. We could go to horses related to the mare, but even then it does not promise us the perfect foal will be born. Years went into breeding that one mare, and more years will go to breed another like her.” They wanted me to breed Gegarat. They wanted me to breed the war horse they gave me because I wouldn’t be using her for awhile.

I decided to skip the layers of conversation. I knew where this was going from the beginning, and instead of asking her about the pedigree, or saying something about what she wanted; I stepped straight into the point, “You want me to breed her and give you the foals she produces. You can breed her two times. Anyone related to me must be given a first choice at her line, if you sell a horse from her line; the money goes to be split amongst my relatives.”

“How dare you put limitations on the horse we gave to you! We could just take her away from you. You are lucky we are coming to you first over this matter and not just breeding her.” The woman seemed infuriated by my remarks, but I didn’t care.

See it as you may, but our families pay dearly for us with the taxes, and I have paid with who I used to be. I see it as you have no choice but to do as I will, especially as you would not want to go against the will of the Dark Lady.” My voice was cold and uncaring. I twirled a small black flame in my fingers to remind her of my power.

She glared at me and told me straight up, “I shouldn’t have stood up for you being allowed out of here!”

“Who says you could stop me if I wanted to leave? The mare is mine, and if I left when I graduated, you would never have been able to breed her. Who is to say you haven’t bred her already?” I could feel her emotions boiling outside of my icy radius.

“You couldn’t have left with her then; she was only just born then. You picked her because you knew you were going to be here for awhile. We only let you choose her because we thought you were going to go insane. I stood up for you keeping the mare. I stood up for you being allowed to ever leave. I have supported you secretly many times, and now you turn all of my good will back on me.”

I starred at her. Her hands were wildly moving all about, and if she had power, her eyes would have flames shooting out of them. I was surprised I myself was not ready to kill her out of annoyance, but I suspected this conversation would happen sooner or later. “I’ve given you permission to breed her. You can use her two foals to carry on her bloodlines. I just want my family to have some special treatment concerning her foals because she is mine. If you wanted me to give her back because you want her as a broodmare, the answer is no. She is mine, and she belongs with me on a battle field. Together, Gegarat and I will be great.”

The woman stuttered without an answer and with one last jibe she told me, “It is agreed, but let it be known; the high priestess of the dark twin, Layarna, officially will not support you anymore.” So that was her name. A lot of the priestesses seemed to hide their names.

“Does this mean you support me unofficially and someone else sent you off to play diplomat?” I couldn’t help the jibe. It was too tempting.

She turned away without answering. Sometimes it seemed like all I did was anger people, but I couldn’t help it that seemed to be my nature. With a final pat to Gegarat, I let myself out of her stall, and made my way to the practice court where I went through the intricate pattern dance for a single sword. There weren’t dances to practice that went with my mix of dagger and sword style of fighting. Then I went to dinner, and finally bed.

After that day, my life seemed to fall into a pattern again. In the morning, I woke up and immediately practiced with one of my less favorite weapons. Then, I went and ate a light breakfast. I groomed Gegarat and sometimes gave her a light workout to keep her in shape. At first I used this the time between working with Gegarat and lunch for talking to Kyra, but after about four weeks, trainees began coming to me for training at that time.

After lunch I went to the temple area, and went to my own temple where the girls waiting to be hosts and I would make a dedication to the Dark Lady in her black unlit temple. The darkness within the temple felt almost loving to me as I whispered memorized words into the darkness.

Till dinner I would then practice with my own weapons, or help trainees who were struggling. Sometimes people spoke to me, but most looked on me with fear or would not speak to me. Truthfully I liked it this way. I liked solitude, and I wrapped it around myself in a comforting warm blanket.

I lost track of time for awhile, until one day Layarna tapped me on the shoulder, “Do you still want to leave this place?”

She hadn’t spoken to me since the agreement to breed Gegarat, and I was slightly surprised at her question. For a second, I didn’t really understand what she meant. Finally it clicked, “Of course I want to leave this wretched boring place.”

Layarna scowled slightly, “The man you stood up for, Darin, has asked the guards for permission to teach you about politics in the city. We have debated his request, and decided to allow you to go out and learn about the politics. You will be allowed out twice, once in the middle of this year, which is tomorrow, and once in the middle of next year. Do you agree to this?”

I could feel excitement rising out of my apathy. Finally I would be allowed out! I calmly answered without any outward change in expression, “I agree to your terms, and I thank you for allowing me outside of the temple walls, Head Priestess of the Dark Twin.” The words were stiff and formal, but my mind truly was thankful to be allowed outside of the stifling and boring complex.

Layarna nodded, “I will tell the rest of the council.” She turned and walked away without another word.

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