In the Absence of Light

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Chapter 6: The city of Hate

A month passed, and once again, the ladies descended to the Earth. I felt my mind reaching out, but never reaching her. WE were almost together again, but separate, and it had to stay that way, at least for now.

I also continued to train Carasa. She remembered nothing of the Lady’s time within her body, but her body remembered the Lady of Darkness, and she had the power that was left within her body from this. The power was a strange thing to get used to if you didn’t understand it, but I worked hard to convince her to understand the power within herself.

Once again I lost track of time in the ageless face of the compound. Carasa wanted the same deal I wanted, to be allowed out after two years. The priestesses of the twins both agreed and we trained so that Carasa could train the next girl before she left.

At some point we began to explore battling with our power, and it was fascinating. We often ended up collapsing from exhaustion, but the destruction wrought terrified the priestesses. When we played with our powers, they hid from what they did not understand. They were pitiful creatures that I watched in disgust.

In this time, I forgot about Kyra. It was easy to forget about her when I had training to focus on. It was easy to forget everyone that I once knew. My days were dominated by tutoring nameless students who wanted to become mercenaries and training Carasa. People slipped my mind, and I forgot. I didn’t remember the outside world until a priestess came to me during my morning warm up.

“My Lady!” She screamed out as she found herself with a sword at her neck and a dagger at her stomach.

I laughed without losing focus, “Have you forgotten my warnings? Maybe I should make an example of you…”

“Please Lady, I was following orders. Do you not remember that today is your day of freedom?” She begged in a whining tone that made my hands itch to simply slip and cut her throat. I pushed the sword a touch harder against her throat causing a thin cut, and just as quickly removed it leaving small trickle of blood running down her neck. Go get that cleaned up. I will get ready to leave.

“My lady, the white twin priestess told me to tell you that Kyra and Carasa are coming with you, and you are taking the war horse Varadill” the woman whimpered her message and fled.

I cursed under my breath. Varadill was known as a quiet horse that never fought. He was a better plow horse than war beast, and his blood lines were only used to add a calming effect to some of the more volatile bloodlines. His name meant something similar to silence, solitude, or meditation in the old language. The translation of the word wasn’t exact, but it was understood that the word had something to do with being alone in silence.

I turned away and headed to the stables after I realized that I was still standing in the same place I as I was a moment ago. I reached the stables and realized that I wasn’t even going to be allowed the pleasure of tacking up my own horse. A trainee of the Dark Lady stood waiting for me with Varadill.

“I didn’t realize that trainees had so much time that they could go and tack up horses for priestesses.”

“My lady, the dark one ordered it so.”

“They will be here soon. Be smart and accept the help. Carasa and Kyra also had their horses prepared for them, and they will await you at the gate.” It was the Lady’s voice, and I rejoiced, but then her message hit me.

“Why was I told last.”

“Apparently most of the priestesses are afraid of you. You don’t help matters by harming those that are brave enough to approach you.” I could hear the lady’s mild laughter, and I bowed my head in acceptance.

“The lady has ordered me to accept your help trainee. Pass me the horse and go back to class.” I took the horse from the terrified girl, and mounted up. I rode him through the narrow alleys of the complex until I reached the main courtyard where Carasa and Kyra waited.

Kyra’s blonde hair floated freely around her head, and she seemed to be looking t something far away. She had no focus for what was directly in front of her. She looked the part of one of the far away priestesses of the Lady of Light.

“Kyra!” I called out sharply, and her head slowly swiveled around to look at me.

“I perceive that the dark one’s corruption still holds you like it holds this other girl I ride with.”

“When will you learn to see the evil your own lady commits?” I spoke calmly, but inside I could feel a burning rage that she dared to speak badly about my own Lady.

“if you are unable to see the good that the Bright Lady creates by creating us anew, you are blind, my partner.”

I harsh barking laugh escaped my lips, “You dare to call me partner, but you can’t even remember us working together. Maybe I am blind, but you are full of holes.”

I was glad to see Darin and Chrisin ride in at that moment. I saw a small figure clinging behind Darin, and I realized it was the child Tyva. As Darin came closer, I could see that Tyva wore breeches and a tunic, and her curly brown hair was cut off at her ears. She looked like a boy instead of a warrior woman’s daughter.

“Who are they?” It was Carasa speaking. I had almost forgotten that the other priestess was there.

Darin heard, and spoke up for himself, “I am Darin. The boy behind me is Tysin, and the healer over there is my roommate, Chrisin.”

I was surprised when Darin said that Tyva was a boy. “Is that not Tyva who you saved?” All three turned to glare at me.

“It is not safe to be a warrior girl in the city. In this year, the city has grown worse.” It was Chrisin’s quiet voice that answered me.

“Come. It is time for you to see how quickly corruption can take hold and turn a government into a ruin.” It was Darin speaking, and his gaze was solely for me. I met it with a glare of my own, and he smiled slightly. His very smile angered me, and I wished I could punch it off his face.

“Tyva?” We all turned to look at Kyra.

“Tysin, Kyra. You will understand once we ride past these gates.” It was Chrisin who spoke, and Chrisin who rode over to put his horse next to Kyra. I could tell he was immediately enamored with Kyra softness, but she didn’t notice. She noticed nothing except those who needed her healing.

“Then we must heal them.” Kyra spoke in that superior soft tone that annoyed me to no end, but Chrisin didn’t look annoyed.

“This isn’t something you can easily heal Kyra. This is a sickness of corruption and greed, and unless you and your goddess can change human nature, then I do not think you can change this.” Chrisin gently patted her arm.

“The goddess changed me and my sisters of light,” she stated it as fact, but it annoyed me greatly.

“She changed you by taking away the mortal memories! I might not be the same person I was, but I still have my memories. I know who I was as a mortal. Your lady not only takes away hour human nature, but also takes you memories.” I forced myself to pull my anger in as I spoke so that my voice went from shouting to a deadly quiet anger.

“Would you rather everyone was obsessed with killing? Would you rather people to be heartless monsters like you?” Suddenly horror flickered over her face as she realized what she’d said, “I’m so sorry, if you trust in the lady of light even you could be redeemed.”

Fury at her words rose up from the clenching in my stomach. “I don’t need redemption in your eyes. I don’t need anyone’s approval, for my Lady loves and approves of me.”

“Alright girls, this isn’t a time for I’m better than you arguments. Come on. Do you want to see the city or not?” I could hear Darin, but my eyes were still focused on Kyra. I wouldn’t back down until she backed down.

“Alright, let’s go.” Her voice was upbeat, and she seemed to have just forgotten the argument.

I hated how quickly she forgot. I let my anger focus on her for a second longer before I turned away. I focused back on Darin who was waiting by the gate, his eyes focused outward. I pushed Varadill with my legs, and he slowly trudged forward. I heard the clopping of Carasa’s behind me, and then the double steps of Chrisin’s and Kyra’s horses.

As soon as we caught up with Darin, his horse moved forward. I could see his jaw was clenched in frustration, and Tyva sat quietly and stiffly behind him.

“How are you Tyv-Tysin?” I must remember to call her Tysin and to think of her as a male.

Before she could answer though, Darin rounded on me, “Why do you always have to start fights? Why can’t you stay civil long enough for us to make it out of the temple grounds?”

“I can’t help it that Kyra’s superiority complex irritates me.” I could hear the grating anger in my voice, and fought to control myself. I wouldn’t rise to his bait...

“Superiority complex? I think Kyra is better off than you on that matter. You think you’re better than everyone else because you have your memories and your powers.” I could hear the bitter sting of truth in his words, but I refused to listen. I was right, and I was better than Kyra.

“Kyra things she is better than all of us because she can heal and she doesn’t have her memories. She thinks that the way the goddess has changed her has made her better. She used to have a wild side the loved going against the rules and finding adventure, now all she cares for is healing, and she can’t even remember who she used to be. The only hint of her old impatience and spirit I have seen yet was when she called me a monster.” I felt myself flinging my hands about trying to express my frustration on this matter, and it was a good thing I had old solid Varadill under me.

“Exactly my point. You think that you haven’t changed, but the old Dyrana cared fiercely for the few people she cared for. The old Dyrana would never have found fault with her partner. You have both changed, and you both have to learn to accept this, and the fact that just because you hosted the goddess does not make you better than the rest of us.” I saw him glaring at me, but I couldn’t respond.

Anger clogged my throat, and all I could manage to splutter was, “You… you…”

He laughed suddenly in the face of my fury, “Do you not like hearing the absolute truth?”

I found my voice again even as I could feel my cheeks heating in anger, “I am better than you! We are both more powerful and better than this whole stinking city combined.”

From behind I heard Kyra’s voice, “Power isn’t what makes a person greater than another person. Humility, compassion, and love are what create a better person as you say it.”

I spun around, glaring at Kyra, “What so now you’re the export on humble when you have told me so many times that you are better than me because you have patience and heal people?”

“I am humble,” I saw her sincerity and just laughed. Her pretty wispy face became perplexed the longer I laughed. “What?”

“You...” I gulped for air between laughter, “…humble?”

At this point, Chrisin stuck his foot in, “Calm down Dyrana. Everyone speaks a version of truth as they see it, and we are here to have a good time going through the city, not arguing in front of everyone in the city.

I finally allowed myself to glance at the people around, and while their shock at our argument was clearly written on their faces, that wasn’t what caught my attention. It was the clear class difference. One woman was wrapped in rich cloth and her hair was tied up. Her skin glowed with health and wealth. Near her stood a dirty ratty looking boy with hair like a rat’s nest. He was trying to peer around the woman, and she noticed him. Without a thought she kicked the poor boy away.

Before I could do anything Darin gripped my arm and hissed, “Don’t do anything. Look around, but please, for the dark lord’s sake, don’t do anything.”

And I looked. I looked at the people of the city as they crawled around in filth. I looked at the rich foreigners who had made their livings off of our people. I look around in disgust. Why couldn’t we have live happily with the foreigners? What had happened that created such a divide other than the temples. We should have been better off if anything.

I remembered Darin’s words from a year ago. I remembered him telling about the greedy Lord of the city who wanted more power. I wanted to kill the evil Lord who dared to stretch his greedy hands over the Lady’s people. I wanted to watch him suffer and die as this city slowly suffered, and died. It was dying. Anyone could see that. Dilapidated building lined the streets; old worn people too tired to fight wandered the streets aimlessly without hope to go on. Some whispered under their breath, but none were brave enough to step forward.

I noticed the bubble of silence that seemed to surround us. Elsewhere, the noise of the bustling city continued, but around us people grew silent and watchful. I fate hatred for the rich foreigners grow within me. It was a hatred for the whole talving city that I felt stirring within the recesses of my mind.

“Dyrana, are you ok?” It was Chrisin who’d ridden up next to me.

“I want to destroy them. I want to destroy this city and its corruption.” I whispered fiercely. I was trying to contain myself. I truly was.

Darin griped my left arm tighter, and Chrisin gently patted my shoulder while replying, “Only 6 months left and we will all be free.”

“All except Carasa,” bitterness tinged my voice as I stared straight ahead.

“She will also be free one day,” it was Darin’s voice on my left, but I wasn’t paying attention to him.

We had just entered the market place when I saw the last straw in my frayed nerves. A woman in the tattered remains of a white dress was running as fast as she could away from a pack of guards. She looked back for a second and tripped. Her trip was just long enough to give the guards time to catch her, and as I sat motionless on my horse, a guard pushed her to the ground while another guard thrust a knife into her side. A third and fourth guard each took a hand and force a dagger through her hand into the ground.

Suddenly my crippling anger freed me, and before the guards could do more than began to lift her skirts, I called on Zedigrivikonola and felt her join with me in anger. We spoke as one, “Do not touch our people filthy foreigner. You have earned the goddesses’ wrath!”

The man who’d been pawing his filthy hands over her body turned and cackled, “Who are you to speak you native wimp. Did you steal those horses? Do you want to be next freak?” His voice was high and ratty, and we decided to destroy him as an example.

“I am the Lady of death, the absence of light, the great Lady of darkness, the Lady Zedigrivikonola heself! You will bow before my wrath or you will pay the price you worthless rat.” We saw most of the people fall to their knees, some simply bowed, and the rat guard stood there and cackled again.

“You expect me to believe that? The Goddess of Death welcomes all death, and I am sending her another offering.”

“We warned you once. We do not tolerate those who speak against us. We welcome those who died in a fair fight. We do not look for a helpless sacrifice that does not belong in our kingdom.” We finished speaking, and gathered a slight amount of the infinite energy that we were connected to. A large fireball shot from our right hand and incinerated the man where he was standing.

We turned and sent ripples of our power through the gathered people. “Those who dare to touch the people of this city will bare my wrath for eternity.”

With a painful yank, she was gone and I was back to being by myself. I looked around and saw Kyra and Chrisin by the victim.

“You shouldn’t have done that. We are in big trouble now,” it was Darin again.

“Do you plan on playing the role of a docile sheep all your life? No, then wake up! Wake up and leave. Who cares what society tags us as.” I felt crazy with the anger and power coursing through me.

“Is she alright?” I realized Darin was avoiding answering by asking over the woman, and I was about to make another snarky comment.

“She’s dead.” It was Kyra. Kyra looked shocked, horrified. She looked as if she could barely handle the thought of death. I looked at the woman and noticed where the guard’s blade had gone in. It was a perfect stomach cut, and probably also punctured her lung. I turned my hatred on the clearly frightened guard that stabbed her, and I incinerated him where he stood. I felt nothing but hatred. No remorse for his death or the woman’s death. She was simply a way toward inciting my anger to rise up against the ruins of the once magnificent city that was eaten from within.

Behind me I could sense Casana’s approval, Darin’s fear of the unknown that he tried to hide, and Tyva’s fascination. All around I could feel the people’s fear.

I turned Varadill, “Com’ on let’s leave this place.” Behind me I could feel Kyra and Chrisin as they stood up, defeated, and mounted their horses. I sensed the other moving to follow in my wake. Everywhere there was true quiet. The quiet of death. The aftermath as the rage and destruction left by the Lady sunk into their slow brains. There was change coming.


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