The Silent Witness (Published)

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CHAPTER 1 - THE GODS GATHER

Zethër paced up and down the throne room in the grand palace, his footsteps echoing across the room. His mind was racing as to what his intentions were. It was one thing having the concept, it was another thing entirely different in voicing the matter altogether. He’d sent his nephew Færró, to summon the other gods for a council meeting.

Zethër wore his finest of robes: a silver glittering robe that fitted his frame with a long train. A neck-high collar that came to a V-shape just by his collar bone, sporting red diamond buttons that ran halfway down his body. He wore shimmering black leggings and black, diamond-studded knee-length boots. His great sword - known as ’Bright Star’ - hung on his belt. His curly, platinum-white hair hung loose down his back and on his head, he wore his platinum crown that showed he was by no doubt, the All Father, and in its centre, it bore his symbol of absolute power. His sky-blue eyes were piercing and intimidating.

While he was waiting, hands clasped behind his back, he looked out the great window known as the Chart View, which was specifically designed to overlook the coming and going of those who dwelt on Evertheen. No one could escape the watch of the gods from this particular window.

The grand palace on Evertheen was situated in the heart of the Metropolis. It was within this palace where the gods would meet; settling disputes or air views, needing each other’s input, advice, and support.

The throne room was set on the grandest of scales. At the end of the hall were two high seats meant for the king and queen along with two sets of thrones on each side of them. All six were splendid and majestic.

In the middle of the throne room was a pool of crystal water known as the Silent Whisper, stemming the colour of sapphire mixed with purple. The waters were so serene, that not even a ripple could be seen. It looked as if a mirror had been laid on the floor. It was a splendid sight and took up much of the spacing on the floor. The pool had no edgings, as it was at ground level and rather deep. Along each side of the pool were five lights on each side and two on each of the ends. The lights would create a reflection of Evertheen on the gold-domed ceiling with aurora lights dancing around, quiet, yet majestically. Along each side of the Silent Whisper were six daises with a seventh that was on the opposite side of the six thrones. This dais belonged to Færró.

Each throne was crafted by the gifted Remesló. The thrones were created out of marble, inlaid with white gold. The trimmings were coated with red diamonds and lapis lazuli. Five marbled steps were needed to climb up to each god’s dais. The seats were round and had armrests, with high backrests. Engraved on the top of each backrest was a unique symbol that represented each god and goddess. These symbols glowed a faint, roseate, and orange light. When a god wished to speak, the custom was that they would stand, and as they did so, three steps would appear air-born with each stride and after taking three steps, a round platform would appear for them to stand on. The encircled platform would shine aurora lights that would reach no higher than the gods’ ankles.

The thrones of the Great Six, as they were referred to, emanated soft, bluish lights. The encrusted red diamonds shone brilliantly and the marble that supported the thrones seemed to spin on its axis, without the seats themselves winding.

His thoughts were interrupted when the doors swung open and his family came bustling in, talking amongst themselves. Færró came in first and just behind him came Samrósa, walking as if she were the centre of attention (as she often felt). Verontó came right behind and nearly squashed her against the door, clearly in a hurry in the hopes that the meeting won’t take too long. As a god of action, sitting still had never been his speciality. Samrósa was tempted to cast a spell on him to fall in love with the door, kissing it forever. However, she pushed the thought aside as she felt sympathy for the door.

The throne room fell silent when Vězra entered. The Queen of Evertheen shone with absolute authority. Her amethyst-coloured dress of soft, flowing, lightweight satin with a fitted bodice had a V-shaped neck. Clung tightly around her waist was a golden sash and her dress flared from the waist down. Over her dress she wore a cape which had a long train, the golden edged collar raised over her neck, bending slightly and her sleeves hung halfway down to her knees when her hands were clasped together. Her sleeves too were edged with gold. She glided rather than walked and shimmered with every stride. Her long, raven hair was entwined with golden gossamers, and wore a beautiful golden crown with her symbol of power in the middle. The symbol was crafted out of an amethyst stone. She fixed her eyes on her throne and extended her slender hand to Zethër, who kissed it, then escorted her to her seat. Her two sisters, Motiňa and Kafshëva, who were both married to Zethër’s brothers, Olěnd and Tengër, were not far behind. Olěnd sat on Zethër’s left with his wife Motiňa next to him, while on Vězra’s right sat her sister Kafshëva with her husband Tengër next to her.

Once everyone had taken their seats, Zethër, holding his staff Statham, gave a firm thud on the floor which sent a shockwave and everyone immediately fell silent. Even the godlings who lived on Evertheen heard Statham, knowing that the Council of the Gods was now in session and knew great matters would take place if all the major Evertheenian gods were assembling.

Taking a deep breath, Zethër scanned the room, aware of all eyes on him.

“I thank you all, my dear family, for coming to this meeting,” he said formally. “I have an announcement to make which may not sit well with some of you.” All were now evidently curious, sitting up a little straighter.

“For some time now,” Zethër continued, “it had been on my mind for us to - if I can put it this way - use our powers once again on a new level, though it has been put to the test in the past before.”

Vězra glanced at her husband, her violet eyes blazing fiercely.

“Do not tell me what I think you are about to say.”

Zethër slowly turned to meet his wife’s gaze and simply said, “Yes.”

She heaved a heavy sigh. Turning again and facing everyone in the room, Zethër said, “We may have failed in the past - that I cannot deny - but it is my solemn wish that this time round, we may yet succeed.”

Kafshëva spoke with a cool, crisp voice.

“Why don’t you indulge us and say the word everyone is thinking of.”

Zethër looked around the throne room, then turned towards the Great Six and simply said one word.

Mankind.

* * * * *

“This is an outrage!” Bellowed Olěnd standing up and walking towards his platform. “Have you forgotten that during a period of five hundred thousand years we HAD an Age of Mankind?”

Ismińa was already standing on her platform and broke in, “during that age, mankind became savage and warlike. Barbaric in nature, destroying everything in their path.

“At first, their justice system did them well. But then men decided to take vengeance into their own hands; lynch mobs killing people if they thought that justice wasn’t served. If that wasn’t enough, they would mutilate people before killing them, and then eventually they began enjoying torturing. Throwing women and children headfirst from cliffs when men simply became tired of having the responsibility of having a family to support and many turned a blind eye!

“Many cities around Barathorn decided that that was the easiest way out and women feared for their lives when given away in marriage.” Everyone remained still. It seemed Ismińa could no longer keep her contempt hidden.

“Remember when anyone would take the fall for either thievery or murder - even if that person were innocent - and anyone who had the stomach to carry out the torture would hack off the victim’s bottom jaw, removing limbs and became an icon of savagery?

“We all stood in this very room, discussing those matters and finally when they settled to human sacrifices and cannibalism, you, uncle,” pointing to Zethër, “closed the heavens and killed many with lightning, while Queen Vězra opened the grounds with earthquakes in which many more disappeared. Those who were left blamed others, plunging all nations into a civil war.”

Verontó gave a juvenile smile, reminiscing the days when he was called on by his father to bring a war to end all wars. Those who were left behind were killed by the god himself.

“So serious!” Verontó murmured to Færró, who gave a smirk, which quickly disappeared when Ismińa shot him a look. Verontó merely gave her a wink.

“Now you wish to create a Second Age?” Ismińa asked.

“And why not?” Samrósa sighed, who didn’t once look up during the meeting. Still seated, she’d been studying her nails intently. “I could use a bit of a challenge.”

Ignoring her niece, Motiňa stood and agreed with Olěnd. “I will not see Barathorn destroyed again.”

“Of course she would agree with her husband,” Samrósa muttered. Motiňa pretended to ignore her.

“Will there be a sun and moon again?” Motiňa continued. “Will the seas rise and Tengër destroy lands and islands with his angry waves?” Tengër said nothing, but his eyes sparkled at the comment.

“Just what exactly do you have in mind that this time round mankind will be worth creating?” Motiňa asked, now annoyed.

Before Zethër could answer, everyone exploded with shouts and muttering across the throne room. All but three goddesses were seated: Vězra, Sërafinn, and Samrósa. Sërafinn looked at her mother. Vězra had been sitting with her eyes closed and her head resting on her throne’s backrest. Sërafinn was grateful her mother remained silent. She shuddered at the thought of what might happen if Vězra were to voice what was going on in her mind.

Now irritated, Zethër raised Statham towards the gold-domed ceiling where the lights turned the colour of crimson, signifying fury. The lights surged into his staff and he struck the ground with such force that those who were standing, were flung back into their seats. The shockwave caused a tremor throughout Evertheen.

“Enough!” Zethër bellowed. The throne room immediately fell silent. Turning to Motiňa he firmly said, “Yes! There will be lands and seas! Yes, there will be lights in the skies, and yes! There will be inhabitants on Barathorn!” Turning to the rest of his family, he firmly stated, “Nothing will deter me from my decision. It is final!”

Breaking the awkward silence, Sælev leaned forward and sardonically said to Sërafinn, “Now remember how we used to do this little sister? You shine at night and I shine at day. Simple enough for you?!”

Sërafinn stood up and countered, “Don’t cite the Ancient Laws to me big brother! I was there when our powers were given and I for one had seen enough devastation to never forget what happened during the First Age!”

Her voice carried across the throne room in such a manner that even Vězra opened her eyes and looked across at her daughter. Sælev sat, utterly speechless. Verontó gaped at her and Samrósa broke a nail in surprise at the outburst. Anger had never been in Sërafinn’s nature.

For a moment, Zethër stared at his daughter, his mouth wide open and for a moment forgot why they were having this meeting in the first place.

Coming back to his senses, he shook his head and continued, “Ah, yes, now, as I was saying. I ask that both Motiňa and Tengër divide Barathorn with land and sea. Færró, divide the four winds across the domains. Kafshëva, create animals. Sërafinn and Sælev, retrieve both the moon and sun back from the Void.”

“Who will create this ‘new race’ of mortals?” Olěnd asked.

“Why you brother!” Zethër said innocently. “The souls of mortals had been taken to both your realms of Innøcence Løst and Terra Nimble. Although I must confess Innøcence Løst has more occupants than the latter.” Olěnd gritted his teeth but said nothing.

“I would also need you, Ismińa. I would like your input in this matter.” Ismińa bowed her head towards Zethër. “The rest of you may leave us.”

On their way out, Vězra turned and asked, “I suppose I have no say in this?” She looked around for support, but the others suddenly became interested in the columns spread across the throne room.

“No,” Zethër said flatly. Without another word, Vězra swung on her heels and stormed out of the throne room.

“Do you think she’ll get over this uncle?” Ismińa asked, still staring at the doors.

Zethër sighed. “She didn’t the first time round my dear. Why should this be any different?”

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