Please don't skip the 'before you read' chapter.
The redhead received several second glances as she walked through the crowd in the town in her white satin clothes and papyrus sandals. In her hand, she held a golden vessel, carrying the water of River Rhenus to her worshiping place.
It wasn’t her beauty that attracted so much attention but her dark, fiery red hair that flowed to her waist. It made the people around her step away, making a way for her through the crowd. It only made her lips tip up in an amused smile as she tipped her chin and walked proudly.
The bright sun enhanced the color of her red hair, making it seem like live flames. Her beautiful, porcelain skin stood out against her red hair while her wide, lively green eyes framed with thick eyelashes gleamed in a way that was impossible for any mortal.
Her wide hips swayed as she walked, earning some lustful looks which were deliberately ignored by her. The top of her full bosom peaked out of the white fabric of her dress -which did nothing to hide her luscious curves. She was dressed quite scandalously for a priestess but her reputation was more scandalous than the fabric that failed to hide her body that was every man would like to have in his bed. She was aware of this but she paid less heed to it, rather, she enjoyed this kind of attention.
She knew the effect she always had on people around her and she was well aware of the murmurs about her. They were intimidated by her. It was uncommon in that small province- her red hair. It only meant one thing- death. To top that, they knew she was an outsider who had been confined to live there due to her dark past.
As she slowly threaded her way to the abandoned temple of Artemis in the outskirt of the province, she heard people talk about her.
“She is not a virgin,”
“She is a murderer,”
“She is a sinner,”
“Why is she not banished?”
The whispers stretched the smile on her face and her eyes twinkled proudly. She mused internally, knowing that people’s speculations about her weren’t always entirely false. Most of the time they were unknowingly right about her. She was all those things they thought her to be.
The redhead smiled at the sight of the abandoned temple, knowing that her goddess waited for her there. She was a proud priestess there even though she didn’t fit any requisites of a priestess. She was one of the many major reasons people never visited that old, run-down temple. They were more afraid of her than the dark secrets that now dwelled in the once sacred building.
“You’re here?” A voice echoed inside the temple as soon as she had climbed the stairs and stepped in the foyer.
“Yes, my goddess,” She chirped, shifting the vessel from her hands to her hips as she strolled further inside the temple. It was falling apart. Half the original ceiling had fallen, welcoming the sunlight inside some parts of the sacred place. The floor and walls were covered with thick blankets of dust. Large spider webs decorated the corners while occasional bats would flutter here and there, breaking the silence of the place with the sound of their wings beating against the wind.
The redhead stopped when she was finally inside the small room where the statue of Artemis once sat. She stepped out of her papyrus sandals before she offered a huge smile to the dark goddess who was perched on the pedestal where once her statue sat.
“I have fetched some freshwater to wash your feet!” The redhead chirped, holding the vessel in front of her. Her overflowing enthusiasm made the goddess roll her eyes before she unfolded her legs and let them down on the floor.
“Oh, my devils! Your feet are so dirty! I wonder what you’ve been up to lately,” The redhead exclaimed as she went on her knees to tend to the goddess’ feet. Her words helped Artemis’ temper climb a new level.
“Just wash my feet!” She snapped and the redhead did as she was told.
“Now,” She trailed off as she raised from Artemis’ feet and put the vessel away, “Bless me so that I could be the queen of Alexandria again,” She said as she spread her arms and looked at the goddess expectantly. The goddess raised one of her eyebrows at the redhead’s antiques before she shook her head.
“No wonder you got kicked out of Alexandria,” Artemis muttered lowly but the redhead heard her clearly and scowled at the goddess, “HEY! You know why I got kicked out of there!” She exclaimed.
“Because you tried to overthrow your sister’s throne but failed,”
“I was trying to take what I deserved!” The redhead snapped with temper. She fisted her hands and ground her teeth as soon as she remembered her defeat. She burned with anger every day, knowing how close she was to being queen. Even after working her way to the top, she didn’t get what she wanted. It flamed the wrath inside her.
Her unpleasant tone earned her a low growl from the goddess.
“I am here to warn you,” Artemis said instead as she rose to her feet and wore her sandals. Her words claimed the redhead’s attention instantly.
“Warn me of what?” She asked.
“Your sister is after you again. She’s still pissed at you for what you did years ago,” This made the redhead smirk slyly. Meanwhile, Artemis collected her bow and arrows from the pedestal.
“Aww, I guess she just misses me,” The redhead chirped the way she shouldn’t have. She knew well enough what Artemis meant by ’Your sister is after you again’. As if to confirm her thoughts, she heard soft footsteps outside the temple, on the steps.
The redhead smiled to herself as she declared, “Looks like I have a visitor,”
“I was here to warn you. It’s your call,” Artemis disappeared into a puff of smoke, leaving the redhead alone with the danger that lingered on the steps of the temple.
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