Ja’Deir’s slight, furred form hovered inches above the ground in a position of meditation. His deep green satin cloak hung loose off his shoulders, and fell in flowing folds on his palette below him. The symphony of the forest enveloped his camp off the main road. Out of the void came a voice to Ja’Deir. It was ancient; not the feeble, worn croak of the aged, but full of power and authority that could only come from millennia of rule and magic.
Ja’Deir’s heart raced. He’d been up against foes whose voices carry their presence outside of their body, but this voice was different. On instinct, he didn’t bother opening his eyes, but reached out with his mind, and searched for the corporeal counterpart to the voice. There was nothing there! Obviously this had to be some being of great power, that could transmit his voice over great distance.
‘’It is me, I am here!’’
‘’Of course it is you. I know with whom I speak!’’ The voice seemed angry, impatient, and scornful. Ja’Deir did not like people like this, but this wasn’t any normal person! Instead of standing up for his pride, he tamped it down into humility.
‘’We both know who I am, a lowly servant of the Light. Am I worthy to know with whom I speak? Who are you?’’
‘’If you are true, you will know me.’’ The initial brashness – like volcanic rock dragged on the skin – had melted, and was now just acidic.
‘’I am true to those who are worthy of trust. I am a being of my word.’’ The initial meekness in his voice started to normalize.
‘’That is why you were chosen.’’
‘’Chosen for what, great spirit?’’
‘’Chosen to serve the gods of Light.’’
‘’I serve the gods of Light now, what more do they ask of me?’’
The voice exploded in furious demand. ‘’Do you question the GODS?’’ Ja’Deir fell prone, hands forward, and forehead to his mat. His bosom shook in fear, but he controlled his outer self. He reigned in his nervousness threatening to break his voice.
‘’No, Great Lord! I merely wished for more light and knowledge!’’ Ja’Deir rose to his feet as he spoke, and planted his feet in the base stance. He settled his posture, and held his hands out in front of him, left fist extended with the thumb outstretched and gasped in his other fist. With eyes closed, he muttered reverently, ‘’retsu; o’ṃ irotahi chanoga jiba tai sowaka.’’
‘’You guess wrong; if you guess wrong again, I shall be displeased!’’ The voice made Ja’Deir’s brain rattle in his skull.
‘’I apologize, great spirit! I ask humbly for a clue, so I can guess more surely.’’
‘’I … ah…’’ The voice, if it were attatched to a body, sounded like it were looking away at something, it sounded preocupied. ‘’I shall return. I have something I must attend to! Return to your meditations in the meantime.’’
‘’Of course, zen.’’ Ja’Deir’s posture stiffened, and his head bowed. His left fist turned on its side, palm down, and his right hand engulfed it, thumb above his other thumb, first two right fingers over the last two left fingers. ‘’o’ṃ a ra ba sha nō sowaka,’’ he muttered reverently. He sat on his palette, and began to enter a meditative, trance state. His body started to raise, fur ruffling, when the voice returned. This time he was ready, and no fear attacked him. He calmly left his meditative trance and prostrated himself. ‘’Yes, great spirit?’’
‘’Here is your clue. I am the Lightest of the Gods of Light.’’ Ja’Deir’s mind raced. He had heard of the Gods of Light, and their temperaments, but he never heard of which one is heaviest.
After a few endless seconds, he thought that it might not be literal. He thought of the representations of the gods. Apis the Bull, Bennu the Fire, Isis of many names… Then it hit him! Horus’ symbol is the Feather of Ma’ip. He’s also said to be the ruler of the Sun. Both of which represent ‘Light.’
Feeling the dunce, Ja’Deir rose to his feet, and cautiously extended his hands in front of him, palms out and fingers spread, with his thumbs and index fingers touching in the mudra of the rising sun. ‘’zai; o’ṃ chirichi iba rotaya sowaka,’’ he muttered in reverence.
‘’Good! You are more intelligent than you look!’’ The voice said, condescension like condensation dripping from the words.
‘’I am sorry if I have offended, great spirit!’’ Ja’Deir’s tone was laced with remorse, that he had insulted the great God of Retribution and Love by forming another’s mudra and muttering another’s mantra.
‘’You haven’t offended. If you are to continue on this quest, you will have to grow a thicker skin. Your soft, furry coat; will it stand up to the attacks, the ridicule, the insults? In the service to the Light you cannot react so hastily and personally. You must weather the storm ahead with dignity, not remorse and offense.’’
Ja’Deir straightened, body saluting the Godly General. ‘’I did not know that was a shortcoming of mine. I will strive to do better; to better myself.’’ Ja’Deir bowed his head in acceptant defference.
‘’How do you know that I am who I say I am?’’ The voice asked, with curiosity and demand. Ja’Deir could hear the test in his words. This was the second test, he knew.
‘’My faith tells me so.’’ Ja’Deir said honestly. He hadn’t thought of testing a god, to see if he were speaking the truth, or to test his identity. He decided he would find a way to do so – without angering him, of course!!
‘’Good,’’ the voice resonated within Ja’Deir. ‘’Now that you have passed the test of intelligence and faith, you are ready.’’
‘’Thank you, O Lord.’’
‘’I ask you a question; Would you throw your life away, and take it back up? Is this a hard thing that I ask of you?’’
‘’I serve the Gods of Light in all I do. I have already devoted my life. Nothing would change.’’
‘’Very Good!’’ The approval was warm in the otherwise cold, furious voice. Ja’deir thought he would lift off the ground with the exultation. ‘’I do not show myself as you are not worthy to see my face, and neither are those of CrIsis. Such is their penance’’
‘’CrIsis, my Lord?’’ Ja’Deir could remember hearing a rumor of an evil rebel faction or some such calling itself ‘calamity.’ this might be the group, before the mutations that rumors created. He noted the emphasis on the first ‘I’ in the word, as a reference to the Goddess herself. As he thought, a large stack of heavy tomes fell onto his palette beside him. ‘’Would you like me to read these now, Great Lord?’’
‘’You would interrupt a God with reading? No, you may read after we have conversed!’’
‘’Ok, Great Lord! I will read and learn the lessons that are in them, and apply them to my life!’’
‘’Do not apply all of the ‘lessons’ in them. They do not all reflect our will. Those that write the books have forgotten their place. Do not repeat their mistakes! You will serve with them.’’
‘’I will not repeat their mistakes. I will strive to do thy will, O Lord! My children’s children will carry this honor that thou hast bestowed upon me.’’
‘’Remember Humility, and remember Love!’’
‘’Yes, Lord! Even the vilest of sinners deserves love. I will remember this!’’
‘’Yes. Now, is there anything you would ask of me? You shall only have this chance.’’
‘’What shall be my focus in the quest ahead?’’
‘’In all else, be a shining example of Apis and Love. She has chosen you specifically as her champion, and so have the Gods of Light.’’ The weight of the call was in every word.
‘’Xarys never has been safe, so it is not now.’’ Ja’Deir realized that a God of Light referred to his homeland. The weight of that revelation hit him like a fist. It does exist, the land shrouded in mountains and mist.
‘’Will I ever see it again?’’
‘’That is unclear. There are many paths ahead that you may tread. Some will lead you home, others will lead you to places no mortal foot has trod.’’
‘’How does the war between the Light and the Dark compare to the War of the Demons and the Citadel’s evil plans?’’
‘’It is like a mountain to a pebble. How do you know of the War between the Pantheons?’’
‘’The spirits used to speak of their torment and lamentations, their past joys, and their children. For the last few years they have spoken of nothing else beside the war. The entire spiritual plane is in upheaval.’’
‘’You have been touched by Anubis then? You speak with the Dead?’’ The voice hissed, anger starting to color its words.
‘’No, Great Lord! I have never uttered his mantra, nor formed his forbidden mudra! I walk in the paths of the light!’’ Ja’Deir stammered, worried that he’d angered a god to wrath.
‘’That has nothing to do with whom you’ve touched. You deal in his realm when you deal with the dead.’’ The bodiless voice calmed to a tone of fatherly admonition. ‘’Now, when you return to CrIsis, you are not to say who you spoke with. This is part of their penance as well.’’
‘’Your will, Great Lord.’’
‘’CrIsis must repent for their abuse of power and carelessness and thoughtlessness. There are members of CrIsis that profane the Pantheon by forgetting the importance of giving back. There are some who have never donated!’’
‘’I will donate all that I receive! All that I have is for the Light.’’
‘’Remember: You were chosen not only for who you are, but for what you are. Ashada are Joyful, Carefree, Loving and Giving. You are optimistic, and brighten the spirits of those around you. This is what you bring to CrIsis. They have become dark and serious at all times. Remind them how to love. Show them again what it means to be of the Light.’’ The presence that wasn’t felt consciously felt like it left. Ja’Deir’s understanding of beings and auras didn’t help him understand this, in fact it was more of a hindrance. He thought there were only three ways to be somewhere, and that was Physically, Psionically, and Spiritually. There was some other way, that the God was in, that was none of those things. Dumbstruck, Ja’Deir uttered belatedly, ‘’zai; o’ṃ chirichi iba rotaya sowaka,’’ his hands formed in the Seal of the Rising Sun mudra, then uttered reverently, ‘’zen; o’ṃ a ra ba sha nō sowaka,’’ With his hands clasped in front of him, one fist engulfed in the other.
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