By J Berges
She looked up to the dimming horizon splattered with white sparkling spots, the spots seemed to twirl and dance.
ìErealís childrenî Iridine muttered. The children played and danced with each other. If one got close to another it would shoot across the sky and hide obscuring its pure light. She saw dim Aeraís red light glow at the horizon as it slowly rose. Quite unexpectedly a bright flash of vermilion light came from Aera. It floated and slowly moved closer till it was right above the field before Iridine. She saw it was a ball of fire spinning. The fire sphere started to split it swirled then dissipated returning darkness to the area. A dark figure that was encased in the fireball floated slowly to the ground where it gently touched. The person walked to the ruin to Iridineís right. She was hidden by the dense foliage of the brush, she could see him without being noticed.
He was tall well proportioned man in his late thirties he had a beard, a goatee . His gloved hand came up and wiped to gathering dew from his thick mustache. The glove that covered his hand was a dark crimson color it had a small symbol on the top the part a half circle pointing to the fingers had the other side had three points making the shape of a simple fire. The man was covered by a thick, black sagum. His hand returned to the position by his torso and he continued on. He was wearing a dark red rustic hood, It was a smooth fabric and silken by what she could tell by the light reflecting off it. He had a long crooked nose and sneering lips his ears were oddly shaped and pierced in several places. He had dark black eyes, deep pools of thick black oil. He had thin eyebrows that exaggerated his authoritarian profile. She could only see thin wisps of light hair come from under the hood and Iridine could not tell easily the color. she saw through the small opening of the sagum a red mail cuirass it was worn exclusively by Aera worshippers. He hurried off post haste over the long deep grasses of the hills that lead to the ageless ruin. Iridine raised her eyebrow and poked her head through the bushes to get a better look at the peopleís doings. So many plebs were joining the moon cults why Iridine thought what are they doing to make the glorious sun, Ereal angry? Streaks of gold in the sky heralded the coming rising of the sun the group of people by the ruins were glowing red and rose they burst into a mass of flame and rocketed to their various places of rest. The glorious coming of Ereal took away the moon worshippers power and they had to leave. Erealís power was greater than that of any moon. Ereal and his children gave magic to there true followers at all point through the nycthemeron. Iridine Crawled out of the bushes and look about checking if anyone watched her. She slowly raised her hand palm up and slowly a stream of white light flowed from the sky to her hand. Iridine closed her hand on the sphere of light and placed it in a box hanging loosely of her wrought white belt. It had a bronze frame. Cubic it was, it was covered on all six sides by thin birch bark allowing much light through illuminating the area around her.
Iridine woke up before she opened her eyes someone was doing a awful lot of shuffling in the hall just out side of her cubicle she did not mind the noise that bothered most new disciples . Opening her eyes she saw it was dark out. ìPerfect.î
Iridine said as she washed her face in a large tub of warm water. She walked down the hall cloak in hand. The had bright lanterns set far above today they seemed awfully dim she would inform a young follower about this. She entered the grand hall. It had master tapestries hanging off the tall walls. Inspecting one could reveal that the fine weaving and magnificent texture and depth could only be the result of painstaking labor at the hands of only the most skillful weavers. She shook her head and stared on. Titus entered from outside. Titus was a old forest sage he was very in touch with himself and Ereal. She knew only the most important news would make him come here and stop his meditations. Iridine listened as the words dropped from his mouth with leading fatality. She stared as the his mouth opened and shut around the deep syllables that meant the death of all hopes, dreams, and lives. The sage faced Iridine now . The genuine regret in his expressive eyes made him look even more ancient. The heavy muscles in his jaw relaxed sorrowfully into his jowls. He lifted his cumbersome arm and shook Iridine waking her from the twilight state.
ìJust gone?î Iridine managed to release from her shaking now cage like mouth.
ìYes.....Yesî Titus looked away he knew as most did what the sunís light provided. Without Erealís light the crops would die and eventually, the humans too.
ìBut...butî Her eyes wandered as she tried to find some quick fix ìThe oracle must have said something?î
ìNo, she is silentî
ìIíll go talk to her surly Ereal would not ignore his own high priestess. There has to be something that brought his tempest.î She gazed deeply into Titusís eyes where she knew there was some answer. The deep pools of his eyes were pits of knowledge only years of solitary forest life brought.
ìI truly donít know.î Iridine remembered the soothsayer now.
ìMy childî the cackling grim voice told ìYou will witness Erealís departure from Midlight. Heíll leave, chaos will come and only one thing will bring Erealís order and light backî Iridineís memories blurred at this point she was just a child with little patience how would have she known what was destined to come one day by the light of the moons, Aera, Invex and Lucifal. Iridine held Titus.
ìI will go and see the oracle, I had never imagined this day would come.î Iridine said as she gazed at the dim horizon then the worshippers coming out of the cubicles wondering why it was still dark, they looked at the hour glasses and asked Novus the timekeeper what time it was, she grimly told them and they wondered about unsure what to do she could tell they were on edge and a riot could break out. She gave Titus a large embrace and gathered torches and rations for her journey. After collecting her supplies Titus was gone and she left walking down past the colonnade far above.
As she walked through the village people started wondering out unsure what to do far off she could hear a riot going on she had to left quickly. Iridine reached the edge of the town where the forest began. Iridine lead herself , letting her skilled feet deal with the difficulties of the path. Yet here her feet seemed less skillful, the glow of her torch lit the area but Iridine was not comforted by the light. She ran along shortcuts in the forest. For most of the way the path way worn down by the slow meandering river that was edged with the dark luxuriance of the forest. There were little cliffs to be scaled, some to be used as paths. lengthy traverses where one needed to use both hands as well as feet. Here and there she had to clamor over wet rock. The next part of the forest was like a thick woven birds nest. She found a grove of fruit trees in a haunt of brightly colored birds. They were big enough to fit in a palm and they had red chests and yellow backs and a narrow orange transition area. They hovered there over the trees like flies over carrion. She told herself of the time restrictions and she climbed the tree and sat on a great primeval branch. She parted the green canopy and saw the square head of the mountain was still a great way off she was near her home town of Thalia. She jumped down and gathered a great many dry leaves and put them in a dense bush. ìI guess I will sleep here till morningî Iridine paused then scratched the crown of her head full of white lush hair. ìI guess Iíll sleep till I wakeî She said to herself when she realized there was no morning anymore. She climbed into the bushes and closed the gap that showed the entrance of her habitation. She rummaged under the leaves and soon fell asleep tear in eye.
Iridine woke to the sounds of two animals... beasts, a way off in the forest fighting. She was about to leave when a roar of one of the beasts entranced her the fresh rub of two spirits in the dark she got up and walked on. She whipped the debris off her white linen tunic as she walked she was going very fast now. The air that pushed in from the lake was hot, and balmy, unrefreshing. Colors were draining from the flora the plant were dying already without light. The light from Aera, Invex, and Lucifal seemed unearthly. She made quick pace till she tripped over a log and fell. She lay in a mat of creepers and saw the dark wet earth by her cheek, still she did not move but lay there, her face sideways on the earth, her eyes looking dully before her she rose and knelt over the log like a sprinter at her mark. She stood paused and strode on. The creepers festooned the trees less frequently and there way a scatter of dark light from the sky down through the trees. She exited the under brush and arrived on the path to the oracle of Ereal.
She trudged over the narrow dirt path. Iridine looked up to the temple it was a tall pagoda with white marble steps leading up to it. She scaled the steps with precision and set into the entry room of the temple. There was a thick crowd of people here.
ìHow will I work now that my crops are dead?î
ìYou think you have it bad my store my livelihood destroyed in minutes.î
ìMy herd ran out of food and ran off.î
Iridine walked over to a small child that was off by herself, her long golden locks covered her immature face. Iridine was to empathetic to not know she was disturbed. Iridine sang mantras in the girls ear and then asked her ìWhere is your family?î
ìThe people in blue came and a big wave came over the house and drowned everyoneî the girl was choked ìI followed my neighbors here.î
Iridine placed the small child in the lap of a woman crying from the lost of her daughter they hugged and were linked instantly. Iridine walked down the long curved hall way to the oracle. The hall had tall columns on the side to imitate walking down a forest path. She stopped at a large iron door and open it. It let loose a eerie screech and revealed a thin white mist in a tall circular room in the middle on a short column a woman sat her head down, body limp. A woman sat just below the oracle.
ìHello priestess Iridine.î
ìHello Mostras, has she spoken?î
ìVery little now that you are here Ereal must speak.î
Iridine nodded and walked up to the oracle and placed her hand on her shoulder.
ìMach in tros och bacc ne sho pas re te ke mot zash okto meso tray she sh to ba say keeî the oracle said.
Mostras told Iridine ìShe said that only total acceptance by everyone will make Ereal come back and light this world.
Iridine paused once again holding her head thinking thinking thinking what could she do to make everyone want Ereal back? Iridine stopped pacing and ran out side as fast as her feet could allow. She looked to the sky and laughed then giggled and she ran inside proclaiming ìI know how to bring Ereal back come with me, toThalia!î the people who were grief stricken lightened up to the hope of Ereal coming back followed Iridine to Thalia where she called upon all the messengers to collect all the clans and villages to go to Basran hill. The messengers returned and even the moon worshippers came they now knew that Ereal replenished the power and light of the moon. Out of magic they came to Basran hill along with everyone and fasted and prayed. The people were encouraged by Iridine to not give up hope. Iridine left to meditate upon a hill. Days past until the morning of the eighth day of darkness the people gave up all hope.
ìHe is not coming, I know it Iridine tricked usî
ìNo she didnít, not the high priestessî
ìHow do we know?î
The people grumbled and groaned till finally they decided to go and ask Iridine what to do. They climbed through the brush to the place of Iridineís devotions as soon as they reached the point golden streaks blared across the sky. The people cried out with joy they hugged and embraced. The people went to wake Iridine from her meditations but she was dead sitting there. Her fair freckled face had happy smile upon her face and her eyes were open to Ereal of the morning. Her white hair flowed down her shoulders. Her long nose and thin eyebrows held peoples attention.
She had green eyes, green like the forest in which she traveled. Freckles spotted her face. The people buried Iridine there. A shrine was to be built in Iridineís honor and to Ereal of the Morning who shines upon the world each morning with compassion and hope.
Tulca a visiting chief decided not only a shrine would suffice but a city was to be built around the hill. It was to be called Iridine after the priestess. It would be built in the honor of the priestesses sacrifice. That evening there was a great feast which Tulca called. There was succulent dripping mutton hanging by the hearth of the bonfire. There was exotic fruits and foods brought in it tasted like heaven there was sugary pastries covered with strawberries. There were the finest wines aged to perfection not a single mouth went without. During this massive gathering of commoners Tulca proclaimed the founding of not only Iridine the city but the Republic of Iridine. That night the people fell asleep full of delicacies and wine. The people had a restful slumber. Tomorrow the people would start building the city a new life for themselves which Ereal of the Morning has stood to represent.