The way out is in. The way up is down. In my world I was ordained to be a priestess in the Karaii temple. Whether it was my mother’s tears or my father’s sacrifices that had found me such favor in the eyes of the gods, I can’t be certain. My parents had not only obtained a sea of prosperity (which I had not yet grown to take value in), but their good fortune had spared my life, for a spanse. I had been destined to be committed as a baby, on the Offering Stone. The gods’ thirst for blood ever-lingered. They would instead receive me on the eve of my maiden day, seventeen seasons from my birth. At six seasons old, my preparation drew near and thus my service at the temple would begin.
“Savta, savta” I awoke in a cold sweat to my mother’s shaking and to the fury of blazing hooves. “There’s a price on your life, daughter. Our secret has been made known. Alas, the king’s men come to claim all The Seeing for cast-off”
I had seen the public display of a casting-off. An offering prayer was said, followed by the swell of ritual drums and at once the bound and gagged was flung from the ledge into the churning spirit waters below. I was surprised when my frantic mother pushed my bed aside, at the center of my room to reveal a small square panel, its outline almost invisible. Then came the pounding. The guards smote the door with their fists, the commanding officer barking in his native tongue.
Mother took my small hand. I climbed inside and stepped down onto the flimsy wooden ladder. My chin trembled and my glossy eyes ransacked the darkness for the comfort of hers. “Don’t cry. I will soon come down after you, my love” the moonlight through the window shown off her frightened smile.
The pounding adjured us, again.
“Follow the path. At the fork there will be someone to receive you.”
My thoughts flashed to Old Man Ivan. Anyone born in the last 100 seasons, might have heard the tale of the Old Prophet. He had been responsible for delivering a prophecy of the king’s demise. The fearful king ordered Ivan’s immediate destruction. But the kingdom’s fiercest warriors failed to pierce his heart with their javelins. This infuriated the king, so much that he had ordered that he be rent in two. But the four beast he was tied to only lay down and proceeded to trumpet and wallow in the red dust. The king demanded Ivan be stripped and beaten, afterwards, he was cast into the black drink below. This was many seasons before The Seeing Ones became, the hunted.
Aù slev Nesןü Zèhna….Oןmet slev Nesןü. Zèhna Zènhii dä.
She whispered the ancient words, and kissed my forehead. Then she closed the little door above me.