Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Sixty-Eight

"A dream?" I asked hesitantly.

Ferociously he snapped, "Do not use that tone with me.  I am your elder by blood and by experience and by decades on this hell bound planet.  If it were not for me you would be a rotted corpse many times over.  I have given up much for you Leeda Harper Linder."

Calmly I told him, "I did not ask it of you so do not blame me for it."

"Blame you?  No.  I do not blame the wind for blowing; but neither will I simply stand there and be blown upon without seeking to harness the wind to a constructive purpose.  Now listen girl, there isn't much time left.  You've already been missed and they'll come looking for you.  Whether you realize it or not you have power.  I've watched you long enough to know you didn't will it or desire it but that doesn't change the fact that you have it in your hands.  The future of both our peoples balance on a pin head that you can influence one way or the other.  One faction pushes to bring the dark god forth, the other seeks to stop it at all costs that we might yet have a few more years in the light.  The methods that both use will only lead to war that may or may not cause their desire to be fulfilled, but it is assured of bringing great suffering for all.  You must not let either side use you for their own ends.  With your death the prophecy will end.  Or with your begatting it could be fulfilled.  Somehow, some way you must find a third path and there is almost no time to discern such a direction.  I am an old, old man and my time is drawing quickly to a close.  I can no longer watch over you.  All I can do is warn you.  But I will not compromise my soul to do it so all I can offer are clues."

"Wonderful.  More puzzles," I said in irritation.

"Hush and do not be such a brat, it ill becomes you and serves you not at all except to bring you and those you care for a painful end.  Now listen and listen well girl.  There are those that appear as allies who are actually enemies.  There are those that appear as enemies that are actually allies.  Then there are all those in-between that have been manipulated and are in limbo waiting to be turned one direction or the other, sometimes of their own free will and sometimes not.  After my dream I left my priesthood and sat out on a vision quest.  To my surprise I had a talk with your God.  I wanted Him to be wrong because I did not like what I heard, but nothing I have experienced since has led me to believe it was a lie.  I leave here to go into the desert for more enlightenment.  I hope at the end of the journey I will find release.  But before I can go I must tell you my dream."

"In my dream I saw a great kingdom.  Then a terrible sound rose from the streets of the kingdom.  Following the sound a great conflagration came down from the sky and rent the kingdom into many parts, great and small.  Winding between the pieces was a great serpent who was both beautiful and terrible at turns.  Sometimes eating those that came to worship him and sometimes blessing them, none knowing which they would receive."

"This great serpent was strong and won against every foe.  It was wise and a seer.  None could touch it without finding madness.  It did not offer salvation, only favor if you could prove yourself worthy.  And it feared nothing, nothing but a great light that sat in the sky over the broken kingdom and all the rest of the world.  I did not understand why the serpent was afraid of the light as it did nothing but hang there in the sky.  But then I realized the light was blessing all it touched just like the serpent ... but while the blessings of the serpent turned to corruption, the blessings of the light were more gentle; so gentle that the light-blessed often did not even realized they were being blessed."

"Then an anger and jealousy of the light overtook the serpent and it began to gather the broken pieces of the kingdom and those pieces became shadowed and dark.  In this shadow the serpent built a den to conceal itself from the light.  It did not look like the light noticed that it was losing pieces of the kingdom ... or perhaps it was more true to say that I did not think it cared.  After all it was just a light.  But a strange thought occurred to me as I watched the serpent and the light."

"The serpent's den lay in a wasteland.  The light shined long and hard every day upon day upon day.  The light pounded the ground and all it touched.  Revenge I thought but that did not feel correct.  A voice from out of the sand whispered to me.  It said, 'Welcome the light.  Without the light all that exists is the darkness and corruption of the serpent.  The light wants to give us blessings and call the lost back to the light-lit lands; but the serpent's shadow is so very strong and he has set up so many disciples.  The light must shine ever brighter to give hope and to get the notice of those that are so deep in darkness they've lost their sight.  It is better to roast the body in the light than it is to freeze the soul in the dark.'"

"I woke from my sleeping alcove in a terror for I knew that the serpent was our dark god and that the corruptions were not blessings at all but suffering to tie us to it so that we would worship at his altar with the terrible pleasures it used to lead us into the dark in the first place.  No pleasure was out of bounds if we did it in worship of the dark one - lusts, appetites, giving pain, receiving pain, spilt blood, broken bodies, emotions run amok all from the mad, dark pleasures.  Only I had my eyes open by the light and I saw for the first time that the pleasures were not pleasures but chains that only led to more pain ... an eternity of pain and suffering as it is visited upon the generations begat from it."

"I did not know what the light was or where it was or why it was but I knew that I had to seek it out if I did not want to spend my eternity suffering for with the serpent there is never an end to suffering.  The promise of eternal pleasuring was a lie.  I knew it and knew it was blasphemy to think it but could not unknow it, so I ran trying to hide both from the dark one and the light.  But though I escaped the dark, there is no escaping the light and eventually a small ray found me and my knowing became greater.  Then it was like my whole body was on fire burning away almost all of the last of the dark chains that held me."

"My journey has been a long one and soon it will end.  My ending though is my business, between me and the light and the dark.  I have a great deal to answer for and I do not expect my passing from this life to be an easy one.  I welcome it and will accept whatever eternity I find.  But while I still walk this life I have a duty to try and secure my children's future, guide them away from suffering and corruption.  And all that I have left is the knowledge that you are the tool that can bring this about."

There were voices and I turned toward them to see who it might be but the voices moved on without stopping.  I turned back to the old man but he was gone, moving more swiftly than I had any reason to believe such an old and corrupted man should move.

I stood up and moved into the shrubbery to sneak back into the Gala and hopefully avoid questions.  I had much before me to think about not the least of which was whether I had been given the truth or was being played a theatrical for some purpose.

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