Mythal's Sorrow Part Two

The passage through the eluvian brought only a moment’s discomfort.  It hadn’t been pain, precisely, more a dislocation centered on his navel, one that slewed his viscera a hand’s span widdershins and his heart a finger’s breadth to the right.  The twist drove the breath from his body so that he gasped indecorously as he emerged from the blue glare into a diffuse gleam.

Had he been able, he’d have caught and held his breath the moment his eyes adjusted.  On the graveled path before him stood the goddess herself, her flowing gown coated in gem dust so that it glittered and flashed even in the muted light.  It had covered one arm and left the other bare, covered in a filigree of gold chased with bright silver.

The waist had been caught with a wide belt of pale leather on which her symbols had been worked in the same threads that sparkled from his own new cloak.  Her hair had been braided and coiled to lie over the exposed shoulder in tangled profusion while the sides had been tied and lacquered into impressive horns that swept back just shy of meeting well behind and above her head.

He’d dropped instantly to one knee, his armor clattering against the crushed stones, and bowed his head.  “My Lady,” he’d whispered, having air for no more proper greeting.  His insides had subsided into their normal locations but at the sight of her, the deity to whom he’d devoted his life, the one he loved above everything, he’d felt as though they’d shrunk to a quarter their original size and sped up a hundred-fold.  Blood had rushed to his face in shame for his undignified greeting.

Mythal had laughed, not in mockery but cheerily.  “Stand, my youngest guardian, and never kneel thus again.  I am no capricious mistress, demanding obsequious toadies on whom I might vent my spleen or exercise cruel whims.”

Abelas had dared to glance up at her.  The details of her raiment, its gorgeous flash and glitter, had impressed themselves on him in an instant but he’d hungered for a look at her face, even should it burst his speeding heart.  For all the talk of coming to her for judgment, he’d never known anyone who had seen actually seen her.  Supplicants went to her altars, laid gifts and their injustices on the stones dedicated to her, and left in trust that she would respond.

Respond she had, though not always as the one seeking her vengeance had expected.  She had seen through the most carefully crafted story, had read the hearts of all involved and had punished as she deemed necessary.  Some she had brought misery for attempting to use her power for their own gain, some she had gifted as the wronged party.

She’d struck down whomever she judged deserving and still they came to her.  All the elvhen had known she’d judged intentions and thoughts more than mere actions yet there had always been those who had believed they could fool her and those that had fooled themselves.  Everyone had also known the stories of Elger’nan’s capricious viciousness and had preferred Mythal’s hand, fairer in every way bloody though it may sometimes have been.

When he had finally brought his eyes high enough to meet hers, time had stopped dead for Abelas.  The violet color had been unusual enough but the warmth and appreciation that shone from them, there in the slight crinkle with which her smile had surrounded them, had stunned him.  He’d expected cold fury, a face severe and pale as a skull.  Her statues and mosaics had shown nothing like the kind, regal woman waiting patiently for him to recover his senses.

Thankfully he’d kept a firm hold on his new staff.  With its assistance he’d levered himself to his feet, his eyes still devouring her features.  Her brow had arced high above her eyes and her long, straight nose had pointed the eye to a wide mouth, generous and dusted with crushed rubies.

From the acorn-sized emerald at the sharp tip of her left ear a chain had looped to gems of several colors studded along the underside until it glided across her high cheekbone to meet a sapphire no bigger than ant pierced straight through her upper lip just above the corner of her mouth.  The right ear bore a long, filigreed cuff that matched that running up her left arm. Chips of gems set into it twinkled colored sparks into the pure white of her hair.

Mythal had thrown her head back at his stare and loosed a full-throated ripple of joy that had made Abelas want to weep at the strength of his answering emotion.  All his life he’d been controlled and strong, never given to flights of fancy or swayed by a moment’s whim.  What more proof of her power did he need than her ability to sweep away all his restraint and training without even trying?

Still chuckling, she had spoken again.  “You needn’t memorize my face, da’len.  All the sentinels at my temple know it well.”  To his amazement, she’d stepped close and thumbed the tears from his cheeks.  Her cool fingers rested briefly on his face and her blessing filled him.

Abelas recalled the burn as he’d flushed deeper than ever and torn his eyes from the benevolent glow of her face.  She had taken his arm and guided him across the Beyond to the eluvian at her Heart, the one through which the cursed Inquisitor and the shem she’d brought to the temple had disappeared, the mirror so long dark he’d thought it dead forever.

Mythal had spoken the truth.  Over the centuries he’d seen her a hundred times.  When he’d ascended to lead her sentinels he’d spoken to her once or twice a year, more often as matters between the gods had deteriorated and the empire had begun to crumble.

Part One - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five

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