Finally Mythal had come a final time. Abelas, then known by another name, had met with her in one of the forested glades near the temple. Slaves had brought heady wines and rich cakes, their faces resolutely bent to keep from being blinded by the glittering majesty of their god. She waited to speak until they were quite alone once more. Other sentinels had kept guard out of earshot so that none might interrupt their conference.
She’d spoken his name gently, drawing his attention from his contemplation of how pale she looked, how worry shadowed her eyes to a deeper amethyst, and lightly laid a hand on his arm. “I cannot tell you all that comes,” she said,
“but I can promise that you are forever bound to me.” For the first time since he’d seen her standing the paths of Beyond he felt tears of emotion fill his eyes. She smiled at seeing them, knowing they signaled relief, before turning serious once more.
“Arlathan crumbles,” she continued, “and my children war. How can I help but judge them?” She shook her head, dismissing the topic if not the question. “A shadow grows and flexes its claws, looking to tear aside the past for a darker future. You, my sentinels, must protect my heart, however much blood flows through it. Your long vigil has been but a beginning. At least I can allow you the ease of uthenera for a time…when the time comes.”
Abelas had long grown accustomed to her cryptic way of speaking. Something horrible loomed and she trusted him to protect the essence of her if not her body. That was all he needed to know. The specifics would take care of themselves and he would stand whatever they turned out to be.
Would it have changed anything had she told him she would be killed? He could not have done anything to stop it and had never known which of the other gods had done it. When he’d begged to accompany her, to protect her, she’d sternly told him that his duty lay at the temple. “My heart beats,” she’d said, “and within it my ties to the People. Keep it pure.”
On her way to the eluvian she had done something Abels had never seen: she waded directly through the well, the waters swirling to pat playful waves at her ankles and calves but leaving her gown to trail sparkling and utterly dry atop its surface. With a nod of appreciation to the well and a grinning wink to Abelas she disappeared into the beyond.
Within days she had been murdered.
Part One - Part Two - Part Four - Part Five