True Love or Legends?
Two women stared out the window to the quiet street far below. Some time earlier they had watched Mihai pass under that very window as she made her way toward the Majestic. One of them finally let go the curtain and turned away, retracing her steps to the small bed in the corner of the room.
Stretching in a yawn, she turned back to the other and cooed, “Come my love, I have not yet been given my fill of your love songs promised. This day is so fleeting and when it has passed I will have to wait so long to feel your breath upon my neck again.”
The second woman looked away from the window, making a flirting frown that veiled her secret disdain for this ‘urchin of latter days’. Masking those feelings, she sang a sweet, hushed refrain:
“Oh, how I love the scent of your skin,
The joy of your heart pressed close to mine.
But we to labors must not delay,
For the ‘morrow must whisk us far away.”
Releasing the other side of the curtain, casting the room back into dark shadow, she shook her head. “My pet, please… do not arouse my desires until business has been concluded. Then, if you are a good child, I will fill you up to bursting.”
Wrapping herself in a quilted floor-length shawl, the woman sat at a small table. Calling her companion over, after requesting she cover herself also, the two took up their former discussion. Reaching into a small drawer hidden in the table, she withdrew some papers with scribbles and drawings.
After laying them out so her companion could see, she explained, “These first two papers contain what appears to be little more than nonsensical poetry. Do not be fooled! Each word in each stanza and the way in which it is positioned is most important. You must memorize these pages as you see them. It is vital that you do just so.”
She pulled the page with the drawing out from under the other papers, pointing. “Here you see the main hall where Mother’s council will gather this night. Wait for me under the main stadium, near the lighted pillars. The shadows are long, and the light sparse there. If you’re careful, no one will notice you. I will come to you after the meeting… as soon as may be… and give you whatever else you will need for your return journey.”
The woman shuddered nervously. “My Queen, your slave begs your pardon for her open brashness, but I fear Lord PalaHar will be there this eve. He is a great councilor to Mother and I doubt he will miss this meeting. He will feel my scent for a certainty, after our many years together on Mu…”
“Enough of your drivel!” scolded the woman.
The hurt on the other woman’s face was quickly assuaged with gentle words. “Oh please, my darling, my darling!” She put her hand over her brow, moaning, “My head aches from the stresses of the hour and my mouth speaks the lies of that stress. Please forgive me for my outburst.” Smiling, she took the woman’s hand. “I promise! I will make it up to you. I will make it up to you.”
“Don’t concern yourself with PalaHar.” She swallowed hard, trying to push down the sour taste growing in her mouth. “Your scent will be a forgotten dream for him this night. I will make sure his mind thinks only of my charms.” Oh, how she wanted to vomit at the thought of romancing that man.
Drawing attention back to the moment, the woman opened a locket hanging from her neck and removed a tiny key from it. “Here, take this. It will provide entrance to a storage closet under the stage. There you can remain hidden until the council concludes. Then you can meet me near the pillars…sooner, if time plays in our favor.”
Standing, she tenderly drew the woman up, softly kissing her on the lips, then whispered, “You must see to our business tonight. Eliseah, if you swear your oath to me, then we can be about other more delightful pleasantries.”
The woman promised with an oath, her eyes shining with desire, adding, “My Queen, no man has bequeathed me as great a gift as you can provide. My heart will long swoon over the affection you are showing it this very day!”
As they embraced, a sour look crossed the face of the one being called ‘queen’. Oh what sacrifices she made for the only love she desired! Oh, how she wanted him and yearned for his love! A smile grew on her lips at the thought of their soon being together again. Three millennia she had been away, clandestinely doing his will. The evening’s council meeting would bring her one step closer to his embrace.
She disrobed her companion and began her sensuous caresses, fantasizing about being with the man she so loved. Each touch, each kiss was for him, with him. When the thought of his passion for his fellow kind entered her mind, she pushed it away, contending, ‘I will change him! He longs for me…! For me! My breasts, alone, will make him forget the love songs of his androgyne.’
* * *
Mihai slowly opened the door onto a porch of rainbow onyx and glittering diamonds, entrance to the most sacred of all chambers in the universe, ‘ZoeStethos’ – literally, ‘the breasts of life absolute’. Legend placed the origin of the name to the ‘Ones who came before’ otherwise known as the ‘Cherubs’. Indeed, Mihai had been told long ago that the Chief Cherub, RosMismar, oldest of all his race, gifted that name upon this place, and that the words ‘ZoeStethos’ were but a poor rendition of the original phonetic pronunciation.
No one, not even the First Born was allowed entrance into these chambers without permission of the One who dwelt within. This was the first visit Mihai had made here since taking up the staff of steward and field marshal over Mother’s armies. She wondered at the reason her mother requested they meet in this sanctuary, something so rarely done. It could only be for a very special reason, but what?
Surprisingly, the ZoeStethos was not as impressive as a visitor might imagine when compared with the remainder of the palace. True, beauty abounded here… but it was of a humble nature. It was subdued, as if restrained, fearing for a person’s approval. One had to search for the beauty, from the intricately carved, spindly pillars supporting the marble ceilings, to the ornate paintings and tapestries hanging from the walls, but it was well worth the effort.
If one studied the surroundings long enough, a plethora of exciting emotions would begin bubbling up in the person’s soul, filling his or her being with a rhapsodic rush, flooding the senses with sounds and sights of overwhelming proportions. But Mihai was in no mood to search and had no desire to experience such delights. She remained content to see these sights through simple eyes.
Glancing around, she spied one of the sparse furnishings, a red onyx bench affixed to a wall. With her ‘simple’ eye, everything appeared cold and distant. Even the elegant octagonal sapphire table in the nearby room, with its accompanying golden divan, held no warmth. Shaking her head, Mihai quietly strode from the porch and toward open wall facing the courtyard with its enchanting gardens.
As she approached, a light breeze lifted the silky curtains that hid the outer balcony from view. Beyond the billowing sheets, embroidered with mystical horses prancing in fields of gilded flowers, Mihai glimpsed green tops of trees reaching high above the garden hidden far below. The sunlight betrayed such astounding delights upon the woman’s senses that Mihai’s spirits were forced to rise.
Stopping to straighten her gown, she brushed back her hair while eyeing herself in a mirror on a distant wall. Satisfied, she stood straight, pushed her shoulders back, and called out to her mother. There was no answer. After waiting a moment, Mihai cautiously stepped from the room, through the curtains, and onto the white marble balcony.
Off to her right stood the person she was seeking, slumped forward, hands on the balcony rail, gazing down on the garden far below. Before Mihai could speak again, a voice, sharp and accusing, disturbed her mind. “So… it has chosen your path today? And you permitted it? Little one, do you not yet understand? It is always seeking its master… always will… until you kill it. You must destroy it!”
At first stunned by her mother’s harshness, Mihai countered in telepathic response. “The hour was late and I needed to make haste. I chose to…”
Mother interrupted. “It chose your path today! I have felt its orgasmic excitement growing ever since you parted company with your Trisha companion. Do not enter the ‘Dragon’s Lair’ again until Shiloh has cleansed that place of the evil lurking within. There are reasons it remains sealed down to this day. You put yourself at great risk taking that forbidden path.”
Mihai’s mother turned, her emerald green eyes piercing the sky blue oceans of her daughter’s. She spoke aloud. “No other mortal has ascended to the glory of Chrusion. Even my children raised from the lower abyss are not yet a match for him. Child, the madness he abandoned to those caves beneath has greater power than you possess. I, alone, saved you this day. Do not trust to my loving kindness should you attempt that path again.”
Mihai stood silent as a mouse. Crestfallen, she cried out, “Your daughter is supposed to rule as First Born, but her very throne lies beyond her reach. Shall my demon always rule my flesh? Will it also take away my waking hours and deliver me up to the ‘ever madness’ that haunts the lost souls of the Jahouk? My power slips away as we speak.”
She bowed her head, sobbing, “Oh, Ma-we*, I don’t think I can…!” The woman fell into uncontrolled weeping.
The one Mihai called ‘Ma-we’ reached out to her daughter, as Mihai did for her mother. The two embraced, Ma-we letting her daughter’s tears fall onto her shoulder and run down her ankle-length golden hair to the floor. Soon she stood in a puddle of tears that splashed upon her bare feet.
A groan came up from Ma-we’s heart. Here she stood with a child of the ‘latter years’, yet the most precious of all her sons and daughters, helpless to dispossess her of the monster growing within. Never was there a more beautiful person than this immortal of immortals, but for the moment she felt tired… weak… bitter… and old. ‘What good is the Mother of Life if she cannot save one innocent child?!’
Ma-we kept her feelings secret, though. Everyone looked to her for rescue. She dared not let them know that she could not see the future clearly at this moment. Life and all that went with it dangled by the thread of uncertainty. The future was not guaranteed. How could she know the final outcome when this day was still cast in doubt? Should Mihai fail this day, there would be no future… and she could not even see the destiny of this coming hour.
Starting a little melody, Ma-we sang a soft and gentle lullaby to Mihai. Since the wars had begun, the tears of Ma-we’s daughters had run rivers on this balcony while, at the same time, the healing powers of Mother’s songs and the surrounding harmonics helped to draw out the poisons building within her children’s hearts. Today she sang for Mihai. Who would the ‘morrow bring to her doorstep?
(*The name ‘Ma-we’ was secret to only Mihai, she having named her that when a young child, and it is used throughout these Chronicles to assist the present-day reader in maintaining continuity. The names of the ‘Maker of worlds’ are many, the ages having bestowed them upon her. Ma-we’s other names: Yehowah, Lowenah, Erithia, and others, help add flavor of understanding to my account. [Authors may, at times, take poetic license with their works, as I have chosen to do here.] The oldest of her names was given to her by the ‘Ones who came before’ the first of her children. It was long kept a secret, being only divulged to the common children, the children of flesh, at the end of the last age. It was not until long after the King’s War that Mihai revealed her name for The Maker of worlds, Ma-we, to her own children in her relating to them tales of her own life.
The author has chosen to include this name – Ma-we – to identify the Maker of worlds throughout these Chronicles because it will continually draw the reader back to the person to whom all time and history owes its existence. Although told through the eyes of so many participants of these profound events, the account itself rises from the heart of but one person, Mihai. Had this child not presented herself upon the altar of love so many countless millennia ago – long before any rebellion – the worlds we take so for granted might not exist, the contrast between the evil of the oldest child and the self-sacrificing love of an innocent child never having been realized. Asotos likely would have become king over the universe, he taking up the scepter prepared for him. By the time his evil nature would have become fully manifest, it might well have been too late for anyone living, thus sending the entire universe into chaotic oblivion.
These Chronicles are about but one heart, one soul, and one mind. The strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, joys and sorrows of this one woman must be judged as a mosaic of her life, one rich in emotion and love. Indeed, it was her love that lifted her to life’s pinnacle of achievements, but also sent her to depths of deepest despair. She risked all and sacrificed all for love, her name becoming synonymous with the very word. So easy can it be to see the flesh, and Mihai was a child of flesh, foolish, careless, impetuous to the point of arrogance, and often a victim of her own loyal misconceptions. Yet, I say these very weaknesses were what made so many fall in love with this woman. Few were the soldiers of these oft-forgotten wars who would hesitate to take up their swords and follow their beloved leader into certain death, even if that death might lead to no redemption.)