Chapter 7 The High Priestess, the Endotalen, and The Handmaiden
Ryanne stood in awe of Yelillya. She was taller than Ryanne by several inches, but the High Priestess was paper thin. She didn’t look like she could stand up to a strong wind. Yet, she had this inner strength that Ryanne felt could move mountains. She was also stubborn as hell. No matter what Ryanne said she could not convince this woman that she was not Ryanne Leafgather. She was simply Ryanne Smith, a small town girl who got caught up in the crazy place. All she wanted to do was stay alive long enough to get home.
They were seated in Yelillya’s office inside the Temple of Lunester. “You are home, Ryanne.” Yelillya stated firmly for the third time. “I will prove it to you.” Yelillya took, what Ryanne could only describe as a wand, off of her desk. “Close your eyes,” The priestess said as she stood and came towards Ryanne.
“Why?” Ryanne asked.
“I’m going to see if I can help you to remember. With a little magic and some help from Lunester perhaps we can find out what has happened to your memory,” Yelillya stated. Now standing in front of Ryanne, Yelillya raised her wand. “Close you eyes and just try to think back to the last thing you remember before you got here.” Ryanne, not feeling she had much of a choice, closed her eyes and tried to remember everything that she could about her last moments on earth.
“I was in my car,” Ryanne stated, “Traffic wasn’t bad for once, then suddenly I hit something big. I remember being tossed around a bit. It was all very loud. I opened my eyes and a red truck was coming at me.” Ryanne opened her eyes and looked at Yelillya. “See, nothing about Tylander or any of you people. I was in a car accident then I was here.” Ryanne tried not to sound smug. Yelillya looked down on her like she was a petulant child. “Close your eyes. What happened after the red truck hit you.?”
“I woke up here.” Ryanne stated, but Yelillya wasn’t buying it.
“Try again, close your eyes. The red truck had hit you then what? I want you to really concentrate.” Ryanne took a deep breath and concentrated.
“I’m floating, I see images, I can’t quite make them out. I’m being asked something. ‘Come to my world’ I think. Then, I’m waking up with Tylander three days ago.” Ryanne has confused not only herself, but the Priestess as well.
“I could see your thoughts as you were describing them. They are surprising to me. I’m finding no memories of Quinetta in you at all. You are Ryanne, of that I have no doubt, but for some reason Lunester has taken your memories. I’m not sure for what reason.”
“Wouldn’t it be more plausible that I just bare a striking resemblance to the Ryanne that came before me?” Ryanne asked clearly not understanding why the priestess and the other Arrainanites refuse to believe her.
“Be honest with me Ryanne, when you are with Tylander how do you feel?” Yelillya asked.
“I feel fine. He’s a nice enough guy.” Ryanne said a little too casually.
“Your a bad Liar. Do you know why I’m so certain you are Tylander’s Mate? Tylander is an Arrainanite. When they mate they do so for life, Tylander could not mistake you. He is addicted to your scent. He had terrible withdrawals after you died. Not enough to kill him, but enough to crave you endlessly for the rest of his life. If he says you are his mate, then you are.” Yelillya walked back to her desk and sat down. “I suspect that you are feeling the same affects of the addiction as he is. You are just not ready to admit it.”
“I don’t know what your talking about.” Ryanne lied. She wasn’t sure why this was happening to her or why this scent addiction had transferred to her. At this point she didn’t care. She just needed to get the hell out of here.
“Running isn’t going to help you.” Yelillya stated as if she was reading Ryanne’s mind. “Your face gave it away. Remember I know you.”
“No you don’t.” Ryanne stated firmly. Yelillya laughed out loud. It was a delicate tinkling sound that for some reason made Ryanne smile despite herself.
“Let me tell you a story.” Yelillya began after her giggles had ceased. ” I am the youngest woman to ever take the oath. I was barely 200 when I became a priestess. I worked my way up through the ranks very quickly. Before I was even 500 years old I was a High Priestess. Fast Forward one thousand years, I had become jaded. I used to see the beauty in everything but for nearly 400 years I was just going through the motions. Nothing was beautiful anymore. I could fake it when I needed to, but my life was a dismal grey.” Yelillya picked up a small stone from off of her desk. “Then one day about ten years ago, I was sitting rite here in this chair. I heard a soft knock on my door and before I could even answer the beautiful woman with long Brown Hair and Dark skin was standing before me. It was you.” Yelillya paused for a moment as if she were letting herself enjoy the memory. “You introduced yourself. I quickly tried to dismiss you, but you were persistent. You said you would just take a few moments of my time then you handed me a small box. Proclaiming it was a gift from Lunester.” Yelillya held up the stone. “This was what I found in the box.”
“What does it do?” Ryanne asked. Yelillya let out another tinkling laugh.
“Nothing it’s just a rock.” She smiled, “The true gift came from your hand. You took my hand and said ‘Lunester’s blessing has always been upon you. Look with new eyes and see it.” Yelillya closed her eyes for a moment. When they opened they were filled with tears. “From that moment on I could feel Lunester here in the room with me. I could feel his love and his influence. I could hear his call for the first time in four hundred years. You gave that to me. For two years we worked together you were my best friend and when you gave your life for us you broke all our hearts.” Yelillya had a steady stream of tears flowing down her cheeks. ” I prayed for five years straight for Lunester to send you back to us and always the answer was no.” Yelillya smiled through her tears. “I guess I shouldn’t have given up so quickly. He obviously has a plan for you.”
A knock sounded on the office door. “Come in,” Yelillya answered. Tylander opened the door. “Hello Ladies,” Tylander smiled. “Can I steal my wife back from you. We need her back at the palace.” He spoke directly to Yelillya, then he turned to Ryanne. “We are bringing Endi in to meet the kings. He asked that you be there too.”
“Sure,” Ryanne answered, ecstatic to be back in Tylander’s company. “If it will make Endi more comfortable.” She wasn’t willing to examine her excitement to carefully yet.
* * *
The sun was just starting to set as Tylander led Ryanne through the city. This time, while they walked, Ryanne noticed that many of the Arrainanite people stopped to stare at her. They were stopped several times by people wanting to hug Ryanne and marvel at her return. Luckily Tylander was good at deflecting people and they were able to make it back to the castle in relatively good time. Ryanne was beginning to feel like this other Ryanne must have been some kind of saint for the people of this city to fawn over her this much.
This time when they reached the palace they were greeted by Junkar, Othyos and Endi. The three men stood just outside the main entrance to the palace. “Ryanne, thank you for coming.” Endi stated. “I was afraid to meet the Kings without your presence. As the handmaiden, your being here should keep everyone calm enough to listen to what I say.”
“We’ve been over this Endi, I’m not a handmaiden,” Ryanne stated. She was really being pushed passed her limits today. Ryanne looked up at Endi then at the doorway into the palace. “Um Endi, How do you plan to get inside?” Ryanne asked. The door way was a good four feet too short for the giant to enter. “Maybe we should have King Locktos come out here.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Endi stated calmly. Then his body began to change right before Ryanne’s eyes. His bones seem to break apart and travel beneath his skin. As they did his tight skin stretched like rubber. Endi was slowly becoming shorter and wider. He retained his emaciated look because of how his skin stretched over him, but his bones appeared thicker and wider. It was like where he had one thin bone he now had two bones pressed tightly together making one thick bone.
“Wow, Endi that’s so cool!” Ryanne gasped. “Hey did you guys know he could shape-shift?”
“Yeah, we’ve seen others of his kind do it.” Othyos stated. He did not seem as delighted as Ryanne over Endi’s talent.
“So all your people have that ability?” Ryanne asked as they all entered the palace. Endi simply nodded. He seemed more concerned with Othyos’ reaction then Ryanne’s
Janos met the group at the entrance to the throne room. “Are the kings all here?” Tylander asked him.
“Yes I will announce you now.” Janos turned and made the announcement before returning. “Go on in,” Janos motioned to the group. Ryanne noticed that Endi was looking a really nervous.
“Hey it’s okay,” Ryanne took Endi’s hand with her free hand, as Tylander seemed to have permanent custody of the other one. “I’ve met King Locktos. He seems like a good guy, and I’m here. So you know everyone will get along, right? That whole ridiculous handmaiden thing you believe in should keep you safe.” Endi laughed at Ryanne’s attempts to calm him, they worked. Endi felt a great deal more comfortable standing before the three kings of the surface dwelling nations with Ryanne by his side.
Tylander introduced Ryanne to the other kings, King Chenji and King Thealos, then he introduced Endi to all three kings. The kings were very interested in everything Endi had to say. Ryanne could see them leaning closer to him as he retold the story of how his people came to attack the Asoonadye. King Thealos was visibly upset when Endi told him about the destroyed Endotalen City. “He told you we slaughtered your people?” King Thealos’ stunned statement caused Endi to pause in his story telling.
“Yes, he did.” Endi clarified for the king.
“That shows how little you truly know about us. My people are merchants and farmers. We have never been aggressive. The very idea of burning someone’s crops is almost sacrilegious to us. We know the importance of the harvest.” King Thealos’ words were heartfelt and real. In that moment Endi realized the Endotalen people did not do them selves any favors by isolating themselves. These surface dwellers were showing far more reverence for life than he ever expected. Perhaps when this is all over I will stay on the surface. These people seem to be far more accepting than my own. Endi thought to himself
Endi finished his story. Then, to Ryanne’s surprise, started another one. He told the kings of the Prophecy about the Handmaiden. Ryanne released Endi’s hand. “No, no, no Endi. They don’t need to hear about that,” Ryanne was adamant.
“I’m sorry Ryanne, they must know.” Endi tried to gentle his voice in a effort to not upset her. “We must find out how to use your power so we can stop Dyvanor.” Endi watched as Ryanne shook her head. Tears flowed down her cheeks like he had just betrayed her. Endi watched Tylander wrap his arm over her shoulder and pull her close. He motioned for Endi to continue speaking.
“The Handmaiden of Lunester is a catalyst. Her being here will trigger events that will either, end in death for us all, or a complete salvation and peace that will last a millennium. She has the ability to bless others with special gifts from Lunester. The prophecy doesn’t tell how she does this or what they are, but we will need them to go up against Dyvanor.”
“You think this woman, Ryanne, is this handmaiden?” King Chenji asked.
“Yes, I have no doubt. I have seen into her soul. She bares the mark of Lunester.” Endi looked back down at Ryanne. “She needs to learn, from your high priestess, how to use her abilities. We cannot go up against Dyvanor until she does.” All three kings looked directly at Ryanne like she was their savior. It was the last straw that pushed Ryanne over the edge. Instead of going off like she thought she would, Ryanne passed out instead.