tagSci-Fi & FantasyPriestesses of the Goddess Pt. 01

Priestesses of the Goddess Pt. 01

byTara_Neale©

This is the third year I am participating a writing contest to finish a whole novel in the month of November. The past two times I have lost the manuscript when my computer malfunctioned. This year I am sharing the story with you on a daily basis...in an effort to keep a copy somewhere...and because my readers always give great feedback. I will say that this process means that other than spell check you do no edits during the contest...so be kind. It is the most rough of drafts. Hope you enjoy...

***

Rata stood on the stone balcony. The red giant that served as Tavia's primary sun was just rising above the deep purple waters just below. Her spirit was as turbulent as the waves breaking against the rock cliff upon which the temple was built.

Water...it was her element and this morning as she did most she sought to center her mind and spirit in its depths. But that quiet peace had been more and more difficult to find these past months. The dream was back. Except instead the occasional visitor that left her troubled and uncertain, it had become her constant companion. Each night when she closed her eyes the images were there.

Blue. The stone floors were stained dark blue with blood. The dead or dying bodies of priestess, acolytes and guards lay strewn about, almost piled like the trash waiting to be burnt as offering, returned to the goddess from which all life came. The sounds of screams, pleading and prayers echoed around the edifice like thunder.

Helpless. She was helpless to do anything to stop the carnage. The High Priestess Rata, who had ruled Tavia's waters and served the goddess for almost five hundred cycles could do nothing to stop it. Her powers drained. Her gifts abandoned her and her people when they needed her the most. She stood frozen, unable to even move and watched as friends and supplicants fell all about her.

Rata shivered, her hands unconsciously running up and down her bare arms. It had nothing to do with the slight chill brought by the winds of her sister Mya. No, the vision was becoming more vivid each night. Now it was invading her waking hours.

It was time. She had no other choice. She must seek communion with her sisters. Soji, the High Priestess of solid ground, her best friend, her sister, who had stood quivering beside her that first morning when they had been brought to this place. Little girls chosen from birth, marked for favor by the goddess, taken from their families and placed into the care of strangers, taught to serve a goddess that to this day remained an elusive mystery to even her most prized servants.

Rata shook her head, the dark red tresses that fell almost to her bottom danced and marked her as a priestess danced about her naked body, wrapping about her like the embrace of the goddess. She could only hope that Soji had the answer. Her rock, the one that had always been her comfort, from that first morning when they stood naked in the garden, barely more than suckling babes torn from their mothers' breasts by soldiers seeking those marked by the calling.

She had been crying, tears, the soul's special fountain of water that cleansed and washed away all trouble trekked down her bronzed skin. The little girl next to her had reached out, touched her arm and in that moment she had known that everyone would be all right. Soji always had that effect upon her. Her solid rock, to bank her waters, keep them running smoothly in the right direction. Her friend and lover for a lifetime.

She smiled as she thought of their other sister, Mya. As ethereal as the air and winds, which she commanded. The youngest of the three High Priestesses, she had held the office for barely a hundred cycles. Replacing Lano, who after serving the goddess for over a thousand, had passed peacefully in her sleep.

Oh, she and Soji loved Mya, were pleased with the growth of their littlest sisters. But still they missed the woman, who had been the closest thing to a mother that those little girls could remember. They would probably always miss the woman, who had loved them like the children she could never have as a priestess, who had taught them to embrace their calling, to love the goddess whom they served, to accept her majestic beauty and to fight her deep mysteries just a bit less than came naturally to the two stubborn beauties.

It was Lano, whom her soul cried out for the most in moments like these. She would know what to do, what the troubling dreams meant, how they could protect their charges Rata feared was the darkest days to come. But Lano was gone, at rest, passed onto the next realm, having achieved the highest plain of knowledge as High Priestess, her spirit was free at last to join with its maker, the goddess.

That left Rata, Soji and little Mya to carry on the work that she and a thousand High Priestesses, who came before her had carried on over eternity. To unravel the mysteries of the goddess, to channel her unlimited powers of love and healing, and to commune with her, vessels to be used to communicate with her will with the unclean and unworthy men who governed Tavia as they always had.

Rata shivered again. It was the most distasteful of her duties as High Priestess. Giving her body to the men. Serving them sexually. Submitting her most precious gifts for their use. Four hundred cycles since she had come into the full powers of her gift and still she abhorred this duty. She was thankful though that these days as High Priestess she had only to service the Council of Three, although they were disgusting enough.

No, what she needed now, what she craved the most, was the sweet commune with the goddess herself that could only be found in the healing embrace of her sisters. She would call a tribunal. The three of them locked within the secret chambers, together they would call upon the goddess, seek out her will through the purity of their bounds. The temple would go into full lock down, all of the priestesses joining with them in spirit to seek her blessing, unavailable for a time to any.

It had not been done in over a hundred cycles, not since they lost Lano and called upon the goddess to reveal whom among the hundreds of young priestesses she had chosen to replace the venerable woman that they all loved. Tribunals were rare, called for only under the most dire of circumstances. To remove the sweet blessing of the goddess from the men, even for a time, was not to be taken lightly. That was why Rata had not done it sooner.

But now? Now she had no choice. She trembled as she stared a final time out over the choppy waters. She inhaled deeply, her breasts jutting out, her nipples puckering in the crisp morning air. She sought the comfort and power of her element. But it was not to be found this morning as it had become increasingly elusive. Yes, it was time. They must find out what this strange dream meant. And hopefully, some way of preventing the utter destruction that it foretold.

***

Soji giggled as she played temptress in her lover's arms. Versil had come to her many cycles before when he rose to the Council of Three. He had chosen her as his special vessel, his chosen one, to commune with the goddess, to seek her counsel, to soothe the savage beast within him. But what had begun as just another of her duties had over the cycles turned into so much more. He was the only man that she had ever loved.

Love? It was such a foreign concept. As priestesses they were the physical embodiment of love and sex, available to all who had need of their comfort, use of their bodies. From the time that they reached their full powers to the day that the goddess called them to her, they were her whores. It was a word that Soji hated, but one that she knew other women whispered, lesser women, women not born with their gifts, not marked from birth as she and her sisters had been. But those gifts, being chosen came at a high price, one that Soji felt to her soul. While the priestess gave abundantly of the goddess's love to all who had need, it remained forbidden to them.

"What is it, my love?" Versil whispered as he nibbled at her shoulder and drew her back against him. She could feel the hard ridge of his erection pressed against the soft roundness of her bottom. Usually that would ignite fires that she had never felt with another inside the special fountain of her goddess. But this morning, her mind was somewhere else, disturbed and unsettled.

She shook her head as she tried to put her finger upon the source of the unrest. It eluded her and that alone made the fear rise higher in her spirit. She was rock, solid ground. She always held the answers. She was there to hold back Rata's dangerous waters when they rose too high, protecting all from her rage and trouble. And when sweet Mya's winds blew at gale force, she was there to buffer them too. To take the full brunt of their fury.

Was it wrong to ask something in return? Some little piece of the goddess's greatest blessing. The love between a man and woman that was deeper than just the flesh of which she and the other priestesses gave so fully. She knew that Rata would disapprove of her stolen moments with Versil, in the guise of communing with the goddess, they had found something that was as close to love as Soji had ever come, or ever would.

If some part of her, was jealous of the woman that was his wife, the woman, who had the right to his heart, then she pushed that aside. The woman could never give Versil what she could, the blessing of the goddess, real communion. But then again Soji could never give him what his wife did...children.

She swallowed past the painful knot in her throat. As surly as her dark red hair that she grew long as befitting her station her as a priestess, it marked her as barren. Her womb closed from birth to the most precious of her goddess's gifts...life itself. A tear slipped silently down her cheek as she closed her eyes against the pain of that revelation.

She tried to remind herself of all the wonderful gifts that came with her station, comforts that most would ever know, adoration of many. But all she could think of was the hallow look in Lano's eyes, when she looked upon the two scared little girls. The woman, who was High Priestess of air, had taken them into her charge, seeing that they received the best of care and offering them as much of a mother's love as she could. But her mentor had died alone in her sleep.

Just as Soji knew she would one day. And there would be no one to mourn her passing. Oh sure, there would be fanfare for the death of the High Priestess of the Rock. Tens of thousands would come with offerings to mark her passing. But just as quickly as new High Priestess would be selected by tribunal. And she would be forgotten.

No one would mourn the passing of her as a person. No mate to miss the comfort of her embrace as much as he missed the gifts of her body. No children to lament a mother lost. Oh sure, she was sure that Rata would feel the loss, perhaps even young Mya. But it was little solace when what she craved most was forever out of reach.

Opening her eyes, she brushed away the tears and plastered that smile upon her face. The one that she wore every time since her rite of passage, the first time that she had given her body into the care of a flawed man. The physical pain of that first was long since gone, but even with Versil, the emptiness remained.

Soji, the great whore of the goddess, a meaningless vessel for a man's primal urges. A weak woman to bend to his will, forced to submit to his pleasures. Betrayed time and again by her own body as the power of her goddess flowed through her into them, leaving her drained and empty. Nothing, she was a powerful and much adored High Priestess of the goddess. Yet as a woman, Soji was nothing. Had nothing to call her own.

***

Mya looked out the window of her sanctuary. Dark scarlet clouds were gathering over the waters, rolling closer and closer towards them. She could feel it. Unrest unlike anything she had ever felt. And she felt as powerless as she always had. What was she anyway? Air. Unseen. Untouchable. The essence of life that all took for granted.

She yearned for the solid strength of Soji. To stand unshakeable before whatever came. To know exactly what to say and do. Or the swift moving and ever changing waters of Rata. Her gifts of understanding and foresight were renowned.

But no, she was just air. The youngest, the newest, the lightest of all the elements. And as she watched the clouds move closer she had never felt so unprepared.

Not since that first morning two hundred cycles ago when she had been torn from the arms of her loving father. She was all he had. Her mother, his greatest love, had died giving birth to their only child. After fifty cycles her barren womb had finally been opened by a special blessing of the High Priestess Lano. It was unheard of...a priestess blessing a woman, but especially a High Priestess.

The priestesses, who were worshipped by the men for their gifts, were feared and resented by their lesser sisters. She knew the word, but she could never bring herself to use it, to even think it. But her mother had been desperate for a child with the man she loved. Desperate enough to enter the hallowed halls of the temple. Desperate enough to fall upon the alter of the goddess. And when other priestesses had passed the lamenting woman by, Lano had seen in her a need that mirrored her own.

Mya knew the story well. She would never forget it. She had not heard it from the woman, who carried her inside her body for over a cycle. Or the man, who had adored his precious child, hidden her for as long as he could, and ultimately died trying to defend her, to keep her from the barren future that had been her destiny from before birth.

No, she had learned the truth that first morning here. As she stood naked and crying in the courtyard, the three beauties with long hair flowing about them like fire itself had walked among the new recruits. At almost fifteen cycles, Mya was far older than the others, standing almost twice as tall as the others who were mere babes of five to seven cycles. But her cries were louder, more mournful than any of the younger girls. Her loss deeper than her sisters.

The High Priestesses had stopped before her. Soji had placed a hand upon her shoulder and for the first time in days, she felt peace. Rata had smiled weakly as if she knew exactly what she felt. Then she had reached out and brushed a single tear from the corner of her eye, bringing it to her lips and tasting it before she spoke, "Cry, little sister. Your tears are a sweet blessing to our goddess. They cleanse you, wash away the old and bring life."

But it was the older woman, who stared at her as if she knew her, recognized her in some way that held Mya's gaze. They stared at one another for long moments before the woman addressed the guard, who still bore the blood of her beloved father upon his hands and tunic. "Who is she? Where did you find her? And why was she not brought to us sooner?"

The man bowed as if fearful of the mage's anger, "I am sorry, High Priestess. The man, her father, hid the child. We had no idea she existed. They lived outside of the city, alone in the woods. His wife died giving birth to the child and he did not want to give his only child over the care of the goddess from which she came."

The woman had stepped closer. Mya had felt a gentle breeze move across her bare skin and for the first time, she felt that everything truly would be all right. "What is your name, child? Your father's?"

Mya had stammered, barely able to get the words past the tears as she trembled before the power of these women. "Mya, my name is Mya, mistress. And my father was Tymor," she whispered.

Wind assailed her naked body then, it had been almost freezing cold and blown so strongly that Mya feared it would knock them all down. Rata and Soji stepped forward, placing their hands upon the shoulders of the older woman. Mya remembered wondering if the woman would have fallen had her sisters not held her up.

When finally she looked up, her own eyes were filled with tears as she whispered, "Was?"

Mya had only been able to nod her head in fear and awe of the woman, the High Priestess before her. The guard bowed before the woman and she saw true fear in the eyes of this mighty man, who represented evil and destruction to her. In that moment, the young girl thirsted for that kind of power, that control over these pitiful and lesser creatures called men.

When he spoke his voice cracked, "I am sorry, High Priestess, but the man would not give the girl to us. We had no choice..." he trailed off as if not knowing what more to say.

"You always have a choice. When will you violent and vile creatures learn? Life is too precious to waste. Go now. Get away from this place, never to return. I will not have the blood of an innocent defiling the temple of the goddess," her voice was as icy cold as the winds that blew about them. The man had simply nodded to the woman before releasing his grip upon her arm and fleeing as if he feared for his very life.

The great woman had turned to her then, her voice lower and softer, "Come, my child. I have much to explain to you."

And explain she had, but even two hundred cycles since that day, Mya still felt as alone and lost as she did standing naked in that garden. She was not worthy. Not who they thought her. Not the powerful vessel of the goddess that her other mother as she had come to think of Lano had been. She was cracked, broken, unworthy. And she feared she always would be. She was nothing more than a lost little girl, still longing for the loving comfort of her Daddy's arms.

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