tagSci-Fi & FantasyPriestesses of the Goddess Pt. 08

Priestesses of the Goddess Pt. 08

byTara_Neale©

Visions of defeat assailed Tam as he cursed aloud, "Dark god of fate, I know I am a worthless, heartless son of a heckle's hide. But really? An old and a boy?"

He rose up and crossed the room more quickly than a man his size ought. He stood in front of the new comer. Glared at him, took his measure. The boy met his gaze full on, stared unblinking into his eyes. The little rat was full of courage, he had to give him that much. But courage alone had gotten many men killed.

Just as he was about to speak, he felt the steadying hand upon his shoulder. Turning he saw the older man, their Councilor.

Tam was not prepared for this, for any of this, either of these unlikely allies. He had not known exactly what he expected. The prophesy was so unclear, as prophesies often were. He supposed that just as he sensed her, knew that his destiny, his fate lay in this place, he just assumed that somewhere among his men, his followers, the hundreds of devoted resistance fighters lay others, others that were destined for this fate, blessed as they had no right to be.

But clearly he had been wrong. He had miscalculated, never thought that the other priestesses might have true mates already. This changed everything. Or did it? If he left them here with these men, could they protect them? Keep them safe from his brothers? For how long? Because he was certain that Mot would not rest until he had scoured every square meter of this small, inconsequential world for the treasure he sought. He never did and took no notice of what he destroyed in the process.

He shook his head, what choice did he have really?

As if sensing his indecision the older man spoke, "I am usually more of a diplomat but I do not think we have time for niceties. So let me make myself clear. You will not take Mya, the High Priestess of the air, anywhere without me."

The boy spoke up then too, "And if you think that you are just abandoning her like some piece of garbage, tossed aside after it is no longer useful, then frig you all. I'll do it alone."

He turned to go back down the hall, but Tam put out his arm, grabbed him about the shoulder. "If you want to save your mate. If you have any hope of it, then you will listen to me and do exactly as you are told. Do you understand me?" he gritted through his teeth.

The boy whirled on him then. His fist connecting solidly with his jaw. For someone his size, the kid could hit. He raised back his own fist, he would not use his full force, not if he had any hope of using the young man to serve his god's purposes, but he needed a lesson.

He felt the soft fingers wrap about his fist, he allowed her to draw it to his side as he would none other. But he stepped forward when she brushed past him, wrapped his arm about her shoulders protectively as she reached for the other man. He did not like the feel of her so close to another, familiar enough to touch him. And the fact she did not yet wear his collar only heightened his unease.

"Leamus, what are you doing here?" she asked softly.

The boy looked from her to him and back again. His rage was barely caged. "That worthless, cowardly piece of," his stopped and shook his dark blond head. "Tsu sought out Larca, took her with him, told me I should guard the High Priestess of the air. He would not tell me what happened to her so I thought I would see if either of you knew. I have been to her chambers, yours too." He shifted nervously from foot to foot.

His mate smiled at the other man, he growled a low warning, whether to the other man or her it did not matter. The boy, Leamus she had called him, looked at uneasy as he felt. There was no denying what his senses told him, what few others of his kind would know. The boy was her mate. At another time, he would have loved the chance to laugh at the nasty sense of humor that was his god, Fate. But that would have to wait another time. For now, he had an unlikely little party of High Priestesses, old men and boys to lead.

He wiped his hand across his face and sighed, "We need a plan. A real one now. Fuck!"

The older man stepped forward making certain that his young charge remained well behind his back. "Foul language will not help, son. I do not know what you are doing here. Why you would seek to help us. I am not sure that we should even trust you. But if you are who you say you are, then you should know all that."

Tam drew in a deep cleansing breath, ashamed that anyone would need to remind him of his true calling. But that was why he needed her so desperately; she brought the balance that he needed. He needed her, had to save her, save them. And that meant he needed to quickly formulate a plan that stood even a micro-chance of working.

"Thank you, Councilor. I should not have needed that reminder but appreciate your wisdom in offering it." Looking at the young man again, he extended his hand. "I am Tam, a Morian commander and leader of its resistance. If you have my mate's trust, then you have mine as well. We will do all we can to bring your mate back to you. Get all of the High Priestesses to the safe havens I have selected. But we all stand a far better chance of that if we work together. You will only get yourself and her killed if you rush off in anger, let us help you, help her."

The young man stared at his hand as if carefully considering it. Tam hoped he was. After a long moment he placed his hand in Tam's. Both were soon covered by another, its knuckles lined with the soft lines of age just as the man's face with lined with wisdom. Courage and wisdom they had, Tam hoped only that they had enough of both to see how truly special their destinies were, and to stand fully into them. To protect and cherish the most precious of all gifts...a true mate.

***

The rag tag group huddled in a doorway a short distance from the altar. Screams rent the cold night evening air. Soji kept her hand on Leamus's arm. Big baddie growled every couple of minutes, but that was too bad. She could feel his anger and panic. Or perhaps this time those emotions were her own. Whatever was happening to her sister in there was not good. The giant had his head bent with the Councilor; together they sought a plan that might free her sister. Soji just wished they would hurry, before it was too late. "Leamus could take Soji to them; perhaps they could distract them long enough. We could sneak around and free her," suggested Aved.

Another of those growls like an enraged boar erupted from her rescuer, "Soji goes nowhere near them. I do not see you volunteering your mate, old man."

"Hey, while the two of you are friggin' arguing here, they could be killing her," Leamus protested.

Soji shook her head and sought her sister's eyes, "We go together. All of us. It is the simplest solution and the one most likely to work." She saw each of the men open their mouths to protest, but Mya had moved next to her then.

"We do it our way or we will trade ourselves for our sister," added Mya.

Tam shook his dark head, "You do not understand my people do not trade, they take."

"Well, then my plan should work nicely," smiled Soji. "What weapons do we have?"

"I have my sword and a small knife hidden in my belt," replied Leamus.

"I too have a knife," Soji would have laughed at the shocked looked upon her little sister's face had the circumstances been less dire.

She turned to her new protector, "And you, big guy? What weapons you got?"

He scowled at her, "I have two guns as well as a stun grenade. And like your friends a knife."

"That should do," Soji nodded. "But you better be a damned fine actor, big guy, because this whole thing hinges on you convincing your buddies in there that you got lost and just stumbled upon us." She turned towards Leamus, "You will join him, keep it close to the truth. Tell them that Tsu told you to bring Mya to the temple. And that you ran into the big guy and me on the way."

All three of the men were shaking their heads, "Listen, none of you have come up with anything near as good. You just fight over who goes and who stays. My way we all share the risks."

Tam spoke, "And we deliver exactly what they seek, all three High Priestesses, into my brother's hand. It is too risky. Too foolish."

Soji ignored him for the moment, turning her attention to the one that she could convince, the one with the most to lose. "You maneuver yourself close to where they have Rata. As close as you can get, Mya and I will provide a distraction when the time is right."

"Mya, can you do this?" She asked, turning to her little sister. "No matter what we see in there, you must control yourself until I give the signal. Can you do that?" Mya nodded.

"And me?" asked Aved.

Soji smiled, "You have the biggest job of all. Keep her safe and center her mind. If things do not go as planned, get her out of there. As the big one says, they cannot ever get their hands on all of us." She could see Mya wanted to protest, but she shook her head. "This has nothing to do with you being younger. This has to do with you being more gifted than either Rata or I. Not just us, but our people cannot afford that power to fall into these people's hands, sister. So your duty, if it comes to that, is to save yourself at all cost. Do you friggin' understand me?"

Her little sister dropped her head, but she nodded slowly. Soji only hoped that she meant it, but knew that even if she did not the Councilor would keep his promise, protect her sister for as long as he could. Soji knew too that they would never allow them to capture her. Or to continue to torture her sister. If the giant and Leamus could not free Rata, she had a plan of her own. Better that two of the High Priestesses be dead than in the hands of these monsters.

But she was not going to tell the big guy that. Turning to him, she smiled, "You are to get me as close to the altar as you can."

He frowned at her, "Why? What are you planning?"

"A simple distraction to shake them up a bit," Soji smiled. "Now let's go."

***

Leamus's whole body stiffened as the group walked into the main temple. She was tied up, suspended like a child's puppet from the pillars that surrounded the altar. Her body was limp like that puppet, until the dark giant that sat in her throne, the seat upon which only the High Priestesses of the water had sat for all time, until the creature said something then the cold collar about her neck arced with purple lights and she screamed out as her body danced with the foreign energy. He held her there suspended in pain for long moments until Leamus was certain he would kill her. His hand went to his side for his sword, but a larger one covered it.

Tam shook his head, "Do not. Control yourself, young friend. I know you want to go to her, need to. But our greatest hope, perhaps her only chance, is if we work together."

Leamus felt tightness in his chest unlike any he had ever felt, stronger even than the morning that he followed her, overheard her conversation with Versil, stronger even than when he watched powerless as she seized. "What are they doing to her?"

The giant dropped his head, "It is not what you think, my friend. It is not pain that they inflict upon her, but something far worse. Pleasure. They have turned her gifts against her, use her body to fuel their perverse games," he whispered.

Leamus swallowed the bile that rose up in his throat. He wondered if it was perhaps not best if he just rushed forward, buried his sword in her heart, his knife in his own. He knew that some part of her always resented the gifts that had set her apart since birth, but now this. Having those gifts used against her, "I am not sure she would want to survive," he whispered.

***

Tam watched the pain play across the boy's face. Looking down at his own mate, he did not want to even imagine the pain that the young man must feel to see her like that. And Tam knew better than most the damage that the collar could do in the wrong hands. His brother was most definitely the wrong hands. He would not stop until he had extracted every last bit of her energy, drained her and left her a mindless sack of flesh. If they did not stop him that was exactly what would happen.

Looking at the glazed look in her eyes, Tam feared it might already be too late. Considered for a moment just scooping his mate up, advising the Councilor to do the same. But he knew too that his mate would never forgive him, that forming a true bond with her might never happen if he abandoned her sister now. Even if all they managed to do was free her, so that could die in peace, they had to try.

And who knew, maybe the powers of their goddess to heal were stronger than the Morian nature to destroy. Looking at the boy, he did not envy him the road that lay ahead if they did survive this. How one so young could have the wisdom, strength and courage to love her back from the brink was beyond even the Spirit's ability to foretell. "Well, it will be your job to make damned sure that she does, if we survive this," he replied with more certainty than he felt.

"Fuck," he spat as his attention turned to the man upon the throne. "My brother, sorry that I could not join the party sooner. This god forsaken shit hole is a maze. I got lost," his fist wrapped through his mate's long red hair tugged her up by it until she stood on her toes.

Her ample breasts jutted out. God damned, why he had not thought to dress her first. Looking at the other priestess and her sheer robes, he figured what was the point. Proper clothes. If they survived this, the first thing he was doing was getting his mate some proper clothes. He shook his head as he watched lust well up in his brother and the others.

He fought back his own nature as he had for so long, "But I believe I have found the treasure we seek."

His stomach turned at the look of pure greed upon his brother's face, "Well done, little brother. You might redeem yourself yet. Bring her to me," commanded Mot.

He turned her to face him, saw fear in her eyes for the first time. He wanted to run from this place, protect, kiss it all away. But their course was set now. He had to follow her lead.

***

Mya trembled as she hunkered at the back of the temple next to Aved. What if he betrayed them? He called the man brother. Were not the bonds of their brotherhood as strong as the ones that she shared with her sisters?

She looked over at him as she always did when she needed strength or courage. He smiled unperceptively and nodded. "It will be fine, little one," he said. But Mya noticed that his hand slipped into the folds of his tunic. She suspected that his fingers toyed with the knife he said was hidden there. Had he always armed himself? It seemed so unlike the man that she knew. The man of reason, diplomacy and intellect. But then again nothing in her world was as it seemed anymore. She wondered if it ever had been.

Rata cried out as energy arced from the thing about her neck. "What is it?" she whispered.

"A weapon unlike any other. To control and abuse the mind. An abomination," replied her dear friend.

"Will she survive? Can we heal her?" she asked herself and the goddess as much as the man next to her.

His answer only confirmed her worst fears, "I do not know, my sweet winds. It has not been done before. Not when they have taken the mind and body this far."

***

Aved watched the others. Soji was right. Mya must never fall into the hands of the Morians. He would lay down his life to see that never happened. And he was certainly glad that they had remained unnoticed in the shadows. If things did not go as the High Priestess planned, he would grab his charge. There were tunnels beneath this place. Tunnels that not even the priestesses knew about.

But he did and he would bet that the boy did too. It was one of the first things that you learned as an acolyte, the maze of tunnels that were to be used in just such an event as this. Your duty always to protect your mistress. Of course, until this night, those tunnels had been nothing more than play grounds for acolytes seeking to shirk their duties or lessons.

He watched as the boy snuck closer to his prey, inched closer to the altar and the High Priestess that hung there. He wondered if the boy realized that he was not the first. Not the first acolyte to fall in love with his mistress.

Aved had. He had been nothing but a boy when he came to this place, given over to her care. And over the cycles his love and devotion had grown for the High Priestess that was his mistress. When he had been assigned another as primary, he had been devastated. But he had fulfilled his duties to her, learned, moved on to become a member of the Council of Three. Almost a hundred cycles after first coming to this place he had returned as a Councilor. And he had taken her as his counselor, chosen the woman that he had loved for so long. And together they had lived, loved and ruled for almost another two hundred cycles.

He looked over at the young priestess, who was the daughter of her heart. But all of it paled when he looked upon the girl. Woman, she had long since become a woman, a strong, brave and powerful one too. Only he in his stubbornness had refused to see that. Held onto the past while denying the present. And now it seemed they may never get the chance at a future.

He watched as their new leader drug his charge up the steps towards the three raised daises. The boy was almost to the High Priestess of the waters now. And the High Priestess of the rock was almost to her goal as well. His hand moved towards the hilt of his knife. How many cycles had it been since he had used it, practiced even? He had become a man of words, reason and diplomacy more powerful than weapons or so he had asserted until this moment. But sometimes, just sometimes, the sword was mightier than the pen and blood must be shed to atone for sins. And the abomination that sat upon the thrones of the High Priestesses must be destroyed. Just as he thought it, the very ground beneath his feet began to shift, sway and buck. He clutched at her arm, drew her against him, shielded her body with his.

But she shook him off, stepped out of the shadows, and with the look of an avenging demon joined her powers with her sisters as gale force winds began to blow within the hall.

***

Soji smiled as she felt the wind at her back. Her little sister had known, had felt the signal. And though she knew that Rata was too far gone to join with them to churn her waters, crest them over the walls and flood this place, they would do it for her. They would together bring down the temple that had been the only home they knew for most of their lives. For far better that it be destroyed than fall into the hands of these defilers.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him, watched as he reached his final goal. He used his knife to cut her sister from the pillar, scooped her across his shoulder. Rata was safe. Well, as safe as any of them were at the moment.

She turned then towards her sister. Their eyes locked and together they built the power within them. Power of love that had only been used for healing was channeled now into destruction. Into destroying their way of life, the temple of the goddess herself.

She watched as Versil stumbled, rose up from her throne. Her seat of power. Hers. Hatred brighter than Tavia's red giant welled up inside of her. How dare he? How dare he? Her eyes locked with his as she felt the power surge up once more.

"Defiler, whore son, monsters. You shall never have true power for you are unfit. Unfit to rule, but unfit even to walk upon this ground which has been, is and always shall be hallowed to me." The steps began to crumble beneath the thrones, cracks appeared in them. She saw the other creature stand; his hands reach for his sword, as he lunged forward.

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