Hierophant’s Quest Part 2
Part 44 of Quest
& Part 5 of Istan’s Solo Quest: Chasing the Cross
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Dust clouds truth’s approach.
A teacher, stallion-clad, comes.
What lesson brings him?
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Dust settles as a black stallion poses,
one hoof raised to step over lines that saved.
Lines from whose radiance spells, like roses,
rise showering petals of power that saved
the village–a line the steed’s reluctant
to cross; he tossed his head indicating
the way north as the wind, that assailant,
stole the Hier’phant card from his hand taking
it high into the sky, spinning it round
in a northward tending gyre ’till he lost
it in clouds parked outside the village’s grounds.
Istan met the horse’s eyes, holocaust
haunted, not liquid but intelligent.
He staggered forward, careful as he went.
~ ~ ~
Zallev interposed himself between Istan and his goal. His upraised hand was enough to halt Istan who still hadn’t recovered. “Where are you going?”
“With him,” Istan nodded to the stallion waiting just beyond the web of soft glowing lines that comprised the ward his divine blood–ichor?–had created. Stepping around the stunned Zallev, he slid one foot in front of the other and shuffled onwards. His foot caught on something and he fell inches from his own ward, which sparkled from the magic that had been in his blood. His hands struck dry earth that cried out for rain as it slid through his fingers. The ground wasn’t cracked, just thirsting. Still that gave him no idea how long he had lain in Zallev’s hut; no idea how long it had been since he’d stepped through that portal and left Irene to tackle her own quest.
Irene…He shoved thoughts of her away; she had left him a long time ago. Power had always held a stronger attraction for her than him.
claimed her heart, left bed empty,
cold with wedding ring.
She discarded both
man and vows to find more pow’r.
He went on alone.
Istan touched the chain around his neck where two wedding rings clinked, leaving two ring fingers bare of the vows that had covered them. No, she hadn’t changed and she certainly hadn’t come back to him. Or she’d be here now instead of a man with a painted face dragging his sorry ass upright.
The storm lingered there,
staining the horizon gray.
Rain-swollen, it waited.
No malice drove it now. Perhaps it had spent its killing rage trying to get past his blood–ichor?–ward. The storm sat like a dog, leash in mouth, expecting a walk any minute.
“You’re set on this thing? No way I can talk you out of it?” Zallev gave the stallion a baleful glare. He had one arm looped around Istan’s waist, since Istan towered over him.
“Yes, he either knows something or has something to show us. Either way, I need to know what he knows.”
“What can a horse tell a god?”
Indeed, Zallev had asked a sage question. One whose answer might be face on the very card the wind still toyed with.
Characters drawn with silver blood by a dragged foot–a language that predated any man-made writing system–marched around the village in a shining band of protection. Zallev hesitated.
“It won’t harm you.”
Istan lifted his foot and then placed it in the middle of a triangle and smeared it, changing its shape and meaning and also modifying the ward. The storm sensed the change and rolled towards the village and the dome that shimmered over it. Rain misted as its leading edge passed over their heads. The storm’s relief blanketed the air in warm drafts.
Zallev watched the rain fall for a moment before stepping with care; he extended his leg as far as possible and set his foot in the space between two glyphs. Outside the ward, the air was crisper with a northern bite to it.
They reached the horse; Zallev met its eye. “You carry double or you carry no one.” Zallev held the creature’s gaze and then nodded.
The ground slid past under the horse’s hooves; Istan’s lids grew heavier with each mile. Sleep’s welcoming darkness beckoned but he fought it’s lure, losing at sunset when the Dreamer’s power rose. He fell into a mirrored lake, breaking through its calm water into the Dreamer’s Pool, where Auntie Deasira, the Goddess of Dreams and Sleep held court.
Through reflections of dreams he tumbled, this thoughts turning towards his friends, to those others on quests like his. Deeper into darkness past images of a broken tower that resembled the Academie de Magica, he fell. Irene stood, skirts flying on its summit playing a game with Death, who raised a maggoty hand and waved. His sickle smile chased Istan down.
“Leave her alone…” he shouted. Had Death replied?
“You have no power over me nor I over you, Storm God’s son.”
Water bottomed out into a glass wall which he shattered, chest first; shards cut his skin as his body fell through air chased by cascading water that slowed to a trickle. Magic washed over the ragged hole he’d left sealing it with a spiderweb of blue light.
Istan struck flagstones in a bloody wet heap, breath driven out of him. Without the storm gift, he couldn’t summon a wind to soften the blow. So he took it full force; his partial god-hood protected his bones and organs.
A pair of bare feet too large and blocky to be a woman’s enter his field of view when he picked his head up.
“Why didn’t you command the air to catch you?” a young man asked although youth among the divine was deceptive. “Where’s Winter’s Mantle?” Panic had crept into his interlocutor’s voice.
Gone to the next victim, the next in line,
the next one of the old god’s blood to face
the beast of thought and malice that chilled spines,
stole sanity, iden’ty, left no trace.
The Dreamer’s pools sparkled with living dreams.
Mortals’ sleep raised images in the pools.
Pictures that changed with those dreaming the dreams.
Istan rose and approached one of the pools.
Henneth held a dying woman’s frail hand.
Her lips parted and she asked him to go
out into the world and explore their land,
see Shayari’s valleys before he goes.
Agree he did as her last breath, death snatched;
not scythe holding death but his princess catched.
~ ~ ~
Death’s soft wings enfold,
his princess delivering peace–
in her hands a rose.
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Istan’s Quest continues in Hierophant’s Quest Part 3.
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Hierophant’s Quest employed the following prompts: Color Your World: Pacific Blue & Outrageous Orange; Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie: Writing Prompt #148 “The Hierophant”; the Daily Post’s prompt: “Object” & “Harmony.”