by Zentara Shadowsoul
I sat on a broken stone seat near the fountain, frustrated. There had to be someone here! My senses, however, revealed no life other than birds and small rodents scurrying amongst the rubble. Sighing, I looked around the square, peering through the gaps in the undergrowth and trees. All I could see were ruins, some roofless buildings, fallen pillars, broken stones. Until a glint caught my eye and I noticed an ornate building to the south. Pillars held up an intricately carved triangular pediment, or gable. I got up and walked toward it, taking in the details as they emerged. Flakes of what appeared to be gold paint glistened in the morning sunlight, highlighting some of the carvings. Birds. Flowers. Fruit. And at the centre, a golden tree.
Behind the pillars lay a porch and beyond that I could see two large doors, one of which stood open. Inside I could see flickering light – torches? Candles? Perhaps here were the half-Shay that my grandfather had mentioned? I cast out my senses toward the building and through the doors. But found no sign of anyone, although I felt a Power within, not dissimilar to that which I had sensed around Anshiana-kuftir. An Ancient Being, then, here, within the town? Ferantu had made no mention of any. But then, I’d already decided there was much he had kept from me.
Perplexed, I decided that there was only one way to learn what lay beyond those doors. Alert for any danger I quickened my pace until I stood at the base of the pillars and again searched the building with my senses in an attempt to locate life. Still nothing. The whole building, though, seemed in much better condition than the rest of An Reviniba. Someone had been keeping this place maintained, at least in part. There was no rust on the metal doors, the tree symbol that was on the gable overhead etched onto them. The paved slabs of the porch floor were mostly in tact and free of weeds and the stonework appeared to be in good condition. Cautiously I approached the open door then peered into the gloom beyond.
Ahead the only light flickered in the middle of what appeared to be a grand hall. Seeing no one I stepped through the doorway and immediately realised that this was a temple. Columns engraved with branches and leaves encircled a mosaic floor, in the centre of which stood a large round stone slab. An altar. And upon it were 5 huge candles, their flames casting light onto the golden tiles and across the chamber.
I stood just inside the doorway, awestruck. This was like nothing I had ever seen before. Nowhere in the cities and towns I’d visited was there such a temple. It was magnificent. And alive with Power! Although it wasn’t in this hall but somewhere else. Below me?
Sensing movement, I turned as a tiny elderly woman emerged from behind one of the columns, her golden robe sparkling as she nodded – bowed her head? – at me. Framed by long unkempt white hair, her face was ancient, wrinkled, her eyes deep-set and in shadow. Thin lips smiled, frail hands held out toward me in greeting.
“Welcome, Seeker. We have awaited your arrival for many, many years…”
To learn more about the painting, see my Lindezines blog.