Chapter 11: Fiery Suns
June 3, 2007
1039 words. Not bad, but it took me too long to get this chapter out.
She broke the water’s surface with a splash, her body launching nearly halfway out of the water. The blessedly cool air hit her like a slap in the face. Looking about her, she was alone in the indoor pool. Lying on her back, she let herself float, her chest clearing the water while her legs propelled her gently. She became a creature of pure sensations; her brain stopped thinking and instead let the water caress her sensually. After a few moments of floating aimlessly, she turned and swam back to the side of the pool. She pushed herself up on the sides of the pool and out of it in one smooth movement, dripping water.
She towelled herself dry quickly and then pulled on a robe to cover her nakedness. She was firm and yet soft in all the right places; although she had been trained as a warrior, living with her father and his new wife recently had added some weight to her tall and slime frame. As a result, she had an hourglass figure, one that she was looking forward to trim when she rode out later today. Before that though, she would have to pay a visit to the God of Fire. It would not do to appear naked in front of him; he might have taken it for an invitation she had not offered.
Once she had tied the thick robe around her, she dried her hair quickly. Her steps as she left the pool sounded loud in the silence. Somewhere, a lament was raised. She was late.
She ran past the row of Priests and Priestesses who were on their knees before the doors leading to the Inner Sanctum. The Lament was not over yet, so she still had time. Stopping in front of the great Doors, she breathed deeply and took a bow. Her hands reached out to grasp the two door handles firmly. She threw the doors open, letting the last glows of sunset in. As it bathed her in its orange light, she raised her hands and began to dance. Her movements were lithe, firm, and following in the tradition closely, though there were of course, minute differences. She gave of herself to the dance, to the Divine, but she was fiercely her own. The bells on her feet and hands sang, while her thin white robe clung to her body; she had not changed out the robe she wore from the bath.
As she did, the voices behind her raised in praise. She danced for the Funeral Pyre of the Fire God, the Sun God who would return again the next day to renew the world. The night was coming, and with it, the Earth would remain quiet and desolate, but cool. Day was the time of the Sun, the time to contemplate in the light, while night was the time to do things. The respite from the desert sun was always welcomed. As the sun disappeared over the horizon and only a sliver remained over the horizon, the singing died down, and she stood in front of the door, simply watching. As the sunlight disappeared, she closed the doors again. When she turned, as she had expected, no one was in the Chamber but her. She walked down the steps, the euphoria from the dance slowly fading.
Dance is a heady tribute to the gods, she heard a rough female voice say, both for them and for us. It’s more powerful than a song, but limited in its scope… it’s addictive, that same voice had continued.
“You were late,” a voice boomed behind her as she walked to the Chamber doors. She stopped and looked behind.
A figure stood by the side, in front of the altar. A brazier burnt coal fire, with none of the incense that marked the worships of other deities. Her eyes narrowed at the man speaking at her. He was a tall, deeply tanned and muscular man, the kind that many women swooned.
If he had paid them any attention.
Instead, he was glaring at the young woman in the semi-transparent robe. She and the small band of Priestesses in the Temple often defied him, holding themselves not to the rule of the Priests, but declaring themselves to be answerable only to the God. Which was how it was supposed to be, but they were insistent on being indecent in the Temple! Today was a prime example; not only was she late, but she was dancing in a bathrobe! That was more than disrespectful, it was insulting! He did not have to tell her this, she could see it in his eyes.
“Does my body arouse you so, Priest, that you need to hide behind Him?” she smiled and walked away, her hips moving with the grace of a dancer.
She did not need to hear the punch he made against the wall.
“Tis a dangerous game you play with this one, Lady Carmella,” one of the Priestesses came out from the shadows as she came out of the Inner Sanctum. She held out a plain, sand-coloured Priestess’ robe, which the Lady took from her and went into the Shadows. At this hour, few would be staying this close to the Sanctum.
“We must know if he’s part of the Movement, Sanchelle,” Carmella took off her bathrobe and pulled the thick robe over herself. The other woman took the bathrobe from her.
“That may be so, Priestess, but remember your duty,” Sanchelle followed Carmella as the latter walked towards the stables.
“I won’t forget, Sanchelle,” Carmella raised her hand as she passed the torches in the hallway, and they put themselves out as they passed. She could not wait to be riding in the cool air again.
“Your father will not be able to make tonight’s session, Lady Carmella, but he said you should go anyway,” Sanchelle seemed to be able to read her mind.
“Alright. Saddle Nefere for me, Sanchelle, and Idals for you. We’ll leave after eating,” Carmella headed to her rooms while Sanchelle bowed and went off to the servants corner to drop off the bathrobe and to head to the stables.