Lilith, having no memories of the past, is shown a future from the Gods.
|At the start of the world, there were Gods and Goddesses. Each God was responsible for the creation of one creature to put on the world. Every God was assigned an aspect of life that they would control. Ten Gods were chosen as the leaders of all the Gods known as the High Gods. Gods and Goddess married and had children but soon there were too many Gods and many were unhappy with their lives. These Gods gave up their immortality to join the creatures on the world and became the first humans. To prevent more Gods from being unsatisfied with their lives, the High Gods declared that they would limit their numbers by not having any more children unless permission was granted by the High Gods. The Gods kept watch over their human children and would communicate with them through two specific humans and their children. The humans that communicated with Gods were given the title of Priest and Priestess. Since humans died, the God Ender opened his realm at the end of the Jamuna River to the souls of the humans who had died, thus he became the God of Death. But the souls of the dead got lost easily and could wander the world for months to years. The River Goddess Saretha agreed with Ender that the souls needed to be guided to Ender’s realm. Since Saretha had no children of her own, she bestowed upon Ender’s children the ability to walk on water and allowed them to use her rivers to guide the souls. These Gods and Goddesses became known as the River Walkers. Thus, every night, the River Walkers create fog and sing a haunting song to gather the souls to them. This is how the world remained for many centuries.
The waves lapped slowly on the sand of the calm night river. Frogs, crickets, and owls called out as loud as the day creatures. The blonde hair of a young woman caught in the tide was her body’s only movement as she lay face down on the bank. The flicker of a flame passed by and reflected off her hair. The light scanned back and stopped on the woman, pausing.
“Zeki, hurry over here!” A middle aged woman ran down the short embankment while holding her torch in the direction of the woman at the water’s edge. A young man ran down after her and took the light. The woman knelt down next to the blonde and rolled her onto her lap. She placed her ear over the woman’s chest and listened for any sounds of life.
“Has the river claimed another, mother? She must have been in the river for some time”, the young man, Zeki commented.
“She’s still breathing! Saretha has given this girl another chance. Zaki, carry her back to our hut. Hurry.” The woman took the torch once again while Zeki lifted the woman up with ease and the two melted into the night once again.
Out in the river, an otter watched the two carry the young woman off before diving into the black.
Four Months Later
“Lilith, you can start on the next row. You put all of us elders to shame.”
The blonde woman straightened herself and walked around to the next row in the field. “I’m sure you were much faster than me at the same age, Yesamin.” Lilith’s eyes shimmered like the dark water Yesamin had found her in.
The other women in the field chuckled. “She’s polite with a sense of humor. I think the Jamuna and the Goddess Saretha gave you a wonderful women, Yesamin”, stated another woman in the group. From helping in the field for almost the full four months she had been with Yesamin, Lilith had learned that these women were good at farming and gossiping. “Lilith, none of your memories have returned, have they?”
Lilith shook her head even though none of the others could see her head. “Nothing but the same dream.” The only memory Lilith had recovered was when she slept of a women telling her to leave. Lilith couldn’t see anything specific about the woman except that she had dark hair. At Yesamin’s testing, they had discovered that Lilith was educated based on her vast knowledge of geography, animals, plants, reading, and writing. Yesamin knew Lilith must be from a wealthy family but had no idea how to contact such a family. Lilith wished to stay and quickly adjusted.
“Oh”, another woman interrupted. “I heard an interesting bit of information from my son yesterday.” She paused egging her audience on. “Apparently, Priestess Aruzahn has returned once again to the palace for an audience with the Emperor.”
The women all took turns adding their thoughts.
“Priestess Aruzahn is the Emperor’s most trusted advisor.”
“Yes and the last time she had a vision was about an incident that was supposed to happen at the Emperor’s coronation. At least that’s what I heard.”
“I wonder what the Gods have shown her now.”
“What if she saw an assassination attempt on the Emperor?”
“Or a war?”
“Maybe the gods are telling her the Emperor needs to pick an Empress.”
“What if it’s a disaster? Like a flood, a drought, or famine?”
Yesamin stopped their chatter. “Ladies, calm your selves down. If there is an emergency, the Emperor will inform the public to ensure our safety and inform us of the plan to overcome the situation. Just pray that the Priestess brings the Emperor good news for the royal family and the nation.” Yesamin’s words quieted the outbursts but the women still gossiped with their neighbor.
The words were left for Lilith to ponder. She looked up the river in the direction of the capital and sent a prayer to the God’s that their message sent to the Priestess was an excellent one. She sighed and briefly thought of what the capital looked like, secretly wanting to make the two day boat ride there.
The Priestess Aruzahn adjusted her robes for the sixth time while waiting for the Emperor to arrive in the great hall. The Emperor himself did not make her nervous since she had known him since she was six years old. Her fidgeting was a habit she had developed whenever she had to wait for long periods of time. The God’s sometimes gave her glimpses or messages of the future but never did the futures show when she should arrive at her destination. The screech of gulls came through the high windows. As she was about to check her robes for a seventh time, the Emperor’s door to the great hall opened.
Aruzahn bowed deeply. “Your majesty Emperor Sorin Kadir.” The doors shut behind him and he stopped in front of her. As she rose, a smile worked its way onto her face. “You look more tired and grumpy every time I see you. Are those wrinkles?”
Kadir snorted. “You are the cause of my wrinkles if I do have any. Every time I receive word that you must see me I feel like I gain another year from anticipation.” The Emperor was young as a ruler and as a man. Just barely into his twenties, he had been crowned Emperor three years prior. With his long mahogany hair and amber eyes, Aruzahn would have jumped at the chance to be his consort. Unfortunately, she could never take a legal husband and if she had a lover, they would be decided upon by the Gods.
She swept her arm forward to indicate the royal chair that was his. “Please, sit. If not for formality, then do it to get off your feet.”
“I’ve gotten used to standing all day”, he complained but did as she asked anyway.
Aruzahn folded her hands in front of her. “I wanted you to sit also because of the news I bring you.”
He leaned forward to the edge of his seat. He knew better then to pry the information from her sooner. She could string him along with nonsense or get right to the point depending on her mood.
“I had visions two nights ago and made my way here as fast as I could. What I saw involved you specifically. The Gods have shown me who is to be your future wife.”
He slouched back in the chair. “Do you personally know who she is?”
“No, I don’t. I’m afraid the details I can give you are limited. All I know is what she looks like. I don’t know her name, where she’s from, or how old she is, though she does appear young. She has the lightest blond hair I’ve ever seen, dark blue eyes, is slightly taller than myself, and slender.”
Kadir sat forward in his seat, once again, intrigued by her physical description. Fully aware of the process in which Aruzahn received her visions, he inquired, “And can you tell me exactly what it was that you saw that you knew that she is supposed to be my wife?”
Aruzahn cleared her throat and shifted her weight between her feet. The vision, fresh in her head, made her jealous and uncomfortable. “The first images were of her in different places around the palace. Many of the images I saw were of more personal and intimate moments with her.” She paused briefly. “You were with her, it could have been anywhere, and you were smiling.”
He snorted. “Have you never seen me smile?” He flashed a wide, toothy grin like a child.
She shook her head. “I’ve never seen you smile like this before. You looked…” She pursed her lips as she thought of the best word to use. “You looked happy and peaceful. It was the look of a man in love. You couldn’t take your eyes off of her.”
The goofy expression quickly fell from his face. He stared at Aruzahn for a few seconds until he realized she wasn’t joking. He took a deep breath as it was his turn to be the uncomfortable one in the conversation now. “Are you sure she is to be my wife and not just a mistress?”
She shook her head. “There was also an image of her sitting there.” She pointed next to Kadir. “She was in a chair right next to yours during a council meeting. She was engrossed in the discussion just as much as you were. That is something the mistress of the Emperor would never be allowed to participate in.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Never in my life have I thought about actually loving my Empress.” He snickered. “Actually, besides knowing that I would have to get married, I never thought much about who my wife might be, how I would feel about her, or us doing anything besides getting married and having children. Now you are telling me that you have seen her, that I will love her, and, from the sound of it, be highly involved the political part of being an Empress. I hope you can understand that this will take me a little while to process.”
Aruzahn bowed her head. “Of course. With your permission, I would like to send out scouts to all corners of the nation to look for this woman.”
“Yes, of course. The gods have willed it so you may do whatever you see as necessary.”
“Thank you. I will send out fifty riders plus myself.”
Kadir’s full attention was back to Aruzahn. “You are going to look as well? Why?”
She smiled. “Who else knows what she looks like better than I do?”
He could not argue with her reasoning in this instance. He stood, walked to her, and took her hands in his own. “Very well then. May the Gods grant you a safe journey and I pray you are able to return quickly.” He kissed her softly on the forehead.
Suddenly, she tightly clutched his hands. Her eyes clouded over in a milky color and she spoke in a deep, monotone voice. “Look toward the Jamuna River. I shall return in exactly fifteen days with the woman. Though you may know the future, do not let it interfere with your relationship. You may end up keeping her at a distance for much longer then you expect.” She blinked rapidly and her eyes reverted back to their normal state. “I guess I won’t need those scouts after all.”
“I don’t like it but I will trust the words from the Gods. I will see you in two weeks then with my wife.” He scrunched his face in disgust. “I don’t know this woman and I must call her my wife.”
“Yet.” Aruzahn smiled to try and cheer him up. “You don’t know her yet.”
He gave her a half smile in return. “Thank you, Aruzahn.”
She bowed deeply and waited as he left the room before departing herself. The Gods had shown her her return to the palace with the woman but that did not tell her where the woman had come from. The Jamuna River was her starting point but she was not given a direction after that. “Please guide me well”, she prayed under her breath.