[Story] Story a Week 13

[[ I didn’t use my prompt again, it was weird… hopefully back to some good ones soon. In the meantime I decided to continue Tamazi and Harvian’s story because it’s been ages! ]]

They kept to the plains as they traveled south, avoiding the roads. The ground was more rocky than Tamazi was accustomed to, harder beneath her paws. Nor did she recognize all of the plants, though Harvian seemed to. Once they had found a safe place to rest, he hurried off to gather them. He returned with his arms full of fragrant herbs, carefully breaking and crushing them into one of his jars. This he mixed with a little liquid from a small vial, and he carefully dabbed it onto her cuts. “This should help them heal faster,” he explained. “At the very least, they should hurt less.” He still had a sorrowful expression, his ears still drooped backward. “I never meant for any of this to happen.” Gingerly, he lay a black paw over one of the deeper cuts. “Your coat is ruined.”

Tamazi managed a small amused smile. “What sort of Hunter has no scars?” She had already begun to weave tales of her glorious battles that had left their marks upon her, but nothing she invented was more outlandish than what had really happened previously — tangling with a drake and the strange magical deer. She imagined the Hunters gathering to study each mark with interest. It was true, they hurt less now. The feeling of helplessness and humiliation was far worse, and that was fading now. “But you never explained all of that,” she said. “What you said to them. About a prophecy.”

“Ah,” said Harvian, replacing the lid of the jar. “That might not have been completely true. But it worked, didn’t it?” Tamazi frowned briefly. She didn’t like that he had misled her — being in a prophecy sounded very exciting — but at the same time, he was right. And she didn’t mind misleading those villagers one bit. “Besides,” Harvian added. “It might be true. We haven’t yet reached the temple.”

“What’s the Ascension?” Tamazi asked, settling down on the grass. They were well hidden here, in a tangle of brush. She felt secure enough to rest for the first time in a long while.

Harvian prodded the coals of the fire before getting under his blanket. “The dragons live above us in the heavens, but they always have one representative here on the earth, to serve as their eyes and see their will done.” Tamazi nodded, she knew that much. Her own people didn’t need any dragons, but she’d heard stories about them from the males, some of whom had travelled to distant lands before joining their clan. “The exact process isn’t well known, but a drake is chosen and elevated — changed — to take that role. The last recorded Ascension was hundreds of years ago, the Empress and her son.” Tamazi nodded.

“At present, Miraluna has no one to represent her. There is a void of power, and when that happens, others will move to seize it. Like that drehl kiraal, in the swamp. No doubt there will be others as well,” said Harvian. “I am to see that the Ascension is completed without any interference.”

Tamazi blinked. “You?”

Though it was dark, Tamazi could see the corners of Harvian’s muzzle turn down to a frown. “The Empress gave me this task. I once served at her court, but–” he shook his head. “Rumors and nonsense. There were some who called my loyalty into question. She gave me this duty to prove myself, you could say.”

“So it’s a punishment?” asked Tamazi.

“In a way, I suppose. You’re very astute, Tamazi. You would have done well at court.”

Tamazi mulled over the word. “Is that good?”

Harvian chuckled. “Yes, it means you see things that are in plain sight. It’s not as common as you might think, especially there.”

On the fourth day, Tamazi saw the shimmering spires of the Temple reflecting the light of the Huntress’s eye. She thought it first an illusion, but she called to Harvian, and once she pointed it out, he saw them too. Her wounds had mended well, and though they felt a little stiff, she felt good enough to run for some of the way. Harvian clung to her back so he wouldn’t be left behind. Excitement and eagerness drove her forward, but she was afraid too. It was the largest building she had ever seen, imposing in its size and majesty. No doubt it would be filled with people, and they likely felt the same way about her as the villagers had. She would let Harvian enter first, and ensure that it was safe.

As she drew closer to the Temple, awe stole the breath from her, and she had to stop to catch it back again. It was built of stone, gleaming white and luminescent in the Huntress’s gaze, but the walls and arches were so thin and delicate that Tamazi was afraid she might knock them over with a careless swing of her tail. The tops of the arches had been cut out so that the light shone through them in intricate patterns, and there were large circular openings around the perimeter, these she was sure aligned with the Eye at different hours of the night. It was the most beautiful thing Tamazi had ever seen, surely overseen by the Huntress herself. No ordinary person could have made this.

Harvian seemed in awe as well, his whiskers twitching excitedly as they approached. He agreed to enter first. Tamazi waited at a safe distance, crouched in the swaying grass. She could see the temple attendants, in their long white robes with hoods that covered much of their faces. From where she waited, she could not hear what they said, but they seemed calm and they raised no weapons. At one point, their heads lifted and turned toward her. Harvian waved to her excitedly.

The building was so bright and pristine that Tamazi wished she had washed herself before coming. She felt scruffy and out of place, and it did not help that all of the robed people were watching her intently, she could tell that even behind the robes. Inside was even more beautiful; the Huntress’s light shone through the openings in the arches to throw a pattern of circles upon the floor that mirrored her phases — opened, blinking, and closed. Kamara would love to see this, Tamazi realized. She would have to bring her here, one day. In the very center of the temple floor lay a mosaic, depicting the dragon Miraluna entwined around the Huntress’s opened eye. As Tamazi stepped onto it, a gasp rose from the temple attendants. Tamazi froze in fear, her eyes widening. Had she done something wrong? The temple darkened, as the Huntress’s eye blinked closed. She had heard of it happening, but never witnessed it herself. Harvian, too, seemed shocked, his jaw open in amazement.

The temple attendants, one by one, fell to their knees around her.

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