Suddenly, Chess was flying. He was soaring through the blue sky, the wind singing in his ears and flowing over his face and hair, and it was wonderful. He inhaled deeply, feeling the cool air fill his lungs and infuse every nerve with euphoria. The sour taste of Sariel’s herbs were on his tongue but it didn’t matter. He was flying and free.
From the height of clouds, he looked down and saw the leafy tops of trees. And, dropping lower, he gazed into the deep green of the interior of the forest. Moments later, spiraling down, he saw the dark shapes of the undergrowth on the forest floor. Lower… and still lower… and next he saw two people: the village girl and the child, standing together in the clearing -- and he was falling toward them.
Again, helplessly, he watched the girl light the match, and the entire forest exploded in flames; fire all around. And, next, he saw the terrified faces of the villagers as they ran from the inferno of their houses. And the scenes looked even more monstrous than he remembered.
The visions were maddening, and he began to see everything, all at once: the open eyes of the two dissidents lying dead beside him, and the downcast expressions of the people living in the dank sheds on the edge of the forest. And then, most horrifyingly, he saw his mother and sister standing among them. He tried to shut his eyes, but suddenly he realized that he, himself, was engulfed in flames. And then he was screaming in terror, and all around him was black and red.
Then, once again, his vision shifted, and the world went blank and dark and calm. And now he saw only a single flame before him: a flame that was immense, white-hot, and dazzling to his eyes.
Although he could not say how the knowledge came to him, he recognized the flame before him as a center of power. And he had an acute understanding of himself as akin to a candle, feeding the strength of that flame, and adding to its power with his own energy, his own life.
Around Chess, all was still and silent, and waiting for him. And he felt a strong desire to yield to that power, to offer all of himself to it. But he could not; he held back. “I will try,” was all he promised.
The world Chess returned to was hazy and illusory, tinted in the wrong colors, and with fire still flickering at the edges of his consciousness. But he felt changed, somehow, as he pushed himself up to hands and knees. His mind was all white noise, but he was no longer fearful; he was filled with energy.
Blinking, he made out Sariel’s form in the dim light. She was still kneeling before him, and she stared at him now with wide eyes. “What did the goddess say?” she whispered, seeming awed.
He moved toward her, unsteadily, but with a desperate need. He closed the distance between them and put one hand on her upper arm. She felt cool against his feverish skin, and her scent surrounded him. He drew in a long breath and pulled her, unresisting, toward him. Pressing the fingers of his other hand into the soft flesh of her thigh, he slowly pushed her skirt upward.
“Goddess said…,” he murmured, lowering his face toward hers, “burn.”
Chess woke at some dark hour of the night, squinting against the glare of the yellow light bulb. Bidden by Sariel, he drank some water, and then he slipped back into unconsciousness.
The next time he woke, he was alone, and the sun was past its peak in the sky. He felt a pervasive weariness in his muscles, but no pain anywhere. He was nauseous, though, and the world seemed to tilt as he rose and faced the smudged mirror on the wall. He was amazed to discover no trace of bruises on his face or throat. His abdomen, too, was fine.
“Wow,” he breathed. He could not think clearly about what had happened the previous night, and he was not really sure that he wanted to. He wondered if he had really spoken to Sariel’s goddess -- and if he was completely out of his mind for wondering that? He shook his head and moved toward the door. All he knew was that he had woken from the vision with an overwhelming desire for Sariel, and the hunger for her had not dissipated. He opened the door and immediately encountered Razor.
“Goldfish!” the guy shouted jovially. “Hey, you’re looking kinda green, there. C’mon to lunch!”
Continued next page...
Kinda like a cloud I was up way up in the sky and I was feeling some feelings you wouldn't believe. Sometimes I don't believe them myself and I decided I was never coming down. Just then a tiny little dot caught my eye it was just about too small to see. But I watched it way too long. It was pulling me down.
-Down In It by Nine Inch Nails
One way in which it seems that mythologies have been purposely changed in order to change the thinking of the population is when another group of people invades and conquers a land. To ban a religion outright probably invites revolution faster than any other oppressive action, so the wiser land-conquerors seemed either to incorporate the gods of the new land into their own mythology or to say that somehow the gods were conquered along with the people. One such example that is familiar to many is the mythology of the Greek titans, who were overpowered and imprisoned or otherwise sent away by the god Zeus and his brothers. It is believed that the titans did not start out being evil and destructive, though; they started out as a pantheon of gods who were worshipped, much like the Greek pantheon of Homer’s Iliad. But perhaps there was not room for all of these gods to rule at the same time, so some of them had to go. I’m guessing that the titans were the gods of the conquered.
And there are similar examples of this same story pretty much everywhere in the world, varying in the details from culture to culture. Sometimes there is a war in heaven and the old gods are thrown out by the newer ones. And sometimes, in a fun twist, the native gods are portrayed as having been allowed free reign for quite a while, but only until the gods who really hold the power get sick of watching the people being deluded into worshipping the other guys. Consider the way that the Lord utilizes Moses to assert himself over the false-god worshipping priests of Pharaoh in Exodus 7 in the Old Testament of the Bible. Even in some of the mythologies of Native Americans, Hactcin, the original creator of the world and of man, eventually gets around to shaming the annoying shamans who deny his existence.
And if we turn our eyes to the mythologies of the Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Celts, and Germans… The titans, dwarfs, and giants are represented as the powers of an earlier mythological age – crude and loutish, egotistic and lawless, in contrast to the comely gods, whose reign of heavenly order harmoniously governs the worlds of nature and man.
-The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell
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