(Personal Story/Te’ Eth ‘Es , Advent Home World)
Part Nineteen of Teir -
The Beginnings of the War –
The Arch lay half buried in sand. The left side broken, half shattered, a broken column that had fallen supported it, and it stood crooked and half collapsed, leaning down. But it stood…
Even if half stood.
Words were inscribed above the mantle of the marble arch that she could not read. Swirling script in three words that proclaimed! Or announced! Or softly implored!
Whatever it said.
What… ever… it…
The thought rolled over her in a boom of thought, she fell back and stumbled, falling to her back and laying in the sand against the stone floor. She pushed herself up slow, sitting staring, but there was no one there. No one came out from the half broken arch.
Only the stone and the broken columns, unmoving.
She stood then and moved forward, her tired legs moving as if of themselves.
A whispered thought that she could barely hear at all.
Do you have doubts…?
Teir blinked and regarded the half broken arch.
“Who…?” she asked.
She turned her head, broken columns lay left to the edge of the great platform and then to sky and ground far far far below beyond. To the right a sand embankment where several colums lay shattered rubble and hid the far edge. There was only the arch then.
“Who is there…?” She asked.
But no voice answered.
This wasn’t like the premonition. This wasn’t like her visions when she had been in the Convent. There she had heard a voice, and it had been a woman’s voice. But it didn’t boom, nor whisper. It hadn’t asked questions and then refused to answer.
She wondered if there were a room beyond with broken furniture and smashed lamps and walls, with a untouched tapestry with a woman painted on it raising her hand and pointing into the deep desert to a cavern of light far far beneath the surface?
Are you sure you can do this? Can you face this? If you cannot you will be destroyed…
Teir was achingly tired.
She was neither; agitatedly angry, or softly compassionate.
Right now she was exhausted.
She felt as if she could stand in the doorway to the arch for at least the next 15 years and it wouldn’t matter. Or move now without thinking of whatever threats or accusations were made. She was tired, and it didn’t matter.
If she died, then it would end the questions and her tiredness, and though she had come she felt with a purpose, that purpose was lost to her now, she couldn’t remember it.
Half blind and exhausted, burned and rubbed raw from the hot air and the always shifting sand, it simply didn’t matter anymore. What was purpose?
Her tired mind could not think.
She was tired and it didn’t matter anymore.
She crossed the distance to the doorway of the Arch and passed through.
Will You Look Upon All Those Times Past, And What Will You Think Of Them –
The sky was clear, and S’eta came from the other room smiling, she carried a blue translucent under gown in her arms and beamed.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
She giggled and then crossed to Teir and knelt raising her arms with the gown in her slender fingers.
“Yes, it is lovely S’eta, a lovely gift. A presumptuous gift yes? For a man to send a Lady a gown with which to sleep in?”
S’eta’s eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips demurely, but said nothing. But then-
“Yes?” Teir asked.
“Perhaps is is all right for some men to do this…? Perhaps one particular man to do this?”
S’eta bowed her head.
“Send it back S’eta.”
“But my Empress…”
“Send it back S’eta, now.” Teir turned away. She went to the window and only barely noticed S’eta leaving quickly through the alcove door.
She smiled to herself.
She wanted to laugh.
She could feel S’eta’s disappointment, but there was nothing for that. She should see, and if she did not, then in time, perhaps when a man had made presumptions upon her, then she would understand. It was the same no matter peasant or empress. The thought behind it was the same.
But she couldn’t give understanding to a woman that had not yet had the experience. Could only use words that she wouldn’t understand until later.
But then again…
There had been a boy once,
When Teir had been young, just a girl in the village who had occasionally watched her, he wasn’t handsome in the way pretty boys were. Nor was he smart as some of the others. He had large ears and a rather pointed nose. He was short instead of tall and had chubby cheeks and stuttered when he talked at all. But she had wanted him to bring her flowers.
Or perhaps a ring.
A nothing ring from a cheap and drab merchant stall that cost all of perhaps 2 T’in dee.
Because he was not handsome, because he wasn’t smart and scheming, or smooth or confident, but simply because his heart fluttered when he saw her, and she could feel it.
Because he stammered and turned away and never approached her, because in his heart he knew he could never have her.
When at ten years old, having meant simply holding hands and carrying her books home from school.
Those were innocent days.
And sincerity was a rare thing.
And his certainty that he could never have her, because she was beautiful and he was not made her heart ache, and she wanted him to bring her something, so that she could hold his hand and kiss his cheek and tell him thank you for caring about her when he felt he had no chance at all.
“Oh S’eta, there are some you can give your heart too. But choose carefully. It isn’t the handsome ones that will care for you. They see only something they want. But there are others that will care…” Teir whispered to the window sill. Which did not answer back, and S’eta was three floors below now, returning the under gown to the beautifully carved and intricate gold and white box that it had come in and could not hear her at all.
She recalled her own words… “Send it back S’eta, now.” And knew that she could be hotheaded, quick to temper, easily angered by some misdirected word or deed, like under gown’s in rich gold and white boxes.
Was it then simply a matter of her wanting control?
She raised her eyes to the skyline and the buildings far far below, her mind reaching out to the edges of the world.
The people moving about and she felt each one, felt their fears and hopes…
There was a duty in her control.
It made her need to see to their pains, that they did not hurt too much, that they had food and drink, and they had time to rest and smile and be with sweethearts or family. That they had a place to eat and sleep and a purpose that could fit with who they were.
It wasn’t telling.
It wasn’t saying you will do this.
It wasn’t her deciding without thinking of them at all.
It was her deciding because she did think of them.
Because they were important to her.
Because they were important to themselves,
And to their sweethearts and their families.
It was not controlling for controlling sake.
But because, despite her temper and her rashness,
She needed to remember she was their Mother.
And she loved and cared for them.
But men were not Mother’s and rarely understood.
But there were some.
S’eta returned when it was night, and Teir had spoken with the Council of Elders and sent them out with her suggestions.
That they would follow to the letter.
And she sometimes wondered at that.
That they did not question her,
It was true she loved them.
But she was human.
And there were enough flaws in her that she knew she was no Goddess. Yet, even when she lost her temper, forbid that it was often enough.
Still they followed what she said.
Her words carved in stone and laid down as law.
And made into Catechism’s to be faithfully memorized and set to faith and prayer.
She wondered sometimes if she held too much power?
She felt them then.
As she raised her eyes and looked out over the clear brown-blue sky, their ships were coming.
“The Earth Delegation approaches Empress, there are many ships. Are there too many?”
Teir had turned then and smiled.
In her heart she did not know.
But these were others of a like kind.
Separated by many thousands of years to be true.
When men and women had first come out into the stars and made homes.
That is how they had first come here.
Yes, there were many ships,
But they were men and women,
Just like us.
Just like us.
They will see us, and we will greet them. And if they choose, then they could join them. But Teir had no desire for another world as well.
A single world was enough.
It taxed her, feeling them, holding all the links to her and holding them, nurturing here, easing a pain there. Giving support or comfort, advice or suggestion, direction sometimes when the way was unclear to them.
A single world was enough.
She gazed out at the clear sky and had hope.
“I know.” She said to S’eta and moved a hand against the woman’s cheek, to soothe her fears.
“It is all right. It will be all right. They are just like us. Well… not entirely, a flower changes in new soil. If we once were roses, but now are a slender tree, were we not once roses?”
“They are like us S’eta, they are human. Do not fear. There are many ships, but it is not a thing to fear.”
And S’eta laid out Teir’s bed clothes then, and arranged the bed sheets and pulled the white thin curtains against the windows closed and blew out the candles.
Teir lay down on the bed and felt the coolness of the sheets and the soft breeze that still stirred against the curtains and closed her eyes.
“Sleep well S’eta, and do not fear. This will be a new day for us. A new day for all of us, a brotherhood of men and women, we will welcome them, and it will be a new day.”
“Yes, my Empress.” S’eta said slowly. But though she smiled, still there was a doubt in her.
Teir could feel it, but said nothing.
The girl would learn in time.
You could not go out in the world always fearful, or angry.
Teir knew firsthand the lesson of that.
She was not a Goddess and could not read the winds to see the future.
But she did hold the care of her people, and she needed to take care of them.
It would be a new day for all of them.
They would see.
She fell asleep, feeling the ships of her lost brothers and sisters coming in the dark, coming closer.
And she was happy.
The sky was on fire!
Cities burned and she could feel her people dying!
She screamed and sat bolt upright in her bed and moved to the window, her gown fluttering in the night breeze. Beyond and below the world burned.
Smoke lay over the city and the hillsides beyond. The trees shadowed silhouettes against the starlight.
“You will lay down your weapons and stand by to be evacuated! You will prepare every ship on the planet to move every survivor. Or you will not live to see the sun rise. We will obliterate the planet from orbit and your horrid kind will exist no more!”
Teir stood turned as S’eta burst into the room screaming! Tears covered her face and she went down on her knees before Teir clutching at the hem of her gown.
“Save us Mother, save us! We are dying, I feel them… we are dying!”
Teir cried softly, tears streaming down her face, and smoothed the girl’s hair.
“Yes my child, I will take care of it, it will be all right, it will be all right… it … will… “ her voice trailed off as she smoothed her hands over the girls’ hair and felt the ache in her rise and she knew that the pain of it would never... that the pain of it would never recede.
The Advent had come as humans to the new world, and they had been scientists and had argued as scientists would, often passionately, but still it was concepts in their minds. Theory and speculation and abstract.
And when the world had changed them, by degrees, by virtue of their diet, by virtue of the mixture of airs, of the magnetic pulses which were different than home on earth, they had accepted it. And went on.
There was no war here.
Oh there was enough of greed, or desire, or perhaps even pettiness that wound its way, as it did in all men or women. But there was no war.
And there were no weapons.
And the Advent themselves.
And so when war came upon them at last it laid its old and long forgotten head at their table and reminded them of those ancient things that they had forgotten.
Those old hates.
Old remembered vengeances.
The cities burned and the survivors cried and wept and were taken in ships that lay on the soft sands waiting in the thousands. And they were taken, away from all that they had known and loved and cherished for two thousand years.
Beyond the stars.
Out of sight of Men,
For crimes those men said they committed.
The crime of a clarity for the mindless,
Or the crime of a balm for the mad.
The crime of a soothing calm for the grieving,
Or the soft words of confidence for those who felt doubt.
The crime of healing for the ill,
Or the crime of compassion for the outcast,
The crime of understanding for those who were misjudged,
Or the crime of kindness for those less fortunate.
The crime of purpose for those who had known no direction,
Or the crime of feeding those who could not work and could not feed themselves.
All those crimes which in Men's eyes, were abominations of one mind touching another,
and finding strength where one had been lacking. And joy in those that had known only loneliness.
Or hope in those that had known only hopelessness.
These were the crimes that Men laid at their feet, and condemned them with.
For one mind touching another and finding a whole where before had been only an incompleteness,
a separateness and emptiness of a single mind standing in the single world, left alone.
Teir stood crying, tears running down her cheeks as she wept.
S’eta knelt on the floor at the other end of the room, she had refused to leave her.
“Kill me my Empress for disobeying, but I cannot, I cannot leave you.”
“We will die here my dear child.”
And S’eta’s eyes had flashed anger then.
For the first time in her entire life that Teir could remember.
It was easy then to remember those old hates quickly.
“Then I will stay and die!” S’eta had said defiantly. Then lowered her eyes in the presence of her Empress.
“We both shall -.” Teir had cried, tears falling down, her voice choked and she had stopped, but then continued on, “my dear… child.”
The others had been sent away, and though they cried, they had obeyed. As they had always obeyed. Going out into the city and to the sands beyond the city to the waiting ships.
Tier could feel them as the ships rose into the dark night sky, the city still burned. Smoke and ruin and a numbed people milling about listlessly as they moved to the ships…
In streaming lines that stretched for leagues.
Lines and lines and lines of people.
Thousands on thousands on thousands.
As the ships rose into the dark night sky.
Taking her people beyond her.
She could feel them, even beyond the sky, even beyond the world as the ships continued out into deep space, the words in their minds thinning, their emotions dimming, but the threads still there. Always there.
“Why…!...?” They had screamed in their ignorance and pain.
And Teir had tried to soothe them,
To reach out and comfort them, to lay her mind on theirs and give them strength, though there was little that remained in her other than shock and pain, and growing doubts that she had not been able to provide well enough for them.
“I do not know… my loves… I do not know… but I am here… I will always be here…” She had said to ease them, to comfort them, to ease their fear and hopelessness, as the city burned around her and she sought to be more than she had ever been, all that she had ever been and to draw on some glimpse of hope or calm that she could give them and wondered from where in her she would find such hope?
But they lifted away and out and beyond her, even though she felt them, with no other answer that she could provide.
She had failed them.
There had still been time to…
If she had acted quickly enough.
But it scared her.
Scared her to the center of what she was.
And she couldn’t.
Even as her people were slaughtered and the cities leveled to rubble and smoking ash, and survivors were taken in ships beyond the world out into the deeper stars.
She could have saved them.
But she hadn’t.
She smoothed S’eta’s hair and cried as the last ships rose off the far sands and the bombs fell again on her world, on her city and felt the flames which proclaimed that even an Empress was mortal ascended her tower, licking at stone and flesh alike and sky and air.
And burned it all
Teir fell to her knees and cried out!
She wept for the lost Advent, slaughtered and exiled at the hands of an ignorant and righteous and pompous and hate filled race. She wanted to kill them all!
And weep for a thousand years.
The anger bled away.
It took perhaps a life time.
She could still see the city burning beyond the windows in her mind, though only rubble and broken columns and sand and black sky roiled overhead.
The exile had happened a thousand years ago.
She rose then on trembling legs and stood in the empty warm room.
“If I have failed, then kill me now.” She said to the Voice.
But there came only a whispered softness on the breeze.
“Most who come, come only for themselves, and are lost to me, they have only their own links and their own greeds and so I challenge those that do come. To make them afraid.
And those that are afraid depart and go away.
Though some remain,
And I implore them are they ready?
Do they have doubts?
As we all have doubts, even I who should have all the more doubts than all of them. I did not see it coming. I trusted them! They were my lost brothers and sisters coming home!
I trusted them!!!
The columns trembled and lightening fell from a clear sky.
The air shook and quaked, as though it were alive.
And a scream of pain and agony rose up from the ground toward that black and roiling sky as if the dark and cold of open space could quench it.
She stood beyond the broken column and moved over the sand, her bare feet leaving prints in the soft grained surface.
“But I do not kill them…” She said softly, almost absently. “I tell them that to make the unsure ones turn back. But even still some who are greedy and want their own way remain, though I haven’t the heart to kill even those. And they leave thinking they have seen some insight, some semblance of truth and meaning, though it is only their own meaning.
They depart and tell the others that they have seen me, and that they have my blessing, though they still go about their own way, in my name they do their evils and their schemes and the plans for power or control, without knowing any of what it means. For their own ends.
But my people are beyond me,
The link was severed when I died.
And they have known only their own little circles and their own links small group to small group for over a thousand years, and tell all that it is as it has always been. And those others that are ignorant know no different, and so they accept those words, as if they were mine.”
The woman cried, and looking across at Teir in the middle of the room, she told her,
“I could have saved them… but I did not. I was afraid. I was afraid of dying. I couldn’t do it. And so I waited and let them kill us, and take us and watched and did nothing…”
She wept then and reached out a hand and a lightening bolt went through the wall and columns out on the landing were smashed and fell over the edge of the platform down the long stairs. It was long, long minutes before the sound of them striking the ground could be felt, not heard, because they were too far to hear.
“I was afraid…” the woman said softly.
“Though I died in the end, I could not force myself to it.
I failed them… I failed them… because I was afraid…” she said slowly.
The Empress hung her head and cried, tears falling down her face, her mouth tightened into a twisted line of pain.
Teir moved to her and reached out a hand, as if she could comfort, but her hand moved through still air.
The woman raised her head and tried to half smile, wiped a hand against her own cheek to wipe away the tears.
“I am only a memory…” She said.
“I have no… form…”
But Teir extended her hands anyway, and though there was nothing to feel, she held the woman’s shoulders and tried to comfort her.
“It is all right…” Tier said, “it is all right, it will be all right…”
And the woman leaned her head against the girl.
“Would you consider…?” and the woman’s voice trailed off… “You are the first who has come with no greed in your own heart. And I couldn’t destroy you if you did, but you are the first and that gives me hope. For to go on, I need one selfless… will you?”
And she touched Teir’s mind, and her life and loves and mistakes and joys moved in Teir. It took a life time to see it, to feel it, to live and breathe and smell and hear it. But when the woman moved her hand away Teir understood.
Her eyes were likened to old stars though, and in their blueness swam two thousand years of lives and loves and in them was the woman’s own.
Teir could not find words, but nodded her head slowly.
She had been afraid in her life also.
She knew what it felt like.
To lose those you loved, and to be angry and vengeful and still so afraid that you could not move.
“Yes,” Tier said, “yes…”
And the woman who was a memory and was not there, became light in a room that was a thousand years beyond the night she had smoothed S’eta’s hair and cooed soft words, all the time afraid.
And the light filled the room, and spread out.
Filling the platform, and then the building…
And the city beyond where the ruined building stood,
Out onto the sands and across the dunes, to the far edges of sand and stone and hillock or hill or Mountain that rose up out of the ground,
Over seas of mist that lingered on dried cracked clay shores,
To stubs of trees that twisted their trunks and branches out of the burnt soil and reached for a black, black sky and the dim, dim light beyond.
Until it encompassed the ruined world and the ruined air, and the ruined sky, reaching out into the cloud thinned reaches where space touched the once home world.
Until every pore of her, and every cell and her eyes and body were nothing but light.
Brighter and brighter,
Until it consumed the world and all it was.
And Teir’s consciousness fell away…
With soft words in her ears…
“I Tua’Eth and Teir… We are now One!...”
And she could feel them.
All of them.
And the sky was light and clear blue shone out of memory and memory became reality, and reality settled down into sky and dirt and shore and ocean and tree and bird sitting on the thin branch.
And she could feel them.
All Advent everywhere,
Those of the Advent, and those of the Unity, even the unseen felt her. Whether they believed, or did not believe, whether they professed or lived apart, whether they touched minds, or rendered thoughts into weapons or touched and made those incomplete whole, or whether they looked on the world and saw nothing beyond their own eyes, their own minds, their own hearts, they felt her.
And she them, all that they were,
Their hopes and fears, their concerns and their dreams, their small greeds and their meanesses and their pettinesses and their loyalty and their pride and their joy and their courage, and their bravery, and their selflessness and their compassion and their kindnesses, and their sympathies and their helping, and their working, and their sweat and their labor and their heartbeats beating in their chests, of children running and parks full of grass and days with the sunlight falling down and the nights cool and lingering on hot skin of sweethearts holding and gazing into each other’s eyes…
Teir turned away from the room and toward the door of the Arch then, and the sky was clear, tall white columns stood straight and noble, silent-
The woman behind her still stood, then began to fade.
“I have waited a thousand years … though the way has long been guarded by those that have had only their own designs… for one who would come, that I might pass on what we all were and are…”
Teir turned quickly back toward the woman, “But how can i…?”
“You are Empress now. My time is done. It is yours now. Do your best and try not to make the mistakes I made… love them and take care of them, and provide for them, and stand with them and beside them, and do not forsake them…”
The last words were a breath of a whisper on the wind…
A soft imperceptible breeze that stirred the soft white curtains at the windows and was then gone.
Teir moved through the Arch and the columns toward the edge of the platform and the stairs beyond,
In her mind she smiled as she felt the other small touch,
“Gelle!” She whispered.
“I’m sorry Gelle, I am so…. sorry.” Teir whispered.
“It is all right Teir…” Gelle smiled in Teir’s mind, “It is all right.”
Teir walked to the edge of the platform and gazed out over an empty but beautiful city, buildings of white standing clean and small or tall, fountains that spurted water in tall columns into the air to fall back down into white cisterns.
Trees dotted the edges of the city and beyond, a forest that lay on the edge of the sand, the desert that moved out away from the city toward the far ocean, gleaming wet in the clear blue and green light that fell out of the sky amidst white wisps of clouds.
She stood at the edge of the platform overlooking a new world.
She raised her hand then, the sleeve of her white gown falling back along her arm and turned her fingers.
Then in a blazing burst of light,