It had taken him three months to
craft such a fine tithing for the Lady. He sat at his worktable, head resting on
his clawed hand, contemplating over the work he had done. It was
beautiful, almost perfect. Well, perfect for what he could do. It was golden, delicate, with sapphires faceted within' it's body - a beautiful broach
of sorts for the Lady's hair - a hair-cage. If only he had hair, he could test it out, but the feathers didn't quite work the same. Yes, yes it
He stood on his two feet, and swept down to pick up the
delicate trinket, placing it in his silken satchel resting lightly at his side.
He swept up his semi-transparent garments, and flipped the end of the
long sash over his shoulder, which fell like a cloud down to the nook
of his arm. With every step he took, the garment flowed behind him like a mist -
and every step he took over the marbled mosaic road caused his claws to
make a light "clinking" sound - echoed in turn by the bells that hung off his
It was a long walk to the center of the city, but he dared
not fly - not quite enough room between the buildings - asside from which, he (like most) found it quite rude to the Lady - if you were to make the
journey to her temple, you should take the effort to walk, and fully
enjoy the sights of her city's beauty. And that's exactly what he did.
marvled at the pale blue, teal, and white marbling of the mosaic tiles beneth
his feet - the intricate designs that they made - the pearlescent sheen
over every piece of stone. He looked to the horizon, and marvled at the sunrise
- the beautiful hues of pink and lavendar that painted the sky. He
smiled at the thought that from here, he couldn't even see the land far below.
He looked at the towers all around him, the tall pillars, collumns, and
archways. The pyramids guarding almost every doorway. He stopped to touch the flowering plants of the gardens that lined every single edge of the
roadway - the curling fronds of the ferns, the delicate vines of the
white berry-producing Lady's Pearls.
He heard a familiar chime-like
sound, and looked to his left, seeing a sentry's trusty companion, a Torstea - a
delicate creature formed by the Lady, and for the Lady's people. No
doubt it would serve him or her in their pilgramage in the world below. Poor creatures, never knowing the blessings of the Lady. Oh, how he wished he
could have one though, but it was not his place to want - they were
given to those who served the Lady, and only those... did he not serve? One day,
he had hoped and prayed that she would notice his tithings, his
devotion, his want - and she would smile upon him so he could serve her better.
That's all he wished, was that so much to ask?
Ah - he'd
arrived. The line. As it was every day, the line leading up to the temple was
long, snaking it's way through the streets, each person of the city
anxiously awaiting thier turn to bow before the Lady - most carrying some sort
of tithing for her. With all of the tithings, surely there would be no
more places for her to put them - and her temple was certainly not cluttered, he
wondered often what she did with them - but it was not his place to
wonder, for she had powers beyond even his most wild of imaginings.
was a woman standing in front of him in the line, and having little else to look
at asside from the city he'd already stared at before - or the sunrise
which was quickly turning too bright to stare at, he contemplated her instead.
He smiled inwardly at himself at her form, and knew that the Lady knew
what she was doing when she saw fit to bless his people. Her feathers were soft
on the inside, and sharp at the edges - almost like a hawk. They were a
dusty brown, with red at the tips - and she saw so fit to decorate each
and every one with feather-dye, making an intricate swirling pattern of red to
match the tips, making her look even more delicate that he originally
thought. Her beak was curved at the tip, and deadly-sharp, her eyes the color of
spun gold, and her wingtips folded over one another quite neatly as she
stood there. On her head, clipped to the feathers there, she had a delicate piece of jewelry - and he wondered what her tithing must be, that could be
more beautiful than that.. more beautiful than her.
He shook his head to
clear his mind, it was not his place to think of such things - he'd yet to even
earn the direct blessing of the Lady - he was not satisfied with
himself yet, for as his Lady sought perfection, so did he - and as he had yet to
achieve even something similar to it, he was not yet "good enough" to
have such thoughts - he was not worthy. Oh, Lady, perhaps today would be the day.
When he finally did reach his turn at the temple, he passed
the deep blue stone, like sapphire, polished to a mirror-like finish so
that he could see himself as he walked - the flecks of silver in the stone
looked like stars. He smiled to himself at it's beauty, and concentrated on the floor, following the golden line that led up to the Lady's throne - he dared not look up to her, he daren't not offend.
Once he reached the symbol of the sun, he kneeled on the floor, spreading his
wings out wide, and low, letting them drape like a great cloak across
the floor - begging her to remove them should she deem fit, his head hung low,
his brow touching his knee, and both hands firmly planted on the floor
to balance himself.
"My Lady." he whispered, not wanting his voice to
break her thoughts.
He was going to reach into his pouch, and immediately pull out the trinket to leave at her feet, stand, his head still hung, and turn to take his leave of her has he had always done since the day he was old enough to come to the temple on his own accord - but today, it was different. Today, he heard a voice.
It was soft, and beautiful, a almost a trill within' it, like the sweetest of doves, "Your consistancy is comendable..."
That was when he was caught off guard, and he glanced up
at the source of the voice, he couldn't help himself - and he silently cursed himself for it - looking back to the floor, keeping his beak shut
and hoping he had not offended too greatly. But the deed was already
done, he had seen.
The vision of them was burned into his memory, and he
didn't even want it to be removed. Like a painting that would never leave - an engraving in the stone on every home's empty side, the murals that
depicted their devotions. She was like nothing he had ever seen. She
was... almost human. And the one who had spoken to him was the Zephyr, the wind
- the voice. She was the one of his
people who had been chosen to stand
at her side always - he had known of her... the white falcon. The hound sat at
her right, almost as sharp as the Zephyr. If he had looked longer, he
might have seen the spider perched upon the throne somewhere, but he
didn't - he knew she was there though. The avatars of the Lady - how had he been
so stupid as to look at them!
"You know," the voice broke the silence
again, a light chuckle in the air, "you are one of the few so humble... what did
you bring today, Kholu?"
He reached into his satchel now, and
pulled out his trinket, one one hand proud of the fact that it's sapphires
matched the floor on which now he kneeled, and cursing himself silently
for not having worked on it longer.. it was not yet perfect. He laid it on the
floor in front of him, and sat it directly in the center of the sun's
Then he felt it while he was distracted with his movements. A hand
upon his head. He knew it wasn't the Zephyr, and he wept silently. She
"Go now," the voice spoke again, "you've a duty awaiting
He bowed even lower, stood, turned on his heel, and strode again
across the temple's great hall toward the exit, pride swelling in his
chest to the part where he felt as though his heart would burst. And standing
there, waiting for him, for HIM at the entrance to the temple, was a
Torstea - it's rainbow-like hide shimmering in the sunlight that filtered in
through the great archways. It chimed at him, a series of noises that
pleased the ear, and he couldn't help but to smile. As he strode past it, it
turned without word, and followed him - for the Lady had given it to
The Sentries, Crusaders, and Pilgrims all met with him with open
arms - and they dawned him with his own equipment for better serving
the lady. The Legatus strode up to him, and handed him a curled scroll, his very
first orders. It was time it seemed, for him to see the Land below. He
wondered what it looked like - he'd heard of trees - trees that grew from the
ground - and numbered as many as the feather's on a man's back. He
heard of creatures that burrowed in the ground, and never knew to stride above
it. He heard of stones the size of a hundered cities combined, and
bodies of water that stretched as far as the sky itself. He was proud,
and very afraid.
His first orders, as it would seem, were the orders
of a Pilgrim. They were simple, and non-combatant. He was to travel down to the land below, and observe the world. Should he perform in combat in a way
not befitting of the Lady, he would be banished. He would be sure to
only defend himself - for one day, perhaps one day he would become a Crusader -
and there would be a time for combat.
He watched the Crusaders
as they suited up, they had already given their own tithings in a different way
- for they no longer needed to enter the temple for the Lady to know
their love - they only needed to kneel and pray (most had their own altars for
her tithings and devotion). They dawned their armor, mounted their
steeds, and took off to the sky - their steeds bounding on the air almost effortlessly as they strode toward the land far below. There was corruption
below they had to clense, and they would do so with the fury of a
As for him, he mounted his own steed - the feel of it
foriegn beneth him, clutched his new gear, and held onto the steel-like mane of his mount as it bounded off in it's own direction - taking him to
strange new places. It would be at least a year before he would see the
city again - and as the Lady had need of him, he didn't even stop to say
This was the happiest time of his life, and he was excited
already when he could return, to tell the fellow Sentries of his service, and kneel before the lady again.
street, from her own marbled yard with it's carved stone garden, Aulaa stood and
watched as the devout left for the day. It wasn't often that new devout
were chosen, but when they were, she always rolled her eyes and shook her
Reaching up, she petted the head of her faithful companion, the
Skeel - she named hers Tooka. Tooka was a much better pet than those
great Torstea anyway - at least her Tooka could fit in her house! She finished
her chores of plucking the ripe berries and nuts growing along her side
of the road, and placed them in the ivory basin to go on her table for dinner
Before she left her house, she knelt briefly at her shrine for
the Lady, lit another stick of insence, cleaned off the ashes from the old one, and added a single one of the ripest berries as a tithing. It wouldn't
be there when she got back, it never was... Was it the Lady? Or had
Tooka simply eaten it? Silly little Nautilidae, he was always causing mischief.
Now that her devotion had been performed, and her tithing had been made
- she touched her brow for the Lady, and left the house to go to
Not everyone could spend so much time in devotion - and she hardly
had time for lines. A woman had to sleep after all, and she had to work
as well - somebody had to make new clothes, do the pottery, mason the stone, go
down to the world below for new skystone! She was a humble woman for
sure, but she had work to do! Surely the lady, of all people (if one would dare
compare her to a person) would understand that - the city doesn't build
She passed by the line of hopefulls, and tried to ignore the
Crusaders as they rode off with their mounts, armor, and glaives - and silently prayed to the lady as she went to walked toward her place of