The Golden Gates of Anamara

June 29, 2008
By Jocelyn Dugan, Christiansburg, VA

She stepped onto the flat roof courtyard, and quickly crossed to the wall overlooking the City. The usually clear horizon was smudged with the bodies of men, approaching in orderly lines and the last of the sunlight gleaming off of their weapons. They were far enough away to look like toys, and close enough to kill all that she had created, enough to ruin everything.

There really was only one solution.

Her hands deftly untwined the gold chains that pulled her heavy hair off of her neck and away from her face. She dropped the precious metal to the ground carelessly, and her hair fell to her knees in dark ribbons, catching the light like the silver of the swords that marched closer. She kept her eyes on the enemy army, and her fingers found the clasp of her overcoat and then bared the delicate skin of her throat and arms to the sun. Faster and faster, her fingers found the laces and buckles of her robes, until finally, the last layer of silk fell to her feet in a shining puddle.

She raised her eyes to the golden skies, and the light fell over her skin, turning her into a statue of metal, a woman of immeasurable strength. A force of the Goddess. Her lips moved in silent supplication, and her hands moved in the Ritual motions that she knew so well. There was only one chance; she must have enough time to complete the Final Act of the Great Goddess.

Far below, the people that she protected raced into the Walls of the City. Soldiers flew along the battlements, and somewhere in the Temple, she could hear the crying voices of the Supplicants, crying for the Goddess, crying for protection.

“Where is the Mother?” a voice cried out. Immediately, a hundred voices picked up the chorus, but the woman on the roof continued her prayer, her deft fingers making the Holy Signs over her naked body and then flicking to the sky where the Gods and Goddesses reigned over the Earth.

“Mother Arial?” they cried. “Mother? We have need of you!”

The woman, Arial, rose from her knees and took one last look at the City far below her. The buildings shone in the last hour of sunlight, and if it had not been for the crush of people in the streets, the picture would’ve been a beautiful one.

The enemy army had reached the Great Gates and she could hear the distant boom as they forced entry. Time was falling fast through her fingers, like so much silk ribbons, like a wisp of incense smoke during prayer.

She began to sing the Holiest of Songs. Her voice was clear and steady, but she could not stop the tears that brimmed over her pale cheeks, and fed the dry ground. Her voice lifted and the women and men of the Goddess heard her Song, and they knew what it meant. The Supplicates kneeled, as easily as if they were in Noon Prayer, and joined her Song, their voices giving sweet harmony, and spreading the melodies across the City where the enemy heard it and howled back, like the animals that they were.

The final note rose to the skies, and then, as if planned by the Gods themselves, the Great Gate burst open and Death flooded in.

Far above them, the woman that was Arial, the Mother to the Supplicants, the One who could speak to the Goddess Herself, rose a fist to the sky, and screamed the words of the Final Act. She stepped into the pool that stood in the center of the courtyard, and then her fist flew down to Earth, and she slipped the ivory knife of Sacrifice into her ribs…

The king, the great warrior king that had watched the Gates fall and knew victory found her himself. He had raced up the stairs, throwing aside the Supplicants that still kneeled on the marble floors. He knew what the song that had crossed the City meant, and he intended to stop it. He ran faster and faster, his great sword sending bolts of light to flicker across the walls, and then he was at the door, and with a great kick and heave was on the roof of the beautiful Temple and then he howled at the sky, and the soldiers of his army heard it and mistook it for victory and howled with him, and the Supplicants smiled and knew joy and grief all at once.

The warrior flung himself into the pool and swam to the floating body of the Mother. He stood over her wet limbs, and his clothes were stained with the red of her Sacrificed Blood. Her dark hair cut the red into black ribbons, and he bent over the woman and knew she was still alive, even if it was just a second longer.

“You are too late Damar.” She whispered to him, and then she took a deep breath and said, with all the strength that she could, cried out, “Mnaha, ley ut Fhey.” And then died and he felt his bones turn to fire, and he screamed and his soldiers screamed as they felt their blood boil in their veins, and their organs burst inside of their doomed bodies. The king burned alive inside and the Goddess far above in the Golden Skies wept for her favorite Child and smiled at her Holy Revenge.

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