The Dark - By Marianne Curley
She screams. And her scream is heard from one end of the universe to the other. The words, ‘They will suffer,’ are wrenched from between purple lips. Lathenia, the Goddess of Chaos, stares through her sphere to the past. A sphere she uses to create enough chaos to alter the present and produce a future that will have the world at her feet.
As she watches, a young soldier of the Guard pierces her lover’s throat with his dagger for the second time. She screams again. How can her soldiers stand by and allow the only man she has ever loved to die? ‘How!’
Lathenia claws at the crystal with unnaturally-long fingers, leaving permanent indents. Finally, her body shudders, in time with her love’s last breath.
Silence fills the chamber. In slow motion her head lifts and scours the marble walls. Her silver eyes flash the colour of fire. ‘They will suffer!’
A shrunken man, elderly, with eyes that have seen far, and for too long, approaches carefully from behind. ‘Your Highness, might I have a word?’
Lathenia turns. Even in the midst of grief, her ethereal beauty cannot be concealed. ‘What is it, Keziah? Can’t you see what’s happening down there? They have killed him. Such a cunning ploy, to tempt him with the image of his own daughter! It is Arkarian’s plot. He is the mastermind of everything they do. He has tormented me for six hundred years too long!’
Keziah has seen his mistress angry before – many times – but this … this seeming loss of control is new to him. He shivers. Grief and passion make a volatile mix.
‘Tell me, Keziah, did Marduke not worship me? Why should the image of his daughter, a child he hasn’t seen for twelve years, distract him? It was a trick! What caused his blindness?’ Her eyes lower and she mutters, ‘Perhaps he still loved the woman who bore her.’
Keziah shrugs and tilts his head, snow-white hair drapes across one elevated, bony shoulder. ‘I know not, Highness, but now is not the time to doubt Marduke’s loyalty. He proved many times in the twelve years that he was your most adoring servant. You must return his mortal body, and do it quickly. Remember, he is in the past.’
She nods. Red hair, like silk woven straight from a caterpillar’s cocoon, drifts across her flawless skin. As she straightens to her full height, towering almost half a body length over Keziah’s ageing limbs, her fingers clench into tight fists. Returning to the sphere, she summons Marduke.
Even before his lifeless body completely forms before her, the Goddess moves to the crystal table and throws herself across his massive chest. Blood, still oozing from the knife wound to his throat, touches her hand. She wails, her grief a tangible entity in the circular chamber.
Once again Keziah approaches, and having known the Goddess his entire lifetime, a mere fraction of hers, he timidly touches her shoulder.
‘What is it!’
Keziah clears his dry and withered throat, ‘The others, Highness.’
Lathenia pierces him with blazing eyes. Keziah’s heart misses two beats in a row. ‘The injured, Mistress. We can’t let them die in the past, for they could all be healed in our chambers and be of use to you again. They are your soldiers and loyal to the cause.’
She nods, and Keziah’s lungs exhale. Returning to the sphere, she waves her hand over the crystal. The room fills with the sound of moaning, the heat of mortal flesh, the scent of sweat and blood as the Goddess’s soldiers materialise. One of them, a young man, approaches. He stops mid stride at the look in his Goddess’s eyes. It is a look of such distress, he feels that to continue holding her gaze would be a physical intrusion. He bows his head deeply, ‘Your Highness, what should we do with the injured?’
She flicks her hand at him. ‘Have you no sense, Bastian? Organise those still standing to carry the injured to the healing chambers.’
Bastian flicks an uncomfortable glance at the two lifeless bodies amongst them. ‘What about the dead?’ he whispers.
‘Leave them. Their souls are already wandering the middle realm.’
Bastian cringes at the thought. Though he knows little of this place called the middle realm, he knows it is another world entirely. Once, he thought there was only earth. He has learned a lot in his time with the Order. More than he could ever have learned if he had chosen to remain unenlightened.
As Bastian organises the removal of the injured, he realises one soldier