The Rising – part 9 – final chapter

The Rising – part 9 – final chapter (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
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Eeta half carried the exhausted Priestess as they hurried down the passageway. Reaching an opening where three forks connected, Eeta stopped.

“By the Goddess, are we lost?” A stream of loose rocks and dirt slid down the rockface beside her. “Gata, do you have any idea where we are? I can barely see my feet.”

The big cat circled the wide opening and sniffed at each passageway.
“I can smell the palace,” she said. “This way.” She padded lightly down the narrowest opening. Slowly the other two stumbled after the big cat until they reached the string they had left behind. They followed it gratefully to the steps leading up into the palace.

Exhausted and covered in dirt, they climbed out of the opening at the altar and emerged into the shrine. It was dawn, realized Eeta as she glanced at the sky above. They had been underground for hours.

The Priestess stood, swaying on her feet. “I must face the blessed people,” she said. Leaning on the sceptre, she walked through the hall of pillars and appeared in the entry to the court. The crowd had dissipated with the rumblings of the earth and the coming of dawn. The few worshippers remaining rose to greet her hopefully. Together they walked across the court to the north entrance. Outside, they gazed across the plain toward the north.

“We have performed the sacred rites and the Goddess has answered us,” the Priestess said. “Behold the mist rises.” A deep rumble echoed over the land as steam poured from vents across the valley. Potnia collapsed in relief, her purpose fulfilled. The springs would again flow freely over the land. The release of holy spores would float across the valley like a silver cloud, landing on the olea trees, ensuring prosperity and continued life of Eterkians once again.

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The Rising – part 8

The Rising – part 8 (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)

”Good, you are already here,” she said to Eeta and Gata who waited in the shadows. “Doera, assist me with the entrance and we will pass through.”

Together, they spoke the words:

“Grant us entry, by the old Gods and the new,
Gaia, mother of Eterkians, giver of life, we implore you, grant us entry.
Rhea, mother of Gods, we implore you, grant us entry.
Cybele, mother of the mountains, we implore you, grant us entry.”

With a deep grinding, the large stone behind the altar slid back to reveal an opening. Eeta took a step back and the fur on Gata’s back rose as her ears flattened. Without hesitation, Potnia moved toward the entrance.

It was dry in the passageway but musty; the air was stale. Wide steps carved into the rock led down. Doera knew the way so she entered first, carrying the Rhyton. It cast a blue glow on the surrounding rock walls. Potnia followed closely; she carried the sceptre and using her senses, she felt her way over the stones. Eeta tied a piece of thin line to the altar and entered, with Gata close behind, alert to any danger.

The journey to the sanctuary was long and the trail was crisscrossed with other passages. They became disoriented as they descended, the weight of the rocks above pressed on them, the air smelled of old rags and tasted of copper. At each new passageway, Doera paused in thought and then chose a fork, constantly muttering to herself. Eeta doubted that the old servant knew where they were going. She reached the end of her line and let it drop, wishing she had brought a longer one. Gata sensed the change first, her pace quickened and then they all could smell it; a waft of fresh air floated toward them. They had arrived at the opening to a large cavern. There was a soft glow in the deep and she realized this was the sanctuary.

“Stay here,”said Potnia, “only a Priestess and her servant are needed here. We will call if your assistance is required.”

Potnia and Doera slowly proceeded to the altar in the center of the cavern and placed the Rhyton in a stand that was chiseled in the smooth polished surface. Doera arranged several containers and a shallow vase on a low flat stone. The hole in the bottom of the Rhyton was directly over a deep, narrow opening. The Priestess looked up and saw the source of the light; an opening revealed stars in the bright sky. The edge of the full moon was visible.
“It’s almost here, quickly, the essence.” Doera handed her a vial, which Potnia hastily swallowed. Her eyes turned blue, like the lotus. She opened the pyxis and touched the ointment with the first two fingers on her right hand. She brushed her temples, feeling the tingle as her senses responded. A stream of sharp lights swirled around her head. She applied more ointment and held her hands over the Rhyton, filling it with light.
The sacred vessel vibrated with a faint hum. She reached out and felt others beside her; the Long Dead were here. The Priestesses were coming together as well. She welcomed them individually, each a familiar soul, sisters of another life. Potnia felt the Rhyton hold the mind-link; the stone gathered the energy, focusing it toward the bottom hole.
As the moon reached its zenith over the opening in the ceiling above them, a beam of silver moonlight shot down into the Rhyton. A drift of light swirled around it as the stone vessel glowed. Potnia held out her hands and added all of her strength. A thin line of light began to seep out of the bottom.
“It’s not enough,” said the Priestess; despair echoing in her voice.
Doera stepped forward, a dagger in her hand. “Eeta, help me,” she said, “the Rising wants the blood of a priestess. I will suffice. It is my destiny.”
Eeta rushed to her side as Doera leaned over a shallow vase and slit her wrists. “Oh Goddess, here is my blood and breath, I surrender life and follow you to join the spirits of the Long Dead.” Dark fluid poured from the deep incisions as Eeta held her upright. The blood mingled with the swirling light as Doera’s spirit joined the dead. Eeta lay her down gently near the table. She lifted the vase and poured the blood into the Rhyton.
A blast of light and a percussion of sound boomed in the chamber. The swirling air sucked into a vortex and rushed through the Rhyton into the earth, dissipating in a shock wave under their feet. A low deep rumble began and small stones fell from the ceiling.
Eeta picked up the sceptre and handed it to the Priestess. “We have to get out of here,” she shouted, as she lifted her, wrapping her arm around her shoulders. Together they stumbled toward the exit.

The Rising – part 7

The Rising – part 7 (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
The night of the moon had arrived and many Eterkians were gathered quietly in the central court. The altar had been cleared of offerings and was covered with a blue cloth, its golden threads tracing a pattern of leaves and spirals. They watched their Priestess proceed to the altar and walk in a sacred circle, tracing the footprints of the past. She was followed by Doera, who carried the Sanctuary Rhyton; the three pieces had been joined together, completing the sacred vessel. Faint wisps of blue smoke drifted from its rim.
As the sweet smell of burning essence filled the air, the blessed people stood waiting to receive a share of the spicy substance. Each person present would partake and experience the visions of the Priestess as she traveled to the sacred cave. The moon climbed higher. A beam of light fell on the altar. The people began to chant:
“The surface rises to the moon.
Now we connect our spirits.
Now we gather strength.
Together we are strong.
We surrender breath and blood.
Oh Priestess gather us.
Take us to the Sanctuary.
Our lives are yours.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.”
Potnia raised her sceptre toward the crowd. A pulse of energy hit the leopard head. She could feel her senses awaken.
“The Rising begins, I feel the lifting of the mist and the renewal of the holy spores. I gather your blessed spirits in the Sanctuary Rhyton. Now we journey to the sanctuary where our ancestors will reveal the secrets of the Long Dead. Together we will join them and travel to honor the Goddess.” As the crowd cheered, Potnia turned, proceeded into the hall of pillars and entered the shrine.

The Rising – part 6

The Rising – part 6
(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
 
**
It was a closely guarded secret. Below each of the palaces were caves connected by labyrinthine tunnels that spider webbed the subsurface. Long dark passages wandered like underground roads to join the palaces together. In neolithic times, these tunnels were well known to their cave dwelling ancestors but as they moved into huts on the surface, the passages were forgotten by most.
The Priestesses had not forgotten; they used the tunnels to form the mind-link needed for a Rising. Each Priestess would descend into the depths, bringing items of spiritual strength that they had prepared. There they would anoint themselves, ingest the essence and perform the rites of the sanctuary cave. If successful, the mind-link would trigger a fruitful Rising, which would sustain and nourish Eterk for egons.
The entrance to the tunnel in Asimali Palace was hidden in the second shrine past the hall of pillars. It was accessed using the sacred words, known only to the Priestess and her servant who was once a Priestess herself.
**

The Rising – part 5

The Rising – part 5

(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
 
Potnia, the Priestess of Asimali, was seated on an ornately carved wooden throne with two leopards lying at her feet. They were in a large room in the east side of the palace. As Gata entered, the leopards lifted their heads and watched her closely. Potnia held a sceptre; a wooden staff topped with a stone leopard axe. The stone was intricately carved, infused with the spirit of Cybele, mother of the mountains.
 
“Announcing Eeta of the Artisan’s district of Malia, and her Companion Gata,” said Doera formally.
Both Eeta and Gata bowed deeply and waited.
 
“Rise, there’s no need for such formality. Welcome friends. What word do you bring of our sister palace? Eeta, bring me the stone, we’ve been waiting for you,” said Potnia. “Doera, bring refreshments for our visitors. We will be more comfortable here,” she said, moving to the less formal seating area along one side of the room. Her leopards followed closely, arranging themselves at her feet.
 
“Here is the last piece of the Rhyton,” said Eeta, unwrapping the package. She placed a gilded stone collar on the low table. “I apologise for being late. We were attacked by bandits on the road.”
 
“Bandits, curse them. Taking advantage of the Rising. They know travelers bring valuable gifts for the Goddess. I will place extra patrols on the road. You are not hurt?”
 
“No, thanks to my dagger and to Gata of course,” said Eeta, smiling at her companion.
 
“Well, thanks be to you Gata, this piece of stone is essential to us. You may have saved Eterk,” said Potnia, caressing the greenish gold carvings. A soft blue light emanated from her fingers. “I trust you have the other as well?”
 
“Yes,” said Eeta, placing the essence on the table. “It’s from Manos of the Minarun family. The best in the land.”
 
“Wonderful,” said the Priestess. “Stay close my friends, I may have need of your assistance later tonight. My servant is strong but the power of this Rhyton is great and the road we must take is long and dark. Will the two of you accompany us into the cave? Meet us in the second shrine past the hall of pillars.”
 
“Of course my Priestess, we will do whatever you need,” said Eeta. “We are here to serve you.”
 
Leaving the Priestess to prepare for the ceremony, Eeta and Gata walked through the central court to the workshops at the south of the square. They greeted their friends and visited with them in the reception area until the sun was about to set. Then they sought out the shrine in the west wing and waited.

The Rising – part 4

The Rising – part 4

(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
 
Doera was worried. She had reassured the Priestess but she wasn’t sure where the vessel was. The time was near, and her senses were no longer strong enough to feel the stone collar. It must arrive in time, she thought. It has to.
 
The Sanctuary Rhyton was the most powerful vessel in Eterk. Carved out of hard green stone and covered with gold, the vessel was made in three pieces. The pieces were stored separately when it was not being used, so that its focus was divided. The Rhyton was always wielded by the strongest Priestess as it concentrated mind-link energy into a thin stream and it took great power to control it. Potnia had two of the pieces and was waiting for the stone collar to complete the vase.
 
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Arriving at the northern entrance of Asimali Palace, Eeta paused to admire the clean lines of the pillars and the buildings against the southern sky. Crowds had gathered in the north and were moving through the theatre to the palace gate. Walking through the winding north entrance hall, they were leaving offerings on the altar in the central court. Palace record keepers watched carefully, marking notes and names on a tally sheet.
Asimali Palace acted as a source of food and materials needed to balance out the highs and lows of the seasons, the harvest and the whims of the the Gods. Some years there was a generous harvest, some years were leaner, but with the grace of the Goddess, there was oil for Eterkians and as long as the springs provided, the crops received water.
Leaving the merchant, Eeta and Gata approached the north gate to request an audience with the Priestess.
She extended her hands in a greeting. ‘Hail and blessed be.’
‘Hail be to you,’ replied the gatekeeper, gesturing in return.
“I am Eeta of the Artisan’s district of Malia, and this is my Companion, Gata. The esteemed Priestess is expecting our arrival.”
“Welcome, we have been watching for you for two days now. The Priestess will be pleased. Follow me.”
The gatekeeper led the travelers across the center court to the east wing and the personal chambers of the Priestess. Together they walked up the steps through the hall of columns into a small reception room.
From where she sat Eeta could see the large leopard fresco that covered the outer wall of the banquet hall on the north end of the court. She was reminded of the griffon fresco in the throne room of the palace of the Snake Priestess in the north. The three leopards in this painting wore golden collars and were lounging around a pool filled with blue lotus flowers. Unlike the more common white lotus, the blue lotus were said to have a spiritual meaning of ascension, enlightenment and rebirth.
“This will be quick I hope,” said Gata, pacing restlessly. “ I don’t like being inside this place. There are too many spirits here and their stench bothers my nose.”
“It won’t be long,” said Eeta. “I don’t like the crowds either but this is an important time for the land. I sense that we will both be needed here tonight. This Priestess has a rare mind mastery for such a young novice. My mistress told me she may need our guidance.”
An old woman wearing white robes entered the room and gestured to them to follow. “The Priestess is ready to receive you,” she said.

The Rising -part 3

The Rising – part 3
(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)

Potnia of Asimali was the Priestess of the Palace of the Leopard. Bound by birth to live there, she devoted her life to the Goddess, gathering and focusing her thoughts, aiming for mastery of her mind. She was the strongest Priestess on Eterk, despite her youth.

Since the last shaking of the earth, the springs no longer gushed over the basin when it rained and the Eterkians were worried. They counted on the Rising to bring renewal and to replenish the earth. The Rising occurred once an egon and was presided over by the mind-link of the Priestesses. The success of each Rising depended on the quality of the offerings and the purity of the mind-link between the Priestesses.

Dressed in a soft flowing gown, Potnia stood quietly as her maidservant, Doera, fastened a necklace of faience and glass around her slender neck. Doera used a pair of tweezers to gently pull a stray hair from the eyebrow of the young Priestess.
“Enough!” Potnia said impatiently, and stepped into the lustral basin. She selected a small container of ointment from the table in the corner. Lightly touching the ointment with two fingers on her right hand, she brushed her temples, feeling the familiar tingle as her senses responded. A shiver of lights whirled in a soft cloud around her.

“Where is the last piece of the sacred vessel? We need the stone to properly channel the energy of the mind-link. It cannot be contained by mere clay.”
“Rest easy blessed one. It is near. I feel the pieces coming together,” said Doera.

Potnia relaxed and let herself sink into the swirling light. Falling into a trance she felt the spirit of Cronus speak. “The Bull is failing us, the Panther must find a way. Your sister of the Priesthood, the Snake Priestess, is losing her powers even as yours are becoming stronger. You must find the way to strengthen the mind-link or the Rising will be lost.”

Tree Brossard's photo.
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The Rising – part 2

The Rising – part 2

(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
 
Entering a narrow part of the road, the travelers were forced to move in single file. Eeta felt a whoosh as a two headed axe flew by her head and landed in the trunk of a nearby tree with a thunk. Manos shouted a warning but was quickly silenced as a bandit cracked him over the head with his staff.
Eeta whirled, blade already drawn as she ducked in and stabbed the second attacker just as he swung his staff. Swearing, he tried again but Gata leaped out of the shadows, knocking him down. The big cat tore at his throat as he screamed in terror, kicking and vainly trying to escape.
Eeta stepped toward the axe thrower; he turned and fled. Kneeling beside Manos, she wiped his face as he began to moan.
“Thank the Goddess you were with me. They would have finished me for sure. I am grateful to you both,” said Manos. He looked at Gata with a friendlier eye as she cleaned her whiskers with her huge paws.
 
“Can you walk?” asked Eeta. “Let’s get you to your brother. It will be night soon and there might be more of them coming.” She wiped her dagger and slid it back into her belt.
 
“By the Gods Manos, what happened to you,” said Mano’s brother when they arrived at the cave. “Send for the healer,” he called to his wife.
 
Returning, she offered Eeta and Gata a plate of bread and cheese. When their hunger was satisfied, she showed them to a small, tidy room and they gratefully settled in for the night.
 
The Minarun family traded goods created by talented artisans from Eterk as well as more distant lands. Wide shelves filled with goods lined the back wall of a large room at the entrance to their cave. There was much to see and Eeta took her time as she examined the wares. There was a collection of lovely beaked jugs next to a stack of bronze daggers similar to hers. She admired a unique rhyton with a starburst pattern and sea shells along the bottom and a necklace with beautiful shiny beads. Each piece was carefully crafted and the makers mark was visible inside. Eventually, she purchased some essence and tucked it in the bottom of her pack.
Manos carefully placed a special item in the side bag on the donkey’s back. It was an old set of mosaic tiles shaped like houses. Handling them gently, he told her they were made of faience, a rare copy of tiles that were said to belong to an important Priestess who once lived at the Snake palace. He was bringing them to Asimali Palace as an offering. Eeta marveled at the tiles, especially the beautiful finish.
 
“We’d better get going,” she said. “There’s just enough time to get to the palace before nightfall and I really don’t want to run into any more bandits.”

The Rising -part 1

The Rising part 1

(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)

It had been a long day and Eeta was tired. She climbed down to the spring and took a long drink of the cool water. Looking down the valley she saw a small cart winding along the narrow road from the north. An old man was leading a donkey; they carried large parcels, probably trade goods from the workshops at the Snake Palace.
Her companion, a large tawny cat with lotus blue eyes, finished drinking and stretched out in the shade of the trees along the banks of the pool.
“It’s not much further,” said Eeta, ”We should get to the palace by tomorrow.”
Gata stretched her lithe body and purred, “there’s no hurry, the night of the moon is yet to approach the zenith. I feel the Rising; it’s coming soon but we still have time to reach her.”
Since nascence, Eeta had heard the stories of the Rising, but she had yet to experience one. Her mother had told her about the coming together of the people of the island of Eterk and the surrender of their breath and blood. As a young girl, she had imagined the descent of the priestesses into the land of the Long Dead and the release of holy spores that would float across the valley like a silver cloud. Eeta was thrilled that she might witness the ritual. It was even more exciting because she had met the Leopard Priestess the last time she had visited the palace. She was bringing her a special stone collar and needed to arrive before the ritual could begin.
Sighing, she picked up her pack and climbed up the sharp rocks to the side of the cobbled road. The old man had almost reached them and she wanted to talk to him.
‘Hail and blessed be,’ she said, extending both hands in a downward gesture of greeting.
‘Hail be to you,’ he replied, gesturing in return. He eyed Gata warily, not comfortable in the presence of such a large cat.
“We were wondering if you knew where we could trade for some fresh essence for the coming celebration? It’s hard to find in the east.”
“Times have been thin for all of us,” he replied, “I know my brother can help you. His home is near the gorge, on the way to the valley below the palace.
“Company on the road is always welcome,” said Eeta, “we are traveling that way.” As they walked together, Gata followed at a distance, staying in the shade of the forest.
“Let me tell you about my family,” the man said, “it will help pass the time. I am Manos, son of Minarun, the eldest in my family and I’m responsible for our business. My brother and I have been trading our family’s essence for many years. The women take the harvest and use an old family recipe to make the best essence you’ve ever had. It’s pure, not like goods sold by others. They’ll mix it with anything, you have to be careful.”
“That is good news,” said Eeta, adjusting her heavy pack. I was hoping to find some for the Priestess. Pure essence always helps enhance a ceremony.”
She glanced up and saw Gata silently following in shadows of the thick underbrush.