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~:: Destinies - Chapter I::~
The rich smell of exotic spices hung sweetly cloying in the heavy air of the tiny run down hut. The day had been warm. Even as the fingers of dusk had begun to wrap themselves around the small hovel, the heat remained stifling. The young girl ran barefoot through the vacant dusty street and burst through the door, hugging the older woman seated at a low table. The mother sighed deeply and reached out a gnarled hand to smooth the wild red mane of her beloved child. "My dear," she said, softly, "I wish I could protect you and keep you from all of the things in this world that would harm you. But alas, it is not within my power to do so. Nor is it in your destiny. All that I can give you is my insight and pray protection upon you."
"I must go soon, mother," the child said somberly. "You
knew this already."
"Yes, my child, of course I did," her mother nodded wisely.
"My DeLara... my beloved, you have many gifts to offer. It would be selfish of me
to expect you to remain here and waste them."
"I will miss you, but there is an urging within me" the girl
Her mother nodded. Shanabethe knew her little girl all too well.
"Now is the time for you to become an
adult. There are some things I must tell you," she began slowly. "Sit at my
feet, my child, and I will start from the beginning..."
"In the beginning of our
time on this world, before the deluge, there were those who were called the
Watchers. I prefer to call them the Adversaries. They were at
one time, among the most beautiful servants of the Creator, and thus became
vain, and arrogant. When the Creator formed the race of Humans, he bade all his
creations to pay homage to his beloved new children. These vain beings
refused. He banished them from His
presence. They became angry and vowed revenge. The humans were the Creators
most beloved work, and the plan was laid to set them upon a path of
disobedience and self-destruction.
"Many of these Fallen Ones
lived among us. Some of us saw through their disguises, and knew them for what
they were, but others were fooled. They claimed to be benevolent, bearing gifts
and imparting supposed wisdoms. They found females among the humans, that they
desired, and who bore them children. The children born of these unions were
exceptional... to stay the least.
"You, my child, are one of these children. Like my mother before me, I am one
of the ageless ones. I was gifted with a special insight. Many call me a
seer, or a sibyl. The demon Azazel was one of the Fallen, bent on the
corruption and destruction of the human race. He taught the humans how to take
metal from the earth and forge it into ornaments of vanity, and into weapons of
war. He instilled the women with vanity and taught them to paint up their
faces to inspire the lust of the men. Throughout the years, all those of our
bloodline prophesied against him and the destruction he wrought, and thus he
sought to eliminate all of us, for enlightening the humans to his true nature.
"I found favor in the
sight of the Creator, because I kept my heart Pure, and was given a Guardian to
watch over me. I had to wander from place to place, making it difficult for the
wise men to seek my counsel. I came to hide in this very town, where you were
later to be born. I received a message that my own mother had come under attack
from Azazel's wicked forces, and I bid the Guardian to go to her and protect
her from harm. While I was traveling across the desert plains alone, Azazel
himself caught me. He told me he was going to destroy me for revealing his true
motives. He vowed to make me suffer long for my transgression of prophecies
against him. He tormented me in many ways, for what seemed an eternity." Here,
she paused, as a lump caught in her throat, and her eyes filled with tears. "I
will not describe all that happened on that fateful day, but had my Guardian
not returned with a host of Guardians..." her voice cracked and faltered, "...they
were able to drive him away, but not before he left me with a small, lasting
DeLara sat, silently,
studying the intense pain etched deep into her mother's visage as she continued
"When I knew it was near my time, I returned to this place. I knew the child I
was carrying was conceived of a great evil, but I could not bring myself to
even think of causing your destruction, as many of my peers advised me to do.
The day you were born, as I labored quietly in much travail, I cried out to
the Creator. I vowed that if He would bring you forth, alive, and impart into
you a Pure Heart rather than one of evil, I would give you to Him, for whatever
purpose He might have you to serve. You were born and I kept you carefully
hidden, both from the humans and from the Adversaries.
"I raised you from your
birth, as best as I could, to be kind, loving, and brave. You have a capacity
for love that is beyond the understanding of most humans, and a second sight
that allows you to see the needs of others. And unlike me, you have
extraordinary powers, which you have inherited from your father. This will
enable you to go forth, helping as many as you can. Such is your destiny in
this world. Now is the time for you to fulfill the vow that was made when you
were born. You must go and do what you can to mitigate the suffering that
your father, and others like him, have inflicted upon the people of this
Her child was deep in
thought, absorbing this information, reaching up to the top of her head to
absently stroke one thick, curved horn with her soft fingertips. She looked at
her mother, and nodded. "This explains these," she said, patting first one of
her horns, then the other.
Shanabethe nodded, and tears filled her eyes once more. "When you were small
and they first started to grow, I was horrified. Every time I looked at you it
reminded me of..."
She turned her face away to hide the depth of her pain, but it was no use. Her
child picked up the emotion even without using visual sight, and it ran through
her like a dull sword. She reached out to her mother and offered her embrace.
Opening her arms, Shanabethe drew her child close, and rocked gently. "I
cringed every time I looked at you, for the longest time. This brought on so
many terrible feelings of guilt. I felt my love for you was failing somehow."
"Oh, mother, how can you think this?"
DeLara cried. "I know you love me!"
"My darling girl! I named
you DeLara, which means, in the tongue of my ancestors, 'beloved,' for a
reason." Her mother smiled a sad smile.
At that moment, Dee, as her mother sometimes affectionately called her, realized
something. Her mother rarely smiled, and when she did, it was always a very sad
smile. It dawned on her that her mother must have seen some very terrible
things over the course her lifetime. Suddenly she was very grateful that she
hadn't inherited her mother's gifted insight in its entirety.
"There is more I must tell
you before you go, my child," her mother continued. "Your father didn't stop
there. His prowess among human females is legendary. I would venture to guess
that you have many half-siblings. You have one in particular - a half-sister
who is in grave danger. This is to be your first task in the fulfillment of
"This girl was the product of a night
of wanton passion between Azazel, and a priestess of the Amazons. The Amazons
worshipped these Demons, and her mother summoned Azazel in a quest for
supernatural carnal pleasures. She lay with him until she had conceived the
child, and once the child was born, a debate ensued as to who would raise the
child once she was weaned. The Demon took the child for a while, but brought
her back to her mother for reasons no one seems to understand. Her mother
raised her to be a fierce warrior, and when she came of age, the child rebelled
against the wicked ways of her parents, and was cast out from the tribe for her
kind and peaceful ways.
"She has been wandering
ever since, but her father - your father - seeks to control her. She is very
beautiful, and it is his wish that she help him lure more humans down the path
to destruction. I will give you an amulet that will help you on your journey
and guide you to the girl. Your father has sent his underlings to corrupt her
and cause her to fall under his command, or failing that, to destroy her. It
will fall to you to give her the strength to make the right decisions. But my
child..." her voice trailed to a whisper, and tears stung her eyes.
"What is it, mother?"
Her mother took a deep breath and continued, "Sometimes, seeing what is to come is such a curse. You
will be in much danger, and the fact remains that your sister is destined to
fall to her evil nature in spite of your sacrifices."
She looked at her mother, wide-eyed, and asked, "Why, then, should I even
undertake this task? What good will come of it?"
"Because," her mother
said firmly, "it is what is ordained for you. This will shape your destiny as
much as it will shape hers. And destinies can be changed. It isn't always easy
or likely, and often takes a very powerful force, but it can be done."
Dee shook her head,
wishing that her mother would be less cryptic at times. Her mother placed her
hands upon her child's face and looked deep into her eyes. "The time has
come," she intoned, somberly. "There is someone you must meet."
Shanabethe stood and
turned to face the wall. She raised her hands in the air, and uttered something
that DeLara could not understand. Suddenly, the room was lit up brighter than
if they were outside in full daylight. As her eyes struggled to adjust, DeLara
saw a shape taking form, in the haze of bright light. A stunning creature
appeared before them, and in a second flash, another joined him.
Her mother nodded to the first creature. DeLara knew this must be the Guardian,
of which she had spoken. He was more beautiful than any creature she'd ever
seen. Suddenly, an overwhelming warmth and light filled the room, blinding
them. As her eyes adjusted, she could see that many others had now arrived.
His voice was the most
beautiful harmonious sound. Looking into DeLara's eyes, he spoke gently "We are
the Guardians. I have kept watch over your mother for many years. The time has
come for you to strike out on your own and fulfill the destiny that the
Creator has ordained for you. He has sent one to watch over you, as well." He
nodded towards the being that was hovering on his right.
Shanabethe squeezed her
daughter's hand and smiled. Dee was clearly overwhelmed. Before this day, she
was a simple girl who lived alone with her poor mother in the nearly abandoned
village of Endur. Now she was being sent on a quest to help a sister whom
she'd never met, accompanied by this being she didn't know.
Her Guardian smiled at
her and put forth his hand and touched her temple softly. "Bid your goodbyes
to your mother. We are about to embark on the first of many journeys."
Dee turned to her mother, threw her arms around her, hugged her and wept
upon her breast. "Do not cry, my small one," Shanabethe told her. "You will
return to me someday, and I shall be happy and proud."
Turning to her daughter's
Guardian, she smiled. "Keep watch over her, as he," nodding in the direction of
her own Guardian, "has kept watch over me."
She kissed her daughter on
the cheek, and waved her hands. The Guardian put his hands on her tiny
daughter's shoulders, and once again, blinding light flooded the room.
However, this time, when her eyes adjusted, her mother was gone. She was alone
with her Guardian. And she had no idea where they were. She looked around,
dazed by the sudden change in her environment. It appeared they were in a large