It had been hectic day in Kara’tul with the attacks of vengeful desert people and the frantic efforts of the sauri to perform the ritual that would avert the dreaded eclipse of the sun. But when the attacks of the desert people ceased, the swamps of Meya-Tula were silent once again.
The surviving heralds of X’un retreated into their homes, confused by the events of the past two days, the destruction of their temple and the death of the high priest X’ito and the Axis herself. Only As’uac, the watcher of stars, showed himself to wish the travellers a bitter farewell.
“Go, ingrateful disbelievers, and never return. Go, and know that you were received with hospitality but you replied only with suspicion, hate and destruction. No saurus will welcome you, or he will be cursed by X’un. We will spread the stories of your atrocities among the tribes we know, so that they will be warned. Go now and leave us to our misery.”
As the group of travellers started to walk away, following their guide Felix Furian, Amelie looked back at the ruins of the temple and the pires where the bodies of the sauri and the desert people were burned. She wondered if there wasn’t something she could have done to prevent this. If there wasn’t something she could do to make it right again. Her body was bruised from the weapons of the desert people but her heart hurt far more.
She remembered what she had told Fergus this morning; that Morrigan would be proud to have him as a priest, for he had a real talent for causing chaos and destruction. Morrigan would be pleased with what had happened to Kara’tul and its people. Amelie couldn’t help but feel guilty knowing that she too was responsible. As a priestess of Morrigan, she knew it wasn’t her job to destroy everything in sight, but to ponder destruction and its consequences, to take responsibility for the chaos and console people in the aftermath. Destruction is not a reason in itself, it is a fact of life, a burden to bear.
Kahndor turned around and looked at Amelie. His axe hung loosely over his shoulder and his beard obscured the expression on his face. Only his warm brown eyes showed that he was worried about Amelie. He motioned her to follow and she nodded and started to walk. It is not destruction unless someone is hurt, she reminded herself, and if none of the travellers seemed to care, she would. She understood the full gravity of what had happened here, and she was prepared to face the consequences.
As the group advanced into the swamps, and Felix Furian reminded everyone to be mindful of the thick mud and sinkholes, Amelie and Kahndor exchanged a look. Kahndor’s conscience didn’t seem as heavy as Amelie’s. When she asked him what he thought, the dwarf replied:
“They have no one to thank but themselves. Worshipping the sun is one of the stupidest, most ignorant things a tribe could do. Superstition and the worship of objects have no place in our modern world. This could all have been prevented if knowledge was freely available and people were taught to inform themselves before passing judgement.”
Amelie nodded silently. No sense in dwelling on what might have been. It was time to look forward. She noticed that some of the people in front of them stared at her as she walked next to Kahndor, and she realised that they both carried their axe over their shoulder in a similar way. That they both had a similar serious and thoughtful outlook on life. And neither of them had ever been very romantic.
Amelie was pleased that she was no longer alone. The journey that lay before them would be an interesting one.