Moregon, Part 1
Copyright (c) Lila Dubois 2007. This is unedited, and I am an infamously bad self editor, so read at your own risk.
This story takes place as Moregon is chosen to be the fifth and final Zinah, several years before the start of Forbidden.
It was an honor to be chosen.
To serve the Temple was to bring great honor to his family. From the moment of his birth, all who saw Moregon said he was destined to be a warrior, and he’d grown up wearing the burden of those expectations as a mantle across his board shoulders.
But this honor was beyond dreams, a chance so rare and fleeting that none dared even hope for it.
The claiming of the Zinahs was an activity that consumed the people of the Temple. For the past year they had waited and watched as the old Priestess stepped down and the Handmaiden rose to take her place. Trepidation had claimed all hearts, for the new Priestess took her place in the Goddess’s service with only four Zinahs.
Five were needed, and five there had been since the Dark War. With five there was no question of the power, or superiority, of the Temple and its army. A millennia ago, five strong warriors, noble sons each, cast away their lives and futures to bond with the remaining child of the dead High King and Queen. They six vowed to fight back against the darkness that claimed the Palace. With the Goddess blessed Temple as their sanctuary, and a burning desire to protect their families and the life they had known, the Priestess and first Zinahs created a new world order from the ashes of the old.
That time was long past, though the battle between Temple and Palace raged on.
Moregon stripped off his leather armor and tunic below, naked to the waist. Setting his armor on a stood by the side of the house he bent over the water trough and splashed water on himself.
A chorus of giggles had him looking up. He caught a glimpse of wide eyes and bright ribbons before the gigglers ducked out of view.
“Go on! Get out of here.” The scolding feminine voice came from behind Moregon.
The girls yelped and fled, darting out from around the edge of the house where they’d been hiding. They ran away, contrition at having been caught evaporating in their delight at having seen the newest Zinah.
“They are always around.”
Moregon’s mournful complaint had his mother laughing. A hale and strong woman, still young though she had children full grown, Avna shared looks with her son. Both had the golden sun-kissed sun common to the people of the Great City with blond hair. Moregon stood a head above his mother. Avna was tall for a woman, and Moregon was a giant, taller than many of the other warriors, with shoulders of matching breadth.
Avna handed Moregon a drying cloth, which he accepted with a murmured “Thank You,” passing it over his wet face and chest. She gathered his shirt and armor, waving him away when Moregon made move to take it from her.
“Let me do this from you. Soon I will not be able to care for you anymore.”
“I will still see you, Maman.”
“It will not be the same. Once they come for you tomorrow, take you away, everything will be different.”
Her words kept him awake long into the night. The moons were well up, halfway through their nightly trek across the sky, when he slipped from his bed.
Though he made good money as a warrior in the Temple army he lived with his parents still. Life was hard in the Great City, and while it was better to live within the Temple’s sheltering walls, there was very little space to house all those who had sought refuge there.
He stepped over the cot his little brothers shared and picked his way down the stairs and out of the house. Not wanting wake anyone he didn’t both dressing, and emerged into the moonlight clad only in loose knee length drawers.
Around the back of the house was a small garden, a luxury of space few others could claim. This small plot of land, blessed as it was by the touch of the Goddess, provided enough green food to feed his family.
Two paths of paving stones made a cross through the center of the garden, with numerous small paths barely wide enough for his foot, providing access to the plants.
He stopped to check the cabbage and examine the leafy tops of carrots. Judging from the length of the above ground stalks there was still more growing to do before the carrots were plump enough to pull.
Moregon settled himself on the stones where the paths crossed, the only place in the garden large enough for him to sit.
He tilted his head to the sky, offering up a simple warrior’s prayer to the Goddess that she might watch over him as he moved down this new path his life had taken.
A breeze rose up, causing the tall stalks of lavender beside him to sway, brushing against his arm, like a lover’s touch. Had he been a fanciful man, one who believed that the Goddess was anything more than a far off deity, he would have said it was the goddess, reassuring him through the touch of a simple plant.
The wind also brought the sounds of the night, and one sound that was out of place.
Standing at the edge of the garden was a slim maid, the curve of breast, belly and hip exposed as the wind pressed her thin dress against her body. She was older than that afternoon’s admierers, and wore the body of a girl just able to claim womanhood.
Embarrassed at his state of undress Moregon awkwardly folded his arms over his chest.
“Yes? Who goes there?”
She moved into the garden, light footed and sure. When she stopped before him Moregon kept his eyes on her knees.
“You’ve broken my heart.”
The nightdress fluttered to the floor, and the knees he’d been so diligently studying were bare in the moonlight.
“And now you must mend it.”