Chapter 27

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PRIESTESS

Shoahn’Kra folded a tattered shawl and laid it on top of the rest of her belongings inside a cloth bag. She patted a swollen cloth bag infused with the pitch of a cord tree to make it water tight.

Shahn’Dra sat in the middle of their hut with her knees pulled up to her chest. Her antennae lay still against her head as she peeked over her hands while her mother packed.

“I still don’t see why you have to go.”

Shoahn’Kra tied a rope around her satchel and smiled. “You have more important things to do than look after your tired old mother, child.”

“There is nothing more important.”

Shoahn’Kra padded over to her daughter and sat down next to her, putting her arm around her shoulder. “Don’t sulk, child. You have already shown yourself to be much too old for that.”

“I feel alone already.”

“You are not. The humans are here now.”

“They bring war. Nothing else.”

Shoahn’Kra gasped dramatically, hiding her urge to smirk. “Oh, is that all?  Then why did you call them?”

“I was scared.”

Shoahn’Kra turned her daughter’s face towards her own. “As you should be. He has abandoned The Way. He has brought the Dark Winds.” She peered deep into her daughter’s eyes, probing past the sadness between them. “He has embraced Dren’Vil. These are the reasons you have called the humans.”

“I know,” Shahn’Dra said, pulling her chin away. She stared at the wall.

“They will need your help now, Shahn’Dra. And you will need theirs. Dren’Vil is a curse that all must find a way to conquer.”

She stood up and picked up her satchel and water bag.

“Are you not also part of all?” Shahn’Dra asked.

“Indeed I am.” Shoahn’Kra watched her daughter while she adjusted the satchel and walked to the door. “My part is to free you from the burden of tending me. I am too old for any other purpose. And so I go now. You understand.”

“I do not.”

“Yes, you do, my child.” She opened the door and started to step out when Shahn’Dra leapt to her feet and ran to her mother, throwing her arms around her neck.

“I am not ready.”

Shoahn’Kra clasped her hand over her daughter’s. “None of us ever are.”

“Where will you go?”

“Where I cannot be seen.”

“That is too far.” Shahn’Dra began to sob.

“Remember what I have told you. It is never forbidden to defend yourself. Let the meaning of that make itself known in your mind, Shahn’Dra.” She grasped her daughter’s shoulders and held her away so she could look into her eyes one last time. “Tell me now you know what that means. Show me I am right. Show me there is hope.”

Shahn’Dra rolled her shoulders back and draped her hands at her side. She unfurled her antennae, letting them stretch out above her head, and held them perfectly still. “Of course I know what that means. I am the last priestess of the Pyramid. I am its guardian. I am its keeper.”

Shoahn’Kra brushed her daughter’s cheek, quivering as she held back her tears. “Indeed, you are.”

Shahn’Dra took her hand. “There is a last time for all things. I will always miss being your child.”

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©2016 Michael J Lawrence