Prologue : Saint Maria
Chapter 5 – I Can Watch Her Eyes Too – Part 1
Was Maria ill? It seemed so, but Gabriel knew what was going on. It was not an illness, but Maria did need to stay a few more days in Duc.
The night the Gods’ Tear appeared, Maria had fainted. Days of strict praying exhausted her. The environment of Duc made her uncomfortable, as well as Lord Drick. Besides eating and sleeping, Maria spent most of her time in prayer, and it had exhausted her. It was not surprising that a sudden respite from the enormous tension had caused her to sink into an exhausted slumber.
Maria had a housemaid doing rough work and a close maid. In these two days, they also fell sick. Perhaps they could no longer stand this uncomfortable place after a long journey across the desert. Lord Drick sent several maids and slave girls to look after Maria, but Gabriel had decided that they could not serve the Adoratrice directly.
Gabriel told Drick, “If you believe that Maria is going to be the Adoratrice after she has obtained the Gods’ Tear, then you should treat her like an Adoratrice from now on.”
The Isis Shrine had a vast amount of farmlands and countless slaves, but the Adoratrice was beyond the secular world. She could not use things that was presented directly by slaves, thus slaves could not look after her. She could not contact a grown-up man in any way. Her food and clothes could not be brought by women who had had a man. So those sent by Lord Drick were not appropriate.
Lord Drick had thought a lot, but he had failed to consider that. Truth be told, this wasn’t a measure of his carelessness. Only after the formal ceremony in the shrine of Isis would the approved candidate become the Adoratrice. What Gabriel was doing was to treat Maria as strictly as the true Adoratrice in advance because she did not want anything to go wrong from the moment she had secured the Gods’ Tear.
The good side was that the delegate of the Isis Shrine had recognized Maria as the Adoratrice.
In fact, Maria was not ill. It was Gabriel’s duty to protect her, no matter from enemy or from disease. When Maria woke up after a night-long, coma-like stupor, Gabriel healed her using [the Blessing Theurgy]. After that, her body was fine enough for Gabriel to escort her across the desert.
Gabriel had other things to do. She did not even tell Rod Drick, but she was teaching Maria the fundamental magic of Isis Shrine, [the Test of the Gods]. Having the Gods’ Tear was not enough to be the Adoratrice. Maria had to awake the divine power. And that was exactly what Gabriel was going to teach her.
It was extremely difficult, but with the help of the Gods’ Tear, it would be much easier. That was why the Gods’ Tear was so precious. Only after Maria awakened her divine power and passed the Test of the Gods could she prove that she was able to use the Gods’ Tear and give blessings to her people.
Since Maria had acquired the Gods’ Tear, if she could awaken her power before she arrived to the Isis Shrine in Memfis, she would be uncontestedly the true Adoratrice. But if she could not pass the test in a short time, there might be new troubles. Gabriel had escorted Maria through the long journey to Duc. She had witnessed the birth of the Gods’ Tear and Maria’s devoutness. She deeply believed that Maria should be the Adoratrice. Hence she could not wait to help her pass the test.
It was not against the gods’ will. When Maria reached the shrine, the priests there would teach her the same magic step by step and assess her achievement by schedule. Gabriel just shifted the process forward as a bonus.
One thing that Lord Drick was worrying about was whether the priests of the shrine might thwart her from being the Adoratrice by not teaching her the real magic or just delaying the process. He was considering whether he should pay a public tribute or a bribe. Gabriel had actually solved his problem but told him nothing. Now the rest only depended on Maria herself.
When looking back at all they had gone through to get the Gods’ Tear, Gabriel really believed that they were blessed by Isis. She felt a sense of kinship with Maria that made her willing to protect her.
The magic Gabriel taught Maria was a specific way of praying. But it required strong concentration, faith and tranquility. The special ritual would awaken the power given by the gods, which then meant the test was a success.
“How will the test be?” Maria asked her.
Gabriel gave her a smile, “Pray to the Gods’ Tear in the way I taught you. You will soon receive the power from the gods, and you will awaken the desire deep in your soul. You have to learn to face it, till it can no longer influence your heart and your faith. That is the Test, the threshold to the palace of the magic. Your heart is pious and pure. It will not be difficult for you to pass this test. You also know how to behave as the Adoratrice, I have nothing to add.”
Maria hesitated and asked, “Shouldn’t I wait till we’ve arrived at the shrine and gone through the ceremony before I try to pass the test? Wouldn’t it be against the gods’ will if I do it here and now?”
Gabriel shook her head, “You are not acting against the gods’ will. The Test of the Gods is open to all. If you cannot pass the test, then you will not get the blessing from the gods. But I know you can.” Seeing the hesitation in Maria’s eyes, she added, “I can tell you something that just happened today in this town.”
She told her about the dispute that happened in the square. At last she said, “I think Mister Aristotle has his point. The gods’ will is the premise of all. Once you pass the test, it means you are approved by the gods, since you are the candidate of the Adoratrice and you have already obtained the Gods’ Tear.”
Maris fell into thought, blinking her beautiful eyes. At last she nodded and said, “Yes, you are right. And you know better about the rules of the Isis Shrine. I will not disappoint you.”
Gabriel shook her head again, “No, not me. You will not disappoint our goddess, Mother Isis the great.”
Maria suddenly realized something and asked, “You have been with me since morning. How can you hear every word from the people on the other side of the town when I hear nothing? Is this the power of the gods?”
Gabriel smiled, “This is the power given by our goddess. I could hear the words of every one of them because I focused and listened. As the Adoratrice, you will have an even stronger power than I. I, as a warrior, can no longer learn the supreme magics. But you will master the supreme magic given by the gods. ”
As she finished, the maid downstairs called, “Lord Gabriel, Mister Aristotle has found the attendant you’ve asked for. He brings him here.”
Amon knew well that Aristotle and Crazy’Ole had saved him today. It did not surprise him that Crazy’Ole would save him. But this strange young mister was apparently a nobleman. Why would he help a miner’s son whom he was not acquainted with? Amon appreciated this mister very much and was glad to work for him. A servant for three days was not a big deal, let alone the nice reward of one gold paran a day.
On the way to Maria’s residence, Amon thanked Aristotle for what he had done. He even wanted to kneel down and kiss the soil in front of his feet, which was the greatest way to show gratefulness as far as he knew. However, Aristotle stopped him and said, “My child, you don’t have to do this. You are not my slave and I am neither a god nor a king.” He then looked at Amon and asked, “Do you want to ask why I helped you?”
“Yes, I do. Sir.”
Aristotle looked into the distance and mumbled, “I come from a faraway place called Hellen. There are many cities there, and I was once a student in one of their Academies. There, my teacher once expounded on the aim of learning. He said virtue was knowledge, and as such, a smart man should be a kind man.”
Amon blinked and asked, “Hellen……Have you heard of a savant named Thaetus?”
Aristotle was surprised, “I have seen him at the Academy. He is the student of Theodore, who is a friend of my teacher’s. How did you know his name, my boy?”
Amon answered, “I was told by an old man in the town. The one who talked to you a while ago.” Amon had heard Crazy’Ole mentioned the name Thaetus. He was told that the savant claimed that there are only five regular polyhedrons in the world, and that the dodecahedron was the most special one. That it was the shape of the world designed by the gods, containing information about the secret fifth element, and that it was the symbol and source of the mystical powers.
Amon thought that it was just the ravings of a drunken old man. That man exists.So what Crazy’Ole said should be true.
Aristotle’s interest in the boy grew as the two continued to walk to the south of the town. He asked, “We were talking about the oracle of the shrine. Do you know the spirit of the deity? Why would the goddess who has left the oracles be called your town’s patron?”
Why was a god a god and why was an oracle an oracle? Nobody in the town cared to think about these questions. Amon did not answer, he just said respectfully, “Please enlighten me, sir.”
Aristotle smiled, “Well, I myself don’t have a definite answer either. I just want to discuss it with you. The oracle is said to be from the patron of the town, because it protected the people of the town. The parangons produced here are extremely precious, with the technique passed down from generation to generation. What was done to stop the people from succumbing to their greed and forcing underage children and women to do the heavy labor? Why were the young able to grow up healthy and the women able to raise the children peacefully, which has in turn protected the whole industry?”
Light suddenly dawned in Amon’s head. He felt like he had caught onto something and said, “The oracle. It banned underage children from learning the technique and women from using it.”
Aristotle nodded, “That is why the goddess in the shrine is called the patron of the town. No matter how the oracle has become in history, the people here need it. My boy, if you become a priest in the future, you should be one who defends the oracle but with true knowledge about the spirit of the deity and its origin. Don’t be the priest we met on the square.”
He meditated a little after saying this, then smiled and turned to Amon, “The spirit of the oracle is that children under sixteen cannot learn the technique of Duc. But in your language, the word ‘can’ means both ‘be able to’ and ‘be allowed to’. You understand it, right? That is why that priest could not argue with me today. But you should be aware of this nuance, otherwise you will be as confused as the others were.”
Amon fell into thought for the rest of the way, which did not take a long time. They soon saw the villa where Maria lived.