After Thurston and the other two board members left with a thinly veiled threat that he must attend the meeting in the morning, Reid decided to take a break from reading the ancient text. He was lucky Thurston hadn’t taken the book with him once he’d taken his leave. Something about the whole exchange left Reid feeling uneasy and he wondered what other purposes did the university have to seek out the text. From the board members eagerness and the glint in all of their eyes when they saw the book, Reid realized this is what they had been searching for all along. But why hadn’t they told him? It was never specified what they were after when he was sent to a site so he never knew what to look for. Reid shook his head in exasperation. University politics were not his game and he would not be sucked into them.
He went back to his office to grab a notebook and pencils. He needed to clear his head and prepare himself for whatever awaited him when he went to the university tomorrow. Reid took his supplies out onto his patio, sinking down into one of the chairs. The rain had just started, adding a musical background to his task. The weather was cool and even though sprays off the water hit his bare legs, he did not mind it much. Reid opened his notebook and found a blank sheet. He hovered his pencil over the paper, looking out at the intensifying storm in front of him before finally pressing his pencil to the paper and marring the pristine white surface with a soft black line.
The man fell to his knees holding up the staff he was told would defeat the evil being who’d caused so much chaos and destruction among his people. She never even opened her eyes or lost the serene look on her face as the man raged at her.
Chaaya knew very well the crimes the human man accused her of. The ones that all humans wanted to blame on her. She was sure that whatever went wrong in the human realm was blamed on her or some other god who they had just happened to learn the name or existence of. Chaaya’s thoughts drifted to her time in the human realm.
Chaaya had her own reasons for agreeing to help Xanthe and her sisters build a portal into the human realm. She’d been interested in that realm for as long as she can remember and wanted to be able to interact with humans and learn more about them. Her ability to blend into the shadows allowed her to hear things she probably wasn’t supposed to hear and it made everyone want her as an ally and never as an enemy. As soon as she was able to use the portal to step into the human realm, she did so without a backwards glance at the sisters. She traveled far away from the portal set near an ocean to a place with many humans. She kept herself cloaked in shadows as she came upon an arguing couple. As soon as she was close to them, she thought they should stop arguing and just talk civilly to one another. She was surprised when that was exactly what they did. Chaaya moved on, walking deeper into the town. She walked into a building and found many people there. Two people—women—where speaking animatedly to one another with broad smiles on their faces and wild hand gestures between them. This time she decided to test her abilities and effects on humans again. She projected the thought that the two women were angry with one another. The women immediately turned on one another and started arguing so loudly and aggressively that others had to break them up.
Chaaya was drawn out of her musings by the man still screaming at her. She knew the havoc she wrecked with her abilities but the human realm was already in tatters and in chaos long before she showed up. The reason for the sisters needing a portal into their realm was to because they were destroying the planet and killing one another. She did not help but she also was not the cause of all that was wrong with his realm. Chaaya finally opened her eyes and stared down at the insignificant worm in front of her. He was only trying to protect his world and probably a family and friends but he was in her realm, threatening her. She had to wonder how he even gained access through the portal and should look into the sisters. Chaaya’s gaze fixed on the man. She would not tolerate this kind insolence. She was a god and he was nothing. Her purple skin seemed to glow in the unearthly smoke and lights of this realm as she raised her hand and a single wisp of shadow pierced the man’s heart like a dagger.
-Entry from The Old God’s Text
Reid jolted awake, the clap of thunder reverberating through him. He took in his surroundings. He was outside. He’d fallen asleep outside. He took in a deep breath and slowly released it. His eyes fell on the sketchbook on his lap. The Priestess of Shadow, Chaaya, stared back up at him.
He wasn’t sure if his rendition was anything like what the priestess had actually looked like but for some reason she was on his mind when he’d started even though he hadn’t consciously decided to draw her. Reid shook his head, looking around him and seeing that the rain had finally let up but it was pitch dark outside. His stomach growled reminding him he needed something to eat and he needed to try to get some rest before having to go to the meeting in the morning. After taking one last look at the sketch of Chaaya, Reid closed the sketch book and tucked it under his arm as he stood and walked inside his dark home.
Art by: Chase Henson
Story written by: Teralyn Mitchell