"If you take to the road or water, you'll nay find goad nor slaughter," the lilting voice echoed from her mouth, as blackness poured from her lips and eyelids. "Yet, traveler be wary and vagrant be contrary. If death is yours, it will be swift and kind. For when blood pours, it will be a gift refined. For time will shove, and parry to reject. And when you search for love, you will carry it where you least expect."
The prayer group stared silently at the priestess.
Suddenly, her trance faded. She wiped the black tears and drool nervously from her face, and looked down at the text from which she had not been reading. Frowning, she stared at the page, "The entry is blank. There is no reading for such a falling of the crownlets."
She doesn't remember! Johm realized.
The priestess was oblivious to the black smear on the sleeve of her robe. She stepped off the lectern and approached the Qurystal, raising her arms in praise.
"Now, sisters and brothers, we pray."
We ask, but we do not receive. The Qurystal gives only what it knows we deserve. For the changes it weaves in us are for the greater plan.
And they shuffled off the pews, and knelt quietly around the fountain. Some closed their eyes, while others gazed into the soft glow of the Qurystal. The priestess turned, as an acolyte whispered to her, and she rubbed at the dark smudge.
Johm could feel the pain fading. He could feel the knot of guilt upon his heart loosen, just a little. And he knew, in time, that things would be better.
The tan-skinned women from the south muttered incoherently, in a foreign tongue, of traveler's omens and a merchant's caravan.
"Silence," cautioned the priestess. "We are praying."
Johm organized his thoughts. He prayed for the stamina and strength he'd need for the journey. And he knelt down, onto his knees and elbows, flexing his body into submission before the altar.
Light pulsed inward and outward, bathing the people in mindful serenity.
And for a moment, he felt his heart beat faster and blood run faster through his veins, in one great pump. He rose, taking in one great breath in his lungs, and let it out. Blue eyes opened wide, and he saw a light in the Qurystal that nobody else could see. His eyes registered colours he had not seen before, and his mind raced with a storm of sadness. I have given up so much for my music! Must I lose her? Must I lose the fencer of my heart?
The mutt growled.
Johm, you can write to her. It was Eliash, drawing upon the limitless reserve of magical energies in the Qurystal to use their telepathy, a power they had forged for use on stage.
You shouldn't listen to my prayers, El. It's rude.
Look, I'm sick of your sorry attitude. I wasn't listening to your prayer, I was reading your emotions. You know what I can and cannot do. I don't have that much Qurr. It's just... ever since you slept with that wench, you've lost your sensibilities! I was lucky enough to get you to sing that song.
It was a bit therapeutic, I guess. What do you mean, 'lucky'?
Nevermind. I should finish up.
What are you praying for?
Gonna repair the damage that old man did to my ears, the eunuch thought to his cousin, prideful with jest. We're nothing without my ears.
Johm knew, as he breathed calmly in meditation, that it was true. They were nothing without Eliash's ears. They had relied upon one set of finely-tuned ears, through telepathy, to manage it all. They each had their strengths. Eliash was the senses, and he was the sensed. Johm was the charisma of their acts. The face and body that attracted attention. We're nothing without me, either. We are equals in this.
Then, Johm remembered Marlew, She had eyes like Eliash's ears. So finely imbued that they observed every nuance of their sense. The range, depth, and intensity. She is so concerned with how she looks, as he is with how he sounds. I cannot love one so superficial!
But then he came to the realization that it was no different. Are we as vain as that whore, to care so much about how we sound and look? No... we serve a different purpose. We are artists, and she is... a walking vat of debauchery.
"You may go now," the priestess broke the silence, and people slowly got to their feet. "Go now in peace, and may the light of the Qurystal shine forever in your hearts."
The unsensing, all-knowing chunk of crystal hung in the air, seemingly oblivious and senseless towards the world around it.
Johm stood proudly , towering over his cousin, feeling stronger. He could feel the muscles twitching, aching, burning. It felt good. And he knew the cache of magic power within him was restored. But he wanted something more tangible. He pulled the eunuch up, "C'mon, let's get something to eat."
"Yeah," Eliash grinned. "That sounds rather sensible to me."