With the days seemingly passing by nonchalantly and the holy priests of the temple kicking back and relaxing, not much was happening. The leaves had eventually stopped falling around the temple. Though, this was generally assumed to have happened due to the lack of leaves left on the trees. They now simply circled whimsically, undulating up and down depending on the will of the ever present breeze. The sky had turned a light baby blue and the nation moved into what we would assume was a Winter. Though, they simply referred to them as the Cold Months. These days, things were generally peaceful. A few crimes here and there but it was generally overlooked or treated mercifully due to the ambience of the nation these past few weeks. No one could feel stressed or angry in this magnificent time. Although, there were a steadily growing series of rumors. News had leaked from the east of a non religious movement threatening to impede on the nation. It had been discarded as merely folk talk but Homura was not so sure.
"Please, I urge you all to see sense! No rumor is sparked into creation without an increment, an iota of truth behind its veil of deceit!" Urged Homura. But, his fellow priests and worshipers would not have it, would not face up to a truth so terrible.
"Where is the evidence? You stand on the pedestal we crafted for the sole purpose of situating a statue of one of our most brilliant founders and preach something that may yet prove to be an untruth and just to top it off, your breath stinks!" Sheesh and this guy accused HIM of preaching?!
"Listen. If I do prove to be correct and there are enemies approaching, we must be on our guard!" Argued Homura, becoming more enraged.
"You are our High Priest and it is our obligation to obey you, but even I know that allowing your emotions to rule your senses is a folly. Practice control and see the truth!" This was the voice of an elder of the temple who had never allowed for a promotion. He had always been content to be a lower level. He didn't see himself as a leader. Yet he bossed everyone else around? Go figure. He just didn't want to do all of the work! Homura thought. Although, in dire times such as these, he, probably reluctantly, acquired the power to command those in the temple to a certain extent.
"Very well. Have each attending worshiper take up arms. Arm the temple and raise the battlements when I command. We will need all that we can get. I'm sure that we are all rather fond of our location here. But we must try everything we can to reason with them first. I will not fight a senseless battle that needn't have happened. In which case, the first weapons we shall be gathering are our minds. You will need to be fully alert and practically exuding peace!" Homura responded.
He hadn't even managed to captivate any of them. In fact, each of them seemed to be engrossed in their own activities. Some were muttering to others and others were whispering to each other and looking his way as if he were mad. Had they simply been humoring him? Fine then. He'd just have to try harder. "LISTEN TO ME! BECAUSE, MY FRIENDS, TODAY IS THE DAY THAT WE DEFEAT ALL PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OF US AS PREACHING PUSHOVERS. WE WILL NOT LET THEM TAKE WHAT WE HAVE ACCUMULATED! Soon, my friends. We go to war." He finished and caught his breath. They stood as a collective glaring of burning eyes, staring right at him as if they were doubting the validity of his very mind.
"Preaching pushovers? Perhaps you need to take a look in the metaphorical mirror yourself, Homura. You won't motivate anyone while dealing cheap knockoff insults like that out."
"Lower your voice, young one! No wars have ever been won by a man who cannot find peace within himself. We have agreed to obey you to a certain extent. Do not betray this trust by yourself exuding aggression and an egregious nature!" The elder retaliated. Homura baulked. He had not thought at all. He could see the nervous faces of those who surrounded him. He had painted the situation in such dulcet tones and had not considered the emotions of his cohorts. "From now on, your administration is suspended until you have managed to work on the proper way to lead your men. If this tragic destruction is indeed intended to happen, we shall meet it accordingly. But until then, you are to reflect and work on improving your... Approaches. You still have much to learn about leading your people." His feathers bristled in his discontent at the situation, leaving Homura lost for words in his dust.
He had thought a great deal about the nature of his approach three days ago. He still didn't think he had been all together unreasonable. These unmotivated people... Why did they not see sense? Those that had made this place their home and had allowed it to embrace and become their lives and their commitments. He stamped his feet and stood up. It turned out that the Elder had suspended his duties then. Psh. What did he know about battle?! About pain?! He would never face such desolation again. He vowed this. He had hoped that he would be able to hide his past in a future faith. To focus on a goal that would outweigh all of his failings. He would never give up on this endeavour. Not until the last breath of life had seeped away from his lips. He rose and stood facing the window. I can sense it. He thought. I know this is going to happen. He walked through the alleyway and out into the main hall of the temple. He noticed immediately the subtle nuances of doubt and detest in the eyes and expressions of his cohorts. He did his best to think nothing of it. He finally had a chance to sit down when he reached the front of the building and could sit down on the ground outside. He felt the earth and embraced its cold complexion. Once again, he threw his handsome and worried head to the skies. His eyes took in their magnificence. The one friend he had always possessed. The skies had been there for him the last time, when he had lost... The callers shouted. He raised himself up in a reticent fashion and retreated inside.
He heard the voices as soon as he walked into the room. His feathers reappeared and bristled at the neck. "Well, let's just get this over with!" "He's just gonna start preaching about this army again!" "Why do we have to face such distractions?" "I see no proof of this either." Homura's rage began to flare again. All the time he had set aside to learn how to cope with it started the process of becoming obsolete. But he took several breaths and started the ceremony nonetheless.
"I thought we'd do something slightly different today for our ritual. The ritual to the almighty planet K'irthiannen that brings us the lustrous and majestic Season Of The Souls." He advanced and began to walk in an anticlockwise circle around the circumference of the area that he had set aside for this very purpose. He stopped when he had started. "The world turns and so do the seasons. It will soon be the cold months. The cold months, as we all know, are the most vulnerable months for us-" "Oh, here he goes again!" Interjected one of the attending members of the circle. He instantaneously regretted his wordplay here that had sparked up the same feud once again. He carried on and attempted to forget the annoyance that he was facing. "As I was saying, the great Season Of The Souls is nearly upon us and so is the yearly journey to Brysshalia to connect with those who have passed and to glean the great wisdom that the land has to offer. In celebration of this fact, I want you all to walk outside and look to the skies. Take in the magnificent beauty that they herald and truly bear witness to wonder and greatness. We will hold most of the ritual in here and then move outside. The Salii amongst us shall spread their wings and open themselves up to the almighty energies that the skies and nature hold at this time of year. The others shall do the same. Become your true selves. Sluyitt, you and your fellow Dha-rngoth shall spread your feathers and tails and do this also. I think everyone needs a flow of the positive energies of change and redemption right now."
He performed the ritual as per usual, with the lighting of the Othacho sap candles and the wordplay that accompanied it. Then, far too quickly, it was time for the second climactic section of the ritual. He spread his own wings and transformed completely back into his Salii form. He then, amidst the shocked and intrigued faces of his peers, as this was something strictly disallowed in the ritual hall, flew up and opened the age old window at the very centre of the domed room. It sent several small skittering creatures down upon the heads of those below. He heard some muttered complaints and then they fell silent once again. He descended down on to the illuminated and reflective (thanks to the gel rain) land and turned around to witness a series of speechless faces staring back. Homura raised his razor tipped beak and pointed to the sky. The petals had begun to fly already. They danced and frolicked across the sky, like stars flying in a great blue abyss, they were almost childlike in their playfulness and grace. A white legion waltzed in a way reminiscent of a line of young nonchalantly skipping across the entirety of the sky. Each of them were thought to be the souls of those that had been lost being given a transient turn to make themselves known once more to the living, reminding them of the constant flow of worldly energies even in death and providing the souls with a sense of innocent glee. Behind the petals, the stars were shining in every colour and shade imaginable. The clouds had completely cleared to reveal the immeasurably indescribable immensity that they were known for. A listless and innumerable horde like countless beacons created by illuminated souls, each with a unique colour and size and intensity of its own.
Homura believed he had finally managed to win them over. He began. "Now, we stand here beneath the most serendipitous skies. Bear witness to it and forget all that troubles you, honour the passing spirits with your thoughts and wishes. Hold your heads to the skies and take it in." They smiled and even began to laugh. They realised just how incredible this moment was and the frequencies they were experiencing with the sheer mass of energies encompassing them. Homura knew, finally, that he had done the right thing. Even he began to laugh. Even he began to joyously jubilate. He felt happy again, absorbing the laughter and whoops from those that encircled him. He sent away all of the negative energies that had been crushing him. He remembered a teaching from his childhood. The last teaching his father had given him. "In every natural entity, there is a marvellous thing waiting to be known." He had not understood at the time. But nhe thought he did now. He had seen this event countless times but he felt like this one was unique in its ability to move him. After all, the entirety of the opalescent sky and all of its stars was now beaming at him gloriously. He felt whole again and pure and that's when the first flames hit the temple.