Chapter 26 - The Temple of Lighte
I have been rent
To the depths of my being
I have been rent
A tempest of tears
A depth of joy
In a flood of Lighte
‘It’s bad enough that this whole landscape has about it an ethereal and surreal feeling, but I’ll not easily be coerced into doing that which is so against my inner wisdom’ thought Tirǽche. Nevertheless, Tirǽche started walking even faster as something within the building drew her inexorably to itself.
Fear trickled into her consciousness and not all her thoughts of the building being The Temple of Lighte lessened it. She was almost at the wall when she dug her heels into the paving and, perspiration beginning to drench her clothing, refused to move.
“You feel you are in the midst of peril and dangerous events. Yet you must remain true to your principles and insightful ideals. You resist. Yet, you resist with courage, Tirǽche Raeldysce. You were ever one to remain faithful to your sense of justice, and in like manner, you are true to your inner being. You will soon find yourself free of this period of adversity.”
All the blood drained from Tirǽche’s face and she felt herself slump to the ground.
‘More riddles’ she thought, but this time, terrifyingly, the words were from a deep, booming voice which reverberated throughout her whole being.
She tried again to get up but, try as she might, she could not raise herself. Tirǽche looked up to ask someone to help her to her feet. There was no one at all. The people who had been walking near her and who had given her comfort as she made her way to the building that she wasn’t on your own, were nowhere to be seen. She was absolutely alone. She stared at where Je Jarc and Ilin had been sitting. Not only were they not there, the whole area was empty. There were no tables and chairs, no people milling around. She was staring at she knew not where but it certainly wasn’t any place she recognised.
Shock engulfed her once more as the thunderous voice continued. “For a moment in time, you shall wait within and occupy yourself only with inconsequential things. You shall be victorious but not yet. Use this period within to question everything you see and feel. You are being equipped and you shall be equipped to suit your purpose and your future. Fear not, Tirǽche Raeldysce, you shall regain your strength and your success shall be the success of all.”
“Who are you?” asked Tirǽche in a tremulous voice.
“Who I am is of no consequence; know only that I am who I am. Who you are is, however, of the greatest consequence. Enough! Stand and enter within.”
As easily as lifting herself on her hands, Tirǽche got to her feet as if she’d never had a moment’s problem in doing so previously.
She looked at the walls of the building which seemed to be pulsing with a life of its own. She could still see no door.
“There is no entrance.”
“Oh child, you are lost indeed. The Darkenighte is accountable for so much harm. Until you are able, I will assist you. Seek for the way from deep within The Knowledge of Ages, Tirǽche.”
Tirǽche did so but found nothing.
She began to say so but saw, to her amazement, that, without knowing how, she was standing within The Temple of Lighte.
She looked around her in amazement and asked “how did I get inside?”
There was no answer and, somehow, Tirǽche wasn’t at all surprised. She was on her own within The Temple of Lighte to find answers to questions she did not even know how to ask.
As she looked around her, Tirǽche thought sadly of Urus, Sháine and Weda’Sel. Would she ever see them again? She missed them so much. Tears clung to her lashes.
She did not understand any of what was happening to and with her since Miralais, Jatan and Je Jarc left the camp with her. Being taken from her loved ones was difficult, yet, if she only understood what was happening in her life, perhaps she could tolerate the sadness. She felt lost and very alone.
Slowly, Tirǽche turned once more to look around her. The Temple was different from anything she’d ever known. Different too from anything she could discern from within The Knowledge of Ages. The hall in which she stood was divided into two sections; an inner area which appeared to be lower than the outer edge. The walls shone golden and prisms of light shone from the iridescent, gossamer drapes which adorned them. The drapes were embroidered with the most beautiful and natural fauna and flora which looked as if they were poised to step out of the material and join her. What was most striking, however, was that the embroidered scenes cast coloured shadow images on to the flawless white mineral floor.
She nodded vaguely to herself as she thought ‘the images themselves appear to be alive’.
Tirǽche was entranced. The effect on her of the beauty within which she stood was truly awe-inspiring.
“I feel like I’m standing within the aura of a faultless universe” she mused aloud as she cast her eyes downwards once more.
She could not take her eyes off that floor.
Images of a crimson and gold fire danced on the floor. Tirǽche could almost hear the crackle of the flames. Fowl of all kind flew through the blue of the sky and then plunged into an indigo sea inhabited by swirling, whirling water creatures. Land creatures too appeared to prance and gambol among shimmering trees and flowers. The ascension of The Lord Dayl shone with such burnished splendour that Tirǽche, who at first found herself compelled to stare at it, had to turn her eyes away, just as she would have done if she’d looked up at The Lord Dayl in all his magnificence in Faeré.
Eventually Tirǽche shut her eyes tightly. If she was ever going to find out what she was doing in the Temple, and as much as she would have liked to have spent her Evertime within the beauty of that chamber, she knew that she would have to start to move around.
Strangely, when Tirǽche opened her eyes, she was still in the same position within the same chamber but nothing felt the same. The scenery was still as breathtakingly magnificent as it was when she first saw it, but she was conscious of, rather than saw, a slight and subtle shift.
‘It almost feels as if I have been absorbed by and am part the vision itself, looking outwards towards the chamber in which I am standing. That can’t be possible.’ Tirǽche laughed mirthlessly, shook her head and said in frustration. ‘Who am I trying to convince? Nothing in this whole place falls into the sphere of ‘possible’ or ‘impossible’. In the words of Miralais, ‘I am where I am’.
As she spoke, Tirǽche looked about her again. She put her foot forward as if to move towards one of the animals. Her foot quivered, became completely translucent and then suddenly went completely lame causing her to fall ignominiously in a heap to the floor.
“What was that?” Tirǽche looked at and held her still translucent and useless foot. She rubbed it to try and get some feeling back into it but she could still see through it. The shock of being able to see right through her foot numbed her. She knew her foot was still there because she could feel its outline, despite it having no substance to it. If she had for a moment thought that the experience was only imaginary, her pain and discomfort disillusioned her of that thought immediately.
“You are looking in all the wrong places, Tirǽche” whispered a calm, quiet voice.
Tirǽche swung around to confront the speaker but there was no one in sight. Before she could say anything, the voice started speaking again.
“If you try to walk away in any direction again” it continued “you will, in the most fundamental manner, find yourself absorbed by your surroundings, Tirǽche. I urge you not to attempt to do so. I tell you this in truth not to alarm you but for you to understand because we cannot allow that to happen. You are a critical pivot and your unique abilities are greatly needed right now in Faeré.”
‘More riddles’ Tirǽche thought as she shrugged, as much a rebuttal of the person speaking to her as for her supposed abilities which were supposedly of such critical importance. If she had had any special abilities, of which she had never been aware, she had no recollection of them. She surmised that had she had weird and wonderful abilities, any such abilities would most certainly have been destroyed during her time in Mount Vilipend and the horrors she experienced while she was there.
Tirǽche needed answers. All she had been given since her abduction by Miralais were riddles and what she perceived to be misinformation. If there were answers at all, there was one place where she would find them and now that she had found her way back to it, she wanted the comfort of its familiar awareness. Tirǽche relaxed and felt herself enter into The Knowledge of Ages as a vibrant fulfilment washed over her. She sank into her memories. Yet even in that sacred place, she found no knowledge of any special talent at all.
She lifted her head to speak but before she could, the voice, now filled with authority, said “You shall not be lost through ignorance, Tirǽche; either your own ignorance or that of anyone else. I shall guide you.”
“If I were in any place other than within The Temple of Lighte, I would have found your words, coming from someone who has not even had the courtesy to show or present themself to me, presumptuous. What is it about you Keepers, because I presume that you are one; that you enjoy keeping yourselves hidden while you spout riddles?” said Tirǽche a little tartly. Before the voice could answer, Tirǽche continued. “Nevertheless, it appears that, for whatever reason, you are more conscious of me than I am of myself, so I accept your guidance.”
“You are without doubt as wise as I have been led to believe” said the voice with a hint of laughter in her voice. “You may not like the situation in which you find yourself, but you will work with whatever solution is available to you. That, Tirǽche, although you may not know it, is an uncommon ability.”
“In your experience, I dare say that may be true” retorted Tirǽche. “If you were to spend any time with those with whom I had been travelling before I was abducted and brought here, you would very quickly learn that what you believe to be uncommon is exceedingly common among my people and my peers.”
“I certainly trust that I will have time to spend with your people, Tirǽche but they are not important for now.” The voice continued over the sharply inhaled breath which Tirǽche simply could not control. “We have no time to discuss the merits or otherwise of what you call you ‘abduction’, Tirǽche. We have a lot to do, for, although not of your making, you have been idle for too long and Faeré has desperate need of you, even though I do know you don’t understand this right now. Sit awhile and rest and then you shall lean on me as we journey. Your foot will recover in time but not now, not yet.”
“Will you show yourself to me?” asked Tirǽche in a far more subdued voice. She was still very aware of how Miralais and the other Keepers had approached Urus and herself, and she could still mentally feel their restraining force and strength. She was out of her depth and, if she’d not known it before, one look at the floor through her translucent foot confirmed it for her. She was not going to attempt anything reckless.
Tirǽche wondered too what could have come over her to react as tetchily as she had done. That was something which Urus would have done but not her. ‘Well clearly it is something which I would have done’ she thought. ‘In fact it’s something which I definitely did do. I shall have to apologise to Urus for thinking that he was unable to control his emotions when Miralais confronted him.’
“To not attempt anything unwise is one of the answers you seek, Tirǽche. To answer your question, I shall show myself to you when you are ready.” The disembodied voice sounded quite gleeful. Tirǽche tried to control her irritation.
‘Yes, I definitely owe Urus an apology’ she thought and then said aloud “That doesn’t really make any sense at all. How can it be an answer if I haven’t yet fashioned a question?” The slight edge she’d uncontrollably had in her voice as she began to speak dissipated quickly as she remembered Urus, and she completed her question sounding poised and interested. The tinkling laughter of the owner of the voice even made her smile. That surprised her.
“Do you have any concept of where you are, Tirǽche?” The unexpected question hung in the air for a moment.
Tirǽche replied quite calmly, she thought. “Yes, I know exactly where I am, as do you. I’m in the entrance chamber in The Temple of Lighte.”
“Do you really know that, Tirǽche? Yes, you are indeed in The Temple of Lighte and yes, you did start your crossing in what you believe to have been the entrance chamber, although it was only you who believed that that was where you were.” The voice chuckled as Tirǽche swivelled her head. “You can look again, and it will make no difference,”
Tirǽche bridled unconsciously. She knew where she was, of course she knew where she was. Everything was exactly as she’d first seen it, except for her foot which was still painful, strangely translucent and not functioning.
“Look around as much as you want to, Tirǽche; you will still believe you are where you believe you are and what you thought you saw when you arrived. Yet where you think you are, although it is certainly somewhere, is now merely an illusion laid bare.”
There was no quiet laughter now from the voice. Tirǽche thought back on something which had earlier caugh her attention. ‘What did whoever owned the voice mean by where I’d started my crossing?’ she mused. The turn of phrase was startling and for some reason which Tirǽche could not understand, it worried her – a lot. She had the impression that there would be no more mirth and that everything from now on would be in deadly earnest.
“It was and it is” said the voice as it responded vocally once more to her thoughts. Tirǽche wondered if she would ever get used to having absolutely no privacy, even in her thoughts.
“When you are ready, you will realise that nothing is truly private in the sense that you understand it to be. True privacy is found in true understanding. False privacy comes from a lack of understanding; and understanding is that which is found in the understanding of that lack of understanding.”
“What I would really like to understand is the riddles in which everyone seems to speak. Is there no natural speaking among you people?” asked Tirǽche.
“What is natural to you may not be natural to others, Tirǽche. Your understanding is coloured by everything which has happened in your life to bring you to where your understanding is at any point. What appears convoluted and requires further thought sometimes proves the easier to understand.” The voice laughed when Tirǽche made a sound much like ‘harrumph’.
“I’ve learned over time that some wise ones have an amazing way of coaxing out the secrets of Faeré to unfold before them, whereas many others have little tolerance for questions, sometimes acting as if natural curiosity were inappropriate prying. Miralais will explain all and you’ll then know that the answers you inadvertently give are truly in response to questions of which you have not yet thought. Until then, let us begin your journey, if you are ready?”
“Yes, I am ready” said Tirǽche with a nod. “If what I am to learn allows me to go back to my life as I knew it, I will willingly do whatever is necessary.”
“Your life as you knew it will never again be as you understood it to be, Tirǽche but you will return to those you love, albeit with a vastly different understanding and power from that which you knew before.” The voice soundly a little emotional but Tirǽche could not quite work out what the actual sentiment was. The voice continued. “This will manifest when there is a need for it. For now, I’m content, Tirǽche, with your reasoning.”
“I thank you. I don’t mean that to be ironic by any means, I really do thank you” said Tirǽche. “If not for your presence, I don’t know what I would do.”
“You are welcome, Tirǽche, but my being here is the reason you are where you are” replied the voice.
“All I ever get from you is riddles” sighed Tirǽche. “Alright, my Guide, do what you need to do.”
“As we begin, you will first need to accept that to develop the courage you require is to present the kindle of your lesser mind to the flames of your will and greater mind. Your greater mind is your compassion, your values, your intuitive awareness, higher consciousness and understanding. All this resides within your consciousness and unconsciousness; what you know as The Knowledge of Ages. Although it may appear to be the peak of your reality, it is simply one state of your ever-unfolding inner nature. Let your consciousness enter into The Knowledge of Ages and lean on me.”
Tirǽche raised herself on her good leg and, as she wobbled, she felt rather than saw the arm take hold of her and prop her up. As soon as the arm had steadied her and she began to release herself into The Knowledge of Ages, Tirǽche felt herself plummet into a void and closed her eyes against the nausea which rushed up to meet her.