To put it simply, the Orianna spier was a natural formation that the sun’s worshipers built a city upon. It was a singular mountain in the middle of the desert that spiraled upward to a plateau that supported a massive temple dedicated to Sivoa’s largest sun.
The giant oligoclase orb that topped the temples primary pinnacle, was the first thing that Elainia noticed when the spire broke through the desert horizon.
She had been dreading the return home, but the familiar site shoved that feeling aside in favor of overwhelming her with the homesickness she had been suppressing for so long. Before she knew it, she was crying, which caused Zellyth to pull gently on the reigns to get their shared mount to stop.
Elainia took a deep breath and exhaled it out through her nose. When that failed to slow the tears, she closed her eyes and tried again until she was able to form words “I don’t know.”
Zellyth turned around so that she could see her face. “Shall I tell the caravan to turn around?”
Elainia shook her head. “No… I… I need to do this. I’m just afraid to.”
The Cafran handler nodded and snapped the reigns so that their taratin picked up the pace, but otherwise remained silent. As they progressed, the homesickness returned to a feeling of dread and Elainia found that it was a little easier to deal with.
Unlike many in the order, she was born on the Orianna spire; on the upper part of the lowest level. Because it was an honor to be on the spire itself, there were no proper names for the various districts of the vertical city, but she had been called a “midlower” her entire life – up until she was called “the Orianna.”
As they rode up on the city the orb cast a spot light down on the expansive spire gates, causing them to move ever so slightly apart, allowing the city’s welcoming comity to greet them. At the front of the entourage was a tall woman wearing a sheer white dress adorned with thousands upon thousands of tiny glass beads that caught the light from the oligoclase above. This was not the reason behind her radiance though and Elainia knew it.
This was the woman that had replaced her.
It was impossible to explain Orianna’s embrace to anyone. The goddess was known to be vengeful and relentless in her hatred for the ones that betrayed her, but she loved just as fiercely. To be chosen as her presence on the rock her son made was an honor that could not be compared to anything. It was the unwavering love a child places on their favorite toy, amplified to a celestial level and it shined through the her chosen one. Just like a toy, however, Elainia had been tossed aside because of her defect.
It was hard to look at the rose-gray spotted woman as Zellyth dismounted and politely lead the taratin toward her, but the only ever “Adeen” tried.
“Where is he?” The Orianna inquire as she eyeballed Elainia’s missing legs for the first time.
“I don’t know.” She shook her head sadly. “Nobody does.”
The high priestess cast her gold and silver eyes up at her and narrowed them, causing a shiver to travel down Elainia’s spine. “His daughter does.”
“Nobody knows where she is either.”
“Then why did you come here?”
This was the question that Elainia was afraid of. Compared to Orianna’s revenge mission or Adeen’s one of compassion, her own desire was pretty pathetic. “I just want to be home.”
The Orianna blinked absently at her as she had a mental conversation with the largest sun. After a moment her face softened and she nodded as she reached a hand out toward Zellyth for the reigns. “That’s natural. You will be allowed to return to your birth home, but you can no longer join the oracles.”
Elainia shifted her gaze to Zellyth who was wide-eyed with the question of what she should do. She tried to nod her assurance, but she wasn’t sure about anything, really. She slid her eyes sheepishly back toward the Orianna. “You would allow me to return so simply?”
The woman shrugged, the goddess having stepped aside to allow her to do as she pleased. “Why not? The goddess does not harbor any ill will towards her daughter, “ She flicked her eyes at her and began to lead the taratin through the gates, “despite how much she may dislike her play things.”
The Orianna let out an exasperated sigh and stopped. “Yes?”
“Can she come as well?” Elainia nodded toward Zellyth before holding a hand out to indicate her own lack of legs. “I am unable to do much on my own anymore.”
The spotted woman rolled her eyes in annoyance at the continued delay in her duties. “Why not stay with your former assistant then?”
The breath caught in Elainia’s throat. “Ja’Kal? He’s alive?!”
“Barely, but he has all his limbs.” The Orianna glanced at the Cafra, and grimaced – a simple act that reminded Elainia of the fact that the goddess had a particular dislike of the clan the woman pretended to hail from.
Elainia furrowed her brows. “Well, if that’s the case, then he will need help as well. Let her come.”
“You ask to much, but fine. I’ve got other things to attend to and you’re wasting my time.” The Orianna shoved the reigns back into Zellyth’s hand and continued through the gates.
While Elainia was pleased to have her companion with her again, she was put off by her former goddesses new avatar. “Wasting your time from what?”
“Since you failed to pay attention to anything,” the Orianna turned around deliberately, shooting a look of annoyance over her shoulder, “I have to form a hunting party.”