A/N: Happy Halloween/Samhain/Shadowfest/Dia de los Muertos!
The Goddess is the Joy of Life; she is the passion to live. Compassion, love, gentleness, and kindness are the essences of her spirit.
To each man she is Sister, Lover, Wife, Daughter…Mother.
Would you like me to refill your coffee for you? she asks softly, and Michael Lee looks up from his desk of chaos to see Robin hovering over him, a gentle smile on her face as she brandishes his cup.
Yes…please, he responds warmly, and rubs his head with a modicum of embarrassment before dutifully returning to his tasks before him.
She walks silently to the countertop and the coffee machine, and sets about pouring a cup for him. The smell of the potent brew soothes her.
On this day, she feels better than she had the entire week prior. Her mind is less cluttered with doubt and fear. Her comrades at the STN-J will help to keep her safe, and Master Kobari had assured her that her faith in Amon was not misplaced. Everything will turn out all right, as it should.
But when the gates and doors of their field office are suddenly blown off in a thundering explosion, causing her to drop the coffee pot, she is made painfully aware of the opposite, and of the folly of her thoughts of safety.
The entryway windows become spider webs of cracked glass, sounding like the crunch of icy snow underneath feet. The members of STN-J duck behind the safety of their desks—Miho, drawing her gun in panic, yells in her direction. Robin, get out of here! But there is, of course, no place to go. They are five stories above ground.
And when the glass finally shatters, all hell is broken loose.
The paratroopers burst through the entryway in a barrage of bullets and debris. Miho and Haruto fire several rounds at the intruders, but are taken down in mere seconds—a shot to the shoulder for Karasuma, wounds to both the arm and leg for Sakaki.
Robin is frozen in horror, not willing to believe her eyes at the sight. She buries her head in her hands. This isn't happening. This can't be happening…
Michael tries to run—a burst of gunfire catches him squarely in the back, and he falls to the floor, screaming. The soldiers advance on Hattori and Kosaka, and mow them down as well without a second thought. When she lifts her head, she sees them advancing on her, and she tries to flee—stumbling—from the shots fired, falling down onto the floor before them.
It's no use. I tried to hide myself, to hide away from them—but I put everyone in danger. Now, it is done.
Fear paralyzes her. Cowering and trembling on the floor, she awaits the end with her eyes open.
The God is the Hunter, and the Death Force which transforms. He is the Horned One, powerful and beautiful, swift-moving and wide-roaming, concupiscent. He is the noble stag who keeps silent watch over his herd. He is her wise and vigorous consort and champion.
And he is the Lord of Light, He who slays the darkness—the Sun God at the height of his power . He is her armor.
The light is blinding, and she shields her eyes from it.
And then she can feel someone taking her arm, lifting her up, out of the shadows of the miserable corner she had attempted to disappear into. Despite the piercing brilliance all around them, she can see his face clearly.
Come with me, he whispers. She hesitates, looking at him in wonder, before she follows.
The days grow shorter and darker. Light declines, as the darkness now increases.
He cannot remain the youthful Hunter forever. He is too closely connected to the cycle of life, and the laws of the universe state that all must be returned to the soil, so that life and abundance will fill the coming year. The waxing and waning tides of the earth demand it. Nothing green can remain.
It is the ever-repeating cycle, and it must not be ignored.
They run together, hand in hand, through the empty hallways of the building's corridors. At every floor he unlocks the entrance to the stairwell using an electronic code, locking it again behind them as they pass through. The soldiers must now break forcibly through each doorway. He has bought them some time.
They descend lower into the depths of the building, whispering frantically to one another. The walls of secrecy and mistrust, built so high between them both for so long, are all but torn away.
It's been determined that your powers are too dangerous.
Did you hunt the woman before me—
She demanded death, because she could not bear the fear her powers caused.
But…hunting your own partner…
There was no comrade's trust between us. Not like…
He hears the soldiers behind him, coming closer; his panic rises. They reach the well, and he directs her to destroy a portion of the wall. She goes at once to do so, thinking it their escape route. The well opens under his command at the press of a button, and he looks over at her—almost with longing—as she reduces the side of the building to ruins with her Craft.
Amon, you believed in me, didn't you?
And he tells her everything, as he takes her down into the well.
With a heavy heart, with futile sadness, he knows his time draws near, and he yields to it. He has become the Hooded One—Jack-in-the-green, the Harvest Lord…the Hanged Man. The Slain God.
He is both the procreative power as well as the seed of life. The Slain God bridges the gap between the two worlds. He is one with both heaven and earth, and to be one with him is to be one with the Source of All Things.
He tells her he could not overlook her hunt, despite having been ordered to. He whispers to her that he cannot think of her as a 'witch'. Knowing that his time is short, knowing that they are coming for him and will not show him mercy, Amon is compelled to reveal his innermost secret thoughts to her, to share them with her before it is too late. He touches her face gently, his breath warm against her skin, as he instructs her in regard to where she is to go and who she is to see.
By the time she realizes that he is not coming with her, she is panicked and tearful.
Amon! Why are you—No, I won't! If you stay here, you'll—
He pushes her down, back into the well, and she can no longer follow him. She can still hear him saying something to her, even as the stone door closes overhead.
It is dark. She is cold and alone, panting from her exertion, shuddering with emotion and fear. Her only companion now is the sound of her sobbing breaths.
The Goddess laments. Her eyes are of fire, and her heart is as if it were made of lead. She knows of the inevitability of his sacrifice, to ensure the abundance of the harvest, but she still cannot comprehend why it must happen as it does. The pain of separation is almost more than she can bear.
Why? she asks. Why must the one I love be taken away from me? When will I see him again?
As the shadows expand, the days steadily growing shorter, the darkness closes in around her.
Through the door of the well, she can hear an explosion—the soldiers have broken through the last lock from the stairwell, and she can hear Amon engaging them in volleys of gunfire. He is standing over the well, standing over her, staying behind to make it appear as though she escaped through the hole in the side of the building. He is protecting her.
She knows that he cannot win this fight.
The Spilling of the Seed refers to both the ripe seed of the harvest, which must fall into the soil, and to the release of the Slain God's life force in blood. As a savior, he has made the greatest sacrifice—he has given himself to preserve those he loves.
The gunfire abruptly stops, and she can hear the soft slump of his body hitting the ground, followed by the metallic clatter of his weapon.
She covers her mouth to prevent herself from screaming his name. She shuts her eyes tightly, tears streaming down her face.
The Goddess mourns. The spinning wheel has stalled. All of nature goes into recession at her grief—the trees have lost their leaves, the sunlight diminishes, new growth is thwarted. She has been stripped of her lighthearted innocence and happiness. Her heart is empty and bare, and the barren land around her reflects it.
Her fingers reach up to the entrance of the well, tracing the edges of the stone door that separates them. She claws at it feebly, trying to get through to him, to touch him one last time. She knows the futility of it, but she still tries to reach him, regardless.
Amon, she whispers quietly, her voice choking with emotion. Amon…
She finally relinquishes and curls her body inward, wracked with sobs. In the darkness she buries her head in her hands and weeps for what he has done.
But the scattering of the God's seed at his sacrifice has guaranteed his reincarnation, his rebirth through the Goddess at Winter's End. The harvest itself is the magical act that begins the cycle of renewal. The Harvest Lord is the spirit that assures the continuation of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The God knows that the seed of Hope planted now will one day become the strong stalk of Salvation.
And he who has sought—and found—a true spiritual path, is granted a second birth.
Amon is still cognizant, watching with narrowed and shimmering eyes as the paratroopers and soldiers ransack the building. They make no move to follow Robin.
It wasn't a hunt?... he asks himself in confusion. The realization gladdens him, even as he senses his consciousness slipping. If they are not hunting her, she will be safe.
For the first time in his entire life that he can remember, Amon feels a glimmer of hope.
She has mourned the loss of the one whom she loved. But the Lady of Dreams would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of death.
So she descends into the Underworld, to unlock the mysteries of life and death, and to search for her beloved God.
In the darkened staircase of the well, a lone figure makes her way silently and cautiously underground.
I have come in search of Thee. Is this where I begin?
Begin to seek me out, and I shall become as small as a seed, so you may but pass me by.
Then I shall split the rind, crack the grain, and break the pod.
But I shall hide beneath the earth, and lie so still, that you may but pass me by.
Then I shall raise you up in praise, and place you upon a mantle of green.
But I shall bide within the green, and cover myself, and you may but pass me by.
Then we shall tear the husk, and pull the root, and thresh the chaff.
But I shall scatter, and divide, and be so many that you may but pass me by.
Then I shall gather you in, and bind you whole…and make you One again.
Excerpts from The Aridian Rituals, by Raven Grimassi.