Meriah's Note: A NEW CHAPTER! YAY! I wish I had confetti to throw, but alas I can only picture it in my mind.
A lot goes on in this chapter, so pay close attention to every word. There is more action to it than thought. It's also probably the most interesting one I have written so far, yes! :D
I will try to update again sometime next week.
"Let he who is without sin… cast the first stone."
- John 8:7
Taruca blushed when Katari approached her and Sutichay. The adolescent, ripen with hormones, carried passionate thoughts for any attractive man. She was known as a flirt, but nothing worse. The doe-eyed girl welcomed Katari with a smile… only for that expression to fade when the tense atmosphere fell upon her.
"Sutichay, we need to talk," he stated, as if unaware of the younger person in their presence.
There was no warmth in his voice, no tenderness, no love. What rippled from him was something Sutichay was unaware he could possess. He knew, or at least suspected.
Her secret was exposed. It was as if she were Eve, with her sin already known before God.
It was then she wondered if an individual can change their fate; if they can navigate the roads of life with the choice to take crossroads. Had she dictated her past or was she something without conscious action -- a mannequin, perhaps, meant to be viewed but never to speak.
Some say that there are those whose path through their years is as set as the currents of the ocean, the stars in the sky, the eternal promise of moonrise. And there are some events which are predetermined, not chosen. They were conceptualized before even the sun came to be, and they will thrive after it dies. The upcoming birth of the life within Sutichay, her daughter, was one of these. She knew this as she recounted her experience at the Shrine of Mew, when the sacred canal waters showed a protective, blinding white light.
Yet the destiny for the baby was far greater, and that was what was unknown to the Sutichay: A savior of the people; manifestation of change and hope. The Liberator -- warrior, priestess, and holy child.
Certainly she never chose to be the vessel of this most hallowed being. No, fate chose her. And now she would have to face it.
The woman's gaze fell onto her friend, then settled on her lover.
"So let us speak in private," she answered with her head lowered and her eyes devoid of all light. "I will not speak otherwise."
In that moment, the normally bubbly Taruca was tame. Aware that the matter was a private one -- whatever it was -- she stayed behind.
Katari urged Sutichay to follow him. As she did so, unaware of the destination. Only a part of her believed that Mew would guard her from danger. But that part was enough.
Once away from the other villagers, the man grasped Sutichay from the wrist. She complied with his subliminal request to be passive and mute as they walked further away from the commons. They headed westward to the edge of civilization, and it was then when she realized the destination.
He took her to his property. The yard, far larger than most, waltzed alongside the river far from the other homes. The hut was on stilts for security against the elements and wild pokémon, which was a detail most of the other residences lacked. Yet above all, the hut was spacious enough to have separate rooms, and it was completely walled except for the porch.
Below the hut were three vegetable gardens, a pen for livestock pokémon, and all the equipment necessary for gold working. Looking upon all of these luxuries, it was clear that Katari and his family's occupation as goldsmiths divided them from the poor farming farmers.
Katari grinned. There was an unnerving silence with the exception of sounds from the domesticated pokémon.
"Where is everybody?" Sutichay asked.
Her lover failed to answer. but his grin widened. He knew the men were meeting with another esteemed family to discuss a trade, while the women were purchasing household goods. They were alone.
She added, "Where are the children?"
Something was not right. In the past, Katari's younger siblings welcomed them with giggles and hugs. And still he did not answer her… but his grin widened. Oh yes, he knew they were all out. The boys were receiving an educational lesson; they joined their father to discuss a trade with another esteemed family. Meanwhile, the females were at the market to purchase household goods.
He had not planned to take Sutichay there that day. Perhaps it was determined by fate or the gods. Yet then again, he had not expected to hear what he did earlier…
The timing was perfect.
Color began to diminish from her face. "Katari… we're alone, aren't we?"
"But where -"
Her sentence was cut off with, "Isn't that the way you like it? You found privacy at the Pilpintu Raymi and in our meetings. You craved it. You needed it."
Her brown eyes fell over him. "What is it you want?"
Katari went to his foraging station rather than reply.
And the maiden knew they were alone.
Katari started a fire in a crucible, and a pillar of flames rose before them like a great serpent. The red-orange blaze struck outward as if to bite Sutichay, and she leapt back. And in that fire, brilliant as a solar flare, punishment thrived.
There was power behind his name.
And now it was time for her sin to be corrected.
Katari stood before the almighty element, accompanied by molten gold in the crucible. Gold, the most precious gift to mortals and immortals alike; something which created and destroyed civilizations, and something which was offered to the gods. Yet above all, it was connected to the Mother. Her people revered it as representative of Her, the sun, day and of the light.
The liquid metal glistened, brighter than the sun and a hundred times more fierce. In its seduction was also the promise of justice. And it was then that Sutichay understood. The blood in her veins seemed to melt like that exalted metal…
"At first I had many questions," Katari said, his voice low and dry. "Now I only have one. It will be answered soon enough."
"Listen to me, please. I can explain. I -"
"Shut the fuck up!" he roared. "You must be pregnant. That is why you have been in baggier clothing!"
He wanted to strike her, but found his voice cooling. "Fine, so you slept with another man, even after I gave my heart to you at the Pilpintu Raymi. Perhaps I could have accepted that." Then his eyes darkened as two empty pools. "But to claim it was me who is responsible… how can I accept that?"
"So it was the shaman who told you," she affirmed. "Certainly that is why he so blatantly worded I am in this condition."
His head shook, and long bangs fell across his face. "No, it was not him. Someone else. Anyway, the point still stands that you set me up. You associated me with a sin I did not commit. And why, because you are insecure? Because you likely bed with all men? Am I right, Sutichay, am I? Is that why it took you so long to accept a partner at the festival?"
She was at a loss for words.
He continued with his insults; words of steel cutting her. Then he finally said in his exhausted state, "Just tell me who the father really is."
…And she found a rage swirling through him that she never felt in anyone, something hellish, something brutal. In him there was only malice.
Fear rose in Sutichay, primal as that of an animal, the kind when a bird finds itself in the shadow of a serpent. She concealed it, but the man saw through her regardless. She shuddered, felt the cold sweat trickle down her spin, and made herself like the fog which crosses between two planes of reality.
As if separated by incalculable miles, she was loosely aware of the man by the crucible. He was saying something loud, but she was too far gone to make out the words. Only his vicious tone reached her in that dreamscape. She drifted further away.
She should not have told him. Of course she would be branded a liar. But now all she craved was an ending of this chapter in her life. And she should not have opened herself up to this man; she knew it. It was thoughtless to let herself fall for him, this man of so much prestige and influence and popularity. Now her child would suffer the consequences… it was all her fault.
That voice… she failed to hear it, really, but she could feel it. It coiled itself around her, ready to strike, and she lacked the ability to protect herself and her daughter.
Damn it… damn it all, she thought, her mind still adrift. I need to bring myself back. I can't… I can't be like this right now.
There was one reason she continued onward in that world, for her child. That was the love she harbored. She pictured her looking down upon her daughter at birth, her eyes like her own, her smile and laughter all that was needed.
Sometimes love can act as a force unlike any other. She felt it churn within her, and what her strength could not achieve, love did. It would not let her die then.
But she did dissociate more. That was all she had to survive.
She tried to hit him, but he was too fast. He covered her mouth, silencing her to the world, and grabbed her with nails to leave jagged marks in her skin. Perhaps courage had been her downfall… for in that she had every reason to be afraid.
Sutichay was pushed to the ground. Her face met dust and rock. Before she could react -- roll away, run, whatever -- pain seared deep through her like a universe collapsing within itself. It scorched through flesh, down through blood and into bone, leaving the region black. He had dumped molten gold onto her thigh, and now the skin had literally melted. It was the purifying odor of flesh which entered her nostrils as sickness came over her.
She must have screamed to highlight that pain, to break through the reality and the one where her mind languished. She must have released a cry to the gods…
They were linked together in this game, this story of survival for the fittest. But she would somehow come out as the victor; she had come too far.
And then something dawned in her. She… she only imagined what just happened?! Yet the pain felt so realistic, so authentic. Was it her soul's way of breaking the mind out of that detached state?
What the fuck just happened?! she thought.
Then what she discovered to be genuine were the shackles which somehow had met her wrists. The device was made of gold, meant to symbolize punishment in the name of Mew, which was customary of her people.
I hate dissociation. Why must I be inflicted with such a hellish thing?!
And she said to him, "I never lied to you, Katari… you son of a bitch."
It was time.
Retribution for her evil-doing lurked within the souls of the villagers, if she was indeed accountable. Their words pierced through the advancing twilight onto her, and even the forest listened. She realized she was truly endangered now… on the brink of life and death and all things in-between.
The shadows of her fellow people traveled across the ground. It was their hatred; it felt all over her body, gnawed at her inner being, and burned her mind like dry leaves. She viewed herself in hundreds of eyes -- and looked upon something terrified. She was in the gazes of her parents, siblings, friends, and her beloved Katari, and it was too much. She was incapable of seeing herself - something shackled like a rabid wild pokemon - and her head sank.
As Katari dragged her through the settlement, they watched her from where the light met the darkness, waiting her for her like starved beasts. She had toyed with them and the fiber of their morality.
Perhaps she could have won this…
Yet it seemed futile now.
For many moons they craved blood on their hands. They wanted a death from human means, something to defy disease and all natural things. Something to counter the gods to ensure mankind still had substance in the world.
They waited long, and they wanted victory.
The shadows were damning her. The shadows were overtaking her.
She would be checked to verify her pregnancy, but everyone knew the truth. They were drunken by the entertainment of ending the woman's years.
Sutichay would die in the night -- that realm governed by the unknown, illustrated by moonlight and the screams of prey; the time in which Mew was said to be absent.
Katari pushed her, and her weakened body fell against the dirt below to stain her skin and clothes. Still bound, she raised herself by the knees, still bright in spirit.
The apprentice declared, "Take her to the shrine. If she is proven to be an adulteress, may at least her shed blood be purified by the holy waters." His arms widened as if he could capture the sky as he added, "It is what the Goddess would desire."
Only then did Sutichay lift her head, and what came from her was a bawl: "How would you know what She wants?! You know nothing!"
He smirked, which increased her rage.
And she looked upon him, but her reflection now was of a powerful woman. She roared, "The Great Mother desires life. That is why She resides in the most purest of water -- it represents the promise to sustain all living things!"
"This from the whore…" he laughed to the audience.
"The Great Mother rules over Light, the sun, all things which give and continue life. And I… I think she may mourn that we are not immortal like her."
The apprentice demanded that she be silent as her philosophies were blasphemy. He turned to his villagers, those rows of peasants and the wealthy, and suddenly he felt the extent of his supremacy. He was like a king, and had mastered his religious education. This event, this night, was his testament to observing the laws and commandments. Yet even more so, it was his test to determine if the time had come for him to be the new shaman -- the intermediary between mankind and the divine. Surely the outcome was predetermined.
In the background the shaman lifted his staff high to indicate the start of the test. The younger man grinned. Oh yes, how he had ached for this moment.
"Let her status be made known!" he declared. "Bring in the dog!"
A growlithe came through the crowd by his owner's side. He was specially trained to assist in the medical arts; his keen sense of smell could finalize if Sutichay was with child. The fire canid sniffed her and immediately flagged his tail. Indeed, he was well trained.
And that was enough for the people.
Then Katari spoke aloud of who Sutichay claimed was the father. There was no way that could be true!
The apprentice ordered, "Take her to the shrine!"
Any form of punishment was outlawed at the Shrine of Mew, especially if it could bring about death. Despite this, the apprentice seared with power; any instruction was to be followed without question.
Some men seized Sutichay like the crazed beasts they were. She was their meat, their satisfaction for blood. She was their toy. These men, who she had grown up with and came to trust, were leading her to a final breath. In shackles she was dragged across a blackened landscape, her screams quieted by their threats and violence.
Her knees chaffed against the stone stairway of the temple, but the pain was no worse than her numbing arms. It was as if her own life energy was evaporating from her veins. She was so weak in body; like porcelain, she was bound to break. No… she was not meant to suffer, to be under the control of the savage. They may have had her in the flesh, but her mind and soul were unbound and free like a great eagle.
And so she pitied them, these fools deluded by a megalomanic. Her emotion prowled on the edge of her world, invading her from all angles.
She was dragged to the top level of the temple, across the path to the altar. It was as if she were the woman brought before the Pharisees and scribes. Like her, she was nothing more than a whore to be stoned in honor of the law. She was their own Magdalene.
Then there was a blade in the hands of the apprentice, and he spoke of death being her final sentence. It was a ceremony of blood, flesh and sinew; the screams of a woman to shudder through all who may lavish in sin and lie. It was an ancient custom rarely enacted upon out of fear… for would Mew truly approve of such behavior?
Yet the apprentice was so certain of himself and of Mew's thoughts, and so the villagers found themselves as bystanders.
Sutichay looked at no one. She only prayed.
She pictured the oncoming scene of blood, a liquid so moist and warm, cascading down her frame and blending with the canal waters. It would form a scarlet cloud, polluting the holiness of the sanctuary, with her flesh and bone to follow.
Driven by instinct, the maiden screamed, thrashed, and dug her nails into the skin of a man. But the joined force of four burly men held her down while Katari looked on with apathy coursing from him. Her family and Taruca seemed anguished, although ensnared by the laws of their culture.
Screams ripped through her, vibrating off the stone walls, and shattered against the floor like glass. The vicinity was scorched by her screams, one of torment so basic and primeval.
She imagined the apprentice drawing the knife along her, slicing through skin and muscle, kissing bone. It was dulled, rusty, and painted by the blood of past victims -- for it was a blade used in all offenses, never once cleaned.
There is nothing worse than when the body is carved like meat, disregarding of the soul still beating within it. To be bound by metal, rope or any object, able to do nothing as it is damaged… can anything be worse? Perhaps only one thing: The torture from the commoners in the form of stoning.
Then the body is discarded, no longer useful, as if it was mere carrion. And then it is no longer entwined with the soul for they are eternally separated.
She awaited these punishments, these two things that would be felt simultaneously.
Suddenly, the wind came, and trees scraped against a black sky until lightning tore through the clouds with thunder to echo her screams. A rain flayed the earth below, violent and primordial. The bolts shattered against the earth all around the people, blocking them from seeking shelter.
Then a great array of light, more brilliant than the birth or death of a star, came down from the heavens and onto Sutichay. It embraced her like a bird shelters her young, guarding her from the wrath of nature. And in that great light all the memories of life itself flowed through her, all history of the planet was her own. The limitless streams of creation were like water through her body, this vessel of the Liberator.
It was a sunbeam to conquer the blackness.
The energies of life pulsed in her like waves -- the continual heartbeats of the earth.
She heard sounds from all directions and from only the center. It was a choir of voices from all pokémon and humans across every era. She heard their many tongues, the cries of suffering, the laughter of joy. Yet the voices did not harm her; they were a gathering of music.
The prophecy was fulfilled. Mew had saved her.
Sutichay's villagers shielded themselves with their arms from the storm, but their gazes were set on the phenomenon of sunlight in the darkness. Some cried she was a sorceress or demon, while others declared she was a gift of heaven. The young woman turned her attention to Katari to find he was astounded. They were drawn together, these two beings of the Light, whether they were or were not in love.
He wanted to go to her and so he stood, but the array of light grew more intense as if to warn him to keep a distance. He obeyed.
"She is a witch, I tell you. She is evil!" the apprentice shouted, his voice rumbling over the others. He grabbed a large stone with a wild flame in his eyes, ready to cast it at her. "She must die… I'll kill her myself!"
Subsequently, another lightning bolt slashed through the atmosphere, one as magnificent as life, death, all things in between. It came accompanied by a thunder to silence the heavenly and earthly realms, then shattered inches from him. And in that electricity came a blue entity which commanded to him, Do not harm her, lest karma find you.
It was Azelf, which stared into him with orbs ancient as the dawn of time. He added: And who are you, human, to condemn another being of your kind? You are the filthiest here, for you are a murderer in spirit.
Lighting continued to pound the earth, shaking it with an unfathomable rage. The villagers pled for safety, their tears like the rain that soaked them. Yet the anger from the God of Will exceeded that of the elements.
The apprentice met those ancient eyes, if only for those moments of his display of power... and saw himself for who he truly was. He saw his own eyes mirroring back at him as a portal into his subconscious. He was apathetic to study them prior to then, but they were gray as the ash and stone of his being. There was nothing to them.
Azelf heralded before the crowd: Who among you are free of sin? Judge not the actions of this woman, for we gods know of your intentions, your actions, your evils! You shall receive justice before the presence of my Father!
Ending note: Originally it was my intention to extend this chapter, but I think I made a good cut-off here.
My fiancé feels I should have titled this "The Whorish Slutbag and the Agricultural Gnome". He said, "It's a beautiful title. Even more beautiful than the story itself."
Also, I changed something here. At first the sunbeam was supposed to break through gray clouds during the day, but I thought it would be more effective to have the phenomenon at night. I hope it illustrates Mew's power.
To ease confusion, yes, Mew caused the lightning storm and the sunbeam. Azelf simply showed up during it.
By the way, I love the Lake Trio. I watched the episode "Agnome, Yuxie, Emrit!" (DP episode 151; series episode 620), and oh my, they have the cutest voices. Seriously. Especially when Agnome/Azelf appeared from a portal between dimensions, stretched and yawned… so adorable ^^;; I recommend that you watch it. I found it subtitled!
One more thing: I do NOT believe Mary Magdalene was the adulteress in John 8:2-11. If you read the passage there is nothing which ever indicates they were the same person. (And actually, I have a very deep veneration for Mary Magdalene, having read The Gnostic Gospels far before The Da Vinci Code was popularized). But regardless, I am going for artistic license here. Please don't take offense…
No, wait, I changed my mind. Here's the last thing:
ARCEUS: hoominz shall reseeve justis lol lol!!111oneone!1111!!! hey asl???