PART NINE: THE TRIAL OF ORSEIUS
Alyan’s parents nodded indicating that they were indeed his parents as he had expected them to be before embracing him and speaking of how proud they were of him. He allowed Thea to commune with her loved ones as he and his parents and other loved ones communed as well. It was hard to focus on the purpose of why they were there in the first place when his family and friends spoke so lovingly of him, speaking of all the times they watched over him and hearing them cheering them on filled him with hope.
“My dear sweet boy, how horrible fate was to you because of our separation. Once I ascended, I learned the whole truth and I was so hurt, my sweet child. I have never fully allowed myself the full experience and joys of this Nirvana since then. I have clung onto you with everything that I have. I am so sorry I didn’t know and that I failed to protect you as I should have- please forgive me,” his mother Lilea said.
“Mother, it wasn’t your fault. I don’t blame you or Father but why did it happen that way? Who is behind this all?”
“It is the Entity, darling, behind this all. We were taken for fools. We followed every observance we could, did everything we could think of to ensure you were born safely and soundly but we should not have underestimated the Entity and neither should you. She sent her most loyal subject to us and he subtly influenced us- allowed the Entity to subtly control our minds. We thought nothing of it when we had visions of Ismead. We expected him to be the son we had longed for and- and so it was,”
“You- you received visions of Ismead?”
“Yes, my son. We anticipated him and believed in the false premonitions the Entity produced. And then her most loyal servant simply orchestrated everything else. He had the healers induce Cleodora’s birth at almost the exact time your mother brought you into this world,” his father responded.
Alyan was shocked to hear that.
His mother nodded. “It was not easy, my darling. Your father and I were so exhausted from the experience, we did not question why the midwife took our son from us before we’d even seen him. The midwife was working with the loyal servant who orchestrated the switch. The name of the servant you seek is Orseius son of Lavender and Kadi. He pretends to be a High Sage in the religion of Gaia but in truth, he is a priest of the order of darkness. My son, you must take care. The Entity is seeking the throne of Wintria. It is obsessed with it. You must not let it infiltrate the Kingdom,”
“And so the pillars- that- that was what they were intended for?”
“Yes, my son. The Pillars were meant to control Wintrians with dark influences for the nefarious purposes of the Entity. It seeks to destroy all good in the world and take over as the goddess but knows it cannot win against Gaia. You feel her presence here, do you not, my son? Such is Her power…”
Alyan nodded. “But the Pillars were destroyed… How could that be?”
“The forces of good intervened. A Traveler you are to meet in future, Avery Alison, orchestrated the whole thing. She was helped by a creature long believed to be dead and gone from your world. This creature was once on the side of darkness but joined the side of goodness recently,”
“What creature-” Alyan began to ask but then his mother said, “Your time with us is up. You must leave this place or risk being stuck here forever. All things shall be revealed to you at the right time but for now, my son, please return to the land of the living,”
“We’ll be together again but remember this, my son, we will always be watching over you. Do not be afraid. You will make a fine Prince and Sage,” his father responded.
“Father-” he began but then everything began spinning dizzily fast and before they knew it, both he and Thea were back on the bridge.
“Thea-” Alyan began.
“I know- I didn’t want to leave either but we’ve got a mission to do. For starters, we must apprehend that criminal and make him pay for what he did to you and Ismead,”
Alyan nodded and they began their trek back on the Bridge. He felt like turning back many times but soldiered on until both he and Thea were back to the land of the living. Both of them found themselves lying side by side in the circle in cold sweats surrounded by elite Wintrian Warriors.
Thea did not even wait to sit up. She ordered the immediate arrest of Orseius and it was done.
The fake Sage did not put up a fight even when faced with the Prince of Wintria and his mate.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Orseius?” Thea asked him harshly.
“For how long shall you two keep up the pretense? What kind of coward hides behind his mate? Face me like the man you are supposed to be Prince Alyan,”
Orseius was stuck from behind so hard that he fell on all fours and spat blood on the ground for his insolence. However, instead of being offended, he actually laughed.
“Do you think I am afraid of anything you do to me? You may torture me all you like even kill me if you so wish but I shall not be afraid. I shall be reunited with the only goddess I serve-”
“What happened to you? Were you not a Servant of Gaia? How is it that your faith became so corrupted?” Alyan asked in shock.
“I now know the truth of the false goddess you call Gaia. She is a Creator but not of all life- no- my goddess was not created; she simply came into being like Gaia Herself. Why then is Gaia so intimidated by my goddess? Why will She not acknowledge her equal and allow us to worship her as we see fit? It is because she is a jealous goddess that has exaggerated Her true power for Millennia. For how long shall we stay blinded? With Gaia, there is really no choice- She imposes Her will on us and expects us to follow without question. She tells us what she sees as good without allowing us the Free Will to make up our own minds…”
“Tell me, should a goddess that is the perfect Queen of all that is Holy and Good truly create such imperfect creatures as us? Why does Gaia delight in punishment of sins when in fact it was She that designed us with the inclination to sin? Why does she create us with knowledge of the forbidden arts and bestow such horrific gifts to us- the gifts to end life if we so desire, and then punish us when we do exactly what her gifts were intended for?”
“I am a spiritual leader and I seek to educate the masses on the truth. I seek to enlighten the masses on the dangers of worshiping such a cruel goddess and offer them an alternative- to worship a goddess that actually loves all creation- one who seeks to unify- one that offers true free will. My goddess does not hide behind lofty clouds and behind a 1001 locks and a billion Messengers to watch her creations tear themselves apart only to later speak through the Sages and Priests of her cults to condemn the catastrophic loss of life.”
“My goddess is close to her creations. She has assumed a vulnerable state- a mortal state. Tell me, would Gaia ever truly make herself so vulnerable? My goddess allows us to see her face and to kiss her feet; she allows us to know her and love her. She values our worship and service and that is why I shall so gladly die for her or do whatever she asks of me. In the end, she shall reward me and she shall be the only goddess I will ever serve…”
Alyan was surprised to hear the words of Orseius who stayed true to his word and was therefore executed for treason despite being given fair chances to change. He would later learn that the cult Orseius had run committed ritual suicide upon learning of their leader’s execution. It appeared that as the Prince of Wintria, he would have plenty to contend with and hoped and prayed he’d be strong enough to deal with every challenge he’d meet.