PART FOUR: THE WILD GOOSE CHASE
Since his dramatic first meeting with Ilya, Emre had not had any more run ins with the purported goddess. In fact, save for a few instances of her popping in and out of varied Timelines, Ilya had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth. However, the New Dawn for Rifters Organization worked with law agencies of the time to find Ilya in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of who she was, which world she hailed from and most importantly, the extent of her power and its limitations.
For several weeks, the organization and law agencies sought her in vain. They had even tried to pray to her as Emre had informed them that she answered to ‘prayers of her faithful’ but nothing seemed to work and they were unable to summon her.
Several persons of interest that could lead to wherever Ilya was hiding were investigated but nothing panned out until investigators stumbled upon an obscure private message board from a social media site located in the deep web.
The Message board featured advice on how to summon Ilya with a step-by-step guide and was written by a purported priest in her cult. Several commenters had reported success after following the online guide and gave testimonies on how worshiping Ilya had changed their lives for the better.
Investigators were able to obtain information concerning the real identities of members of the private Message board and Emre was invited to tag along with them as they confronted the self-proclaimed priest of Ilya’s cult. The priest was surprisingly very hospitable despite the intimidating presence of security agents bursting into the room, seemingly baying for his blood.
The security agents explained what they needed from the man- for him to reveal the exact coordinates of where his goddess was. The man claimed that Ilya had informed him that some people would come looking for her and that his faith in her would be tested which had, thus far, come to pass.
The priest was ordered to reveal her location as she was wanted for several crimes and keeping her location a secret would make him an accessory to her crimes. He smiled and shook his head claiming that his goddess was not a criminal as she was incapable of it, being perfect. He offered to summon her right before the investigators and went as far as to follow the instructions he had posted online on how to summon her.
He began by burning myrrh whose smell filled the cramped up space in the priest’s humble abode as he prepared everything he required for the summoning ritual. He held onto an amulet he wore around his neck as he got down on his knees and rocked back and forth as he prayed, strategically using sacred objects in their rightful order in accordance with the guide. Finally, he took out a blade and cut his hands, dripping blood onto the bowl placed in the middle of sacred circle, burning a wide variety of sacred herbs he had drawn prior to beginning his fervent prayers.
The smoke soon conjoined with the smoke of the myrrh ascending to the roof of the house and soon formed the silhouette of a woman before forming into the shape of Ilya, stunning all gathered in the home except for the priest. The priest cried out for joy as he kissed her feet and thanked her for answering his prayers. She helped the man get up and healed his hands thanking him for his sacrifice.
Investigators looked at her for several moments in stunned silence. She observed them rather nonchalantly until she settled her gaze on Emre and then stated in the Ancient Fairy Tongue, “I just do not understand you at all, Son of Anna. One would think that a man who has finally been granted everything he has ever desired by fate would not so casually risk losing it all in the futile attempt to capture me…”
“I had already explained this to you, Son of Anna. You cannot contain me as my abilities far surpass your own. I revealed to you that I am a goddess and I am moved towards answering to the prayers of my faithful. I had determined last we spoke that your heart and soul already belong to Gaia and as such, there is no way you could truly worship me…”
“So why do you tempt fate by going up against me? Isn’t it enough that your mate is safe and sound and finally lavishing you with the love and affection you so heartily desired? Isn’t your perfectly blissful life right now more than enough for you?”
Investigators scrambled to translate the Ancient tongue into a language they could understand and were astounded that she could speak the tongue so fluently despite their technology informing them that she was not a fairy. However, it appeared that their technology could not accurately state what exactly Ilya was and instead its results were inconclusive about her nature.
“I can never be fully satisfied unless I know who you really are, where you come from and what your true purpose is. You returned several beneficiaries of my organization back to their respective timelines and away from safety, against their will, if I may add, which is a crime. You cannot just be allowed to do whatever you please in the name of answering to the prayers of your faithful,”
“I did nothing wrong. One might argue that these people did not belong in this Timeline and I was simply setting things right as should be. In any case, how is what I do for my followers any different than what Travelers do when they smuggle these people into Timelines they do not belong in?”
“Travelers help beneficiaries escape from their respective hellish Timelines. They help Rifters escape horrifying conditions, sometimes fates worse than death,”
“Not all Travelers are not as noble as you think, Son of Anna. Some actively prevent criminals from getting their just due. In any case, it is not your call to make as to what pertains to justice or lack thereof. Why you and your comrades are here is because you fear me. You fear that what I claim is true,”
“There is no other goddess but Gaia,” Emre said firmly.
“How surprisingly close-minded for a Traveler like you to say, but I suppose only your mate and your son could fully understand how I could exist having their minds open to the possibilities of other Realities,”
“You keep claiming that you are from an Alternate Reality with no proof to back up your claim. You may just be a deluded pure magic caster in serious need of a reality check and psychiatric help,”
“Or I may actually be a goddess as I claim to be but that possibility scares you, does it not, Son of Anna? It makes you feel powerless knowing that a being as powerful as myself can exist and so you rationalize it as ramblings of a powerful but maddened sorceress,”
“Have you considered that I might be right? Haven’t you thought that perhaps you really do need psychiatric help? I can help you, Ilya. Come with me and we will work on finding you the help you require,”
“People truly fear what they cannot comprehend. This conversation is leading us nowhere, it is as your people say, a wild goose chase. And as always, your focus is on the wrong thing. Instead of wasting your efforts chasing after me, you should help the Department of Defense in catching the Shtrigu they inadvertently allowed to enter your world before it kills and becomes too powerful to contain. You may want to focus your efforts on protecting schools as children are the Shtriga’s preferred prey,”
“What- what do you mean by that?” asked a frightened investigator.
“Ah, Son of Lily, at long last you have gained the courage to address me. You should probably check on Monet soon. She won’t wait around forever, as she has cautioned you several times,” Ilya spoke, switching to speaking in perfect English without strain.
The addressed investigator drew out his gun and pointed it at Ilya.
“Shut up! You don’t know the first thing about me!” he stated pointing the weapon threateningly at her.
The priest of Ilya’s cult flanked her with his arms outstretched ready to give his life in protecting her but she placed a firm hand on his right shoulder and pressed it reassuringly.
“Their crude weapons cannot harm me, my son,” she stated tenderly.
“My- my lady,” he stated with a reverent bow, getting down on his knees and worshiping her.
The investigator fired several shots the moment the opportunity presented itself but as claimed by Ilya herself, the shots simply rebounded off her with no effect whatsoever.
Emre was astounded to witness Ilya’s power. He had never met anyone that could be attacked with so many different types of weapons (the first shots issued by the investigator caused all security agents in the room to adopt an offensive stance against Ilya) and not so much as obtain a scratch.
“Violent creatures who do not learn from past mistakes. Can’t you not see how futile your attacks are? I think it is time for you to all go to sleep,” Ilya stated so aloofly that Emre thought he had imagined it at first and yet, he was unable to resist the urge to sleep once she had mentioned it.
“Pleasant dreams, children of Gaia,” Ilya said just before Emre fully went to succumbed to her command and when he arose, he was back in his bed, lying peacefully next to Avery.
For several moments afterwards, Emre wondered whether he had truly even seen Ilya again or if it had just been a dream after all. He turned to observe Avery who was tossing and turning wildly in her sleep before waking up in a cold sweat.
“Avery, what’s the matter, my love?” he asked her worriedly.
“Em… I… I think there’s another Shtriga in this world,” she announced grimly.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Is what Avery says to be believed? Is there truly another hideous Shtriga in this world? What about Ilya? Is she truly a goddess? Stay tuned to find out. Previous entries in this fascinating tale are listed below. Enjoy;