Terna saw Ilal’s attention shift to Anam. ‘You alone will be enough. Go meet Termin. I’ll stay with Terna.’
Anam opened his mouth to say something before he shut it. Nodding, he conjured the purple portal and went through it.
Terna didn’t say anything. Her mind was full with ideas of vengeance and sympathy to her people collided together. She didn’t expect this level of destruction. When Anam sought for her, she thought it was another trouble done by the humans, something she could fix. The crater on the Ilaeg’s outskirt managed to chill her a bit, though she didn’t let them see it. Anam couldn’t conjure a permanent effect in his creations - at least not directly.
And now this. Along with other Children, she had handled unwanted entities. Never once did they disturb Alasia; she had made, with means known only to herself, the land reject them. The same ways that nullified Anam’s magic. But that was beside the point.
She turned back, and the scenery raped her eyes once again - the corpses, the craters. Her people were dead. Not all of them, her mind whispered. Only at Kalaki. There is still Alasia.
What would the rest of Alasia think of this? She walked through the massacre, followed by the silent Ilal. Her eyes lowered, focusing on the dead details in front, before they shot upward, fixed on the sight of a ruined building.
The building was as tall as a mountain, its walls made of glass. It was the center of trade, named Lim Mas, leaking gold. Here, the traders presented their most exotic, rare, and valuable goods, such as Ha’il’s magical dress or Ilaeg’s emotion scanner or Ezbegh’s charming perfume. Alasia wasn’t deprived of those herself, having her traders presenting multiple types of seeds that would grow after only a night, one of the many examples.
Now Lim Mas stood with an almost complete hole in its middle, leaning slightly to one side in the brink of falling. What happened to the people in there, she wondered, taking a deep breath. Were they dead too? Did the entities reach them? She had the most ridiculous wish of them being unharmed, but that seemed impossible. The thought of the entities missing them as their victims were humorlessly laughable. Ruination had surrounded them; they must have escaped if they were alive, must have known Kalaki was the least safe place in Alasia.
Tears threatened to dwell in her eyes again, but she closed her eyes and turned her hands into fists. Sympathy and sadness wouldn’t help her to bring justice to the victims. The entities will pay, she thought, and open her eyes again. As she entered the ground floor of the building, those four words repeated themselves in her mind. Bodies lay still on the floor, blood soaking their clothes, like a stranded whales on the bank of a beach. The receptionist at the middle had his head stamped on the counter, a blot of scarlet marking it.
‘Damn them to oblivion,’ Terna hissed. The entities were unforgiving, undiscriminating in choosing their victims.
She had seen enough, so she turned back and exited the building. She noticed Ilal’s unbroken silent, and thought if the latter wondered what would it feel like to have this violation of territory and on followers in Ilaeg. It vanished as she saw the sight outside, no better in the inside.
‘You can’t bring them back, can you?’ Terna whispered.
‘No, I can’t. They aren’t supposed to die today, but I cannot undo death,’ Ilal replied.
Terna didn’t react to that. Resurrecting the Kalaki’s Alay would violate one of Ilal’s own-made rules - once a creation with awareness died, they stayed dead.
She preferred it that way, now that she thought of it. If the people were brought to life again, they’d bring some relief to her, which would lessen her thirst for vengeance. No, they should remain dead. They’d go to Heaven at least. This Terna had mad sure by making a deal with Quayn, God of the Dead, the second Child of Rendarin King.
She dropped to her knees and placed both her hands to the ground. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and felt the sensation of Kalaki. The others saw Kalaki, Earth, planets, as non-living creations, but she viewed them otherwise. The awareness, the thought of being existing, was given to Kalaki by the people who lived in it, and when the inhabitants were dead, Kalaki was dead too. But not fully dead - others who would arrive and make a living here would revive it back.
Terna had no intention for that. She imagined her Will, a deep shade of brown, to seep into the ground like streams of water, to every part and crevice of Kalaki. Her energy extended to its whole. Then, she released her hands and opened her eyes.
Ilal watched her. ‘You make Kalaki like Ha’il. Forever untouched.’
Terna shook her head. ‘Ha’il is fully destroyed; it has no chance to live. If humans are to bother themselves cultivating it, they’d take hundred years. Kalaki isn’t the same. It can be brought to greatness again, but that won’t happen until the criminals are punished to oblivion.’
Ilal looked at the corpses again. ‘Some of them must have family staying somewhere else. Kalaki is known to be the land of prosperity, attracting Alays from other parts of Alasia. They wouldn’t be able to come here.’
Terna was silent. Was she being reckless, sealing Kalaki from being intruded by outsiders? Did she really need this ugly reminder of what the entities had done to her people at the cost of some unable to find out what happened to their beloved ones? Wouldn’t she be torturing them?
Jana came to mind, evaporating her hesitations. ‘I’ll inform my prophetess. Fortunately, I didn’t sense her contact here when I scanned the Earth’s surface. I’m pretty sure she was at her home state, Selang.’ Another being came to mind, this one prompting a sigh out of Terna. Yalir must’ve been wondering where I am right now, she thought. She’d understand when I explain to her later. My people first.
She closed her eyes again and touched the ground.
This time, her whole Will went out of her body, leaving the latter without a soul, but still breathing, and was under Ilal’s protection. It was crucial to have a Child at her side when she attempted to use telepath through the geography. She was now not a goddess with human body, but rather a river. At first, blackness dominated her vision, before it turned to brown - the colour of the Earth. She flowed, and she knew where she should head. Turns and twists she took, before she reached Selang, Kalaki’s neighbor state. She stopped by moving in a circle, sensing the vibration above the ground.
Then, seeing a a pair of shiny emerald shoes, she launched herself towards it. Her Will rushed through the shoes, filling their entire particles, before touching the prophetess’ feet and entering her body. At this point, Jana should’ve lost consciousness.
Terna now resided in Jana’s subconscious world, an expanse of watered purple and nothing else but a mirror floor. In front of her laid Jana, a woman in her twenty wearing a sleeveless purple gown. Her braided black hair laid loose on the floor whose surface felt like water.
‘Jana. Wake up,’ Terna commanded, prompting a sharp intake of breath from Jana.
The mortal looked at her staring reflection and quickly composed herself. She knelt. ‘My goddess.’
Protocols. Terna hated them now, thinking if this communication stretched to hours, she would kill them herself.
‘Stand.’ Jana stood, and Terna cursed herself. Now she didn’t have time to present the bad news in the best way. Should she be sad because of the Alay’s death, or should she be angry because of the entities’ massacre? At the end, she let honesty have its way.
‘All Alay as well as the foreign traders in Kalaki are dead,’ she started.
Jana, who had been waiting for her words, didn’t reply. Didn’t react. Her face revealed nothing.
As expected, Terna thought, fascinated by Jana’s capability to remain emotionless - or appear to be so. It wouldn’t last. ‘They were… killed, by some entities my siblings and I have yet to discover. The city was ruined. I sealed it, preventing any living being from entering it until the entities are taken down.’
Jana’s mouth opened slightly, showing a crack of emotion. ‘Sealed?’ she asked, finally, with a voice threatening to shatter. ‘But - but Ilya was there! My brother was there to trade! I’ve tried calling him - I’ve tried many times - and he didn’t answer! I should go there, to Kalaki, to retrieve -’ she took a deep breath, wasn’t looking at Terna, and in fact looked as if she was about to vomit a huge boulder from her stomach ‘- to retrieve - whatever - whatever remained - of his - of his body.’
Terna looked away. She couldn’t bear to see Jana. I didn’t know he was there, she thought. If she could revive Ilya, at least to give some comfort to Jana - I cannot undo death. Ilal’s word arrived like a sharp reminder. But she had to make sure Jana could control herself! How else could she help her?
You can’t even bring comfort to your prophetess, and you call yourself a goddess? Laughable. The whisper of insecurity brought goose flesh at the back of her neck. Don’t look away. Watch her. Watch her as she breaks, as she mourns for the death of her beloved one, the only family she had, who died because of your incompetency!
‘Stop!’ Terna shouted, and while she didn’t intend to direct it to Jana, the prophetess stopped from crying. Go away. I’m in control. ‘Stop your crying,’ she said forcefully to Jana, and while she knew full well Jana might see her as a cruel goddess, she had to do that. ‘I’m not here to see my prophetess whom I have chosen to show her weakness in front of me. If you want to mourn for the death of your brother, do so. But not in front of me, and definitely not now.’
She took a deep breath. ‘You are a prophetess. Your first priority is to make sure your people worship me and practice what I have taught them through you. Right now, I want you to teach them how to be resilient in the face of hardship, because they will need it. They will question and rage and despair because of this news, but they have to remain strong. For their sake.’ She paused. ‘And mine.
‘What is done has been done, Jana. I cannot turn back time. Even if I can, I cannot guarantee the same thing won’t happen again. I don’t know Ilya as much as I do you, and I cannot say I’m sad for his death. But this is what I know: humans have faced losses from the past, and they persevered. They brought the scar carved from the deaths of their beloved ones to their lives and showed them as proof that no matter what, they lived for the living, for those who still breathed and needed their help.
‘You have to do the same. If you think about Ilya, think about your people too. Think about those who would stay in poverty if not for your help to guide them how to trade. Think about yourself. You are alive, you are young, and there is so much you can do in the world, so much you will want to do if only you don’t let this pain to cover your desire. Don’t let Ilya’s death be the cause of your death.’
Jana wiped her tears and bowed, not looking at Terna. This was her hardest challenge as a prophetess, the goddes knew. ‘I - I understand. I will do my best.’
Terna nodded. ‘Good. That is all I want to say. We will meet -’
A high pitch laughter interrupted her. That is all you want to say? Are you not worried? Are you not worried Jana would turn her back on you, and seek guidance from a more powerful, more competent deity, such as, say, Nevea? Has your sense of false security deluded you this much?
The whisper crawled around her like an army of scorpions, just moving around until they found the perfect time to strike. She shooed them away as hard as she could. ‘We will meet next time.’
Then, the same process happened. She turned to water and fell away from Jana’s subconscious just as the latter fainted, rushing through the emerald shoes to the ground, and finally, to her body.
She opened her eyes and felt her shoulder being grabbed by someone. It was Ilal, of course, watching her with concern written over their face. ‘How did it go?’
She patted their hand and stood. ‘It went well. Jana was a bit shaken by the news of her brother’s death, but I’ve assured her to remain strong.’ She paused. ‘I hope she’d remain strong. It’d take some time to find another prophetess if she couldn’t handle the situation right now.’
A/N: Previously, the trio deities, Terna, Ilal, and Anam face the destruction in Kalaki, one of the most important cities in Terna's favourite country, Alasia. In this chapter, Anam is instructed to meet the God of Communication, Termin, while Terna and Ilal explore more the destruction of Kalaki. Terna also communicates with her prophetess, Jana, and informs her about the disaster.