E-Azad-kutu-ana stood before the window on the Eastern wall of his cell. His palms outstretched and pressed flat against the cool sandstone walls. Betwixt, the sun began its daily birth. Falling upon Azad’s face, the light sculpting his features in gold. Warming his forehead, reflecting from his eyes; it fell to his mouth, terse and troubled.

Less than a wisp of wind swept his hair, sending two-three strands twisting together. Holding tight to one another other. The sun was warm, it filled him with a sereneness long forgotten. He basked, tilting his head back, presenting a proud chin to the beam coming through the thin window.

It was the day.

Gathering his thoughts and his robes of ceremony; he departed for the exaltation of the new dawn. Leaving a memory of red cloth and frankincense in his wake, he strode forth into the lower level; calling the people to prayer. Her Wisdom, Her Justice and Her Truth. For She was All to them; Mother, Sister, Friend, Enemy, Neighbour and Sojourner.

Without Her they would have long perished; from fire or drought. The distance of the Plateau from other settlements was far. Guests and visitors keen to see the treasures of Her travails were few. For they were unknown beyond their own memory.

Mountains formed a protective wall around three-quarters of the land, to the last, forests, plains and the sea. They were held within Her safe grasp safe and snug, like a babe. And they thanked Her for this, for Her creation.

Within their Valley, they lived and toiled. Hunted and farmed. Upon the Plateau grew fields of corn, of hops and of rye. Statues of stone dotted the countryside, often daubed with greens, reds, yellows and blues. The eternal colours of creation.

Beyond creation lay the void; where mystical whites and devouring blacks dwelt. She walked them all.

From his window in the cell, he could see the oxen and other beasts carrying away the loads of their masters from the market. The dull glint of sweat glistened on their hides as they continued on with their burden. In attendance were the farmers, the carpenters and the lads and girls that apprenticed for them.

The elders walked in couplets and quintets, absorbed in somber discussion. The young jostled and played. They flirted and fought. For all were still in good spirits or low of vigour and vim from the freedom and ale of the market.

Around the stone dais, eight Sisters formed a circle. Spaced equally apart, dressed in the red of the Temple, they stood motionless, eyes closed. Arms outstretched horizontally, bent vertically at the elbow, to open palms facing the altar.

Their combined shadows cast an amalgamation of shape and form across the dais. An eight pointed star made out of darkness. This was for purification; to cleanse the altar and the spirit of the Temple. To make space for Her. They would attach rosemary and jasmine, lavender and sandalwood, to burn for Her and sweeten Her journey. The sweetness to form a cloud beneath her, her footsteps to be light and measured.

The sun arose, awakened by the scent. The shadows grew shorter, the star smaller. The ceremony and day had begun. The cleansing of feet and hands within the Temple urns; the cutting of hair in the fields. The people of the Valley were holding to their faith.

To Chapter Twenty-One – A Product of His Time