She descends the white stairs with a rose thorn buried in Her flesh. Blood mingled beauty and creation. Her eyes plead mercy, Her heart beats harder.

For She is Love and perfect in every way.

Behind him lay the Temple, engulfed and overwhelmed. In front was Her, the Goddess Inanna. She looked at the Sakrisan coyly:

“O Sakrisan keeper of my Temple; O mortal man protector of my sanctuary; how much does thee adore your holy Inanna? How much would thee sacrifice for the love you have for your Queen?”

Azad coughing from the smoke billowing out of the Temple looked at the Goddess filled with shame and self pity. The fire roared and further bricks came loose. The Temple was falling behind him but he could only gaze to the Goddess for She was overpowering. Will crumbling, he fell to his knees before Her, head bowed he spoke:

“O Holy Queen of Heaven and Earth; the magnificent Inanna, daughter of holy King Anu; your servant is bereft of strength and lost in destiny. He is not worthy to serve Inanna, the eight pointed Star, he is not worthy to live in Her glory. I forsook the maiden Queen for a mortal, a mere mortal. She- she has gone unto the Underworld and it was of my making. O holy Inanna, forgive thy servant for his mortal frailty, his fragility of spirit and dissipation of will over desire. Your servant accepts his wrongs and his deserved fate.”

Falling to hands and knees, Azad awaited the judgement but none was forthcoming. The Star in the Sky laughed and walked slowly around him in a circle, touching his crown with a fingertip painted plum. She came to a halt once more to face him; lifting his chin with the same finger gently, She peered curiously then looked away, downcast.

“O Inanna cannot be loved! The holy Inanna is unlovable! She is forsaken by Her servant who has no love to spare. No love to spare and the well has run dry; all love has become ruin. To ruin goes hope. With hope goes Inanna. For She is unlovable, a mortal could never adore such imperfection and disgrace.”

From the Temple came a shuddering sound that reached the ears of all who lived within the Valley, a sound they dared not speak of nor dream. For this day was to be their fated day and the Temple came crashing to the floor in an almighty thunder, sending stone and dust outward with such force as to reach the start of the Valley. Rock rained down, wood shattered and burned. The Gardens, once luscious with growth and fruit reduced to rubble and twisted vine. The cold of the night fell sharply; the winds arose and carried the ruins to the far corners of the Plateau. Scattered they became, the memory of the glory and light of the temple dimmed, extinguished. The wind devoured the remnants of the blaze, and then it too left the Plateau once more.

“Am I not lovable sweet Azad?”

Eyes wide, filled with fear of his rejection; nervous of glance and deserted by calm, the maiden Goddess continued:

“My sweet Sakrisan. My wondrous Azad, can you not be bright of eye? Can you not be bright of eye for your Goddess and light?”

He looked up with compassionate tears:

“O holy Inanna! My Queen, my guide, my everlasting light; You are most worthy of the love of all. You are worthy of the love of all men, alas I am wretched but adore and love you until distant days. Until the Stars have shone and the Sun has become the blackness. I pledge my ever more love to you my sweet Queen, O magnificent daughter of the great Anu.”

She pulled him to his feet and sang with delight:

“O glorious mortal, O clay made to life; your Queen accepts your pledge. Your pledge to serve and adore for ever and for more. To love Inanna, to be at Her side. Embrace me my love; embrace your holy Inanna with adoration and love and all once more will return to goodness. Goodness and sweetness and all that is deserved. For your place at my side is now my love, wholly reserved.”

Drawing himself shakily to his feet, the cacophony and destruction still ringing in his ears he looked to his Queen. They embrace so closely, so tightly that they meld into one. His head against Hers, his whispers of devotion. Her hand drops to Her dagger with the ibex poised to leap and rests it so.

In the night; two eyes observed, ceaseless and unblinking.

 

To Chapter Seventy-Five – For She is Death and Perfect in Every Way

 

Cover: Venus, the Goddess of Love by Sandro Botticelli
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