Good morning, everyone, and happy Fiction Friday! The short-short story I have to offer you today is based on something I tried writing lo, these many moons ago, but which never quite gelled into an acceptable piece of work. Sometimes it can be hard to find the flaws in your own writing, simply because you're a little too close to it.
But in any case, I've tried to make this a fun little story, amusing and a bit thought-provoking, like most of what I write. Let me know if I've succeeded, won't you? More news about other types of writing, like original novels or fan fiction, as soon as I have any news to give, very possibly tomorrow sometime. And maybe more cat pictures.
I do have one fun piece of news, however. I have been asked to be the subject of a short narrative documentary, a classroom piece for a young relative of mine studying TV/video production at a local college, and when it's finished I'm sure he'll be willing to make it public. So you will all get a chance to hear from me in my own words and voice, if that would be of any interest to you.
As always, thanks for reading, and I will see you soon! Please enjoy today's Fiction Friday tale, "The Jewels of the Goddess"!
Rahvin the thief stepped over the forms of the snoring temple dogs and approached the platform on which his objectives lay. Behind him, his accomplice Keryn, still wearing the underpriestess's robes of unbleached linen she'd borrowed without leave to get them this far, bent anxiously over the animals.
"Why're you fooling with them?" Rahvin growled, careful to keep his voice low. He wasn't about to be caught after they'd come this far.
"Wanted to make sure they're alive." Keryn straightened, shaking dust from her hem. "That was a hefty dose of sleep-spice you gave them."
"I don't want to be prying teeth out of my backside before we're halfway out of here." Rahvin grimaced at the thought. He'd lost his share of blood to angry guard dogs in his time. "Besides, a couple of dogs more or less won't make a copper bit of difference to what they'll do to us if they catch us with the Jewels of the Goddess."
"You sure about that?" Keryn climbed the three steps to the platform and stood beside Rahvin, staring down at the diamond-encrusted coronet, necklace, and ring which lay neatly on their red velvet cushion. "In the stories where she goes adventuring with her friends, the Goddess always says things can be replaced but lives can't. Even animals' lives. And the high priestess says the same when she puts these on at Midwinter and Midsummer every year, when she calls the Goddess to her through them, when she is the Goddess for a little while..."
"You got religion now, just from wearing the clothes?" Rahvin flicked his hand disdainfully against Keryn's robes. "It's a load of old dung, girl. Stories made up by grannies to put the babies to bed. The only thing that matters in this life is biting the other poor sot before he bites you. And beauties like these'll buy a lot of fine sharp teeth." He stared hungrily at the sparkling stones. "There's a fast ship at the docks, sailing in an hour with the tide, and a fellow I know across the water who'll buy anything you care to sell him, without asking fool questions like 'how' and 'where' and 'why'. You'll never be cold or hungry or scared for your skin again, girl, and neither will I. Just as soon as you pick them up and give them here."
"Because of the curse. 'No man may lift the Jewels of the Goddess from the place where they lie, on pain of his life.'" Keryn eyed her fellow thief doubtfully. "How come you believe in that, but not in the Goddess Herself?"
"Never said I believed it, but there's no sense taking chances, now is there?" Rahvin stepped back. "Go on, then, let's have them."
Keryn reached out a tentative finger and tapped the top of the coronet lightly. When that brought no response, she brushed the same finger across the chain of the necklace and the band of the ring. "They're so beautiful," she breathed. "Such a perfect shape, and all the diamonds the very same size..."
"Means they'll sell better," Rahvin grunted. "Go on, girl, pick them up!"
Obediently, Keryn grasped the side of the coronet, sliding her fingers under necklace and ring likewise, and lifted them from their resting place. For a long moment, she stood very still, her eyes upturned to the skylight in the ceiling above them, her face taut with concentration as though she were thinking hard or listening to some distant voice.
Then, slowly, she slid the ring onto the middle finger of her right hand, and fastened the necklace about her throat.
"What're you doing?" Rahvin hissed. "You lost your mind? We have to get out of here—"
Taking no notice, Keryn raised the coronet high into the air, so that its myriad of tiny stones sparkled in the faint moonbeams now shining through the skylight. Then she ceremoniously lowered it onto her head, a head which seemed to rise up to meet it, as though she were taller and more majestic simply for wearing it.
Just like the high priestess, whispered a tiny voice of dread inside Rahvin's mind. Just like the high priestess at Midwinter and Midsummer, when she puts on the Jewels of the Goddess, and becomes the Goddess for that little while...
"Rahvin the thief," said a voice which was and was not Keryn's. "You have acted very foolishly tonight. But you have done no evil, so no evil will be done to you. I will even grant the wishes you have expressed." The Goddess smiled thinly with Keryn's lips. "Though you may not care for the manner in which I do so..."
Underpriestess Keryn yawned as she poured clean water into bowls for the temple dogs. "I had the strangest dream last night, little ones," she told them as they got unsteadily to their feet and came forward, some of them crowding around her to beg for love, others going straight to the bowls to drink. "Only a dream, though. As if I would ever try to steal the Jewels of the Goddess!"
At the back of the pack, one dog growled faintly, his eyes half-wild as though he, too, were still caught up in a dream. "That's enough, Rahvin," the underpriestess reproved sharply. "Settle down. Be good, now, all of you, and I'll go and get your food from the cooks..."