Three paths – The Goddess Returns
The story so far
New York, May 2019
Generations and generations of humans and creatures, of entities and non-entities have passed over this soil. Traces, some of them eternally engraved and some of them scattered in the wind, yet all of them hurt Gaia in their pass. I remember, Ι was a kid with smooth face, when I first heard stories about my father who used to lock himself up in the old room of the east tower in the Akari mansion, which in the years before my birth, has turned it into an office. There, behind the heavy oak door he used to disappear for days and nights, usually working until dinner time many times also during it, whilst my mother was directing the staff to take care of his needs without causing unnecessary distractions. I never understood what my father was doing for so many hours locked in that dark, gray scenery that in my eyes looked like a mausoleum, like the one found in close distance from the main house, on the east side of the estate. There, where I was playing carelessly until the day that my ball accidentally fell on the outer white side of Pentelic marble that had come all the way from Greece, creating a black mark on the white of the dead souls’ retreat. It was the first time I felt my mother’s rage overflowing, the first time I was punished for being disrespectful, and the first time I heard about the blood written story of the most important House of the K ‘Srech caste. It still echoes in my ears her roar, shouting out that I must at last learn how to behave and take matters in my own hands. I still remember her bursting into the room with a blustery look and punishing me because teacher Arianne told her that I neglected studying the ‘Principles of the Ancients’.
To be honest, how much of these accomplishments of the great men and women who preceded my birth could I have perceived at such tender age? Even now I am sure that my mother’s stories, in the form of an intensive home lecturing, were about strangers, but each time she insisted on reminding me that their story is the story of our family. And through the words of my mother and the ancient, scorched papyrus rolls we had in the library, I learned for the first time her name. Hecate. Hecate the perpetual, the one who came before any immortal or mortal alike, any entity or non-entity, mistress and daughter of the elements, mother and sister of the uninitiated. Hoary of the landscapes and maiden of horizons. But the story that I learned about Hecate is not included in the writings of Hesiod, Musaeus or Bacchylides. My Hecate was born in Nubia, when Uranus drizzled over Gaia with a rain of stars. Gaia, in order to thank her invincible brother, took the sperm of the stars and gave birth to the Daughter, the Unspeakable, who would later turn into a myth and she, who in the course of centuries would come to hold my hand and show me a path of existence I have never dreamed of. Who could have predicted that in the years that followed that childhood error, I would see my family destroyed, our property lost, and me ending up in Grandma Atea’s hands in Cairo, Egypt, thousands of miles away of the forests of Catskill Mountain.
Nearly 30 years later, I walk among the trees and feel the memories of my mother’s words come to life once more: “…when the great Priests felt the Goddess’s flock of believers was threatened, they decided to leave the cities where already her worship was banned, almost 200 years after the time of the Prophets. Around the same time, the Sacred Heirlooms were transported and kept inside a mountain, in an underground shelter, hidden away from the eyes of the indiscreet. That was the place where the Priests built their monastery, and in order to be forgotten from the outside world they changed their name and their image. They became K’Srech, which in Gujarati dialect means ‘They Are’, a caste whose sole purpose was to protect the presence of Hecate on earth, whenever she chose to appear and enlight us with the secrets of the Worlds…, …and if it wasn’t for the dark moment when the conquerors who arrived from the west, the Priests would have maintained their secrecy. However, the treasonous words of local slaves led the conquerors to the threshold of the Great Sanctuary and it was then that the most ideal way to deal with a threat was to be decided. The Primogenitor of the Cosmic Hunters, the guardians of Black Sun, urgently demanded an all-out war, counting on the power of the ancient amulet they were to protect, and the power of the goddess to destroy anything unnecessary and frill, and through darkness, chaos and violent change to establish in the ruins of the old world the new order of Hecate, the dominator of elements and mankind’s seasons. The Primogenitors of the Stellar Knights, guardians of the Holy Blade, strongly disagreed and insisted that the only way to protect the goddess was to keep the knowledge of her existence hidden from the world. Actually, they themselves had several times leaped on suicide missions either to kill heretics who had left the K’ Srech and “opened their mouths” to the uninitiated, or to bring back into the monastery new treasures from the temples and devotions to the goddess, that were destroyed by the conquerors and the new-age believers. But there was also the Primogenitors of the Righteous Enforcers, who over the centuries had become protectors of the Sacred Heirlooms, due to their bloodline which lost in time is said that came from the goddess herself, when she was still young. The Righteous Enforcers, the Guardians of the clavicle, who did not change their minds easily and their decisions were irreversible. The Sacred Heirlooms would be protected at all costs in a way that would not allow anyone to reveal their relationship with the goddess and why they were left to the care of common mortals. After all, they had been trying to disorient the world for years from taking a closer look at the granite bulk that was dug at the top of Gangkhar Puensum, in the place which is until now called the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon… it was then that the three of them argued and definitively and irrevocably the K’Srech castes divided into the Cosmic Hunters, the Stellar Knights and the Righteous Enforcers, once brothers but now destined to become irreconcilable enemies…”.
Thessaloniki, January 2018
I’m tired, the temperature in this hellhole of heat is high, although a few feet into the ground, let alone at the depth I’m digging, is of 43 degrees Celsius and February has not even come yet. What got into my head and accepted this mission, I should have refused. When did we even get interested for this hole in the middle of nowhere? Greece they told me, Thessaloniki. “Keep your eyes wide open and let us know if something happens”. I am tired even of them. What even if my grandfather used to tell me that the Stellar Knights are the A and Ω in our lives? If it wasn’t for them, our family would have disappeared as did our Lady, when the westerners reached the threshold of the Temple, resulting in a massacre incomparable until now to any other ever recorded in human history or I should rather say preferably out of history, since no one ever learned about the death of 30,000 K’Srech, who fell in defense trying to flee out the Sacred Heirlooms of the Daughter. And now here I am, in this pitch-dark hole, trying to replace a statue, which only mistake, was that was found, and my only mistake was to inform them. I wonder all these years if my Order had not imposed the removal and concealment of Hecate’s findings, would the world not have such a blurry image of the Daughter? Should I reveal to them my grandfather’s stories and how they have been looting monuments and excavations for centuries like I do now? To exchange hidden statues and offerings from our collection with those that would reveal the breadth and depth of the knowledge the ancient world had about our Lady.
“The Order of Stellar Knights, we are her only true protectors”, my grandfather would say over and over again. And he wouldn’t listen a thing when someone was referring to the Cosmic Hunters or the Righteous Enforcers. “…Pigs, traitors, we should have destroyed them when we had the power…”, grandpa cursed. He cursed them even when on his deathbed, and when the time for him to go into the world of souls came, he made me swear that no matter what happened, I would never cease to serve the order of the Knights. And now, because of my foolish promise, I am 60 meters below earth to replace our Lady’s statue, with yet another statue of Venus. Pierre is keeping nix and I know that no one can pass through the petite Frenchman, who whatever lacks in height, gains in speed and agility. I remember in Galilee, when we were on a similar mission, he had easily startled two guys double his size, simply by snapping their necks in no time with moves that only highly skilled assassins or members of suicide squads own. Tomorrow, this place will buzz from the news about the statue that I currently hold in my hands and not the one I carefully put in my sack. And no one, except maybe the Righteous Enforcers, will recognize the symbol of the Knights and that this place is under their protection and jurisdiction. I would like to keep my head clear of thoughts but with each new mission I am one step closer to madness. I have been traveling the world for ten years now, just to repeat this process over and over again. However, yesterday’s phone call that the Hunters seem to have special interest in this country that dissolves day by day, amidst squatters of government factions and the ensconced ruling elite, has upset me as much as my interlocutor.
Nasim told me to finish the job ASAP, because I had to move on to my new mission, that he was sending me Pierre within hours, and that this time I would have to showcase jurisdiction, so he obtained a special permission for me to participate in researches of the Department of History and Archeology of the Kapodistrian University in Athens. Once again, without hesitation I am looking for a black cat in a lightless room, feeling blind. But this time his voice was different, he was upset and didn’t hesitate to speak out the CH initials, although they were forbidden even to mention. This was worrying, since in my many years in the Order I had only once encountered one of them at the university, when that red-haired slim boy was flagrantly approaching me and introduced his self as the son of the D’ Avril family. “I’m the first of the Hunters, Knight; remember my face when I come to find you…”, I remember narrating it to my grandfather and he was blown away by nerves that made me think he would die at that exact moment. Later, I found out that grandfather had directly threatened the D’ Avril family without even carrying for the pretexts and they, in retaliation, had reported him to the Lyon’s police as dangerous for their safety and fixated with their family to the extent that they stated they were feeling threatened for their lives. Grandfather was of course released due to the Knights presence among the officers of the local police department, and from what I understood to be one of the highest officials in the Order. However, his personal confrontation with the D’ Avril family has affected me personally. I don’t even know the exact reason for the conflict, but it seems that grandfather blamed Edmond D’ Avril for the current state of K’Srech, and that if it had not been for Edmond the Enforcers, Hunters and Knights would have brought back the status of our caste sooner, making our presence felt in the global political-economic-social scene. Enough with the memories, at last the work is done, I shout to Pierre to help me with the bag and I can only think of what awaits me at my next stop.
Athens, June 2019
“Grandma, here I am, Grandma, here I come to meet you again. You were right grandma; the life of a Guardian will never be easy… I am so sorry grandma; sorry you had to die so violently beside grandpa in order to protect me… I am sorry grandma that you had to be sacrificed for me…”, hidden thoughts and a monologue that I always repeat in my head. Did Nasim randomly choose this place for me to meet the other two? And who are these “magnificent” Knights that I have to meet in violation of the Old Principles? Nasim in his message described them as necessary to fulfill our mission. That I should share with them the information he provided me, and show them the files he had sent me. Honestly, I have to share with two complete strangers I’ve never seen in my life, the secret that had sent my own blood to the grave? “…Grandma I need guidance…”, yes that’s what I need immediately if I am to be found crossing paths with the Cosmic Hunters. The parcel with the Bhutan stamp on it was delivered to me earlier this morning and now here I am, waiting for two strangers to open it and find out the reason for the disturbance of my inconvenient “regularity”. For years I am trying to go unnoticed, for years I exist as a ghost among the living, changing houses every six months, changing IDs every year and passports every time I am to travel outside Greece. And now her I am waiting, perhaps even for my death, not assured that this is a trap the Hunters prepared for me. “There’s no chance!”, Nasim tried to perduade me. And yet, my anxiety made me rip off the packette, just to make sure of its origin. The parcel was stamped with two out of three K’Srech insignia. Who could have imagined that even before I reach my forties, I would face the exact same thing everybody was trying to avoid for centuries.
“The Hunters are in Athens; it was difficult to trace them during the mess the country is going through and we believe they have been pulling strings behind the curtain to maintain this situation while they research the country for the Sacred Heirlooms. Although, the Righteous Enforcers claim they didn’t have anything to do with it, they don’t speak clear words about how the Hunters manage to specify their research and coming to Athens. I think we need to move immediately. Seraph and Al’ Louro will be at the Shooting Plato at Kaisariani around midnight. Share the content of the package with them and plan your next steps accordingly. We believe that the Hunters are cooperating with the Hellenic government, and will soon launch counter-measures to distruct the public opinion and proceed with the excavations smoothly. Rohani has already traveled from Bhutan to Greece to “resurrect” the Righteous Enforcers, which means that no matter what, this is a dead serious case to him. Watch out Iralia. My soul awaits you on the Three-path. Nasim”
Nasim was always sparing the information he convied to me. However, this time, his message was so clear that it reminded me our years of joined training, the years when I lost the innocence of youth and grew up in the blood of the battles between the Hunters and the Knights. A fighter and forerunner of our caste, he had his way of looking restless even when bombs were falling all around him. And yet, this same man had violeted every rule and principle to warn me clearly and unequivocally that the Hunters were approaching their goal. They had focused their research on the Sacred Heirlooms in Athens, and that could only mean one thing. It would not be long before, if the objects fell into their hands, a great war would break out, capable of destroying the world on earth as we know it, and even disturb the universal balance. And all these because their minds were stack in disaster, they wanted revenge for the lost comrades of the Temple battle. For all the fallen K’Srech who had given their lives to serve our Lady. For you grandma and for grandpa to, who never found out about your past, still he stood by your side in the firing squad when the Gestapo’s officer and Cosmic Hunter Tüebel threatened to kill you if you did not name the woman that, few hours prior, you gave your newborn child to. Yes Grandma, if you hadn’t given your life the Esera’s bloodline would ‘ve been just a couple of pages in the Forbidden Archives of the Astral Knights history. And yet you gave your life as my mother and father later did, and even my adoptive parents after the murder of my biological ones. The Esera genus is still alive until this day because of you grandmother and for that I thank you. And now, here, in front of your grave, I can only wonder whether our generation should not had been saved, whether we should have been permanantly relieved of the burden and the honor of the Knights. I don’t know what to think, all I know is that I have to be ready. I searched for Seraph and Al’ Louro in Mitra, both strong with legacies as heavy as the names they carry. Three tonight will meet; three lines of blood will be reunited as 1700 years ago. I, the Guardian Iralia Esera, the Historian Seraph Akari and the Translator Al’ Louro El Eazar. As then, samewise now the first three families, united are called to face the danger, and this time I hope we will succeed where our ancestors failed. I wish we find the Sacred Heirlooms before the Hunters. I hope the Righteous Enforcers will recognize our claims as valid and allow the Knights to lead the followers upon the Goddess Return. Because She will be back grandma, today more than ever, today I really believe it is about time for the Goddess Return.