Three paths – The Goddess Returns

The story so far

First scene

New York, May 2019

Generations and generations of humans and creatures, of entities and non-entities have passed over this ground. Traces some of them eternally etched and some of them scattered in the wind but all of them hurting Gaia. 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, which in the years before my birth, has turned into an office. There, behind the heavy oak door he used to disappear for days and nights, usually working until the dinner time, many times also during it, whilst my mother was directing the staff to take care of whatever necessity to him without causing unnecessary distractions, as she has long found out about his inability to interrupt his studies. 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 as a cloud side 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 blood written story of the most important House of K ‘Srech, among the Chosen. 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 hadn’t read the Principles of the Old so that I could understand my past.

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 before the mortals and the immortals, the entities and the non-entities, the mistress and daughter of the elements, the mother and the sister of the benighted. Hoary of the landscapes and maiden of horizons. But the story that I learned about Hecate is not included in Hesiod, or in 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, the capital of 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 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 in earth, whenever she chose to appear to let us know the news 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 then the most ideal way to deal with the threat was to be decided in a glance. 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 he was to protect – to impose the power of the goddess, destroying everything unnecessary and frill, and through darkness, chaos and violent change to establish in the ruins of the old world the new order of Hecate, as she knows how to dominate the elements and seasons of the mankind. 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. Besides, 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, who used to be brothers but now destined to become irreconcilable enemies… “.

Second scene

Thessaloniki, January 2018

I’m tired, the temperature in this hellhole is high, although a few feet into the ground, let alone at the depth I’m digging, is of 43 degrees and February has not even come yet. Uuufff, 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 Z 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 put hidden statues and offerings from our collection in place of those that would reveal the breadth and depth of the knowledge the ancient world has of our Lady.

The Order of Stellar Knights, we are her only true protectors, my grandfather would say and repeat. And he didn’t like the fact when someone was referring to the Cosmic Hunters or the Righteous Enforcers. “…Pigs, traitors, we should have destroyed them as long as we had the power…”, Grandpa cursed. He cursed even their deathbed, and as 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 Stellar Knights. And now, because of my foolish promise, I am 60 meters below the earth to replace the 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 about the statue I carefully put on the 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 even not hesitated to speak out the CH initials, although they were forbidden to be discussed. 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 have 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 threated for their lives and in danger. 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.

Third scene

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 on my mind. Did Nasim randomly choose for me to meet the other two here? 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 with 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. My Bhutan stamp parcel was delivered just 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”. Years of trying to go unnoticed, years circulating like a ghost among the living, changing houses every six months, changing IDs every year and passports at least once a week when I was to leave Greece, even for the shortest period. And now I am waiting here perhaps even for my death, no one can assure me that I was not entrapped by Hunters. There’s no chance! And yet, this anxiety of mine made me rip the envelope with the letter that came alongside the package, just to make sure this isn’t a deathly trap. I really didn’t except to face what everyone had been trying to prevent for years, until I was in my forties…

“The Hunters are in Athens; it was difficult to trace them during the mess the country is in and actually we think they have been pulling strings behind the curtain to maintain this situation while they are researching the country for the Sacred Heirlooms. The Righteous Enforcers say they are not involved, but they don’t speak clear words about how the Hunters manage to conclude their research and, in fact, be so certain they should come in 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 with the establishment of the new government, they will soon launch a counter-movement in order to proceed with the excavations smoothly. Rovani has already traveled from Bhutan to Greece to “resurrect” the Righteous Enforcers, which means that no matter what, it is dead serious case to him. Watch out Iralia. My soul awaits you on the Three-path. Nasim”

He would never choose to reveal to me that much, as even in our common years of training, those years when I lost my innocence of adulthood and grew up through the blood and battles of Hunters against Knights, he was always terse. A fighter and provost of his caste, he had his way of been calm even through bombs falling around him. And yet, this man himself had circumvented every rule and principle and warned me clearly and precisely 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 was a matter of time before the objects fell into their hands, and if that happened a great war would break out, capable of destroying the world on earth as we know it, or even disturbing the universal equilibrium. And all of these because their minds were fixated in disaster, they wanted revenge for the lost companions of the battle of the Temple. For all the fallen K’Srech who gave 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 guardian and hunter Tüebel threatened to kill you if you did not name the woman that, few hours prior, you gave your newborn child. Yes Grandma, if you hadn’t given your life maybe the genus of Esera would have been just a couple of pages in the Forbidden Archives of the Astral Knights History. And yet you gave your life as did all who were to protect me, as did dad and mom. The Esera generation is still alive until this day, because of your grandmother and for that I thank you. But now, here, in front of the exact wall you were murdered, I can only wonder if our generation had not been saved, would we have been finally relieved of the burden of the Knights’ honor? I don’t know what to think, all I know is that I should be ready, and if Nasim is worried then I should be ready for the worst-case scenario. I searched for both Seraph and Al-Louro in the Matrix, both powerful with heritage as heavy as their names. Three people tonight will meet; three bloodlines will be reunited as they were 1700 years ago. I, the Guardian Iralia Esera, the Historian Seraph Akari and the Translator Al-Louro El Eazar. Like before, the three families united are called upon to face the danger, and I hope this time we will succeed where our ancestors did not. I really hope to find the Sacred Heirlooms before the Hunters. I wish the Enforcers would recognize our claims as justified and allow the Knights to lead the followers of the goddess when she returns. Because, grandma, she will come back, today more than ever I truly believe it is time for the Goddess to Return.

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