Raziel 5, Keter System, Sector 3 of the Milky Way
Parantis waits while Scaralia pauses for breath. She has hurt her hind leg in the struggle and he is becoming increasingly concerned she may not be able run much further along the rocky path out of the town.
“Oh, Scaralia, why did you have to say those things to Father Elenkus?” He can see she has been crying.
She looks at him through tearful eyes, “I don’t know, Parantis. It’s what I saw. Is it such a crime to tell the Great Father what happened?”
“Well, his scouts are after you now.” Parantis gives her a sympathetic look. Scaralia seems so vulnerable, so innocent. How could he not support her now? Who else would look after her? He shudders at the thought of her struggling to survive on her own. He looks at her bright eyes – innocent and beautiful. Her fur, once so nicely groomed, is now matted with dirt and sand. Her ears always used to be pointed and alert with childish excitement – how it hurts him to see them now so downcast. How could their people turn on her like this?
Parantis knows the squeaking scuttle of nearby armoured ground-creatures is a dangerous sign. It is nearly time for the Grey Winds. The little beasts, with their natural shields on their backs that protect against the twin suns’ harsh light, instinctively seem to know when the cutting winds are coming. All the world’s creatures also seem to understand that the Grey Wind heralds the onset of the Great Burn. During the Burn, the sky, forever lit by at least one of the two suns, becomes so bright and hot and the dry and stony ground so scorched, that almost all living creatures need to take cover underground until the deadly cycle is over. It is hardly surprising that life on this planet had mainly evolved underground.
Parantis sees the creatures busily gather their food stores before they take cover in their burrows. He and Scaralia need to find a disused burrow, but without food supplies, how will they survive?
Scaralia gives her explanation, “All I said to Father Elenkus, was that I had seen Sendiaphon himself appear close to me, in the form of a creature. What’s so bad about that?”
“It’s bad, Scaralia, because no one, not even Father Elenkus has seen the gods of the suns in person.”
Parantis shields his eyes as he squints up at the two bright discs in the sky. Sendiaphon, the larger and redder of the two, runs a smooth and predictable course. Sendiaphon’s smaller, blue and less predictable brother, Hadarniel, is also now high in the sky. The Elders have taught how the suns are locked in perpetual disagreement. They explain that the Great Burns are caused by the anger generated by the periodic struggles between the two brothers. They say the Grey Winds are the result of the feuding brothers swinging their mighty weapons in combat.
“So why are you so sure it was Sendiaphon whom you saw?”
Scaralia pauses, “Because he shone just like the Sendiaphon in the sky.”
Parantis looks back at the horizon and shields his eyes from the glaring light from the two suns. “Oh no! Fidelian scouts, dozens of them.” He looks at his little companion. She has curled into a ball in exhaustion, her head rested on her front paws. He knows that when the Blessed Leader submits an arrest order for blasphemy, the sentence is always death.
Within minutes, the scouts are upon them, growling and baring their sharp teeth. The leader rears up on his hind legs and calls out in a deep, growling voice, “You cannot run from our Blessed Leader, Scaralia. He has already passed the death sentence on you. As the Grey Winds are almost upon us, time is short and we have been commissioned to carry out the order, here and now. You will be henceforth summarily torn apart and your carcass left to incinerate in the Great Burn.”
“No!” shouts Parantis, lunging for the scout leader’s throat. With one paw-swipe, Parantis is thrown back into the sand with a yelp of pain.
The Fidelian scouts surround the curled-up form of Scaralia. She shivers in spite of the fierce heat. As they prepare to administer their punishment, a blinding light appears behind their victim. Even in the intense heat of the plains, all present feel the energy bursting from its centre.
“Execute her now!” orders the scout leader, fearful of the consequences of reporting a delay or failure in his assigned task to Father Elenkus.
The scouts make a simultaneous growling, teeth-bearing jump towards Scaralia. A pulse of energy expands like a nova from within the light, throwing the scouts high into the air to land awkwardly in the sand.
The scout leader stares in wonder as he sees, emerging from the light, a bipedal creature who appears to have a flat cloth head-shield and whose upper limb extremities placed within pockets in material set at the level of where the lower limbs join the trunk. As they start to recover, the scouts stare at the biped, and rise up on their hind legs in reverence to the creature.
The leader addresses the being, “I know who you are. How honoured we are to have been visited by a god! You are the Redolfo, son of Sendiaphon. I can see that your father has sent you to us.”
The scouts chorus, “Redolfo, son of Sendiaphon, we salute you!” Each, in the manner of the god’s cloth head-shield, proceed to place one paw on their heads, as they feel is commanded of them.