“Thank you for getting me out of there,” I said to Hadyn as the subway train came to a stop. The doors opened to reveal a platform painted in black with a white cross on the far wall. “Where are we?” I asked as we exited the subway train.
“We are at the tower,” Hadyn replied. “And I would hold your appreciation until after you have met the high priest. After his judgment, you may not be as appreciative.” Hadyn led the way up the stairs until we came to a small foyer. We were met by two ashen men standing in front of a large wooden door. “Prepare her robes. She is to go before the high priest.” One of the ashen men nodded and quickly disappeared through a side door, only to reappear holding a white gown. Hadyn took it from the man and pushed me into a small dressing room. “Put this on,” Hadyn ordered.
I knew better than to argue. He closed the door and left me in privacy to change my clothes. I would have been lying if I had said that I wasn’t scared of coming face to face with the high priest. The two revenants I had already become acquainted with are scary enough. Now I would meet the revenant above all others.
I had heard stories about the high priest from some of the workers at the nursery. They said the high priest took a new wife every few years choosing from among the daughters of the higher-ranking consulate members. It had been rumored that the consulate members would sell off their daughters to the high priest in exchange for status among the humans in the upper city. I couldn’t imagine being sold off like cattle, but my current predicament is no better.
A knock at the door startled me and caused me to jump. I had just thrown the white gown over my head when Hadyn opened the door to the dressing room. “Time to go,” he said as he ushered me from the small room.
“What about my clothes?” I asked.
“Don’t worry,” he replied and led me past the ashen men through the large wooden doors.
Hadyn had changed his clothes as well. He now wore a black robe with a hood and a belt of rope at his waist. A silver cross hung low on his chest. Val had once told me she saw a revenant from afar dressed just as Hadyn is dressed now. I guess she was right.
Thoughts of Val caused a lump to form in my throat, but I quickly pushed it down. I couldn’t get distracted here. I needed to remain alert and vigilant. Hadyn led me up several flights of stairs before we entered into a large room with tall vaulted ceilings. The walls of the room were bare of paintings or color. There were no plants or ashen men. It was empty and eerily quiet. Hadyn turned to me and pulled his black hood over his head.
“Keep your eyes trained on the floor and follow me,” he ordered. “Be silent. From this point on you are mute. Do you understand?” I nodded in affirmation and followed behind him as he led me towards the far end of the room. It was hard not to look around as this was the first time I had ever been to the tower, the home of the revenants.
Many times I had sat on the roof of the nursery, both curious and angry at the tower’s existence. At one time, when pappy had come home tired and drained of energy, I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs for the revenants’ tyranny to end. But pappy never cursed them. Yes, he used me as part of his silent rebellion, but that was it. He never openly fought against our circumstances claiming our lives were already mapped out as part of God’s plan.
It is God’s position to hide our life’s plan and our mission to seek it out. Humanity was nearly wiped from the face of the earth. Had the revenants not needed our blood to survive, I assumed they would have completely eliminated us. Humanity would no longer be a part of God’s plan. Just like the great flood in the book of Genesis, humanity would lose to forces greater than ourselves.
Hadyn led me down a long narrow hallway lit by the light of windows. I hadn’t seen daylight in what seemed like forever. Cassius had kept me in the room that was void of windows. Even the examination room didn’t allow for a glance to the outside world. I stopped as passed one of the windows. The panes were colored red and blues and illustrated scenes I recognized from the time of Christ.
Looking past the mosaic of colored glass, I could make out the outline of white cotton-like clouds in the sky and the multitude of buildings below. My breath caught in my throat as I stared out into the distance. It wasn’t until I felt the touch of Hadyn’s hand on my cheek that I noticed I had started to cry. My cheeks were wet with tears.
“Let’s go,” he said. “Save your tears. They will do you no good here.”
Using the sleeve of my dress, I wiped my cheeks dry and turned my eyes from the outside world. That is a world I may never know again. Hadyn continued until we reached a flight of stairs. The circled up through the tower from the floor to the ceiling. I looked up the circular channel and gasped at the sight. The stairs seemed endless.
Hadyn started up the flights of steps with me following behind. We continued in silence with him leading and me following like a tethered puppy and its master. It didn’t take long before I became winded and found myself lagging behind. Hadyn showed great patience with me as we continued to climb.
My heart pounded in my ears and sweat fell from my brow when we finally reached the top of the circular stairwell. Sucking in breath after breath, my lungs stung with exertion and my side ached from the stitch that had permanently wedged its way under my ribs.
Hadyn hadn’t been affected at all, just another difference between humans and revenants. The fact that I was out of breath was another indication that Cassius’s declaration of my blood having relation with the revenants was false.
Hadyn stopped before a door guarded by several ashen men. These men were different. In place of the black smear that was across the eyes of all the ashen men I had seen, their eyes were smeared with red. Their robes were different too, having red lining along the hem outlining the grey fabric. At their waist was a belt of leather which held a sheathed knife on either side of their hips.
“We are here to see the high priest,” Hadyn told the men. The turned and opened the door allowing us passage. Keeping my eyes on the floor as Hadyn had warned, I trailed behind him into the room of the high priest.
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