Joshua pulled himself out of the water, weary and exhausted. His hands hurt a lot more on the pebbles of the beach that they should. Dragging his tired body on the shores he looked over his shoulder: the ship was gone. It was as it was supposed but still; one didn’t come here without consequences.
He was soaked and shivering: the two week fast had taken its toll. He must dry himself quickly or the cold of the night associated with the exhaustion would kill him before whatever awaited him on the island got an opportunity to try. As he dried his clothes, he noted anew the absence of weapon. He had come armless as demanded by the Goddess. This wasn’t a test of physical strength the oracle decreed. This was tested in the past on the battlefield and before he was knighted under the Order of Goddess. Still this was different. Much more was at stake. It was the fate of the world that rested on his shoulder. Because one man was foolish enough to violate the sacred sanctuary of the Goddess’ temple, all must be punished, unless another man would put his life in the balance.
Thankfully the warm sun conspired to dry his garment fast; Joshua moved towards what seemed the centre of the island. Unsurprisingly, it was a wooded area and when he passed under the foliage of the first trees, a shiver ran through his body. The silence was eerie; despite the absence of sound, he felt observed. He certainly was. He was after all a man in the Goddess’ most sacred place: the island of her birth. That would be the highest sacrilege if he hadn’t been sent here. Still its guardians might defend it as if he were an intruder.
“Are you lost?”
The soft voice took him by surprise and he startled. How had he not heard any sound through the silence of the forest? He whipped around and prevented a gasp. In front of him stood a goddess. Well not exactly; she was a young woman wearing the red robes of the priestesses, but he was a man of taste. She was a gorgeous creature; but for the scar on her eyes, as red as her simple gown. She was blind: only she was like the oracle. Hers was another type of blindness. He had enough scars to recognize this was what doctors called an ‘angry’ scar.
“I frighten you.”
Curious phrasing… no she hadn’t scared him.
“You surprised me my Lady.”
“No you are afraid. I guess you should be. No man violates the sanctity of the Goddess’s island.”
“I was sent here Lady.”
“Were you now? I received no message from Her or Her oracle.”
What could he answer to that? He hadn’t expected messages to be sent after all. The young priestess smiled, her mouth drawing a mysterious and enticing line that shook him. She was beautiful. More so than many priestesses he’d met in the past.
“Maybe you can do something for me in exchange for your life.”
“What would you have me do?” He asked eagerly causing her to smile the same way again.
“My life is lonely here. I seek companionship. Lay with me.”
“I couldn’t my Lady.”
He said promptly denying the desire spreading in his loins. The priestess was beautiful and it was long since he enjoyed a woman but one didn’t spoil one of the Goddess’s chosen unless sanctified to do so by Herself. And he wasn’t.
“Why? Are you unable?”
That pricked his ego.
“No my Lady… I’m more than able, but… it’s not Ewilan’s way.”
The woman seemed to grow in her anger, as the air crackled around her.
“You would teach me the ways I’ve known since I was born?”
He bowed. No matter she didn’t see.
“I wouldn’t presume my Lady. I merely meant it’s not the way I’ve been taught.”
The woman snorted.
“Men don’t understand Her ways. Come to me. Lay with me. Save your life and try to achieve what you came here to do. I will cast a blind eye on your presence,” she ironized.
“You honour me my Lady but I still can’t.”
“Foolish man. You would defy the power of this place? Am I so repulsive?”
Of course she wasn’t. If he were any other man, or if circumstances were otherwise he would gladly do as she asked, but his life wasn’t his own.
“No your life belongs to the Goddess. And I’m her representative here. Why shouldn’t you do as I say? No one would ever know.”
It was tempting. He’d be lying if he denied it. But…
“My Lady your offer honours me…”
“Then accept, you want to.”
“I’m tempted Lady. I will not lie but you are wrong about one thing. I would know I violated the Goddess’ call upon me. You would know. And She would know for She knows the secrets of all men. I won’t attempt to save my people by committing another heresy against Her or Her servants. Kill me if you must. But believe me when I say that in another time I would gladly offer myself to you.”
The priestess smiled that same smile raising her arms above her head in a conjuration of power. The entire world turned red. Was he dying? What a pitiful saviour he made. He had barely reached the outskirts of the island. But at least he hadn’t betrayed. Darkness fell.
When he opened his eyes, he lay on an altar and above him stood a goddess. Not a goddess, The Goddess.
“You have been found worthy Joshua of Salina. Sanctified you and I will repair what your brother broke when he violated my daughter.”
“What of your priestess Goddess?”
Ewilan smiled… and he understood. Not a test of physical strength. He’d proven true and maybe the Goddess would allow him to save his people.
I’m currently catching up with the FlashFictionMonth organized on Deviant Art. Stories between 55 and 1000 words.
My first day challenge was Big Damn Hero
Your challenge today is to write a story where:
ONE: The main point of view character is a “hero”.
TWO: The plot hinges upon the trope What You Are In the Dark.
Visual Prompt: Cast away