- Extracted from Temple Records, Words of the Taken Up. Scribed by the most recent taken up Atzathratzas Piiken, fessas, second under-priest, Great Temple of Arko Year 46 P.A.
The Fenjitza called me up from my studies, saying there was a newly taken up. I took my pen and paper and ran to do my duty. Selestialis forfend that we miss any words out of the mouths of the new prophets!
The man was prostrate in the middle of the Temple before the Fenjitza and there were priests of the first rank and above them, three of the Dekinae around an empty stretcher and the Imperator’s bodyguard, First Ilesias Mahid.
I hear his first words and skid to a stop, hunkering down so I can write them as he says them. “We understand.”
He has a partly okas haircut but he speaks in the Temple’s voice, like an Aitzas. Like a Mahid, actually. He looks like he’s been through one of the rougher Entrances of the Temple, and stinks like it, too. His loincloth and gloves are dirty, smeared with blood. As he gets up I can see he’s been bare-handed at some point because he’s got bloody furrows clawed into his face.
“See that he gets cleaned up and dressed, Atzathratzas,” the Fenjitza says and he turns his weirding eyes on me as I bob my head, yes. “Matthas, go with this boy. He will show you.”
“We know him. We were in him.” My hand trembles as I scribe. I recognize Ergas.
“I will go with you to the cascades so you may make your offering to Oas and Anae.” I say, getting up. He knows where everything is. It is my job to just follow him around and record what he says.
“Appropriate.” He nods at all the others and turns to go into the hidden door behind Oas and I follow. He sounds like a Mahid but he’s Temple now. I wonder at the Temple’s power to be able to take up a Mahid like that. Their training is supposed to not allow it.
Below, in the priestly robing rooms I sit and listen while he cleans himself up and takes one of the acolytes clean robes out of the cabinet. There is nothing for me to record, but what he does.
He waves at me to come and goes to turn out to the basement, where the construction damage all happened. There’s okas on the pumps all the time right now to keep the water from getting any deeper. No one knows where this is coming from. It isn’t on any of the city waterworks drawings.
“New Born?” I say. “Perhaps you should eat something? Drink something?” He checks, looks at me in silence. When I was first taken up I didn’t remember to drink anything all day, not noticing how thirsty I was. It was odd. As though I was still there but couldn’t do anything. Ergas was in charge. Not that he… it… he… was trying to hurt me. It was as if the information on humans was… not quite there.
The Fenjitzas thinks that Ergas, the Temple, is a creature of Selestialis who does the bidding of the Ten, but like Selestial messengers like the Summoner, they aren’t very comfortable around people.
“Correct.” He says. “Let us eat.”
We go to the dining hall… we are in the depths of the Temple here, where only the Temple folk go. He walks through the groups of acolytes and priests and dekinae as if he doesn’t really see them. They get out of his way.
“Note to the Fenjitzae, the so-called ‘blessings’ on the kitchens must be renewed.” He wheels on me and I clutch my book to my chest. “You did not tell them.”
“I… tried… but the words all came out together.” I answer him. It’s true. I understood not one word of this when the knowledge poured through my head.
He nods. “Understood. We repeat. Cleansing protocols sub-section four hundred. Filters must be cleansed behind the kitchens.”
I wrote it down.
He poured himself a cup of water, thrusting under the tap, drinking it as if he didn’t care that it was the best tasting water in the Empire. He took up a pair of sweet cakes, devoured them likewise and then went through the kitchens and picked up one of the razor sharp knives from one of the priest cooks stations.
“Um.” I’m not sure if I should say anything.
“I shall not kill. I support. The physician… Risae… would shut me off if I killed anyone without authorization. I heal.”
I shook my head and followed him as he walked out to the broken foundation. The water had shifted a huge block of what should have been immovable. “Shoddy repairs,” he said and laid open his hand with the knife.
He ignored me, shook his ruined glove off and marched up to the shifted stone, painting the edges with his blood, the water washing the bottom smear off almost immediately. He put his bleeding hand down into the flowing water and said “Waterproof channel repair, reinforcement.”
It was like watching the Temple heal the new Imperator. The stone grew hot even soaked in water, and the workers all around were driven back. The wall healed itself, and the floor began rounding out into a stone-lined channel. He took his hand out of the water. “We are the Temple contagion. Where we are, is the Temple.”
I wrote that down. I don’t think that’s right. That’s very different from what I remember of being taken by Ergas. But my taking up was for words. Poetry. This… this is for the engineering of Mikas.
“We shall not carry the Temple past the bounds laid down by First Ilesias.” He said. “Yet we are the Temple.” He stood, shaking. He was near collapse.
“New Born. You should rest now.”
“Rest?” It was as if he didn’t understand the word.
“At least lie down.” Some of the New Born into the Temple died the same day, their hearts failing them.
“Lie down.” He nodded slowly, looking at his naked hand. There was some watery blood in the palm but it wasn’t cut open any more. He dropped the bloody knife where he stood and turned to go out to the cells. He was moving more like a blind man now. Staggering with his bare hand on the wall, guiding him. It was very much like how I moved around the Temple while we were the Temple.
I saw him to one of the cells assigned to the newly born and he nearly fell onto the bed. “Rest.” He said. “That is a good idea.”