“So, Jahinda,” I begin. “Welcome.”
She nods, straight-backed on the sofa. Her thick auburn curls are held back from her face by a long ribbon, the same burnt orange as the rest of her outfit.
“Let’s start at the beginning. How did you come to be a priestess of Memset?”
“I was called,” she said simply.
Jahinda bowed her head, looking at her hands folded neatly in her lap. She looked back up, meeting my gaze. “When I was a child, in a place far from here, we told stories of a shining city in the north. A city of golden spires and smooth paved streets, blessed by the gods who watched over it. The city of Lahiba. At night, in my dreams, I could feel the city calling to me. A voice of blue flames-”
“The Sacred Flame of Deshral?” I interrupted.
Jahinda nodded. “I believe it was. The voice in the flames would call to me, call my name.” She sighed. “My people are not of the city. Our streets are the worn tracks of the herds and our spires the pinnacles of our tents. The god of my people is not the god of Lahiba. But no matter how much I prayed to my people’s god during the day, at night, Deshral would call to me.
“One day, when I was in my seventh year, two visitors came to my people, dressed in these burnt orange robes and wearing the arrow sign of the Finder’s.” Her hand gravitated to her own arrow shaped brooch, pinned above her breast. “They sought directions to a place far in the south. We shared with them our food and they shared with us their stories. Stories of a city named Lahiba, and of a blue flame that spoke the words of a god, and of a mighty goddess named Memset. That night, another figure entered my dreams – emerging from behind the blue flames, a creature both woman and leopard, bathed in orange flames which she bore like a halo. And she spoke to me thus: Jahinda, Found amongst the Lost, journey to Lahiba and there beget your destiny.”
At this point, I sit open-mouthed, listening to Jahinda weave her tale. She is so lost in it, her eyes glazed over, as if they look onto the past rather than the present.
Jahinda continues, “So the next morning, while my father was preparing the herds for the day’s journey and the Finder’s prepared to move on, I cornered one and begged her to take me with them. I told her of my dream, of what I had seen.”
“And?” I prompt.
“She said no.”
“But you went anyway.”
Jahinda nodded, “I had been called. You cannot ignore the call of the gods. In my tenth summer, my people were camped north, further north than we had ever gone before. A drought had ravaged the grazing lands and we needed to feed the herds. A day’s ride from where we camped was a town with no name. But the town had a road and the road led to Lahiba. So I took it.”
“There must have been setbacks?” I say.
Jahinda looks at me with a sad smile reserved for the naïve. “I had the gods watching over me. There was nothing I couldn’t overcome.”
“I see,” I say, to fill the swelling silence between us while I think of another question. “As a Finder, you are required to memorise censuses from across the known world.”
Jahinda nodded. “I personally was in charge of the censuses from the eastern states, although I made sure to memorise every name and detail.”
“Yes,” she says proudly, the arch of an eyebrow daring me to question her skills further.
“So you must have been disappointed, no, when your charge was within the city walls? The palace walls even. You barely had to step outside before falling over the one you had spent so long training to find.”
Jahinda’s pale eyes narrowed for the briefest second. “It was as the gods decreed.”
We might have to leave it here for today. Jahinda sure has a lot to say but this post is already getting a bit long.
Who do you want to hear from next week? Comment below. 🙂
Kalegos has magic but in Lygea, magic is a death sentence. Sent to live with an elderly scholar, Kalegos buries his magic, focusing instead on scrolls of history and languages. But what is buried cannot stay so forever.
Zri is the son of the legendary Miri, the woman who planned and executed the assassination of the previous Four, corrupt leaders who held Erelda under their thumb. When the Sacred Flame names the next Four, Zri struggles to live up to his mother’s reputation.
Once we’ve covered these two, I might interview the characters from Queen of Hearts. 🙂