On Thear it was the night of the full moon. It was also the first full moon after Aisling’s sixth birthday. That meant it was time. Persephone had spent most of the day preparing for her first meeting with the girl she had been watching but she still felt nervous. Breathing deeply to try to make it fade, she checked the pool to make sure Aisling was deeply asleep before calling to her. While she waited she berated herself for being so silly. She’d been a goddess for over two thousand years and she’d easily met thousands of people in that time, which meant there was no reason to be nervous when meeting a six-year-old girl. Even a six-year-old Thearan girl.
For a moment she stared up at the sky, her eyes focusing on the waning crescent of the moon. Soon it would be the night of the dark moon. She always watched closely for that night because she made sure to visit Hecate that day. During that long night her adopted grandmother would be busy. It was Hecate’s night in at least sixty different dimensions and she tried to visit as many of them as possible. Hecate’s work ethic had rubbed onto Persephone so she found herself trying to take care of hundreds of people, including her own family.
When a slight noise told her that Aisling had arrived, Persephone turned and looked at her. “Good evening, Aisling,” she said, smiling over at the girl.
“Persephone,” Aisling replied, looking at her with interest.
There were times when Persephone would change her image to look more like the person who was visiting. It was easy for her to do and it made them feel more comfortable. Some deities couldn’t shift with such ease but she’d always found shifting easy. With the younger Thearans, those who would grow up in a changing world, the decision had been made by all seven of the deities not to shift. A definite future was coming and they had to be ready for it even though that future was about thirty-five years away.
“You look different to the pictures,” Aisling continued. “I was expecting a Uisdro girl. What are you?”
“I’m human at the moment. They’re a race that live on a planet called Earth.”
Aisling nodded. “Is that your permanent form?”
“Yes it is. I began my life as an Earth goddess and that’s what I feel most comfortable as. Most bipedal forms aren’t a problem though.”
Persephone thought of the form she usually took when she met one of the Thearan people. In an instant she became a willowy seven foot tall, with blue skin, blue eyes and long, blue hair. The only thing she had never been able to get used to as one of the Uisdro was their webbed hands and feet. Slowly she moved her fingers, hating the feel of the flesh between them.
“You look beautiful in either form.”
“Thank you, Aisling.”
Even though Persephone knew it wasn’t the best idea she turned back to her human form. Changing took energy and as she hadn’t eaten much it would have been better for her to stay Uisdro. She sat down on a large branch, patting the space next to her.
“Why did you pick me?” Aisling asked as she sat down.
They looked at each other. It was hard for Persephone to get used to the speed at which the Thearans matured even though she had been working with them for two-hundred years. She was looking at a six-year-old who was mentally much older and could understand more than the average six-year-old from many of the worlds that she had visited including her home world. Unfortunately it did mean that they could see through half truths so she would need to be very careful with her words.
“The big picture,” she replied finally.
“Yes. It’s going to be a while yet but change will come.”
“Thear needs change.” Aisling bit her lip. “Can I talk to you honestly?”
“Of course you can.”
She looked relieved. “Thank you. It’s hard to talk at home. There are so many subjects that we can’t mention.”
Persephone had heard that before and she was beginning to get worried about it.
“The training temple is just about a quarter full,” Aisling said, staring out at the trees. “Most of us are Uisdro with only a couple of Tein-Igni and no Dorma. I know that people are turning away from the religion that I’ve grown up with but I don’t know why. No one will answer my questions. It’s as though we’re meant to be blind to what’s happening.”
“Do you have any theories as to why it’s happening?”
“I have a couple, but I don’t have enough information to know if I’m right or not. I do think that the Dorma are turning their back on our religion. It’s been happening for a while if what I’ve heard is to be believed and the High Priest of Herne isn’t doing anything about it.” Aisling wrinkled her nose. “I’m not sure why it’s the High Priest of Herne who has to do something. I would have thought that any of the High Priests could do the job just as well as he could.”
Persephone smiled. “At the time the Dorma became a race they chose Herne for their patron deity and they won’t have anything to do with any other deity. He did try to pass them to a new deity about four-hundred years ago but they wouldn’t accept him. It’s why Herne feels he can’t retire from Thearan politics even though he wants to desperately.”
“I think that the High Priest isn’t doing something on purpose. Herne’s said to have been the first deity on Thear and I’ve heard Dorma people saying there’s no need for any other deities.”
Herne wasn’t the first deity on Thear but Persephone couldn’t tell Aisling that.
“Some people are really nasty about you,” Aisling muttered, as though she didn’t want Persephone to know.
“What do they say?”
“They say that you’re too young to have any place on Thear.”
Persephone laughed. “It’s been a long time since I was young. At my last birthday I was 2326.”
There was a long silence. Persephone watched Aisling closely, trying to read her face and eyes to see what she was thinking. It could be difficult for mortals to be reminded of their mortality. Even though Aisling was mature for her age she was still a little girl. Memories of Persephone’s daughter being that age swept through her, making it difficult to push away the urge to hug Aisling.
Finally Aisling asked, “Is it difficult to live that long?”
“It can be,” Persephone replied thoughtfully. “My husband says I get too involved in mortals’ lives for my own good because I’m always devastated when one of my… people moves on. However I do have friends who are immortal and because my husband is immortal I don’t have to worry about my children living a mortal life span. I have watched good friends go through hell because they married a human. They say they wouldn’t give up the time they spent with them for anything, but I don’t know how they cope with watching their family move on one member at a time.”
“Why do you keep getting involved in mortals’ lives if it’s so hard to see them die?”
“I didn’t say die. Death isn’t the end. Mortals have immortal souls but not immortal bodies. The hard part is when they decide to move on to their next life. I know logically that they’re the same person but they’re also very different. Most of them do ask me to be their guide through many lives and many deaths which is something I feel is a real privilege.”
“Am I one of those people?”
“Sorry, Aisling. I can’t tell you that. It’s one of those things you need to find out for yourself in your own time.”
Aisling smiled. “I thought it would be.”
“You’ve got a lot to learn before you’re ready for that.”
“I know I have.”
“What’s your first aim going to be?”
“Learn to be a good priestess.”
“You will be.” Persephone felt bad for lying to her but she couldn’t tell the girl she was going to be a High Priestess. “I wouldn’t have chosen you otherwise.”
“Just remember that not everyone in the training temple will be chosen by a deity. Pick those you confide in about this very carefully and don’t be blinkered. It’s not just those who are in a training temple who might get chosen by a deity. Trust your instincts over anything else, even things that I tell you.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I’m not infallible, Aisling. Over the years I’ve made plenty of mistakes and some of them have been fatal.” She sighed, remembering again those who had lost their lives early because she had misread something. “There will be times when you know better than I do. You’re living on Thear while I’m just watching from a distance.”
“Will I learn to read the future from you?”
“It might not be one of your strengths but you can have a go if you wish. When you wake up in the morning get some tarot cards.” Thankfully, Thearan tarot cards were the same as Earth tarot cards and they were what Persephone had started off with when Hecate was teaching her to read the future. “Scrying is difficult to learn for someone who knows what they’re doing and for a beginner it’s almost impossible to get a readable image.”
“I’ve tried to read the clouds before.”
“Cloud reading is an interesting art. It’s something I can teach you if you’re interested but we’ll have to go somewhere else.”
“Is it always night here?”
Persephone smiled. “No, but it will always be night when you come here. Our time zones are the same so it’s night here at the same time it’s night on Thear.”
“It’s not the same time of the month or year though.”
“This is the second waning moon of Spring. It’s three days until the night of the dark moon.”
“Is that something that’s important for me to know?” Aisling asked.
“Not really. There are a few worlds that it would be but on yours it’s not.” Persephone looked over at the pool for a moment, remembering a couple of the possible futures she had seen. “A time might come when it is important.”
“Is there someone I can talk to about this possibility?”
“There’s a couple of people in your future who could help with this knowledge. You won’t meet them for about twelve years though.”
“How far into the future can you actually see?”
“I don’t know. I just look to find out what I need to know and there have been times when that knowledge was hundreds of years in the future.”
“It must be hard to know what might happen in the future.” Aisling looked at Persephone. “I have to admit that I have a selfish reason for wanting to learn how to see the future. I want to know if I’ll ever actually meet my sister.”
Persephone knew, at that exact moment in time, it was more likely that Aisling would never meet her sister. However the deities had certain plans in place that might change the probability in Aisling’s favour if she worked hard and became the strong High Priestess that Persephone had seen in three different futures.
“You might not always see what you want to see. I’ve found that when I looked into the future of people that I cared about. However there are always a lot of variables and a future can always change.”
Aisling nodded. “If I’d made certain decisions would you not have chosen me?”
“That was a very minor possibility. If you had made six mistakes between your fourth birthday and your sixth then this would never have happened. As it was you did make two but they weren’t the major ones.”
“Can you tell me what they were?”
“I can tell you anything you want to know about the past. It’s just the future we have to be careful about. As you want to learn to read the future yourself it will be easier for us to talk about the possibilities.” Persephone thought back to the times she had been watching Aisling. “The first mistake you made was when you turned your back on learning about basic healing. Personally I would have done the same thing. Anything to do with blood makes me cringe. The second was when you ignored the new girl in your history class. She’s a nice girl.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to stick with the people you already know.”
“If you always do that then you end up missing out on interesting opportunities. That time you didn’t but she would have been a good friend for you.”
“I’m sorry Persephone.
“You don’t have to apologise. Just learn from the mistakes you’ve made.”
“Is there anything else you feel I could have done better?”
“There is something I think that you should change but you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I’m here to guide you, not control you. The first thing is your class list. You seem to be taking really simple classes rather than pushing yourself the way you should be. I know why you’re doing it and it’s not the right reason. Don’t ever let friendship change you.”
“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t me.” Aisling sighed. “I’m not like the rest of those girls. They all have relationships outside the temple and all I know is the temple because I was born ‘special’. It’s lonely at times, Persephone, more lonely than I’m capable of dealing with.”
“You are capable of dealing with it. It’s just that you’re young and trying to learn who you are but you want to live up to everyone’s expectations of you. Your friends want you to be just like them, the priestesses feel like you’re their daughter and the last thing you want to do is let down your family. I’ve been there, Aisling. I know exactly what it feels like. Even deities have family problems.”
“Yes. There were days when I didn’t think I’d ever be able to cope with the expectations that were piled on my shoulders by my parents. They meant well but if it wasn’t for my adopted grandmother, and later my husband, I probably would have fallen apart under the pressure. I hope that you’ll be able to come to me if you feel like you’re about to crumble.”? Persephone reached out and gently touched Aisling’s arm. “We all need help at times.”
Aisling nodded. “I know. It’s just not always easy to accept.”
“Who is your husband? I’ve never even heard about him before, but then I haven’t started studying you in depth yet.”
“His name is Hades. He’s never been a deity of Thear so there hasn’t been a lot written about him. I think there are a couple of mentions of him in books about me, but it’s possible he’s just called ‘Persephone’s husband’. I’ve never actually read them.”
“I should write a book about your real life.”
Persephone smiled. “Maybe at some point you will.”
“How do I get to that point?” Aisling asked, smiling back.
“Learn how to read the future accurately and you’ll find out.”
“If I don’t learn how to read the future I’m just going to have to guess, aren’t I?”
“Sorry, Aisling. If I tell you too much I might end up changing the future because you’ll make certain decisions based on what I tell you.”
“That will happen if I learn to read the future anyway.”
“It’s different then. You will only see certain parts of the picture, those that will affect you the most, and I see the whole picture so what I say may have a bearing on other people’s lives as well as yours.”
Aisling nodded. “I understand.”
“I’m glad you do.” Persephone noticed that Aisling was beginning to fade. “It’s nearly time for you to return home. I didn’t realise that you’d been here for so long.”
“How long do I stay here?”
“On Thear it’s been about an hour. Here it’s not much more than five minutes.” Aisling opened her mouth to ask a question Persephone knew was coming. “Time here goes much slower than it does in most other universes. I don’t know why. As far as I know no-one knows why.” Persephone smiled. “Goodbye, Aisling.”
The voice was always the last thing to fade so Persephone heard Aisling say, “Goodbye, Persephone. I hope I’ll see you again soon,” even though her body had already returned to Thear.<<< Thear: Holly: Stepping Onto Thear***Thear: Trey: Meeting Aisling >>>