Ulyx came in and the chattering stopped.
“Good afternoon, Apprentices.” He leaned against the demonstration bench, looking very serious. “I’ve called you to this special meeting to prepare you for an important event that every senior Locks Eye student must go through. You have gone through much to get this far. You achieved top grades at Valleyville, or otherwise demonstrated academic ability. You passed a morals test. You felt your bodies transform as the Power flowed through them for the first time. You made it through a year at Locks Eye, where you learned to understand and use the Power quite well. Those are all difficult challenges, and ones you will never forget. Soon, however, you will have an experience which goes beyond even those.” The students sat tensely, waiting. “Each of you will have a personal visit with Aurumus, the head god of Heaven, that he may approve of you before you graduate.”
There was silence for a moment, then Rejinal asked “What if he doesn’t approve?”
“It hasn’t happened yet, so your imaginings are as good as mine.”
After another pause Davish asked. “Is he coming down to Hume?”
“Not exactly. Follow me, class, and I’ll show you.”
He led the students upstairs, then up more stairs to the top floor of the modified mansion. He stopped at a door. “We had this part especially built for these visits.” He opened the door to reveal a set of spiral oak stairs. The lighting was too dim to see what was at the top, so the students blindly followed Ulyx. Half‑way up, he touched a metal plate, and a soft light bathed an elaborate gold door ahead. Even Rejinal stopped in his tracks at the sight of it. Only when Ulyx unlocked and opened it did they continue up.
When they paused and shyly peeked in, Ulyx said quietly “It’s all right, come in.”
Slowly they filed in, and Ulyx just let them look around for a few minutes. Gingerly they stepped on the woven red carpets that were as grand as the tapestries on the walls. The rainbow spectrum of light shining on the hand-carved furniture raised their eyes to gaze at the intricate stained glass in the ceiling.
Rejinal found himself drawn to the centrepiece of the room. Raised up on a dais was a large gold chair with lions’ heads punctuating the arms, and paws extending from the legs. Above the red velvet upholstery, still in gold, was the most beautiful horse head he’d seen. Except it wasn’t quite a horse. There was a single long horn in the middle of its forehead. Despite the chair’s beauty, his gaze fixed on the humanoid crystal statue sitting gloriously upon the seat.
“Don’t touch it,” Ulyx said quietly. Louder, he said “This is the crystal casing of Aurumus. For his Human visitations, he throws his essence into it, that he might listen and speak. For all intents and purposes, he is actually here. It takes a lot of energy, so he prefers to have just one visit per day.”
He let the students look in silence for a while before ushering them away. “All right, everybody back to the door.” When all were assembled, he said “I’ll go through the proper protocol for your visit, then we’ll review it until you have it down perfectly. We don’t want to displease him with some silly little impoliteness.” Ulyx started walking down the red carpet. “We call that chair a throne, a symbol reserved for the highest authority. You will approach it thus, and kneel before Aurumus like this. As you speak to him, you will stand or kneel as he bids. When he dismisses you, back away for three steps, bowing, before turning around. Walk sedately out of the room before you collapse on the stairs from relief.”
Rejinal cringed at seeing Ulyx go through such subservient looking motions. The lowest servant on Hume didn’t have to kneel before their Lord.
At Rejinal’s expression, Ulyx said “Do you have a problem with something, Rejinal?”
“Well, sir, I can’t help but wonder what sort of being demands such obsequious behaviour.”
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