Evening had come, twilight coloring the large throne room in crimson shades. Alick had been gone for some time now. It seemed to Tabea that the large tapestries came to life. Here Baccus danced with his Maneads, there an ancient king watched while Zeus swung his bright lightening bolt across the room. There Helios drove his sun-chariot across the sky, there Hades and Persephone reigned over the souls of the underworld. So many ancient images of the gods. Pfh! The gods. Tabea stood up from the couch she’d been sitting in and went up to a life-size representation of Hera, Queen of Heaven. These were no more than images woven in tapestries. She brushed one hand against the heavy cloth. It shivered under her hand, as if it felt that there was something different about her. There were times when these and other deities had been worshipped. She remembered that her father’s favorite god had been Mammon — money personified. She hadn’t chosen any for herself. Why was that?
Over the last years she’d watched her husband come to believe more and more in the one that the Scholars called the Word. Some said that this was so impersonal — just a word, a force. The young woman grinned as she stepped back from the tapestry. Perhaps this Word was merely an impersonal force...
Still, she’d experienced something, so long ago, when she’d been enchanted by Alick. It was that small, quiet voice that had protected her from losing her composure while facing up to Roanna. The blue eyes glanced at the rich mosaics on the floor.
“I have so many questions about you, Word,” she said quietly. Suddenly she jumped. Had someone answered?
So ask. It must be her imagination — no, there again!
So ask me, Tabea!
“Are you an impersonal force?”
Would I be that if I talked to you in this way? It was a simple question. Slowly she realized that the rich Voice was not inside her, but really touching her ears.
“Can I see you?”
No one can see me and live, child.
“But you’ve got to be visible.”
Yes, I was. The Word became flesh.
“I don’t understand.”
You will, someday soon. Look around you, Tabea, at the gods made by human hands. Shouldn’t it be the other way around — men made by God’s hands? Zeus and Hera, Baccus and Helios, Hermes, Atreus, Athena... all of these are just images and imaginations of man.
Do you think you are imagining this conversation, Tabea à Carrock? Slowly a the room began to glow brightly before her. There were shining, swirling colors. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled. The rich Voice was now clearly audible. She fell forward on her face, shaking in fear.
I am, Tabea à Carrock. You don’t imagine me and you don’t have to. I am who I am and I will never change. Remember that. And remember what you have seen. The light and the glory faded. The Presence, however, was still there, heavier than ever.
I want you as my servant, Tabea, but you must chose that for yourself. I never will force anything on anyone that they themselves have not chosen. The woman shook under the implication of those words.
“How can I serve you?” she whispered. Strangely she felt inadequate and filthy before this great Presence.
I will show you when the time comes. I know also that you feel like you are too weak for that. I will cleanse you, Tabea, so that you can serve me, the way Savoy and your husband do.
“Dylan serves you?” she gasped, looking up.
“Has he ever seen you in this way?”
No, nor does he need to. But that is his life and his story. I only show each person his or her own story, Tabea. Your insecurity and impatience were the reason you sinned when you didn’t wait to marry Dylan before sleeping with him. Shame washed over her at that. Had it really been her fault? Yes, it had. She had allured him, pressing the right buttons with her actions and clothing — or lack of it for that matter. His impatience has been part of it, but she had known then she must wait. Why didn’t I? she wondered. This just added to the feeling of being filthy. She had wanted fulfillment and protection and she’d taken it in an illegal way.
“You’re right, Word, I was wrong there and I’m sorry about it. I wish I could do it all over again and do it right.”
You can’t do that, Tabea. But I forgive you everything. I will strenghten you, child, and you will be my servant. Be clean. The last words were merely whispered and in the same instant she felt lighter than a feather. She knew that she was more than adequate. She’d been forgiven by the Word — the almighty God. He’d given her worth now. Slowly she sat up and stared at the darkening room. The twilight had settled. She stood and began to light the many lamps by using a single candle that had burned until now. Baccus still was leering at her and Hera still sat on her throne, but they didn’t bother her any more. They were just images and she knew the personal, real God — the Word. It made her feel light and happy — and hungry. Strangely a low table was set with food at the other end of the hall. She walked over to it, sat and was about to begin to eat, before she remembered to thank the Word for the food. It must have been him who provided it — who else could have done it? Strange that he should be found even here in Damrok, the bastion of evil, but then if he was good and true the way Savoy had said, then he should be here, fighting the evil.
“Is this how I should serve you?” she wondered. The rich Voice was silent, but that didn’t bother her. She would know soon enough.
Alick silently rushed along the dark passages to a room that he’d discovered many, many years ago during his study of the ancient lore of evil. It had something in it. He hadn’t been able to open the door then, but he knew that now he would be able to enter it. He stopped in front of a low, wooden door. Here it was. What was behind it? Only one way to find out. He reached out and pushed it open...