"Roman Offering," John William Waterhouse, 1891, WikiArt.
“Roman Offering,” John William Waterhouse, 1891, WikiArt.

Part 8: Thousand Flaming Arrows

Praying in predawn light, Rhete looked to
Heavens for strength, diminished body and
Soul, alleviating ills of injured and infirm,
Laying on hands, mortal conduit of divine,
Her soul resting required, slowly rekindling.
In numbers pilgrims arrived, on foot, by oxen
Cart, as commanded, Rhete received them,
None turned away, advice provided, weary
Hearts inspired, medicines taken, tinctures
Of herbs, tree bark, oils, and wine.

Eyes upraised to moon and stars, Rhete’s
First vision received, meteors sky-streaking
Across mountaintops, long fire-streams.
Rhete collapsed amongst her sheep, Ekho
At her side, thousand flaming arrows night
Loosed, raging seas of clashing armies, waves
Of soldiers descending on Thracian plains,
Forests felled for ship building, cruel sights
For innocent eyes, family Rhete awakened,
Temple experiences recounted till noon-day.

O! Rhete what secrets to conceal, promises to
Protect parents before temple and deities of
Divine Light were revealed. Alas! Huge foot
Of warring armies readies, twenty-thousand
Marching feet, as many mouths to feed, locusts
Devouring forests and flocks, towns fiery
Tombs transformed, death by spear-point to
Farmers, smiths, and coopers if disobeyed,
Daughters and hillsides denuded, by brutal
Bloodshed, peaceful rustic ages ended.

"Allegory of Peace and War," Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.
“Allegory of Peace and War,” Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.

More precious than gold, safety of Rhete’s
Family, to mountain paths they ascended, few
Possessions taken, memories of past life before
Fears of warring tides, death foaming at its crest.
As Rhete first beheld, temple pediments of living
Stone appeared in wisps of sunlit cloud. Dolius
Welcoming at marble porticoes, family provided
Shelter within timeless halls. Rhete returned to
Her divine calling, Dolius and Ekho at her side,
Forces beckoned nothing would withstand.

What forces can Dolius beckon that nothing would withstand?
Next is Part 9 of 10. Generally, these stories come to an arbitrary
conclusion because they could continue almost indefinitely.

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