The Purification of Ta’irim
The sun heated the stone beneath my feet as I walked in the procession from the inner sanctum of the temple. I saw the crowd milling around thirty feet beneath us, murmuring and chattering about the impromptu gathering the holy men had called. I stopped walking in line with the other four, looking over to the five across from us as the gold curtain of the Priest’s chambers parted.
High Priest Haashid stepped forward, flanked by to junior priests, his dark skin in stark contrast to his gold-embroidered white robes that flowed elegantly behind him. The musk of the incense in his chambers followed, wafting past us on the breeze.
“Gentle people of the city of Ta’irim,” He bellowed, sweeping his arms out wide, “the day of prophecy has arrived! God’s child is among us now!”
Haashid swept a long arm as the curtain behind him opened and another man stepped out accompanied by another two junior priests. He looked like any other man with one exception, his eyes. When they looked at me I saw the gold reflecting back. The decorative gold line painted on his skin paled in comparison to his eyes.
“Glory be to He who is on high!” The crowd chanted in unison, lifting their arms toward the man.
Screams cried out through the crowd as people ignited, seemingly at random, into balls of fire before being reduced to ash an instant later. I watched in horror as the man with the golden eyes swept his gaze over the crowd. Something in the pit of my stomach knew that it was him doing it.
“Fear not, my flock! Those that would be evil among us are being called out and purified in the Lord’s fire!” Haashid bellowed, standing taller.
The prophesied one turned suddenly, directing his gaze at those on the temple. Three of the five servants across from me burst into flame, one of the junior priests, and three of the servants in my line. When his eyes passed over me he hesitated. I could feel them delving deep into my soul. His eyes were full of sorrow, but for a moment I saw a spark of something else that I couldn’t identify, and then his eyes moved on.