Oh, I’ve done it to myself again. I meant for this to be a flash fiction, but it’s clearly a scene from what should be a much longer story. A story I want to know more about. And I’m pretty sure nobody knows the details because, duh, I haven’t written them yet. I really do need to get on that kind of thing just a little bit faster. Seriously….
Bertrand walked, slow and steady, keeping proper pace with the procession of the orbs. The pomp and ceremony of the nightly parade stretched before him, and trailed behind. The holy road from Orb to Light extended precisely five miles from Temple to Fane. Each evening, just at dusk, precisely one hundred light bearers stretched along that road to light the passage of the spirits. Ten thousand steps, one every second. Bertrand would be on this road for nearly three hours.
As he stepped along the arching fairway connecting the holy sites, many residents of the city gathered to watch the passage. He wasn’t supposed to look, but he glanced surreptitiously to the small clusters of ordinary folk who came out to view their progress. Some had children playing at their feet. Occasionally, a child would chase along the common street that ran parallel to the holy road until a mother called out in hushed tones and reined in her charge.
It seemed odd to him that so many would be fascinated by the parade of light. Or was it pure devotion to the idea of light? He wondered, but had no answer. He found it disconcerting each time a new assemblage of citizens came into view that they were already staring at him. Watching his paces as he came into view. He assumed they had stared the same way at the light bearer barely in sight ahead of him, and that they would shift their view to the one coming behind as he retreated from their location. He had to resist the temptation to turn and watch for the moment when their attention shifted—that would be a serious breach of protocol and would earn him time with a willow switch he was sure.
He forced his mind to quiescence as he neared the half-way point in his journey. He supposed he should be murmuring his devotions as he’s been trained, but it was more interesting to count his footfalls and study his surroundings. He knew the devotions. He’d recited them already this morning, and at high, and at even. He didn’t understand why he should have to repeat them yet again just because he was plodding for public viewing along a private road.
When Bertrand neared the final third of the procession, he could finally sense the downhill slope of the road. It was a relief he didn’t know he needed, and he fought the urge to pause and shake the blood back into his tired legs.
As he approached another group of staring observants, gawking at his measured approach, a shiver prickled his spine. One set of eyes held his gaze. Dark eyes set beneath a dark cowl. Odd with so many dressed in colors of sky and sun.
He forced his eyes forward and marched on, the tingle not leaving his senses. Dark thoughtfulness clouded his mind as he considered who might be under that hood.
The light bearer carried his orb, step after step, into the Shrine of Light.
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