The Seeker rolled over and stared out the window into the beautiful autumn sky. She stretched her arms over her head and settled back into the warmth of the eiderdown comforter. But just as she closed her eyes in the hope of falling asleep again, she sat bolt upright in bed. She looked back out the window at the forest that lined the other side of a shallow lake, and suddenly she realized she was no longer in the Greater World. In fact, she knew exactly where she was. She was at the retreat house in the room where she had stayed before. But how could that be?
She plopped back on the bed and tried hard to think of the last thing she remembered. She had been sitting on the banks of the marshes outside the village of St. Stephens, tired and drifting in and out of slumber. And then she saw the Angel. A vision! There had been a vision! A vision of cups that represented different pathways she could not take in her life. And the Angel had told her she must choose, but to do so wisely.
She lay there on the bed ticking them off one by one in her head. The cup with the dove… She had known that was a path of peace, but she had had enough peace in her life, of things being the same from day to day and never knowing if the Creator found her pleasing. The small black dragon rose from a second cup… Dragons were guardians of riches and great society, and even as she saw it she knew she had no use for either. The third cup, and the fourth, both showed her a path of a home, family, and beauty. She had thought long about the third cup and the promise of love it held. But she felt she needed to know who she was before she could share herself with another, so she had passed it over as well.
The fifth cup held the image of the library on the temple mount. It had been her favorite place in all the world. She had a hunger for learning. Might that be a wise choice, she had wondered. Then the sixth cup came to mind, a cup holding a coiled snake, symbolizing Wisdom and Knowledge, but also Temptation and Death. She had spared it little thought then moved on. The last cup held the vision of a cloaked man. She had the strange feeling he held the secret to eternal life. She thought about the cycles of the Earth, the beauty of the seasons, and how every human life mirrored those circles. Could she be satisfied to be alone in her eternity, losing loved ones again and again? No. That would be a lonely existence in the end. She needed connection and love.
She remember then looking back at the cup holding the library. It seemed the perfect pathway for her life. But as she reached up to take hold the stem of the cup, she stopped and turned to the snake. Impulsively she found herself grasping that chalice in her hand. And without warning she sank deeper into the vision…
It all came back to her in a rush and she had to cover her mouth to keep from crying out. She saw him standing there again in front of a net woven over the symbol of an upside-down pentacle. He had long brown hair and stood bare-chested wearing only a fiery skirt held up by a golden belt. His hands were clenched at his side, and vines appeared to grow from his chest down his arms to each. But it was his expression that terrified her, his mouth set in a sardonic smile and his eyes full of hate and evil.
“I am Dominion,” he said menacingly, his voice low and smooth like the growl of an animal. “I have control over your life now. By your choice you have forfeited your destiny to me!”
Despite her fear, the Seeker noticed two humans behind him kneeling very close to the web. At first she thought they were caught in it, but in looking again she realized they were not. They only appeared to be. Each of them cried out for deliverance, their arms raised in supplication to the Creator.
Following her gaze, the one calling himself Dominion laughed loudly. “You are mine now, the same as they are. You will spend eternity doing my bidding!”
In her fright, the Seeker had begun to shake. “I know you,” she said, her voice as steady as possible, for truly she had been warned of him in the temple. “You are NOT Dominion. Only the Creator has Dominion. You are Temptation and Death. You do not have control over these people. They fear they are trapped in their troubles, but it is only an illusion, and the Truth will set them free. For Temptation and Death will never have the last Word in this world. That is for the Creator to wield.”
As she finished speaking, the two humans suddenly realized they were, indeed, not attached to the net. Amazed, they looked in her eyes and smiled, a golden glow growing around them. And in the next moment they were gone.
The Tempter roared in anger, “You are MINE!” and started toward the Seeker, the vines of his hands reaching out to enslave her. But before he could take her in his grasp, the golden glow engulfed her as well and everything around her faded into nothingness…
The Seeker rose from her bed, and without changing from her nightdress, she hurried down the stairs of the retreat house to the veranda, hoping to find the Queen there. She had so many questions. Not the least of which was how she had come to be at the retreat house. But she was disappointed. The veranda was deserted. As she turned to go back to her room, a young man came up the steps from the meadow. The Seeker noted he was liveried as those in the court of King Aelfraed, and with him he carried the Wand of the King.
“You are awake at last,” he said. “I was beginning to fear my task to bring you here had been in vain.”
“Who are you,” the Seeker asked.
“I am the Page of Wands of King Aelfraed. Seeing you safely to the retreat house was my first royal command. I was greatly desirous to do so. I am in your debt for now I am to learn the use of the Wand.”
“But where was I?” she asked.
“Camus and Megge found you entranced on the edge of the marsh. You could not be wakened. King Aelfraed was sorely concerned and felt your only hope of recovery was to be returned here to the Queen in the Realms of Faith. I was to wait until you finally woke, then bring him news of your health.”
For some time the Seeker and the Page talked before he asked her permission to take his leave and return to the court. He had answered all her questions save one — who had saved her from the cup of Wisdom and Knowledge?
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)