((It's been awhile since I posted here and thought I'd share one of my favorites scenes in my second book of the Tome Series - "Sea of Sands" featuring none other than Zorastres Idola. Enjoy )) “Hey,…you alright?” Sitting on one of the piers with his legs hanging over the water, Zorastres shrugged with a heavy sigh. “Yeah, I guess.” Making himself comfortable next to him, Bevan handed him a wine jug. He politely refused but the earthborne shoved it into his chest with enough force to nock some of the wind out of him. “It’ll ease the aches if nothing else.” Reluctantly, Zorastres took a drink. It was sweet and refreshing and felt good going down. “You took some hard hits out there.” Zorastres wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt with a diffident shrug. “Nothing I can’t handle. I’ve had worse.” “I’ll bet you have. But the agony of defeat is never easy.” “It’s the embarrassment I can’t stand.” Bevan paused thoughtfully, then laughed. “Sometimes it’s easy to believe you were a wizard.” He shook his head. “Other times, it’s impossible.” “Tell me about,” Zorastres nodded in agreement then realizing what he was agreeing with, stopped. “Hey…-” “What I mean is, watching you out there fighting this evening made me realize that you can fight…sort of. You’re not good at it and my advice is avoid it at all costs. But the man I saw out there fighting was very hard to picture casting spells from a dusty old book. Even if I can see why he’s not a soldier.” “Thanks…thanks a lot.” “Is it so important to be something so specific? To be a soldier?” “If I’m not a dedicant of Athene, what am I?” Taking the jug of wine back from the Shamiran, Bevan took a long drink before answering. “I don’t know much about your people’s gods, but among mine, when we need guidance to find our way, we ask.” “You can’t just ask the gods at random which one you’re supposed to dedicate your life to.” “Why not?” “Because…” Zorastres sighed again, wondering how to explain the deep spiritual connection Shamira had to the God they were born destined to, that they sought to embody in their lives. It wasn’t just a matter of simply following a deity’s edicts. There was a link, like two pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly, a completion of one’s self. To be a dedicant wasn’t just to obey the laws and ideals of a particular god. It was to emulate them as closely as possible. To be a living example of their god’s governances. “Because.” Accepting the jug of wine, he took a sip. “I tried to be a true dedicant of Hekate. I really thought that was my calling. When that turned out to be the wrong choice, I thought maybe…maybe I’d made a mistake in leaving Athene - I just hadn’t given it a good enough try or something. So I return to her and I still can’t make it right.” “Have you ever thought that maybe you’ve got it wrong?” “What do you mean?” Pulling his legs up, Bevan stood and straightened his shirt. “Maybe it was your dedication to Hekate that you didn’t give a good enough try?” Zorastres felt like he’d been hit in the face with cold water. “You planning on joining the festivities?” he nodded toward the bonfires. “There’s a lot of pretty girls out there…and Kane’s been asking where you’re at. Along with Lassa and Ruari. Not to mention your sisters and brother.” “They’ve been looking for me?” “Especially your father. He’s been wanting to talk to you for awhile.” “I guess I’ve been a bit of a jerk.” “You’re damn right you have.” Offering a hand, Bevan easily hoisted him to his feet with a grin. “An unsocial one at that.” Returning the elementalblade’s smile, Zorastres followed him back to the beach. Bevan was right. Wallowing in his self-pity, he’d been avoiding everyone since his match with Vlasis. He’d missed out on time he could’ve been spending with his family when that time was quickly growing short. Already Lassa was up and about, her strength returned from her ordeal. Soon it’d be time for them to barter passage for Delphi and from there a journey he may not survive. Instead of moping about, he should’ve been enjoying life and as much time with his family and friends as he could. As soon as he set foot on the beach, Zorastres found a mug of wine thrust into his hand. Great bonfires burned brightly along the beach and the beautiful music of lyres, keras, crotalum, syrinx and pan pipes floated through the air. Throughout the day and into the night, the laughter and dancing of the ongoing celebration reigned across the island. Now that the sun had set, the feasting and drinking began and the games changed from a military focus to one of pure celebratory randomness. As with many festivals, the Day of the Koreion, was a chance for the normally strictly disciplined Athene dedicants to indulge in a bit of the chaotic. In the push and shove of the crowd amidst the dancing, singing and gaming, Zorastres found himself next to Bevan one second, his sister Demetria (or was it Elisavet? The twins were hard to tell apart in the confusion) the next and half a second after that, Lassa. Dressed in her leathers, their red stain and tooled imagery like blood in the firelight, she sat on a natural berm near the rear of the beach. Leaning forward so her arms rest on her knees just behind the edge of her bladed bracers, she held a mug of wine in her hands as she watched a handful of girls in a circular, spinning dance. “Wow.” Zorastres grinned. “You should see it during the Dionysia.” “What’s that?” “A celebration held in honor of the god Dionysius, the God of wine, vegetation, pleasure and festivity. The god of everything uncivilized, of the intrinsic wildness in all races, is honored with highly emotional tragedies and irreverent comedies. Roles are reversed and mockery’s made of their opposites; the lower classes mock and jeer the upper and women insulted their male relatives. It’s my sisters’ favorite festival, I think.” “Is it like this?” Lassa motioned to the general assembly, the occasional random braids in her hair woven with red ribbons falling about her shoulders with the movement. “I mean, singing, dancing, feasting, drinking and games?” “And then some. First, there’s an initial, solemn procession during which a phallic effigy is placed in the theatre. Then there’s plays and choirs and singing and dancing by torchlight. Then there’s the second procession. The drunken revelry through the streets of the villages and cities. Wine and lust flow throughout the night. Feasts and sexual parties without regard for gender are held in ritualistic, if unruly, honor of the Effeminate God until the sun comes up.” “Sounds like quite a party.” “On Saragdi, it’s second in importance only to the Panathenaia, Athene’s most important celebration.” Drinking from his mug, Zorastres glanced at the fireborne. She’d changed since her journey into Erebos. Her spark seemed to have gone out and it was as if she was only going through the motions of her former self anymore. In a way, he kind of missed her snappish, quick-tempered attitude. The transformation of self was to be expected, he supposed. But he couldn’t help but wonder how dangerous it was to herself. A roar of laughter drew his attention to where a large group of people were gathered around a large wheel sectioned in wedges of various colors. Hung on a peg, it spun fairly quickly while a girl with a cloth tied over her eyes threw a knife at it. The blade stuck and she removed her blindfold to see where it landed. Smiling broadly, Zorastres grabbed Lassa’s hand and pulled her with him through the crowd until they were next in line. “What is this?” “Oh it’s a great game. You’ll like it. Lots of sharp pointy things involved.” Lassa watched the man in front of Zorastres tie a cloth over his eyes, take up a knife and throw it at the spinning wheel. It stuck, he looked at it then grabbed the nearest person to him, a matronly woman with graying hair, and kissed her. “I don’t get it. What’s the point?” “See the colors on the wheel?” “Yes.” “Whatever color your knife catches, the first person you see wearing that color, you have to kiss. The fun is sometimes the color is really easy to find, sometimes it’s not and you never know who’s playing.” “The woman was wearing a green and white dress.-” “Peplos.” “Peplos.” Zorastres nodded. “And the man’s knife caught the green wedge on the wheel.” “What if it’d been a man wearing green?” He looked at her as if she’d just asked ‘what if it were First Day?’ Lassa laughed and pushed him forward. “It’s your turn.” Tying the cloth over his eyes, Zorastres blindly reached out for a knife. Someone handed one to him, placing the blade carefully in his palm. Holding it by the tip, he let himself be pointed in the right direction, lifted his arm and let it fly. The tell-tale *thunk* of it catching was audible even above the clamor of the celebrants and he lifted the blindfold to see the knife stuck squarely in the blue wedge of the wheel. Whipping the cloth off, he looked around eagerly for the color on a person. Normally, blue was a common color but at the moment it appeared to have vanished from the face of the earth. Pushing through the crowd, he was only vaguely aware of the cheers as Lassa took her turn and he briefly wondered what color she’d gotten. Then he caught sight of a leather cuirass dyed a dark, dark shade of blue. Coming up behind him, he guided him to turn around, closed his eyes, took his face in his hands and kissed him full on the mouth. It was kind of nice to feel him kissing back. Slowly opening his eyes, at first he didn’t recognize the face he was squishing. Then, it dawned on him who he’d kissed. Feeling his eyes go wide in surprise as he slowly let go of his face, he couldn’t help the sheepish grin that spread across his lips at Kane’s knowing smile. Eyes sparkling, cheeks turning red, he opened his mouth to say something when alarm bells began ringing.