“Are you sure about this?” Alex asked setting everything up on the altar in the grove. After much discussion, Baymore and Ramora had called the other gods to assist them.
“No.” Ramora and Baymore answered in unison.
“But it’s worth a shot.” Ramora clarified picking up a smokey quartz bottle turning the intricately carved object in her hands.
“And we all have these, after we figured out how to go about this, it was pretty obvious that is what they were for.” Baymore said nonchalantly handing a bottle to Nadia.
“I mean…it seems a little far-fetched.” Nadia admitted holding the carved carnelian bottle. “What did you guys call them?”
“Soul jars.” Claudia replied distractedly flipping through an old tome. “See, here it is. I wasn’t crazy after all.”
She pointed to a page in the book flipping it around so they could see. There were several paragraphs illuminated on the page and next to it was a full illustration of four intricately carved bottles. Even though the drawings were in black and white, two matched the bottles present in the grove and the other two Nadia and Alex recognized as their own.
“What is this?” Alex asked taking the book from Claudia.
“I’m not totally sure.” Claudia replied watching as the god perused the passage. “We keep this in the library of the temple and I remember reading it at one point when I was younger. It seemed to have been written by someone who initially I thought was speculating, but must have known you or at least one of you at one point.”
“He seems to think very highly of you, Nadia.” Alex added, now flipping through the rest of the pages.
“Really?” Nadia looked at him with surprise. “Who is it that wrote this?”
She had taken the book from him, skimming through the passages. Alex and Claudia watched her curiously as she found a page that caught her attention and she paused tracing her fingers down it.
“I’m not sure who wrote it. The name has worn away from the binding.” Claudia replied though she wasn’t sure Nadia had heard her. She was staring at the page a hand over her mouth and, what Claudia thought were, tears in her eyes.
“Jacob.” the name was so soft, Claudia wasn’t even sure the Goddess had said anything at all.
“Who is Jacob?” Alex interjected confirming that she had heard Nadia.
“I…he was someone very dear to me.” Nadia shook herself handing the book back to Claudia. “It doesn’t matter now, but if you are using his word as reference it should work.”
“Have you gone soft on me?” Alex laughed heartily nudging her with his shoulder. “Is Nadia in love with the author?”
Nadia glared at him dangerously as he laughed. He let out a few nervous chuckles before backing down. He knew better than to push her any farther.
“Knock it off you two.” Baymore called sternly. “We’re just about ready. We need you to focus. You falter and this completely falls apart.”
“You really rely on us far too much.” He pointed out. “So this, Jacob, or whoever he is believed that the essence of a God could be contained in these bottles. In turn making them mortal right? But how, because his book didn’t exactly give directions.”
“This is where we get a little creative.” Ramora and Claudia answered.
“It doesn’t expressly say how to accomplish this.” Claudia continued after Ramora gestured for her to take the lead. “However he points out something very interesting about the waters of time. I had Ramora explain how their marriage ceremony worked and it is very similar to ours. Jacob points out in this book that most of our rituals are similar.”
“See the mortals use the waters to heal among other things.” Ramora clarified. “The ceremonies are virtually identical, the only difference is in the incantations.”
“There are many listed in this book that haven’t been used in centuries or that anyone in the temple had even heard of.” Claudia continued, opening to a section marked by a wide silver ribbon. “See we use the healing ones almost constantly. Same as with the marriages and baptisms, but there are some strange ones in here like extensions of birthrights, creations of family ties, and even duplications though we still aren’t certain what exactly that one means.”
“So there is one in here that can make them mortal?” Alex asked looking utterly confused still.”
“Well no, but…”
“What if you reversed the birthrights?” Nadia asked almost as if finishing the young priestess’ thoughts. “I mean essentially we are Gods through birthright, no?”
“Exactly our thoughts.” She turned the book so that everyone could see. “See this, Jacob, as you called him, was a smart man. He documented the rituals so we know they exist and though there is no express incantation for reversals, he does claim they can be done. I did a little rewording so I believe it should work. He says in the passage about the soul jars that they should be strong enough to store and safeguard their immortality until after they have separated. He theorized that the bottles were created for that purpose; so if a God ever chose to, they could become mortal and live a finite life.”
“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry.” Nadia whispered not noticing she spoke out loud until everyone turned to look at her. “I’m sorry I didn’t think I said that out loud.”
“Are you alright?” Ramora asked.
“Yes…no…I’m not sure.”
“What is it?”
“it’s a long story and honestly it is a story for another time, but the main point was that he told me of this theory after I mentioned that we had these.” She held up Baymore’s carnelian bottle. “It was purely speculation seeing as they were passed down to us without explanation, but he had asked me to use mine. Spend our lives together, but I was too afraid to because it was only a theory.”
“Do you belive it will work?”
“There is only one way to find out. Be brave where I was not.”
“Alright. I think we are ready.” Ramora said steeling her nerves. “Don’t blame yourself, Nadia. We can’t always be brave for the ones we love, but they love us just the same as I’m sure he did regardless of your reservations on the matter.”
Nadia smiled sadly nodding in an attempt to tell her how true her words had been, though she still felt some guilt. Ramora patted her shoulder trying to comfort her before joining Claudia and Baymore at the altar.
“Join hands if you would, please.” Claudia instructed taking on a more serious tone. “Alex if you would fill these please.”
Claudia handed the God two golden chalices similar to the ones used at the wedding. He took them from her in turn handing them to the branches of the holly near by. The branches stretched out from the bush placing the chalices into the cascade of the waters of time, filling them as the waterfall fed the stream and handed them back to the lazy God. Claudia took them raising them up reciting something in an ancient language similar to the incantation recorded in the book. When she finished, she continued in the common tongue.
“Baymore and Ramora, God and Goddess by birth, you are electing to renounce your birthright temporarily to pursue mortal endeavors.” Claudia handed them the chalices motioning for them not to drink yet. “Same as with your marriage bond, you have to give up your right willingly.”
“And it’s just temporary?” Baymore asked hesitantly.
“It should be. I can make no promises though.”
Both nodded stating that they willingly gave up with immortality. Claudia motioned for them to drink and the three bystanders watched intently as they did so. Ramora sputtered into her cup coughing as she let out a pained gasp. A blue-gray light emanated around her pooling together in her chest forming an orb that pulled itself away from her. A tiny orb of red yanked itself away from her arm darting around her head.
Baymore had doubled over in pain as the same happened to him. A reddish light formed around him and pulled itself from his chest floating next to the one that had come from Ramora. They hovered between the two of them before taking off toward Nadia and Alex who stood at a distance, bottles open in their hands. Their immortality retreated into their bottles knocking the two remaining Gods back a few steps before they placed the stoppers back trapping the energy inside.
A smaller orb of blue-gray emerged from the skin at Baymore’s wrist joining the red one darting around their heads. They looked scared as they flitted around. Having nowhere else to go they rushed toward their original owners ultimately colliding in a shower of sparks and a hiss of steam. Both gods cried out in pain as the small pieces of them were destroyed crumpling to unconscious heaps on the ground.
Nadia and Alex rushed forward in an attempt to help their friends. Neither one noticed the horrified look on the young priestess’ face as she stumbled backward leaning against the stone surface of the altar. No one noticed the fire until it had spread to the holly, setting the grove aflame.