Child of the Serpent (Part VIII)

The doors opened to reveal a hall much larger than she expected, adorned with metal sconces, tile mosaics on the walls, and pale cobbled stone on the floor, replacing the hard earth from the tunnel. Most remarkably, however, was what she saw in in the center of the hall: a long stone walkway that led to the center of a lake that seemed to glow with a strange light, it’s surface so still it could have been glass. We must be farther below the surface than I had thought, she thought to herself, stunned. How long has this been here?  The mosaics on the walls told colorful stories of kings come and gone, armies, common folk and their families. Interspersed with these scenes were representations of some of the fables Derryn once heard as a child: A man rising from the sea, a woman standing with arms outstretched on the edge of a cliff, a silver dragon, a child with a bird…and above all of this, was the shining Uraeus itself, the Cosmic Serpent created from an iridescent kaleidoscope of tiles. The gigantic form circled above the smaller scenes, illuminated by the lake below, creating a continuous loop on the ceiling.

Movement at the corners of her eyes was revealed to be a handful of other cloaked figures, shutting the heavy doors of the temple, replacing torches in the wall sconces, and carrying tomes with them into hallways leading away from the central chamber where they stood.

This is the temple?”, she said in wonder, now understanding Sorren’s more formal bow.

“Yes” Gran confirmed softly, looking about her as if seeing an old friend. “It has been quite some time. It’s just as I remember it.”

“Of course it is.” Sorren injected with a smirk, “The Serpent is the keeper of memories.  Anyone who’s touched that consciousness should remember their own temple…or are your years are finally catching up to you?”

“Do you think you might remember who you’re talking to?” Derryn snapped, suddenly irritated at the elf’s flippancy. “She was part of this temple when you were likely still an infant, yet you speak as though you’re her equal.” Gran laid a calming hand on her shoulder, “Easy, my girl. I’m no longer a part of this temple, and I have grown old… but just as I will never forget this temple, I’ll never forget the day a foolish young apprentice nearly set fire to a tapestry in the prayer room. Or fell into the Serpent’s lake while making his offering.” Sorren’s already dark face grew darker in what Derryn assumed was a blush. He cleared his throat self-consciously before saying, a bit too loudly, “Yes, well. We’ll have time for stories later…It’s time we met with Memnos Rinn. Follow me.” Gran smiled to herself as she took Derryn by the arm and followed the flustered elf down a hallway to their right. Derryn’s bubble of anger did not subside, as she glared at Sorren’s back. She battled with feelings of frustration, confusion, and pain at the knowledge that he was her mother’s student, that he knew more about her life than Derryn did, her own daughter.  She wondered if Lissa knew about the temple, and why she never mentioned it. Seeming to sense her granddaughter’s distress, Gran squeezed her arm a bit tighter. Derryn knew that Gran felt conflicted, but the uneasiness in the pit of her stomach wouldn’t subside.

To read the first parts of the story, follow these links!

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