Beyn was troubled in spirit, something he had rarely been during his life. He remembered his time in the seminary, training to serve The Path. Even at that young age, his spirit had burned with certainty and divine purpose. He had risen long before the sun and slept long after it had set, devoting his every waking moment to the scripture, his meditations and the development of his oratory skills. It had been a simple time of purity and growth, one that he was fond of.
But the measure of his devotion in those years would pale in comparison to the blaze that would awaken in his later life. With the loss of his arm, an even greater purpose would be revealed to him, a deeper truth! And yet, he was unable to serve as he so desired!
“Priest Beyn. How are you feeling?”
He was dragged from his thoughts by a voice and he turned to see one of the true believers, Margaret, approaching him with concern.
“I am fine, sister,” he assured her, “my symptoms have abated at last and I make haste to the temple to join our brethren.”
A look of relief flashed over the middle aged woman’s face.
“That is a relief, Priest. We feared the worst when you were returned to us.”
Beyn tried to hide a grimace at the unwanted memory. He’d been unwilling to leave the nest to the point that he had suffered severe Mana Sickness. A gross oversight on his part. When the illness had started, he’d assumed it was due to an oversaturation of joy, but alas. Without the intervention of Coolant, he might have died down there, but he was saved when he was dragged to the surface by a soldier that gripped him around the waist with its mandibles. Almost all of the brethren who’d joined him in the nest had to be removed in this way, though his symptoms were by far the worse.
The fact he’d been forced to be removed from the nest at such a crucial time was the source of his disquiet. As much as Coolant had wanted to keep it quiet, he knew of the great challenge that faced the Colony at this time, how could he not sense the tension that was in the air? More than anything he yearned to lend his support, to aid and abet the great Colony and the Great One as they fended away the evil that threatened to snuff out the miracle of their existence.
He was filled with impotent rage! Bursting with fervour and zeal with nowhere to direct it! If he didn’t find a way to channel these emotions he felt as if he might just explode on the spot.
Margaret joined him on his walk through the streets of Renewal as he walked toward the church. Many people called out to him and he waved back to them with his remaining arm, stopping to exchange a few words here and there with the faithful.
“The people have responded well to the word, haven’t they?” Margaret noted with obvious pride. “I was worried that the newcomers wouldn’t be willing to receive our teachings.”
Beyn only smiled.
“How could they deny the truth when it was right before their eyes?” He gestured to one side where an ant was currently helping carry stone blocks for a new construction. The law court would be impressive when it was done. In Beyn’s eyes this would be largely due to the way the building incorporated the Colony, with viewing hatches built into the walls, wide doors to allow them to enter and the ant designed seating Beyn had witnessed in the nest. In his mind, every building in the town should be able to accommodate the people of the Great One. It was they who illuminated the path for the community after all.
No matter how pleased he was to be amongst his flock once more, Beyn did not allow his feet to tarry and Margaret had to hurry to keep up with him as he strode toward the Church. The feelings of helplessness he experienced during his convalescence had built within him and he needed to be amongst the devoted once more to seek relief. Perhaps together, they would find a way they could assist their saviours. There had to be something!
The closer he came to the looming stone building, the faster he moved until he had almost broken into a run, his eyes filled with the grand edifice that fronted the church. They had been truly blessed when they awoke one day to find an ant crafter had risen from the nest and taken an interest in their work. The congregation had watched with bated breath as the Colony member had inspected their own humble carvings, including the statue of the Great One that featured prominently inside. They were never able to communicate with this mysterious individual, but they must have passed muster, as the blessed creature had spent a week working on the church, carving with mandibles and magic with equal skill to transform the once austere and square building into a magnificent work of art.
Even laying his eyes on the structure was enough to soothe the pain in his heart and he struggled for a moment to restrain the tears that threatened to fall as he took in the sheer beauty before him. There were always people who gathered outside the building to admire it, but Beyn had no time for them today. Normally he would stay to speak, perhaps even preach, but not today. He moved through the people, barely acknowledging their presence as he rushed to the door and pushed it open.
Inside, a circle of the devoted were already gathered, wearing their ropes and attached antennae of glory. As one, they turned to the door and when they saw who had arrived, faces lit up with joy. Heart soaring, the priest rushed forward to greet his people. There was no need for words between them. These were the people who had experienced the deeper truth of the Colony and its majesty. Within the nest, they had experienced much together, and had their eyes opened even further (something he had not thought possible). These were the people whose feet were most firm upon the path.
Without speaking, they once again formed a circle in the centre of the church and communed with their spirits. They all felt the same pain, being unable to reach out and aid their saviours in their time of need. All around the walls, the Colony looked down on them. The statues of the Great One around the wide room looked at them with patience and wisdom in their eyes.
There had to be a solution, there had to be a way forward. There was always a path!
Together, the congregation communed and prayed. There was anguish in their hearts, but also hope, as well as something new… As time passed, they could feel it building within themselves, and alongside it, excitement grew. Minutes turned to hours, but not one of them moved to leave. Instead, their resolve only grew. Nobody spoke, nobody moved.
A great change was coming.