Higher Powers (Princess in the Tower #5)

I spend a lot of my time in the library, devouring every single book it finds fit to show me, but my favorite section is the one with all of the myths. There’s a big book from a distant land, filled with names I do not recognize from any maps I’ve seen, brimming with various myths. I like myths. They are always so full of old magic, and it makes me feel like I am not alone in this world. It makes me feel part of something ancient, because perhaps some day my own magic could become its own myth.

Either way, I’m feeling creative today. I leave Count Saber in my room, flying down the many steps to the Blank Room. Once, I’d imagined a pulley-system to take me up and down rooms, located at the center of the tower, except I quickly grew bored and restless from not climbing up and down the stairs, so I let it disappear and continued to use the stairs.

The flyers’ city springs up around me with little effort. The streets I had developed a few days ago, with the houses and the shops, are all a yellow-orange color from the dust, but there are people inhabiting them, flying through the streets, oblivious to the fact that they are not real. Or, perhaps most accurately, a different state of reality. I suppose one cannot walk down this street, and see these people live and breathe and think, and not consider them real in some fashion.

I want to make their cathedral something to make someone’s jaw drop, should they not know what they are walking into. I want it to defy all explanation. It will levitate off the ground, yet be as stable as something rooted in the soil… A science book I recently read spoke of these opposing metals called magnets, and I decide that a similar kind of substance will be common in their soil. Build a nice foundation laced with it, and build the base with its opponent, and voila. This is all it takes.

The building is like the people. It is like the city, and the inexplicable cloud farms. It rises up and up, with its corridors branching out like wings. Then I am inside it, and the walls are of wood. It is a large, circular room with benches on platforms fastened to the wall. At the center of it all… it’s so clear, so obvious, that it barely registers in my mind before it appears on a great pedestal: a lovely body of a wingless figure with four faces, one for each direction the wind could blow. The north and east, men’s faces; their opposite, the south and west, women’s. Because when your survival depends on weight and speed, when your buildings require two opposing materials to stay afloat, balance is needed in all things.

I name them. The god of the north winds, Kyro, was the god of winters, rebirth, and stories told on cold nights. The goddess of the south, Lyfa, was the goddess of summer, of marriage, of music played to keep off the heat. The god of the east, Maru, was the god of spring, of youth, of painting that captured the beauty of inevitability. And Gamaer, goddess of the west, was goddess of the harvest, of death, of architecture built to keep out bitter Kyro’s cold tongue in the months to come.

When war is to be waged, the people pray to Maru to fill their blood with vitality in the battles to come. When there is conflict, they pray to Kyro, whose stories make him wise in all things. When the harvest is riddled with maggots, the people pray for Gamaer’s forgiveness, for her to provide. It is a hard life here, though it had been harder still when the Four-Faced Godden (the winged people’s word for a deity both singular and plural) had first graced the world with their magic.

I relish in this magic. It claws at my heart, begging for more. The mind will not be sated. There is something about creation that demands attention.

According to their lore, the winged people used to not have wings at all. But there were beasts of the ground, wicked creatures, that would slaughter their people. Defenseless, their hopes draining, they begged for aid. They did not think anyone heard, but the Four-Faced Godden did. The old, hard Kyro, with his bitter, icy winds, smote the beasts that mindlessly killed the people. Lyfa sang them a song laced with magic, so that from the dust and the red mud, wings formed and fastened onto the people, and they were no longer earth-bound or at the mercy of fierce beasts. On Maru’s whistling voice came a spell that enchanted the clouds to hold grain and other crops, so that they were never in want of food. And Gamaer brought walled cities from the empty earth, providing a haven for the people when they could no longer fly.

The statue has four sets of hands, for each of the four singular gods. Each held a candle, lit, and in the wall right in front of it was an open window. The Godden, after all, tended to more than humanity, and could not be present always. When the wind snuffed them out, then it was believed that they were not present. Yet several dozen candles were set at the four pairs of feet of the Godden, so people could light a flame and pray for aide.

I think it must be nice to believe in a higher power. It is to say that your actions are not your own, that something else is at work. But this does not seem true. Especially when I live alone and have no one to answer to but myself. And Count Saber, of course, but he barely counts since I made him in the first place. But reading these myths makes me feel like a myth myself, similar in many respects to the myth of the wizard who lived in a tower very similar to my own.

Religion says a lot about the people. I have learned from my library that a man’s livelihood is very often similar to what his gods are like. If his life is hard, his gods are hard. If battle is a necessary state of life, then you can bet there will be a god to which they pray to most, whether for battle or no. If they are a peaceful people, as I like to think these people are, their gods will be of agriculture, of nature, of the physical world with which we live. This is why I make the people first, and the mythos shortly after. Make the people to learn how they survive. Make the myths to learn how they live.

It is enough to start with, and I can only create so much from scratch, so I let the scene fade away. The darkness envelops my surroundings, and I stay there for a moment, relishing my creation. The scene reappears, a flash before my eyes, the curving halls, the platforms for prayer, the iron-willed faces of the Godden, the candles of the hopeful. But then it disappears again.

Count Saber howls from somewhere on the stairs. He is right. I’ve been in here too long. I jog out of the room and sprint up the stairs where my little gray wolf pup is waiting for me.

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