Haki stormed outside, through the gardens towards the small marble temple to the four gods. Part of him felt guilty, knowing his anger wasn’t justified, but resented Zaran nonetheless. He stopped just outside of the sacred shrine’s carved doorway. Anger filled his chest—not the proper attitude to approach the gods. It was important especially when praying. So Haki sat just outside instead, fighting his inner war. He had no cause to be angry or resentful. It was the fact of their births and nothing personal. Still, did Zaran really deserve his place? Zaran always laughed and joked and took it all for granted—didn’t really care how important it was! The gods must also see this.
He felt the hot tears on his cheeks. The gods must also see this. “Takkara! I have always been faithful to your teachings. Please help me to be a better warrior., I practice discipline. I make offerings to you on every full moon. I am your devoted servant.”
A light breeze blew, but it didn’t speak to him. Maybe he was talking to the wrong god. Should I pray to Iyana? The ruler over destiny? Maybe she could help discover my fate. He closed his eyes and tried for a prayer but couldn’t form his thoughts and emotions to make sense. He looked up, staring off across the yard to where Breshan was cresting over the trees, his favorite of the three moons.
Iyana, please help me find my destiny. I will serve you and do great things in your name if you help me be great and powerful.
Then he remembered that the two larger moons served as the messengers of the gods.—and so he sent a second prayer; to the pale blue moon. “Please ask the gods to help me. I can feel it. I know there’s a special plan for me. Please show me what I need to do.”
Sitting against the cool stone, he tried to hear what Ashok was saying to him. The eldest of the divine children—known for his wisdom.
Triappa peeked over the horizon behind Breshan, two crescents brightening the evening sky. Before long, the Nibbin went skittering past the paired moons and dove towards the treeline.
That was when inspiration hit him. I need to be close to the gods all the time, then I won’t miss their answers to my prayers. Then they would be able to help him solve his problems. His heart raced, frantic. He needed to get this done, so that they would be able to guide him to destiny. Forgetting his jealous rage, Haki ducked into the temple, picking up the smaller sacred relics and statues. There was more than he could carry without the risk of something falling. The idea of breaking one scared him. How willing would they be to help me if I were careless?
Back and forth, he trekked the long way round the palace, keeping low to the hedges. It took several trips between the temple and his room. Each time, he cleared more space inside. He made several detours to pick items that he thought would please the gods from the house as well—wanting their shrine to be perfect. There were flowers from the gardens, nuts, and sacred incense from the temple itself. It was the family temple, and being part of the family the incense and statues were equally his, Haki reasoned.
It took him a while to get it right. In his room, Haki had pulled all of his books off the walls and brought in more shelves to line the entire wall. The first time he put Takkara first, followed by Hadra, then Ashok and Iyana. It started as a simple task but the more he focused the more obsessed he became, looking for the perfect things. Five days later, Haki had pulled all of his books off the shelves. In their place was all he had painstakingly gathered to glorify the four gods. He’d fashioned one shelf for the two moon gods, considering them less important than the four major deities.
When he looked at the shelves though, he realized Iyana was at eye-level. Maybe—should I put Takkara on that shelf? So he pulled everything down and started again. Now Takkara stood on the central shelf—surrounded by knives and shields and banners. Haki added his sword, deciding he could keep it there when he wasn’t using it, so long as he put it right back afterwards.
Every time he thought he had it just right, something would occur to him. Then he would make tiny changes to placement, or move things from one shelf to another.
It began to take up all of Haki’s thoughts. Often he woke during the night to make changes. He stayed up later and later, fussing over his bedroom shrine. It took an entire week before Haki was satisfied.
When he was done, he invited Bennu in to inspect it, because she had allowed it all to stay, with not much of a fuss at all. He watched as her eyes went wide. He swelled up, feeling proud, until he noticed the worried look on her face.
He looked up at her, blinking.
“When is the last time you ate? Or slept?” she asked, taking his chin in her hand.