4.5 Revelations

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Alex felt conspicuous even without dancers, horn-blowers, and drummers clearing the boulevard. As he entered the grand plaza, people stood for a better view of him. Albino women screamed in rapture. Other people gave joyous shouts of "Light and glory!"

"The messiah is here!"

"They say he can destroy Torth as easily as breathing!"

Albino hands strained to touch Alex. He avoided looking at the worshipers, because he didn't want to study their eyes, trying to figure them out. He was tired of struggling to understand why these people yearned for a messiah. As far as he could tell, everyone had a different personal reason. Maybe that woman wanted freedom from a heap of family obligations she felt trapped by. Maybe that man wanted a purpose to fight for, so he wouldn't spend his days in taverns, slowly killing himself with mushroom ale.

No one was perfectly happy with their lives, but the Alashani made a habit of crying for someone else—someone powerful—to fix their problems. As if a hammer was the only tool needed for carpentry and everything else in life.

A coalition of Yeresunsa hurried to meet Alex, resplendent in short capes. They ushered him towards the stage, where a very elderly woman awaited him on a throne, ready to judge him and decide the direction which the rest of his life would take.

Migyatel wore a Yeresunsa mantle. Of course she was a member of the privileged warrior class. Alex was learning that no matter how meek and humble the warriors acted, no matter how "equal" to the Council, their inherent powers gave them authority which no one but another Yeresunsa could challenge.

"Alex, will you be okay on your own?" Margo asked. Several well-dressed Yeresunsa were tugging her, trying to usher her towards the front rows.

"You might as well enjoy the show," Alex told her. He'd spotted Cherise and Flen in the audience, and he figured the nearby warriors would be kind enough to watch over the two young women from Earth, if the audience turned into an angry mob.

A couple of albino men in that vicinity saw Alex's interest. They leaped up, offering their seats. "Messiah," one said with an unctuous smile. "How may we serve you?"

The other man poked his friend in the vest. "He wants our seat for the lovely one-legged angel. Isn't it obvious?"

"Oh. Right." The first one aimed a winsome smile towards Margo.

Nearby Yeresunsa urged Margo towards the vacated seats. As Alex left her in their care, and approached the stage, he noticed a black-shrouded palanquin set in a corner, away from everyone else. It was the only thing on the stage, other than the prophet on her throne.

Alex wouldn't have noticed it but for the fearful glances. Councilors in their balcony seats, and warriors standing guard, and nussian drummers ... all cast furtive, worried looks towards that shrouded cage.

"There you are." Jinishta strode towards Alex, bedecked in an embroidered red and gold outfit. The spears in her quiver looked functional as well as ornate, but her true weapons were the warriors who watched from the audience, the box seats, and the ramparts. No one would dare harm the Premier Yeresunsa.

"Is that Thomas, up there?" Alex indicated the cage.

Jinishta looked annoyed at being cut off by Alex before she could tell him what to do. In private lessons, they were informal and casual, but here in public, Alex knew he was expected to show deference.

"Yes," Jinishta said with perfect composure. "Migyatel asked to see him. But you will go first. We must know whether you are the messiah or not." She stepped aside. "Go to Migyatel."

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