Screams of rebellion shattered the night sky above Vines Mansion. A lopsided structure reduced to its skeleton, any of the former glory one might glean from its high-arched balconies or its dimly lit front porch disappeared with a second glance. In a room hastily sterilised, filled with flustered midwives and butlers, she came to the world.
“Congratulations, Ma’am.” The Handmaiden, a feisty woman whose eyes of tenderness would put any mother to shame, held the small thing up for Madam to see. Bathed in the cold damp air of reality, she screamed and kicked, longing to return to the warmth of the womb. Her white arms smeared with red flailing wildly, red face scrunched up in distress at the foreign environment. Madam had stared at her all this time through unseeing eyes, hazy with anaesthetics. A strange sense of pride ballooned within her chest. There lay in front of her the ultimate magnum opus that no science or miracle could ever hope to achieve. She had finally created life.
The red reflected in Madam’s eyes.
“Name her Poppy.”
“We are a polytheistic society built upon the faith of ordinary people, as I’m sure you’re aware. As such, as head of the Eleven Temples, I declare you a heretic for trying to undermine the divine words of God. You have misguided people through the blasphemy that you call “atheism” and we will no longer tolerate such blatant acts of heresy. Take him away.”
Five-year-old Riven broke free from the grip of a monk, and run after the disappearing shadow of his father. Tears rolled uncontrollably down his russet cheeks, his vision shaky and wild. The chamber in his heart containing all his fear and desperation and frustration crashed as he tripped and tumbled to the ground. His howling cries gathered no sympathy.
The monk that had held him earlier picked him up, before being unceremoniously shoved with as much strength a five-year-old could muster.
“Forget it, boy. That’s the world we live in. If you want to survive, believe blindly.” He was met with sobbing hateful eyes.
The Goddess of Death loathed people who clung onto life obstinately when their time had expired. And a large majority of her hypocritical worshippers in the human realm who did not even believe in her existence in the first place worshipped her for exactly that reason. Everyone wanted a delayed ending, wanted more time to make up for their mistakes, more time to enjoy life.
She despised the agonising heartbeats, the viscous flow of blood through veins, the people who lived on borrowed time. And she was going to make her displeasure known to all.