Chapter 48 from the Ama audiobook
Lilith must have let the caretaker live, because the horrendous sounds started again before Jason escaped the darkness. He fled the cave and didn’t stop running until he could no longer hear the despairing screams.
He didn’t know how long he had stood staring at the ground, listening to his confused and frightened thoughts, and only became aware of his lethargy when a woman’s voice roused his attention.
“Now do you understand?”
He raised his head and saw the woman in the hessian gown. He didn’t reply.
“Kill one, but many will die. The seeds of death we plant will grow, and the harvest will be a forest of these,” she said, pointing to the multitude of silent figures on the plateau. “Markers of those who should have been. In time the snakes will come and create a mountain for us too, and then we will burn for each and every one.”
“Snakes?” he asked, with a heavy breath.
The woman pointed to the sky and at the ethereal streams heading for the mountain.
She was right, he thought, they looked like snakes, slithering at tremendous speed through the air towards the mountain—his kingdom to come. The snakes had venom too, but it wouldn’t be they who would inflict the painful bite. The caretaker would be the one to strike at the behest of the demoness, Lilith. This is what waits for me. He looked at the woman and asked, “You accept this?”
“I used my gift for hate, so it doesn’t matter what I think anymore.”
He had a vague recollection of Lilith saying something about a gift being wasted. Then he wondered if this was the mad woman Derwood spoke of, and asked, “Are you the one who lives in a temple?”
“No.” She pointed off to his left and into the crowd of statues. “She’s the one who gave us the gift.”
“What gift are you talking about? Do you mean life?”
“Life came from the creator, but the gift came from Ama.”
“Her name is Ama?”
“No, it’s what she is. ‘Ama’ was the first word ever to be spoken with any understanding. It means mother.”
Jason was about to speak when a sweet sound brushed past his ears with the touch of a soft feather. He turned away from the woman and looked for the source of the beautiful melody.
“Ama sings to all life,” the woman said, looking off across the plateau. “The life that was, and the life that should have been. She loves us all.”
“Can she help us?” he asked, but didn’t wait for an answer, walking away and towards the sound. No pain came from his wounds as he weaved among the statues. The exquisite audible bliss drew him on. He realised he was smiling and felt euphoric as he listened to the woman. She sang a delicate song which pulled on him with angelic loving hands. He could no longer feel the ground beneath his feet as he ran to her. Tears of unrestrained joy fell from his enraptured eyes.
The song evaporated into the desert wind, and he stopped running. He saw a precipice, and then a great depression in the desert, and approached with caution. When he reached the edge, he stopped and looked down into the immense crater below.
At the centre, on the level ground at the bottom, stood two concentric stone circles, a simple temple made of limestone. The inner circle was formed from twelve enormous T-shaped stones, about twenty feet in height, while the outer circle of twelve smaller stones were each no more than three feet tall. The outer stones looked to be pedestals, each one with a small spherical white stone sat atop them.
He jumped down onto the gentle slope and descended into the crater. At the bottom he stopped when he noticed an old woman in the centre of the temple. She was embracing a solitary statue. Jason waited for a moment, expecting a caretaker to appear and attack her. It did not come.
The woman stepped back as the statue exploded. The cloud danced and swirled around her in a slow rhythmic motion before ascending into the sky. She looked forlorn as she watched it go.
Jason glanced around, checking they were alone, before walking towards the temple.