Before the Crossing

Hey, welcome back. I’m glad you’re here. What can I get for you? Our specials today are roasted Cranovian mountain hare with a Loxivell salad. The cook also said he’s got a new batch of Ronorono soup made, but I don’t suggest it. I’ve been here a long time and I still can’t handle eating anything that looks back at me. Here, let me get you an ale to start.

So, how are you liking being in the Omniverse so far? Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it, eventually. Hell, it took me like eight lifetimes to figure it out and I’m still learning new stuff.

It’s pretty busy here tonight. Seems we’ve had an influx of newbies here lately. I find it amazing just how many souls find their way to my place once they’ve crossed over. It’s kind of a beacon in the night.

I’ve run this tavern here since I got here. It used to belong to another soul, but one day he just handed me the keys and vanished. I haven’t seen him since. He was a bit of a brooder. He’d sit in that corner over there and try to drown his sorrows. He always had a whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in his mouth. He was my guide through the Omniverse.

Let me explain. Hang on, your orders up. K, here ya go. This Shansean bat sauce goes great with that salad. Tell you what, I’ll join you for lunch and tell you the story behind my tavern.

I lived on Earth, just like you. I was born sometime around 3200 BC on what came to be known as Crete. We called it Atalan and yes, it’s where the story of Atlantis began, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I was the youngest of 5 children and the only girl. It was the custom to dedicate the oldest daughter to the goddess and hand her over to the temple when she became a woman. When I turned 14, my family took me to the temple and a huge ceremony took place. It had been something the women of my family had spent years preparing for and I was full of hopes and dreams. As a child, I was told that being given to the goddess meant being the direct line between the gods and the family. It’s supposed to be a huge honor. Guess what, it’s not.

I quickly found out that a handful of other girls and I were now the newest slaves of the high priestess. It took years to work our way up the ranks. You started out as a slave girl, then you worked in the temple collecting offerings from the villagers. After that, you’d become one of the Maidens of the Priestess. Sounds cool but it just means you spend countless hours learning how to dance and chant in honor of the goddess. That’s where I made it before my “accident”.

The thing you have to remember is that the goddess expects you to remain a virgin. I’d heard rumors that many of the temple girls had taken guards and soldiers as lovers, but I had no intentions of doing so. I was fully dedicated and was preparing to move up the ranks once more. I was going to be one of the chosen few who became an attendant to the high priestess.

See, once a girl had put in 10 years of service, she could leave the temple without shame and take a husband. Most temple girls did, but I didn’t want that. My goal was to one day be the high priestess. In our culture, she held all the power. Hell, the king didn’t even make a decision without first asking the priestess.

Anyway, one night, as I was headed to another dance rehearsal, one of the guards stepped out of the shadows and grabbed me. He pulled me into a little side room and decided he was going to have his way with me whether I liked it or not. But, I was kind of a hot-head and refused to go down without a fight. He had no idea that I’d grown up with 4 older brothers, not to mention the fact that I’d spent years living in a small space with a couple dozen bitchy girls who were all trying to get noticed. Those girls can get mean.

He had his hand over my mouth, so I bit him. When he yelped and let me go, I punched him in the face as hard as I could. I then kicked him in his manliness and was getting ready to hit him one more time, when he pulled his sword and ran it through my chest. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound. The next thing I knew, I was sitting on the ground in a very dark place. Then, I met X. The man who helped create the tavern.

Oh cool, you’re done. You want another drink? No? That’s alright.

Whoa! You okay? You look a little sleepy.

Come on. I’ll help you get to a place where you can get plenty of sleep and feel like a whole new soul. See that jewel on the wall behind you, touch it. It will send you to a great Tarlocian spa run by my friend, Gorlog. Don’t let her looks freak you out, her mother was ravaged by an insane satyr and she didn’t get the best end of the deal. However, she gives a foot massage that’s to live for. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about X next time. Go get some rest.

Damn, what was that? Oh, not again. Dammit Nero, give Henry his crown back.

***~***~***

**This chapter was originally posted on this site, then posted on my Medium publication, Lair of the Immortals. I have full rights to this story.**
Image by Duc Quang Tran from Pixabay

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Christine has been writing online for nearly 30 years. She's been published both online and in print in a wide array of genres. She is the owner and main writer for The Multi-Verse.

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