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|She vowed never to love a mortal. Her vow did not last long in the face of a devoted, but highly-passionate priest.||
He was devout follower of her brothers and nephew, a medieval priest that poured himself into his studies to forget the indifference of his parents. When his religion no longer succeeded, he turned to darker matters… alchemy among them. Rose never sought him out, her own followers being more interesting… she only discovered this particular mortal’s existence after pestering her brothers for no reason other than in suited her at the time.
But such devotion and blind faith intrigued her. Like most immortals, she had a large assembly of mortals eager to call out her name in hopes of a divine blessing of interference. However, she had to admit that the Christians and Jews that belonged to her brothers were often more fanatical than any others. Even the Greeks and Romans of years past, with their great events in the name of the gods and their numerous sacrifices were not as devout as these followers.
Contrary to what you will believe and what her priest certainly thought in the beginning, Rose did not set herself upon him in some jealous attempt to deprive her brothers of one follower. She truly cared for this mortal and could not bear to see him cut himself off from the joys of life simply because he misinterpreted his Lord’s word. He did not celebrate his faith; he mourned it… denying himself the simple pleasures of sunlight, rest, and nourishment. Jehovah and Metheus themselves expressed concern over the priest’s zealotry.
And so Rose made herself known to him, first in the disguise of a mortal… one of her own followers who’s beauty caught even his disdaining eye and made his stone heart beat. Her original goal was only to show him what he was missing; life and joy. But he resisted, citing his beliefs and flogging himself to chase the desire away.
He fell forward, barely catching himself on his hands and panting heavily. She was at his side in an instant, gently using her powers to slowly numb the pain, her spirit reaching out to his and speaking without a true voice. “Hush now… be still. You need rest… you need food… you cannot go on like this.” She whispered, echoing in his head so that it would seem to be his own thought process.
“No…” he coughed weakly. “I must purge this evil from my body… then my soul will follow.”
Discouraged, she rested her head against his shoulder, nuzzling him although he could not see her. “Lucien, please… you will do yourself harm if you insist on continuing this path.”
“Then let death claim me… I will serve my time in purgatory… then salvation will be mine… if only I could be rid of her!” he shook his head, his shoulders starting to shake. “God… why did You send such a creature to torment me? How can any mortal man resist such dark beauty? A priest’s cold heart was not made to withstand this swelling surge of love!”
She pulled away, a gasp escaping her lips although he was beyond hearing her. Love? This mortal loved her? Well… of course he did… she prided herself on being the most wanted goddess, second only to her mother. Gods and mortals alike proclaimed undying affection to her on a daily basis… but not like this! Never before had her ardent lovers of the immortal realm done themselves injury in her name.
“Lucien…” she whispered in her most soothing tone, pleased when the deep lines in his forehead eased away. “Rest… sleep, my priest.”
It was almost a spell, this manipulation of his spirit… but it yielded the desired result. Lucien rose from his place on the floor without further protest, though his face contorted with the pain of moving. With her unseen help, he lowered himself to his cold bed and fell into a dreamless sleep as her hand passed over his brow. Once he was plainly far from the real world, Rose materialized, using her powers to start a fire in his hearth, then sat next to him. Concern played over her features as she studied his labored, although even breathing.
This was not what she had intended. When the Gypsies had “adopted” her as one of their own and called her “La Rose” out of respect to their goddess of choice, it was all in good fun. Yes, she made a point of causing a stir among Jehovah’s tight-faced clergy… but a momentary lapse of righteousness was all she had wanted… not this desperate passion for both sin and forgiveness. She had been watching him from the first; impressed by his outward resolve and almost chilly demeanor for all but his work. Fire of any kind always intrigued her, although she had a habit of turning them towards herself.
This time it had backfired.
She spent the entire darkness of night with him, watching over him as only Jehovah’s angels ever watched over mortals before. Her head pressed to his heart and a soft song lifting from her throat, she stayed with him to keep away nightmares and restlessness. The gentle thumping of his heart very nearly lulled her to sleep, despite the fact that immortals did not need such respites on a regular basis.
It was his own deep voice that started her from her near-dream state.
“La Rose…” he breathed softly.
Without even thinking, she pressed her lips to his urging him to continue sleeping.
|Hearts of Olympus Series : Rose (Prologue)|