Readers' novels no 3: Old women reside here

Elderly lady
Image caption "Old women represent the past, the steady plod of a life never changed"

The Magazine's feature on why people take part in the month-long novel-writing event NaNoWriMo prompted dozens of readers to send in 350-word long excerpts. Here is Rebecca Mannox's Old Women Reside Here.

It didn't take long for Kuichira to have a high temple of her own, rivalling Tiaterra's own in the high street of the capital city. Kuichira was said to dance in the street between the two temples, draping her fox tail across Tiaterra's stone guardian cats outside.

One day, Alanna Starshine, Tiaterra's high priestess, had had enough of the shenanigans. She stood at the top of Tiaterra's steps, and bade Kuichira to enter and insult the goddess in her most holy place. A crowd had gathered to watch Kuichira dance, and all eyes were on her. Drawing strength from her admirers, the confident young goddess took the first of the six steps to the door. She managed the second and third admirably, but the fourth took time, and the fifth brought her to her knees, a weight upon her.

"You are no true match for my Goddess!" Alanna cried.

"You will not insult my Lady!" Rydan had appeared on the steps. Alanna shook her head. "Take her pitiful self from the presence of truth." Then she turned away, closing the temple door behind her.

To say Kuichira was upset would be the gravest underestimation. Belief in the gods gives them their self, their power, everything they would be. News of her humiliation would be a blow to her bid for supremacy, and would weaken her greatly. She fled down the stairs, crying frustrated tears, and back into her temple.

"Like a spoiled child." It was whispered. Rydan heard the whispers of the people, and he did not like them.

"You would criticise the brave, who faced down what should be their greatest fears?" He cried, "You are unworthy to judge my lady, my Goddess!" He climbed the last steps without incident, pointing to the door of Tiaterra's temple, "Old women reside here. Old women represent the past, the steady plod of a life never changed. But all old women have to die sometime." With this he left the crowd to their judgement, striding purposefully back to Kuichira's temple.

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