Six: Equivalence and Equality

Luminarist + November 2015 – June 2017: Chapter Six — Equivalence and Equality

Celestial Institute, a boarding school for adults, is located on the fabled world of Terra. Only those chosen by the Shining One may enter. People of all walks of life come here to hone their gifts and effect positive change. The newest recruit is Meissa, a young woman anticipating the future.

She becomes fast friends with Nadir, a man with little self-confidence whose guardian is the powerful Zenith. Upon the school throne stands Alhena, the Shining One herself. Backing them is the Acolyte of Archangels. Becoming entangled in Celestial Institute’s inner workings, Meissa knows that everyone has purpose, and her light shines the brightest of them all.

Why?

“Focus, Meissa!” The command whipped at her sensitive ears, she cringed at the reprimand. Pushing her lavender hair back and resettling her headband, she ignored some of the remarks. What cut into her heart the most though was the fact that it was the Shining One herself teaching the Raphael class, and she was doing the most poorly out of everyone. She dejectedly thought to herself that she was probably was the worst student of the Raphael class in all of Terran history. “With energy healing, it’s important to not only use the formulaic methods, but to feel out where the client needs your light the most.”

“I’m trying, really I am,” Meissa mumbled.

“What’s that?” snapped Alhena. The girl blinked back tears, and the angelic woman sighed, coming to stand next to her. “Meissa, you’re amazing with the theoretical knowledge, but you need to apply what you’ve learned. All the books in the three worlds mean shit if you can’t do something with the information they contain.”

“There are books?” she piped up, instantly regretting that question. Of course there were books – books that she couldn’t possibly comprehend with her lack of reading comprehension ability.

Alhena sent her a strange look. “What do you mean, ‘there are books?’ Obviously we have tons of volumes on the Raphael floor of the library. You mean you’ve never consulted a book?”

Meissa withdrew and went back to attending to her partner. “Sweetie,” her partner said to her, “I can’t feel any of the emerald light coming from you.”

“All right, that’s quite enough. Lan, I would like you to switch with someone else. Meissa is going to need a meditation to clear her heart chakra.” When Meissa was separated from the class, and settled herself on a yoga mat and a cushion, Alhena sat opposite of her and peered at her as if she were attempting a scrutiny that would lead to a diagnosis. Cold blue closed, and so did dark purple as their spirits attempted to connect. “You may have been eight years old when you died, child, but I can’t go easy on you, especially with all of Celestial Institute as witnesses.”

“Then don’t,” came the brave response.

The older girl tilted her head curiously at Meissa, and refocused. She felt herself reach out to the other woman’s spirit, but there was something in the way. She couldn’t see it; it was akin to a huge impenetrable wall that rose high like shield. “You’ve got to tear down that wall around your soul, Meissa,” was her report afterwards. “I can’t get a reading on you, but that wall is blocking your ability to channel Raphael’s emerald light.”

Meissa was hardly paying attention to her teacher and guide. Instead, she received impressions of an angel in a cloak of darkest green, feathered wings of the same deep colour. Somewhat short dark hair moved a little. She perceived nothing but kindness emanating from this angel as if he were a kindly doctor giving her a routine checkup and was about to give her a clear bill of health. She smiled at him, though she couldn’t actually see him, she only knew he was there.

Alhena shivered, the telltale prickling along her skin indicating the presence of a mighty spirit. “Archangel Raphael, hail and welcome. If I may ask, why are you here?” She couldn’t see him either, but her body was easily able to discern the archangel whose path she’d chosen at Celestial Institute. Perhaps he’d come to break down Meissa’s blockages himself. She felt warm and at ease in his energy, her body was peaceful almost to the point of being drowsy on a hot summer day.

Why have the Luminarists walked the paths least suited for them?

Meissa didn’t hear this, it was a thought that came to her mind, and it was in her internal voice. She was aware that this was how the great archangel chose to speak with her. “What’s a Luminarist?” She tried to ask him that question, having never heard of that term before. There were four programs at Celestial Institute, this she knew. Those classes included Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel, and finally, only one Acolyte. The Acolyte? Maybe she should speak with the Acolyte. She could feel her cheeks tingle at that idea as thoughts of the gentle hearted man came to mind. She hadn’t requested a wardrobe from any of the Gabriel class, choosing instead to wear the ensemble created for her by the Acolyte during the day and a nightgown for bedtime.

“A Luminarist?” Alhena stared at her, utterly puzzled by Meissa’s words and behaviour. The girl was zoning out, dark purple somewhat misty eyed. “Did Archangel Raphael say that to you, Meissa?”

That metallic blue hair tied high to the side, teal eyes full of a pain that she couldn’t process, tugged on her heartstrings.

“Hey! I’m talking to you!”

Meissa snapped out of her meditation on the Acolyte. “Eh?”

Alhena huffed. “Archangel Raphael was just here. What did he say to you? I’m not clairaudient.”

“I didn’t hear anything,” she said truthfully. “I just got this thought about Luminarists. That’s all, and a nice big warm hug feeling.”

The other woman shrugged. “Look it up in a dictionary or something. Anyway, you’re not suitable for the Raphael class unless you can focus and clear that immense blockage of yours. I suggest you talk to the Gatekeeper, he’s known to be a clairvoyant. He could possibly tell you more than I can.” Meissa’s lower lip trembled. She didn’t want to be kicked out of the Raphael class, didn’t want to be condemned by her idol. The idea of having to be approved a second time by the Gatekeeper of Terra’s Fire frightened her. If she could track down Nadir and ask him to accompany her to either the Fire Tower or the Gate of Fire, she’d feel much better knowing that she had a sympathetic ear surely on her side.

“Okay,” she bowed her head shamefully as she left the residency where the Raphael class underwent the bulk of their studies, southeast of the administration building. She could hear the whispers of her classmates already, sneaky remarks of her multiple failures and inability to do anything besides earn top marks for theory.

“It’s a shame,” said her partner as she moved past the pair, “she’s such a smart young lady. She’d match the Shining One herself in a contest of knowledge if she had some more experience to back her up.”

——

Meissa went to the southernmost area of the Gate of Fire, seeking out Zenith. “Gatekeeper of Terra’s Fire, are you there?”

“Who goes there?” came the voice of an assured man.

“Uh, I’m Meissa.”

She thought she heard a whistle, like metal slashing through the air near to her, and a man with straight, brick red-orange hair leaped from some unknown vantage point and landed before her in a crouched position. He stood, and she took a step back, especially upon seeing the gleaming sword strapped to his back. The fact that he was taller than her was to be expected, but had a commanding presence that demanded attention and respect.

“Ah,” went the voice more softly than she assumed it would, “the latest recruit. Forgive me for not making myself known to you before.”

“Nadir says we’ve met, well, kind of,” she blushed. Blood rose to her cheeks not due to admiration like it did when she dwelled on the Acolyte, but rather out of sudden shyness. Being confronted by the Shining One and now possibly the Gatekeeper could do serious things to her self-esteem. “I, um, am having difficulty with class.” He bent slightly so that their grass green and dark purple were locked on to each other. She had a feeling that he could peer almost through into her very soul. “Ah, Gatekeeper?”

“It’s Zenith when we’re not being formal,” he chuckled. “Oh, Alhena. She only has that block when confronted with things that she doesn’t understand.”

Meissa was forced to blink now. “Alhena has a blockage? I thought she was talking about me.”

“I am speaking of you,” he corrected, “just to myself. People naturally put up walls to the unknown.”

She was perplexed, her hands waving frantically as if she couldn’t believe his words. “But I want to study metaphysical medicine. The Raphael class is really interesting! I’m not scared of energy healing or herbal properties or whatever. What’s so freaky about those?”

“You aren’t suited for the Raphael class, Meissa. I’ll send a message to the Acolyte. You should go see him now.”

“But – but you haven’t answered my question!” she protested.

“Hey hey hey!” A cheerful masculine voice interrupted any progress on Zenith’s part to resolve her inquiry. “What’s up? Miss Meissa, why aren’t you in class?”

Her hands clenched into fists as she whirled around to face him. “Alhena and Zenith don’t think I’m good enough for the Raphael program!”

“She interprets my words too harshly,” Zenith defended himself.

“Well …” Ever the diplomatic peacekeeper, Nadir attempted to defuse the situation. The intelligent Meissa was acting like a child deprived of chocolate or a shiny new toy, and he didn’t want to be on his guardian’s ugly side. Rumours had spread about the night Alhena spent in the Fire Tower, specifically in Zenith’s chambers, and had run from the tower as if all the hounds of hell were after her. “The judgments of the Shining One and the Gatekeeper are pretty weighty,” he tried to explain. No, scratch that, they were almost law if both were mutual. The only one who could refute their decrees was the Acolyte himself. Meissa was still too ignorant of the inner workings of Celestial Institute. Couldn’t she see that this was for her own good, the natural consequence for jumping into a program for the sole reason of appealing to her idol?

“Oh really?” she challenged her supervising senior. “What about the fact that Zenith and Alhena should get over themselves and be together as a couple already? The entire school knows it. What do their weighty judgments say about that?”

“Miss Meissa!” Nadir gasped before turning amber to the red haired man. Sure enough, Zenith’s grass green was clouded, though Nadir couldn’t tell if it was of rage or sadness. “We’re going to the Acolyte. Right now, and don’t argue with me on this one.” He tugged on her arm, and she meekly followed, knowing that she overstepped her rights to do as she pleased. She wanted to turn her head to look back at Zenith to apologize, but Nadir dragged her away quickly before she could think of what she should say. “Please don’t pull a stunt like that again,” he urged her once they were out of Zenith’s range of hearing.

She nodded, finding them at the entrance to temple that was northeast of the administration building. She could see a garden just beyond it, and would rather she be there instead, yet she landed herself in this mess. She should’ve put real thought into her program, and now she could possibly face expulsion for her actions. Help me, angels! No impressions came to her mind, and she suddenly felt rejected. Nadir let go of her forearm, and they stepped in together.

The temple was eerily quiet at this hour. They went to the very back, past the altar and the shimmering rainbow lights. Her nervousness grew steadily worse as Nadir’s voice rang out as a bell tower, and the door opened for them. The Acolyte of Archangels had a kindly expression set in teal eyes as he watched Meissa wring her hands. He nodded to Nadir, who dismissed himself, and left the two of them alone in the warm firelight. “What troubles you so, Meissa?”

She paused before bursting. “Why am I even here? I suck at my program. I’m horrible at the arts – I tried – and the Michael program doesn’t interest me at all, and I can’t manifest any sort of emerald light to heal anyone!”

He sighed, and motioned for her to sit across from his uncomfortably practical chair. She was thankful for a pillow to sit on, her legs tucked under her in a ladylike fashion. “Didn’t you ask a Gabriel student to make you more clothes?”

“There’s no point in more clothes if I don’t belong here,” she mumbled.

Grasping her hands in his, he squeezed them gently and urged her to look at him. “Now, who ever told you that you don’t belong at Celestial Institute, or on Terra?”

“N-nobody … but Alhena and Zenith – I mean, the Shining One and the Gatekeeper of Terra’s Fire -“

“There is no need to state their titles when we’re alone, Meissa.”

She blushed for an entirely different reason than when she had been around Zenith. Those long, pointed ears, she could almost reach out and touch them … “What’s a Luminarist? And what’s their problem anyway?”

He bowed his head, sorely tempting her to pass her fingers through his bangs or his lengthy ear tails. “The Luminarist class is a secret that no student, not even Zenith or Alhena, is aware of. There has been only one, and she passed from the three worlds a long time ago. However, her story concerns the Shining One and the Gatekeeper in a way that they can’t fathom.”

“Who is, I mean, was she?”

His head lifted to meet hers, their foreheads pressed together. “The reason for Celestial Institute’s construction, the one who willingly followed her soul mate into death. The only lover of our founding angel Mirai, the reason he too has vanished.”

“What was her name?” Meissa asked with her voice hushed in the firelight. “What does she have to do with Zenith and Alhena?”

The Acolyte’s teal eyes brimmed in pain that he clearly felt for a kindred spirit. “The mother of Alhena, her name is Nairn.”

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