Ananta reluctantly sipped the revolting liquid concocted by the village shaman. She gagged as the last swallow closed her throat, forcing it through her nose.
“Stings like fire!” she complained as tears welled in her soulful eyes.
“Ananta, do not defy Architect with blasphemous criticism,” the shaman cautioned.
“Sorry, Father,” she replied and bowed her head in shame.
He inspected the wooden cup. It was crucial that she consume all of the medicine before he began the second phase of the ritual. Except for the verbal indiscretion, she had been obedient. He could proceed with confidence.
Architect had chosen Ananta for her innocent beauty. Her sacrifice would bring a fruitful season to the village.
Ananta’s vision blurred and doubled. Two shaman, two staircases, two of everything. She was bewildered by such a strange feeling. She slumped on the bottom step and raised her face to the sky for guidance, as her mind went blank.
To prepare her for Architect, the shaman painted a stunning motif on her flawless, dark skin using gentle strokes of red ochre. Lighting a roll of sage, he encircled her earthly body with the healing smoke to rid her of wickedness.
The second part of the ritual completed, he lifted Ananta’s limp body and climbed the white stairs to the periphery of the clouds. He raised her above his head and chanted, “Great Architect, I deliver a sacrifice to appease you until the advent of next season’s longest day.”
Architect appeared from the clouds with the brilliance of a thousand explosions, reflecting in the smooth glass that floated in the sky. The shaman placed Ananta on the steps and retreated, knowing never to look directly at Architect’s radiance.
Ananta’s journey into the looking glass was complete. The village would flourish another season.
Written for NaNo Triple VisDare 2. The challenge this week was to write a 300-word or less story based on the three photos.