The Blinded God

My Eyes stands at the edge of the cliff, and I try to remember the way the sky looks behind him.

“Can you really not see any of this, Thea?” he asks me.

“High Priestess Thea,” I correct him gently, since he’s new to the temple and still learning our ways. I can feel the setting sun, warm on my face, and feel the wind rushing past, carrying a hint of night in its gusts, but my eyes see only shadows of the sun, a murky gold against black. I can sense the blindfold, more for the neophyte’s sake than my own, resting over my eyes, the thin weave of my dress, the way the grass brushes against my bare feet. And I remember the cliff vividly, the way the sharp rocks break up the sea, the way the foaming waves mimic the wisps of clouds. The sky was a myriad of colors when last I saw it, rose and gold and red. I remember the light reflecting on the water and the verdant green of the pastures.

But I only have memories, for I am blind.

“It’s beautiful,” the neophyte says. “Would you like me to describe it to you?”

I laugh, though I shouldn’t be laughing. I am one of the High Priestesses of the Blinded God, and I have a certain aloofness and sagacity I am, by duty, supposed to embody. But I cannot help myself. I couldn’t forget these cliffs if I wanted to. It is where I performed my blinding ceremony years ago. It is the last image imprinted on my memory before I watched the dark point of the knife draw close.

I tell the neophyte that I’m not laughing at him. He is, after all, my Eyes. This is his duty, until, gods willing, he becomes a proper priest, maybe even a blind one. I reach out my hand. “Let us return to the temple.”

The neophyte’s hand is soft, uncalloused. He did not come from a hard life, that much is clear from his accent and manners, and his hand tells the story of a boy who never gripped sword, or spear, or hoe. Once dedicated to the temple, we are supposed to leave our old lives behind us, but sometimes those lives linger in our bodies. A hand like his couldn’t lie, couldn’t pretend he was warrior, or shepherd, or slave. I wonder, not for the first time since he became my Eyes a few days ago, why he joined the temple. The Blinded God, the god of fate and future, is certainly not the most generous or undemanding of the pantheon; there are plenty of soft gods who don’t require their devotees to stick hot knives in their eyes. Does he really have faith enough to make the sacrifice the temple will one day demand of him?

The walk back to the temple is a short one, and my Eyes guides me by hand. I don’t need his help. I’ve taken this journey hundreds of times. I know every rock, every bend in the path. Soon, I am stepping nimbly up the marble steps to the temple, cold and smooth under my feet. I can hear the fountain, the voices of other priests, and priestesses, and their assorted attendants. I can identify individual voices, echoing around the marble. I know everyone here.

“Thea of the True Sight,” the seneschal, keeper of the temple, calls my name and formal epithet, and I tense in anticipation. I don’t know what he will say, but he sounds solemn and ceremonial. “Come, speak with me.”

I follow his voice, my neophyte trailing behind me with shuffling sandals. The seneschal, the official caretaker of the temple and only high ranking cleric allowed to keep his sight, directs me to sit near one of the fountains, most likely so the sound or running water will mask our words. It is a strange thing, privacy in a temple of the blind. Secrets are whispered but still overheard. The ears of the blind are sharp. And yet our sighted servants know so many things about us that we don’t know ourselves. Is the seneschal still straight-backed and red-haired? Or has he stooped in his age and turned grey?

“Thea, I have a task for you,” the seneschal says quietly. I sense my Eyes standing behind me, but there are no other footsteps, no other breaths.

“Anything,” I say because I am a high priestess, not a god. Even we have duties we must attend to.

“The Blinded God’s amphora must be brought from the city of Aquilla to the temple. I have received information that people are…” I hear him drum his fingers against the bench. “Well, desecrating is one word for it. I would not deem to soil your ears with more description.”

I want to object, fear coursing through me. The outside world is chaos and disorder, but a high priestess should not be afraid. I swallow it, and the fear churns in my stomach like too much wine.

I turn to the seneschal, and a vision of True Sight flashes before me. I see him, older than I remember, just as grey as I imagined. His nose is longer, with pores like craters. He’s looking over my shoulder at my Eyes, and I want to turn my head, but the vision is just of the senechal, the deep furrows in his forehead. He is worried.

“You will have your Eyes as a guide,” he continues.

I can still see the seneschal with the True Sight. I see his chapped lips and his nose hairs. I see a pimple on his chin. “But when I sent a lower order priest, they refused him. They will not refuse a priestess with the True Sight.”

There are five other high priestesses with the True Sight, five others that could have been picked. I try to feel honored by the responsibility, just as I try to feel honored by the Sight, but I cannot help the creep of dread. I don’t want to leave the safety of the Temple, the only home I’ve ever had.

I blink, and the vision of the seneschal leaves me. I am alone in my world of shadows again. I feel disoriented. I want to sit down.

I nod, knowing the seneschal can see.


We are on the road by dawn. I feel the darkness, damp and chill on my lips. I have never before ridden, and it is hard to trust, but the mare’s steady, swaying footsteps lull my nervous heart, and my Eyes murmurs to her occasionally in a calm, comforting voice, which helps me as well. I am not comfortable around horses. They are so large, and I am never quite certain where their feet are placed. I wish for a flash of the True Sight, but, instead, my body shifts from side to side, moving forward into the darkness.

I try to think of what my vision means. Though I am gifted with the True Sight, visions do not occur frequently. It often comes in moments of importance or danger. I try to interpret symbols from the image of the seneschal, but there is no god of old men, and no meaning I can make out from the crevices of his face.

“What is your name?” I ask my Eyes. I am embarrassed that I don’t know.

“Timon, priestess.”

He leads the mare for a long time under a sweltering noon sun before he speaks again. “What did you do before you entered the temple?” Timon asks.

“We leave our lives when we swear ourselves to the Blinded God,” I remind him, the words that are drilled into every neophyte’s head when they first arrive.

“All right.” I hear him sigh. “It’s just such a long walk.”

I say nothing, but I am growing bored as well. I assumed that a holy mission for the Blinded God Himself would give me strength, but it is difficult to look forward to days of silent plodding. My back hurts, and my blindfold is soaked in sweat. Timon’s steps sound weary, a fraction slower than they were that morning.

“You may tell me about yourself,” I offer.

“Oh.” He sounds shocked, maybe a little disappointed. I know there are rumors about me; I’ve heard them echoing through the temple, reverberating in the marble halls. When I blinded myself on the cliffs, I was not only the youngest priestess to do so, but also the youngest to gain the True Sight. People speak of me with awe, a reverence I don’t deserve. I can’t speak of my life before to Timon because, for me, there is no life before. My first memories are of the temple, of the blind priests and priestesses describing how to tend a garden or speak the psalms. I was left at the temple door swaddled in soft linen. That was my life before.

“My father has seven sons,” Timon says. “I am the seventh.”

“The lucky,” I say. There are seven gods in our pantheon. The seventh, the last-born child of Time and Earth, is Luck himself.

“The unwanted,” Timon mutters, quiet enough that any other person might not have heard him.

“Why do you say that?”

“My father has sons for everything. An heir, a soldier, a scholar, a banker, another soldier, even a poet. I didn’t want to do what my father wanted me to do.”

“And what was that?”

“He said he needed a son who knew the will of the gods. He had everything arranged with the temple of The Brightest God. I’d have every luxury I could ask for. I wouldn’t even have to make a vow of chastity.” He laughs harshly. “Anyway, when he told me that, explained that he had my life so perfectly ordered, I walked out of his villa and went straight to the local temple of the Blinded God.”

“Life in our temple is ordered.” I can’t help the trace of defensiveness in my voice. “Do you regret your choice?” I think about asking him if he regrets his vow of chastity as well, but my stomach twinges nervously at my own audacity. I feel very hot.

“I wanted to make my own choice,” Timon says. “I wanted to do something important that no one can take back.”

This, I realize, is a thought he has had many times, but has never spoken aloud. I don’t press him, but the sentiment sits heavy inside of me, like I am now carrying his burden too.

I wish I could see his face.

We travel another few hours before he interrupts my meditations. “Why does the seneschal want the amphora?”

“The amphora is special to the Blinded God.” I know the scripture better than I know anything, and I ramble off the story easily, stealing my teacher’s words. “Before, when he was the Sighted One, when he walked the land like mortals, he Saw all that was and all that would be. He fell in love with a human woman.”

“I know that story,” Timon says. “She was a slave girl, picking berries along the road, right, Priestess?”

“Yes. And he saw her future and her past. He knew she would be beaten by her master for dallying to gather the berries when she was supposed to be bringing his goats to be milked. He knew she would suffer an infection from those wounds. He knew that he could do nothing to save her or stop this fate, and, though he never spoke a word to her, so consumed was he with love that he knew he would suffer for eternity, watching her fate unravel while he was helpless.”

“So he went to the cliffs.”

“Yes,” I said. He has been paying attention in his studies. “The very cliffs where our temple now stands. He looked out at the sunset and drove knives through his eyes. Then he poured wine into the wounds to purify them. Wine, you see, from the very amphora we are sent to collect.”

“Oh.” His feet shuffle forward a few more steps. “Did you pour wine over your eyes…” He hesitates. “After?”

“Yes.” I say, thinking back to the sting. They said it was to clean the wound, but I remember the priestess who blinded herself before me, drenched in red wine, and how it stained her white robe. It had seemed like she was covered in blood. “But, like the Blinded God, I continued to see after the blinding. His ceremony did nothing to stop his pain. The slave girl still died, and the Blinded God now watches it happen, over and over again, in his eternal agony.”

“Do you think that using the amphora will give more priests the True Sight?” Timon asks.

It hasn’t occurred to me, though I instantly wonder if that is the seneschal’s real motivation behind my quest. The True Sight seems so arbitrary, and when I once voiced that opinion when I was a neophyte, a priestess slapped me across the cheek. I don’t know why I have been chosen to receive the gift over any of the other devotees; I am not holier or wiser or better than the others. I doubt the Sight has anything to do with the pot from which the cleansing wine came. But I keep that thought to myself, since it is not a particularly faithful one. If I was a better priestess, I would follow the seneschal’s orders without question, for the good of the temple.

“Perhaps,” I say, trying to seem properly devout. “The Blinded God works mysteriously.”

We arrive at the inn when the sun is setting, the bright light directly on my face. Timon takes care of the horse while I wait outside, listening. It is a small village, and I can tell much about it from the sound and smells. Manure, a cooking fire, the scents of piss and wine. I hear the innkeep arguing with someone, complaining of a hole someone dug behind his property. I hear chatter and gossip, but the voices quiet as they near me, either reverent or in fear. No one speaks to me, and I wonder if I am frightening to look upon. The blindfold covers my eyes so that no one sees my cloudy pupils, something that used to frighten me when I was a child looking into the faces of the older priests and priestesses. I am dressed simply, with no weapon or means of intimidation. Still, people walk by me without even a word of hello.

I wonder, not for the first time, what I look like. Am I really so hideous that no one dares speak to me? There are no mirrors in the temple, and I blinded myself when I was just a girl, so I have few hints to my own appearance now, ten years after. I know some priestesses have their Eyes describe to them their faces, and when they hear of their wrinkles, dripping down their cheeks like wax, they weep. I am too afraid to ask.

I hope Timon finds me beautiful.

I catch myself at the thought. That kind of thinking comes dangerously close to launching into an unchaste fantasy. I am a high priestess, I remind myself. If I am blushing when he returns to help me to my room, I cannot know. He takes my hand and leads me to the bedchamber, and after he leaves, I cradle my hand to my cheek where I imagine I feel the warmth from his skin.

I feel the room grow cooler, and night settles. I feel very lonely. I mumble prayers to the Blinded God in the room while mice squeak between the thin walls. I hear raised voices and men drinking, and I stumble to my door to make sure it is locked. My Eyes sleeps in the stable with the horse, so far away. I stub my toe as I climb back into bed, and I pull the blanket taut around me, though the evening is hot. I have never been so far away from home.


We arrive in the city, and it smells even worse than I imagined. The heavy press of bodies, the reek of animals, the odor of curing leather. I feel sick as we make our way through the streets. I can’t see the people, but I hear them, shoving and shouting and calling out the price of fish. I hear babies crying and mothers trying to shush them. I sit rigid on the horse. “Please don’t let them touch me,” I whisper to Timon, and I’m not sure if he hears. I feel the press of sound and heat coming at me from all directions. I hope for a moment of True Sight, to help me navigate, but I am stuck in blindness, each plod of hooves taking me deeper into the chaos.

My hands are tight on the pommel of the saddle. I feel my heart pounding. I hear everything, the voices cascading over each other like a waterfall. I am drowning in sound, in smells and shouts. The city presses on me. I move my lips to a familiar prayer, but it brings me no comfort. I want to cry out to Timon for help, but I don’t know what he could do.

Eventually, the voices fade into the distance, and the clip of the horse’s hooves changes tenor, from the sharpness of stone to the clear ring of marble. Timon stops the mare. “We’re in the temple, Priestess Thea. It’s okay now.”

I nearly collapse when he helps me dismount. I feel shaken from the noise of the city, overwhelmed in every sense I have left. Timon guides me to a reflecting pool, and I listen to the water splash against stone. A poor substitute for the cleansing crash of waves and wind at the coast.

I try to imagine the temple’s beauty, but I can’t. I can still smell the city beyond, its leather, and metal, and bread, and blood. The scent of urine never disappears here, and even now, as summer begins its fade, the city still sweats profusely.

The Blinded God’s temple in the city is much smaller than the one I grew up in, and I hear snippets of whispers from the other priests and priestesses, but they give me a wide berth. Some are blind, but none are True Sighted. When Timon leads me through the temple, he tells me of the deepness of their bows, the grandness of the chamber they provide for me, but I can hear the fear in their voices.

“They seem so afraid,” I say to Timon when we’re alone in my chamber. “Like they dare not speak to me, but only to you.”

“They might not have seen someone with the True Sight before,” Timon says. “I hadn’t until I met you.”

I nod, but I still worry. Something feels off-kilter. “Perhaps the owners of the amphora are not eager to give it up.” I try to sound relaxed, but I know something is going to happen on this mission. I had the vision when the seneschal told me the plan, and even within temple walls, I don’t feel safe.

Before he leaves me, Timon clears his throat. “Priestess Thea, I just wanted to say…” He hesitates. “I didn’t have much faith before this trip. You know my story. But this journey, with you. I see your devotion, and I envy it. I am glad I joined the Blinded God’s temple. I am glad you taught me what it means to believe.”

“Thank you,” I say numbly. I do not think I was a great example of devotion, but I resolve to be better. To be an example Timon can respect.

He closes my door behind him.


We are taken to see the amphora by an anxious priest who speaks very quickly and walks just as fast. He’s still sighted and has postponed his blinding ceremony until the amphora can be returned to the temple.

“Prince Claudio, well, you must know all about the prince,” the priest says, as Timon guides me through the streets. They’re quieter today than when we first came to the city, but I still feel disoriented and confused by the mix of noise and voices.

“I know almost nothing about the prince,” I say. “We of the Blinded God are not supposed to follow politics.”

“Oh, yes. Yes. I suppose that must be. In the capital, it’s hard to keep from politics.” He giggles nervously, and it sounds like a woman’s laugh. “It is good we do, or else we never would have known the amphora was being used so…immodestly.”

The prince is in a private bathhouse, and as soon as we enter, I feel clouded by steam and heat and the smell of bodies. I try to take a deep breath, but the wet air sticks in my lungs. My heart begins to race. The floor beneath my feet, tile by the sound of it, is slippery.

Timon puts a hand on my forearm. “Twenty steps until we pass through this room, Thea.”

I nod, and my tension releases somewhat. He speaks to me in the same gentle tone he used to talk to the mare, but instead of taking offense, I lean into him as he leads me out of the room.

We move through a creaking door, and then I feel the sun in my face. I hear water splashing and bouncing off stone. I hear laughter and shouts of joy, as well as crude moans of pleasure. I face forward, resolute.

And then the True Sight flashes, and I see the amphora.

It is an ordinary jug of ordinary proportions. The sides are carved with detailed pictures, but the craftsmanship is no more noteworthy than the amphoras used at the temple. I fail to see the importance of the object or why people care so much for it. There is nothing divine that is recognizable, besides the story carved on its side.

I feel deflated. All this way for a simple jug. I take a deep breath and force myself to trust the faith that brought me here, and, long ago, to the cliffs over the roaring ocean, a hot knife in my hand. I feel the pressure of Timon’s confession. I want to show him the true meaning of faith.

Surely, the seneschal could see something in the amphora that I cannot. And yet, the Blinded God granted me the True Sight. If the amphora is so undoubtedly important, shouldn’t I be able to see it?

Before the True Sight fades, I take in the man holding the amphora. He sits in the water of the large pool and drinks directly from the sacred amphora’s rim, rude but not sacrilegious. He’s rather young, perhaps midway between twenty and thirty, and he’s very handsome. He pulls the amphora from his lips, which are purpled now from wine, and he laughs and splashes the naked woman by his side. She kisses him and slips her hand down his chest and under the water.

There are many girls, most naked, and a few other men who wear the robes of the senate. Everyone seems to be laughing at a joke I don’t understand.

My sight begins to flicker, and I see visions that are so quick I only see parts of faces, mouths open too large, eyes squinting against the light. My vision keeps flashing, and I hold my hands over my eyes, but True Sight doesn’t work like that. I see grey hair on a man’s chest and a big hand pressing tight fingers to a slim waist. I see a firm breast with a brown nipple, a smile that has nothing to do with joy or mirth but something cruel. I see the purple teeth of a man who has drunk too much wine. All around me, the sound of the bathers swells.

“Priestess, I’m here,” Timon says softly.

Suddenly, the bathhouse breaks into still calm. My vision returns to blessed darkness. Timon squeezes my arm, and the Sight fades.

Somehow, the bathhouse is less disturbing in the darkness.

“I am Thea, High Priestess of the Blinded God Himself. I have been sent to retrieve his sacred amphora.” I point to the prince and his whore.

The prince laughs. “This?”

I assume he holds up the amphora. I hear liquid sloshing in a ceramic. “It is a sacred vessel,” I say.

“How dare you demand the prince’s amphora? He is heir to the entire empire,” a male voice shouts from the other side of the bathhouse, and everyone starts expressing their opinions at once. Silky female voices purr about Claudio’s power; gruff male ones renounce me and my mission, even my god. People seem to hate the idea that I would come into the prince’s life and demand something from him. They themselves seem to have had to pry every taste of generosity from him with coy glances and pouches of gold coins.

I stand very still, trying to hear every word.

And then a name slips out between the protests. Timon.

“Timon of Boros?” The prince repeats, and the rest of the voices simmer away. “That’s you, Timon? I almost didn’t recognize you. You look so much, well, holier, than last time we spoke.”

Timon’s grip on my arm tightens. “We leave our lives when we swear ourselves to the Blinded God.”

The prince laughs. “Come now, you’re not really going to blind yourself just to rebel against your father, are you, Timon?”

I feel Timon’s arm shake. With anger? Fear? Is he holding back tears? I speak up. “We have come for the amphora.”

The prince sighs heavily. “Fine. What need do I have of this? I have a hundred amphoras. No, a thousand. This one means nothing to me.”

“May the Blinded God bless you with a good fate,” I say, a traditional benediction, but my heart isn’t in the words.

“It’s not for the Blinded God that I do this,” the prince corrects me, and he doesn’t need to finish his thought for me to understand.

I am not the messenger sent to pick up the vessel; it is Timon. The seneschal must know of their relationship, and used Timon’s former life to influence the outcome of this moment. I feel used, dirty almost. I had thought the temple was above such things.

Timon narrates the next events to me. Though there are protests, the prince, fully naked, rises from the water and hands the amphora to a gold-collared slave, who returns a few moments later with the vessel cleaned. I open my hands and receive it, and still, I feel no click of rightness or any semblance of power from the pottery. The temple had broken its own rules for a simple jug. I try not to look disappointed.

People continue to complain, even as we wish the prince well and take our leave of the bathhouse. In the room of steam and sweat, I hear a whisper, a man’s voice I can’t recognize, “You’ll regret this.”

I’m not sure if the threat is meant for Timon or me.


Besides the ominous threat, obtaining the amphora is much easier than I expected. I berate myself for the way I let my anxieties overtake me. I put the strange threat into the back of my head, push aside my worry about being in the city and an unknown temple, and I relax. Tomorrow, we will go home.

Timon bids me good night and leaves me at the door of my room. His chambers are with the rest of the Eyes, a long stretch of marble hallway away. I wish he could sleep at the foot of my bed as some Eyes do at our temple, and I feel a thrill of anticipation that, when we are on the road, we might share a room. A high priestess, especially one blessed with the True Sight, should not have those fantasies, but I cannot help myself.

The amphora sits, wrapped in a soft cloth, with the rest of my belongings.

I lie in bed, fantasizing about the return journey and recalling my vow of chastity. Before long, I am asleep.

I wake in the night, the bugs chirping outside the window. “Timon?” I call, but there is no answer, just insects singing in the hot night. I smell something acrid, and I cough. Smoke. Something is on fire. I realize it’s not bugs outside the window but the crack and roar of flames. I stumble out of bed to the door, but the handle is hot and burns my palm. Is the fire in the room? I can’t tell. I’m sweating, and my hand hurts.

I cross the room, back to where the window stands. I test with the back of my hand this time; the glass is hot. I’m trapped, and I feel fear like I have never experienced before, even when I brought the knife to my eyes. “Ah,” I cry, not sure how to make the words I need, or what words I need in the first place. “Ahh.” I repeat again, stupidly, helplessly.

The Sight comes to me like it did in the bathhouse. Flashes, confusing and dizzying. I see orange flames and golden sparks. There is smoke, and I see my hand, burned shiny and red. I can’t tell the direction of the flames; my vision jumps around no matter how still I hold my head. Is the fire outside the window or inside the room? I can’t tell.

I’m going to die, I realize. I can’t escape. The flames will catch me eventually. I feel my legs buckle, and then I’m on the floor, crying. The pain in my hand grows, but it doesn’t matter, since I’ll soon be dead. All I see is fire, no matter where I look, and it is beautiful and terrifying. I haven’t seen so much light since before I blinded myself. It’s dazzling. Perhaps this is not the worst way to die.

I cough on a mouthful of smoke, my body fighting the inevitable. I should give up, I tell myself, but I can’t fight the instinct that keeps screaming at me to run, to escape, no matter how impossible escape is. I hope the roof collapses. Then my death will be swift and relatively painless.

I hear a voice through the roar of the flames, someone calling out. “Thea!”

Hope fills me, and a surge of self-preservation overcomes me. “Here, I’m here,” I shout back, though the smoke buffets my words around.

An eternity passes. I smell burning wood, cloth, and hair. My eyes weep from the smoke. My palm burns. I see nothing, the Sight long gone, and I leap when someone touches my arm.

“Thea, it’s me, Timon.”

I begin to cry, relief overcoming me. I reach out my arms like a small child asking for attention, and Timon lifts me up.

After several twists and turns and frightening waves of heat, Timon sets me down upon the grass, the smell of smoke still clinging to us. “Are you all right?” he asks, and his hands fumble with my body, checking my face, my arms, my feet. He sucks his breath in sharply when he sees my burned hand. “We need to get your hand in cold water,” he says, though his voice carries a strain I’m not used to hearing. Is it fear? Regret? Guilt? Now that I am out of danger, my body wants to collapse, and my mind slugs painfully as I try to piece together what happened and what will be.

“It’s just my hand,” I say. “I’m all right.”

Timon pulls me into an embrace, and my face is pressed against his chest. He smells so good underneath the smoke, cologne, and scented oils. I feel his heart hammering under my cheek, his hands shaking on my shoulders. The embrace is not the kind that an Eyes should offer his priestess, not at all deferential, not at all chaste.

“I thought I lost you,” he says, pulling away, but his hands are still on my shoulders, his soft, aristocratic hands.

“I thought I was lost,” I admit.

“Where is the amphora?” Timon asks.

“It was with my things.”

I feel him pull away, cold air rushing to press against my skin. “I’ll be back.”

“No!” I shout and clutch for his hand, but my fingers slip through empty air. I hear him move across the garden toward the temple. I want to explain to him that it’s just a jug. There’s nothing special about it, certainly nothing special enough to risk his life. It was just a thing, just an object, and whether it had been touched by a god or not didn’t change its significance.

A series of coughs wracks my body, my back arching. I spit up a wad of mucus from the back of my throat into the grass.

Coughing, I cry out for Timon, but he does not answer my calls.

Around me, I hear the fire roaring, the other priests leaving the temple. Someone cries out that the roof has caught; it’s only a matter of time now before the temple is consumed. People are shouting, trying to contain the blaze, and others speculate about the cause. I can hardly believe that someone would set fire to a temple of blind priests, but the threat from the bathhouse repeats in my head. Whoever set the fire, did they really want the amphora, or was it set to hurt me?

Or Timon?

I feel a heavy shame. I should have left the amphora with the prince. I should have trusted my True Sight when it warned me every step of the journey. I should have told Timon the truth about the doubts in my faith. I should not have let him go.

I struggle to my feet and face the burning temple, the heat of the fire on my face. I see nothing, and, in that blindness, I take a measure of hope.

And Timon does come out, and I am told he is stained with smoke but carries the amphora over his head with triumph. Later, physicians tell me that the scars will leave his face ruined, but he will otherwise recover. A miracle, they say, and I say it too. I sit by his side for weeks in the infirmary, and I tell him not to fear, for we will soon return to the temple of the blind, as has always been our fate.