The ruler sighed. “I can't resist temptations...not all anyway. There’s someone who…well, I can’t stop his power of attraction, though I feel guilty afterward.” He breathed deeper.
Heru-Ur did not comment, but his eyes clearly indicated he knew exactly what his brother was talking about.
“How did you find your way?” Us-Yri asked at last.
“That's life's challenge, brother,” Heru-Ur answered softly, “for every man to find out.”
“Then I failed,” the ruler remarked.
“Not necessarily.” Heru-Ur shifted in his chair, then continued. “The issue is a bit complicated.” His gaze shifted to the fire. “I will tell you my own personal point of view, but don't take any of this as Truth. Unfortunately, in this world we can never understand completely because a veil covers our eyes.” He paused briefly before continuing. “I believe the gods give us three tools to travel the path of Life—Body, Mind and Soul. Only the Soul will live on forever, but like a bird we desperately want to keep with us, the Body locks it in a cage. These limitations are more than enough to make us lose the right way. The Soul holds the key to our life, the past, the present and all the future lives as well—“
“You really believe we have more than one life?”
“Of course, Us-Yri. There are just too many things to learn in one single lifetime alone. We need time to grow, develop, learn about the world and mostly ourselves. Piecing together this information will set our Soul free. But Body and Mind work against it, so we can seldom collect all the right pieces and connect them in just one lifetime.”
“But how many do we need to reach—“
“Awareness?” Heru-Ur shrugged. “Each Soul will take its own time, Us-Yri. There are no fixed rules. Of course, if the Body and Mind’s limitations are strong, a Soul could take forever before it grasps the Truth.”
“Is that how you feel, Heru-Ur?”
“I feel trapped, brother. My soul longs to escape this body, to rebel to my mind's control and finally be free. That's why I choose to defeat the body on its own battleground—physical temptations—while I feed my mind so that it will lead my soul in the right direction. Of course, it's a daily struggle and to be honest, I don't always manage to win.” He sighed, probably recalling his failures, one of which had happened at the Spring Feast, as Set had been quick to tell the ruler. “But one thing I've learned. Everyone has his own path to travel and though you may feel you've failed, you never see the greater picture until the end.”
“The greater picture?” Us-Yri asked, perplexed.
“You see, we live our seemingly unimportant life, focused only on the day to day routine. The gods see a much bigger picture where everyone connects with the others and with the final design, as if individual lives were pieces of a giant puzzle. It is for superior minds alone to glimpse this complex pattern. We mortals seldom have the chance to see it, although if you’re particularly gifted, you may have this privilege.” Heru-Ur looked at Us-Yri’s worried face. “But that’s a very rare case. Most people just go through life, making random choices, hardly worrying about how they might fit in a greater picture. But I’ve learned that every choice affects our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. More than that, our choices reveal how we want to live, so simply looking into your conscience sometimes can be enough to determine our direction…” he stared hard at Us-Yri, “and eventually change it.” He took a deep breath. “As strange as it may seem, the most despicable actions are often a blessing in disguise because we never know how they fit into the greater picture that escapes our limited awareness. If we’ve loved passionately someone who could end up betraying us—” He stopped abruptly as if afraid of saying too much. Then he shrugged and continued, “Well, even betrayal, as bad as it seems, can become a precious lesson and a required step in order to fulfill your destiny.” He touched the ruler’s arm. “Never judge yourself too hard, brother. Just remember that sometimes you have to fall very low before you rise in shiny splendor.”
Lower than this, Us-Yri mused wryly, as these words echoed in his mind while stirring the burning woods, I can only dig.
“Did you call for me, Ausir?” the familiar voice cut through his thoughts.
Heart in his throat, pulse racing, Us-Yri suppressed the urge to run to Set. Instead, he looked up from the fire, glancing briefly at the beloved face, then turned back to focus on the wood crackling under the flames. “Did I?” he mumbled, pretending not to remember. He poked the bigger logs for a moment, before speaking again. “Maybe, it was something related to the recruitment.”