It was midnight, and she found herself in communication with the Hierophant, who, from a different portion of the Sanctuary, was seriously regarding her and again reading her inmost thoughts.
A few moments before she had all but decided that she could not be Nu-nah, that death now, here in this Holy Sanctuary were better far than hundreds of years as a Princess of the realm of materiality. But, a new factor had now entered her being. A force, more subtle than all Wisdom,—more potent than life or eternity itself,—had transfused her soul—Love! Love, the first, the highest, the all-embracing force of the mighty Universe, and with this new love had been ushered also into being, Jealousy.
“Rathunor loved Nu-nah! Am I not a strange interloper? Was it not worse by my decision to rob Nu-nah of her lover than to deprive her of continued physical life?”
For, it seemed to her now, that life without love would be more than the agonies of the lowest hells. Then again, to live with Rathunor as his wife, while he all the time thought her to be Nu-nah, would be an incessant torture, keener and more intense than if she were chained by, as a third person, to behold him loving the actual Nu-nah in her own body.
“Holy Father and revered Hierophant,” she moaned, “help me, I can not decide.”
“My child,” came the mental response to her call, “if you could be assured that Rathunor would love you in Nu-nah’s body, would the decision be easy?”
“Aye, indeed, dear Father.”
“Then rest assured it will be as you desire. We give you our sacred word that Rathunor will love you.”
Then, raising his arm, as in benediction, he slowly repeated thrice, like an incantation, the words, “Rest in Peace,” and, ere the echoes of his voice had died away, the soul of Sarthia had left forever its earthly abode and Temple.
Within the adytum.
For several days, after floating from her body into the Astral world, Sarthia remained in a state of profound, dreamless slumber and then gradually passed into a condition of semi-consciousness with occasional fitful gleams of memory until one day she realized herself in close proximity to two persons engaged in earnest conversation and became fully aware of the momentous events that had just transpired and her present disembodied situation. And with a thrill indescribable she recognized the voice of Rathunor addressing the Hierophant.
“And so, most revered Father, all things are progressing favorably and toward a satisfactory culmination?” he said.
“Even so, my son,” was the reply. “And yet,” continued the Prince, “save the one momentary gleam of recognition, upon the first night of the ceremonies, the soul of the Princess Nu-nah, to all outward appearance, has left entirely. The body is sustained, apparently, by some magical process, the nature of which I do not understand.”