Friday, October 14, 2011

Rory - Chapter 3 - A journey to the past from the present

A journey to the past from the present

     Rory turned to O'Beth and hugged her. Luminare de Aurora could see her now, really see her. The wisdom and magic that flowed through her was strong, she would need her. She knelt before her, grasped both of her hands in hers. "Please oh wise one, I need you, I need your guidance your magic. I know this world needs you too, but what affects my people will affect the whole world. Will you join my people, my race, travel with us?"  O'Beth waited, she closed her eyes and began to sing.  Low as if in a whisper then she stopped, looked down at Rory a very sad expression on her old sweet face. "Now we will wait and listen."

      Slowly some creatures came from out of the forest, first it was birds, they swooped in, humming birds, then sparrows, then warblers and robins. Then came the eagles, ravens, swans and owls.   Each seeming to bow and attend then flying a way.  Next, came racoons, real ones, and muskrats, squirrels and rabbits. Then from out of the forest, three large animals. A bear, a large mountain cat, and monstrous white stag.   The bear and cat were positioned on either side of the stag.   The white stag glowed in the morning sun, his eyes were a brilliant blue and his hoofs and antlers were made of silver.  O'Beth bowed low to the stag, as did Aryeh and Tym.  Luminare de Aurora, now queen of the elves, chose instead to kneel before the King of the Forest.

     The Stag had a soft voice and as he spoke she heard with her Elf ears what he said.  "Old woman, thou hast served well, now you must undertake a journey. It is the way,  someone else is being called now to watch over this kingdom."  He then turned his gaze to someone standing behind them.  "Come forward Rikos the Muskrat, you cannot hide or shift from your duty anymore."  Rikos the shopkeeper with his head bowed, his old green cap twisting between his hands, crossed the meadow and knelt before the stag.  The Stag pawed the ground in front of him, then pressed his hoof onto the thigh of Rikos and then pressed his muzzle against his forehead. "Arise now and serve, guardian of my forest, protect this valley and your village, you are now entrusted with." Rikos rose and placed his cap back on his head, then hugged O'Beth and stepped back from the group.  A few stray tears trailed down his cheeks and off his chin to land on the forest floor.

        Then the Stag turned his gaze on them, "O'Beth, watch over this child, she is strong, yet anger will rule her heart for a time. She needs to find peace or her own flames will consume her."  His gaze then lowered to catch Rory's eye.  "Dawn child, there are few in my world that cross between us and elf kind, having been friends to both.  We give you a great gift in her, do not harm her, for on that day you may lose yourself again."  He now looked from her to Aryeh and back again as if measuring them.  "Arise.  Now take your mate's hand and extend it towards me. I give you now my blessing on this union." Rory rose pulling Aryeh forward and extending their hands as her husband looked into her eyes and smiled.  This was a rare gift, it had been a long time since an elf union had been blessed by a Stag.

       "Lion, I call you now to protect your pride, to hunt and to kill if needed to protect your own.   You will go through much now, do not hesitate to fight when needed.  Dawn child, you now must shake off the ties of youth and become the woman, wife and queen.  Your magic is strong, you need to control it, work hard at this and you will be rewarded.  I bless you with a long union that can surpass the boundaries of time. I also bless you with a child, to come later that will grow in wisdom and love."  He then nuzzled their joined hands and blew on their wrists. A pale ghost of a ribbon of moonlight tightened and bound them then soaked into their wrists, leaving behind a bracelet on each wrist of pure polished silver. The White Stag then turned, the lion and bear at his side, and disappeared into the forest.

      Rory was in awe of all that this Stag had done for her.  Aryeh turned and pulled her into his arms then looked down at her and smiled. Rory turned to O'Beth and asked "Why did the king call us by our true names, or what they mean instead of what they are?" O'Beth smiled and looked at her as when she was trying to be patient with an inquisitive child.  "He works with the the truth, he can only speak what is. Your husband, his name is Aryeh but means Lion, you child are the Dawn. Now we must ready and go, for here is not the place to learn and grow in strength, you must return to your people."

     Rory turned around then, gazed out over the valley, the lake, the forest, taking it in, to commit it to a real memory.  She watched as people returned towards home, to seek safety. The ribbon on the poles twirling in the morning breezes. The night blooms now closing, a fading scent dying slowly on the air.  The meadow was empty now, the decorations making it even more forlorn and sad in appearance as with a great loss.   The flames of the candles had blown out.  This is not how she wanted to remember it.  Smiling into Areyeh's face she took a hold of his hand and walked back into the center then kneeling with him, spoke a few simple words, and kissed him on the cheek.  Feeling a little bit shy with her new husband.  Suddenly the ribbons and flowers cascaded and flowed like a wave growing into a bush.  A hedge that formed into a circle then opened at the ends. The symbol of a beginning of life without an end, opening out towards the lake.   Pretty fragrant pale blue blooms grew among its boughs.  Surrounding them like a briar,  Aryeh looked at her and laughed. Tugged on one of her braids,  he always had teased her so. "Oh it is good to have you back, we must hurry though.  Race you back to the cabin!"  He then morphed back into his cat form, and was off through the forest with her chasing him.

     Rory was out of breath and laughing by the time she reached the cabin.   Rikos and O'Beth were waiting for them there, speaking in hushed tones.  Rikos came forward, he had always been very humble towards her, she understood why now.   "My Queen, can I... can I have this place?" He stuttered softly. "It will be easier for me to watch over things if I am not in Town."  She reached out and grabbed both hands, kissed them.  "Thank you, thank you for watching over me, and helping O'Beth."  She looked at Aryeh to see if he was in agreement as he was turning back into himself. Aryeh grinned and laid his hand on Rikos shoulder.  "Yes you can have this as our gift to you." Rory looked back at it then and gasped, seeing something for the first time, no wonder it had looked earlier as if it was falling apart.  She could see the edges of the spell, she turned to Rikos and whispered,  "Wait." She paused for a brief moment, "Let me reveal to you it's true splendor."

     Placing both of her hands against the timbers, she hummed softly, to feel the rythm in the spell.  With her awakening senses, she could now see things with her elvish vision and as such could see physically the spell woven over the cabin, to disguise it.  Taking Rikos hand in hers, she pressed it to the building and asked the building to release itself from the spell.  Brown and black bits of bark seem to fall off like ashes as beneath shimmering into the sunlight the real wood stood out a stark pale green.  Symbols and runes woven over it's surface in stunningly intricate patterns.  Her people had not used timber from the forest, but the poles of their tents from their journey to build this. Tears coursed down Rory's cheeks as she thought of the gift and labor that went into it.  Her people had done this for her, the next two nights after, that horrible day.   They had built her a beautiful haven to protect her. It absorbed and radiated moonlight was phosphorescent in its nature.  It was dimmer during sunlight then shone starkly at night. As if it absorbed the sunlight to radiate light against the dark of the evening sky.

     Rikos eyes lit up and he stood straighter as he realized the significance of this gift.  Together they all went inside to gather a few things they would need.  Quickly putting together packs of blankets, food, water, drink and other supplies.  Rory kept finding objects she wanted to take with her, that O' Beth would tsk at her, then take out of the pack.   Finally she had it wrapped up just a few of her treasures tied up in one of the kercheifs she used to wear while working with O'Beth in the village.  Aryeh draped a beautiful green cloak around her shoulders.  "My wedding present for you, O'Beth helped me."  There was a band of blue about the edge that had small embroidered roses and birds.  Tym came down from the loft, she know knew that Aryeh and him shared the room. They each had worked in shifts to watch over her, never leaving her unattended.

     Tym held out to Rory a walking staff  made out of the same pale green wood.   However it was not an ordinary staff, it was the one her family had for generations. It was carved and had a round circle design at the top, with an image of a crescent moon at its center with a large oak tree, at the edge of a lake.  Down the length of the staff it had carvings of animals. A braided band of dark blue leather fringed with feathers hung from it.  Gently Rory traced the designs with her fingers.  Her Father had held and used this daily, she pressed it against her face and held it, thinking of him. Feeling it attempting to channel her power, for that is how it worked.  A symbol of the fact that she was now ruler over her people.  She grabbed a blue hand kerchief and her locket.  Antaquay had taken it off of her when they got ready for her wedding.  It held small portraits of her parents inside of it that Aryeh had given her a few years ago.

      Rory turned towards Antaquay a look of confusion on her face.  "Where are we going?  Back to our homeland?" Anta paused in what she was doing and looked at her, "Yes that is the best choice."  Anta and Tym exchanged looks, clearly it was apparent from Tym' face he felt otherwise.  "Tym where do you think we should go?"  Tym glanced at Anta, it was something they had heatedly discussed.  "We should go and finish our parents mission. They were going to form an alliance with the Tribes of Kestral. We were about half way there when the attack happened.   We sent some of our people after you fell to their people the rest returned to our homeland. Some of them you have seen today.  We have no knowledge of those that went to the People of Kestral.    There has been no word nor rumor of what happened to them.  I believe that you should go there first and find out what happened.  Then return to our people to help us understand if they betrayed us.

     Anta looked at her and spoke then. "Yes we could do this, however you just awoke, we have been trying for years and years to wake you out of this spell."  Her eyes pleaded with Rory to understand her side of the argument.  "I feel you need to go and take care of your people. In your stead, your Mother's brother, Mandel is ruling.  He has done a noble job, however it is not his rightful duty.  He is needed to be the spiritual leader of our people.  This was once my role and I was training him for it.   As I was also training you in the use of your abilities for your birthright. These were the choices we had to make given the situation."

     Looking towards O'Beth to ascertain her thoughts, she suddenly thought of her Mother's Journal.  Could she read it now, would it provide insite? Her face must have shown her excitement, for she reached into her satchel and pulled it out. Yes, the glyphs were legible and stood out clear, she would need to ask O'Beth why she could not read the runes before.  Entries were dated, she turned towards the back of the book, towards the last two pages and began to read.

     Aryeh and Tym they stand at her side, eager to watch over her, yet they keep her a child.  Aryeh shows no interest in her other than as a friend.  I worry that when the time comes, he will wait and think upon taking her hand.  Rather than doing it, as he so often does.   Aryeh thinks too much, his name is a fierce name, given to someone with the ability to do so much more. Why does he think himself less than he is? Tym is so protective of her, my sweet Lumi, that she is never allowed to do much of anything. She is not allowed to trip, to stumble his hands are always there at her side.  Sometimes I wish she could find a woman, a young girl her age, that she would be with.  However all she wants is these two young male elves at her side.
     Garad, he is worried about this travel.  I see it, he will not confide in me. He is wary of the Kestrals.  He knows they need us, and it would benefit us to form an alliance. Would supply us both with trade, with spices.  We would offer them rare art, music, and create beautiful  weapons for them and teach them how to fight in the woods.  They would teach us so many things, how to ride.  They ride these beautiful animals called horses and fight with them. If we could do this, how great it would be. This is why we are going. We travel slow without being mounted, they travel quickly. How much more we could do and see of the world. Meet up with the other groups of Elves on other continents.  We travel the oceans and rivers, but we do not travel the land as quick.
     It is a two month journey from our land to theirs.  Over rivers, mountains and many valleys.  They live near the edge of a desert.   We live near the ocean, with small hills and dells.  Streams and many trees, beaches and coastlines.  Oh how I long for home, to see the dwellings glow in the moonlight.  To feel the breezes and smell the sharp tang of salt water.  The cry of gulls and cranes.  Garad is worried though, he casts glances around, as if he senses something. Something not good, a foreshadowing. He frequently gazes at Lumi, he is worried about her. Because her magic is so strong, she is the chosen one to be leader.  Her brother is gifted in the crafting, forging of weapons.  It is such a rare honor, that he has to do this as his path.  He is a great warrior and will one day lead our battalions.
     I love Tym and Luminare so much.  If something were to happen, who would watch over them.  Aryeh?  He is the oldest, however, he is still so young.  Antaquay, our spiritual leader and Lumi's instructor in the Arts? I know not, Lumi is so sweet, she brings joy wherever she goes. People feel more joy in her presence she is such a rare gift.  Light, she is living, walking light, she makes my heart ache.  Her hair though, does not seem, I had thought, perhaps it would be lighter, yet it is almost black. I wonder if this is because she was born at dawn, as night fades and comes into the light. Is she both? Night and Day? I have not the sight my brother does.  Will he watch over them, or guard the people? I am a queen to my people, yet all I want is to be the Mother and the Wife.  Have I done well by them? I know not, yet I love them, I worry about them.  May tomorrow guide us as to what should happen next.

     Again tears glided down Rory's face, as she knew, that was the last entry.   May tomorrow guide us as to what should happen next. Angrily she wiped the tears from her face, a fierce determination seizing her mind.  Maybe her mother did have a bit of the sight.  She could envision Celeste's hair shown out as sweet honey, her large blue eyes, and sweet smile, lips of the prettiest pale pink, like a rosebud. Her parents had died the next day, and she, had tried to protect those who protected her.  She handed the Journal to Aryeh, he was her husband now and would take part in ruling her people, as a prince of the realm. He read the entry aloud surprise registering on his face at the passages about him.  Luminare de Aurora, Queen of the Elves, turned back towards the hearth and felt along the mantle. Thinking of all the time she spent here, in two halves. One her sleep state in the dark of a night that would never seem to end.  When she could not be awaken for anything.  Her sleep walking state, where she lived and saw as if in a dream.

     That was the spell the White Stag had helped cast on her.  He had woken her into this half sleep on the morning two days later, she had arisen and everyone had gasped. She could see both visions playing out her in mind. The dream she lived, and what really occurred.  The Stag had come into the meadow for her as dawn came and brushed his muzzle against her forehead, and she, placing her hand on his shoulder followed him to O'Beth. She saw as the Stag did, with his vision.  Things had appeared to her differently.  For example, Aryeh appeared to her as a great magnificent Lion. She now knew that is how the Stag saw him.  Her brother though was unique, he stood out, apart from all others. He must be rare, for she did not see him as anything other than what he always was. A gifted Hunter and craftsman.   The truth, that is what O'Beth had stated, that he spoke, and perhaps saw the truth.  Apparently his gift still lingered, for she could still see it every now and then.

     "Aryeh, what do you think we should do? After reading what Celeste, my mother wrote."  She turned around and looked into his face, her chin jutting up in defiance.  Aryeh knew that look, knew it well, she had made a choice and there was no going back for her.  This time though, he agreed with her.  "We go to Kestral, it was important enough that even when your father Garad sensed that something was wrong, he went on. He must have foreseen something we know not of, and he was especially interested in the horses."  He reached in and placed the Journal back into her bag. Then turned around to face the room, taking her hand in his to show they were in agreement on this.  Rory, for she decided now, except for certain occasions she was going to demand they all call her that, nodded her head at him and smiled.  "We go to Kestral, I do not know who this entity is that struck us. I suspect though that the people of Kestral are aware of him. They will still need our help as we will need theirs."  Then Rory turned and gathering up her things and guiding O'Beth in front of her walked out the cabin, and into her new life.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rory - Chapter 2 - A Magical Hour

Chapter 2
A Magical Hour

     Kari helped grab some more lanterns and candles and went outside, where a few people were.  As she walked out the sun crested and dipped past the horizon. O'Beth called this one of the magical hours, when the first hour of light arises in the morning and when the last hour of light leaves in the evening. Kari passed out the remaining candles and lanterns and the guests lit them one by one.  Tym and Kari mingled among the guests, embracing people, Rory did not recognize or know. They seemed familiar to them and again she was left with the impression, is this real?

     As Rory approached the door, she felt a hush come over the group, a kind of awe.  Some of them looked like they were bowing.  She had a puzzled look on her face and Tym rushed up and held out his arm. "Milady?"  Rory put her arm through his and together they walked arm and arm as people before her and behind carried the lanterns and candles gliding through the forest. The leaves on the oak trees and the bark on the silver birches gleamed in the fading sunlight as a Crescent moon began to arise in the evening sky. As they walked along the path to the meadow, she could see other candles coming from the direction of town and hear singing, again in words she could not understand. It was very pretty, and she felt warm inside and wondered at it. She became more and more quiet and contemplative the further along the path they went, so much so that Tym felt prompted to speak.

     "Rory, where are you,  you seem miles away from me right now in your thoughts, stay with us, keep focused.  We are almost there,you can do this."  Strange she thought, it was the same thing Aunt Kari had said.  She looked up at him and thought, his eyes seem more green tonight, not brown. She had to ask. "Ty, are your eyes really green? Why do somethings seem more intense tonight? Its as if I had never seen them before. They seem both familiar and not familiar."  He pulled her in a little closer to whisper  "Good, and yes they are and yes they are not."  She wondered which of the questions he was answering.

     Suddenly she could smell all the candles, the dripping wax and the small flames. The pine needles that were crushed beneath their feet as they walked. The smell of the oak leaves and holly, mistletoe wafted to her.  Flowers, even animal scents, it was as if she were taking in the whole forest. Delicate bursts of white evening primroses were everywhere, seeming to glow as candlelight passed over them.  Almost calling attention to them, like she thought earlier with the silk.  Do you see me?  She could feel the air around her, it wafted in waves of heat and coolness. She could feel the cloth of Tym's clothing and saw it was similar to her own. Although it was darker, more deep in color, was it a dark green? It had not seemed that way before. His face as he watched her began to smile with joy.

     He paused just outside the meadow.   As she looked into the glade she could see friends, like O'Beth and the storekeeper Rikos.  The small lake glistened and rippled, the moonlight reflecting off it's surface along with the lights of many stars. There were poles tied with ribbons and flowers surrounding the meadow. That people now hung the lanterns from. The entire meadow was lit up, she gasped at how beautiful it all was. Some swans suddenly landed on to the water, they were white with black beaks. They moved so gracefully in the water and it seemed as if they were watching her. Waiting for her, to attend her party. O'Beth walked towards her with a crown of white mistletoe and placed it on her head.

     All of them here for her, she did not understand, she was just a child. Tym whispered softly as he gazed out over the crowd, "Not anymore."  His fingers tracing her jaw from her cheekbone to chin.   Smiling at her, Tym led her into the middle of the meadow. Musicians began playing a new song. It lilted and pranced like a dance around her, making her nervous and feel suddenly shy. It seemed familiar and she was not sure if she liked it or not.  He took and stood her, between the water, the sky,  the cresent moon and the crowd. Held her hands for a moment, "Wait here, do not be afraid,  you must be very brave right now."  Then he released her hands and went to sit on the grass with O'Beth and Aunt Kari.

     Everyone was waiting and they turned to look at the other end of the meadow. That is when Growlers stepped into the light. His coat gleamed and glistened, it was not yellow it was beautiful like spun gold. His eyes, why had she never noticed them that time, they were a brilliant bright grass green.  He looked at her as he did that day in the meadow. Assessing  her, she stood very still and waited to see what he was going to do.  He began purring, her eyes went wide with shock. He kept coming towards her and now he was purring.  It almost seemed as if there was a smile on the big cat's face.  He sat in front of her and his head reached almost to her chin. His big paw reached up and gently cupped her hand and he nuzzled it.

     She didn't know why, but she reached out with her other hand in wonder and stroked along his jaw.  He then rose up and placed both paws on her shoulders. She could feel his weight hold her, pressing her  to stay where she was, until there was only the two of them. As if no one else was in the world but them. Rory knew she should be afraid, but she wasn't she could not explain why but she felt very safe and she realized, excited.  Then he began to nuzzle her face, this time he was not purring. He was growling softly as if trying to talk to her. She could almost understand it. Rory closed her eyes for a moment. In that moment the big cat pressed his mouth against hers.  Then she heard, "Rory, please wake my princess, please, we need you to come back, wake up."

     Her eyes flew open and her heart began to race wildly. But it was not a big cat in front of her, it was a man. She knew this man, he searched her face again, his long blonde hair swinging around them to hide their faces. Then he leaned in and kissed her again.  Fire and electricity seemed to race across her skin and she breathed in deeply.  She closed her eyes again, and then opened them wide and searched his face. She reached out again with her hand. Stroking his cheek, it was Aryeh, that was his name. Her intended, they had known each other since...childhood. Her mind began to unwind and race with fleeting images. Aryeh pulled her close to him. 'It is good now, you are awake.'

    'Rory your eyes though, they are not, I do not understand, they dance in colors and flames, they are no longer just blue anymore."  Rory, her name, but yet not her name, her real name was Luminare de Aurora,
the lights of dawn.  All at once the crowd around them gasped and some pointed towards the sky.  As everyone turned and looked north over the water, the northern lights began to dance in blue's and greens across the sky.  As she watched them, she recalled her mother telling her she was named for them and also the sunrise, because on the day of her birth, they shown in the sky just as the dawn broke and she came into the world. Luminare de Aurora, or Rory, was awake.  She could see now with her eyes both worlds she had been existing in. One in a state of sleep and one as a different entity.

     She looked down and saw now, saw the rings, on her and Aryeh's left hands.  The gems in the stones now flashing emeralds, the metal a beautiful white gold, the pearl a pretty blue.  The symbol of marriage, she closed her eyes for a moment, this was not her birthday party. It was her wedding day. That would mean she would be at least in her thirties now, an adult, to be tied to Aryeh  bound  as her parents had always intended.   She was beginning to get angry.  There was so much she did not understand.  Aryeh felt her tense and pulled her close.  Turned her back around to face him. He growled deep in his throat "Rory listen to me, it was the only way, we tried everything else, for years and years we did. It was O'Beth who came up with the idea. Who knew it would take a druid to break your curse."

     O'Beth walked towards them, with two ribbons in her hands, white as snow.  She hugged Rory to her and whispered, "Be calm, you are Queen now, you must behave so."  As Rory's eyes searched the crowd, she now recognized faces from her childhood that she had not seen in such a long time. Then she remembered, really remembered and a single tear tracked down her face. Rory closed her eyes, took a deep breath, re-opened them and looked into Aryeh's eyes and then O'Beth's.  She nodded her agreement, as O'Beth began to speak the vows to the crowd.  While her hands gracefully wrapped the ribbons around both of their wrists and loosely braided them together.  Completing the ceremony that at once made her an adult, a queen and a wife.

     She looked around at everyone, she now could see that Tym's eyes were always the same color they had been, a beautiful forest green, his hair now cropped short and curling. His hair however was the color of deepest night an ebony. As she thought about it she must be about 34, not 17 as she had thought, barely an adult in elf-kind.   She has been asleep within her own mind for 17 years.  Friends now came up to greet her. Good wishes, congratulations and thoughts of welcome she felt.  Music began again and food was laid out on blankets in the meadow with pillows for people to lay on and relax.  Others began dancing in the meadow , spinning and twirling beneath the stars.

     People from the village, came to bid her farewell, to wish congratulations and leave her small tokens of their affection.  Small hand wood carved items, some made from metal, jams and preserved meats.  Laughter filled the air , Rory could only smile, the joy had left the night, with the memory of another day that now weighed her shoulders with responsibilities.  She could see concern in Aryeh's eyes, as he tried to tease her by feeding her with his hands, making small jokes and jests as he did so.  Finally, Aryeh pulled her to her feet, twirling her into a dance, spinning her around and round, til Tym would step in and spin her off another direction until finally she began to laugh.

     The hours began to pass as dawn was soon approaching, she could sense it, and as she sensed it, she also felt, hate. A hateful presence, a darker evil thing at the far edge of the forest. A great evil, that it was, headed towards them to harm her and her people. She had felt it before all those years ago, her parents,  again she recalled what happened that day.  When it had harmed her, she would not let it do so again.  Rory hesitated for only a moment and suddenly she gracefully wove among the crowd.  Glided through  her wedding guests  heading towards the trees.  The crowd gasped not understanding,  Tym and Aryeh close behind her, he was still trying to hold on to her hand.  She pulled free of his grasp and at the same time she grabbed three arrows from her quiver and loaded them into her new bow Tym gave her.

     Not fully understanding how she knew to do this, she aimed the bow sideways  and shot the arrows high up into the air.  Whilst speaking old words of magic as she did so.   Her spell, as she cast it, lit the sky above the forest as if day.  Anything of evil turned black, shown out starkly like a smudge of dirt on a child's cheek would.  Tym was by her side in a moment and so was Aryeh, both of them pulled out their bows and began to shoot with her, she became aware of Antaquay speaking, for that was her real name, not Aunt Kari. "Quickly everyone, gather what you have, those who do not have weapons go to the lake. There are boats in the rushes we placed there just in case."

     The crowd began to disperse, she could hear them behind her, some coming to stand with her and her brother, others heading towards the boats.  Some of the villains, fell with each stroke but others kept weaving and moving closer towards the meadow.  Suddenly a rush of stank air came rushing over the forest and with it, turning it black as pitch. Rory could feel her skin crawl as the magic was released it felt like when she fell into a fire ant bed as a child.  They could no longer see to attack them.  Aryeh growled again to her left, and Tym  hissed on her right, both of them pulling out their swords.  Her protectors, they always had been, sent to guard the princess.

     However, it was Rory who would not allow anything to harm them,  and that is what had gotten her in this mess to begin with. She had used her budding magic to put a shield around them, but when the evil spell had struck sharply it held for only a moment to repel then snapped. Falling inward into her and that is what caused her to sleep in her mind.  She was getting very angry right now, for the lost years, loss of memories, her parents.  She would protect not just her loved ones, but her people as well.  She pressed her hands together and began to hum and chant. She could feel that moment of quiet before it occurred.

     Slowly the sky began to lighten and as it did the northern lights began to fade. Like a slow moving turtle reaching for the surface of the water on a sandy shore,  the sun crept out over the mountains.  As it did, there were screams in the forest when her spell released.   Cries of agony and with it a dark sickly green flame licked and began to consume the trees. O'Beth then began to chant, low and kind of hushed in a different language, just as old as hers. Clouds began to appear over the forest and with it, rain and lightning, lightning lashed out and struck the remaining attackers killing them instantly.  The rain also soothed and put out the flames.   The forest was hissing and steaming as the fire ended.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rory - Chapter One - Day after Day and Night after Night

Chapter One
Day after Day and Night after Night
     Rory stooped to pick up another bale of wool to carry to O' Beth. Shouldering the itchy gray bundle up to a place on her back, she shifted and bent to compensate for the weight. Her legs bending, but not buckling, under the fifty pounds of compressed wool that was tied tight. She hooked her arm through rungs left on both sides for carrying. Trudging her way from the wagon through the press of people to the other end of the street. There was one main road that ran in a circle around the perimeter of the interior wall of the town. Then another that ran through the middle, houses were built in a semi circle.

     The outer wall that ran around town with a road in that only offered two entrances. They were placed at different locations which made the town easy to protect and defend. Spring was just beginning to be apparent. Patches of snow were everywhere. Grass was showing sprouts where it was not trampled. A few bright crocus and camellia flowers were in bloom and leaves out on most of the trees, if not all. The air was fresh with just a hint of cold in it. Mud was every where, you could not avoid it. Rikos the shopkeeper would get up and spread a coat of gravel and moss down over the main area. Keeping the track from becoming a bog.

     The houses were low shanties, some with false fronts to give the appearance of being larger. Some had columns and there were many porches. Baskets of tomatoes and strawberries were hung out to catch the sun. Along with geraniums in bright reds, pinks and corals. Rikos had taught her they helped keep pests away like mosquitoes. Most of the residences were 1-2 bedrooms, with a kitchen, a sun room, a bathing room, sometimes a sitting room. Every house had fireplaces that were in the middle of the house and the house was built around it. The kitchens and living or sitting areas shared the fireplace. Houses stained by varnish in red, green and honey colors to protect the wood. Fireplaces were built of gray, black and white rocks, smooth and round.

     They had back yards, where small sheds were built or stores. There were two large barns in town at opposite ends of the town and street. One was used for the few cattle in town, milk cows mostly and pigs. The other one was used to hold hay, and bales of wool from local shepherds. Along with a few goats that were used to make cheeses from. There were two community smokehouses, anyone could use to smoke meats or fish. There was also a silo filled with sawdust and packed with ice to keep fish and cheeses cold year round. There were also four drying vats for drying foods, such as fruits or baking nuts. There was one shed that was used for leather working. The town was well organized and neat, tidy. Every space also had a garden area where they planted beans, spinach, carrots, turnips and radishes.

     Vendors had arrived, high here in the mountains to trade wares. With wagons pulled by donkeys or oxen yoked together. O'Beth had worked hard all winter on making dyes for the wool. Her colors were so pretty, that people traveled for miles to have her make their yarn, for rugs and to dye fabrics. O'Beth had been teaching Rory how to find the right soil and plants. Even small bugs that could be crushed for the color they gave off. They worked all year round on it and when summer approached is when they dyed most of their fabrics. This being that this location in the mountains was only accessible from the last of spring until the first week or so of fall. The snow would then began to pile and the roads up the mountain would be covered with it.

     Today, one such person, a Lord “something” or other had came into town. Asking that his wagon full of wool and other fabrics be dyed special by her hand. Rory did not recall his name. “They never look at us, and we never look at them.”, O'Beth had grumbled under her breath. Even now she was curtseying in her mind. She liked it better when she could stand tall and erect and see people. For what they really are. It just felt better to look into people's eyes. O'Beth had sent her off to roust the town, when he came knocking early this morning after they had broke their fast. They were just cleaning up the dishes. She sent her off out the back told her to wake Rikos the storekeeper, first and then others.

     This was her last bale of wool to carry. Others had also helped bring the fabrics to O'Beth. There were silks this time, that was a rare treat. It was so smooth and she liked how it shimmered in the air. Almost as if it had a life of it's own, stating here am I, do you see me? Would that others could see her. She was slender and small like a willow or reed. Her long dark brown hair, almost black, and plain hazel eyes. Mostly amber in color with flecks of green and rich brown color.  

     She was suppose to have been home hours ago. Tomorrow was her birthday, but her family always celebrated it late at night. They would rise and go out and into the moonlight and light candles. Then dance in the woods singing old songs they no longer recalled all the words to. Her older brother Tym watching over her protectively but flinging pine nuts at her, keeping her laughing. He unlike her was quite tall, had the same olive dark complexion and his hair curled in a perfect manner.

     Not like mine, she thought. Mine has to be brushed and brushed and brushed some more. Taking almost half an hour each morning to untangle it. Aunt Kari said that she would need to start braiding it every night. That she needed to be more like a lady. She laughed, looking down at her dirt and mud splattered clothes, feeling her hair straying from the bright red hand kerchief she had tied over it. Her fingers stained fresh this morning from some cornflower dye when her locket fell in to the vat. O'Beth smiled when it happened. Looked at her in such a loving way and then chuckled.

     Finally, she had reached the back of the yard where almost the whole town had been assembled to help. She piled it with the last of load against the old barn near some yellow roses that were starting to bud. . O'Beth saw her and trudged towards her, her cane smacking anyone in the leg who got in her way. Rapping them sharply on the shin. A slight twinkle in her gray eyes giving away the fact that every one she aimed out towards was some person she had an issue with. Only Rory had noticed this and called her on it. Didn't stop her from doing it though.

     “Young Miss, apprentice or no, you will go home and attend your own birthday tonight. May the moonlight shimmer and glow for you.” She hugged Rory to her and grasping her hand, slipped something on to it, covering it so no one could see. Her old sweet, gray eyes, gazing down into Rory's hazel muddied ones. “Now get you, move on home. I will be along later, work or no work. “ She then turned Rory around and pushed her none to gently towards the gate.

     She started to skip lightly, a kind of joy seeping into her. She would need to bathe of course. She started to run along the path from the outskirts of town into the forest. Her family had a small cabin in the woods. It was not to far from town, just a few miles. It would take her half an hour to walk it. Less if she ran it.

     The path was not wide, and she had been careful to keep it so it remained as she put it, cozy. She kept the path clean of broken limbs and such but let flowers grow where they wished. She was humming a little thinking of some of the songs they would sing tonight.

     Her feet started to pick up and she was soon running like her Aunt always asked her not to. Leaping over things, going crashing through the forest. What her Aunt Kari did not know is she had been working on doing it more quietly. Tym had been teaching her how to hunt and track. She loved being able to go quickly through the forest but silently too, like Growler. Growler was a large cat in the area that the older folks sat around fires and told stories about. Rory had seen it a few times. Even once brave enough to stand across 3 feet of distance and look into the cat's eyes. When it sat it was almost as tall as her. Growler was a big long cat, she thought male but wasn't sure. She didn't know why but one morning, she decided to see if she could find the cat.

     Higher up by the falls in a meadow over looking the valley, the town, cabin and lake he had been. He was sleeping in the sun and laying still in the grass. It was almost fall and it was beginning to get colder. She recalled that she had dressed warm for the cold and felt like going swimming as the sun's rays beat down on her. Even though she knew the water was too cold for that now. After searching the entire valley she had decided to climb the waterfall, she rarely did that. She didn't know why, but she never wanted to leave the valley. Rory became scared if someone in town asked if she wanted to go to a neighboring village.

     She had entered the meadow and sneaked up on him. Until when she was within 3 feet of him, the cat rose up and looked at her, yawned and stared. He tilted his head a bit as if trying to read her thoughts. They looked at each other for a long time. As if they were sharing a conversation. While birds warbled and the sun begin to go down. It was the first autumn wind of the evening that broke it. She suddenly shivered and felt she should go. The cat laid back down and went back to sleep as if their moment had never occurred. What disconcerted her the most was how intelligent he seemed. Why had the cat not harmed her?

     She skidded to a stop as a large raccoon suddenly leaped into her path interrupting her thoughts. For once his bandit mask seemed more menacing that mischievous. Rory quickly turned out of the path and continued around him. Then another raccoon, soon they were all seeming to come out of the woods.  Their attitude appeared menacing. She began twisting and leaping using all she knew of the forest to get home. She knew she should perhaps be afraid but she was not, only in a hurry to get home. Until at last, she could see the glow of candles in her cabins window. Tym came running out of the house with his bow and began firing it behind her. She could hear them falling away behind her. She ran until she was in his arms.

     “Tym I do not understand, the racoons are my friends why would they attack me? I like to bring them fruit and nuts and sometimes fish. They have never tried to harm me before. “ She buried her head into his shoulder, gasping as she struggled for breath. He pulled her close, stroking the top of her head then pushed against her lightly and punched her arm. His wink and smile a bit sly. “Oh, won't Auntie Kay, love this!” Tym called their Aunt Kari, Auntie Kay because he felt she was an antique. Old and stuck in her ways, more of an institution. He grabbed her hand and twirled her. Taking in the view of all the debris. Rory's torn dress and stockings, her scuffed boots and patches of dye everywhere.

     “I must say Rory, you have outdone yourself this time.” Tym's grin dimpled and shined with mischief. Aunt Kari walked in just as he pronounced this. She took one look turned on her heel, grabbed the tub off the wall hook and proceeded up the stairs to Rory's room. Her and Tym looked at each other and then started laughing. “Speechless, I made her speechless.” She had tears streaming down her face and had to hold her tummy because it hurt from the laughter. It had been a very long time since she laughed that hard. The last time was when Tym's bow broke and it's string popped him soundly on the cheek leaving a nice red welt.

     It was shaped unusually and they teased him about being kissed by his bow for a week. Tym always wore dark clothing. She supposed that some would find him a bit menacing in appearance if not for his dimpled grin. He was her ardent protector though. He had always been there helping her, watching over her, teasing her. She loved her brother dearly. Rory grabbed the worn railing, smooth now from all the use, and climbed up the stairs. Funny how she was noticing things today. Everything just seemed to be a bit more intense. As if an excitement was growing. It must just be because she was excited about her party. Tonight most of the village, that Aunt Kari chose, would be here. She wondered when she would have a say in it.

     As she headed into her room, Tym watched Rory go and the smile left his face to be replaced by anger.  She was already forgetting the incident in the woods and being chased. He whipped around as there was a loud thump then a scratch at the door. As he opened it, Growler stood their waiting. Tym paused, then he bowed slightly, “ I guess I can understand why, you have a vested interest in this. Do come in please.” The big cat sniffed the air first. Then he padded in a slow deliberate manner towards the fire then circling, lay down on the hearth. Resting his large head on his paws, he looked out the door. He then raised his head and pushed it forward as if to say, “Go on, attend to it, I will keep watch.” Tym grabbed his quiver and raced, leaving the door open, in case he had to return quickly. Like a hawk he swooped in on each figure and dragged it into the woods. There was a gully about a mile from their house. It took time to pull his arrows out of them and then drag the bodies. There were eight of them. He grimaced, and rubbed his collarbone. He would need to be faster with his bow if they sent more.

     During this time, Aunt Kari was making sure she was absolutely ready, and she would not let her see. She had a pretty new dress on. It was spun out of a material or fabric she was not familiar with. It was strong and kind of had a stretch to it. A very pretty dull shimmer to it that seemed more as if it wanted to absorb light than to give it off like the silk did. It was embroidered with flowers and vines and around the bottom of the dress there was a design of flowers with birds also embroidered along the hem. The flow of dress was unusual too, it flowed around her in soft folds, and there were soft leggings that appeared to be out of a dyed leather. They were so soft it almost seemed to melt in and become a part of her skin. She also had new boots, they came halfway up her leg to the top of her calf muscle. They had soft leather ties that helped lace them. They also appeared to be made out of leather. But it had a different texture. These were dyed a dark blue, almost black color. Her hair had been braided and a crown of cornflowers and other flowers were woven into her hair and down her back. Also a few soft downy raven feathers were tied onto the ends of her hair.

     This was new, she had not seen her appearance, she looked and noticed the mirror was missing. “Aunt Kari, where is my small hand mirror?” Aunt Kari looked at her, and said “Tonight is about how others and your world perceives you, not as you do.” You are becoming older I wanted you to know how we all feel you are truly beautiful inside and out and …” her voice trailed off, as if she was about to say something more.  Then she looked very sad, tears welling up in her eyes. “Its of no use, I am going to cry tonight. A rare thing for one such as I.” The tears slid slowly down her cheeks and Kari grasped Rory's hands gently in her own and used them to wipe the tears from her face. When Rory looked at her with concern, she smiled and said, “So you can recall my sacrifice later and know I loved you.” She then pulled Rory close to her, “Changes are coming, I cannot stop or hold the tide, it is time.” She pressed on her hand then walked out and closed the door. 
      Leaving Rory stunned and wondering what was going on. Rory began to pace and rock, hugging her arms to her, like Tym taught her to do during bad thunderstorms. She looked around the room and it seemed different to her. As if it was not hers, as if she had never belonged here. It just seemed different, grungier, not careworn and well used. She noticed their were panels starting to come free of their bindings. Her quilt looked like it needed mending.

     The only thing that stood out was a book, her mother's journal. It was in a deep orange, and it seemed to stand out amid all the rest of the room. She kept it although she could not read it's pages. Her mother came from a different country and her book was in the language of that country. The flow of the words and letters beautiful, but she could not understand them. It was not a large book, it now could be held easily in her hands. But it was thick and well bound. Its pages also seemed to shimmer and shine, like gold.

     “Why have I never noticed this before?” She said this out loud and even the sound of her voice was different, older sounding. She began to thumb threw the pages, flipping them bending them slightly, easing them, making the pages easier to turn. As she did, flakes of dust, appeared on her fingertips. Turning them golden too. It is gold. She realized now, that gold dust had been brushed on the pages, the writing was in gold. How beautiful, how precious and rare. “Unusual. Today is very unusual.” Rory whispered soft and low to the room. All at once she heard Aunt Kari yell. “ You cannot be in here, you will scare all the guests! Please go wait out in the meadow for the party. You must behave, please, I beg of you, she cannot see you until.”

     Rory didn't hesitate, but it was if she was trudging through water though. Trying to break free, she finally reached the door and pulled it open. Started to go down the stairs, and saw, a flicker of a tail go around the corner of the house, by the door. Growler. Growler in her house and her Aunt talked to it as if it was a person.  Growler the big cat who scared everyone. Weird stories were whispered at night around campfires about him. Growler who stared at her that one day in the meadow. How they looked into each others eyes. Testing each other, to see if the other measured up. Growler was attending her party? She shook her head, and pressed her fingers to it, suddenly she felt very tired. She just wanted to go and lay down.

     Kari took one look at her face and began walking over with a glass of what appeared to be water. “No Rory, not tonight! You cannot sleep tonight it is your birthday. You must be in the moon tonight and stay awake until the dawn. You must hold on. You can do this. Here have a drink of this.” Aunt Kari passed the glass to her. As it went down her throat, Rory felt refreshed and felt she had tasted nothing sweeter or finer. As she handed the cup back to Aunt Kari. Her Aunt suddenly reached out and grabbed her hand.

     “Who gave you the ring Rory?” She shook her hand, said again, “Who gave you the ring?” Rory looked at it now, she had forgotten O'Beth. “O'Beth did, I do not believe she wanted me to see it, yet I believe it is her birthday present for me.” She rubbed her hand as Aunt Kari sighed with relief. “O'Beth? Good, I was worried it might be the village boy who walks you home every now and then.”

     Rory looked at the ring, twisting it into the light. Soon they would light the candles and walk to the meadow. The ring seemed to be made out of brass, but it had several small gems of liquid amber, topaz? They were cut more like diamonds she had seen once. They were all branched out of the ring. They were like the leaves on a vine and in the middle a rose was carved out of the metal and it's center a tiny beautiful pearl, dark in color. The ring was quite pretty despite its materials and for a moment she seemed to see a glimmer of something more, but then it was gone.

     Tym came in and quickly gathered lanterns and candles. He did not relinquish his bow, and she saw he had his short sword slung at his hip and he had tied on his dagger to his thigh. Did he think there would be danger tonight? He caught her looking at him, and he grinned. Shrugged and said “ In case there are more racoons, wouldn't want anymore bandits ruining your party.” Tym then jumped over to the hearth and lifting the mantle with one arm. Reached in with his other arm and pulled out a beautiful bow and quiver. “These are yours, I made them myself.”

     She noticed the shafts were from eagle feathers. They were brown and gold, the wood, white with a green tint. The bow also was was white with a hint of green and he had carved, on it, beautiful symbols like the one's in her Mother's Journal. As part of her outfit, she had a low slung purse that ran over her shoulder. She now placed her Mother's Journal into it. Then reached for the bow and quiver. He helped her set it in place, the quiver also slung and it fit into a loop on the end of her purse and helped hold her purse in one location. He smiled and then with a wink went over to his pipe box and pulled out a beautiful long dagger.

     “I wanted to do a sword, but you are much better with the dagger.” He held it out to her so she could look at it. Runes ran down the middle and there were designs of leaves and roses on the handle. Tym pulled out a sheath and helped to strap it on a belt that he wrapped around her waist. The sheath complimented her attire was it was a dark black? She wasn't sure anymore it also seemed to also have a bit of green to it. There were also three amber colored gems in the belt. It was heavy but not too much. She now seemed to be in a dream, what was going on?