Short stories

Short Story: Kiara, Episode One

August, 2015

Kiara

 

 

“Stupid!, Stupid!. Stupid!”

These were the first three words to emblazon themselves across her mind,- when words eventually came. Before that, there was confusion. Days of wandering aimlessly. Too numb for thought, and unable to focus her new found, human, brain. She had never felt the cold before,- and naked meant nothing to the Fae. When hunger and thirst appeared, they were like knives in her pale, delicate flesh. Images of tall spires and the sounds of sweet music filled her head. Cold tired and exhausted,- she stopped moving, and gave in to a growing sense of numbness. She curled up in a pile of leaves and dreamt of flying, as her short-lived human body began to die,

She felt rough hands on her tender skin as she was lifted up and wrapped in a coarse woolen rug and brought somewhere warm and laid on a soft seat. Too weak to resist and too tired to open her eyes, she felt straps tied across her. The was a purring sound. She felt movement as she drifted back to sleep.

Some days later, her mind cleared. She had words but no voice. Flashes of memory as she lay in a warm soft bed. She never wanted to be cold again. There had been an old man, bearded, with kindly eyes and a lady who looked like a fairy godmother from the children’s books she used to peek at late at night. She struggled to remember. Then those pains started again and she got frightened. She did not want to die. She started to cry. She had never cried before and the salt tears puzzled and distracted her.

Suddenly a door opened and she got a whiff of the most amazing smell. It made her mouth water. “ Ah!, You are awake. I thought I heard you moving about. Are you all right?

I brought you some soup and bread . Something light to build you up. You must be hungry !”

“Hunger.. ah!”, she understood the pain now. She laughed. It sounded awful. Strangled and squeaky. She had no voice in this strange body she had foolishly trapped herself with.

The lady chatted away as she ate, but she hardly heard her. All the pieces of the puzzle were falling together. She remembered the little boy in the woods. He came every day for ages. She would watch him. He made her feel funny inside. Then one day she had appeared to him. They became friends, or so she thought. She decided to give him the ‘Faeries Kiss’, so that he could stay forever with her. He had run away crying and somehow torn her away with him. He had not become immortal, but somehow, she had become human. As she looked at her arms and down her body, she realised that in this vessel she was just a child.

When the lady had gone, she examined herself and was horrified. Skinny legs and arms and a little pot belly with no waist. No matter how hard she tried she could neither manifest her wings or change her shape and size. She was stuck. She peered closer at the mirror. Two huge brown eyes and a button nose, framed by dark curly hair. “At least I am pretty”, she thought.

She needed to get back to the forest and see the elders. Failing that she would have to find the boy and take back the faery kiss,- assuming that she even had that power anymore.

For now, she was stuck. She needed to bide her time and build her strength. By her own reckoning, she had no more than seventy years to find her way back.

She had no intention of waiting that long!

Within a few more days, Kiara was strong enough to move around the house. It had lots of wooden panels and carvings. She would wander around and trace them with her fingers. There was a tall, skinny girl who was always moving around with a duster, but thankfully, she always avoided the spider webs. Kiara liked spiders. She loved their delicate webs and could feel them peering at her as she explored the big old house.

Her favourite place was the kitchen. The cook was a small wiry woman with a harsh accent.

Kiara had been scared of her at first, but when she found out that the girl was dumb,- the cook had taken her to her heart. She would sit her down with pies and pastries to watch her cook, and chat for hours while she worked. She spoke about the Welton’s and what a lovely couple they were. How pleased she was to have a child in the house again, and random gossip about the people from the village nearby.

As she started to settle into her new home,- she began to sense things again. The mice beneath the floorboards with their nervous little twitches. The owl in the barn, and the fox who checked the kitchen bins every night for scraps. There were stables too. She loved the smell of the stables, but the horses were weary of her. The stable girl was also a bit sullen and unfriendly, so she did not spend as much time there as she would like. She wondered how she could persuade the sullen stable-girl to teach her to ride. She knew that the forest must be a long way away, and If she could get to know the horses better, then she might be able to ride there.

The gentleman who had rescued her, Mr Welton, was a kindly old man. Cook said that he had been a very important person a long time ago, but had retired early after he lost his only son. Kiara had to think hard to understand what cook meant. A lot of what she said only made partial sense to the stranded faery. Death does not mean the same thing to the fae, but she knew of a few humans who had lived with the faeries for many, many years. Those who remembered, spoke of death and loss and hunger. These were experiences that she was only beginning to truly understand. It made her even more desperate to go home.

He was in his dusty old study, when she rambled in. “ Good morning princess!”, he said with a beaming smile. “I have some great news! Some very good friends of mine have arranged it so you can stay with Martha and I, for as long as you wish.” She forced herself to smile. He was such a kind man,- and he had saved her life. “Martha must be the fairy god mother”, she thought,- he had always called her Mrs. Welton before. “This can be your home forever”, he said. At the word ‘forever’, she thought of home and burst into tears. His strong arms swept her up onto his lap and he hugged her. “You will be safe here”, he said,” and you will never be hungry or cold again”. She had no voice to tell him that hunger and cold had never been a part of her world. She wanted to explain that she needed to go home. “ Now that is sorted, we can send you to school. You will learn to read and write and you will be able to talk to us with pen and paper”. She had no way of explaining that she could read a bit, although not as much as when she was her old self. But, the mechanics of handling a pen, and writing was totally beyond her. Perhaps when she could write, she could ask them to return her home? She would have to wait and see. Schools, she knew about. She had seen pictures in story books. They were little buildings with clock towers and playgrounds. The swings looked like fun. And then, when she went and learned to write, she could ask to go home.

For a few weeks afterwards, life was pleasant. Martha seemed to appear almost every day with big parcels, and they spent their time in trying on clothes. Some of the costumes were pretty enough to easily match the images that she had seen in books of how humans see her own folk. She wondered if Martha suspected where she came from, but nothing was ever said. Also a huge leather trunk appeared and they would pack the clothes into it after she had tried them on. Soon it was too full to close easily and they would sit on it and fight with the strap, laughing. She loved the feel and the smell of the new leather. It even had a lock and a little key to go into it. Martha put the key on a piece of ribbon and hung it around her neck, telling her to be careful not to lose it. She seemed sad that day.

She discovered that the horses liked carrots and that the stable girl liked mince pies. Every time she could, she brought a gift to the girl and the horses. Eventually, she made herself understood and before long she was astride one of the horses. Riding was easy, but a bit painful. The horses knew exactly what she wanted of them and obliged instantly. As for the pain, she was beginning to realise it was never very far away where humans were concerned.

Attempts at needlework were disastrous and also painful,- as were her attempts to scrawl letters on a chalkboard. But, she consoled herself, once she got to school, everything would be sorted out.

She learned from Martha that they had been very far away when they found her. That was a disappointment. Still, once she had been to school, and she could write and explain, then they would surely take her home.

Her first day at school, was when Kiara discovered fear. When Mr. and Mrs. Welton took her there in the car, she remembered the purring that she had heard, when he had taken her from the forest. Now she realised it was the car. They traveled a long distance and she gazed out the window with interest, despite the wind and the rain beating against the glass. They drove through two huge metal gates that were firmly anchored into massive stone walls. The gates closed behind them by themselves and they drove a little further in the rain through a tiny woodland. Then she saw the huge fortress of glass and stone. The tiny cottage with swings was nowhere to be seen. Instead she was faced with a huge castle. It was dismal and dark, with the rain beating futilely against it’s grim grey walls.

They scurried from the car into a cold dark hall with dark-wood panels, each studded with brass plaques in continuous columns. They seemed to stretch forever down a long dark corridor. There was a horrible stench. She though that she heard a very faint scream in the distance and she shuddered. A tall stern looking woman eventually appeared. A heavy-set man in a dark uniform struggled to keep up with her, as she walked along the dark corridor towards them. Her voice was honey-sweet. “Ah! Mr. and Mrs Welton!, -and this little angel must be Kiara!. James will fetch her trunks and you must say goodbye here. She will be in safe hands and, I promise you, we will have her reading and writing, and perhaps, even talking in no time at all!” When she smiled, it was a terrifying sight for some reason,- cold and unnatural. They hugged her, and James followed them to the car. James returned with her trunk on his shoulder, pausing only to lock the heavy wooden doors with a big brass key. Kiara looked up at her captor with a deep sense of foreboding.

Then suddenly, the whole world became a brighter place as she saw a glowing figure behind the matron. A faery stood there, surrounded by the reflected beauty of the land of the fae. She gestured to Kiara to pretend that she did not see her. Kiara realised that she would have to wait until she was alone to find out if she could still communicate with her own kind, and maybe get a message to her elders.

The vision faded quickly as she realised that the matron was speaking to her. “Well young lady, at least we will have one client who does not answer back!” Her attempt at light-heartedness fell flat as the child stared at her sullenly with frightened eyes. “James will show you to your room, and supper will be brought up in an hour. You will see Doctor Boglin in the morning. Then we can decide what to do with you. You may be able to join the other girls in class in a few days time, when you have settled in. It all depends on what the doctor decides when he has examined you. Off you go! Just follow James and we will see you in the morning”. Again she gave that smile that never quite reached her eyes.

Kiara turned and hurried after James. She was hoping that the vision would return once she was safely alone. They went down the long dark corridor until James stopped at a door and unlocked it, still carrying the trunk on his shoulders. She followed him in and he placed the trunk on the floor by the light of a flickering fire. He reached up and lit a gas lantern. “You must turn this down before sleeping”, he said, and showed her the little lever on the side. “ Someone will return with food in a little while. There is time to make yourself comfortable. He opened a door and pointed. “This is your water closet”. He left without further comment. When the door closed behind him, she heard the key turn in the lock.

She looked around her gilded cage. I was almost as ornate as her room back home. Funny how she already called it home, when her real home was so very far away. The fire looked cheerful and cozy. She had come to love fireplaces since her first, awful, experience of being human. She sat on a stool and gazed into the glowing embers. She could almost see her kin. There among the flames, she saw the specters of elves and fauns, calling her to the woodlands. But, they were not the woodlands of her home,- and in any case she could no longer go there through the fire in her present form. She sighed and stared at the fire, lost in reverie.

Goddess in the Grove – Imbolc

January, 2009

The snowstorm had settled down somewhat during the day, leaving a blanket of crunchy white snow draped over the countryside. The High Priestess stood at her kitchen window holding a warm mug of steaming hot tea in her weathered hands. Those hands had seen hard work and toils far beyond her young motherhood years.

As she stood in the dimness of her kitchen, the smell of beeswax and candle oils filled her senses and warmed her heart with joy. In just two days would be Imbolc, the festival of lights representing the increase in the light after the Winter Solstice. The candles that were drying from the racks in her back room would be used in not only the coven’s group ritual but also her personal one as well. Imbolc was also the time of the year when life was coming back to the natural world, with plants starting to peak their heads above ground and animals getting ready for the coming births of their young.

Herne and Sebastian were settled down in front of the fire, curled up into little balls of fluffy fur. Pine scent wafted through the house, carried on the breezes from the fireplace. The crackling in the fireplace occasionally made the cats stir, and the High Priestess settled in her chair with a warm blanket and her cup of tea. On the table beside her was her notepad, with the rough outline for the ritual written in her careful, flowing script.

A light rapping at her door stirred her from her thoughts….who would be out on a cold night such as this? Alighting from her chair, Herne and Sebastian quickly took their customary places beside her as she went to answer the door.

Flicking on the porch light, she peeked through the peephole to see a coven member, Bridget, with her two small children. She quickly opened the door and ushered them in, placing their jackets in the hall closet. Curiosity shone on her face, but she kept her greeting polite and general.

Bridget made quiet grievances for her late night visit, shifting her sleeping babe in her arms. She explained that the power had gone out at her house because of the snow, and she felt she had no one else to turn to. Bridget was a new coven member, unsure of where she stood in the circle of close knit friends…more like a family than any she had ever known.

The High Priestess led Bridget and her kids to her spare room, which doubled as her office. It had a homey feel to it, with dried flowers, candles and handmade bedding handed down through three generations of her family. Pictures lined the walls, some in modern frames, some in antique wooden one. It felt so comfortable here, so inviting. Lost in her own reverie, Bridget hadn’t noticed that the High Priestess had left the room and returned with a long, flannel nightshirt and some slippers. These little comforts were enough to send Bridget into tears. Never had someone been so nice to her or her children.

Bridget had been nervous about joining the small coven, afraid to let other people into her life for fear of getting hurt. The High Priestess told her to stay as long as she wanted, for she welcomed family no matter what the need.

After a long, restful night’s sleep, the High Priestess woke to the muted sounds of children laughing in her kitchen. Curious as to what was amiss, the High Priestess donned her robe and went into the main part of the house.

A breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon greeted her senses and brought moisture to her lips at the thought of dining on a feast like this; she usually ate a quick bowl of cereal.

After they ate, the women and children piled into Bridget’s van and carefully made their way to her house to see what had happened with the power. Upon their arrival, Bridget was in tears. The ice had ripped the power lines from her house, causing the power to go out the previous night. But more astonishing was who was at her house without her knowledge.

The coven members had arrived en mass and had taken up places outside like they were supposed to be there. Looking over at the High Priestess in amazement, she noticed tears in the older woman’s eyes as well. Unknown to Bridget, the High Priestess had called two of the coven members who had called more of them.

“Families stick together.” was all the High Priestess said to Bridget.

While the adults worked to repair the damages from the ice storm, the kids played outside making snowmen and snow fairies. Afterward, everyone piled into the small home, and Bridget felt so thankful and warm with the pleasant turn their lives had taken.

Hot chocolate was passed around, and a loaf of  pumpkin bread was cut up and offered as thanks for all of the hard work and support they had provided her. Never could she payback all the kindness and generosity she had received the last couple of days.

As they took their mugs of hot chocolate, the High Priestess stepped forward with a lighter and lit a candle on Bridget’s mantle. She said an impromptu blessing to the Goddess Brigid for the house and her occupants, and for all of the coven members and their families. She thanked Brigid for all of her love and generosity that she had bestowed on the coven…and for keeping watch over her children.

The sun was shining like a bright, blazing ball of fire in the sky, warming the Earth below. As the friends stood inside finishing their drinks and planning the next day’s activities, the Earth was awakening outside with the coming signs of Spring.

Crystal Song, Chapter 6

January, 2009

Randmier watched the green singer fall back into the connection of the matrix as he held the little star beast. Its humming had not stopped and the crystal within its forhead shown brightly. It trilled happily as its coat glistened with starlight.

He turned away to carry the lil beast back to its mistress and made the long trek back to the council room. When he arrived raised voices carried outside the doors and the guards snapped to attention on his arrival. Randmier raised his hand to open the door and a guard slowly shook his head. Randmier paused to listen to them before he went in. Obviously it was very important that he know or the guard would not have interfered.

“Kala, you should not have intrusted your pet to that green singer!” It was the oldest chosen’s voice obviously agitated. “You dont know what she will do!”

Kala responded in a tearfilled and worried voice. Her softness evident in it. “Mika, you have no right to tell me what I should and shouldnt do with my things.” There was a long pause that sounded like a sob then she continued. ” We could not reattach it. Trinket has been with me since I was small. He has been my protector as well as my playmate when I was chosen. If she can do it then I want her to!”

A male voice introrupted. “If she can reattach the beast then we have a problem.”

“What problem?” another female voice inquired.

“The problem is if she can reattach the beast then she may very well be more powerful then any of us combined. Stars! she has already revived a root cavern. None of us can even remotely think to do that.”

“What does that mean?” Kala asked.

“What it means is.. she is not well born. If she is more powerful then us then the ballance of control and power will shift. and we will be put out.”

Gasps went loudly around the room. It was then that Randmier thought it best to enter the room. He carried little Trinket in and further put the council on edge.

Trinket upon seeing its mistress again bounded out of Randmier’s arms and ran trilling its happiness to Kala who scooped him up tearfully in her arms.

Kala lifted grateful eyes to Randmier. “She did it!” Tears of happiness rolled down her cheeks. “Give her my thanks when she wakes.”

“I will do so.” Randmier said formally as he inclined his head and turned to leave. He paused then turned back. “It would be in your best interests to first consider the wellbeing of Aricania then your own seats of power. The crystal forms as you know rule the planet not us. And can remove your connection for any slight. It is obvious this girl is chosen. You had best consider it.” He paused as he felt the import of this girl. “I must inform you now that as she is chosen and because of my oath that I took to the crystal form her protection as well as yours is now my priority. Do not cross it.”

Randmier strode out of the council chamber and his cloak billowed out behind him. It would be a fight he realized. Things in society were about to change. This small green singer would start another civil war. He prayed to the Forms that the planet would survive this one.

Goddess in the Grove

December, 2008

Yule

The sun was setting over the hills, casting warm yellows and pinks across the early evening sky. The snow that had fallen lightly throughout the day shone like a lake of diamonds The trees down by the creek had caps of white, knit by the delicate snowflakes of winter.

The high priestess stood in the doorway of her cottage, Herne and Sebastian taking their positions on either side of her feet. She waved happily as the coven members cars pulled down her drive. As each disembarked from their cars, she could feel the energies rising all around. This Yule ritual was going to be truly a magical experience.

Everyone was dressed in their finest robes, and in their arms they carried scrumptious foods and beautifully wrapped surprises. The high priestess welcomed them into her home, Sebastian and Herne alighted onto the back of the couch to watch the festivities.

As everyone got settled inside the cottage,  the foods laid out on the buffet, a light snow began to fall outside. The woodland setting was quiet save for the sound of a distant owl hooting in the trees, and the crunch of snow from some deer walking in the fields.

Everyone inside grabbed plates, helping themselves to the fabulous feast set before them. The colorful foods smelled rich with nuts, berries, pumpkin, goose and more!! Colors and smells mingled on the table, creating a display that wasn’t only a feast for the stomach, but the senses as well.

This diverse family ate and talked about their own family traditions, past Yule memories, and day to day happenings. Conversations about upcoming community events and any new coven projects were peppered in here and there.

As the final vestiges of light sunk fully below the hills, and gave way to a brilliant full moon, anticipation was heavy in the air. The coven members made their ways outside to the stone circle garden just down from the house. A sanctuary and a place of magic, it was made with stones gathered from down by the creek.

Joining hands, young and old, they circled around the stone alter set up in the middle. The high priestess took her place in the center, calling to one of the elder male members to join her. Tonight he would represent the God and she the Goddess.

As the Yule rites began, a hawk called out from somewhere above in the night sky. The full moon, in all her wondrous glory, shone like a spotlight down on the worshippers below.

They gathered  here on this night to honor the God and Goddess, and the rise of the Sun again from it’s sleep. They came to celebrate the turning of the Wheel.

Soon the ritual drew to a close, the circle open but never broken. The members made their way back to the small and cozy cottage to warm up and enjoy each others’ company. Once inside steaming mugs of apple cider or mead were passed around, as a raucous game of charades started. Presents were passed around and almost as quickly as they were handed out, the floor was covered in a colorful confetti of wrapping paper.

If you had walked by that night, you would have seen smoke curling lazily from the chimney, a warm glow from the windows and the love of a family inside.

Crystal Song, Chapter 5

December, 2008

When had the chosen become intergrated with the ruling class? When he looked at the assembly before him, he realized he was staring at the daughters, nieces, and grandaughters of the council members of the ruling classes. This realization disturbed him.

“Did you find the one who introupted our merge?” Asked the oldest of the chosen. She was in her 40th turn of the yearly sun and was designated the spokeswoman of the chosen.

Randmier bowed his head slightly in difference to her station and answered. “I have.”

“Good”. She answered and rose. “The council wishes to see this person immediately.”

An older man rose and stood by the woman who looked very much like himself. “You will bring them before us immediately.” His voice sounded like the squeek of new crystals tuning to the matrix and grated on Randmier’s nerves.

Randmier bowed his head for the barest of moments to collect his thoughts. “When I found her this rising,” He paused meeting thier eyes. “She had just renewed a root chamber after it’s near death. The green singer is near collapse at this moment and resting.” He paused again holding thier attention. “I would suggest that it may be a more probable idea to allow her a resting time before forcing a meeting”.

There was a confering betwee3n them and then a raise in voices for the barest of moments. Randmier began to realize that he may not have been truthful to the green singer. He sensed an animosity in the council he had not realized was there. This moment gave him the opportunity to see them fopr what they were. -Very bloated with thier own importance and power- When had thier society reached this point? He wondered. This new realization disturbed him greatly.

“We will allow her the beinifit of a resting time until the setting of the daily sun.” Randmier’s eyes focused as he came out of his reverie. He bowed slightly as he came to attention then turned to leave.

“Randmier,” This came from the youngest of the chosen. She was only 15 yearly turns and looked as if a small wind might topple her slight form.

Kala stood from her far seat and approached. She held a small star beast within her arms. It was only about a foot in length and it’s fur glistened in the morning light. The crystal embeded within its brow flared then went dim. It was her beloved pet and also had been affected by the matrix’s collapse.

A single tear slipped down her cheek as she held her pet out to him. Randmier knelt infront of her to bring his eyes level with her’s and took her pet in his arms. Its long ears draped over his hands to nearly touch the floor. The animal shivered as its lack of connection to the matrix left it cold and without a way to regain its body heat. It wrapped its long fuzzy tail vainly about itself for warmth as it tucked its nose into his hands to gahter warmth there.

“Trinket’s lifeforce cannot be reattached” She said sadly, her voice catching “None of us can reattach it.” A small glimmer of hope flickered in her eyes. “Perhaps if the green singer can revive a root cavern, then she can save him.” Her voice caught as she began to cry. “I know the green singer is tired, but he has been my closest friend since I can remember.” A pleading note slipped into her voice. “Please, please see if she will try.”

Randmier stood andtucked the shivering star beast close to his heart under his tunic where it snuggled close to him for warmth. It was not his area, but even one such as he couldfeel the creature’s broken link.

As he traversed the halls back to where the green singer rested, many thoughts raced though his head. he could feel the little creature taking his warmth into its own body only to have it leave just as quickly. This made them both very cold. He began to shiver along with the creature.

Randmier knew that it had taken her love for her pet for Kala to ask this of a complete stranger. She was the only on of the chosen that did not express a haughty knowledge of rank This disturbed him.

Again he was taken aback by the fact that they had all become very complacent in thier dealings with the life matrix. He wondered if that in part, had caused the collapse.

Randmier reached the green singer’s chamber and rapped on the porthole. After receiving no answer he stepped in. He found her asleep as he had left her. She had not even bothered to remove her outer cloak.

He knelt and softly touched her shoulder.

Sai woke with a start. Her heart pounding in alarm. It took a few moments for her to register her surroundings.

When her eyes focused on him, Randmier took out the tiny star beast. ” I am sorry to disturb your rest,” He said. ” was asked to bring this star beast to you.”

Randmier handed the trembling creature to the green singer. As soon as it touched her hands, it began to hum and trill. Randmier’s eyes widened. He had never seen anything like it.

“Its connection was broken.” He explained. “It’s owner has asked if you can help.”

Sai looked down at the little creature in her lap. She felt the break in its connection. She was tired and yet she knew if she did not do something the creature would die.

Sai held it closer and began to softly sing as she made the connection to the matrix. The star beast began to hum and trill along with her song as the cryastal in its brow glowed. Sai felt the connection and repaired it and felt the creature’s life force strengthen. Sai weakly handed the little star beast back to the guardian. She lay back down and closed her eyes. A chill had crept into her body and she sought the warmth of the matrix.

Red Riding Hood

December, 2008

Once upon a time, I was hunting sheep.  It was a dark and stormy night!  Okay, actually it was a very nice sunny summer day.  It is just that bad things aren’t supposed to happen on very nice sunny summer days.  That is the way it should be anyway.  On the particular pleasant day of which I’m speaking I was having myself a sheep lunch.  It was so yummy!  Even after all it cost me I still remember that succulent meat with fondness.  Well fed and well cared for animals taste much better than those who are not.

For the past week or so before I had the heavenly lunch that turned my life up-side-down, I’d only been able to find underfed rabbits to fill my belly.  One of the main laws of hunting is that the prey must be as well fed as the predator if the meal is to be healthy and satisfying.  By the time I came upon the small flock of sheep I was more than ready for some decent food. They were grazing on a little hill with no one watching them.  The kill promised to be so easy.  There were no sheep dogs to bark and alert anyone that there was danger.  There were no young men with hooked sticks to attempt to drive me away from my feast.  Of course when I approached, the flock scattered like the frightened sheep they were.  My heart raced with excitement, for these sheep were also deliciously fat.  My eagerly open mouth dripped with hunger driven drewel as I leapt upon the nearest one.  My jaws eagerly snapped at the struggling creature’s throat to still its thrashing so that my dining could commence.

The poor thing died fast enough, kindly allowing me to have my meal in peace.  Did I say yet how good it was?  Oh it was so good…So very bloody yummy!  I ate and ate, stuffing myself until I could hardly move.  When I at last turned away from my kill, there was nothing left of it but a pile of hide and bones.  Running my tongue over my blood reddened chops, I gave a belch of the purest satisfaction.  So heavy and fully sated was I with my kill that I’d have taken a nap then and there if I didn’t fear remaining too long in the territory of men. Not until I rose to depart did I see the old witch.  She was almost on top of me!  I didn’t understand how I’d missed seeing her before.  Perhaps I’d been too engrossed in my kill, but I should’ve at least smelled her scent on the wind or heard her footsteps nearing my feeding ground.

Before I could even think of fleeing, she’d knelt down and placed her hand right on my head!  I opened my mouth to snarl, but no sound came out.  I tried turning to take a chunk out of her thin shriveled arm, but I was unable to move!  It was then that I realized that she was a witch.  She must have used her magic to mask her scent and the sound of her approach.  So she was not only a witch.  She was a very strong witch.  I tried once more to sink my teeth into her arm, but nothing had changed.  I still could not move.  It was almost as if I was frozen in place.  I could open and shut my mouth, but not turn my head.  I could move my eyes, but not very far for it was hard to look away from her ugly ancient face.  Like all old witches, she had a long pointed wart covered nose along with an equally long and sagging chin to match.  Her matted hair scraggled about her shoulders, and seemed to twitch in the wind with a life of its own.  To my mind, she was the ugliest witch there was.

As I was held immobile, she stared coldly into my yellow eyes with her nearsighted green ones.

“I have laid a spell on you so that you are able to understand my words, wolf.”

Her voice was raspy and put me in mind of a frog.

“I wish for you to fully comprehend the curse I’m about to place upon you, after all.”

It had worked!  I could understand her!  That was scary!   If I’d not been bound by her magic, I’d have jumped into the air from the startlement of the experience. I’d never understood the words of humans before.  The few times that I’d come close enough to hear them at all, I’d only gleaned meaning from the tones in which they spoke.  Now I was understanding the old witch as clearly as I’d understand a fellow wolf.  I didn’t like it.  It just felt wrong.  There was no time to think on that for long, though, for she spoke on.

“You have dared to fill your greedy belly on the flock of a witch, foolish wolf!  For that your hunger will only be fully satisfied when you feast upon human flesh.  If you do not, no other meat shall satisfy you.  And to make matters worse, if you do not kill a human at least once a month, you shall starve to death in a matter of hours.  Your body will not recognize anything you put into it as being food unless you have dined on human flesh monthly.”

My eyes widened in horror.  That was dangerous!  A wolf would only do such a thing in times of dire starvation if at all.  Men had tricky ways of killing wolves that another beast would not.

The old hag had not missed my change of expression.  It made her cackle with delight.

“I enjoy killing humans, you see.  Each human death that I cause adds to my power.  As you have offended me, I find it only fitting for you to be an instrument of my will in this matter.  It is the least you owe me, do you not think?”

Was she insane?  It had only been one lousy sheep!  I tried to whine my displeasure, but to my horror words came from my mouth instead.

“I don’t want to!”

Somehow the words still came out in the tone of a plaintive whine which did gratify me somewhat.

She laughed.  The sound was harsh yet high at the same time.  It grated on my sensitive ears causing them to twitch.

“That is just too bad, for you’ve no choice!”

As she spoke those words, she gave me a hard smack on the head.  Oh how I wanted to tear her arm off then and there!  As I still could not move, that wasn’t happening, though.  While she spoke on, I could only listen.

“Don’t you want to hear the rest of the curse,” she asked sweetly.

Her voice was so awful that the new sugary tone only made it sound even more scary.  I had no idea what to answer to that question, so luckily, she left me no time to do so.

“You shall only be able to hunt humans who are alone.  There can be no other human near by.  That will likely keep you safe from being killed so long as you’re not stupid enough to attempt to take down a hunter.  You do know what a hunter is do you not?”

She tilted her head to the side to peer demandingly down into my face.

I didn’t answer which only won me another hard smack to the head.  It was then that I decided that answering her right away was the best course of action.  It wasn’t as if I’d ever be able to kill her after all.

“Yes,” I growled out angrily.

“Hunters carry things with them that they use to kill animals.”

“That is right,” she crooned.

Her sweet tone was really making me sick.  I would not throw up the sheep I’d so recently dined upon, however.  I’d paid for that sheep after all.   My belly was going to keep it.

“Is that all,” I demanded.

“I do think so,” she said thoughtfully.

“Unless you want some more, that is.”

Her mad shriek of laughter made me shiver from head to toe.  I most certainly did not want anymore cursing.

“No,” I told her quickly.

“I think I’ve got all I can stand, thanks.”

Then as another thought struck me, I dared to speak again.

“Why have you given me the power to speak the tongue of humans?”

“You are able to speak because I’ve linked you to myself magically,” she told me smugly.

“I normally would not consider making a lowly wolf my pet, but as you’ve gone and offended me, the honor is yours.”

After another rough smack on my head, she stood abruptly.
”You are free to go now.  After each kill, you shall be magically compelled to return here so that I may accept the power you’ve gained for me.”

accept?  I was astonished at her choice of words.  It wasn’t like I was giving her a gift because I wanted her to have it!  If she’d been a normal witch rather than the most evil one in the entire world, I may have been able to make amends for eating her sheep.  From what little I knew in listening to the forest gossip of other animals, most witches had cats.  Cats tended to bring their human masters gifts of dead rats or mice.  If I’d eaten one of the sheep of an ordinary witch, I could’ve perhaps apologized by bringing her a whole bunch of dead rodents.  That would never work with my witch, though.  She’d likely never had a cat in her life.  If she had, she’d probably killed it.

As these thoughts were flitting through my mind, the evil hag was walking away.  I found then that I could move once more.  Springing to my feet, I dashed away faster than I’d ever run before.  I didn’t stop until I was quite far away.  My sides were heaving with the effort of my exertions, and my full belly hurt.  Flopping down on a bed of thick moss under a tall oak, I set to work at once feeling quite sorry for myself.  What had I ever done to deserve this, I wondered dismally.  So I’d eaten a sheep.  So what.  A wolf had to eat, didn’t he?  Somehow and in spite of my worry and fear, I managed to fall asleep.  My belly was stuffed, after all.  Not to mention I’d just run a long way quite fast.

When I woke, the sun had set and evening had fallen over the forest.  For a moment, I just lay there on the moss wondering why I felt so very depressed and dejected.  Then it all came back to me.  Looking up through the canopy of branches overhead, my eyes sought the moon.  It had not risen yet, but I let out a mournful howl anyway.  That one felt so good that I did it again and again.  I cried out my pain to the sky until my throat was raw.  That witch had me trapped quite soundly, and I knew it.

When I finally dragged myself from the bed of moss, it was to wander about the forest in search of other animals.  Anyone who knew a bit about witches or magic would do.  I was not generally the social type except with other wolves, but that night I even spoke to field mice!  None of them knew much of witches or magic, though.  Nor did the badgers, snakes, or owls.  The lack of knowledge from the owls surprised me the most, for weren’t they supposed to be wise?

I even tried to question a rabbit, but it ran away before I was able to form a proper greeting.  Sure I usually ate rabbits, but this time I’d only wanted to talk.  Rather than lose the rest of the dignity I had left, I let it escape.  I found a fruit bat to chat with instead.  I need not have bothered, for the silly thing knew nothing.

I was about to give up when a voice from behind me, along with a crackling of the underbrush caused me to start.

“Is it witches you’re wanting to know of?”

The fox was standing just behind me, his sharp face pointing up at the moon who had only then made up her mind to rise.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Do you know of them?”

The fox nodded wisely.  We stood there in silence for several minutes after that.  I was waiting for him to go on, and wondering why he’d not done so.

“Well,” he asked impatiently when he at last spoke.

“Well what,” I demanded.

I was tired and grumpy.  If this fox had some information for me, all I wanted was for him to be out with it.  That didn’t seem like too much to ask after the day I’d had.

“Well what did you want to know about witches and magic,” he asked peevishly.

His tone made me give a silent snarl of annoyance.

“I want to know what a witch can do to an animal with her magic.”

“Ah!”

He licked his whiskers slowly.

“So you’ve gone and gotten the attention of one of the witches what lives round these parts!  My, my.  What a mess.”

“Just answer my question,” I growled.

He stared at me in shock as if I’d offended him.  I let out a heavy sigh of pure exasperation.

“Please?”

The red fox waved his bushy tale in the air and gave me a sly grin.

“Good.  That was all I wanted.  A fox does have a right to a bit of politeness, after all.  Just because you are a big bad wolf doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be nice when seeking information.  So what has the witch done to you?”

I told him my story of woe.  He listened intently without interrupting.  When I’d finished, he stared off thoughtfully into space for a bit before speaking.

“Sounds like you’re in a bit of a bind, my friend.  All I know of witches only affirms that.  I shall still share it with you nonetheless as you did request it of me.  Witches can even do more than what you’ve just spoken of.  They can go so far as to turn a person into an animal, or an animal into a person.  They can turn an animal or person to stone as well, or even into some silly human object that they can use for mundane chores.  So what I’m saying is that you’re lucky to have gotten away with your natural form.”

“And that is only so I can kill people for her,” I howled in dismay.

“It would seem so,” the fox agreed regretfully.

I thanked him then, and slunk away among the trees.  There was nothing else to say on the matter, after all.  I was done for.

I spent the next month trying to work up the nerve to look for a human to kill for the wicked witch.  I just couldn’t make myself do it no matter how hard I tried.  From time to time a traveler would pass by my den, and I’d consider attempting my first human kill.  I’d poke my head out, and sniff the air.  The smell of human would hit my nose, but rather than wetting my apatite, it would cause me to begin shaking with fear.  The humans were always on horses, so would be difficult to catch anyway, I told myself.  That was why I’d not bothered.  It had nothing to do with the fact that they may have something sharp with which to kill me.

On the last day of the month, I noticed that I was beginning to feel weak.  I’d killed no human, after all.  The witch had promised that ordinary meat would no longer sustain me if I did not do so.  I did not want to die!  This was the most unfair thing that could ever happen to any wolf!  It was then that my upset and cowed terror turned to rage.  I had not done anything to deserve this.  If the witch wanted someone to die, someone would die!  Someone would die who lived all alone in the forest.  Her curse had stated quite clearly that my victim had to be alone.  As my desperate plan began to form, I felt my mouth spreading into a slow wolfish grin.  I would not be bound by her curse if she no longer lived.

Before that last day, it had never occurred to me that I could kill the very one who caused my torment.  The witch had made me so afraid that I’d never once even considered that I could perhaps best her.  The thought was extremely liberating!  I would trap her with the words of her own curse!  I felt as if I were walking on air as I headed through the forest.  The witch’s cottage lay on the edge of it above the hill where her dratted sheep grazed.  Those sheep were the root of all my troubles, so I ignored them as I passed by.

When I reached the little wooden door of the witch’s cottage, I raked it with my claws to let her know that I’d arrived.  Though I was happy I’d formed at least some sort of plan to attempt to save myself from her clutches I was still afraid.  She did have magic, after all.  What if she could use it to read my mind.  If so, she’d know just what I was up to.  I had to try, though.  There was nothing else for it.  No wolf was meant to be a slave to a human.  Not even a witch.

Against all my instincts of rage and terror, I forced myself to remain calm when she opened the door.

“Well,” she demanded.

“What do you have for me?”

She reached down and gave my ear a sharp tug.

“Get in here, then.”

I knew that I had to act before I lost my nerve or before she placed another paralyzing spell upon me.  With a snarl of rage I sprang.  The momentum toppled her back onto the wooden floor just inside the cottage.  She was surprised!  She’d not expected me to be smart enough to fight back.  Somehow that knowledge only served to feed my anger.  I tore out her throat in a matter of  seconds.  Before I could stop myself, I’d eaten the old hag right up.  The curse she’d placed on me had ensured that I’d be craving human flesh, after all.  I didn’t really like the taste of it, dry and tough as it was.  That being said, I did  not plan to dine on it ever again.

As soon as I was done, I backed away from the spot where she’d lain.  It was over!  I’d won!  If I’d had my way I’d have run away then and there.  Yes I could’ve feasted on sheep, or taken a rest on the soft wool rug that lay neatly in front of the hearth, but I just wanted out of there.  My whole body was shaking like a leaf from the stress of it all, though, and I couldn’t go more than a few steps without stumbling to a stop.  I’d almost made it to the door when the smell of an approaching female human brought me up short.  My nose told me quite clearly that she was headed directly in the direction of the witch’s cottage.  Growling with frustration, I backed inside, pushing the door shut with my muzzle.  Who ever the female was, she’d surely leave when the old witch did not seem to be at home.  Then I’d be free to go on my way.  The smell of human became stronger as the sound of small feet grew near.  When the loud bang came on the door, I nearly jumped out of my skin.

“Grandmother!  It is me.  I’ve come to visit you!  I’ve got a basket of goodies that I know shall make you feel better!”

I did not move.  After a few moments, she banged on the door again, harder this time.

“Grandmother!  I know you’re feeling sickly, but that is why I’ve come to take care of you.  Please let me in.”

What if she just pushed open the door?  She’d find me and there would be all sorts of trouble.  An idea came to me, I’m sure out of pure desperation.  As I’d been given the power of human words, I may as well use them for my benefit, I thought.

Trying my best to sound like thee old witch I said, “Go away!”

“Grandmother!  It is Red Riding Hood!  Let me in or I’ll open the door myself.  I’m worried about you!”

It was panic that caused me to dawn the old cloth garment that I’d torn from the witch’s body before eating her up. Then I scrambled up onto the large bed that stood in the corner of the room.  If the girl was going to come in, perhaps she’d just leave her goodies and get out if I pretended to be the old witch.  What were goodies, anyway, I wondered as I hid myself as best I could under the long heavy bits of cloth that covered the soft bed.  Under them, my wolf’s body was not as visible.  Before I could bade the Red Riding Hood to come in, she opened the door firmly and came inside.

She was a girl, just out of childhood from what I could tell.

“Oh Grandmother,” she cried.

“You look awful!”

“I am just sick, child,” I said.

“You can leave the goodies and go home so that you do not become sick as well.”

I really wanted her to get out.  It was hard to make my voice sound as frog like as the old witch’s had.  If the girl did not believe me, I may have to kill her.  I’d had enough killing and upset for one day so really did not want to do that if I didn’t have to.

Her next words changed my mind on that, however.

“Oh Grandmother!  Did you take too many lives at once again?  How many times have I told you about that?  We witches have to take it slow at your age.”

So she was a witch as well!  I should’ve known!  I made myself sigh.

“You are right, of course!  Come closer, Child.  My old eyes can hardly see you.”

I’d kill her just like I’d killed her grandmother, I vowed.  Only I’d not eat the girl.  There was no reason to put food into my belly that tasted as bad as the meat of humans did.  She came closer, but not close enough for me to spring.  I would not risk an attack unless I was sure that I could pull it off in one jump.  If she had time to use her magic, I was done for, and I knew it.

“Grandmother!  What big eyes you have.”

I smiled.  How I did hate evil witches!  It would be good to rid the world of yet another one.

“The better to see you with, my dear.”

She came yet another step closer.

“And Grandmother!  What big ears you have!”

My smile grew wider.

“Oh the better to hear your sweet voice, my dear child!”

She came two steps closer.  Those two steps brought her right up to the bed and just within my reach.

In that moment, my nose distracted me.  It told me that someone else was coming.  Why did they all have to come at once?  I just wanted to get out of  there, but people kept showing up!

“Grandmother!  What big teeth you have!  What ever did you do to yourself this time?”

The young witch’s eyes were now wide with fear.  I was glad of it.  She should be afraid.  After all, she’d surely made enough of her own kind very afraid before taking their lives.

“All the better to eat you with  my dear child,” I howled.  By that time it was no longer important to me to pretend to sound like the  froggish old witch.  I leapt at the girl who called herself Red Riding Hood just as the door to the small cottage burst open.  I tore open her throat as a shadow fell over the bed.  It seemed there would be no time for me to get away, I thought tiredly.  As soon as I was sure that the girl witch was dead, I turned to face a man whose heavy sharp killing instrument was coming right for me!  I did not have time to move.  The blow came, and the pain was the last thing I knew.

When I woke, the sharp pointed face of the red fox who had told  me what he knew of witches was the first thing I saw.  The first thing I felt was a painful tugging at the skin of my belly.

“Why did you go and eat her,” the fox demanded.

Before my groggy mind could form an answer, he was speaking once more.

“My friend had to knock you out so he could split your belly open and get her out of you.  If not, you’d never have gotten rid of the curse.”

The knowledge that my belly had just been split open cleared my head quite quickly.

“What,” I yelped.

“Why?”

The fox shook his head and sighed.

“What ever got into you to make you eat the witch?”

As usual, he did not give me time to answer before going on.  I wished he’d stop asking questions if he did not wish to know the answers.

“That brilliant idea just ensured that the curse would never be broken.  You’d taken her magic into yourself, you see.  To be rid of a curse or dark spell, you must be fully rid of the magic that caused it.  When the witch dies, that problem is usually solved for anyone who was so cursed.  That is, of course, as long as the silly fool doesn’t decide to eat her.  Your doing so just kept her magic within you.  Therefore the spell could not be broken.”

I took a moment to process all that before speaking.

“So I’m free now?”

The fox nodded gravely.

“Thanks to my wizard friend there.”

He nodded in the direction of my belly.

“Don’t look now,” he advised dryly.

“He’s still stitching you up.”

“How,” I asked dumbly.

“With something called a needle.”

I gave an exasperated sigh.

“No!  How did you know I’d need help?”

“I have dreams in which I’m shown things that shall be,” the fox said mysteriously.

“And the man wizard,” I asked.

The fox shook his head.

“He doesn’t have dreams.  He needs me to tell him what is going to happen.”

The smug tone in which he spoke made me sigh and roll my eyes.  My belly hurt a bit, and I didn’t have the strength to try to fully understand what he was saying.  Dreams that told of what was to come sounded much too strange for me to get my tired mind around just then.

“You know…”

The fox’s thoughtful stare filled me with apprehension.

“What,” I growled.

I didn’t at all like the thoughtful way he was looking at me.  I’d had about enough for one day.

He snickered.

“It is only that you look quite silly in that old witch’s night-dress!”

Goddess in the Grove

November, 2008

Samhain

The clouds gathered overhead, the full moon shone like a beacon on the brisk fall night. Cloaked figures gathered around a circle….a medicine wheel garden. Everyone wore a black cloak…everyone except the High Priestess, she wore a dark green cloak of the softest velveteen. Her features obscured by the drapes of the hood, she raised her arms to the heavens and called out to the Goddess she loved.

The rest of the coven followed suit, raising their arms as if to gently lift down a sacred and treasured object from overhead. Their voices joined the high priestess’s in praise and reverence. Candles flickered and the winds inside the circle calmed to almost nothing, while the weather outside changed none.

The light from the moon shone on the upturned faces of the night flowers, making them shine and glow with an eerie yet beautiful essence. Off in the distance you could hear the faint howl of a coyote….and the hoot of an owl. Animals of the woods gathered just outside of the circle’s reach, lending their own magick to the sacred ceremony taking place.

Just down the main path from the garden stood a small, church-type building. Once a house, it was made into a sanctuary for the coven, with a house off to the side for the high priestess and her pets. She had a producing garden of fruits, vegetables and herbs just outside her backdoor. Known by the coven as not only the high priestess but a healer and shaman, she made her own poultices, salves, lotions, soaps and so forth.

Tonight, on the night of the full moon, was the Samhain ceremony. Typically known to most others as Halloween, this was one of the most sacred of holidays observed by this coven and others around the world. A day to honor those who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge and to make the veil between the two worlds thin, the coven had much to honor and be thankful for.

After the circle ceremony was over, the group gathered at long tables inside the small sanctuary and feasted on dishes prepared by the coven members earlier in the day. Places were set for those who were feasting from a different world, honored and never forgotten.

wafted in from the other room, sometimes some good old fashioned rock and roll, sometimes newer, more modern pagan rock or quieter, calmer instrumental music played. The people were full of food, good memories and magickal energies. Each shared a story about one of the places that they had set at the table, bringing the spirit of that person to live for those in the room.

Children played and those who knew and understand the ways of the coven were able to take part in the ceremony outside earlier. After all was done, the children dressed up in their finest Halloween attire and traipsed off to go plunder the houses nearby for some sweet Halloween treats.

Watching from her lofty perch on the Moon, the Goddess smiled as she took the hand of her consort, the God. Her children were many in number, even if they were not close by to one another. Yet their energies kept them in touch, even if by the merest threads of magick. One day, their children would be great in number, spreading the word of the Goddess and God all over the world, so that everyone may hear and listen to the wisdom of the ages….Harm ye none, do as ye will!! So Mote It Be!!!

Crystal Song, Chapter 4

November, 2008

Chapter 4

She floated on a sea of warmth. Sai felt warm and connected to the life matrix. The worry she still felt because of the change in vibrations was not put to rest. She explored the inner matrix and asked repeatedly for the reason why wht matrix was changing. But the matrix had no answer. It was more concerned with replacing the energy she expended in healing the root cavern. It was hours later, after she had been restored, Sai emerged from the matrix.

A soft wisper of movement brought Radmier to full attention. The girl he had followed into the cavern stired and woke from the embrace of the matrix. He stood and moved to kneel by her side. “You are very lucky green singer.” He stated flatly. The line of his mouth when she tried to move away from him flattened. “Do not move just yet. The matrix has yet to release you fully.” He placed a restraining hand on her shoulder. “Do you know what happen or what you have accomplished?” he asked of her. There was a gruff awe in his voice. When she only watched him warily he stood and moved a bit away.

After he moved away, Sai calmed enough to allow the matrix to release her without struggling. The question he had asked her upon waking still puzzled her. Her lips were dry and her throat felt sore. She had done only as she was led to do. “I did what was needed.” She answered simply.

Randmier quirked an eyebrow and ran his hand though his hair. He realized that she really didnt understand the importance of what she had accomplished. He watched as she emerged fully from the matrix. “Are you strong enough to walk?” he asked her.

Upon his aking, Sai tried to rise. As soon as she got to her feet, her knees wobbled and she plopped back down with a startled look on her face.

Randmier approached her and knelt. A look of concern briefly crossed his face and then vanished. He wrapped her tightly into her cloak and picked her up. He held her tightly as if she weighed no more then a live fragment.

Randmier made his way out of the root cavern carring his light burden. He was as agile as a ghost cat on the slippery deadstone. Sai looked up at the man who carried her. She could see the determination on his face. She didnt know who this man was but she knew what he was. If was said that the guardians of the towers rarely left them. Thier sole purpose was to guard the chosen and see to t hier needs and welfare. They were also said to have greater gifts than the chosen but on a different level. Thier gifts were all force related. The chosen, howerver, had gifts relating to the matrix itself. All of her race were very gifted. The gifts, however were varied and held separate abilities and tasks that could be accomplished with them. It was how someone became classed.

Guardians could be deadly if needed. But to Sai’s rememberance of the histories, there had not been a necessity for that kind of force in over a hundred turns of the yearly sun.

The last time force had been needed was the time of the organization of the towers. The time when it was determined that the towers should be formed to better control the life matrix and also to join the crystal form with the gifted. It made the people more powerful in controling thier own dstiny. There had been a huge war that broke out between each side. The guardians split down each side. Many had died.

It was the opposing side’s view that too much manipulation of the life matrix would do more harm then good and that they should continue as they had been. It had not been until the tower war that the classes had been formed.

Green singers had the affinity for growing things. They sang into the matrix to continue the plant life and even in some instances Aricanite life as well.

Blue singers had the affinity for the waters and everything within them.

Brown singers delt with Aricania proper. Everything that was connected to the planet proper, stones.. etc. They mostly delt with the minerals and deadstone, however.

Yellow singers sang within the air itself. Thier’s was the power of storms and wind.

The Crystal singers communicated iwth the Crystal Form itself. In them everyone learned all about the history of Aricania. How it was formed and even the histories of the universe itself.

Caught within her reverie, Sai didnt notice thier destination until they were within the main complex. The energy heere was more focused than in any part of the planet. It was said that the tower grew out of the center of the planet itself. That the first singers had found a root cavern that originated in the center of the planet and had sang the mother crystal to complete the inner tower.

As they enetered, Sai caught her breath. Immediately the mother crystal made contact with her. It transered information so quickly that her head began to swim. Randmier entered a small living chamber and placed her on the sleeping couch. “You will be able to gather your strength here before the chosen and the dignataries gather.” He said a bit gruffly as he turned to go.

“I am to be punished then?” Sai asked fearfully. The penality for going beyond your station could be very harsh. It involved the blocking of abilities. This scared her more than anything else.

Randmier almost did not comment but the fear in her tone stopped him. More than anything else he sensed they needed her and her fear would become a block to that end. He turned and knelt by the couch. ” I doubt very seriously that there will be any comprizals from your link today. We just have a few questions that need to be answered.” He gave her a reassuring look then left.

Randmier strod down the crystal halls of the complex. Much weighed on his mind. The whole collapse was not natural and he believed it was not a minor happenstance. There had to be more than they saw. This little green singer was the key. They had to have her cooperation. He ment to assure that it would not be compromised.

He enetered the council chamber and was greeted byt the chosen who numbered seven as well as the council who also numbered seven.

The seven council members wore robes of deep purple and were all male. They were the representives of the ruling classes of all the districts of the plante.

The chosen were all female and wore robes of irridesent white. It was then that randmier noticed something.

The Song of Medusa

November, 2008

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From THE DIARY OF ANA  D’MITRIEV

May 1, 1993

Sumner’s a good sort, underneath that persona.  He knows his job, even if he does seem as dense as a granite slab sometimes.

I seem to be the envy of my department, if the letters I get from some of the other grad students is any indication.  Even Sandy, who’s off to warm, tropical Belize to work on a Mayan excavation, writes that she’s envious.

“Travel to strange, foreign places, meet fascinating exotic people, dine on spice and intrigue – become an archaeologist”.  Right, if a can of cold beans as an alternative to lard soup is spicy, and being leered at by a pudgy bureaucrat whose eye level never seems to ascend beyond my chest is exotic.  Not to mention the sensual highlight of my day:  dry socks.

Bulgaria in the spring, or any other season for that matter, is not my idea of the Coconut Isles.  Not that I expected it to be.

Still, although I might be willing to commit a felony for a cheeseburger right about now, I cannot say I’m unhappy.  My own Slavic roots aside, there is something about this place that feels like home.  Not home in a folksy, comfy way (“Ya’all come on in and sit a spell”), but “home” in a much deeper, more mysterious sense.  The people here are taciturn, resigned, pragmatic – neither welcoming nor rejecting, simply preoccupied with a hard life.  I simply appreciate them, their humility, their sparse pleasures, and their ability to endure above all.

But it’s not really this culture that calls to me, that pulls at me from some corner of my psyche I can’t put a finger on.  Perhaps it’s the land itself, the rock beneath my feet, the river murmuring in the distance, the sandy soil – the roots of the place, the roots I can sense, but can’t touch.  The place hums, it’s almost like a song that’s familiar, and yet you can’t place it.

*****

May Day in Eastern Europe.

There’s a power here, an energy, a presence…..oh, I don’t know what to call it.   I certainly couldn’t tell Sumner about it, because it’s purely subjective, bordering on what he’d call mystical “brou ha ha”.

I’ll never forget the time Sam brought up the subject of dowsing as an aid to archeology.  Poor guy.

*****

May 5, 1993

This damn rain just won’t quit, which is setting us back considerably.  I spend my days in a moldy tent sorting potshards and examining what citizens of the site had for lunch during the Bronze Age.  The Prof is becoming more irritable than usual, patience (with people, anyway) not being one of his high points.

Or tact, for that matter.  Yesterday he nearly eviscerated poor Hanchrow for bringing a ghetto blaster on site, and disturbing his concentration.  Admittedly, Hanchrow’s taste in music is obscure, to say the least.

After the Prof left, I felt like giving him a hanky and a cookie, if I’d had any.   Fortunately, Hanchrow is generally lost in his own little dream world, and quite a lot of abuse seems to just roll over him like water.  A half hour later he was tapping out tribal-like rhythms at the specimen table, loosely based upon the falling rain, flowing along to his own peculiar music.  I actually found myself humming along, and for a while we had a nice harmony going.  Me, Hanchrow, and the rain; I think we just reinvented Bulgarian trance music.

Dr. Sumner is what I would call a one-pointed person; it’s not that he is uncaring, it’s just that there isn’t much room for anything that gets in the way of his work.  He’s like a coal miner; when he’s on a dig, his brain is like a torch that blazes straight forward into the tunnel he’s exploring, and everything else is just peripheral darkness.

For me, I suppose, the darkness is never just peripheral.

*****

May 10, 1993

Things move along in the usual sodden fashion.  Nothing of record breaking significance to report, except that Hanchrow and I continue to sort our potshards in the rain.  Occasionally I take walks through the countryside.

Sofia introduced me to Slivova, a plum brandy I’ve begun to acquire a taste for.  Sofia carries it with her in a small flask hidden under her vest…..Apparently women need to be, for appearances sake, more discrete about their Slivova than men.  She calls it her “foot warmer”.  So it is, let me tell you.

I have not been consistent with recording my dreams lately, a discipline I promised myself I would continue.  What was it Shannon used to say in her classes…?”

    • Poetry

  • is the dream made visible”?

    If so, these are nursery rhymes.  I note that last night I dreamed about a quart of Haagan Daz Pecan Praline ice cream (or was that a waking dream?), I dreamed about an erotic encounter with Adam Shepard, and I dreamed I was walking along the cliffs by the Maritsa and began to notice that there were rock paintings and petroglyphs, layers of them, embedded in the rocks.  Some of them reminded me of petroplyphs I’ve seen in the Southwest, Anasazi perhaps, others seemed Pictish.  A great many of them seemed to be serpentines.

    The first two dreams are rather obvious wish fulfillment.  Clearly ice cream is not the only pleasurable thing missing from my life.

    The last dream is a little more obscure.  I went for a walk along the river a few days ago, an hour or so before sunset, when the shadows are long.  I remember observing the patterns the water had left in the sand on the bank, and thinking them serpentine.  According to the Chinese, “Chi” is the energy of life, and it moves across the Earth like a serpent or a dragon, so when you see the wavy, serpentine shapes in water when wind moves across it, or the patterns water leaves in the sand, you are seeing “Chi” made visible.

    They call it “dragon tracks”.

    Dragon tracks….nice concept.  Perhaps my “petroglyph dream” had to do with my walk?

    Maybe it’s more literal…I cannot help but childishly wish it required less patience, less possibility of disappointment.  Just once, how about a few ancient markers, signs, to make it easier; like an archaic green arrow pointing the way, or an ancient X for “X” marks the spot, dig here!
    Right.  Wasn’t that a movie?

    This book can be purchased through Infinity Press  http://www.infinitypublishing.com/

    THE SONG OF MEDUSA

    October, 2008

    short-stories-the-song-of-medusa

    PREFACE
    And perhaps a tree
    standing in the forest
    fills its leaves
    with the breath
    of the World
    and we listen
    and we are not alone.
    — THE BOOK OF GAIA
    (Vezhna MS 2379, trans. w/comm.
    Anastasia D’Mitriev, 1999)

    For the general reader, we hope that this document, fragmentary though it may be, will provide a more human understanding of two figures who are already passing into legend, although they themselves might not have wanted it so.
    Clearly, neither Anastasia D’Mitriev, “Ana” to her many admirers, nor Jason Sumner, would have considered themselves intrinsically remarkable.  Throughout their careers, both avoided publicity insofar as it was possible.  Certainly, their long struggle to decode the Vezhna Manuscript, to publish their extraordinary findings, and to gain credibility, was a heroic task.   A task that has contributed  not only to archeology, but also to an emerging paradigm with far-reaching implications for the future.   The tragic automobile accident that took both their lives was a great loss; and yet, we believe they would be pleased with the world-wide blossoming today of the seeds they planted before leaving this world.
    What we offer herein is a collection of materials compiled from the autobiography of Jason Sumner, excerpts from the personal diaries of Ana D’Mitriev, commentaries by other individuals who participated in the project during its inception, and a variety of related materials.  And most importantly, we include excerpts from their translation of the  Vezhna manuscripts, which have been widely published for the past ten years  as The Book of Gaia.
    The editors wish to thank Leial D’Mitriev, and members of the Community of Origins, who made available to us excerpts from the unpublished Diaries of Ana D’Mitriev.  Without their cooperation  and archives this publication would never have been made possible.
    Susan Ashley & Mark Delaney
    Harvard University, Cambridge, 2023
    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

    LABYRINTH

    And so it was
    that Life became complex.
    THE BOOK OF GAIA

    From THE SONG OF MEDUSA – An Autobiography of Jason Sumner
    Edited by Sandra Herdez
    Pub. Harper Collins New York,  2011
    Bulgaria can be confusing to an American.  The body language, for instance.  They shake their heads to mean “yes” and nod them for “no”.
    The place looks very much like most Americans would expect a Balkan country to look – sort of a cross between Mexico and Hollywood’s idea of middle Europe. You expect the food and drink to be sharp, but instead it’s all loaded with sugar.
    There are a lot of bad teeth in Bulgaria.
    The new Bulgarian government was, naturally, highly suspicious of Americans.  To the common people, all foreigners were the same, treated with an offhand, almost distant, hospitality.
    I asked Georgi about this once.
    “You are not Bulgar”, he said, “So of course you are a bit mad.  It’s okay, we understand.”
    Vezhna was no longer expected to yield spectacular finds.  A shepherd had found shards of pottery at the mouth of a small animal’s den, and they proved to be quite ancient – almost five thousand years old.  Initially, this stirred up a great deal of excitement.
    In the 1970’s, one of the world’s oldest treasures of gold objects was excavated in several  Neolithic gravesites near Varna, on the Black Sea coast.   The handiwork of precursors to the marvelous goldsmiths of ancient Thrace,  the find was quite extraordinary.  The Bulgarian government, hoping for another Varna at the Vezhna site, put together an archeological team made up of their own best people, and  scientists from several other countries, myself included.
    Within a  month, the site seemed to be tapped out. It appeared to be a small settlement,  yielding only a few late Bronze age implements, ancient mementoes of any number of nomadic encampments that had passed that way, and bits of pottery.   By the end of the second month, the “international team” consisted of myself, my graduate students, D’Mtriev and Hanchrow, a Bulgarian archeologist who was away at his lab in Sophia most of the time, and his graduate student, Geogi.
    It was a soggy Spring in Vezhna, and I was beginning to wonder why the hell  I was still here.
    Vezhna can hardly be called a town; I suppose it came close to being a good sized village in earlier days, but, like much of rural Bulgaria, in the last 30 years or so it’s lost most of its youthful population to the cities, and the village of Vezhna consists mainly of older folks now.  Situated along the Maritsa River, with the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains at their aging backs, mist rolls down from steep, overgrazed pastures, which surround the hilly little village.  The red tile roofs and whitewashed houses are an agreeably bright contrast to the gray skies and muted greens of early spring.
    Scenic?  I suppose so.  Bells on goats and sheep clank as they’re led to pasture in the morning.  An old crone snaps firewood to cook her breakfast, windows hang with the ubiquitous red paprika peppers.  And alongside practically every house tobacco leaves are drying under tents of plastic.
    Bulgaria is one of the largest exporters of cigarettes in the world, particularly to the former Soviet Union.
    In fact, cigarettes are one of the few products that are not in short supply.  Bulgarians smoke so many Shipkas and BT’s that it’s a wonder any of them survive past
    30.  Unfortunately, I can’t stand Bulgarian tobacco.
    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
    EDITOR’S NOTES:
    The unpublished personal Diaries of Ana D’Mitriev, written on notebooks while she was in the field with Jason Sumner, are incomplete and fragmentary.  Since it is our hope to share in this document a brief, and even intimate look at the personalities of these two people and the processes that led them to later publish THE BOOK OF GAIA, we have selected entries from Ana’s diaries, which were so kindly given to us by her sister, Leial, almost at random.  We have done the same with excerpts from Jason Sumner’s autobiography, THE SONG OF MEDUSA, which was edited and published in 2011, shortly after his, and Ana’s, untimely deaths.

    This book can be purchased through Infinity Press  http://www.infinitypublishing.com/

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