Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shadows Begin

Fiction Friday Prompt

Sketch out a character with wildly bad luck. Make it a character you like as we will use her again.

The two girls ran madly through the thick grass laughing out loud with delight as the butterflies and small birds fled from their safe havens skyward. Anoskas foot collected the only stone in the expansive field, sending her tumbling roughly to the ground. Her thin, exquisitely embroidered blouse tore easily on the only thorny bush in the area.

“Are you alright?” puffed Gemma, running her hand over Anoskas bleeding shoulder.

“Nothing out of the usual.” Grimaced Anoska, unconsciously rubbing the mud on her face and hands further through her hair and neck. She was no beauty; her face, knees and hands bore the battlescars of similar accidents.

“Come on, we need to get back to the village. The Sisters are setting up the Red Tent on the common. Have you… Um.. are you coming?”

Anoska flushed angrily, a stab of jealousy piercing her heart. The Sisterhoods Red Tent – held once per Fourseason; was usually a somber affair where emerging women were initiated into the moon energies after their first bleed. If a Seith Seeker had forseen a lucky birth, a Senior always attended the Red Tent celebrations in the subsequent years, hoping to see the flush of potential in the ceremony. Birth Luck did not guarantee entrance into the Sisterhood, simply highlighting prospective apprentices. The Red Tent tonight was especially auspicious as the Greater and Lesser Moons eclipsed mid evening, an event which happened only every 28 Fourseasons.

“ Of course I am coming. Do you think I am still a child?” Anoska replied angrily

“ Oh Anoska! I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you let me celebrate your first moon blood with you?” Gemma apologized.

“I know your mother follows the Ways strictly, but mine says that your moon blood can be a private affair and doesn’t need all the trappings and fanfare that has been demonstrated in the past.” Anoska easily wove truths and lies together, distracting the focus from her onto one of the villages privileged members.

Gemmas breath sucked in horrified, “Blasphemy! You can’t say that. Either way, we need to get back to dress up for tonight. I have a new gown!” Gemma held her hand out, assisting Anoska from the ground.

“Huh, its not like you wear it for long.” Anoska accepted the hand and brushed more dirt into her clothes.

The Lesser Moon was low on the horizon when Anoska had finished dressing. As she crept past the main room, she heard her mother speaking in low tones to one of the Villages Wise.

“Anoska has already left I am sorry. She has had her hopes up for this Celebration, but her blood has not yet come. She’s gone to watch anyway.”

“Nika, you know as well as I, she cannot enter the Red Tent this moon cycle.” The Wise said primly.

“Don’t lecture me, you forget who you speak with.” Nikas voice took on a commanding tone Anoska had never heard before.

“You knew your ill luck would be passed on and despite all warnings you mated in the worst season this lifetime. You need to start to take responsibility for this child who should never have been allowed to breathe.” snarled the Wise.

“What are you saying?” Nika hissed.

“She will not enter the Red Tent. Ever. Her ill luck and energy will disrupt the balance and cannot be allowed”. The Wise replied evenly, her dark eyes boring into Nikas.

“She’s just a child” Nika pleaded.

“Your weakness has allowed this to continue far beyond what is acceptable. This is the will of the Village.”

From her hiding spot, Anoska saw a glint of silver appear from the Wises voluminous cloak. A gasp of horror and a small whimper escaped Nikas perfect lips as the cruel, curved knife buried itself into her chest and tore downwards.

Anoskas lip bled from the force of her biting it to suppress a scream. Hot tears blurred her vision as she saw the Wise step over the slumped figure of her mother and silently disappear into the darkness.

Anoska ran and knelt beside her mothers bleeding body. Nikas eyes fluttered open. “Birth Luck is only a head start. The Oracle forsaw you were destined for greatness. You must make your own luck now.” The open wound in Nikas chest gushed with every heart beat. Small intestine pushed itself outward and began spilling onto the handwoven carpet and Nika ceased breathing.

Still blinded by tears, Anoska found her way to the Village Wise Halls. Most of the high ranking women and eldest daughters would be inside undertaking the ceremonies before the huge parade through the centre of the village and on to the commons where the Red Tent stood waiting. The magnificent residences and ceremony hall was still undergoing a major roofing restoration, with workers tools, barrels of pitch and carts of thatching in various levels of disarray.

Beautifully adorned cloaks and dresses folded neatly beside sandals and boots populated the shelving in the outer rooms. Anoska knew behind the thatched doors, the women were oiled and gleaming only thinly covered in gossamer cloaks, glorified in their nakedness, deep in religious fervor. She quietly locked the side door where the favoured chosen mates sat waiting to accompany the women to the parade. Anoska lowered the barrel of pitch onto the floor and allowed it to seep across the doorways. She silently, coldly checked each exit, blocking or locking it as she went., stuffing dry thatching into spaces and trickling warmed pitch over the top.

Anoska carefully lit her firebrands, throwing several onto the newly pitched rooftop. She then walked steadily around, lighting each doorway, every window and ensuring the overturned barrels of pitch were alight as they emptied evenly into the halls.

She withdrew into the shadows and waited. As the thick smoke rose and the cries turned into screams of terror, she whispered, “ The will of the Village.” She smiled. “Now no-one know of my birth luck, I can start anew.”

The flames and smoke alerted the men and other women not involved in the initial ceremonies. The Fireworks Team took the alarm as their signal to begin the parade and began to shoot their cannons high into the air. The pulsing lights exploded highlighting the devastation below. Shouts and screams intermingled with the smell of burning flesh, charred wood and pitch.

“Anoska!” Gemmas terrified eyes stared at her in disbelief; understanding at once what had happened.. She stood naked in front of Anoska, shaking from fear and cold. Born of great luck, she alone had escaped the trap of the hall.

“You would be best to forget this night. I have no name now.” Anoska stared her down coldly.

“How could you?” Gemmas incredulously cried.

“Everything falls into place for you. Everyone instantly likes you and you’ve looked down on me all your life. You have birth luck. You’ve never had to fight for anything. Its my turn to balance things out.” Anoska spat venomously.

A well aimed fist to Gemmas shocked face resulted in a crumbled figure in the dirt. Anoska turned and walked swiftly away from the shrieking inferno.

Cold and calm as the Greater Moon rose to meet the Lesser Moon high in the night sky,Anoska entered the outer sanctuary of the Red Tent. A hooded Sister demanded her name.

“Its Gemma.” She defiantly answered.

The curtains parted and a commanding figure slid into the sacred space. With the flick of a hand she dismissed the Sister. The Seith Seeker stared long into Anoskas eyes, her feline stare thrusting deep inside her head. Her lower face broke into a thin humorless smile. “Gemma is not here, we both know that. However, you’ve no need for any name now. Your apprenticeship as a Confider has begun.”


Anonymous said...

OOH I love this. The language is perfectly eerie and almost seductive. I especially like the last paragraph. The whole thing works to make the reader actually believe that something supernatural is in motion.