Rough draft of a possible contest entry. A search for power results in finding love.
|Almithea slipped away from the camp into the open forest glen. The rays of the setting sun gave the surrounding trees an almost magical light. She sat in the middle of the stone circle the elders had arranged for their ceremonies; those ceremonies that were forbidden to her; for she was not a pureblood. Her mother had fallen in love with an outsider, and it was only through the generosity of her mother’s tribe that her mother been allowed to return and raise her daughter. Looking at her reflection in the small pond within the circle of stones, she was grateful for her beauty. The dark eyes of her mother’s people looked up at her, and neither her complexion nor her luxurious long black hair betrayed her heritage. Her beauty was both a blessing and a curse; for there were those who were swayed by it, giving her tribal benefits that were not normally awarded a half-breed. They looked at her and saw a regal creature made of moonlight, a midnight temptress, too dangerous to try to capture, but too lovely to ignore. No, Almithea was not easily ignored. Those who were not enchanted by her, despised her. They made no secret of the hatred fueled by their jealousy. From childhood, Almithea had endured their abuses, their derision and now that she was a young woman of fifteen years, she lived under the constant fear of banishment. It would only take a minor infraction of tribal code and many would stand against her.
Her mother had cowed under the pressure, but Almithea refused the role of victim. She vowed to remain with the tribe and somehow gain stature and vindicate her mother, as well as herself. Who her father was, remained a mystery to her; a secret kept by a society of secrets. Her mother never spoke of him, though her love for him was as strong as ever, apparent in the silent reveries and frequent tears that fell when she was alone. Almithea’s heart broke for her mother, but more and more she found herself angry with the woman who gave up true love for the security of her tribal existence. Where was the fire that belonged to Gypsy women? She felt it run through her veins, even though they called her ? (not a true Gypsy) But though they would not acknowledge it, she had the “Gift”. In the beginning she had tried to share the first signs of her power, sure that this would convince them of her worth, and gain her acceptance into the tribe. But after being reprimanded for “blasphemy” and finding those she thought her friends standing with her accusers, she kept her visions and growing abilities to herself, nurturing them alone, where and when she could.
And this is what brought her to the Stone Circle as day gave into night. She had listened while she acted as servant to her “betters”. She memorized the spells, silently repeating them to herself as she went about her chores. This stolen knowledge taught her of the magic of certain places outside of camp; places of great power. Places where she could harness the magic that would bring her into the inner circle of the Gypsies. For growing into womanhood she craved not only acceptance by her tribe, but their servitude. So, in secret, she nurtured and practiced her gifts while wearing the disguise of a grateful, but not too bright servant girl. But there was no way to disguise her beauty, and it remained her greatest gift and her gravest curse.
As the first star appeared in the twilight, Almithea brought out the small satchel, from beneath her robe. Reaching down, she tore the hem of her dress and shook out the shiny leaves that she had gathered from the jars in the cabinets of the wagons she cleaned. None of the women she worked for thought enough of her to worry that she might help herself to their secret stash of herbs and potions. She smiled as she thought of how easily she deceived them and what a profitable and enjoyable disguise she had created.
Noticing the fading light, she became serious as she muttered the stolen words and started a forbidden fire adding the ingredients and practicing the art that would change her from servant to She Who Would Be Served.
She breathed in the rising fumes and let herself fall inside, beginning a journey through the most inner regions of her heart and soul. This was a necessary lesson in teaching her soul to leave its earthly shell and travel to realms know only to a few select humans and of course, to the Gods and Demons who inhabited them.
Slowly she followed her breath deeper and deeper into herself, feeling the world around her melt away until it eventually disappeared. She had achieved the first level and had to fight back the excitement and continue her journey in a peaceful and contemplative state. She was just beginning to see with her inner eye; when suddenly she was thrown back to the reality of the mortal world in a rush of emotions too countless to name.
Afraid to open her eyes, she sought to quiet the noise of her pounding heart. She could swear she heard voices muttering around her and her heart nearly ceased its beating as she envisioned the tribal women surrounding her, their accusing stares burning into her. Her mind created a thousand scenarios of punishment, the least of which involved being chased from the camp; banished, doomed to a solitary existence among the outsiders, who would have even less use for her than her own people. Unable to stand the suspense, she snapped her eyes open, steeling her face for their onslaught.
Only there was no one there. She furtively searched the darkness, scarcely breathing, and finally realized that she was alone. Throwing dirt upon the embers, muttering thanks to the deities of her beliefs, she set out to erase all traces of her trespass on this sacred place. Satisfied, she then prepared herself for the return to her servile position, for now.
Heading back towards camp, her mind went over and over the details of her failure to go beyone the first phase of her journey. She chided herself, when she realized it was her own fear that stopped her, blocked her pathway to the realms she so desired. Suddenly, more than that blocked her path, strong arms grabbed her and now it seemed that she'd best concentrate on this realm.
"And where are you coming from , my little sister?"It was Ramon, her cousin, one of the few who was not ashamed to admit to sharing bloodlines with her.
She shook free of him, "Gathering herbs in the moonlight. Poor servants like me, only do the bidding of our "betters", we do not question."
"Save that for the old hags! You and I both know you consider yourself above them, and rightly so." He buried his face in her hair, "If only we were not related, I would have you myself, so dont' try to tell me youhaven't been out here with someone"
"The men of this tribe, if you want to call them men, would only meet me under the cover of night. Until I find one who would walk with me in daylight, I will have notheing to do with them."
"They are fools", he put his arm protectively around her shoulders. "Someday, you will leave this place, if I must take you myself. You shall find a place where you are appreciated".
"I told you, I will not leave until I am ready. And when I do, they'd best pray I do not return." Her face hardened, her eyes seemed to glow with a momentary fire.
"Little sister, you frighten me, when you speak like this" he whispered reverently, for he had always sensed there was an awesome power that lay beneath those beautiful dark eyes.
She kissed his cheek lightly, long black lashes closed over those violet eyes, "You shall be one of very few who would rejoice at my return"
For now, Little Sister, we best return to camp, before we are found together in the night, and we cause the gossips to lose even more sleep over your escapades.