Chapter 10

New Journey

Witch sisters were like vultures, devouring every bit of magic with no purpose or goal for their powers. For the sake of expediency, she abandoned most of her possessions and only packed three of her most valuable books of spells, two dresses, one red, one green, both so dark they appeared almost black, her deep blue-gray hooded cloak, food and water. Since she did not know where she was going or what kind of herbs would be available, she brought potions and seeds to start her own garden.

Tamerad had hand picked Lo Tite to mentor when she was first given, by her parents, to the temple as a child. She was a bright girl and if Hudtalo had asked Tamerad who she wanted for a daughter, she would have picked Lo Tite.

She was the only one Tamerad truly trusted to share her vision with.

Together, she and Lo Tite walked to the riverbank where Tamerad had left her mare, Whisp. To her surprise, Tamerad found herself a little heavy hearted.

“I will be leaving and I will not be returning,” Tamerad said.

“You will be missed,” Lo Tite said.

“As will you.” Tears threatened to cloud Tamerad’s resolve.

Lo Tite            placed a hand on her arm. “Our Goddess requires true sacrifice to receive her blessings. You have been given a great honor. Only that which is most precious to you is worthy of such an offering.”

“True, but it doesn’t make this any easier,” Tamerad said.

The fifteen-year-old girl smiled. She was brave. Another might have begged and pleaded. Lo Tite closed her eyes and lifted her head up to the sky, exposing her neck.

Tamerad closed her eyes and bowed her head. How could she do this? The vision had called. She needed Hudtalo’s blessings. If only there was another way. There wasn’t. When was ready, she opened her eyes, lifted her head and with one swipe of her knife slit Lo Tite’s throat.

Blood splattered on Tamerad’s dress, cloak and horse. She licked a spot of blood that landed on her cheek near her lips. She knelt by the girl and wept. She gently picked the girl up and lovingly placed her in the funeral boat filled with purple lilies, the flower of honor and devotion. She placed Lo Tite hands on her stomach and placed a red rose, devoid of stem and thorns, on top of her hands; Lo Tit would not be forgotten.

Tamerad waded into the river as she pulled the boat out with her. She lightly kissed Lo Tite on each cheek and on the forehead before she pushed the boat into the current.

Almost immediately, the boat burst into flames, a sign that Hudtalo had accepted the sacrifice. When Tamerad waded out of the water, her clothes were dry and clean of blood, a sigh of Hudtalo’s blessings. The blood soaked ground, showed no traces of blood, a sigh the journey was blessed.

Tamerad placed on foot in the stirrup and heaved herself up onto the saddle and arranged her skits. She spoke a calming spell over her mare, Whisp, even though the horse was used to magical flight. Finally, Tamerad cleared her mind and concentrated on the magic that had called her name.

Tamerad might not know where the vision originated, but Wind did. Nothing could stop Wind from going where it willed. In its travels, Wind saw and knew everything, and with the proper spell, it would take her where she willed.

Carefully, she opened a pouch and poured zinc powder in her palm. Zinc was the Un-binder. It would make Tamerad and Whisp as light as a slip of paper. After closing the pouch and replacing it in her shoulder bag, she held her hand to her lips and blew the zinc into the breeze, and spoke in the ancient language of magic, “Whisp and I are as sand, carried by Wind.”

Instantly, Tamerad felt translucent. Whisp also acknowledged the change by lifting her head and neighing. If anyone had seen them, they would have shimmered like a mirage on a hot desert day.

To Wind, she said, “Take me to this new magic that calls to me.”

A gentle breeze slipped around them, enveloped them, and lifted them as easily as a leaf.

They moved up and over the forest towards the mountains. Wind carried them along hills and through valleys. Everything moved past them as if they were standing still and the scenes surrounding them were the mirage. Then to Tamerad’s surprise, Wind carried them over the Great Waters. She’d never seen anything like this before. The vastness took her breath. It was as if all land had been swallowed up.

Whisp didn’t like flying over the ocean. She neighed, bobbed her head up and down and side to side. Three times, Tamerad repeated the calming spell. After many hours, they sighted land, the mare stamped her hoofs at the air, refused to be calmed, and threatened to buck. It was not natural for a horse to fly. She was not a bird or a dragon born to flight. If Whisp became too agitated, they might become solid and fall from the sky.

“Settle us on land,” Tamerad said. Wind obeyed.

As soon as the mare’s hoofs touched land, she took a few tentative steps as if to make sure the ground was real and calmed down. She might have continued walking, but Tamerad reined her to a stop. Whisp brought her head down to sniff at the hard surface and nibbled at the tender blades of grass tying to grow between slabs of rock.

Tamerad’s hazel eyes inspected the surrounding area. They stood on a hill overlooking the land. To her left, the mostly rocky terrain steeply dropped to the ocean behind her large waves beat against the cliffs, creating plumes of foam. A rainbow reflected in the spray.

To her right, ocean waters settled as it eased towards the mouth of a river, which formed a bay, a day’s walk around, some twenty miles. Tiny bits of crystal filtered throughout the tan sandy coast sparkled in the afternoon sun.

Beyond the sand was a city larger that any Tamerad had seen in her life. She’d heard of such cities, but had never imagined she’d ever see one. The city settled along the river emptied into the bay. There must be at least 5,000 people living there.

Women worked in groups among the rocks just where the fresh river water entered the salty bay water. They were washing clothes in the water and using the rocks to scrub their clothes clean.

Farther up the river, Tamerad saw two no three, bridges connecting the two halves of the city. She saw wagons leaving and entering the city. Large merchant ships lined up in the bay. Sailors rowed smaller boats to shore or out to the ships.

This city was busy.

It would be interesting to see what such a large city was like. But Magic had more pressing matters. Magic had called. She must answer.

On the west side of the river, in the center of that part of the city, dominating over the city, was a white palace, where the king of this kingdom lived. The different angles of walls produced different shades of shadows. Sunlight reflected off the armor soldiers standing guard on the palace roofs. The palace looked like a sparkling jewel.

There was no protective wall anywhere within or around the city. Evidently this king did not fear attack from land or sea.

Perhaps Tamerad was mistaken and the ships in the bay were not for trade, but were ships of war. But each ship flew a different flag. Maybe they were merchants. She didn’t know.

It mattered not to her

Beyond the city and palace rose jagged mountains. Dark green pine trees covered the slopes. The mountains near Tamerad’s village were round and short. These seemed to scrape the sky. Snow covered the tallest of the mountains.

“This land is indeed strange,” she thought.

Once again, she cleared her thoughts and with her mind she searched for that which had called to her. The magic of the land was weak; not from lack of strength, but from lack of use. There were only a handful of witches and wizards. This land was ready for one such as Tamerad to come and, like a mother training her children, nurture the growth of magic.

“Magic will flourish under my care,” Tamerad proudly declared. Once settled, she’d call to the witch sisters she most trusted to join her. She’d begin a new disciplined coven, one without the foolishness of wasted energy. Here her sister witches would not have to live in secret or in score as they do in the land they now reside. Here they will practice their magic in peace.

But that which she sought was neither in the city, nor in the mountains before her. It must be in the far side of the mountain range.

She considered calling Wind again, but Whisp neighed as if she’d heard Tamerad’s thoughts and objected. She leaned forward and patted the horse on the neck.

“Are you sure you don’t want to travel faster?”

The mare shook her head.

“It will take us longer, but we will walk if that is what you want.”

To the north of the city, a small wagon train moved toward a valley that cut through the mountain range, the valley where Tamerad wanted to go. But by the time she reached where the wagons were now, it would be night and the wagons would have reached the valley without her, and Tamerad would have missed traveling with them. Since she was unfamiliar to this land, traveling with others who could tell her about it would be invaluable.

She and Whisp stood on a rocky cliff with a slow and dangerous decent to the sand. Without the horse’s permission, Tamerad flew them down to the coast. The she urged Whisp forward and with one word of magic, they traveled like a horse moving fast enough to foam from mouth and body from sweat. Yet when they caught up with the wagon train, in less than an hour, Whisp would be fresh.

Thus, Tamerad began her journey with the hunger of a cat stalking her prey.

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Published in: on June 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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