A Light in the Darkness
Dusk had fallen, and Laurene was finally able to shed her deep cloak and peel off her gloves. She could feel the intense burning pain along her right cheek and forearm, where her alabaster skin had been exposed for just a moment too long to the harsh sunlight of the spring afternoon. The trees here weren’t as thick as the black canopy of the ShadowWood, and rays of sunlight pierced the foliage like little streams of fire. She was running low on the clay cream she needed to protect her face, and had been forced to wear the gloves and hood all day; better the blisters from stiff leather than from the acid-like sunshine on her bare skin.
Serynah had looked so happy, standing in the sunshine and the breeze, that Laurene hadn’t had the heart to say anything about the small burns she had gotten today. The worst part of it was she herself loved the daytime—the vivid colors and fresh clean scents that rode the warm breezes. Sometimes she thought the price of her family’s magecraft inheritance was too high.
The four young women made camp in the deepening twilight, and after building a small fire for the party, Laurene sat down on a mossy log. Next to her, perched on a rock with her legs dangling just above the dirt, Serynah sat with her butterfly harp in her hands, and she began to play.
The music started softly, and Serynah added her sweet voice at just above a whisper. Slowly the volume of both harp and girl rose, and somehow she was able to blend the sounds of the instrument with her singing, weaving the two of them into a rich and vibrant tapestry of music.
Feather approached from where she had tethered their horses, and the short artist was actually quiet for once. Her normally sarcastic grin had been replaced by a smile of pure joy, and it made her plain face into something that was almost pretty.
The other girl, seated across the fire, still intrigued Laurene the most. As a Beacon-in-Training, Kahlessa should have been her mortal enemy. They were opposites in almost every way.
Kahlessa had ebony skin, stood almost three rods tall, and—as the future voice of a Goddess—was the embodiment of the Sisterhood of Light. Laurene, with her flaming red hair and pale skin, would have stood out next to her, even without the swirling tattoo covering the entire left side of her face. As a magewitch, she was usually shunned, and often feared, by those in the Sisterhood.
Somehow despite this, she and Kahlessa had become friends. In fact, that friendship was the only reason Laurene had decided to join this quest. Serynah was here with Laurene, but that was to be expected; the two had sworn a life-oath, vowing to stand together forever. Their union had even been blessed by the Goddess Freylonda, through the tall dark-skinned girl who now sat listening to the music floating on the evening air.
Still playing, Serynah leaned over, and quietly said “Show them, please?”
I hope you are right about this. Laurene pulled back her sleeves, wincing a little at Serynah’s expression when she uncovered the angry red welt that was just starting to fade. The younger girl played on though, and nodded; her excitement at the coming show apparently outweighed her desire to scold her partner.
The redheaded magewitch gathered and focused her thoughts, bit her lip drawing a small drop of blood, and uttered a single word under her breath. Using this combination of Will, Blood, and Word, she forged the spell she had been working on. It was mostly a gift for Serynah, and wasn’t much good as a weapon, but she needed to judge the other two girls’ reactions.
Without warning, her right hand burst forth in bright light, almost painful to look at. Swirls of prismatic light spun into small orbits around her hand as she lifted it high into the air, the firelight paling in comparison.
Then, in time to the music, small bits of dust and dirt gathered into spheres, and begin to swing around her hand—a miniature star with planets spinning as they circled.
The night grew darker around them, and stars came to life in Laurene’s hair and somehow deep within the tattoos that covered most of her face. She needn’t have worried about Feather and Kahlessa. They both sat, their expressions of rapt wonder and awe warming Laurene’s heart, and she knew Serynah had chosen correctly—their small band would be alright, even if Jazzlynn and Micah never returned from investigating the temple ruins.
© 2019 - Dusty Grein