The Priestess

Posted: November 1, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , ,

"Soldevi Adnate" by Christopher RushAriana and I made our way through Sedlov’s forest. The trees twisted in shapes like tortured souls. Fingering branches clutched at my cloak. Black pits of shadow screamed their emptiness. Silver-eyed, face-painted Ariana seemed at home here. She floated through the forest more than walked. Sometimes I thought I caught her smiling at my fear.

We reached the sword stone by nightfall. The moon had risen, and a chill, clinging mist hugged the ground and the trees. It really did cling, too. I found myself plucking pieces of it off my sword and my lantern. “Wait,” Ariana said. She mumbled a few words and made hand gestures, then clapped her hands. A disembodied piece of burning something, like a coal, floated in the air. It stayed halfway between the two of us, and moved as we moved.

“Now the rest,” Ariana said. “This mist comes up from the ground, only in this forest, only at night. Some say that Sedlov enchanted the land to make it come up, but no one really knows. Cover your face with a scarf or rag, or it’ll clog your nose and mouth. You’ll suffocate, and your body will become food for the forest.”

I hadn’t heard about this one. “That’s why there are no animals here?”

She nodded. “Only the machines.”

Lovely. I’d forgotten about the machines. Spider-legged, whirling-bladed monstrosities that fueled themselves with blood. I sliced away part of my cloak and wrapped it around my face. Ariana’s face remained uncovered. “You don’t need to cover your mouth?”

“No.”

She breathed the mist without harm. Ariana watched me watching her, like a parent waiting to see if their child has a question. I wondered, not for the first time, if Ariana was more magic than woman.

The sword stone was driven through a man’s body, through a stone that the body was sprawled upon. The end of the blade came out of the rock and pierced the earth. I looked around at the ruined temple, now overgrown with plants and little more than a scattered rock pile. “It’s just like it said it was in the legend.” I walked over to the spot. “Whose body is that? How old is it?”

“The last one who tried to take the sword. The sword preserves it as warning to others who come to claim it, to let them know that it is an unwilling servant.”

“It speaks to you?”

“On occasion.”

I approached the sword. Moonlight shone through the gemstone in its pommel. It silvered the skin of the body impaled on the blade. The empty screams of the shadows grew quiet. I walked inside my nightmares now. I realized I had been doing so for a long time.

I remembered my benefactor. “Thank you, Ariana.”

She bowed her head.

I took off my gauntlets. I hesitated just before I wrapped my fingers around the grip. “Am I worthy?”

“The sword will judge you, not me.”

“Am I the one?” I demanded.

Ariana said nothing.

I faced my destiny, and seized the sword.

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