Mist. She can’t see through the mist. She was walking alone through an unfamiliar woodlands when the mists came and upped the creep factor of the already creepy walk along the woods.
Where am I anyway?
She turned when a twig snapped somewhere behind her. Okay. relax. Just the woods sounding all…woodsy. She turned back to walk again when she heard the growl.
That is not woodsy.
Turning back, she saw shadows shifting. She watched in horror as something huge formed into shape. She first saw the eyes. Glowing red eyes. Then the glistening sharp fangs.
The wolf growled louder as it stalked toward her. She was paralyzed with fear. But she was mesmerized. I should run, she thought. But, as the wolf growled menacingly, she reached out her hand to the silver mark on its head.
The wolf lunged. Her body slammed painfully on the ground. Still, even as the wolf attacked her, she reached out and touched its head.
A bolt of fire came out of nowhere. The wolf howled in pain and burst into mist. As she started to lose consciousness, she heard a voice.
Your sisters need you. Come home.
Anna blinked, “A tri-what?”
“Triquetra. You mentioned the wolf had a mark on it’s head that looked like a knotted three-edged leaf with a circle in the center, right?”
“Yeah, I guess. What does it mean?”
“I was so afraid of this.”
“Your sisters need you. You have to go home.”
Anna stared at Aurora. She has been the steadiest force in Anna’s life and it alarmed her to see the small, bubbly woman visibly shaken. “Mom. What sisters? What home?”
Aurora closed her eyes. My baby. Why my baby? So many generations have already passed, why now when it’s Anna?
“Mom?” Anna whispered, watching her mother.
Aurora opened her eyes. “There’s something I need to show you, Anna. Come with me.”
Anna let out an irritated huff as the fire fizzled.
The fire rose. Then fizzled.
Aurora smiled. “I’m sorry, baby.”
“Fire is not my element, I think we’ve already established that.”
“Well, it is very useful. Why don’t you go take a break?”
“Okay.” Anna gave Aurora a hug before heading out to the garden. She had always thought her mother’s garden a fairytale; a jumble of different flowers seemingly haphazardly thrown together. At the very center, where a wooden bench rested under a foxglove tree, is where she spent her afternoons as a child.
Sitting there now, surrounded by what her mother and the earth has created, Anna closed her eyes and remembered that morning a fortnight ago, when her mother insisted she come up to the attic.
The attic has always been a puzzle for Anna. From the outside, it looked large enough for a room. Inside, though, it it was only large enough to hold several boxes of old clothes and knick-knacks.
Or so she thought before Aurora dragged her up there after she told her about her dream.
Standing in front of the closet door, careful not to fall off the narrow floor separating the door from the stairs, Anna looked at the boxes and wondered why Aurora was looking at her with a mixture of excitement and worry.
“Uhm, mom?” Anna had said. “What are we doing here?”
Aurora looked around, rolled her eyes. “Sorry, baby. Here.” Then, with a wave of her hand, changed Anna’s life forever.
The door, the wall, the boxes all faded away and a large room gradually appeared in front of Anna’s startled eyes. Row upon row of books hugged two walls. A large mirror took up half of one wall, the other half of which is covered by a display case filled with jars of leaves and crystals of varying sizes and colors. Near the door stood a table groaning under the weight of more ancient books, a large bowl, a sickle, and a scythe.
But Anna was drawn to the center of the room where a large triquetra is burned on the wooden floor. Directly above it was a round skylight and the slanted ceiling was nothing more than clear glass.
“It’s to make sure that the moon always lights the rituals.” Aurora said.
“You practice Wicca?”
Aurora smiled, “of course, I do.”
“Why is there an ‘of course.’ How is there an ‘of course’ when I asked you if you’re practicing Wicca?” Anna asked.
“Well, because I’m a witch.” Aurora said. “And so are you, baby.”
Yeah, mom. Thanks for telling me that way, Anna thought now. She thought now of how she had chuckled at her mother’s animated explanations of birthrights and legacies. Of how she conveniently forgot the sudden appearance of the attic and all it contained. Of how she reasoned to her mother that witches are stuff for fiction and that Wicca is a hoax.
Then she thought of her shock when Aurora, impatient at her disbelief, held out her palm and conjured a floating ball of water on her palm.
“Are you okay, darling?”
Anna shook out of her musings as she watched her mother walking toward her. Aurora was carrying one of the books from the attic. She scooted over and, when Aurora sat beside her on the bench, laid her head on her mother’s shoulder.
“Yeah. Just thinking.”
They sat quietly for a moment. Then Anna asked what she had wanted to ask since it all began. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you keep it hidden?”
Aurora sighed. “You do the oddest things to protect those you love, more so if those people come from you.” She brushed Anna’s hair back. “I never told you the story about the Four Sisters of the Blood Moon, right?”
“That sounds downright creepy, mom.”
“I know,” Aurora chuckled. “It is, a bit, which is why I never told you about it. But I’m going to tell you about it now. Which is why I brought this book. Everything is all here.”
“You’re going to read all that out loud?” Anna chuckled as she watched her petite mother struggling to balance the large book.
“Not all of it, smartass.” Aurora flipped the book open. “Just this one part that would make a couple of things clear. The rest, you must read on your own.”
Aurora settled in her seat and started to read. As her mother talked, Anna could easily picture it in her mind.
She stood on the edge of the cliff, unmindful of waves crashing and breaking on the rocks below. Heart filled with grief, she clutched the journal to her chest.
Preserve the legacy. Protect what comes after.
That was her duty. She’d known since she was a little girl. But, by the goddess, it hurts. She hadn’t known just how much until she watched her sisters fall one by one. Until she had to recount how each of her sisters tried to vanquish the evil that threatened their island.
All that is left is her. Her sister’s vision told her that if she succeeds, she will still be all that’s left of the four women born when the same blood moon rode the sky. But the island and everything on it will be saved. If she fails, the island is lost.
She does not know which she fears more.
Preserve the legacy. Protect what comes after.
Forgive me, sisters.
Looking back, she watched her daughter walk toward her. Lovely, fiery Kaiea with her long black hair and glistening tanned skin. She patted the ground beside her and waited until her daughter had settled.
“Kaiea, do you trust me?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Then take this.” She handed the journal to her daughter. “And leave.”
Startled, Kaiea dropped the journal back in her mother’s hands. “Leave?”
“I have talked to Etera. Before the sun sets today, you must go with him. He know where to take you. Bring this journal,” she took her daughter’s hands and closed them tightly on the book, “and provisions you need for a day.”
“If tomorrow the islands still stands, come back. If it doesn’t – ” she choked. Cleared her throat. “If there is no island to come back to, then you must live your life elsewhere.”
“Kaiea, listen, please,” she pleaded. “We do not have enough time.”
Taking a deep breath, she took her daughter’s face in her hands. Her beautiful daughter. “There is something that I must do. Pray that I succeed. But whether I succeed or fail, this is the last time we will be together, my daughter.”
“You are going after it.”
“I will stay and help.”
“No, Kaiea. Preserve the legacy. Protect what comes after. That is my duty – a duty that I now pass on to you.” She dropped one of her hands on top of the book. “This journal will tell you everything you need to know. Study it. Pass it on.”
“Is there no other way?”
“I am not as strong as my sisters. I fear I cannot vanquish it. But I can hold it.”
“Bind it to me. To the earth. If I fail, the burden of vanquishing it would fall on you. If I succeed, then the burden of arming what comes after would fall on you. Whatever happens, Kaiea, all I leave you are burdens. Forgive me, daughter.”
Kaiea took the book in one hand and her mother’s hand in the other. “Not burdens, mother. But duty of my birthright. You have always told me that certain duties are required of our birthright. I will do as you ask, mother. Not only because you ask, but because I am a daughter of a sister of the blood moon and it is now my duty.”
“She failed.” Anna said.
“No, she succeeded.” Aurora replied. “The island still stands. Kaiea returned and did as her mother asked. Thirty generations separate the sisters of the blood moon from you. She has been able bind it for that long and Kaiea has done as she promised.”
“Preserved the legacy.”
“And so have I.” Aurora said. “I was hoping that is all you have to do, too. Which is why I have not armed you as what is expected of me.”
Aurora sighed. “I was hoping that I could pass on my duty to preserve the legacy when you turn twenty-five. But it seems, my darling, that you are now called to protect what comes after.”
“And how, exactly, can I do that?”
“Go home. Your sisters need you.”