Merry Christmas 2017

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2017, it’s hard to believe you’re almost gone. Only a few days left to celebrate the holiday spirit, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Celebration isn’t a word I would use to describe the past few weeks. We didn’t get the tree up and decorated until a week before Christmas. And that little heart wreath we usually put on the door? It’s still in a box somewhere. The Elf must have felt sympathy for us, because it didn’t show up this year, either. Our kids are convinced he couldn’t find our new home because we moved.

Yeah. That’s what happened.

It’s not that we hate Christmas. We are just so so tired. Read more

Midnight Mercies

4th Day of Harvest Season, 342 Years After Mourning

Today marks the second day Brother Trinn and I walked among the families of the sick. He pressed a crisp sheet of baked wheat mixed with bark into eager hands, while I followed behind and offered sips of weak ale from a ladle. The refugees know what is happening. Imorgan’s desire to ration the food for the priests was never a secret. They are starving though, so they hide their wounds and cover their heads with scarves to shield prying eyes from the sweat on their brows, the flush of their cheeks, and most of all, the fever burning in their eyes. The tricks didn’t fool Brother Trinn. He yanked off their head coverings and examined each of them closely before giving them food. If he found evidence of the plague, he yelled for the guards to seize them. With clenched jaws and a rage boiling inside, I watched them drag the victims away.

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A New Beginning

2nd Day of Harvest Season, 342 Years After Mourning

When I heard the footsteps, I knew they didn’t belong to Hilla; her feet traveled a different path, one filled with the soft lift of the sun and hope. Two wardens took her place, shuffling down the damp, stone halls. Silently, they dragged me out of my cell and back into the world of men and elves. My first steps outside were trembling and I immediately lunged forward, my weakened eyes blinded by the brilliance of the morning. 

Grand Cardinal Imorgan waited for me in the courtyard, along with the assembled priests. Among the servants, a blue head scarf bobbed around and I felt certain Wohlrin waited with them, my eyes were too weak to confirm my suspicions. I wanted to cross over to them, the servants, the ones I knew I could trust, but she spoke first.  Read more

Answered and Unanswered Questions

1st Day of Harvest Season, 342 Years After Mourning

“Twin rowans guard the bend where the river turns east. Count off fourteen paces—nay, double that for your young legs—and you’ll find the overhang. If you don’t see it immediately, sweep away the vines. Sleep there. In the morning, follow the river east. Look for my marks on the birches.”

With my finger, I drew the symbol for her in the dust. A circle pierced by seven sets of half-arcs which meet in the middle. Our conversation turned after that. We talked of messages and I calmed her fears about the pigeon Wohlgrin smuggled to her. Hilla’s family ran a bakery. She could grind meal and churn butter. About birds, she knew next to nothing. She’d never been close enough to a pigeon to touch one. The girl is nothing if not brave. Her hands trembled when we spoke, but within the steady brown eyes I saw a depth of strength. You have chosen well, Sisters. You always do. Read more

Leavetaking

39th Day of Ripening Season, 342 years After Mourning

Overcome with a bittersweet spirit, I write these words knowing they might be my last for a time. The temple and the bells of forgiveness continue to chime and I fear I can no longer in good conscience delay the matter further. I had originally thought to delay my return until the girls could decipher messages. Unfortunately, neither of my students have progressed as far as I would have liked. Noreen, though she understands most of the words I write, continues to hide her tongue from other mortals and refuses to make a sound. Ivette, cannot stop speaking long enough to grasp the meanings of the words dancing before her eyes. Nevertheless, I must trust them and hope that together they can achieve what one alone cannot. Lessons in literacy, I’m afraid, bow to matters of the soul. Read more

Penance and Offerings

36th Day of Ripening Season, 342 years after Mourning

The larders are haunted. Spirits, they say, and wraiths! The children here do not need lessons on death; they are familiar with that journey. Nevertheless, I have reminded them of your promises, Sisters. We read the descriptions of paradise in the holy book. We recite the songs of your mercy nightly.  We begin the day with prayers. We toss the salt under our feet to tread into the floor and honor the life granted to us each day. We know the dead are welcomed to your bosom, or cast away into the netherworld. Through it all, I have tried to assuage the children’s fears, but my words falls on deaf ears. The nuts keep disappearing, leading Ivette and Ellison to conclude foul spirits are raiding the little food we have managed to store. This morning they have asked if I know of any traps to capture a wraith.
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The Future is a Lie

The 31st Day of Ripening Season, 342 years After Mourning

The superstitions are wrong; the whispered rumors false. The future awaiting us is a lie. Sisters, with your grace leading me, I have once again discerned the truth. The rancid claws of demons embedded deep within our flesh are nothing more than petty thieves. Hope, the gift you bestow upon us daily with the rising dawn, is no more fleeting than the stars in the evening sky. Hope is alive! My spirit rejoices within the chipped and dented walls of this abandoned farm. You have guided my steps here, Sisters, and with each room I enter, dust motes dance in the air like dreams of each of our possible futures awaiting capture. All I need do is bury the dead and reach beyond the lies. Read more

Sofie’s Plea

The 21st day of Ripening Season, 342 years After Mourning

When the snows melted and the days became longer, when we cast off our heavy winter cloaks and the heady smells of the first blossoms drifted in from the windows, we had twenty-four acolytes. In addition to the youngsters, we had ten priests, three priestesses and one Cardinal all roaming the halls and serving the people of Aramas.

Before the first victim arrived. The days are shortening now. Ripening season is halfway over, and we have three acolytes, four priests, one priestess and one Cardinal.  Read more