Goddesses of the Twelve Realms…The Prologue
The centennial gathering neared. Goddesses from every realm were set to gather in three lunar cycles’ time. It has been a millennium since a new queen was sent through the trials to take her place among the circle. Never has there been a goddess to rule this re-birthed realm; Celeste, the obsidian queen, was chosen unanimously to preside.
The Supreme Goddess had arranged the lunar cycle long trial to separate those that merely sought power and prestige. Ruling over a realm required diligence, strength, and moral character; otherwise the realm would perish and chaos would disrupt the balance.
The Realm of the Silver Eclipse was created after the goddess Freya was deceived and destroyed. Once a goddess perishes, the realm perishes as well. The circle was bound by universal laws of nature and was forbidden to intervene. The remaining goddesses were forced to observe the slow death of that realm. Their mourning would carry on until the universe saw fit to create a new one.
Gaia walked among the fields of fire and changed the obstacles and terrain for the newest champion. The trials she set forth would challenge the mind, the soul, and the spirit. Physical challenges proved to be futile since every goddess possessed healing powers and Gaia removed them eleven millennia ago. She reigned in the Realm of Eternal Elysium where waterfalls fell from clouds and tiny sprites inhabited the skies. The gathering took place here as well, Gaia was forbidden to visit the lesser realms lest she would lose her supreme title and a lesser goddess could vie for it.
“My Mistress, we have received word from all the goddesses and their silver chalices are being collected as we speak.” The cherub announced as he bowed.
“Very well, Bardwinian.” She waved her hand and he vanished into the clouds.
As was customary, the goddesses gathered one lunar cycle early to discuss the states of their realms. Occasionally there are uprisings within the realms and unrest among the queens who rule over their lands respectively. Things were calm in the present time.
The goddesses bathed themselves under the waterfalls and began the ritual cleansing for the gathering. Gaia spoke her blessing over them and bestowed her gift of eternal life. Her admonishments cascaded form her lips in drops of gold that lighted upon the crowns of their heads. This golden glow would remain until they return to their separate realms.
Celeste was kept in a separate space, away from the others until she succeeded in passing the trials. Gaia would come to her once, and once only before then. Cherubs attended to her needs while she stayed in meditation. Gaia put her in a trance like state and clothed her in a white sheath with gold cords wrapped around her waist and her arms. A pile lay nearby of a helmet, shield, and sandals for when she began her trials.
Gaia appeared to her in the trance. “It is time.”
A soft glow from the candles emanated throughout the sanctuary. A midnight vigil on the eve of the New Year was her legacy that she had passed on to her daughter, thus it was passed down through the generations. Serenity wore the veil that had belonged to her ancestor that had started it all and whom she was named after. Three hundred years or so and she was the first to bear her name in all those generations. It placed a heavier burden on her in ways to be able to live up to her name and her legacy.
She bore a resemblance as well, with the exception of hazel colored eyes. The first Serenity had those rare grey eyes that have never been passed down her lineage. Some of the cousins claim it is because she had cast a spell upon herself and kept it a secret. Some even claim they were more of a lavender, since some of the paintings she is depicted in carry a hue of grey that had a little more of a purple hue. It is a truth unknown and untold that she took to her eternal rest.
Serenity knelt in the center of the sanctuary. It was a barren room most of the year, save for the eve of the New Year’s birth and upon the passing of the sacramental veil to the next generation or upon demise of the current enchantress. If a battle of covens were to occur, this is the neutral arena to which either a calm truce is agreed upon, or blood will be spilled and the surviving coven will be deemed as the new enchantment faction that shall hold the vigils. There had not been such a battle since two hundred years earlier when there was a divide in the family and loyalties were tested. It was Serenity’s dying breath that unified the splitting coven, essentially cursing them to be bound together and forced to live in harmony. As the memory and the fear of the curse began to fade with time, the unified coven had split several times over.
There were now twelve covens and they had remained civil to each other. A truce and a treaty was arranged five generations ago to prevent curses and deaths on all sides. Each generation brings a power craved enchantress that threatens the balance of peace and power. She is to be brought before the current vigil holder to be bound, banished, or branded. Binding is fairly easy and for the weaker minded. Banishment is for those who still would cause non-malicious harm but still would cause discord.
Branding is for those that have let the darkness takeover their souls and there is no chance at redemption. Their punishment is a branding on their forehead, right arm, and right hip and they become a servant to the coven to which the vigil holder belongs. It is the most severe of actions since they are cursed as a sleepwalker. Unlike a zombie, a sleepwalker is fully aware of their plight. They never sleep and their thoughts and feelings are locked away behind a spell of permanent silence. Once the curse has been set, there is nothing that can be done to undo it. It must be administered by the each coven leaders to avoid misuse and undue torture.
Serenity meditated upon the symbolic mark of the coven and blessed each enchantress the hour before the New Year would arrive. She was free to roam about the sanctuary to eat and bathe as she desired until the hour before midnight and the hour after. The previous hour was spent blessing the covens and offering burnt sacrifices of herbs and flowers to the ancestors. The latter hour was spent binding all evil that could enter in and cause chaos. Any deviation in the process would result in death and despair among all the covens. It rested on Serenity to fulfill her purpose.
The enchantress chosen to hold the vigil would hold it for a duration of twelve years and the girls would become eligible on their 18th birthday if they were in alignment with the 12 year cycle. Serenity was in her fifth year and every year her vigil had been successful. Once her time was done, she would become the new head of her coven. Very rarely did anyone hold the head enchantress position for more than fifteen years, but there were exceptions on occasion.
She finished up her blessings and lit the other candles for the binding part. A candle was never to have been previously used and was never used again. To do so would release the evil back into the world and undo every blessing ever uttered. There were vigil maidens who would take care of them in a separate ritual as the chosen enchantress would be required to rest for twelve days into the New Year. This ritual would make her weak and vulnerable to all enemies. She would be sequestered in a secret place and would be under the protection of the keepers, a team of men strong in their bodies and learned in the ways of the covens. They would seal the room spiritually and paranormally with symbols and spells.
The binding took more energy and focus than the blessing ritual. She centered herself through meditation before she began and asked her ancestors for protection and guidance. She was deep in when she felt a tug at her side. This was a normal occurrence as the evil fights for its place in this realm of existence. She ignored the sensation and carried on. A face flashed in her mind and raced away just as quick. This had never happened previously and was never warned beforehand of an entity showing itself. She shook it off then she felt a bigger tug this time.
She felt herself falling this time into a deep pit and landed on a jutting, jagged cliff. A wave of heat hit her in the face and could feel her hair blow back and singe a little. She realized the veil was gone and she was now wearing all white. She was barefoot and noticed cuts and bruises on her feet. She did her best to stand up when she realized she was chained to the rock. The face that had appeared before her in a vision was now attached to a body that was bent down and staring at her. She could not tell if it was a male or a female, all she could see was the glowing embers for eyes that burned into her soul.
It did not speak to her directly but she could hear every thought this peculiar creature had. She wondered if she had passed out during the vigil and was now in a dream state. She pulled a pin out of her hair and punctured it through her hand. She felt no sensation and she was still in the center of the earth being stared down by a dark entity. A wave of fear swept over her as the realization dawned on her that she was trapped here in the depths of her mind.
As the dawn approached, her keepers came to release her from the sanctuary only to find her laying prostrate on the floor with two wounds carved into her sides. She was alive but her soul and spirit were gone. The heads of the covens were summoned to the sanctuary. Their blood ran cold as this had only happened one time before and that would be at the time of the first Serenity’s death at the hands of her own sister, the dark enchantress who had been bound, banished, branded, and then burned in punishment. She had come back for her vengeance and it was up to Serenity to battle her and come back to the realm of the living.
The Lesser Known
Mysteries lurk in every corner. I made my way down through the tunnel, past the cobwebs and broken pottery that had lain silent for centuries. When the earth had given way beneath me, dirt and rocks slid down to the ante chamber and took me with it. There was no way to go up so I resigned myself to my fate and began to explore. I was desiring adventure and a good story to tell but this was beyond the realms of my plans.
I dusted my trousers off and surprisingly there was enough light in the cave to see, a reflective pool in the middle caught a cascading beam of sun from an unknown source above. The underground cavern held treasures, gems, and statues; all of them covered in a thick layer of who-knows-what. Encrusted is more the word, you would have to excavate twice to see its hidden beauty underneath.
I made my way down a makeshift path and suddenly felt myself falling. I watch my footing in the world above, but here there is so much to see and take in that I could miss it by watching where I was walking. I looked down to see a boot, appearing to be from 50 years ago by the look of it. I bent down to move it aside when I noticed it was attached to a bone. There was a clean slice in the bone where it had been severed from the rest of the body. The precision indicated to me that this was patiently and methodically performed. A sacrifice perhaps? No, that would be too sensationalist to have happened. The rest of the body must be around here.
A scuttle from behind me echoed through the cave and my blood froze for a moment. Yep, it is cursed ground here. I shook the thought away and proceeded to move forward, casually ignoring the scratching sounds. The cavern was the size of a standard apartment living room, but there were so many treasures here it would take a year or more to properly catalog and another year to get it moved into a museum. I left the treasures alone and sought out some writing or hieroglyphics that would sternly warn me of an impending curse since I dared to enter this sacred space. I really had no choice in the matter, so if I meet a fate worse than death, so be it. I might not make it back anyway.
I neared the far wall and to my non-surprise…there was an inscription written in symbols. Just as my mind began to decipher these unknown symbols, someone had already done so and scratched in the translation for me.
“It is known to man that the gods of the heavens and the earth walk among us. Treacherous is the path for those mortals who dare walk in the footsteps that they have trodden. By entering this place, you have brought upon yourself the curse of generations. The jewels and treasures are tributes to the gods that reside in this sacred realm. Lay your tribute at the feet of the god or gods of your choice and you may enter into the afterlife with their blessing. Or you may live an eternal life of the undead here in this tomb.”
Well, I am doomed, unless I sever a limb like the poor soul who lost more than a boot. I look around and now understand what these statues are for. Some have two heads, some have four arms, some have animal heads or animal bodies, and none of them appear to have human bodies. I recognized some but the rest look to be so ancient or perhaps are lesser known gods. I feel no fear as I peer into their dead eyes that have become rare jewels. Perhaps I am mad or curious or perhaps I am already dead. If I were the latter, though, I would probably fear it since these gods would be more powerful in the afterlife. I turn to the other side and I heard a faint voice.
“Greetings and good tidings. Shall I show you around?”
I reply without second thought. “Thank you, I would appreciate that. But, tell me, why can I not see you?”
“Wipe your eyes and look again. I am nearby.” A woman’s voice whispers in my ear. I wipe my eyes and there she is, toe to toe with me but a few inches shorter. Bronzed skin and jewel green eyes. She appeared very human with the exception of having seven fingers on each hand and no thumbs. She was clad in a ruby red sarong and a matching headdress with a gold chain reaching from her head to her ears to her wrists then finally her waist.
“Are you a temple maiden by any chance? Are those chains to hold you captive here?” I took a step closer.
“You are correct. I come here to greet worshipers and gods alike. Which one would you be?”
“I am neither, I came across this place during an earth slide up above.” I pointed up and then lowered my finger.
“To find this place, you are either in need of something and wish to ask a god for it or you are a god yourself and have come to be immortalized here for your eternal rest.” She rested her hands in front of her and awaited my response.
I decided to push my luck. “I am a god, of course. But I do not wish to be immortalized here. I came to see some old friends.”
She gave me a look of ire but it quickly faded. “Very well, let me show you around.”
I smiled to myself at my cleverness. Since I am a self proclaimed god, I wondered how far I could take this without placing too many curses upon myself.
Rage of Peace
**A piece I originally wrote for Lovely Strength Blog**
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A Queen’s New View
The Reality of Imagination