I have been struggling with some mental health issues for several weeks but I do seem to be coming out of it. This is the beginning of something I have began to write. Hope you enjoy it….
The Time Crevice
The girl worked quickly, trying to take advantage of what little natural light remained of the day. She dug a shallow hole with her fingers deftly working the cool, damp soil into a small mound at one end so that it resembled a miniaturized tombstone. She removed a small fabric wrapped packet from a hidden pocket in the dark blue jumper she wore slowly opened it to reveal six smooth brown, black, and gold stones. Carefully, she placed each stone in the hole, quietly recited an incantation over them, and sprinkled some soft powdered ash across the top before carefully replacing the dirt over what now resembled a fresh miniature grave. She whispered a more desperate, fervent incantation, and sprinkled the topsoil with a remaining layer of soft gray ash. She folded the now-empty fabric packet and replaced it back into a secret pocket, whipped the remaining ash from her fingertips on the hem of her jumper, and sat back on her heels, breathing deeply.
The girl jumped at the sound of her name. Her uncle, a member of the Red Guard and the King’s trusted Advisor, was calling for her. “Ka’tya!”
“Coming, Uncle!” Ka’tya stood up, brushed the dirt of her jumper, and went to find him.
Etienne was standing with his back to the doorway when Ka’tya arrived at his quarters. He seemed lost in thought, staring fixedly out a window the overlooked the courtyard Gardens. He was a tall, stoic man, with sandy brown hair and dark expressive eyes. He had a serious demeanor, but he also laughed often, and although he was often lost in his thoughts, as he seemed to be now, he served the King well, and his ability to keep secrets was commonly known and respected. Ka’tya was his only living relative, and he encouraged her activities as a Healer, but kept them an enigma even unto the Master he served. His position in the Red Guard as a Helmsman and Advisor kept them both safe and more than well provided for. Healers were both feared and revered, and Etienne taught his niece to be more of an observer than an attention seeker, and it was a role she wore like a second skin.
“Uncle?” Ka’tya rapped on the doorframe with her now clean knuckles. Etienne snapped back to the now present.
“Ah, yes. Ka’tya. Is it done?” He nodded towards the door so she would quietly close it.
“The ritual is complete,” Ka’tya affirmed. “Time will only tell if it worked or not. Harvest time is months away, and the land will not show signs of health until then. And then there are the Dragons. If they do not hibernate early this year, it will not matter how well our land produces at harvest time—they will take it from us, and burn what they do not consume.”
“Do you really suppose that the Dragons hate us—the people of Alonia—that much?” Etienne reeled on his heels away from the window and faced his niece.
“It is not a choice that is theirs to make,” Ka’tya clarified. “The Queen’s Curse mandates it. Our only hope is that the Healers and the Goddess Priestesses can come together long enough to lure the Dragons—at least the young, inexperienced ones—to the Temples where they can be sedated with the Red Dust to induce hibernation.”
“And if that fails? If the Goddess Priestesses continue to force the Healers underground?” Etienne was a pragmatic man; it was why the King listened to his counsel. He was also able to see things from all sides without judgment most of the time. When it came to his niece, however, he tended to be a bit over-protective. Ka’tya called it being “nose-blind.”
“Uncle,” Ka’tya kept her voice steady and soothing, a trick she had learned from her mentor, Ana’l. “We Healers are just as much to blame as the Priestesses. There are no Innocents in that feud, except the people of Alonia.”
“You are so much like your mother,” Etienne’s voice caught slightly. His sister, Sofia had been his best friend. Her husband, George had been killed on the battlefield before Sofia had even known she was pregnant with Ka’tya, and she died in childbirth. Etienne, a powerful magician in his own right, had recognized the girl’s gift almost immediately, and Ana’l began her training as soon as the girl could walk on her own. “You are so forgiving. You speak no evil toward the Queen, only to the Queen’s Curse and its’ mandates.”
“The Queen is not to blame,” Ka’tya said emphatically. “She was cursed before she was even conceived. So was her mother and her mother before her. It is a curse of Generations, not one easily broken.”
“But, as a Healer,” Etienne asked softly, “you do believe that she may be healed one day?”
“That is not up to me,” Ka’tya smiled grimly. “I know that I am not powerful or skillful enough to break the Curse. Only someone in her lineage who is just as powerful as the Queen’s Curse can break it. They say a Generational Curse is predestined to be broken by a certain person at a certain time only under a specific set of circumstances designed by the Goddess Herself.”
“They also say that a Healer can help usher in such an event,” Etienne said in an oddly quiet voice.
“Uncle,” Ka’tya laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “You cannot force a miracle. If you could, then…” she shrugged. “…it wouldn’t really be a miracle, now would it?”
“Maybe not that one,” he conceded, seeming to snap back into the present again. “But what if you, Ka’tya, could help with a different kind of miracle? Something only a Healer could aid in? Something the King and Queen themselves have tasked me with finding such a Healer?”
“What did you have in mind?” Ka’tya eyed him suspiciously.
“Just hear what they have to say and then make up your own mind.”
“What?” Ka’tya squawked. “You want me to see the Royals? Now? Like this?” she indicated her dark jumper and her messy hair. “I need to braid my hair and change into the Colors of a Healer. I need to present myself in crimson, gold, and green. I can’t go like this.” She self-consciously started to braid her hair.
“You can make yourself more….presentable if you wish,” Etienne’s eyes were crinkled with good-natured laughter. “The Royals requested I send for a Healer. They also…suggested that I might bring my niece to them, since obviously, you are the best Healer that I know of. I agreed. I also let them know that I was making no promises—you have a mind of your own and that you would hear their request but beyond that, it is entirely your choice.”
“And you wonder why I seem terrified,” she muttered.
“Ka’tya,” his voice was like smooth butter now. It was his turn to apply his Diplomat voice. It was the voice Ka’tya never disobeyed. “I know it is scary. But King Sebastian and I have been friends since we were children, and I assure you that Queen Sia’ha’na is not nearly as frightening in person as the stories you hear may have led you to believe.”