Been working on my novel, The Red Witch, this week. I got to one of the parts that I have been dying to work on: Edie having visions of the past.
Edie closed the door behind her and click of the lock was frighteningly final. She knew nobody had ever died going to see Prophecy, but her father had always been shaken after he walked this bit of hall. She took a deep breath and fixed her eyes on the door. It was five steps away.
Five memories, that’s all.
Edie forced down her fear and took a step on the white marble.
There were three enormous bonfires in the Yard. The moon over head was full, and Edie’s heart was pounding. Tears were dripping off of Brenda’s pointed chin as she gazed up imploringly.
“Please,” she begged. “Please, isn’t there another way,” the last word was a sob, and Brenda snatched at her long, pale hair. It had never been cut and fell almost to her knees.
Miguel’s face never changed, but his eyes seemed to glow in the night as he nodded to Nicholas. The Scild raised the straight razor and Brenda began to howl.
“I cannot believe her,” Gloria said from in front of them, audibly grinding her teeth. Edie risked a glance at Randal and they both fought back laughter. Brenda’s sister had cried almost as loudly when they cut her hair, though she hadn’t begged. They weren’t supposed to know that though.
Ronnie lifted Brenda’s hair and the Scild sliced it off at the shoulder. Brenda screamed. Matt snickered on Edie’s other side, and it took all her will power not laugh.
“Stop,” Miguel said. Brenda’s lips quivered together as she gazed up at the Blacksmith. “if you ever miss a throw because your hair is in your eyes… I will shave you bald.”
Edie had to bite her cheek to keep from laughing. She glanced over at Randal and smirked. He shook his head, but he was smiling. She had been sure Brenda could wheedle some kind of concession for her hair. She’d make him take her turn at dishes, she hated washing dishes.
“Edith Brock.” She stepped forward and had to fight to keep from bouncing on her toes. Brenda was being lead off by Callie. The specter would give her some kind of hair cut before Ronnie inked her. Edie took her friend’s place in front of Miguel. Her brother’s lips twitched upwards for a moment when their eyes met.
“Are you committed to serving the Healer and fighting to save humankind?”
“Yes,” she said unable to stop her grin. She felt Ronnie lift her hair off her back. It wasn’t nearly as long as Brenda’s but as the Scild sliced it off her head felt oddly light. Nick cut it away, leaving her nearly bald. Edie kept her eyes on her brother and held back tears. She had been waiting for this moment for thirteen years.
Once her head was shorn, Ronnie stepped in front of Edie. The Inker was smiling broadly as she took Edie’s hand, and helped her to her feet. Edie had picked out her wolf the day before. Well, years before.
It was more of a scene than most, the hint of deep snow, and a sketchy moon above the animal. Her wolf itself was more suggestion than animal, broken lines and unfinished features. Its nose was on the ground, but the eyes were watchful and looking upward. Edie couldn’t wait to see it on her arm.
Ronnie’s artisan rune started to glow red, and then Edie felt a matching burning on her left arm. She sucked in her breath quickly and then clamped her lips shut. She was not going to cry out.
The burning switched from her left arm to her right, and a few tears leaked down her face, but not from pain. She may not remember her parents, but she would avenge them.
Every head turned. Edie gaped at her father. He walked serenely across the sand. The burning on her arm stopped.
“I need to speak to Edie,” he said, taking her arm and walking away. Edie followed stunned, too shocked to say a word. Once the bonfires were mere pinpricks, her father stopped walking.
“Edie, I need a promise,” he said. His eyes didn’t have their normal twinkle, instead they were hard. Instinct made Edie try to pull away, but her father wouldn’t let go of her arm. “Edie-”
“No,” she said. “No, whatever you need, no. I’m in the Pack, now.”
“No,” he said in sad, little voice. “You’re just a bambi.” His hand on her arm grew warm. “Edie, I need you. Your gifts would be wasted in the Pack. I think a promise of one year as my acolyte would not be too onerous. If, after a year, you still want to be in the Pack, well, that’s fair.”
“No,” she said. She tried to pull away again, but her father’s hand grew hot. Edie gaped up at him, horrified before the serenity washed over her.
“Will it really be so terrible to put off your death sentence for a year?”
Edie stared into his pale blue eyes, not at all sure why she was arguing with him. He loved her, had always watched out for her. It was just a year… “Of course not, daddy.”
“You’ll go tell your brother.”
“Yes, daddy.” She walked quickly back to the fires. For some reason Miguel was glaring at their father, as was Randal.
“I’ll be back in one year,” she said. All around her, people frowned. Randal’s jaw dropped as he stared at her with hurt eyes. “I’m going to be an acolyte.”
Miguel’s eyes reflected the bonfires. She didn’t understand why he so mad.
A warm hand on her elbow guided her away from the fires. For a moment, she wanted to turn and go back, but then the urge passed and she followed her father into the house.
Edie blinked and looked around the hall. Her chest was heaving and she clutched at her left arm hard enough to leave it red when she peeled her fingers away.
Oh, this is going to suck.
She sighed and took another step.