Rain patters softly against my skin as the day edges past dawn, onto morning. I watch from the stone arch window, curled up in the corner. My fingers tap against my bare knee, body clothed in a ribbon like cloth.
Being a priestess for the moon was always easy living, as long as my mind stayed focused.
All the young male warriors were being conditioned for their first yearly lessons down below on the streets. Mothers were grooming them with final last touches before they joined the army. Fathers were dragging them behind, onto their first day in training.
Prophecies were told, celebrations were plenty and every wise old head nodded to the young gentlemen on their way to train for great wars that never came to pass. Regardless, after the petty battles that would arise this year, what flippant stories would be told, what heroes would rise, inspiring thousands?
Swendula was a strange old city, full of wanderers mixed into established families with notable kinship.
While at least five families could challenge for the right to royal blood, certain other kinds of blood were often overlooked.
The female blood of magic was rare and treasured... if quietly. Then there was the female blood of the moon, which was both magical and mysterious. All magic was powerful, even if the few females that we accounted for in this city, were mostly shunned and ignored while kept locked away in our towers.
I sigh as I look down upon the city, hoping that this year is full of fruitful things. Meanwhile, there is something else I can’t ignore. I feel a pit in my stomach. While the city may have a stable fortune, my personal woes were yet to begin. When you were a priestess in Swendula, if you were not hidden – you were hiding. If you garnered the wrong attention, certain Masters would come looking for answers.
Warrior Masters, War Masters, Singing Sorcerers. All kinds of powerful men looking for strange answers to their own problems. Unfortunately, they usually hated the advice given, because as a priestess we had to be truthful and direct. Well, most of the time, anyway.
If you were a smart priestess you kept your mouth shut and your mind busy. I was mostly lucky. My only job was to protect the library of curses. While my fellow priestesses would pray in groups and tell stories of the sun, I was the only one connected to the moon. It was rarer and stronger but far more dangerous. Not because it was evil, but because it was rare. So rare, in fact, that only I harboured the keen interest to protect the books containing the ingredients for poisons or the step by step process for spells designed to manipulate, drain and steal.
So, while my job was lonely when I was working, at least I had a special purpose. It made me feel uniquely important.
Whereas, the bravest soldier with known knowledge and fast wit may hold everyone’s steadfast curiosity this year. And I... well... I was somewhat curious to know what it would be like... to be in the spotlight, connected to everyone’s hopes and dreams, responsible for other’s expectations.
But I guess that wasn’t my journey. Mine was simply hidden and that was something I had to respect.
In the midst of the rain falling upon the right side of my face, from the open shutters, as I gaze over the city, consumed in thoughts... I barely hear the footfalls in the stone corridor.
The moment I come back to my senses, it is too late for me to prepare for the intrusion that would grant me the wish I should never have wished for.
Lest not forget danger, because adventure could not exist without it.
In my naïve moment of curiosity, I turn my head and lift my chin to the tall, strange man in foreign clothes. He is drenched in the rain, calm and coloured in purple, navy and black. An occasional metal symbol colours the edges. He is someone important. He was clearly looking for someone.
“Are you lost?” I ask sweetly, raising a brow at the stranger who looks at me with a confused gaze.
“The War General’s Meeting,” he rasps out, clearly sick from some sort of chill, “This is the twelfth floor, is it not?”
“I am not privy to war meetings,” I scoff and wave my hand around, which causes my many silver bracelets to clink together, “But this is not where you are supposed to be. Perhaps you were misled?”
“Aye,” he pauses and watches me suspiciously, “I suppose the Swendula generals have no need to provide common courtesy to the very enemy that has your city walls surrounded by approaching and undeniable defeat.”
That was sure a mouthful. Now my interest is spiked. The enemy? I look at him more closely and realise his typical warrior dishevelled look has a distinct difference. The tattoos on his neck, show a far off animal called a Dragon. He had come a long way.
“Perhaps they sent you here, hoping you would be cursed with a bad omen,” I tease, holding out my hand and twinkling my fingers.
It is a mock attack gesture. He watches my hand, my attempt at humour clearly succeeds as I see the slightest smile on his lips, however... I’m not sure if it’s humour in response to my teasing or a humour in regards to something he knew that I perhaps, did not. Unlikely.
“And you are?” his dark navy eyes jump up to meet mine while I lean back into my stone window sill, feeling an uneasy sense of... unknowing.
“I am the sole priestess that guards this particular tower,” I explain, “I’m a moon priestess, to be precise. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?”
I choose grace and respect in regards to his kinship. He could be a messenger... or maybe even a rival king.
“Zarcar,” he rolls the r at the end, on an unfamiliar name, “Perhaps you will tell me where I am meant to be?”
“I face the tower of war, directly west to my eastern tower,” I explain, looking out the open window I point to the place he should be, “My guess is you’ll not make it in time,” I turn back to him to see that he has taken an unexpected step closer.
Two steps, precisely. He leans on the other side of the window sill, his thigh brushing my foot. I pull away, shocked at the contact. No man ever touched me.
“It is of no concern,” he finally says, turning to glance at me one more time, “I was only here as a formality, anyway... their mockery will be met with disdain.”
“I do not understand your way with words,” I try to wave him off, so that he can step back.
I did not feel safe with him so close.
“Your name?” he asks, out of the blue, “You failed to answer me the first time.”
“Chyronex,” I proudly respond, but in a bit of an impatient tone, “You never told me who you were... aside from you name, Zarcar.”
“I have many titles,” Zarcar murmurs, “Master, General, Lord...”
There is only one word I pick up on that pikes my interest.
“And what things do you master?” I ask, raising a brow – curious.
House slaves? Warriors? Peasant families? It was a strong word with many meanings.
“Witches,” he chuckles a bit to himself as he moves away from me, leaving my mouth gaping.
“That is an abhorrent term,” I gasp, “Witches do not exist-”
“Neither do priestesses, not from the land I come from,” he raises a brow at me, hardly giving anything away.
“Do you group all magic bearing females as simply witches?” I ask.
“The magic is different where I’m from,” he explains, “You are simply a different kind of witch.”
“Where are you going?” I ask as he begins to walk away from me without a respecting farewell.
“None of your business.”
He doesn’t even turn to look back at me.
“Well if you return, I will watch your blood spill on the streets as you attempt to usurp the rule here in Swendula. It has never been done before,” I explain loudly, proudly and arrogantly.
He leaves without another word, his back to me at all times as he runs away. Soon, his presence may be gone, but my heart won’t stop beating in strange fear. My palms feel sweaty as I look back up to the moon still present in the morning sky. I didn’t know what was to come, but I did know peace was ending. I could feel it deep in my chest. The peace I had lived within my entire life; was about to crash and burn.
All thanks to Zarcar and his powerful army.