Of Thorns and Lightning

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Initiation Night

♦️

Maize woke up, presuming the day ahead of her would carry on as usual. She would get dressed, train, shower, do her schoolwork and nothing too out of the ordinary would happen. But then she remembered she was a Norse god, and nothing in her life as she knew it now was ever normal. She felt it when the air around her rested heavily on her shoulders. Something big was coming and her stomach turned instinctively as she walked into the common room for breakfast.

All the gods and goddesses were congregated in the living space with Mr. Townsend, and that in itself was a rarity. She hadn’t seen them all collected together since the first day she arrived, and her world was spinning in her head. It didn’t take more than one step in the room to catch the attention of the Assembly in the living room, and she was summoned over to the couches immediately.

“Maize, please, sit.” Thor invited. Maize didn’t know how to read the room. It looked like a very serious affair, but Thor’s tone was calm and warm, the exact opposite of what she expected to hear. Steadily but nervously, she crossed the floor and took a seat on one of the red cloth couches. It wasn’t long before she was joined by the rest of the group and they were instructed to sit down with her. Artemis led the discussion once the murmuring had ceased and all the attention was on her.

“Good morning, young ones. As you can tell, today is a very special day, marking off the beginning of this three-days long ceremony.”

She paused, and the young gods looked at each other with confused glances and raised eyebrows. Nobody had told them about this ceremony, or the days leading up to it. Artemis soon answered the question that lingered at the tip of their tongues.

“In three days, you all will be initiated as gods and goddesses. During this ceremony, we will transfer the majority of our powers over to you, retaining only what we need to mentor you. Once your training is complete, that will be relinquished to you, and you all shall be immortal and the next Assembly of the Gods. But until then, you each shall spend three days in preparation by meditation, cleansing and finding the object that will act as the physical being to which our powers must act upon. For example, Angelina, my dear, since you will be taking my place as the goddess of the hunt, I may suggest you hunt a small animal to bring to the ceremony. Each of you will do the same, reflecting the god you shall become.”

The ceremony was beginning to make sense to the group, but they didn’t think they had signed up for a ritual sacrifice. It hit Maize like a rock that this was her reality, and after the ceremony there was no going back to her mortal life. She had mostly accepted her fate, but it was a responsibility that startled her.

She also had no idea what the hell she was going to bring to the ceremony.

It wasn’t long before they were dismissed to begin the meditation, preparation and cleansing and Maize headed back to her room to let what she just heard sink in. How the fuck was she supposed to meditate on being Thor? She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know what the “cleansing” was and if it was as weird as she thought it could definitely be. So, she did what she could think of and she drew herself a bath, tossed in a few rose petals, and sank underneath the bubbly, hot water to let her muscles relax. Hey, she thought. Maybe this counts as meditation and cleansing.

Letting her eyes rest, she sunk further and further down into the hot bath water. She felt as if she were asleep, but she was still conscious as she was slipping into a dream-like state. Visions began to dance around in her head as she found herself floating in a world of black and gold, and mist on the mountains far into the distance. It was quiet and serene, but Maize could feel that there was an evil force lingering not too far off. It was far enough that she knew she was safe from it, but it was still there, never to leave her completely.

When the bath water ran ice cold, she woke up from her trance and sat upright, splashing water over the side of the tub. She had no idea how much time had passed while she was in her trance-like state, but somehow it gave her clarity. She understood something she just couldn’t explain.

She had completed her meditation and her cleansing, and she spent the rest of the day in quiet preparation, thinking of what she would bring to the ceremony.

Peter had it easy. He was Arachne, he wandered into the woods and found just the right spider to bring for the sacrifice. He slid through the trees as he looked for the best web and gently captured the spider that made the structure of beauty. Meaghan had remembered that she had a gold bangle bracelet that was molded into the shape of the justice scale, and that was her offering. Angelina did as Artemis had suggested and she spent her three days camping in the woods, surviving off of nature and hunting a small rabbit that she would sacrifice.

Once they all had their items, they had found a simple white linen sheath smock and simple sandals for them to wear during the initiation ceremony that would take place that night. They each dressed and readied themselves, gathered their ceremonial item before they were driven to the Gods Tower for the ceremony. They took the elevator to the top floor, the meeting place of the Assembly, the governing council that watched over humanity.

They walked in near silence down the marble hall and they filed into the throne room, dimly lit by torches mounted to the marble walls. Each god was sitting at their thrown, and in front of them was a silver bowl, the ceremonial athame, and a cushion. Each of them stood before their god until they were all placed, and Artemis instructed them otherwise.

“Good evening, young ones. I hope you have found helpful these three days of preparation for your initiation and the transference of our powers to you.” Artemis spoke with conviction and gentle but stern authority.

“I see that you have all brought your item with you. Please, all place it in the bowl in front of you and kneel.”

The initiates followed the order, and Maize was the last to place hers in. She made eye contact with Thor, worried that her sacrifice wouldn’t be meaningful or symbolic enough. In the silver bowl, she placed a freshly killed serpent. Its green and slender body coiled at the bottom of the bowl. Maize found it hard to read Thor’s face, so she whispered a quick explanation to the god before her.

“Thor is bound to die by defeating the serpent during Ragnarök. It is Thor’s worst enemy, the battle I must fight in order to restore order to the world. I refuse to be easily tricked by the things that are not as they appear, such as the serpent.” Maize explained. Thor chuckled in amazement. He was hoping she’d bring him a beer.

“Now,” Artemis continued. “Gods, raise the athame and prepare the sacrifice. Blood must be shed from the mortals into the silver bowl.”

Each god picked up the knife, and though a blood sacrifice was required for the ritual, Thor carefully made a thin surface wound on Maize’s cheek. She immediately felt the sting, but it was better than getting the palm of her hand sliced like some of the others had to endure. A few drops of thick, crimson blood had dripped down her cheek and off her chin, into the bowl on top of the slain serpent.

Artemis then instructed the gods to contribute their blood as well, to which they added to the mix. The mortal, the immortal and the symbol had all been combined into the ritual bowl.

Suddenly, a heavy gust of wind blew through the throne room and extinguished all the torches and they were all bathed in darkness. The smell of smoke wafted across the room before the bowls lit up on fire in front of them.

“All rise.” Artemis instructed and the new gods followed. Maize rose slowly from her kneeling position in front of Thor, the bowl between them, and during that action Maize realized that she was adorned with traditional Norse clothing and a heavy red cloak. Each was given a gold crown of leaves before the initiates and the gods traded places. Maize sat upon the throne where Thor sat, and in that moment she felt powerful. She felt confident. Electricity crackled and snapped at her fingertips in excitement as her hair descended in loose waves, flowing from the crown on her head.

Thor gave her a smile and a slow nod. He had believed in her all along, and she had seen it within herself for the first time.

After the official ceremony was over, all the gods dined together at a feast in the celebration of the next generation. Though, their training did not cease there. After all, they were immortal and had a lot to learn in their infinite lifetime, before they were ready to save anyone.

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