A Friend's Sacrifice (part e)

From the Story Arc: A Sistah's Burden

Previous Story in the Arc: A Friend's Sacrifice (part d) by Gaia's Soldier (Friday, September 02, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, September 07, 2005)

Gaia’s Soldier stepped out of the warm water into the towel Sister Hecate held out. The large bathroom smelled heavily of sage and mugwort, and the ritual oil lay heavy on her skin. The towel was warm and thick, but Aura still shivered. This was it. By this evening it would be over. One way or the other.

She sat on the small stool in the center of the room and Hecate picked up a brush from the front corner of the sink. Everything the magi had done from adding the herbs and oils to the bath, now to brushing Aura’s hair, had been done in silence and purpose. Aura’s mother often prepared like this before a big ritual. It was comforting in a way. Or would have been in other circumstances.

Once Aura’s hair was braided tight in a single braid and she was dry, Hecate led her in the bedroom and helped her slip into her ritual clothing. It was very unlike what she normally wore. It was fine white Chinese silks, with a dark green trim along the front of the dell-like wrap and the wrists. The pants were the same white silk. Hecate placed the simple black cloth belt around Aura’s waist and then knelt down to tightly wrap Aura’s feet in soft green silk strips. “Ok… I have to ask, what is this whole get up for.”

Hecate smiled, her attention still on what she was doing. “You are the sacred warrior of Gaia. It is your right to go into battle dressed like one. However, unlike the battles you are used to fighting, these will be spiritual ones. It seemed only appropriate you had dressed the part. These colors symbolize you as the Mother’s champion in hopes of gaining protection from those in the spiritual world who serve her faithfully. I wrap your feet as a sign of the binding of your will to the task at hand. It will ground you, perhaps keeping you in the here and now once the magic has begun.”

“You said Anthony will be there?”

“Yes, as your personal Guardian. If something goes wrong he is to get you out of there.”

“And who will look after you?”

Hecate grimaced. “I have no one like that. If something happens to me the circle will go down and the runes that both Belladonna and Social Medicine now carry will be activated, bringing them to us instantly. They can attend to me then.”

“Sounds very risky.”

“It is… for all three of us. However, I hope what I do in preparation will lessen that risk.” Hecate led Aura to a cloth on the floor with symbols painted all over it. She then took a cup from the table by the bed and handed it to her. “Drink this. Every drop.”

“What is this…”

“Shhh. Once you have finished it, then lay in the center here and close your eyes.” Before Aura was completely done drinking the foul tasting tea her head began to swim. She cried out softly as consciousness melted away.

Hecate caught her friend and gently lay her on the cloth. She felt a bit guiltily for not warning her of the effects of the potion she had laced the tea with, but there was no time to debate with her about any of it. Hecate unwrapped the black belt and pulled the cloth of the dell away from Aura’s body, revealing her abdomen.

She took an obsidian handled bone blade from the bag at her feet and cut deep into her palm. Dipping a finger in the blood that pooled there, Hecate began to draw symbols on Aura’s dark skin and muttered the incantation, ancient words long forgotten. She could now hear Aura’s heartbeat, and another life there as well. Hecate’s mind reached out to that other life. Willing her purpose to be understood. “We must talk you and I. Time is short. You can no longer stay in this woman’s body.”

“If I leave I will die. I did not ask for this. I did not want trouble or pain. I want to go home to my people, but they are gone now. The devils killed all of our hosts. Our planet is barren. Where am I to go?”

“We shall speak of other things at the moment. First I must know. If another host could be found. Can you leave? Can you separate from my friend?”

“I believe so. It has not been done in a long time. Normally the host must die for us to take another.”

“That is not an acceptable solution in this case.”

Well, then, I am not certain. I am very young. Elders of our kind talk of such things, so I assume it is possible.”

“Does it have to be a person you inhabit? Could you chose say an artifact or an animal?”

“No. It must be a being of higher intelligence. One with room for my form and that I can fuse with to sustain myself.”

Hecate paused. Careful in the words she chose. “The one here, she does not wish you harm. She simply wants her own body back.”

“Why? I can offer the one much.”

“It is her body and her choice. One reason is she wants children. She cannot bear them with you inhabiting her womb space.”

“Children? It that what it is for?” The entity was silent for a long time. “What will happen to me then? If I go?”

If you are willing I shall be a host for you. I have no mate. I have no prospect of ever having children. You would not have to be dormant within me. Perhaps, both of us would not have to be alone then.”

“How is it to be done?”

“There is a spell. One of transference. It should move you from her body to my own. It is normally meant to transfer energy or wounds, but I have altered it to fit this purpose.

“I know little of sorcery, but I will do my best to help in any way I can.”

“Understood. I will need you rest until we begin. It should not take long.”

“Can you tell the one… tell her I am sorry. I meant no harm. I did not mean to cause her the great pain.”

“I will tell her.” The spell faded and once again she was alone with her own thoughts. Hecate wiped the blood from Aura’s skin and closed her robe, retying the belt. She stood and walked to the door. So little time left, but all was near ready. Hecate opened the door and walked to the hall, looking into the living room were Heavy Brother and Althea Nagi sat talking. “It is time. Gather the others to Scylla Islands. There is a southern island in the grouping that should do nicely. Anyone who will come, we need them there in the next two hours.”

“How is Aura holding up?” As Althea stood, so did Heavy Brother.

“So is resting now, Thea. Can you both make sure anyone who needs transport to the island gets there safely? I believe People’s Blade and Belladonna for certain have that skill. I am hoping there will be others who can assist with that if necessary”

“Consider it taken care of, my sister.”

Althea nodded in agreement and they both headed out of the room.

Hecate stood there, steeling herself to what was ahead. Things were about to change, but in ways she could not seem to foresee. The future was fuzzy around this whole event. Each attempt to scry had been more fruitless then the last. She was going into this blind, but it was already set into motion. Nothing left but to walk into the shadow and hope a future lay on the other side.