wow Kit that was cool loved it thanks for sharing it
Thank you to all of you who co-authored this piece with me, and special thanks to those who helped edit for posting!
Tonasyn language and the Senteri are the property of Kitlandria and Vallkyrion and may not be reproduced without permission in any way.
Just inside the city of Ah'wena, the town square is alive with people. Wandering between late night vendors selling wares, members of various tribes wearing all manner of cool weather clothing have gathered to prepare for the night's festivities. Although normally quite beautiful, the city has been made even more festive with rows of lanterns strung about in shimmering blue glass and large vases of the season's last flowers are arranged on tabletops and street corners alike.
There were many comfortable places to sit: benches, large mossy rocks, chairs by low burning fire pits, and even some picnic style blankets strewn here and there. There were spare blankets stacked for participants to use should they need the extra warmth.
Wandering through the street, a woman dressed in simple white robes smiled at those gathering. She appeared Neran, her features pleasant, her sea colored eyes curious and her golden-blonde hair pinned back in a swirl of braids.
"Welcome to Ah'wena, the seat of the Sharizi,” the Neran woman spoke to the arrivals. “Tonight, we welcome you. Please, gather and socialize for a time. When the ritual is set to begin, the Arcora will come for us."
Kathea Borian Marcaigh, having left her mount at the edge of town, made her way slowly to the town square. She had never been here, but her sister had spoke of the town and it's people often enough that she felt she knew some of them. Beneath a mottled cloak with the hood pulled up, a splash of jet black hair seems to have a mind of it's own and escapes from it's confines. It blows around her face in the slight breeze. Moving to the edge of the square she sits, sinking cross legged to the ground she lets her gaze glide among those present, her ears seeking out the sounds of any others to arrive.
The young Neran woman wandered over, offering a kind smile to the raven haired woman. "Hello," she said. "I am Alcina. I do not recognize you here in Ah'wena. Are you a Wealler, or do you come from even further?"
It's hard to discern at first what sort of person was approaching in the dark bundle of clothes and cloak. But as the stranger reaches the warmth of one of the firepits, she pulls back her hood, exposing the distinctively Drasean features. Aiva Ihlmare sits down by the fire, rubbing her hands.
"It seems I have arrived in time. Good, good." She nodded to herself. "Won't do to miss another ritual this year."
Kathea Borian Marcaigh glances up, face in the shadow of her hood. She returns the smile from Alcina and somehow seems to be able to give the impression of a curtsey while sitting. "Kathea, I hail from Ath Dara, so yes, Bordweall. My sister has visited several times." "Ath Dara! A sister county to us, yes?" Alcina replies cheerfully, tucking an errant strand of hair behind an ear.
Kathea tilts her head to the side "In some ways yes. We share many of the same views and outlooks."
"I would say so," Alcina grins.
One of the vendors, a Dras woman whose gray hair is pulled up into a neat bun, dressed simply in white and black, hums softly to herself as she packs up her wares after a long day of sales. Books detailing the history and legends of Ah'wena, sacred texts of the Al'tifali, and legends from across the kingdom are among the wares Taura Quillyr carefully packs away.
Alcina approaches the book vendor. "Are you excited for the event tonight?"
Taura smiles. "I am. Celebrating rituals brings a connection to those who have gone before and all those with us today. And it also brings new people with new stories to town."
After a few moments to recover from the chill by the fire, Aiva notices the book vendor. It reminds her that she needs to check for new arrivals before she leaves again. She rises, pulling back the black hair that had fallen in her face, and approaches hurriedly.
Alcina nods. "Remind me your name?" she says to the bookseller. "I know I have seen you about town, but I am usually in Tah Midna Cahlei." Looking over her shoulder, she smiles at the woman who had hurried over.
"Taura Quillyr. My family runs Quillyr's Books and Stationairy" She turns to address Aiva. “Welcome! Are you looking for something in particular this evening?”
"Excuse me, Madam Quillyr." Aiva Ihlmare stops near the stack of wares and addresses Taura." "I see you are getting ready to close shop. May I inquire whether you will be opening tomorrow morning? It's been a while since I checked for new medicine books, or treatises of natural science."
"That is right," Alcina murmurs, smiling at Taura Quillyr. "I knew you must be a Quillyr. You've been with us for generations, if I recall." Looking over at the other woman inquiring about the books, she gives yet another smile, then slips off to check on the other guests.
"I will be opening at the usual time. I have an essay on the value of including fruit in one's diet to ward off illness that might be of interest to you," Taura issues to the inquiring Aiva.
Her eyes shine with interest "Oh-ho, it will, I'm certain. It will be good reference for something I'm working on, a little book of my own. Perhaps I will be able to interest you in it when it is finished." Ms. Ihlmare smiles, raising one eyebrow slightly.
"I certainly am, and look forward to discussing it in the morning," Quillyr replied with a smile.
Head cocked slightly, Kathea keeps an eye and an ear on the exchange by the bookseller. She makes a mental note to check back in the morning for texts that may be of interest to her; other than that movement, she sits almost unnaturally still. With the cloak pulled around her and the fading light, she could be mistaken for a mossy mound.
The fair-haired Neran looks up as in the distance a chime is sounded. It echos several times, filling the space with the resounding sound.
“The hour is here!” Alcina, standing from her seat on some blankets and pointing toward a line of trees in the distance. She crosses toward the trees as if expecting something to appear there.
Aiva nods respectfully to the shopkeeper once the chime sounds before directing her attention to the approaching Arcora.
Indeed, from beyond the darkened tree line, a figure steps forward. While Alcina’s robes are simple, this woman’s are the exact opposite. She wears white, silver, and purple, each layer of her dress seemingly more complex. Several heavy necklaces weigh at her throat, gleaming against the almost midnight purple of her gown which covers from neck to toe. The long, thick skirts trail behind her. A moonlight-like veil blocks her face from view. As she lifts her arms upward toward the sky, the long billowing sleeves show silver lining within. She calls, “Synduir no’bravi thu ni circe ilir.”
Just off to the left of the two appearing women, a man with pronounced Toreshian features dressed in blue tinted light armor offers himself into the mix. A purple scarf lined with glowing yellow stars strikes the border between his friendly enough face and the rest of his battle-worn mail. The crest of Ah’wena proudly worn on the very center of his tabard. He strokes his dark brown hair and bows to the gathering. “May the branches of the Blood Oak encircle you.”
The woman bows her veiled head towards Kal’Aecir Aeselle Vaelthyr as he translates her words, then to Alcina. With that, she turns back to face those standing in wait in the town.
“You come tonight,” the woman says, her voice strong and melodious, “to witness the rite of t’Aethaili de Lunaethe.”
“The Flickers of Light in the Shadow,” Aeselle echos the words in plain Lazu. Flipping the veil back, she reveals herself to be the Arcora, High Seerer, of Sha’harizi County, the Mayoress of Ah’wena. To some, she is well known. To others, this is their first time meeting her. Tall, but not at all imposing, her features are somewhat soft compared to some of her Drasean compatriots, perhaps for she seems well fed and supple. “Follow me, Midnayn y Sutovali do ilir aethaili de lunaethe.”
Continuing with pride, the Kal’Aecir bellows, “Follow me, foreign guests and kingdom members alike, for I wish you a little light in the shadows.”
Kathea smoothly rises to her feet, standing straight up from her cross legged sitting position in a fluid motion, awaiting the movement that will signal where to go.
Accustomed as she is to the rite, Aiva positions herself to follow the Arcora and the flow of the crowd. There is a giddy, pleased feeling inside her. She really missed Ah'wena.
The Arcora turns, trailing the way back through the trees, seemingly expecting participants to follow. Before her and just as she turns, little lights spring up in the far distance, making the swampy land glow with an almost supernatural light.
Taura's smile radiates serene joy, as she follows the Arcora.
"Midna'idho could not have offered our humble town a better setting," Aeselle says. She admires the scenery as the group traverses the path.
Kathea takes a few measured steps along with the rest before stopping. With a slight tilt of her head and a nod to herself, she reaches under her cloak to her back. Some movement later and she sets a well-crafted bow and a quiver of arrows to rest beside a tree for her return. She simply had the feeling it was not a thing to bring a weapon to.
With another quiet nod to herself, she returns to following the rest. Wondering if her sister had ever observed this ritual, she vows to herself to remember every nuance to record later.
Emerging from further down the treeline, a short figure begins moving toward the square, pulling the hood of a cloak down under the night sky. He has gotten no more than a few paces when he notices the procession heading into the trees. He whispers under his breath, “Gah, Tiriq! Of all nights to be late back to town…” He begins moving toward the back of the procession, trying his best not to be noticed in order to mask his late arrival.
“Come,” Alcina beckons, gesturing for any stragglers to begin following the Arcora. She takes up a lantern from nearby and follows the procession from behind.
The Kal’Rizi leads the guests through the forest which is lit with candles that had not been seen when she’d come to get them. In the distance, still more lights spring up as if lit by someone - or something - unseen.
The ritual space is a lush green circle surrounded by towering trees. Tiny glass lanterns with candles are strung throughout the tree branches, casting dim light throughout the area. On the ground, glass jars are situated through the walkways, creating a winding path all the way from town to the ritual area. The ritual area is set up with several tables, with small stacks of colored parchment cut into squares and pinned down with various rocks and crystals to protect them from the wind. Each table is set with a magnificent wreath of twigs, ivy, berries, and grasses in the center of which another candle jar is alight. Pencils made of finely carved sticks and coal(?) are set out in decorative clay cups.
Around the circle of tables, several ornate ground torches made from bog iron stand tall, creating a ring of brilliant luminosity. In the very center of the circle stands a bonfire already roaring, the flames licking up toward the dark sky.
The Arcora leads the procession to this place through the path in the forest. Once there, she looks only once over her shoulder at those gathered, then walks to the center, standing before the fire. There, she pauses for a long span of breath, slowly lifting her arms skyward. She does nothing else for now, as if waiting for those who have come to circle around.
Kathea smiles faintly to herself, her keen eyes trying to catch a glimpse of the unseen candle lighters. She is rather delighted, despite herself, that she cannot. So far, it was not much different to other rituals she had been to with her sister, absent only the standing stones. She moves to take a place in the forming circle.
Aiva has gathered some of the loose cloth of her dress in front of her to make the passage through the trees easier. She shuffles closer, at an angle from the Arcora, starting to form the ritual circle. When she's in position, she lets go of the dress, appreciating her surroundings for only a moment, before letting her mind calm itself into a state of contemplation fit for the ritual.
Tiriq looks about uncertainly for the briefest moment, then begins moving to form the circle as if he knew the whole time where he should be.
Alcina is the last into the circle. If anyone should look over and back into the pathway through the trees, they might notice that those lights that had lead their way were already out. Yet not a sound had been heard as if the very spirits commanded the fires.
The Arcora then speaks in a voice that seems to command the very spirits as she begins to tell a tale. “T’lynari Izathran ni circe ilir!”
“Welcome to this gathering place for mystic rituals!” Aeselle bows deeply, his purple scarf falling perpendicular to his body and catching the light of the moons, the yellow stars glowing in response. His toothy, open-mouthed grin is about as bright as he raises himself.
Feeling a need to no longer be covered, to be seen by the moons, Kathea reaches up to slip her hood back. As her hands move down, she tucks the rest of the cloak back to her sides, a spill of shining black hair falling to her waist. Her face is now rapt with attention on the two speakers.
“We are gathered here in the place of my ancestors. Long ago, before the Blood Oak was discovered, a Dras named Elyn Rizi walked Elyria in search of meaning. From here, these very swamps we now stand in, the coveted land of her origin, she departed. This place was her home. Here was her home. In her journeys she discovered the Synduir, the Blood Oak, and was gifted with visions from Il’g’hanir Senteri," Aria gives pause for Aeselle’s translations; they now speak back and forth in tandem.
“Gifted with visions by Those Who Stand By the World.”
“To this day, we of Sha’harizi work closely with tah Circe no Sair," she continues.
“The Circle of Seven.”
“This rite, t’Aethaili de Lunaetha, or A Flicker of Light in the Shadows, is all about seeing the light in the darkness ahead." Aria begins to explain the purpose of the ritual, gesturing toward the crowd. Her bracelets jingle faintly as she emphasizes her words. "We contemplate the darkest areas of ourselves. Our own inner shadows. We contemplate what we seek in the coming months, the cool times, the dark times. We seek within our greater self and purpose to be enlightened in the days to come. Before we can begin our rite, I shall call them in full, by name or domain. May we honor them all…”
Lowering her arms, she holds her palms facing toward the fire. Her eyes are once again lifted toward the moons. “Midna'Idhogrim eithrai'le na Isreva circe idhoim t'eithnyr!”
“We welcome winter’s embrace and the passing of time!”
Her voice still firm, the Arcora continues. "“Colli no ellun rasha, ournectim drahkta.”
“Student to the next dawn, I offer you growth.” He echoes his translations with as much gusto as the Arcora speaks in Tonasyn.
With a quality of strength and valor in her tone, she calls, "Valduir gharim, sutorious y vaelth senteri. Duir drahkta vaui ilir.”
“Valduir, I beckon, noble and devoted sentinel. May your oak grow strong.”
Gently, as if whispering to one resting, or as though her breath were the lightest brush of air, Aria says, "Airacoll gharim, othrem fremoli senteri. T'Aira eithrai'le ilir.”
“Airacoll I beckon, old wanderer sentinel. May the wind embrace you.”
A wave of emotion coursing through her, the Arcora cries, “Synailm gharim, artorius senteri. Imyar tah tonas no tauranyn y midnayn. Noslanya ilir.”
“Synailm, I beckon, ardent sentinel. Act through the voice of citizen and guest. May you be pleased.”
Evoking the quality of a great storyteller in the middle of a grand tale, Aria calls, "Isksaille gharim, tonar thu twathremi, senteri no rizi, gwethra t'othrem y tah gwethrani.”
“Isksaille, I beckon. Tell your legend, sentinel of mystics. Nurture the old and the teachers.”
Shivering, she says, “Midna'idho gharim, sathail midna'idhopuir. Larani un, senter il'tunghethra.”
“Midna'idho I beckon, we recognize winter’s bite. Graceful one, stand by our dead!”
“Rashaquert gharim, fremil y U'ail. Vallu t'eithnyr y duirim tah taurani du dur," she continues, almost breathlessly.
“Rashaquert, I beckon. Young and ambitious, support the beginning, our seeds, and protect our children from death.”
The Arcora's voice by now is tight with emotion and effort. She finishes the evocations with, “Hallenion gharim. Mor'creona senteri. Quertar tah gaelonyn ona gaelon ni aethalli de lunaethe.”
“Hallenion, I beckon, great prudent sentinel. Depart the day so twilight becomes stars in darkness.”
Turning in a slow circle to face all of the participants, the Arcora says, “Call their names and feel their domains! This is a hail and welcome. Those who wish to experience their power, to call upon their domains, speak their names after me!”
The chorus of “Valduir!” rang out into the night.
“Airacoll!” echoes through the space.
"Isksaille!" speak several dozen voices.
They all call back "Midna'idho!"
"Rashaquert!" snaps through the air.
The sound rising a final time as a group, they cry, “Hallenion!”
The Arcora’s voice rises as she seems to call down that which cannot be seen.
“Synduir, ni circe ilir. Il’g’hanir senteri du’gharim sahail lynari.”
A cold wind tears through the air, somehow both biting and caressing. Those who are sensitive to energies might feel the presence of one of the Sentinels. Those who are less sensitive might simply feel a shiver down their spine. Regardless, the night seems thick with wonder, a buzzing sort of energy that thrums throughout the circle.
Continuing his translations, Aeselle speaks. “Blood Oak, encircle us. Those Who Stand By the World, I summon you to watch over our rite.”
Tariq noticeably shivers.
Kathea glances slowly around, seeming to seek out something she cannot see, then again nods to herself.
Aiva closes her eyes as the wind catches, deep in the emotion of the rite and the familiar feeling of their protectors.
The Arcora claps her hands together, letting out a shriek of joy into the night that rises like a battle cry. She gasps, as if the very energy of the spirits they collectively have called forth have flowed into her. Trembling, her voice more distant than before, she manages, rasping, “Kur eithra’lera senteri. Eithnyr t’lynari.” With that, she falls to her knees with a faint jingle and thud, head bowing to press to the earth.
“All that I am thanks you, Sentinels. Let us begin this mystic rite,” Aeselle nods and bows with a finality.
Entering the center of the space, Alicina sets down her lantern. “The Arcora has taken it upon herself to hold this sacred space for us to do our work. The ritual is powerful, but simple. On these tables,” she motions around, “you will find paper, pencils, and some basic instructions we have crafted to help you fold some common shapes, should you wish to evoke an animal or other spirit in your wish making. There are three steps.”
She ticks off one finger. “One! Contemplate! Go forth and contemplate what you wish to reflect on in the winter to come. Hold the paper. Think on what you need in this time of coming darkness. What inner work must you complete? What do you need to let go? What is your deepest desire?”
She ticks off a second finger. “Two! Write your wishes and reflections upon the paper you select, and if, desired, fold it into a shape that evokes what you wish."
Stepping forward, she gestures to the fire, at the same time lifting a third finger. “Three, when you have written down your wish or hope for reflection and folded it into the desired shape, approach the fire. Arcora Aria will be there holding space for you. There, toss it into the fire and let your wish soar onward to the spirits! You may wish to pause in quiet contemplation, scream, cry. Do whatever moves through you! And... Be not afraid to approach the Arcora to see if she has a vision for you for the coming months...”
With that, Alcina steps back.
On the tables, there are many patterns for folding available: Frogs, Birds, Roses, Foxes, Leaves, Lanterns, Felines, and several others.
Taura moves forward to collect a paper and pencil, then sits down at the table and gazes contemplatively into the fire
Aiva stands for a second to compose herself enough to reach the table and pick up paper and pencil. The wind is brimming with energy and potential and so it is almost as she can see her wishes and dreams in flow before her as she writes. Her unfinished book of Philosophy, her experiments in Medicine, the labourious travel that she both despised and loved for the experiences it brought. Yet the most important thing in that ritual was to look deep inside for fundamental truths, to find the self and question its decisions, to let go and be better.
Tiriq sits at a nearby table and takes an orange piece of paper and pencil. He contemplates for a moment, then his eyes light up and with a flourish, raises the pencil before diving toward his paper. If anyone was watching and had expected him to begin writing vigourously, they would be wrong, as he suddenly squints at his paper and frowns.
Walking over to one of the tables, Alcina picks up a piece of green paper, the grains of the parchment textured. Her fingers slowly run over the coarse surface as her green-gray eyes scan the distant darkness in deep thought. She moves over to sit on the ground by herself for a time, tapping one of the pencils against her lower lip.
Aeselle retires from translation to participate in the ceremony with the rest. The Kal'Aecir takes his utensils and substrate and sits close to the fire, already having his thoughts and ideas composed, tho waiting for a moment as he ponders them finally.
Tiriq continues to stare at his paper, then suddenly he begins...drawing? He stares intently at his paper, his eyes focused and his tongue stuck ever slightly out the side of his mouth, seemingly oblivious to anyone else around him.
Kathea makes her way slowly to the tables, the cloak pulled back reveals an odd toe to heel walk, she takes a piece of paper and a pencil, immediately she begins to write, knowing what her wish would be the moment it was asked of her
After a time, Tiriq seems to finish, and he puts down his pencil and smiles. He takes one of the pattern instructions and begins folding his paper.
Finishing rather quickly, Kathea begins folding, it was something she has done since she was a child, normally she used large leaves to not waste paper, it was such a pleasure to use paper, it kept it's shape and was far easier to manipulate. The form of a rearing horse begins to take shape.
Alcina murmurs under her breath as she begins to write, her voice carrying with it only a few words. "Isksaille... Love... Leap..." She chews her lower lip as she writes. When she is done, she stands to go back to the table, looking over the directions provided to make a frog.
Maeven, standing and watching quietly throughout the entire process, moves to take her own paper and pencil. She sits with it and begins writing immediately. Black curls fall over the paper as her pencil scratches away.
Aiva finishes her write up. Now, for the shape. So many years she had taken inspiration from something static, like a flower or tree leaf. Perhaps it was time for something different. Quick and full of guile, like a fox. “Yes, that would do well,” she murmurs in satisfaction.
Constantly flicking her head to toss errant hair back Kathea finally sets down the work in progress, her hand going to a small pouch at her side. She removes a simple leather cord and gathers her hair back, tying it loosely with the leather binding, satisfied, she returns to her folding.
Aeselle writes a lengthy note in toreshian handstyle Croçais. A small paragraph forms within minutes, detailing his aspirations for being known county wide for his ability in investigation and protection, he writes a single sentence thanking ever senteri, and writes a final one wishing Valduir to bless him for another year so that he may have the sentinel of protection's grace in all his endeavors. Finally folding his paper in the shape of a shield, he stands and surveys the others.
Nods as the rearing horse is finished, she stands, balancing it in her palm. Kathea finally glances around at the others working and finished.
Taura begins to write, her words nearly impossible to read on the gray of the paper she has chosen. Tears fill her eyes and spill onto the page as she writes, and when she has finished, she runs a finger over her wishes and smiles through her tears. She carefully folds her paper into the shape of a lantern
Aiva then turns to the fire, first hiding the small fox between her two hands. After stepping closer, she makes a gesture with both hands that throws the small paper doll into the flames.
Alcina folds her paper frog with slightly jittery hands, a silly smile plastered on her face. She looks around, nervously wondering if anyone else has a wish for love as she does. She goes towards the fire and stands before it. It rages high now, licks of the fire surging skyward.
She murmurs a prayer. "Please hear my prayers and wishes, Senteri!" With that, she throws the paper frog into the fire, watching it disappear in only a moment. Taking in a shuddering breath, she crosses to stand beside the Arcora to see if she has a message for her.
"Ungh." Tiriq softly groaned. He seemed to be having difficulty folding his paper into the shape he desired. After a moment, he looked around to see if anyone else was stuggling, until his eyes landed on Aiva's hands and paper. Watching her folding intently, he began to mimic her motions, his head unmoving.
Remaining on the ground, Aria trembles slightly, her ornate dress giving the faintest jingle as her jewelry clatters together. As Alcina approaches, she begins to speak, loud enough for any nearby to hear. "Valduir speaks. Be strong and stalwart in your true self... Only then shall Isksaille grant your wish. Work with these Senteri in the coming months to grow into yourself." The Arcora goes silent again.
Alcina nods and steps away to contemplate.
Finally successful at making a paper fox, Tiriq stands up and moves to the fire, a large grin on his face, eyes focused on his creation. He waits his turn, then releases the small fox paper, along with his burdens, into the fire.
Taura turns to stand before the fire, gazing down at her paper and preparing her heart. She tosses the lantern among the burning logs and straightens as though a great weight has been lifted from her shoulders
Aiva is distracted by the voice of the spirit speaking through the Arcora for a moment. Then she returns to the fire, watching the little fox being consumed. She does not blink, and the bright light fills her vision with spots, as she quietly asks for inspiration and whether she should step closer to see if the senteri had words for her.
From the ground, the Arcora shudders as if something had moved her.
Maeven attacks the paper with words, the writing seems more like an assault by the time she is finished. At last she stops and folds it. At no point does she even appear to be angry. It takes her much longer to fold the paper than it does for her to write.
A nervous Dras approaches from the darkness. Flipping back his hood slowly, he sighs quietly with disappointment, knowing he's missed ritual initiation again. Quietly he shuffles toward the collection of folded papers, grabbing himself a Lantern -- whereupon he sits and begins writing very slowly. L’itaal Mul-Go’en had arrived at the tail end of the ceremony.
Kathea moves to the fire, the horse still balance in her palm, when her turn comes, she presses down at the base of its tail, the back legs of the construct compressing slightly, with a quick move she lets her finger flick off where it was pressing, allowing the horse to 'leap' into the fire. She grins a moment, the grin in itself revealing she wasn't long out of her teens. She quickly composes her face again and moves back out of the way of others.
Aiva gathers her strength and steps closer to the Arcora. Her mind is clear, as if merely whispering, wondering about her ambitions, her desire to contribute to the knowledge of her people. Was it a blessed undertaking, or was it merely unchecked pride to think she could succeed?"
“Airacoll speaks to you, Aiva!” The Arcora calls. “Wena flows. Inspiration. Pray deeply and contemplate. That which you seek shall come like a bolt of lightning. On the third day of winter, we shall have rain. Cold though it may be, let the chill course through you and you shall see the sky in a new way.”
Taura watches the dull gray of the paper catch fire and burn brightly until it's shape is lost among the bright flames. Then she turns to the Arcora to await a message if one is to be granted to her this year
Aiva’s eyebrows raise and a large, pleased smile appears on her face. "Blessed be Airacoll!" She whispers and returns to the fire, intent on remembering every word and contemplating them extensively.
“Synailm speaks, Taura,” the Arcora begins. “You feel the deep emotion in a new way this year. It runs through your blood. In the coming cold times, should you seek it, you shall have a greater perspective than before which will come through the path of your emotions.” With that, she grows silent again.
Still facing the fire, Tiriq says, "Airacoll guide my travels and keep my home safe until my return." Tiriq begins to return toward his spot at the table, but just as his feet begin moving, the Kypiq turns and rushes over toward the Arcora as if he'd suddenly felt the need to hear her message to him.
“Airacoll acknowledges your plea, Tiriq,” the Arcora says, face still down in the grass and dirt. “However, it is Rashaquert who speaks to you. Something within you seeks to integrate. Something you have long not accepted. In these coming months, should you wish, you can face that sense of not-belonging within yourself. You can become whole.” With that, she falls into silence again.
Aeselle, quietly approaching the flames alongside everyone else, raises his shield folded paper to his mouth and mutters a name in a low breath and then a whisper of a sentence, "Thank you for teaching me what you could before you passed, friend." Lowering his piece into the flames instead of letting it go, his fingers suffer slight burns, but reminds him he is still among the living, and will carry on his legacy. Looking towards the Arcora with glossy eyes, he clenches his fist from pain.
Tiriq nods, more to himself than the Arcora, and slowly, but with purpose, returns to his spot at one of the tables.
"Kur eithra’lera, Synailm," Taura says softly, clearly moved by the message she has received. She bows to the Arcora and returns to gazing into the fire.
“Valduir speaks, Aeselle,” the Arcora begins. “You will have this year and more, so long as you walk the path of goodwill, protecting your people. You are where you are meant to be, and one thanks you more than can be said.” Growing quiet again, the Arcora continues to tremble faintly.
Putting the finishing touches on the lantern, L’itaal awaits his turn, holding the Lantern up to the fire and smiling as it appears to light the mantle. His gaze grows inward; when his turn comes, he blows the lantern into the fire -- watching intently until it is no more. Half-present, he slowly steps toward the Arcora.
“Hallenion speaks, harbinger of transformation. Uncertain, are you, Drasean child, but there is growth on the horizon, L’itaal. Be not afraid, but instead seek the path with most change,” the High Seer says before growing silent.
L'itaal stiffens with consciousness as the Arcora first speaks. With her words depleted, he stares for a moment -- then turns toward the tables and calmly strolls in their direction.
Finally Maeven stops fiddling with the paper, in the shape of an owl and covered in her messy writing. The shape of an owl, she gazes at it for a long moment before taking it in hand and wandering over to the fire. She looks for a second as though she may not cast it in, an instant of hesitation before gently tossing the creation in. "If only it were that easy" She whispered to herself before also silently approaching the Arcora.
Kathea turns her gaze upon the Arcora, she is not sure if something will be spoken to her, being as she has never been here before this eve.
“Midna’idho speaks, Maeven. Listen,” the Arcora says, her breath catching in her throat, “Something within or without is dying. Something that symbolizes an old idea. Let it go. Burn it in the flames that live within your belly. Do not look back! Do. Not. Look. Back.”
Maeven does not seem to change much, but perhaps her hands tighten a bit at the words. Afterwards she gives the slightest of nods before returning to the table she started at.
As if sensing Kathea on the perimeter, the Arcora shivers, then speaks, her voice low and filled with tense emotion. “Midna’idho speaks to you as well, Kathea,” she says, even with not having met her. “You too have a chance for something new through an opening… but to get there, you must allow something old to be released. I see a withering away, but it need not be for ill. See the gateway. Walk through it. Valduir shall bring you bravery if you seek it. You need only ask.” With that, the Arcora goes slack against the ground a moment, as if the container of the ritual grows too heavy.
Alcina looks to Arcora Aria with a bit of concern, then looks back to the participants. "Has everyone released their wish and approached the Arcora, should they seek her sight in this moment?"
The Kal'Aecir silently nods that he has finished.
Taura turns away from the fire and nods
Aria stands at last, shaking. Those knowing indigo eyes of hers are wide as though she is dazed, connected to something well beyond sight. Her forehead is a little dirty; her wavy dark hair has bits of grass and twigs clinging to it. She seems to be in a trance. All of her limbs are like branches in the wind, fingers twitching like barely held leaves in the midst of a gust. She looks almost insane, as if the forces of the energy moving through her are too much to bear.
“The Senteri speak altogether for us. For those of us in Sha’harizi, they say it is just the beginning! In the coming months, great opportunity shall be upon us and we must come together more than ever, united and strong.”
Gasping, the Arcora’s knees buckle and she falls to the ground again, this time with the sound of her knees colliding with the hard earth. “Lera! Lera!” she cries, lifting her hands toward the sky again. Her arms can barely raise, but she manages, summoning all of her strength. “Senteri, thu eithra’lera!”
Rushing around the fire and helping the Arcora to her feet, Aeselle continues his duty without hesitation, but with a slight tear still from Valduir. “Senteri, you have humbled me!”
Without missing a beat, Aria continues the ritual closing. “Idhoim tah circe no lynari! Duirim tah tauranyn.” She shakes her hands outward toward the fire and lets out a final, piercing cry into the night. It echoes and several raven calls sound throughout the trees. Aria smiles.
“Close the circle of our rite. Protect these people.”
“Come! Let us feast!” Turning toward another path through the wood, Alcina motions to where, once again, many lights have appeared, unnoticed before. She leads them this time rather than the Arcora, heading toward a great distant glow.
Tiriq rises and begins following, his stomach rumbling loud enough for those close to him to hear.
Aeselle helps the Arcora along as the group starts to move, with her arm over his shoulders.
L'itaal rises and departs toward the feast, fidgeting in his right coat pocket.
Aiva lowers her head the moment the circle is closed. The group starts to move back and she feels a desire to linger, as if to gather the final strands of the power of the ritual. But they must leave together. Their High Seer was exhausted and everybody was hungry. She follows Alcina.
Maeven stands again and follows the procession.
The Arcora smiles at Aeselle as they head into the the feasting area.
Still a bit lost in her thoughts, Kathea follows, reflexively lifting her hood again.
Taura lingers for a moment, gazing around the clearing to fix this night in her memory. This night marks the close of a chapter of her life and the opening of another. She follows the Arcora to the feasting area.
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