The sight of the lands that lay South of the Grand Oak was once a thriving beauty to behold. As if untouched by human hands and nurtured by Gaia herself. A land once full of life, music, and purity. The water clear like glass. The fruit and vegetation the most succulent in the lands. The trees standing strong and tall with arms open as if to touch the sky. A home that was at peace and in harmony with the earth itself. Until it was raised to the ground, now nothing but a barren wasteland of death and destruction, without even a hint of the formidable presence and energy it used to have.
The moonlight shining through the thick luscious canopy cast a soft glittering green light. But this did not make the smouldering remains that used to be home any prettier a sight. The hazy golden glow rising from the horizon was anything but warm and inviting, the cold hollow warmth fighting with the oppressing darkness of the midnight sky. A soft cool breeze that danced with her dark brown hair, as if trying to comfort her. Softly and gently caressing her skin and combing through her hair, as the air was filled with a loud silence, as if the nightlife had joined her in mourning.
Her eyes, transfixed on the distant glow, grew heavy and tired. But she knew that if she closed them she would relive the horrors of that day. She sat back leaning against the rough, scratchy trunk of the Grand Oak, her arms folded cuddling her knees to her chest as her chin rested softly on her forearms. Staring intently in to what she had known and worked on her whole life. She didn't even notice that she was joined by The Oracle. "You must sleep m'lady," her words soft as if a mother was speaking to an anxious child. "You must sleep." But her words fell upon deaf ears. Lorea was transfixed on the fiery horizon. It wasn't until she felt the warm touch of the Oracles hand upon her arm that she awoke from her hypnosis. The light in her eyes were dim, the emerald green hat once twinkled there, was fading, and her eyes were seemingly lifeless as she looked up to greet the Oracles kind face.
With a sigh the Oracle knelt before her blocking her view of the South and brushed away hair from Loreas face. "Come child. You need to rest, as you'll need your strength for tomorrow". Reluctantly Lorea stood up and was escorted to her chamber to rest. The halls were empty and solemn, and they continued to pass through them as if ghosts haunting an abandoned building. Without a sound to be made, or heard, or a body or face to be seen on their descent to her chambers, it was as if the place was deserted.
Once in her chamber the Oracle closed the heavy wooden door behind them. The low light of the candles were the only light source. Casting a dim glow similar to that in which Lorea was lost in when sat up on the canopy. Lorea didn't speak a word as the Oracle assisted her to the bed. The faces of those who took everything from her fresh in her mind. The screams and the cries of her people, caught unaware and fearful. The yells of those trying to fight back. The deep thunderous booming of their attackers, all still ringing in her ears, deafening any attempts made by anyone to communicate with her now.
The Oracle sat on the bed beside her as Lorea eventually succumbed to the welcoming call of the bed. Soft and inviting she lay there in silence trying not to close her eyes. "M'lady? Would you like me to stay with you tonight?" The Oracle offered, seeing how distraught Lorea was. But without any energy or strength, Lorea shook her head and turned away clutching the pillow as she did so. "Very well" The Oracle gently placed a comforting hand upon her shoulder before getting up to leave her be. There was nothing she could but hope that Lorea would be able to get some rest to be revived in a more receptive state to meet with her and her council tomorrow, and help right the wrongs, and repair the damage caused.
Lorea let the darkness consume her, and before she knew it she was lost in it. No light, no sound, no life to be found within her. She just lay there completely alone, existing in a state of limbo. Relentlessly tossing and turning in a futile attempt to get comfortable. But she couldn't just lay there while many of her people were injured, and the bastards that stole her land, and her life, were celebrating their victory. She also knew there was no way she was going to be able to get out of the Green Circle to do anything about it, let alone have the strength to do anything about it. Her thoughts then turned to Lupa, her sister. Tears began to form in her eyes and she buried her face in her pillow to swallow the sounds of pain and hurt that she couldn't keep in any longer. Without her sister she felt helpless, weak and vulnerable. As if she had lost a limb. They grew together, developed together, as one person. Even though they were both very different they were one. They fed off of one another. The learned from one another. And they were stronger together.
The Oracle continued through the corridors to the pool where she had gathered the Seers and the High Priestess of her Court. The pool was in a chamber deep underground. The thick roots of the Grand Oak tree above formed the beams to maintain the dome shaped room. The walls were lined with stones in memory of their ancestors and various legends of their practice. Heros lost fighting for their cause, and others wrongfully taken ahead of their time defending themselves against those in the world who feared them for who they were and their capabilities. As the Oracle took up her place in the dome the room burst in to light and the 4 other women that had been assembles removed their hoods, their faces lit up as they all turned to face her.
"How is she?" The Priestess asked?
said the three Seers each in turn.
"She is punishing herself for what happened. For letting it get this far and putting her people and our way of life in danger" said the Oracle with a hint of worry in the tone of her voice. "We need to show her that this is just the beginning of a desperate change, and that there was nothing she could have done differently to change the outcome of what she went through."
"She's closing up"
"She feels vulnerable"
"Her spirit is fading"
"Then shall we take a look at what happened?" The high priestess suggested as the 5 women stepped forward. As they did so a ray of light shone through a tunnel in the earthy roof of the dome and danced with the surface of the crystal clear pool, lighting up the room as it reflected every which way.
"By the light of the moon, pure, full and new,
Take us back to days gone past,
When our flower fought against power vast.
To help us see what we can do,
Show us now what she went through.
Once the High Priestess had finished her verse, the Oracle knelt down and placed a flower in to the water. The others joined her kneeling by the pool and watched the flower that had been plucked from Loreas hair spin as the water began to swirl as if a vortex appeared in the centre of it.
Like a giant Sunflower opening to greet it, the Sun burst across the horizon filling the land with a happy warmth and life. It was met by the formidable fortress that was Terra House South. A grand stone structure that over looked the entirety of it's land, and could be seen from anywhere within it's boundaries. The solid stone castle had been standing strong for thousands of years, and had been called home since the beginning of Lorea and Lupas bloodline. It was made up of three sections. The Centrum, was the main body of the house, containing entrance and meeting halls and a variety of other communal areas with a nervous system of passages and pathways extending through to the other sections of the house. The Flos Wing stood at the East of the Centrum, there were chambers for family members, studies and the botanical gardens. The Fera wing was similar, but stood at the West of the house and had access to the farm lands, barns and stables. It was truly a sight to behold. The family crest sat strong at the main entrance to the Centrum, welcoming all visitors, and warning all foes. Within was rich with floral and natural decoration, bright and colourful, as if the whole thing was a shelter for the outdoors to thrive and grow alongside the family. The walls were lined with vibrant flowers and rich foliage, the banisters, stairs, doors, windows and furniture were made from the strongest of wood and purest of stones. Was a slice of Eden within a stone shell.
Chrysanthia had lived in Terra House South for her whole life, and knew the lands inside and out. She was one of the remaining members of her generation, and was tasked with being the teacher and guardian of the Lorea and Lupa. "The Ladies of the Land". This was the first time in a few hundred years that the new generation were actually twins of the same gender, which was deemed by the Oracle as a true blessing. Chrysanthia was stood stone steps the lead to the garden. Her sight focused on her wards, sharp and keen like that of a Hawk on it's prey. Chrysanthia had been around for long enough to be aware of the darkness that was growing in the world, and although it was out of sight and had never had any interaction with their people nor their way of life. But still posed a great threat to everything they knew.
Lorea and Lupa were blissfully happy, sometimes naively and ignorantly so. They have never had to fight such a strong power that was growing at a pace so fast, it caused concern many, and even fear to some. They have heard of fights and battles within their lands amongst their own people, and a few battles to retain their land from those who thought they could usurp the natural order and fight their way through the ranks, as it's part of the history of their family and their kin. But they were no where near ready to face the darkness that loomed beyond the horizons, let alone begin to consider it's capabilities.
Basking in the glorious light of the morning sun, Lorea and Lupa were walking arm in arm around the gardens, as they did every morning at sunrise, in order to awaken their energy and open the channels to become one with the earth in order to reach their potential and open their mind to what it was they had to learn to grow and develop in to who they were born to be. The flowers began to open as if to greet them as they passed. Butterflies danced around them on the breeze that carried the sweetest bird song. To Lorea and Lupa, within the boundaries of the land, it was truly paradise.
"Ladies! It's time!" Chrysanthia beckoned as she turned and began to shuffle her way back into the Centrum. Lorea and Lupa turned to see their guardian disappear into the large doors of the Centrum. They looked at one another and giggled, knowing once again they has become lost in the land and therefore losing track of time.
Chrysanthia was stood at the entrance to the grand hall, which caught the girls off guard, as after their morning in the garden, they were sent to partake in their morning ritual. "Ma'am?" Lupa asked with a confused expression painted on her face.
"We have guests" Chrysanthia said softly as she turned and put all of her strength in to opening the heavy doors. The creak and squeak echoed across the halls as the wood that made up the great doors groaned as they opened, to reveal a light and airy room. Statues of their ancestors standing proud and beautiful along one side of the hall opposite their partners, be it their spouse or sibling which were lined up along the opposing wall. Lorea and Lupa looked to one another with an air of uncertainty of what was awaiting them, as they tightly clasped the hand of the other and proceeded in to the hall. Two hooded figures stood at the North Altar of the Hall soon joined by Chrysanthia. Lupa and Lorea began to cross the hall, they could feel the powerful and intense energy filling the room, inviting them ever closer to those standing at the altar. The power was vast, and quite intimidating as they haven't felt so overwhelmed before. When together they have always felt strong and confident, feeding from each others energy. But this, this was a power bigger than both of them could even consider reaching. They stopped at the bottom of the steps up to the altar before realising who their guests were. As they caught a gasp from escaping their lips the two figures removed their hoods to reveal the ever youthful and maternally warm and inviting faces of Asvoria and Kana glowing in the effervescent sunlight that shone through the windows of the hall. Two highly respected and powerful matrons of their kin were standing no more than a meter away. Lorea and Lupa looked on in awe as the had heard all about The Oracle and The High Priestess in their teachings and history, as if they were heroes in a fairytale. They grew to idealise them, and used their knowledge of these two powerful figure heads of their kind as incentive to become as great as the two women that stood before the.
"It is a pleasure to see you both again. It has been a long time" Asvoria spoke with a sense of pride at how much they girls had progressed and grown.
"Not since your awakening ceremony" said Kana, her light grey piercing eyes seemingly looking through the sisters, and although she stood calm in demeanour, she gave sense of authority. "Your girls are growing into powerful young women Chrysanthia, you must be proud" Kana said as she turned to glance at Chrysanthia who stood to her right as she smiled and nodded.
"I am indeed m'lady" her voice reflecting the pride that shone from her face.
Lorea and Lupa smiled in unison as if mirroring Chrysanthia.
"Didn't I tell you Kana? They are the spitting image of her" Asvoria said leaning towards Kana who nodded.
"Indeed, in presence and energy as well as aesthetics" she replied. "However we are here for a reason" she continued.
In that one sentence the whole atmosphere of the room changed. They all knelt on the cushions that were placed around the alter to make the shape of a five point star with the alter in the centre. As they did Kana raised her arms and in that split second the doors that took all of Chrysanthias strength to push open slammed shut with great ease and power causing the walls to tremble. Before Lorea and Lupa could react Asvoria lit the candle that was placed in the centre of the alter and closed her eyes taking long deep breaths. On the third breath out she sat back on to her heels and the earth shook and it was as if a dome grew up from beneath the foundations of the house to act as a shield in order to protect them and give them the privacy needed. Lorea and Lupa looked round at the spectacle that unfolded round them with a bemused look of wonder.
"This is just a precaution. Do not take offence Chrysanthia, I'm not doubting how you keep your house, but I'm sure you understand the delicacy of information" Kana said who was sat opposite her on the East point of the altar who simply responded with a smile a single nod.
"We know you are due to start your morning rituals, and are aware that we are encroaching on your time. However, consider this you morning ritual for today." said Asvoria.
The girls eyes widened expressing their excitement to have two of the highest most powerful women in their order aiding them with their practice.
"Please join hands" said Kana.
"We ask thee mother, hear our call.
To give us strength as not to fall.
To what lies far, and remains unseen,
So unnatural, dark and unclean.
Strong and impure, But far from green.
We call on you for strength to continue our work,
And fulfil our deeds.
As Kana finished her verse, the five let go of one anthers hands and put them palm down on the altar. "You have both grown and we can feel your power, and your rate of development has been impressive" Kana continued.
"But now we need to advance your rituals" Asvoria continued.
"Are we in danger?" Lorea asked her eyes beginning to fill with worry as they flitted from face to face around the altar in turn.
"Not as such." Asvoria said her voice soft as a calming energy draped over Lorea like a shawl. "You are both progressing so rapidly, Kana and I have decided to speed up the process slightly. At a quicker pace that is more suitable for you both to continue on the path you are already on and to meet your capability."
Lorea and Lupa both looked over at Chrysanthia who remained silent and smiled.
"This isn't a reflection on Chrysanthias methods or capability, she will continue to guide you along your path" Kana said reassuringly after reading the worried expression on their faced. "Think of it as an upgrade" she said looking for the right words to explain the circumstance.
However Lorea and Lupa were excited as they knew they were exceeding expectations and were mastering their crafts quicker than any of their family before them. But there was still a sense of mystery about this, as if there was something that they weren't being told.
"We will be with you for a few days and will be checking in with Chrysanthia as the month continues to progress." Kana continued breaking the silence as she glanced to Chrysanthia who nodded to confirm this.
"So wheat's going on then? What are you preparing us for?" Lupa asked voicing the concerns shared by herself and her sister. She had obviously caught them off guard as Asvoria, Kana and Chrysanthia all looked to own another for the first time since before the blessing. "What is it you're not telling us?" She asked awaiting someone to answer her question.
There was a brief moment of silence, as if the three were all communicating inwardly. "Girls, you have an amazing gift which allows you to progress so quickly, in a way that we haven't seen in centuries.-" Chrysanthia began.
"-But you are right Lupa, there is a reason we have come" Asvoria spoke interrupting Chrysanthia, who along with Kana looked at her eyes wide and expression painted with uncertainty. "They can obviously feel that there is something going on, and as you said they are strong and have a natural gift which is helping them develop so quickly. Which is why we have come. She continued looking back at the girls, as Kana and Chrysanthia took a deep breath and closed their eyes, preparing themselves for whatever reaction the girls may have. "Far beyond the south western borders of here is a- disturbance shall we say. There is a powerful force that has revealed its self, and is growing quite rapidly."
"Quicker than we expected" Kana added.
"And the reason we have come is because we feel it is headed this way. To your house."
"But we are still unsure as of when it will arrive" Asvoria spoke with an element of frustration hidden deep within her voice as she was The Oracle after all, and felt that because she couldn't see a time frame, then she couldn't gauge how much time they had left, before being introduced to something they have never experienced.
"Yes, the time frame of it's growth is unclear to me, but what I can see is that it is very strong, and more worryingly, very advanced. Which is why we have come, to reassure you that it's nothing to get upset about. If you proceed on the path you're on and at the rate you are learning, then both Kana and I are confident that it will not pose a threat." Asvorias words may have been full of confidence, however Lorea and Lupas faces were not convinced. They had both lived a pretty sheltered life, only venturing beyond the borders to the Green Circle.
They hadn't seen the Mountains in the far North, or the Oceans and the Dunes in the Eastern and Western lands. All they've ever known was the thriving ever green lands that they have been charged with. They have never experienced the kind of fall or winter where the leaves changed, and the plants wilted in to slumber in preparation to re-grow when spring time came around.. It was if the land was a natural greenhouse, the seasons being kept out by the borders allowing the animals and plants to flourish freely without threat of seasonal changes. Another blessing of which has been cast over the lands by the united power created by the bond of the twin sisters.
"But we've never had to fight for anything… ever" Lorea exclaimed. "We have kept a land of peace and serenity, and we do not wish to disturb all of this work and evolution-"
"But in order to protect it you might have to." Chrysanthia spoke interrupting Lorea, which surprised her and the others around the Altar. "This isn't fighting, this is defending. Defending your lands, your people, your work Your home, yourselves and your way of life." She spoke quicker and with passion as if upset by their slight reluctance to resist this force, but at the same time could see that they were very apprehensive and afraid of the possibility of having to come face to face with a darkness they have never had to consider existed.
"And there are ways of defending all of this without fighting" Kana spoke calmly finishing off Chrysanthias message on a more productive note, in an attempt to turn the atmosphere that was suddenly heavy with fear and dread, to one that is more positive and hopeful. Even though the morning Sun enveloped the room, lighting up every inch of the hall, and radiating a comforting warmth, it began to seem dim, and a cold feeling cut sharp across the room as if the doubts Lorea and Lupa had were manifesting and taking hold of the hall. But this was something that Kana refused to allow. "I don't think you know how strong you actually are" she said after a moment of silence as they all exchanged looks of which carried a mixture of feelings and emotions. "Let alone how strong you can be. So let me try and show you, and make you see that what we are doing here, is to help you unleash your full potential in order to deal with the inconceivable."