By evening, Talia was getting a little fed up with her aunts.
She knew they meant well and that they were just trying to keep her safe, but after a long day listening to their suggestions she was looking forward to the coming night, when they would finally leave her alone.
And there was one more reason she kept praying for the sun to finally rest his weary head. One more important person she wanted to meet… and her aunts would not be happy about that.
“Everything looks in order,” the first of the three said, tossing a glance at the other two. They complied and withdrew from the tiny kitchen and from trying to ‘fix’ Talia’s tiny wardrobe (nothing to fix there!). “But please try to be safe.”
“And stay inside!”
“No talking!” Admonished her the last. “The walls have ears and who knows what can fly out of the forest to drag you out with bloodied talons!”
Talia chuckled. That was a bit of a colorful expression, wasn’t it? And beside, she already knew she did not have anything to fear from the night.
“I promise I will be careful,” she said with a smile. “I always take my precautions.”
“That we can see,” the three of them said as one. Then they shared one last worried look, but they couldn’t stay further as the shadows were already tilting and the sky turning a shade like spilled wine. “We need not to be reminded.”
“The night is gaunt, and it has teeth,” Talia agreed.
“We will be leaving you then. Take care Talia and we will see you next week.”
She nodded, ran forward to hug her three aunts and they hugged her back, still not completely convinced, but what could they do?
They left shortly after, shutting her in. They closed the door and pulled the bar and sealed the iron gate that surrounded her tiny house in the woods.
Talia smiled excitedly when she heard them leave. She was finally alone, and while she did like her aunts, and she was grateful for their help (they had been raising her since she was a little child, after all!), she was looking forward to the night to come.
She leaned against the window, looking at the grey pines as they turned darker, the day bleeding its last as the sun touched the horizon. It would be time soon and she’d better be ready.
A part of her felt a little silly. The person she was about to meet had never made a fuss about her clothes (unlike her older aunt), about the tidiness of her room (unlike her middle aunt) or about her hair (unlike the younger aunt). She just accepted her, and if she had any reprimands it was just because Talia did not apply herself enough.
Something that, unlike her clothes, cleanliness and hair, did care about.
A smile spread over her lips. A lonely girl, her short blonde hair barely reaching her shoulders (and she would have liked them shorter still, but her aunt forbidden it), her green eyes looking deep into the distance, as if she could convince the sun to dip faster.
As if she could ordain the sky and the firmament.
Maybe one day, if she applied herself enough, so will.
Talia grinned as the last crimson ray withered to ash. She turned and began to ready herself a quick dinner. Something light, for she had a long night ahead. She ate a few slices of black bread with oil and cheese, which would give her energy aplenty, as she hummed a wordless song to herself.
And after that, she picked up a box of chalks from beneath her bed. She had made sure to take great pains for the past few months: she always cleaned the underside of her bed until it practically shone and with time, none of her aunts ever checked it any more.
At least one spot in her room she did take care of! Surely she wouldn’t keep anything important there.
Humming the same song, but now adding words to it, words that sound like creaking ice and creeping roots, she adds the first circle to her floor. She draws with a confident hand, her curves always well-balanced, the resulting drawing elegant and simple, yet oh so powerful.
Then she draws another one inside the first, and then another one yet, scribbling away at the corners, aiming words of unbinding to the four cardinal directions.
Those are already prodding and pushing against the simple spells her three aunts have put around her house in the forest, just to make sure that nothing evil finds her.
Which is why they are still working.
Nothing evil found her.
Talia welcomed her.
“And that’s it,” she grins as she finishes her incantation. The three circles glow for a moment with a silvery light. The candles in her room flicker and die, filling air with the scent of burned wax.
The windows are closed, the door shut. The wind falls silent.
Inside the dark room Talia smiles and waits.
The woman’s voice soothes her, playing with her ears like the softest of silks. Smooth and warm and rewarding.
You have worked hard.
Talia nods, so happy. She is eager for another lesson.
She never takes notes, for where would she put them? Her aunts might find them, and they would be most displeased.
So she has to put everything to memory. Not ideal, but it is far better than being found out. She knows her aunts would not approve.
“Thanks. I did try my best.”
A feeling like a metal hand finds her chin. The voice hums, pleased at the contact. It lingers about her cheek, as if enjoying the touch and the warmth of her skin. Talia lets her.
I am proud of your efforts. May this be yet another fulfilling night, Child.
“It will,” Talia says confidently. She nods and she’s tempted to lift one of her hands and touch the other’s hand, but that’s one of the rules they agreed right at the start.
And no seeing.
Every meaningful labour can only take place in the dark, after all.
“I am ready,” she whispers.
Pay attention, then.
The voice leans in and it starts to drip whisper after whisper right into her ear, like tenebrous honey, and Talia’s fingers shudder at the influx of black knowledge that reaches deep into her soul.
Author’s Notes: I feel like writing a little more about this piece, I really like this ‘Diabolic Tutor’ dynamic. Thanks for reading.