Sitting in her grandmother’s basement, Rossa tried to stop fear from gnawing right at her feet. She tried to keep her mind on the book she had picked up. Her grandmother had been understanding enough, and thanks the Spirits Rossa did bring her books back this time, which at least managed to put her in a good mood.
As for her initial scare, she had just told her that she had seen something scary beyond the path (and that wasn’t really a lie, was it?). Her grandma had frowned at the news, told her to go to the basement and pick up something to read.
Anything at all. Then she had pulled out old candles, salt and vials Rossa had never seen and she had started to draw weird symbols, all the while she chattered incantation in a low murmur.
Rossa could still hear her from below.
Everything will be fine. She had just showed the others that talking to the voice would bring no ill consequence. She was fine, her grandma was fine.
Everything was perfectly fine.
Even if she kept losing track of her thoughts and had been reading the same page for the third time over.
She had replied to the voice, and it spoke back. It spoke of the war, and thought she was not really sure what it meant about that river spilling out, it surely meant that whatever was out there had it in for mankind.
Then again, this was something they already knew. So… maybe her act could really signal the first time people began to face the forest with bravery? Perhaps, yes…
She’d go back to the village and everyone would look at what she had done and trust her and…
“Oh, it feels so horrible,” she groaned, grasping at her red cloth. She had been so confident, she had made her choice and now she would go back to… songs and… dances…
She bit her lip. What did she do?
There were rules and she had just broken all of them. If grandma ended up knowing what she did, she’d never give her another book to read ever again.
“Let’s see, let’s see…” she shuffled through the pages. At this point she had decided to pick up some of the books her grandma had deemed to dangerous for her. She was a grown-up, Spirits! And she needed to find a solution to what had just happened.
Mind you, nothing had happened.
Nothing would. And if it did, she could still find a solution. She was a learned girl, she would find a way.
Grandma had quite the collection of books, and she had been learning a lot even through the hour she had spent laying there and reading through them, while her grandmother’s singing came from above.
It comforted her, but it also worked as a timer to her efforts. She knew that when she stopped, she’d have to put the books back and pretend like she did nothing bad at all.
She sighed and came back to the page, flipping through the tomes. Some of these were bound in plastic-y covers that surely came from the Ereworld. Reading under the buzzing electrical lights made her eyes sting, but she kept it up.
Just out of sheer coincidence, she had been researching how to deal with the Fae. The Mankind that had perished during the War did not find ways to eradicate the threat, but some protection could come from iron, salt and fire.
Her grandma may know more… but for the time being she had to find out ways on her own. Then she could come back up, throw the voice off the road and make sure nobody ever found out about her transgression.
Easy. She could do this. Nothing bad had happened and nothing bad would happened, for sure.
She would keep her ordinary life. She would go back to her parents and she would tell them that they could trust her. Nothing bad would come out of this.
So. Fire and iron. She could not do much with those. Maybe find a bat and hit the air? Did not sound like a good idea. Her grandma had used white stones… were those made of salt inside? It did not make sense.
So maybe salt? Her mother always packed up a lot of salt into her baskets. And salt was incredibly expensive, at that. Grandma must have loads of it stashed somewhere.
Perhaps if she used that… yes. It would work, for sure! She wrote it down on her list of things to carry.
Then flipping through the books she began to stumble upon other fragments, a kind of knowledge that was far less scientific and it dealt with rituals, chants, and what in fairy-tales would have been called magic.
And there was something else…
She frowned at the very old, stained drops of… blood… that covered the page describing a scarification process. You were supposed to cut yourself apart and use your own blood to tame the creatures of the forest, to rebuke them or to harm them.
She pursed her lips as her heart picked up pace again. It did not look very pretty and it did look painful.
But hey, if she managed to learn a few trick she could fix this mess at once. She did not really care about being praised, she could just go back to the village and nobody would know about this, she could do this.
Rossa had always considered herself a quick learner and especially then, pushed as she was from her scare, she tried to cram as much info into her head as she could.
She never knew anything about blood magic. She did not even suspect it existed! It seemed her grandma had used it to great profit, so perhaps she could as well.
Her finger shifted from line to line trying to send to memory the correct practices, movements and words. She’d have to cut through her skin and let the blood flow according to a specific pattern in order to either invoke the protection of the Queen of Thorns or satiate the forest through her sacrifice.
Oh, her mother would be furious!
She’d never be allowed to visit the forest again.
But she got this. She had always fixed what she broke and she would not back out this time either.
She had been deceived, that was all.
Thanks for showing me the road, that was what the voice had said.
But then nothing had happened.
So she should really still have time to fix this. She definitely could, no matter how hard her hands trembled…
Rossa licked her dry lips as she frantically sent to memory a spell: she’d have to carve her skin in a clockwise motion while crying out a specific prayer, and she’d have to spray the Fae with her blood to rebuke it.
It was supposed to work. Maybe she could do the same on the roadside.
Alright, she had a plan. She could do this.
Now she just had to pilfer a knife from her grandma’s kitchen and she’d fix this.
She pulled her eyes away from the page.
And she noticed only then that from upstairs come now only silence.
Author’s Notes: A bit harder to write as a chapter.
Thanks for reading.