Itella was sitting on the smooth rock that she had moved to her favorite work spot in front of the large grinding matate. she poured some of the dried corn on the slab and picked up her Mono to start grinding it to corn flower for bread. the large smooth basilic rocks feeling comfortable and familier in her hands. summer was well on it's way and the new crop was growing faster than expected.
The men had decided to try a new form of farming. One that the traiders had talked about. They were all out in the feilds trying to get the fellow feilds set up for next year. she began humming under her breath. Last night they had celibrated Matila's new child. It had lived a year already and was due to be named. Itella wondered if the boy would be a strong worrior or a shaman. so far allt he signs pointed to a life as a potter. He had a fascination with the local clays and the special bowls that were traded as wedding and birthing gifts. the Cerimonial bowls were kept out of his sight for now. She Shifted and scraped the flower into a pot before pouring more corn onto the Matate.
she wondered when she would marry and bring a child into the world. well that could wait a while yet she had plans to learn the proper way to create that special red on black patterning that the potters were creating. she wondered if she could perhaps use the dyes on her basketry or on the hides she was trying to stretch at the moment.
she glanced over at her younger sister playing happily in the dust. creating little mini pit houses and playing house with her dolls. she was having trouble keeping the roof on and had a feirce scowl on her face. suddenly the girls face lit up as her carefully weaved roof finaly sat stably on it's tiny support twigs. Kamaya suddenly ran up and stompped on the structure and ran off with a smile of triumph. kass's lips turned down into a frown and she burst out crying. Itella stood up and walked to her sister. Kamaya was almost six now and for a boy had shown a horrendous lack of feeling towards his little sister.
"Come Kass, come, don't cry now, you can come sit by me. I have a spare matate, a little one. you can help me make the flour for the bread." kass sniffed and rubbed her five year old nose peering up at her sister with her large brown eyes. and nodded solimly.
"alright, i don't like Kay, he's mean." she said her voice still trembling with unshed tears.
"yes, but he will grow out of it. right now he is waiting to start his training. we must be patient he will soon have plenty to do so he won't bother you so much, right?" Itella said pinching the tip of Kass's nose. Kass just nodded and settled on the ground once Itella and placed her on her feet.
Itella reached up onto the roof of the work room and brought down her matate from her child hood. She used it now days to grind herbs and dyes on. It was just big enough to fit between her sisters legs and was made of the local stone. She grabbed up a small Mono that would fit her sisters hands and walked back to her stone. Kass had pulled a mat from insided the work room and had made a nice pad for herself to sit on. She had done this beofre and knew that a lot of sitting was involved. she was waiting patently when Itella returned with the matate. quickly Itella set her sister up and poured some corn into the small depression before going back to her own corn. she waved away a fly and began grinding. this time she sang a work song for her sister to learn and join in when she wanted.
Roll Roll Roll the stone.
(roll roll roll the stone)
Pound it to the dust.
(Pound it to the dust)
For the bread for the bread.
To feed all of us
(to feed all of us)
bounty given Bounty used
Thankfull in our task.
so we roll roll roll the stone
(roll roll roll the stone)
To feed all of us
(to feed all of us)
she repeated the song a few times so her sister could pick up the tuned and soon they had a rousing version going. giggling at times as they varied the words. So soon enough they had enough flour for the bread. Kay was running about with a peice of stick chasing one of the neighbourhood boys from the pueblo. The men had returned for the hot time of the day and had retired to the Keva to smoke and talk about the weather. They were worried about the lack of rain. It haddn't rained in two moons. now the wells were starting to dry up. some of the elders were talking of going to the hill pueblos and staying there till it rained. Itella looked up the mountain to where she could see the large cerimonial Building that sat on the treeless slope above them. They had a small Pueblo house up there from three years ago when the last dry season had threatened to drive them from their lands. the problem was, that they would be outcasts, again. Till the community had seen what they had to offer. The next season, Itella would have to make the journey in any event. she was too closely related to everyone here and she needed to find a mate soon. Next season would be the harvest festival, the thanks giving to the creators. the spririts that gaurded their lands. She turned and put down her load, and stepped into the cool interior of their pit house.
Their own Small Pueblo community revolved around the Keva and the Pottery sheds. She knew that her father was a good potter, he had recently started putting small loops on some of the smaller bowls to make them easier to use to scoop water from the jars. Her mother was on the other side of the pit house working on roots and some berries that she had found while out getting basket weaving materials.
"Mother we're done." Kass said bounding ahead of Itella and showing the small pot of flower she had ground all by herself. Her mother looked up and smiled showing small sun wrinkles that the sun lord gave all who toiled beneith his rays.
"yes Kass i see you have and well done too." she said praising Kass as she had when Itella had been five and learning at her aunts knee.
"Kay is acting up again mother, when will uncle Uka teach him to hunt?" Itella asked exasperation sounding in her voice. her mother looked up and frowned before sighing.
"At the next moon, after they have finished fireing the next set of pots and bowls." she rolled her shoulders to rid herself of a stiff muscle before going on. "I have noticed his behaviour, and have asked your father to have him collecting fireing for the Kilns. that ought to slow him down some." she said smiling and running a work worn hand through her hair.
the ground rumbled and they looked at each other. the fire lords had been restless lately. The volcanoes were sending out a fine layer of ash every few weeks. The elders were going to call a conclave at the Cerimonial houise to do a spirit wlak to find out what was troubling the lords in their sleep. but Itella didn't think that would work. After the last eruptions the rains had come, washing out a lot of farm land and quite a few villigers to boot. but that had been over a hundred cold seasons ago. yet there were still storys about it. Their own village had been burried and several homes had collapsed on the sleeping residents. Those areas were considered unlucky and avoided by the rest of the village members.
"Mama! Mama!" Kay yelled as he ran into the room.
"what is it Kay?" she siad in a tired tone of voice.
"the Mountain is on fire, fire, teh pueblos are right in it's path too." he said excited and yet fearfull too. Itella paled and ran out following her brother, hoping that he was exagerating and yet with the smell of the fire in her nostrals knowing that he wasn't.
they ran around the wall of the pueblo and stopped stairing in horror at the firer that had sprung up around the puebos and the cerimonial house. It was shining golden in the sun yet swathed in the gray clouds of smoke. it looked like the grasses and the crops were alight. everyone was out trying to make a fire break, with hoes and axes, but it would be no good. they could already see that some of the pueblo roofs were alight. one man ran back into his pueblo just as it crashed down apon him. they all shuddered and kass began crying as the faint sounds of screams began wafting to them on the breeze.
The shaman was out at their own village boundry's making warding signs against ill luck and illness. Suddenly the cinder cone to their left Gave a grinding noise and Spewed a large cloud of hot ash forcing them all back into the pueblos. They huddled togeather shaking as the volcanoe kept roaring it's furrie at being awoken.
That evening they all crouded into the keva asnd waited for the Shaman to pronounce his verdict. He walked in, his cerimonial outfit jingling and clacking with all the beads and shells.
"we must call the fire maiden, she will surely help us tame the fire's within the mountains, and the fires above us." he saidshaking his spirit sheild to show that this was his dicision and there would be no discussion on the matter. The men nodded agreement and the women looked pained. It was after all a womans task to call the maiden and sometimes that ment their deaths.
By Laurelrose on Tuesday, July 2, 2002 - 03:58 pm:
Itella sat frozen to the spot, she suddenly knew that she would be chosen for the task. She was the only unmarried woman in the pueblo. not only that but she was also the only one with not sweetheart, or lover on the side, she had no children, and only her family would miss her. her skills at basketry and pottery were nothing. she had been banned from the duilders because walls tended to fall when she came in to help. no she would only be missed by her father, mother and siblings, but if she did it they would be safe, for a time in any event. If someone didn't volentier soon it might be to late in any event. The ash was getting thicker and the looks of worry on her parents faces more strained. She stood up startling everyone, including herself.
"I'll do it." she said quietly into the sudden silence. There were looks of releif almost all around the Keva. but it was to her parents she turned with an expression of patient explination. her mother jumped up.
"NO! i forbid it Itella, you are to find a husband, your needed here. your loved and.." the shaman slammed his staff down on the packed clay floor and shook the tortis rattle that was attatched to the top of it.
"Silence!!" he yelled. Itella shot a silent plea for understanding to her mother before she turned back to the shaman and the rest of the pueblo.
"Itella have you thought this through, are you sure you want to do this." he asked walking up to her a look of pain on his face. He was her favorite uncle, the one who had given her shell beads to play with as a child, the one who had played cyote and scorpion with her as a child.
"yes, i am the only choice, i am the only one with out a child or husband, and i am the eldest of the unmarried girls. I have no special skills." she stopped and swallowed. "i will be missed, and i will miss everyone, but i will not stand by and watch when i know i could have helped. It is my duty." the shaman nodded sadly. he was now almost nose to nose with her. there was pride and sadness in his eyes and the glimmering of tears that he dared not shed because he was shaman. He was the spiritual leader and if he showed his feelings the pueblo might loose respect for him.
"So be it then. go purify yourself and be ready for the cerimony at dawn." he said and Itella thought she could hear a hitch in it as he faced the rest of the pueblo shaking his sheild. The decision is made. He stalked out of the keva to go prepair himself for the cerimony. Itella did not regret her decision but she didn't want to turn around and face her mother either.
The rest of the pueblo residents quietly filed past her, some touching the sleve of her dress. some with eyes averted to show respect and honor. Her brother and sister walked up to her and stood beside her watching with uncomprehending eyes as the village showed her the respect reserved for a returning hero or one who had returned from a spirit search on the mesa's.
Itella gingerly turned to face her mothers wrath. but when she looked up her mother had a strange expression on her face. There was a terrible sadness there, and respect and... something that she couldn't name, pride maybe? Itella didn't know, and couldn't guess.
"when you were born i had a vision in the birthing hut." her mother said quietly, turning to look at her husband and then looking back at her daughter as she held her husbands hand. "Raven came to me, he rode Cyote's back and was preceeded by Eagle. Snake and all the smaller totems." she paused and seemed to sag a little. "They told me you would be a chosen of the creator. that you were destined for great things. I just thought they ment you were to marry a great man, a leader or even destined to take a journey and return with glory and a family. I never guessed... i never." a tear trailed down her weathered cheek. and Itella wished she could reach out to brush the tear away, whe wished she could embrace her mother and tll her it was okay, that she had changed her mind. but the truth of it was quite different. She felt stronger than she had before. the moment she had stood up and had found the words pouring out of her mouth she had felt a connection and a strength that she never knew that she had. and now she knew that there was no going back.
"Mother, know this. if i can help it the family will never suffer a cruel fate. They will survive. all of us." with that she turned and walked out of the keva and made hr way to the pit house to collect the sweet grass and sage bundles, with all the other cerimonial equipment that she would need, and it would all be distroyed afterwards.
By Laurelrose on Tuesday, July 2, 2002 - 05:11 pm:
she didn't want to think about what would happen to her if she wern't acceptible to the maiden or the fire. Quickly she walked to the cerimonial circle and the the small sweat lodge that ws set there for the womans cerimoneys. She ignored the happy memory of her cerimony when she had started her bleeding, she even ignored the faint memorys of other cerimoneys. the happyness of the marriage preperations and.. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Regretted it as soon as her lungs filled with smoke and made her cough. she shivered and lifted the flap on the sweat house. the women had set the fire already. there was a gourd of water to one side of the fire and the fur lined seat that she was to sit on during the purification cerimony. She left most of her equipment on a boulder set just outside the door and stripped to her skin before bathing and settiling down on the furs to begin her meditations and the cerimony it's self.
It hadn't seemed that long, the rythmic beating of the drums, the soft chanting of the women of the pueblo gathered outside, sounding like her own heart beat, like the beating of the earth below her. even the roar of the fires and the volcanoes had seemed to settle into the same rythem of the drums. she stepped out into the cool morning air. the women were gone only her uncle stood there waiting for her. holding her new clothes out to her.the boulder had been covered with a lynx fur and the tools for calling the maiden set carefully atop it.
Suddenly she felt seperate from herself. she could look about while her body went about doing the various tasks required of it. She could streak forward to the cerimonial hut, to the crowd of loved ones with the faces of strangers. she could see their fear, everything about them, it was suddenly clear. she watched as her body moved into her feild of view. At some point her hair had been washed. at some point the dirt and dust had been banished from her skin which shon golden brown against the darkness within the hut. all fires had been extinguished in the pueblo so it was completely dark, dawn had not yet begun to grow in the east.
The shaman was no longer a part of her, he seemed to be distant, more a stranger than he had once been. colours floated about everyone. from the black uglyness of fear, the blood red of evil and the blues and greens of health and contentment. Oddly enough her own body held no aura.
The cerimony had begun, the drumers beat throbbed into the night. and then, she wasn't alone anymore. five women stood about her, each dressed in a seperate colour each from a different culture. and they were watching her.
one woman stood forward and looked her over. the woman had golden eyes and hair the colour of gold. Her dress seemed to shift colours, from red to white, to blue to green. "This is the suplicant." she said her voice seemed to vibrate and for a time all other noise dimmed to nothingness. "Sister fire come inspect her." another woman stepped forward. it was then that Itella noticed that the new woman was no more than a child.
"she is strong, and she did volinteer." Strangely enough the girls voice was deep and warm, yet held the power to burn. "This was not done for glory either, like the other women. no she came to save her family, her friends and strangers. Her motives are true. and i sence the fire lords hands on her soul." the woman girl stepped back into her place. a faint aura of flame flickering about her body.
Another of the women stood forward. this woman had white hair and icy blue green eyes, her skin golden yet oddly pink. "but i sence water too." A woman who's skin was almost darker than the shadows of predawn stepped forward and shook her head.
"earth too, there is much of all of us in her, but she has come for fire so we must withdraw air." she said turning to the white haired woman who bowed her head in regreat.
"yes you are right." she stepped back to her place as the woman with golden eyes looked Itella up and down again. This time Itella felt as if her very soul were being examined, her motives weighed and her life read. It was quite uncomfortable and she fought the urge to shift her stance.
"so she had steel too. yes fire you must consider her plea's. this area is rich in fire and earth. Water will you reconsider the drought?" the white haired woman looked like she had been punched in the stomach. but soon her serine expression returned and her aura strengthened.
"Water lord has spoken. We will help with the fires, and for a time they will have water, enough to live off. but the drought will continue untill the faulse preist is removed." she bowed her head in regret but she had her duty. the others nodded and Fire stepped forward and took one more look at Itella, her aura grew to an almost blinding strength and heat radiated off her in waves. her voice changed and became darker, hotter and more male than ever.
"Storm maiden, i accept the supplicant. It is time thata new maiden be chosen. The law holds true now as in the beginning. The Hero of fire has been reborn and the Maiden chosen." The fire maiden reached out and touched Itella. A light touch, gently the warmth of her grew within and knowledge poured into her mind. With a odd twistof the power pouring into her she was suddenly aware of every ripple of flame, every twitch of heat that could be fire. that could be the beginnings of flame. her vision faided and the women were knowen to her. each and every incarnation, each and everymaiden from around the world, from around the universe. she was the maiden, she was a protector, she was a gaurdian of flame, in the wars she would sear her enemies, in the tents of the healers she would sear away infection and bring the warmth of healing, with water and earth and air. she was and would always be fire.
The pueblo had grown silent. the drums stilled. about the body of Itella a ring of fire had appeared, blue, almost ghostly. they could vauguely see the outline of others stnding about her, and another pressing her hand to her heart. The ground gave a shudder and then became silent. the wind gave a screatch and cluds gathered on the horizon, with a sound of falling pebbleds they all became aware of the rain falling from the sky. the smoke died and in a flash of light Itella's body was gone.
The Shaman bowed his head in reverance. it was done.
By Laurelrose on Wednesday, July 3, 2002 - 07:13 pm:
THE END by and by