Maidens Of The Silver: Bloodlines - #04

by Jersey D Gibson

      The doors to the Great Hall opened, and people entered the large cathedral-like room. People and Maidens alike populated the spacious expanse, the torchlight gleaming off of mirrors to spread out the light evenly so that no shadows lurked. Tables of food, drink, and festival games were spread out, and many popular treats were out for child and adult alike. Crois came in, where she felt strangely anonymous among so many.

      The one thing that surprised the young Maiden the most was the number of Maidens in the Great Hall. She wasn’t sure how many Maidens there really were, but in the Hall, there had to be at least fifty or so, many of them former Teachers and instructors. Some, like Sylvia, were in the Temple for whatever reason, and joined the celebration. But for every Maiden, there were three servants, and five common folk. Crois felt that the night was going to be one she would never forget.

      When waiting on her food, Crois found herself standing behind two other Maidens. One was no other than Sylvia, her silver hair bound back. The woman next to her Crois knew well. Santera Myshma had been a Maiden of some renown when she had taken the position of Teacher. Crois had been under her tutelage many times, and had hoped to become as good as her instructor. Standing next to the woman as a Maiden now made Crois feel ever so slightly weak-kneed. It was Sylvia that had noticed Crois behind them first.

      “Ah, if it isn’t our young Maiden. I take it you know Sister Santera?” Sylvia said with a knowing smile.

      “She was my Teacher, Sister Sylvia. I learned much from her.” Crois said softly.

      “I’ve seen you two have met.” Santera said while taking a wineglass from one of the tables. “I still remember the first day you put on Acolyte Whites. Now tonight is your Second Naming.” She looked Crois up and down with an expert eye, see the young woman in Maiden’s clothes for the first time, appraising. “It gives a Teacher no greater pleasure than seeing their students succeeding.”

      “I hope not to be a disappointment, Sister Myshma… Santera.” Crois almost flinched with the mistake. The two other women gave a small laugh.

      “Still wet behind the ears, though.” Sylvia said with a smile. “Don’t frown, young Sister, all those years of hammering things in, I hope they don’t leak out by sunrise tomorrow.” Sylvia sighed with memory. “I remember meeting my Teachers after my Naming Day. I still think of them as my Teachers, no matter what I accomplish. It is a good lesson in both humility, and honor.”

      “Yes, I agree.” Santera smiled, taking a sip of the wine. “But, don’t you fret, Crois, you will soon be learning things no Teacher can ever hope to give you: wisdom, compassion, honor, and courage.”

      Crois was about to say something to her Teacher when something about Sylvia gave her pause. The small Maiden was looking at her in what Crois could only describe as the oddest manner. Santera noticed it as well.

      “Sylvia, is something wrong?” Santera asked gently. Sylvia did a little double take and a smile reappeared on her face, though her eyes still seemed murky.

      “I never did catch our young Sister’s name. It must have slipped my memory.” Sylvia quickly put a glass to her lips, drinking a hefty portion of the wine in it.

      “I am Crois Deliquiox, Sister.”

      Sylvia’s eyes become vacant for a second, and another Maiden came from the crowds to talk to the silver-haired woman, which broke her out of her odd behavior. They ended up walking off, talking about some neighboring land. Crois looked to her former Teacher, who looked at the retreating form of Sister Sylvia.

      “Most odd.” Santera murmured to herself. Taking another sip of the wine, she turned to Crois. “Well, no matter. Do eat up, this will be an interesting night for you, and for me as well.” Santera left Crois, who watched her walk away, then returned to getting her food a moment later.

      After some time, all the food had been gathered, drinks filled, seats had been taken, and the ceremony would finally be started. The Mother Maiden walked from the hallway, into the Great Hall, holding a large staff with the Symbol on its’ top end. All the Maidens touched their Symbols on their torques, and bowed their heads. The Mother Maiden walked the length of the Great Hall to the dais at the end of the hall, where the statue of the Goddess of Time presided over, and the Lords of the Gun flanked on either side. The Mother Maiden reached the dais, and set the staff under the Goddess, and stood at the dais.

      “Good evening to all.” The older woman called out to the masses in the Great Hall. Movement was kept to a minimum, and talking had cease. Everyone looked to the woman standing under the statue.

      “Tonight is a special occasion to one of us. After many years of Training, teaching, and shaping young women, one of them has passed the Tests it takes to become a Maiden of the Silver.” There were poundings on the tables, which went on for a short moment. “Without further adieu, I introduce to you our newest Sister, Crois Deliquiox.”

      More poundings came as Crois stood up. The young woman walked towards the dais, lightheaded from all the attention, but she walked surefooted towards the Mother Maiden. When Crois reached the dais, the poundings stopped, and the young Maiden knelt in front of the dais.

      “Arise, Daughter.”

      Crois stood up facing the Mother Maiden and the statue of the Goddess. The Mother Maiden came down from the dais, resting her hands on Crois shoulders, facing her. The Mother Maiden looked Crois in the eyes, the same look Crois saw earlier that day, but Crois never flinched. The Mother Maiden nodded and closed her eyes, calling out in a loud voice.

      “Lords, I present to you our newest Sister!”

      All at once, a dull overtone, a noise that Crois couldn’t seem to hear or define, came throughout the Great Hall. The pounding tone came in waves, building intensity, until it became almost unbearable. At once the statues to the Mother Maiden’s left and right, two robed figures holding out matchlock pistols in a dueling fashion, started to glow with the pounding tone, until the glow seemed to manifest into two bodies, fashioned like the statues. The manifestations were a little larger than man-sized, but otherwise were cloaked in great thick brown robes the covered from head to toe. The manifestations of the Lords came down towards the Mother Maiden and Crois.

      Crois stood in awe of the Lords’ figures, and felt small and insignificant as they approached her. She felt powerless next to them, and found herself unable to move. She watched as they moved next to her and the Mother Maiden, flanking them both.

      “Here stands next to us, a believer.” Said one of the Lords.

      “May her way always be lighted with wisdom.” Said the other. There was applause in the Great Hall as the Lords retreated into the Statues. The aura and silent overtone disappeared. The manifestations disappeared into the stone, and Crois found herself able to breath and move again. The Mother Maiden smiled at her, and Crois felt many people and Sisters surrounding her, congratulating her. The young Maiden felt the rush and heat get to her and she quickly sat down, as everyone started returning to their seats, eating, drinking, and talking. It still seemed surreal to Crois, too real to believe. She grabbed a drink that was close to her hand and drank from it. Its contents were strong and alcoholic, and Crois realized that she had grabbed a wineglass. Putting it down, the young Maiden excused herself from the table, getting up and walking towards the doors.

      The doors to the Great Hall seemed to loom large and twisting to Crois, and she found it hard to put one foot in front of the other. Just when she thought she was going to fall, the arms of a smaller woman came to her aid and helped her along her way.

      “Come along, young Sister,” Sylvia said in a quiet tone. “It’s time for you to get some sleep.”

      “But, I’m not tired.” Crois said, At least that’s what she tried to say, but her words came awfully slurred and sounded more like garble to her ears. The floor had a funny way of move beneath Crois’ feet, and had it not been for Sylvia, Crois would have been on the floor a long time ago as they walked up to Crois’ quarters.

      “Don’t worry; it’s like this for all of us on the first night. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” Sylvia smiled as she got to Crois’ new room, and opened the door with the key Crois was fumbling with in her pocket. Sylvia got the red-haired woman to her bed, and Crois instantly fell asleep. Sylvia watched the young woman’s breathing become steady and slow, sleep fully taking her. Sylvia pulled out a wooden box, this one of a different wood than the one Crois received earlier, more ornately engraved. The silver-haired woman opened it, and laid a sealed letter on top of an object wrapped in velvet inside the box. Closing the box, Sylvia laid it on the bed table next to Crois’ sleeping figure, and closed the door behind her as she left.


Author's Note: Chapter 05

Posted on 06/01/2006
Copyright © 2024 Jersey D Gibson

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