Friday, February 09, 2007
Dragon Domain--Book Two of the Dragon Clan Trilogy
An excerpt of magical fantasy novel in the style of Harry Potter
But that was all in the past. Cheyenne walked toward the willow. She knew what needed to be done. Placing her bag beneath the tree, she quickly stripped, dropping her clothing into a pile. Opening the bag, she pulled out her athame, driving it into to the ground to the hilt. The ritual knife represented her need to be within the healing realm of the earth. Again she reached into the bag, pulling out an array of cotton pouches filled with herbs. Searching through them, she selected the bags marked basil, ginger and sage, returning the rest. She dropped the pouches on the ground and pulled out the small cast iron cauldron. She ran down to the stream and filled it with water. Returning more slowly, she picked up dry twigs and branches. Setting the cauldron down, she put the wood in the fire pit. Gathering dry grass and leaves from around the pit, she tucked them under the branches. She looked skyward. “May the Gods bless this ceremony with fire.” She patted the round in front of her. “May the Goddess bless this ceremony with fire.” She snapped her fingers above the fire pit. Within seconds, wisps of smoke rose from the center. For an instant, the infant of a flame wavered as if the slightest breeze would blow it out, but then the leaves caught and the flame ate its way to the wood. “Thank you.” She watched the flames dance and ignite the larger twigs, waiting until she was satisfied the fire had a life of its own before adding the larger pieces.
The breeze blew the smoke and heat into her face. She coughed, but did not move. She had always been drawn to the cleansing of fire. in spite of her birth element being air, she had felt a kinship with it. In her mind, air fed fire and fire’s heat moved air. Jane thought it was just because she didn’t like the cold. Placing the cauldron on the reddening coals, she picked up the pouches and removed the rest of the things she would need.
Standing, she looked at the basin. She hadn’t even considered that it might not be available. A flag had not been set. She could use it.
The basin was the only change they had made. With shovels, the four of them dug out a hole big enough for six to ritually bath at the same time. It had been an equal amount of work and play. It had taken three days of digging and mud fights. Late on the third afternoon, it was finished. They had stood on the banks, waiting to break down the wall that divided it from the stream. Stalling, each in turn found reasons to put off the ceremony until, frustrated Selene shouted to the forest, “we’re not waiting any more!” She broke down the barrier. Quickly, the water filled it, creating whirlpools and eddies, at first only at the mouth, but the texture of the bottom quickly spread them throughout the basin. Out of the corner of her eye, she had seen a shadow retreat deeper into the trees. The memory brought a smile to Cheyenne’s lips. Several other times since then, she would sense their presence, but they never approached. Obviously for some reason it wasn’t time for the two others to join the group. Later that afternoon Lilith and Cain left, but only Lilith returned on a regular basis. The sacred space invited others. Some were local, others were not. They would just be drawn to the circle and simply slipped into their spots like pieces of a puzzle.
Reaching down, she pulled her bandanna from the bag. It would be her flag, notifying the others the basin had been used. The water recycled itself every forty-eight hours. Until it cleansed itself, it wouldn’t be wise to use it. Squatting, she placed a handful of each of the herbs into the steaming water. Sitting back on her bottom, she watched the steam rise, the aroma scented the air. Closing her eyes, she imagined the steam to be soft white light, which she drew in through her nostrils, allowing it to fill her entire being with its healing power. All the anger she felt earlier drained away it, leaving only the sad memory of her lost friend. A tear slipped down her cheek. She didn’t brush it away. Celeste’s friendship had been too important to casually brush it aside. The salty drop fell from her chin and was gone. She sighed. Her throat hurt. She just wished the pain and the loss would be done. She wanted to move on. But to what? The farm had been her dream. Celeste had turned it into a dark place, a place where shadows ruled. But that was going to change.
Shaking her head, she opened her eyes, returning her attention to the present task. The surface had begun to roll. The dried herb pieces bobbed with the heating water’s motion. Waiting for it to break the boiling point, she reached around to grab her shirt to use as a hot pad. The water boiled and she picked up the pot. Pulling the sheers and the candles out of the bag, she walked toward the basin.
A breeze blew her hair across her face. She ignored it. She thought it strange that she felt nothing at this moment. There should be anger or guilt. But she felt nothing but determination to complete the task at hand. Someone once said, “What is best done, is best done quickly.” She couldn’t remember who said it or in what context; it didn’t matter. She placed the cauldron on the bank and planted the candles in the sand, one for each direction. Without hesitating, she stopped at the eastern candle and lit it.
Looking skyward, she called out, “Moltra, great dragon of the East. Who’s tail swirls the winds, whose breath warms the air, whose love keeps this planet’s air breathable, I, your daughter, who you named Shawntal, asks you to attend to protect and guide me.” For a moment the air stilled, then a gush of wind swirled around her and the basin. Cheyenne smiled. Closing her eyes, she could see the luminescent bronze of his scales reflecting the sunshine. All around her, the air became heavy with the scent of ozone. She breathed deeply. The energy charged air opened her third eye, then jumping from synapse to synapse reached the activation point at the base of her skull. Her eyes snapped open. It had begun.
Taking four steps forward, she lit the Southern candle. She faced the sun. “Great dragon of the South, Chun’sa-ta, you who keeps this planet habitable with your warmth, you grow our food, you bring us light and separate us from darkness, I, your daughter Shawntal, ask that you attend my healing, bringing your protection and wisdom.” The air around her heated with the breath of Chun’sa-ta. Again she closed her eyes, the copper of Chun’sa-ta scales stood beside the bronze of Moltra‘s.
Continuing her journey, she jumped the mouth of the basin and continued to the Western candle. Stooping she lit it and reached toward the sky. “Lovena, great dragon of the West, I, Shawntal ask that you share your life restoring waters to help to guide and heal me. Wash away the darkness that has been sent to steal my light.” For a moment, stillness ruled. Puzzled, she looked around. Lovena had never failed to answer her call before. Closing her eyes, she tilted her head back. Breathing deeply, she centered herself in her faith, both in herself and the powers of light. The leaves on the treetops blew in the growing wind. The sound became louder. Her eyes opened. The trees around the clearing were being blown in a pattern she had never seen before. The wind did not come from one direction, but formed a circle around the clearing that did not seem to have an entrance point. It was as if the force came from above to encompass the clearing. The scope began to widen; the grass of the field bent to the will of the wind. Cheyenne watched the phenomenon rush toward her. She was not afraid. It enveloped her, blowing and pulling her hair skyward, nearly drawing the breath from her lungs. He eyes dried. Instinct told her to close them. Something else demanded they stay open. Using all her will, she kept watching and waiting. It moved through her, centering on the basin. The water swirled up into a spout, nearly emptying the pool. Electricity snapped around the suspended liquid. Lovena appeared next to her sisters; her gold scales reflecting the sun to create a shining circlet above the spout. Smiling, Cheyenne felt grateful for the blessings, which had been bestowed upon her. The circlet melted into the water, which gently returned to the basin with calming wind. Again the field became quiet.
Amazed, Cheyenne stood, staring at the reflective surface, nearly forgetting to call the last dragon. Taking a deep breath, she forced the air into her lungs and stepped to the northern candle. Blinking rapidly to restore the moisture to her eyes, she shakily extended her arms. “Tir‘th, great dragon of the Earth, I, Shawntal, call you to bring your healing and protection to my circle. Let your grounding force guide me through my healing. Make me so secure that the dark forces are unable to raise fear in me. Prevent them from having any influence on my destiny.” She did not have long to wait. The air around her filled with the scent of hot, moist earth. Her silver scales seem to reflect from the blades of grass and the barks of the trees as she rose up from the earth to manifest fully next to the three others.
Cheyenne knew it was time. Picking up the cauldron, she held it to the sky. The kettle swung in the breeze. Carefully she poured the contents into the basin and set the empty pot on the bank. Expecting the water to be cool, she stepped into the water. It was warm, like a bath. Relieved she lowered herself until the water tickled her chin. Holding her breath, she ducked beneath the surface. Her hair floated in the array around her head as the water lovingly cradled her. The water pressure on her ears echoed with her own heart beat. Bringing forth the memory of the attack, she imagined it was happening again. Only now while she floated in the safety of the dragons protection, she was protected by the loving strength of her guardians. The darkness was pulled away from her. Her energy was renewed as each pore was cleansed of the experience. She broke to the surface and pushed her hair back over her forehead. Floating toward the center she watched the reflections of the clouds distort in her wake. Turning over on her back, she floated, allowing the sunshine to warm her stomach and face. Her third eye and solar plexus began to pulsate as her drained batteries began to recharge. She dropped her barriers and just allowed. Her eyes began to droop. Paddling with her hands, she found the shore and propped her head on the bank, her butt resting on the bottom. The gentle current kept her legs afloat. She retained the memories of the attack, but none of the fear and pain remained. She could now look on the experience objectively and make her decisions.
Cheyenne still cherished the memories of Celeste. But she did not like the person Celeste had become. She no longer trusted her on any level. All the begging and pleading was over. There had been nothing she could do or say to stop Celeste from changing. It all came down to free will. Everyone had to chose their own path and take responsibility for their choices. Although, like a stone being dropped in a pond, the ripples widen to touch every shore, so each of our decisions affects others with the rebounding consequences. How each reacts to the influence creates new ripples and new consequences. Cheyenne was determined to stay on the path of light. She wouldn’t allow the fear and anger to lead her to do damage that would cost her dearly later. Nor could she continue to give or allow Celeste to take energy from her or her land when she would most likely use it to harm others.
She knew what she must do. She scanned the bank for the scissors. It wasn’t something she wanted to do. They gleamed in the afternoon sun. Swimming over she reached up and took them from the grass. Again surprised by her own calmness, Cheyenne held them up to the sky. “With love and sadness, I ask that my ties to my mother-sister, Celeste be severed. We no longer walk the same path. I can no longer come to her with unconditional love and perfect trust. She has broken faith with me. And in her eyes, I have broken faith with her. I ask the Goddesses and Gods to continue to guide and protect both of us. But as separate people, going on separate paths.” She flipped her hair over, combing the fingers of her free hand through the strands. She watched the ends float on top of the water. She didn’t want to. She loved her hair, how it felt brushing and playing with it. But there was no other way. Gathering it into a bunch, she brought up the blades. “To me, Celeste, the woman I loved is now dead.”
The first strands were severed. The sound was deafening. They slide into the water, at first disappearing under the weight, then resurfacing to float on the surface. For a moment, the memories forced her to stop. It was more than just hair she was cutting. It was enjoying the sunshine during walks. Their talks into the late night, questioning the universe and their place in it. Celeste was the first person who made Cheyenne feel needed and wanted.
She contracted her hand. The strands hit the surface. Water ran from the severed ends like blood from a limb. Her resolve wavered. But only for an instant. Celeste was no longer the loving woman of light, who held her hand and made the nightmares go away. Her mere presence no longer brought joy and a sense of security. That woman was gone. Cheyenne didn’t know if she would every return. It was more than just her union with a man. There had always been men in Celeste’s life. It was Dominic. He had no honor or truth within him. He took what he wanted no matter whom he hurt. What he wanted was the land. The blades came together. Cheyenne would never allow him to abuse this spiritual place. The farm had many special groves and fields, where the worlds intersected and people found peace.
She evened off the ends and flipped the remaining back. Where once the ends bounced around her waist, now they barely reached her shoulders. There was nothing left to do but allow the sun to dry her and the current to cleanse the water. Later, she would cry. Probably many times. But now with the sun on her back, she began making plans of how to rid herself of both of them.
Dragon Domain--Book Two of the Dragon Clan Trilogy (ISBN 1-58961-463-1) picks up the story a few months later as the Dragon Clan begins to reassemble at the safe haven Cheyenne has created on the Northern Michigan farm. Cheyenne was happy until an old love from Celeste‘s past appeared at their door. Rapidly the darkness of the night brought terror as sacrificial blood was shed. Cheyenne tried to warn her. Celeste refused to listen. She let him in. No one was safe from his darkness. Cheyenne called the dragons. They drove him back. Then they joined together in an old evil. Alone Cheyenne was barely able to defeated him, but now with Celeste’s help and knowledge of all her weakness, how could she possibly stop them from stealing her very soul and all those she loves?
Theresa Chaze has been described as the woman who plays with dragons, especially the dragons of the mind. She leads her readers to magical realms and others worlds. Her work is based on her philosophy that all peoples can live together in peace as long as we come from respect, not only for ourselves but those who follow different paths or beliefs. Her work has been compared to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey with an adult version of Harry Potter mixed in. Theresa Chaze's major works so far include the first two novels of the Dragon Clan Trilogy and a free fantasy ebook called, Sisters, Mother, Daughters. Her screenplay, Never Can Say Good-bye, is one of the 2006 winners of the Gloria Film Festival. She publishes an ezine called, Messages From the Universe, which is available on her site www.theresachaze.com.