In the twilight before the break of dawn a wail pierces through the silence. In the trees surrounding the cabin was a small flock of different types owls, not often seen together but this night was special. One owl that stood out from all of the rest had a face of white which trailed down the chest and belly while the wings and back feathers were the color of wheat. A simple barn owl to most but to the baby inside the cabin a guide. As the sunlight rose up above the horizon the owls took off into the morning light all but the one lone owl who remained on the peak of the roof.
As the years past the small baby grew into a young woman and still never far from her watching as she grew was this simple bird. The child was raised in the way of the earth, of plants and their healing properties and to the cycles of the seasons. She was raised also with the purpose to bring peace to the land.
As she turned 19, she was summoned to go to the temple. The day was like any other for her with her starting her morning tending her garden when she heard in the distance a horse whine which meant she would have company shortly. She gathered her tools and headed back into the cabin to set a kettle on the fire. As the water boiled and the kettle started to whistle there was a knock at the door.
The woman opened the door to a man she had not seen before, he was dressed in black with a small insignia of the temple adorn on the shirt. She had never been there but she knew what man needed from her. She turned without a word and walked to the hearth and began dousing the fire and turning embers to make sure it was out before moving on to gather up her items for the journey. The man stood at the door watching woman as she completed her tasks. She was silent and efficient in her movements as she set the cabin for storage as if she knew she wasn’t coming back.
Once the cabin was all set, she grabbed her bag and turned to the man at her door and nodded while walking past him to the horses he had tethered nearby. The man helped her secure her pack to the horse and helped her mount up. The man took the lead so he didn’t see the women twist in her saddle for one last look at the cabin that been her home for 19 years. Nor did he see the owl launch into the air to follow the woman.
As night fell the man and woman came the lake with a small boat waiting for them as well as two women in robes of black with a small insignia of the temple embroidered on to the right-side of chest area. The man and woman dismounted and gathered the packs and walked to the women. One of the priestesses bowed slightly to the woman standing before them and then turning to the boat to help them settle on it. While the other priestess gathered the reins and walked to the horses further down the shore line to a ferry that will help transport the horses. The lanterns lite and hung above the bow and stern of the boat which allowed them to see their way as they crossed the lake to a little island in the middle, which was hard to see given the mist surrounding it.
Vivian stood talk and regal at the edge of the dock watching the boat as it cut through the mist to dock with a small bump causing some of the water to splash up. Vivian watched the young woman move softly and with slightly wide eyes as she look around. Vivian knew this was much for the woman who had never left the woods or been far from the cabin she was born in. Vivian hoped the woman will be able to manage all that was coming her way now. Finally, the woman, priestess and man stopped before Vivian and her acolytes who stood behind her. The man and priestess bowed to Vivian where the woman stood tall and proud but not with any sense of arrogance. Vivian nodded and turned without a word spoken. The small party walked from the dock to the soft ground of the island making their way to temple, which came into view the further from the water they walk for the mist seemed to only hang back by the water. As they walked up to the temple the large doors swung open without a sound and into the great stone building the woman walked forgetting all those who walked with her. The woman knew she was home and knew peace and comfort. The owl silently flew into the temple through the open door passing the party to glide and land quietly on the rafters above the altar at the end of the great room.
Vivian made her way to the altar and picked up a goblet and turned to the woman, “Greetings dear child. Welcome home.” As she held out the goblet to the woman. “Thank you, milady,” a soft voice that had a musical note to it spoke. The woman accepting the goblet taking a small drink before walking past Vivian to replace the goblet on the altar.
Turning back to Vivian the woman waiting for what was next knowing there was many tasks for her but not knowing where to start. “Jade here will take you to your room to settle you for the night, at dawn we will met again and all will be explained.” A small slip of a girl, no more of 15 years of age stepped forward to woman and gestured for her to follow. The man and Vivian stood side by side watching the woman leave the temple hall going through a small door to the left towards the sleeping area. After the door closed Vivian turned to the man. “Well Duncan what are your thoughts of your bride?”
Without answering her question directly Duncan answered with a question of his own. “Does she know what is expected of her?”
“She has been raised and trained in all that is needed of her. You will find that she is ready and willing.”
“She is young, Vivian, how can you be so sure?”
“I was no older than she is now when I took my place and she is of my blood so I know all will be well.”
“Mmm, I will see you in the morning Vivian and we shall see how this fairs.” The man turned and followed the same path the young woman walked moments before.
Vivian turned to the altar and looked up to the owl in rafters, making eye contact before leaving the room as well.
In the morning the young woman woke in the twilight knowing soon dawn would bring the sunlight over the horizon and her destiny. The woman began moving with soft efficient movements, she washed her face at the basin before dressing in a gown of fade red, the lightness of the color showed her status of soon to be High Priestess and Bride.
The woman walked back to the temple hall after she was dress just as the sun peaked over the horizon. As if drawn she walked back to the altar to stand before while waiting for the others. Vivian watched as the woman stood in front of the altar and saw herself all of those years ago. Quiet moments passed before Duncan entered the hall breaking the quietness.
The woman turned and found that she was being watch by both the man and Vivian. The woman realized she didn’t even know his name nor have they ever spoken. The woman walked towards the man and Vivian as she started to speak, “Good morn milady, sir. I am ready if someone will please explain what the next step is.” For Duncan her voice had a musical note to it and found he wished she would continue to speak but like everything else about this young woman she is simple and efficient.
“Come let us break our fast and discuss the next step.” Vivian spoke as she turned to the right expecting the other two to follow. As they all sat at the table that was covered with fresh baked bread and fruit. They spent the rest of the morning going over the expectation of wedding and the transfer of power. The woman finally learned the man’s name was Duncan and he was who she was to marry in three days’ time.
The days passed by quickly due to all of the tasks that needed to be completed in such a short time. Finally, the day was upon them and the woman was in her room getting into her dress of blood red which is both a symbol of her place as a bride and the new high priestess. After she finished getting ready, she just stood before the window waiting until there was a knock at the door. Jade the young girl who showed her to her room the first night was there again to escort her to the temple hall. As she walked into the hall there was Vivian in front of the altar in the dress of a lighter shade of red this was woman’s signaling that she was ready to transfer power. Beside Vivian stood Duncan no longer in black he was in the colors of the king, his colors.
The woman and her escort approached the altar with her eyes only on the man before her, who will shortly be her husband. Jade walked the woman to the altar, bowed to the man and Vivian before turning and joining others acolytes to witness this day.
Vivian waited until all was quiet in the hall before starting the ceremony, “Before the Gods we are here to witness the union between Elana and Duncan.”
Duncan turned to the Elana and drew his sword and with this gesture he spoke clearly these words, “With my sword I pledge my life to yours. I will always be your protector and your partner. I will cherish you for all of your days and with each breath I take. With this sword it will be a symbol of my pledge.”
Elana taking the sword from Duncan when he finished his pledge, placing the sword into the empty sheath. Elana taking a ring from a small pouch she spoke these words before placing the ring on Duncan’s finger. “I am the shield of your heart, the protector of your soul, the nurturer of your mind and lover of your body.”
“With these pledges before the Gods, Elana and Duncan you are now husband and bride.” Vivian spoke clearly into the temple hall. Taking the goblet from the altar she held it first to Duncan and then to Elana, “with this union sealed we call on the Gods to transfer the power from the old high priestess to the new high priestess so that peace can be maintained in the land.” As soon as the words were spoken a piercing cry filled the hall from the owl who had been watching the ceremony from the rafters. The owl glided down to the altar and landed before them and then gave another piercing cry.
A few years later in the twilight before the dawn in a small cabin in the woods a wail echoes through the trees that were filled with owls as the next high priestess was born.