Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Adventure Begins!

yippee kayay

Nanowrimo started last night, but I had a game to run. Weird Wars: WWII. It was great, but I start the month a day behind. Tonight was good, however, and the noveling is off to a roaring start with the birth of Anaea, the Amazon Blade.

Anaea began life as a dream.

Restless from an eon of wrangling in the courts of Olympos, the goddess Athena slept fitfully, dreaming of a dark-eyed slayer who solved her problems with deadly action, rather than patience and wisdom. When Athena has a dream—or a nightmare—it is born as an amazon warrior on the island of Athena’s dreams.

Anaea was not the first. Far from it. Cyrene was the daughter of Athena’s first dream upon the stage of reality, and queen of the amazons.

When the storm-clouds gathered, Cyrene and the amazons gathered together to pray and tell stories and sing songs, around a roaring fire. They made special dishes, reserved only for the occasion of a new amazon’s birth. The party lasted through the night and the next day. By dark that night, the women were exhausted for the most part. Some lay unconscious on the steps of the temple. Then the storm unleashed its worst, battering their homes and whipping away the curtains and extinguishing the temple fires. It grew dark and very cold on the mountaintop where the amazons reveled for the coming of another among them.

Lightning blasted to the earth, scorching homes and felling trees. The strikes grew closer and the amazons began to run for cover. The frequency of the strikes grew more intense, into a rain of lightning focused on the temple itself. The amazons, trained warriors to a woman, avoided the blasts for the most part, and drew back in to witness the conclusion of the lightning dance. A single arc, as wide as an oak tree’s trunk flashed up from the copper bowl which sat in the lap of the temple’s statue of the goddess, reaching into the sky for an eternal moment. The air grew dry and sharp with the smell, and then the stench of burning cloth and paper.

The lightning column flickered and went out. The rain had stopped and the wind had died. The only sounds in the temple was the soft sound of the amazons breathing in relief. A baby’s cry pealed through the darkness. It was a question, followed by a breath or two of silence before cries of true dismay rent the night. “Fire!” called Cylene. “We must see what the goddess has sent us on such a storm.” A flame appeared in the dark, floating above the hand of Philosphene, an amazon possessed of gifts for handling and calling fire. The sandy-haired amazon blew a breath on the flame and it broke apart, flying to the fallen torches in the room, lighting them, and setting them back in their places. The temple was a disaster. But for the bodies, Cylene would have sworn a battle had taken place here. She swooned with the realization of prophecy, and her friend Antimache caught her.

“My queen, what ails you?” Antimache asked in near panic.

“It is a vision, my friend. This is not the last time our temple will be so distraught. But, help me, Antimache. Where is the child?”

Other gathered around in the gloom, until a torch was brought closer. They all could hear a baby crying, but the bowl in statue-Athena’s lap was empty.

“Look,” cried Evadne, who was good at spotting things, “the bowl is moving.”

In fact, as Cyrene looked at the bowl, she did see it shake slightly as another ear-splitting cry bit her ears. She reached into the bowl with her eyes closed, remembering the movement she had made a hundred times, to pick up a newborn amazon. Just as she remembered, she felt the soft skin of a baby and found it’s neck and it’s bottom. Lifting the invisible infant to her. She could feel a full head of hair on the child already as she cradled it in her arms. The crying stopped and after a moment, the baby gasped and sighed. Cyrene wiped the baby’s face with her dress, by feel, saying, “Welcome, little one. These are your sisters, the amazons. And I am their queen, Cyrene. Be welcome with love.”

The baby sighed and Cyrene gasped along with her sisters as a dark-eyed baby girl slowly appeared in her arms. Some of the amazons shied away from the alert, distrustful gaze the baby set upon them. When finally the too-dark eyes turned upward and fixed on Cyrene, her heart was filled with dread. Finally, she thought, Athena has sent our doom.

“A hunter, we have been sent,” Cyrene cried, looking up to circle of confused faces. She held the baby high. “And her name shall be Anaea!”

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