The bowl lay overturned on the floor, a rough crack running down one side. The flashes that Alena saw after touching the sacred vessel scorched thru her mind with such velocity that she could barely make them out before they disappeared back into the darkness. There was a vision of a great hall full of laughter and singing, a boar that stood as tall as a man, and a beautiful woman in cloak of falcon feathers searching in the wilderness; she saw them each in brilliant flashes, and then they were gone leaving no answers, only questions.
The wailing started the instant the bowl hit the ground, before the crack even had time to finish forming; it was a shrill, blood curdling scream that tore thru the night, and pierced Alena right down to her soul; she dropped trembling to her knees in the back of the dank, dreary cave and covered her ears to the ceaseless assault.
The Graiai; wretched and hideous demigods with the ability to look into one’s soul and see their whole life, from past to future, but never until their price of blood had been paid; these three sister witches that called this hole in the side of the mountain top their home seemed to come out of no where; it was as though they stepped out of the very jagged, rocky sides of the cave itself.
“What have you done, you stupid, insolent girl!” the middle hag, Enyo, berated her; kicking dirt into Alena’s face as she crawled behind the altar searching for a place to hide.
“It was an accident, I swear it.” Alena cowered there in the floor, her eyes begging and full of fear as she saw the damaged basin laying behind them; its enchanted waters of seeing, seeping into the ground, forever lost. The three sisters were now looming over her, and blocking the only way out.
“Lies! All lies! Death to the girl!” screamed Persis, the youngest of the three, as they now started closing in around her.
“No, death is far to easy.” replied Enyo, “Tormented for eternity by the furies. Ripped apart, and put back together to be ripped apart again she should be!”
“Yes! Yes! Torment and torture for the rest of all time.” agreed Persis. Along with Enyo they hoisted Alena from the floor of the cave, and pinned her against the wall. Hissing and spitting in her face, they began to scrub away the pink markings of the Rowan Berry extract Alena and her companions had used to disguise her as one of the servants of the moon goddess Luna, come to place an offering before their wicked altar.
“No, I do not recognize her.” Persis announced as the last of the pink was harshly wiped from Alena’s cheek.
“This cannot be…the faces of all the priestesses we know.” added Enyo.
Denio, the oldest of the sisters, who had been watching as her siblings washed the false markings from the intruder’s face finally stepped forward, she pushed her sisters aside as she leaned in close to inspect Alena. “No, this cannot be. You do not belong here!”, she shouted hysterically with confusion and surprise as she stumbled backwards away from the girl.
“What? What is it that you’ve seen?” her two sisters asked as they took a second look; this time peering deep into Alena’s fear-stricken eyes. It took only a second for them to see what Denio had seen, and when they had it sent Enyo and Persis scampering for cover behind their eldest sister.
“You must leave now, at once. You never should have come here. You were never meant to know.”, all three spoke at once.
“But I must find the meaning of the things I saw as I touched the bowl.” Alena pleaded. “Who killed my mother? and how did I get to this place I thought only existed in story?”
“No, lost daughter of Freyja, we will not tell you, not even if we could.” they spoke again in perfect unison, “Now go, and never do return!” With that the three witches spun around disappearing into the side of the cave once more; and with their passing, deathly silence and stillness returned to the hovel.
Alena seeing she could now escape ran for the mouth of the cave, and after reaching the freedom of the cold night air she quickly hurried back down the trail that led to her comrades waiting at the bottom of the mount.
written for: The Speakeasy – #138