Reverent Sacrifice

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: February 15, 2017

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Comments: 1

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Submitted: February 15, 2017



Muddy water splashed up from the soaked ground and splattered against the leather pants of a young woman walking through a thick forest. Large droplets of rain pelted the trees and filtered through their leaves to saturate the dark cloak that hid her hair and face. Beneath the heavy fabric was a mass of curly black hair, a pair of large, bright green eyes, beneath thick, dark brows, a wide, sloping nose, and plump lips framed by a diamond-shaped face. It was cold, but she paid the elements no mind as she pressed forward, squinting through the sheet of rain at what she could see was the edge of the forest.
Beyond the border was her destination, the castle carved into the mountain side ahead. Accessible only by a single steep winding path up the mountain, its sharp edges and points cast eerie shadows in the darkness of the dense clouds. Its tall walls and soaring towers seemed to be cut straight from the night sky and, as its visitor drew closer, it shone with raindrops that glistened like stars. The clean sleekness of it was not of the land in resided in. For fourteen years it had stood, glaring down at all who gazed upon its formidable facade. None had yet dared enter until that evening.
The new visitor was not at all afraid of what stood before her. She had yet to experience real fear. Being as powerful as she was and living a sheltered life for her first eighteen years meant that few things had the power to intimidate her. It wasn't just her recklessness that drove her to enter, however. She was a child of magic; it flowed through her as much as blood would and she knew when she had encountered magic that was familiar. The castle was encased in an invisible barrier that she could sense as she neared it. As she passed through, the barrier’s magic shot a bolt of energy through her. The crescent moon necklace around her neck glowed bright violet, and a sheild flashed in front of her at the contact. She knew the origins of the magic there were close to her own. The familiarity should have comforted her after having to learn the strange ways of the other kingdoms, but instead a knot began to form in the pit of her stomach.
The castle's front entrance dwarfed her. Up close, it seemed that the material it derived from was some sort of pure mineral that absorbed all of the light around it. One could see that there were in fact two doors, but there were no handles with which to open them. She stepped forward and pushed at them, finding that they both slowly slid open with little effort needed. Upon entering, she found that the interior drastically contrasted the exterior.
Inside were polished black marble floors, with columns of the same stone holding up the high ceilings. A long rug of luxurious velvet led to the first grand staircase, ornate railings of white gold on either side. There wasn't much light inside, so as she ventured deeper, she held up her hand in front of her, palm up. White light glowed ahead of her and the large doors slid shut behind her when she turned down one of the wide hallways. Large, detailed paintings of fantastical lands hung on the walls and the many doors in each hall she walked through were made of a dark wood and decorated with carvings of strange figures around their edges.
The design inside was appropriate for the Enchanted Forest mainland, the cold ornateness of it all resembling the castles she had seen in kingdoms like Camelot. The complete lifelessness of the polished stone and carved decorations were so alien to her even now after spending years away from home. Distracted by her surroundings, the girl didn't notice the light pitter-patter of paws as she continued deeper into the castle, nor did she notice the distant ticking of a watch until she came to a room with a lit fire and a few large chairs. It appeared that the rumors may have been true; someone certainly lived in there.
"Excuse me madam, but, what are you doing here?" A nervous voice asked from behind her as she examined one of the chairs.
She whirled around, her light bursting with sudden intensity until she looked down and saw a white rabbit in a waistcoat scrambling for cover. The light died and she straightened, her hood now fallen to her shoulders. "Forgive me for intruding, sir," she apologized. "I am a traveler and I came across this castle while walking in the forest.” Her words were colored with a slight accent that she yet to shake when she spoke the mainland tongue he used with her.
Regaining his composure, the rabbit looked up with concern. "Oh of course! You're soaked to the bone, dear girl!" He walked to the fire, gesturing for her to follow. "You absolutely must come and get warm. What were you doing out there in this weather?"
As she sat before the flames, she caught a wisp of purple smoke out of the corner of her eye. Upon looking at it, she saw a black large cat floating lazily in the air. It was striped in shades of blue with large and vibrant green eyes. It floated over to her and the rabbit with a toothy grin stretching across its face. "Perhaps she was looking for trouble. She seems like the type, don't you think?" Its voice was deep like a grown man's and its words were drawn out far more than was normal.
She looked up at it curiously, an almost defiant pout on her face. "Excuse me. I heard rumors about this place and sought to find it and look!" she swept her arm in a gesture that encompassed the room,"I did."
The rabbit's nose twitched and he shifted anxiously. "Are you quite sure about that, dear? This isn't somewhere you want to stay."
"And why is that?" asked the cat.
The rabbit considered it with squinted eyes then turned to their visitor, "This castle is cursed, you see. It's been this way for fourteen years."
"I figured that. The magical hold on this place is very strong."
"You know of magic, child?" the cat said.
"I do, sir. Although I suppose I should introduce myself first. I am Christine, a native of Kartonoch," she bowed her head respectfully to them.
The eyes of both widened and the rabbit shifted again, its nose twitching more,"A Cainanite? That's..That is.."
"-Exactly what we need." The cat cut the rabbit off. "How wonderful it is that you have come."
She had been forced to grown accustomed to nervous or blatantly fearful reactions to her origins since beginning her travels years earlier and so no longer found it necessary to try and amend anything right away. She leaned forward, meeting their eyes,"Tell me, what is the truth of this place?"
The rabbit straightened his waistcoat and sat on the floor. “It’s a long story.”
She shrugged and leaned back in the chair, legs crossed and posture perfect,"I have nowhere else to be.”
“Oh get on with it.” said the cat as it rested its chin on its paws, hovering above the floor by Christine's shoulder.
The rabbit huffed and began. “It started with a man who thought he could steal from a powerful race. But he was caught and given a choice that ruined his life. They offered him the choice of either death or exile. He did not want to die of course so he chose exile. They built this castle to trap him and put a barrier around it to ensure he never escaped. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they cursed him to somehow forget who he was and what magic he had. ‘On the dawn of the fifteenth year of your exile, the curse will remain until the end of time unless it is broken by a being powerful enough.’ they said to him. And so it has been for fourteen years. The poor man’s gone completely mad and no one has ever come here to do anything about all of this before you, dear.”
Christine frowned, “They thought that was an acceptable consequence? How unfair!” She stood.
“Do you intend to do anything about it?” Asked the cat, remaining where it had been and looking up at her.
She clenched her fists. “Yes I do. Is there anything in here that can be used for spells?”
The rabbit got back on his feet. “We do, but now is not the time for that.”
“Why not?! There isn’t much time left!”
The rabbit trembled slightly. “Please calm down. We have months before the final day and you’re still soaked.”
In her anger, the girl’s eyes had begun to glow green, something that happened to all members of her race when becoming very emotional. She saw the rabbit was afraid, however, and the tension melted out of her. She took a deep breath. “I suppose so. I am sorry for scaring you, but I hate the sort of thing. People should not be made to suffer so greatly for minor offenses. It is not right.”
“That may be so, but we are still here. Come with me and we will get you something to eat. You must be famished.” the rabbit said, hopping to the door.
Christine followed, glancing at the wet spot on the rug her cloak had made. With a wave of her hand it was gone along with the water on her cloak. “Pardon me but what do you two want me to call you?”
“I am the Cheshire Cat, child. Pleasure to make your acquaintance,” said the cat, taking her hand in both of its paws and shaking it.
“You may call me Mr.Rabbit.”
“He won’t do anything if you don’t, though. It’s quite fun to make him angry.”
The rabbit prickled at that but did not comment.
They made their way to the large kitchen. The three made tea to drink and Christine ate tea cakes once it was finished. Not much was said and the two hosts watched their guest mull over what she was told. She was still visibly distressed and neither wanted to rouse her anger again.
When the tea was finished, they cleaned up and brought her to a spacious bedroom past the center of the castle and down a long hallway. The bed was massive with thick blankets and large fluffy pillows piled on it. Tied to its four posts with satin rope were velvet curtains. On the floor there were several rugs with different designs that didn’t quite match and in the corner closest to the window there was a sitting area. What appeared to be crystal clear glass panels made up an entire wall, but nothing appeared to connect them. She looked to the other side and saw the large doors of a closet and another for a washroom. Beside the dresser was a vanity that whined and cracked with disuse. It was the only thing in the room that looked neglected.
She stepped in and regarded it all with interest. Even though nothing in the room seemed to really match anything else, it was so luxurious that she could not help but turn to her hosts with a smile,"Thank you very much. This is a beautiful room.” She had grown up with far more than this, but such accommodations had been scarce in her treks between kingdoms.
The Cheshire Cat grinned at her, its mouth stretching far further than any human's would. “Isn’t it? This is one of the nicer ones, I’m sure you’ll sleep very well.”
“If you should find yourself needing anything at all ring the bell on the night table and someone will come to your aid. Goodnight!” Mr.Rabbit said hurriedly before hopping down the hall.
“Goodnight, dear.” Cheshire lingered in its place for a moment before slowly fading into purple smoke that dissipated seconds after it was no longer visible.
Christine closed her door and looked around the room. She didn’t feel like anything was dangerous but the magic around the castle was most definitely present inside of it. Knowing the truth after hearing rumors for so long did upset her; she knew all of this was wrong and she felt obliged to help the castle’s residents. She had a feeling that there was more to the curse than the two creatures were aware of.
She removed her cloak and draped it across the one of the chairs in the sitting area, set her ever-present satchel on the same chair, and walked to the vanity. She swiped her hand and the dust was removed, floating into the air and disappearing. She took stock of herself in the large mirror. With curly black hair that formed a dense cloud around her head, dark brown skin that was peppered with hardly visible freckles across her nose and barely rounded cheeks, an ample chest, wide shoulders and hips above long legs that were growing weary, she was proud of her beauty. She could see that her dark purple shirt and black leather pants were not damaged in the forest and she bore no scars from the magic of the barrier. She allowed herself a small smile and looked through the dresser for a nightgown. She found one long enough for her tall frame and changed into it, removing everything except for the necklace she always wore. The exhaustion from her journey quickly dragged her into sleep.

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