Saturday, July 28, 2007

Entry #23

Rhudha-an’s Task
by Apprentice


The clearing’s just where the village elder said it would be.

Light streams into the forest from a rent in the canopy, like a cleft in the roof of a submerged cave.

The glade is the only golden spot in a land of shadow-play.

She gently puts down the package of five seedlings, their roots careful bound in the finest skins and bark.

She’s a tall child of thirteen, with long red hair and skin as pale as thistle-down. They chose her, from all the settlement’s girls, because her lovely locks exactly match the colours of rowan when the year starts to fail.

She knows what to do, the glade must cleared of all fallen debris, which must be burnt, and the cooled embers and ash spread all around. Only then can she use her sharp digging stick, cut from the mother tree, to make slits in the deep loam and plant the five precious saplings. They must be in a circle, exactly thirty one paces apart, and she must chant all the while, “Oh rowan tree, rowan tree give your strength to me.”

Then briars and holly must be cut and gathered to protect the seedlings from deer.

From this day forward she will tend and protect them until they rise up into the sunlight bearing their beautiful and bloody fruit.

Then her blood will flow and she will dance over to the other world.

26 comments:

Hoodie said...

I love your description of the clearing. Very beautiful language.

SzélsőFa said...

I like how the word use and description of events matches the theme and the vents themselves. It's like a mystic story of a long forgotten tribe.

apprentice said...

My friend is always trying to get me to attempt fantasy, she a published writer. So I thought I'd try, the word count here was just right, any longer and it would have felt a bit daunting.

Jaye Wells said...

I agree with the others. You've got a real talent for description.

onipar said...

Not a huge fan of fantasy, but i did like this.

Victor J. Banis said...

Really lovely - your friend is right, you have the right touch for fantasy.

apprentice said...

Thank you all for the kind words.
I look forward to showing it to Debbie to see her reaction.

I wrote a haiban recently about a similar place and that was a good exercise in using poetic language to capture the spirit of a place.

Katherine Napier said...

You have a knack for adding visuals to the flow without being abrupt, making for a very enjoyable read.

Beth said...

I agree with Victor and your friend. Particularly loved the very end.

apprentice said...

Thank you Katherine and Beth, I appreciate you both taking the time to read and comment on my contribution.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Lovely descriptive writing - and nicely evocative too.

Jeff said...

This has a nice narrative flow. Imaginative. Good job.

apprentice said...

Thank you both.

angel said...

wow, i want to know more!

apprentice said...

Yes maybe I could invent a world lol! Enjoyed yours too Angel

tea and cake said...

This has such a light touch for evoking a mysterious atmosphere!

loved it!

Verilion said...

The description is fantastic Apprentice, would love to know more. Well done.

JLB said...

I really like the uniqueness of this piece!

jenn said...

I immediately want to know more about this culture: why is the rowan tree so precious to them?

Captivating.

Bernita said...

I particularly liked how your sympathetic magic-logic is consistent.

RachaelfromNJ said...

I liked your descriptions of everything. Your last line was great. Great writing.

''Then her blood will flow and she will dance over to the other world.''

apprentice said...

Thanks all. I'm grateful for you taking the time to read my entry.

I based it on the fact that the rowan was precious to the ancient people in Europe and Britain in particular. It has rich folk lore. (http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/rowan.html.)

And I've read a bit about "bog people" - ancient preserved bodies found in peat bogs in Europe. One in particular is of a young man thought to have been sacrificed near some sacred site, perhaps a water source.

So I drew on those influences.
And there's something quite warped about the idea of tending to something that will lead to your own demise. Although the flow of blood could be the arrival of womanhood too - I'm torn on that point. But it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Pearl said...

Interesting story. I did like the ambiguity of the blood.

Thérèse said...

The way you wrote this is both lovely and haunting. I want to know what happens next, and what the blood means; I'm hooked!

I liked it, and I agree with those who say your voice lends itself well to fantasy. It has that feel. :)

chanpheng said...

I like the primal feel to the piece.

jason evans said...

Very intriguing idea. Has a Celtic or Druidic feel. Her acceptance is easy because it's so far off.