This is the opening for a new story. What are the questions raised for you? Would you keep reading? Updated 12 Sept 2020.
The Path of Magic — Novitiate
Seek not wisdom from staring into this abyss
The shop-front windows rattled with the first tram of the day. Shadows cut dark lines through the filmy light. Aventi pressed her eye to the peephole in the heavy door. Two people bundled past in winter clothing, a testament to the last cold spell before spring.
Walking south. Away. Not coming to her door.
The time to find a Maiden to replace her was short. If the new novitiate didn’t arrive, or ignored the call, Aventi was stuck with Maiden for another decade. Or more. She’d be an old maid. And it would demonstrate beyond doubt that she hadn’t done enough to erase the black mark on her soul.
Long shadows stretched across the tramlines, slithered along the empty dew-sparkled road. Aventi set her feet flat on the warm timber floor, slid her hand over the carvings on the ironwood door.
Energy tingled through her body. She drew on the force to enhance the sonic resonance of the call. The response was a tickle as sub-harmonics rippled the air. The call to Maiden magnified to the greatest level she could accomplish.
Awaken, spirit of Maiden, soul of purity, heart of empath. Come forth, seek your true purpose.
She sang it again with the music of her wind chimes. Sang it a third time. Prayed. Once a new Maiden came forward, Aventi was free to walk a new path, a role less constrained and restrictive. She was tired of being so good, tired of seeking atonement for that one dereliction.
The door hummed with magic. Her hair stood on end, fluffed up with static. She dug into her skirt pocket, pulled out a scrunchie hair-tie and flattened her hair into a wispy ponytail.
Please, she whispered. Hurry.
Street noises rose with the strengthening light. The gloom of night faded. Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, woke to a new day. The bakery opposite exhaled aromatic temptation from the fresh-baked breads and yeasty scrolls. Aventi’s stomach rumbled. She’d fasted for three days to send the call.
If no one answered, she’d have to live with the guilt forever. She rested her head against the wood, glanced out the north window. The Melbourne-bound tram clattered past her shop. Almost empty. The next one would have people going to work, living their lives. Aventi took a deep breath and brushed away the sting of tears. She turned her back to the door, leaned her weary body against it.
The main shop area contained the one by two metre copper painting on the wall, the side-table below it, and the circle of symbols and motifs that took up most of the floor. Aventi’s arms ached. The maintenance of the last three days left few full sticks of chalk. But her hands itched to redo the patterns to ensure someone heard it.
The right colour to attract the right person, to set Aventi free to be cleansed and renewed. To remove the stain at her core. Which could only happen if she presented a new Maiden to the path of magic.
The air above the circle swirled with sounds Aventi didn’t hear, but the call wasn’t for her. One person. She needed one person to hear the call, to respond to this specific spectrum of sound, the music and compulsion of magic.
Aventi negotiated her way around the circle to avoid disturbing the lines and patterns. Everything from her shop was now stacked and boxed and stored in the kitchenette. If no one came, would she have to unpack it again? Or would this failure be the end of her purpose?
One clear space in front of the sink remained, with the kettle and her favourite cup always ready.
If she made a brew and finished it and no one came, she’d have her answer. Unforgiven. If no one came, the last resort was in black containers on the top cupboard —
Rap, rap, tappity, tap.
The teapot clattered to the sink. Aventi spun, hand over her mouth to stifle the squawk. Was that a knock? Was someone there? She leapt into the shopfront, keeping outside the circle, and slid into the door, peeped out. Her eyes widened at the small crowd gathered in the funnelled entryway. Why so many? If she had to choose one from the applicants, she didn’t know the criteria.
The door chimes rang. Nine times.