Part 1 can be found here.
As Arlia stepped into the bright sunlight, she tried to slow down her heartbeat. She was excited. She had dreamt about her incantation day for what seemed to be an eternity. She pictured herself in beautiful golden robes that were customary for this day, her hair framing her face and making her eyes glow. She thought about approaching the magic circle where she would place the items she needed for the spell.
Located in the middle of the library garden, the circle was located on an elevated platform made of white marble, surrounded by lush, green grass. The circle itself was nothing special: A ring of pale golden dust. But once a person started the incantation, the circle would gain in color, density, and intensity, and it was different from person to person. For as long as Arlia could remember, she had heard stories about the incantation and the appearance of the circle.
Not many people had actually seen more than two ceremonies though. Since conjuring a soul mate was the most intimate thing a young sorceress could do, only one other person was allowed in the garden; this was usually a close friend, a sibling or parent or spouse.
For a long time, Arlia hadn’t been able to decide whom to invite. She was liked by most of the people in their village, but she had always stuck to herself. She did not like to open up to people. But this she could not do alone.
In the end Arlia decided to bring a person she greatly respected: A female Elder who was her teacher when she was very young. Now, Muthra was old and in the caring hands of her two children, Beeka and Misora.
Arlia did not know if she was a good choice or not. She loved her father, but their relationship had always been a little strained due to their vastly different personalities. A friend, then? But Arlia just did not have one best friend. She had friends, yes, but not one person with whom she shared every thought and feeling. So Muthra seemed to be the best choice. Many years ago, when she was still young herself, Muthra had witnessed the birth of a winged soul, and Arlia secretly hoped that the old woman was a good luck charm.
As for the practical details of the ritual: everything would be in its exact place, everything would be perfect. Arlia had decided long ago that her soul companion would be a tiger. For centuries, young sorcerers and sorceresses chose either a horse or a tiger. Most of Arlia’s girlfriends chose horses, magnificent creatures, fast and elegant. Arlia though wanted to be different. She rolled her eyes at the thought. She did not like to admit to herself that she sometimes felt as if she did not quite belong, or that she was bored with the way things were usually done.
Arlia walked at the edge of the garden until she reached a door that lead into a marble hallway, lined with book shelves carrying scriptures, artifacts, and the occasional floating book.
Walking through, she stopped in front of a door made of Mahogany wood. It showed intricate carvings, but no door knob or a hey hole. This door would only open when the time was right, and many students waited for their teachers to designate that special moment.
But Arlia did not have to be told. This morning, when she woke up, she knew that today would be the day. That she would take all the items needed with her when she approached her father and fight for her right to take a feather.
Arlia inhaled deeply before she slowly moved her right hand towards the door, palm facing forward. When she touched the cool wood, her body felt electrified for a moment.
Then the heavy door slowly opened. A shimmer of gold came through the first crack, and a few seconds later Arlia stood on the threshold to the inner sanctuary, bathed in light. A shiver went through her body. Then her lips curled into a soft smile. Muthra was there, waiting. Of course she knew … probably even before Arlia knew herself. The old woman carried Arlia’s golden robe. She had never seen, let alone worn it before, but the tailors never made a mistake with these robes. It was as if magic itself helped the men and women to get every single stitch just right.
Arlia felt nervousness creeping up her stomach, a symphony of butterflies going wild. She had dreamt of this day for so long, and now, all the sudden, she started to doubt herself.
What if she was not ready?
No, then the door would have opened.
Then Muthra would not be here, waiting for her.
What if she forgot an item she needed?
She clutched her blue silk bag, afraid of dropping it.
Her eyes flickered when she approached her old teacher. The woman smiled at her, full of confidence. “I have waited a long time for this day, Arlia”, she said.