Arlia’s skin started to tingle again, and her hands were freezing cold when she slipped out of her white robe and let it drop to the ground. The sunlight shone on her body as she received the golden robe from Muthra. The fabric felt warm, almost alive, and when the young woman let it slide down her body, it gave her a feeling of deep comfort and peace of mind.
She nestled at the small diamond pendant hanging around her neck, making sure it fell perfectly down the v-shaped neckline. She never took off this precious gift she had been given by her oldest brother, shortly before La’Rean vanished from the town one winter morning and was never seen again.
Arlia’s stomach tightened at the thought, and she fought to drive the thought from her mind.
She finally managed to smile at her teacher, who stepped aside and gave way to a crystal vessel. Taking a deep breath, Arlia carefully took a few steps forward. Her eyes widened when she looked down into the bowl.
Floating just above the shimmering bottom, there it was: a single bright-white feather. Arlia reached out, touched it with her fingertips and then gasped softly. Upon her touch, the feather began to glow and turn into a hue of gold that matched her robes perfectly. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It was delicate, only about nine inches long, and now shone almost brighter than the sun. The young woman held her breath when she carefully took the end of the feather and lifted it from the crystal.
Her head was spinning.
This was it.
With the feather in her right hand and her small bag in the other, Arlia approached the circle.
The golden dust floated lazily a few inches above the ground. But when Arlia came closer, the color became more vibrant, and the particles started to swirl around until the circle was complete; a golden disc pulsing with magic and life.
Arlia looked over her shoulder at Muthra. The old woman was sitting cross-legged, hands folded, and eyes closed. Praying.
The young woman focused on the circle in front of her. Slowly she opened her bag, and took out a handful of bright white stones. Ideally, her soul would have the color of the stones that were picked and also signified the steadfastness of the soul that was being conjured.
Carefully, Arlia distributed them on the outer ring of the golden disc. She expected the stores to fall through the fine golden dust, but to her surprise they floated just where they had been placed.
Next, she filled the circle with some wooden sticks, grass, flowers, and water. She wanted her companion to be as gentle and whole as the nature around her.
Many companions were conjured with items of war to ensure they would fare well in a battle, and oftentimes people added items that promised speed and swiftness.
Arlia used the clear water to ask for silent speed and movements as fluid as the drops that floated on top of the golden dust.
Next came sapphires. It had taken Arlia a long time to find stones that she considered perfect; they would represent her soul’s eyes.
Then she pulled a piece of fabric from her almost empty pouch. Unlike others, she had chosen to ask the tailors for their help instead of using the fur of an animal. Over the past year, she had collected petals from her favorite flower. The delicate leafs looked like a cotton ball sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was the softest material that could be found in these parts of her world. Her tiger would have the softest fur, if everything went right.
She unfolded the cloth and carefully spread it over the circle, hiding the items underneath.
She reached into her pouch one last time and pulled out a smooth, silvery-blue gem. On its surface, she had carefully inscribed the words “tiger” and “Na’Ral” in the ancient symbolic language. The second symbol was the name she had chosen for her soul: White Flame. She placed the gem in the middle of the blanket.
Holding her breath, she carefully placed the golden feather diagonally over the gem. In that very moment, the circle started to glow. Arlia stepped back, folded her hands, and got down on her knees. For a moment, everything was quiet. Then Muthra’s voice broke the silence. After a few seconds, Arlis joined her and together they sang the incantation, asking their ancestors for a soul companion that would stay with Arlia forever, that would carry her to end of the world and fight by her side whenever it was required.
When the song ended, both women opened their eyes and looked at the circle. The white blanket was gone, and so were the stones, the sticks, and the water. All that was left was the golden dust.
For a moment that felt like eternity to Arlia, she thought that nothing had happened.
Nothing at all.
Her heart sank, and her eyes began to fill with tears.
But then she saw movement. Something white and fluffy was stirring, and a glimmer of blue broke through the dust.