Written for this week’s Prompted Link Up: Exercising Free Will | Tipsy Lit.
Ali could no longer feel her hand, numb from holding tight to the staff that her mother had passed on to her at sunrise. Concentrating hard she forced her lungs to fill with air, struggling to draw in the stale, pungent vapours that had gathered under the many layers that the women had draped over her as the ceremony progressed. She was aware of the constant chants and murmurings, but required all her willpower simply to stay upright. Blinded by her coverings, she concentrated on stillness. It was imperative that she remain in control.
The Seer had told her mother on the day of her birth that she was destined for greatness. Over the years mother had questioned the readings of the runes, eventually bowing to the Seer’s superior knowledge. She had never told Ali what she had foreseen as she taught her the family secrets, entreating her fearfully to harness them with care.
The sudden silence broke Ali’s reverie and she became aware of hands easing her forward. Her bare toes sought each step carefully as she started the blind ascent. Reaching the top she paused before stretching out her arms and exhaling. She felt her power surge, a calmness replacing the fear. She was no longer the young girl from a family whose standing had waned along with their successes, mocked and derided for failure when they had refused to follow the whims of their cruel overlords. Ali smiled, knowing now what she could be.
As each layer was peeled back the chanting quickened until she stood before him, dressed only in the golden shift that had been charmed to protect her. He rose slowly, eyes fixed on hers, a taunting smile playing on his lips as he held out his hand, inviting her to complete the ritual and become one.
Moving slowly she stepped to the side of this lord who had demanded she become his bride so young. His eyes narrowed, outstretched hand motioning the guards to stay their blades as her movements broke the spell of this tightly choreographed performance. She smiled at him then, noting the confusion and then anger that flashed across his face. Raising her staff she allowed her power to surge.
To those who had gathered below the great pyramid it was as though the light of the sun had descended, paused, then shot away across the desert. Their fearsome lord sat still, stunned, his young bride by his side. ‘Let the feasting begin!’ she called, and the villagers looked in bewilderment as a sumptuous banquet materialised where the sacrifices had been expected. It was the start of one hundred years of peace and plenty.
Ali granted her husband a child, a daughter, who would marry and subjugate another realm . He submitted to her every whim, addicted to the catatonic bliss in which he now lived. The Seer warned that no good could come of going against the will of the gods, so she killed him, as she did all others who saw the darkness to whom she had sold her soul. ‘I offer harmony and happiness’, she said. ‘The means justifies the end.’