Chapter 2: Awakening

735 words.

She awoke from her sleep with the cool breeze carressing her face. Opening her eyes, she sat up. The wind was coming in from the open window next to her. Turning, she lifted her face to the sky, letting it wash over her face. Opening her eyes, the first thing she saw was the full bright moon. She smiled at the moon, and then turned her attention to the beach. The full moon lighted up the night sky brilliantly, throwing many things into sharp focus, almost as though it was day. She did not even need to light a candle inside her room; it was that bright.

Her eyes roamed the horizons of the sea, trying to see if there were any ships passing by. Ships often passed this way, since they lived so close to Harbour. Tonight though, there were no ships out. It was too close to the rainy season, and although the sky was clear, most ships would have started to take shelter in the town and close trading for the season. Merchants were generally a pragmatic and practical lot; it was those who had nobles as backers that tended to take unnecessary risk. To make a really rich profit though, one had to sometimes take a calculated risk.

Or rather, throw everything you had into a venture that would make or break you.

She sighed. Stretching, she threw the thin blanket off her legs and put her feet into a pair of flat slippers. She deliberately chose not to wear night rove; the wind was deliciously cool after the heat of the day. Standing up, she reached for the small joss stick by the side of the bed. Going to a corner of the room, she laid the joss stick aside as she pulled out an incense burner and a small container. She reached into the jar to pull out a sealed pouch which she opened. Holding the pouch on the palm of her hand, she picked up the joss stick and poked at the dying embers of charcoal in the incense burner. As they flared, she reached into the pouch and extracted two tiny lumps of incense and dropped it on the red embers. The scent of myrrh immediately permeated the room, even as the wind snatched it away through the open window. Putting everything back, she used the ember to light the joss stick, then used the joss stick to light an oil lamp.

The soft, yellow light seemed woefully inadequate compared to the white moonlight, but the interior of the house was rarely touched by the sun, much less the moon. She carefully killed the joss stick and then left the room. The hallway was dark, and the weak light was better than nothing. Although she had memorised the layout of the house and it was relatively simple to navigate, she did not want to get used to this place. Her home was not here.

She made for the inner garden, the small oasis where the herbs grew and rare flowers would bloom this full moon’s night. She extinguished the light as she came down the stairs, being able to see where the moonlight shone into the house. Stepping outside into the garden, she was immediately assaulted by many different scents, the underlying base being the sea breeze that had awoken her. She put the lamp down and her slippers next to it, stepping barefoot into the garden to walk on the smooth earth. Carefully, she looked among the herbs for a certain plant, and almost missed its small white flowers as it bloomed between rosemary and thyme. She knelt carefully, clapped her hands twice and bowed her head in supplication, saying a silent prayer. Then she carefully plucked two flowers and put them in her hair.

Looking up to the sky, she spread her hands wide and began singing. The wind whipped more strongly around her, carrying her voice away. Flower bloomed and petals flew, dancing around her in joy. She merely stood there, singing wordlessly. The wind seem entranced by her song, picking up speed and dropping flower petals onto her as though to bathe her in adoration. For the young woman, deeper still was the trance she pulled herself into as she sang.

Her song ended abruptly with a sharp note. When that note ended, the wind died and she collapsed, crumpled into a heap.