© Copyright 2011 - Jo - Used by permission
Storycodes: FF/f; ceremony; bathe; wrap; cocoon; bond; rope; transported; majick; cons; X
Med scratched the dry, parched ground. The plants were wilted and no amount of hand watering seemed to help. She looked up, used her sight. Rain! She looked deeper. It wasn't just a passing shower, but a good, drenching rain and it was headed her way. Med smiled. It had been a long, dry month.
Lost in sight, Med, startled, whirled.
"Oh! Uh, yes, yes, I'm Med'la"
"Medin, I am Torina'La."
"Hello La," Medlin said, making a small bow.
Med looked past the gate, across the field. She used her sight and saw her parents. They were just about to crest a hill.
"They have been summoned," Torina'la said.
Med set the hoe aside and brushed the dirt from her hands. She gestured toward the house.
"May I offer you something, La? Water, juice, wine?"
"Nothing for now, but let's go inside and get out of this heat."
Seated at the table, Torina'la said, "You did not see us."
Med frowned. No. In fact she hadn't seen their approach even though she'd looked often. Had several times a day since getting notice of her acceptance into the guild.
"Every gift has its complement. Since you have the gift of sight, it will be fairly easy for you to learn the other."
Her parents came into the room, introductions were made, goodbyes said. The moment dragged out.
Finally, the other woman, Tellis'La, said, "Shall we proceed?"
A man came in carrying a bundle, set it on the table, left.
"May we have some privacy? There is a ceremony of sorts, a guild ceremony, not that it's a secret, but it can only be performed within the guild."
Med hugged her parents one last time and they left the room.
"Your wash room is ...?"
Med opened a door, led the others inside.
"Undress, please, Medin'la"
Med unbuttoned her dress, shrugged out of it, kicked off her shoes, pulled the undergarment over her head. She tried to stay calm, but she felt the flush in her cheeks.
Tellis'La produced a knotted chord, held it up until the end just touched the ground.
She wrapped the chord across Med's chest.
She proceeded to measure Med, calling out numbers which Torina'La noted in a book. She stepped back, looked Med up and down.
"61," Med blurted.
That got a smile and a pat on the shoulder from the other.
Torina'La produced a piece of paper, scanned it.
"Have you had the tooth seen to?"
She nodded. "Fine."
The other poured water into a bowl, pulled a small vial from her pocket, added a few drops. The room was filled with the smell of autumn. They washed Med thoroughly, dried her. All the while chanting softly. Med joined them in the appropriate places. The water was dumped, the bowl refilled. This smelled of spring. Med felt a moment of panic. The ceremony was one of death and rebirth. Once bathed again she would be reborn into the guild.
As if sensing her unease, the women paused. Med smiled and nodded.
They bathed her a second time. Again Med joined the chant. Finally they led her out of the bath into the kitchen. Tellis'La had refilled the bowl and brought it along. There was a new scent, something pungent, musky. She pulled a roll of cloth from the bundle, set it in the bowl, pulled it out, and tugged at the end.
She wrapped the cloth around Med's arm, working her way down to Med's hand. Torina'La did likewise with Med's other arm. Neither spoke as they continued to wrap Med head to foot. First her arms, then legs. Then while one wrapped Med's legs together, the other wrapped her torso. They worked the strip of cloth over Med's shoulders, around her neck, and up over her head. Med's world went dark. She used the sight.
She watched as the women finished wrapping her, adding a second and then a third layer all over. They picked her up and laid her on the table, wrapped her feet.
They shook the bundle open, placed it next to her, hefted her and set her inside, flipped the sides over her, tucked them in.
Tellis'La tied a chord around Med's ankles and while the other held Med's legs, wrapped and knotted the chord every few inches. Med's legs were lowered and her upper body raised and similarly bound.
She finished with an elaborate knot on Med's chest. Tellis'La lit a candle, dribbled several drops of wax on the knot, sealing it.
Med realized her sight was fading. Some spell? Something in the water? She panicked.
There was indeed something in the water; she knew that. Once cleansed, she'd remain so for the journey, safe inside the wrapping. And she assumed there would be some spell, something to put her to sleep, the journey being several days at least. But she had never lost the sight before, not even in sleep. She tried to rationalize it that the location of the guildhouse is a secret. But she was a member now. She was a La. Then a more terrifying thought came: What if these weren't with the guild, but some evil adversary. The business of the guild was largely a secret, but there were rumors. Rumors of wars. What if ...
Through a haze she watched two men enter the room, felt herself being lifted, carried. She saw the path, the cart. She was set on a bed of straw. The two women, now only dark blurs, climbed in with her. The cart started with a jerk, and Med, now Medin'La's world faded to black.