Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thursday's Third Scene - Healwoman #MFRWauthor #BooksWeLoveLTD #Fantasy #romance #healing #magic

Ulrica counted the chimes.  When the fifth sounded, she stared at the door of her suite.  Her muscles felt like taut wire cords.  Memories of the many times she’d contended with her sister roiled in her thoughts.  The only clear victory Ulrica could remember was the day their aunt had chosen her to enter the temple.  Even that day had been tainted.            
Bodlesa had craved the position as the Voice of Midra in Keltoi.  Ulrica stroked the scar that ran from her shoulder to the wrist.  On the day she’d left the megara for the temple, Bodlesa’s anger had changed to blind fury.  One slash of her knife had nearly cost Ulrica her life.
The door opened and crashed against the wall.  Bodlesa stalked into the room.  “I am here.  Why have you chosen to raise the misbegotten from her lowly place?”
“She is of our clan and your get.  Every year, the number of girls suitable to serve Midra dwindle.  There is no other of our clan who is suitable.  The temples of the other nomes are in ruins.  The priestesses hide.  The priests of Midran clamp tighter bonds on all women.”
“Norna isn’t pure.  Though her father was Keltoi, he denied his clan to walk in Midran’s way.  I brought the girl to serve you as a drab.”
“Your own daughter?  If you do this, who will become my heir?”
Ulrica laughed.  “Will Prasutus let her go?  Though I don’t live in the megara, I know what happens there.  These days, she’s his favorite bedmate.  If he gets a son from her, trouble will flare.”
“She has left the nome but I can call her back.”
“There is another reason she is unsuitable.  Though she wears our clan’s stripes, she’s not of pure lineage.  Her grandfather was from Incal.  Norna’s line is pure.  I will have her.”
Bodlesa prowled the room.  Her braid switched like the tail of an enraged firelion.  “Prasutus wants her.  If she stays in the drab’s quarters of the megara, he will have her.  He could even come here and take her.”
“If she were my heir, he wouldn’t dare.”
“I caught her trying to flee the nome.  She wanted to go to the Healwomen.”
Ulrica spat.  “Those abominations.  Once they served Midra, but they have turned their faces from Her.  They say they serve the god and goddess the way all priestesses and priests once did.”
Bodlesa laughed.  “Do you fear them?  The priests use them for their healing skills and for the sons they birth.”  She waved her hand.  “I have set a plan in motion.  Britha joins them to sow discord in their ranks.”
Ulrica’s hands fisted.  “Have you trained your daughter to do the same in the temple?”
Bodlesa scowled.  “Trained her?  I have had nothing to do with the girl.  I was but fourteen when I birthed her.  That Healwoman Mabe gave the infant to a drab.  Norna has learned to labor like the women who cook, scrub and grub in the earth.  ’Tis said she has a way with beasts.”
“And she can hate.  Think carefully about your choice.  Have you no love for her?”
“I didn’t choose to give her life.  I was bedazzled by a handsome face and a well-formed body.”  She moistened her lips.  “’Twas a challenge to tempt him.  He was virile and like a drug.  To my regret, I bore the fruit of his passion.”
Ulrica stared at the wall.  In that pairing, Bodlesa had been the aggressor.  Her lust for the Militos subaltern had been the talk of the megara.  “And he refused to put his desire for the priesthood aside.  For that reason, you deny her.”
“So does her father.”
“Does he even know he has a daughter?”
Bodlesa laughed.  “Why would I send the news to him?  Will you accept her as a drab?  Otherwise, she dies.”
“I’ll ask Midra to guide my decision.  Once the evening meal ends, I’ll go to the chapel and seek her guidance.  Will you accept Her command?”
Bodlesa’s smile failed to erase the ice in her eyes.  “Hers, not yours.”
Ulrica hid her own smile.  Her twin was a fool.  If not Norna, I will have my heir.
The cup is prepared.  “Come to the chapel after the curfew bell.”

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