Viviana's Story : Chapter Five
I didn't see my lady for some weeks, some travellers at market had scared Ma so bad, by telling how their cousin's son had gone missing last season. So that she kept an even sharper watch over me than before. Even Samel stayed close to me when he could, but I found times to sneak out into the barn or behind the chicken coop. Then I practiced my new tricks when no one was watching. And so summer grew hot and heavy around us. We got let off schooling so the grownups could start the harvest, all my big brothers had to help in the fields, but I played in the stream or trees with the other young village children. Our days were full of sunlight and laughter, and our excitement only grew as Lughmas festival came closer. The week before, anyone who could carry joined in building a great bonfire, all the mums were baking cakes and sweet things, and of course a loaf of bread from the new harvest. A few days before the festival the farmer over the stream let us children help him pick the biggest pig, ready for roasting as part of the celebrations. As the day drew closer, our excitement grew to dizzying heights, we watched the preparations and made bets together about how much we would eat, or whose big brother would dance with whose sister.
The morning broke clear and bright, I leapt out of bed and scrambled into my shorts before running downstairs. "Happy Lughmas day Ma!" I cried out, leaping into her arms, she gasped with laughter "You're getting so big you'll knock me over doing that." Setting me down she pushed me towards the table where my breakfast waited, and the empty plates showed that my brothers were already up. "Remember to do all your chores this year" I grinned back at her with a jammy mouth "and take a shirt with you" she called after me as I ran outside. I was good, fed the chickens, collected their eggs and put them in the cool room. Ok so I sneakily used my magyk so I could carry all the eggs in one go, before heading upstairs to tidy my bed and grab a shirt, then it was back down the stairs where I stood hopping from one leg to the other as Ma put a few more things in her basket. Handing me a basket full of strawberries from the garden she closed the door behind us and we were off.
The day was filled with sweet treats and games, running races and tests of strength. Willem and Kryhs won the three-legged race, I didn't win any. We picnicked in the shade of the trees at the side of the green and drank clear stream water and homemade fruit juices that were sweet and fresh. As the heat of the day fell away and evening began to draw in Samel and some of the others who were turning from boys into young men that year came running up the field carrying burning torches. They ran through everyone laughing and shouting, us little ones jumped up to run with them. We jumped around the fire as musicians took up their instruments and the grownups clapped. We started crying out "Light it, light it", I pulled on Samels arms to try and get him to light the fire with his torch, he spun away laughing. Two of my friends ran over to help and we caught hold of Samels legs and sat on his feet so he couldn't run anymore. When all the torch bearers had been caught they threw the torches on to the bonfire before turning to bow at the crowds amidst applause.
The pig had been roasting over a smaller fire all day and was now carved up and served on the new bread with tangy stewed apples. My friends and I found a quiet patch of grass not too close to the fire and dug in, it was so delicious that we went back for more, licking the grease off of our fingers. The sun had set, the music was spiralling up to the new stars, and my stomach was full. I got up to go look for my Ma, weaving my way through the clusters of people around the fire smiling back at the happy faces. My Ma wasn't near the fire, or by the food tables, so I headed down towards the barn. Ma wasn't there, but she was, my beautiful lady, leaning against the side of the barn, she smiled and waved at me. I poked my head in the barn but there was no-one there, so I walked around to the side, "Happy Lughmas day Lady"
"Happy Lughmas day Freddie, did you want to learn a special Lughmas trick?"
I nodded excitedly, she held out a small stick and told me to watch carefully. As I watched I saw small buds grow that burst into flowers, I reached out to touch them but just as my finger got close the stick burst into flame and I jumped back with a cry. My Lady just laughed and dropped the burnt end, "Now your turn" she said holding out another stick. I held it out from me and took a deep breath, then looked up at her, "So, it is the same as the leaf, ask it to grow and bloom." She said. I had been practising the leaf trick so felt inside for my magyk, pulling a small strand down to my fingers I whispered "grow" to my stick. Smiling I showed the small flowers to my Lady. "Now burn it" she ordered. I frowned and shook my head, "I like it this way". Her hand shot out and gripped my wrist, her fingers were cold and hard, I looked to her face and saw that she was cross. "Burn it or I will burn you" I pulled on my arm and looked towards the fire, I wanted my Ma. Her fingers grew hot and I gasped and dropped the stick. She picked it up and held it out to me, my wrist was getting hotter, tears stung my eyes as I took the stick. I felt the heat in my wrist and used my magyk to send it into the stick instead, it was hurting, I closed my eyes and screamed as the fire seemed to fill me up. I pushed at the pain but it was everywhere, opening my eyes I stared at the flames running up my arms, "the stick" I gasped, pushing my magyk into it, there was a flash as the stick burnt up and ash floated to the ground. Then everything went black as I fell down.
I woke up moments later, my Lady was carrying me, looking over her shoulder I saw the fire through the trees, we were going away from it. I knew this was wrong, I wanted Ma or Samel, pushing myself away from her I shouted back to the figures dancing on the green. The Lady kept walking, as I pushed and kicked and shouted until I could no longer see the fire, nor the dancers, until my voice ran out and I cried. She walked through the darkness as the night caught up with me and I realised what had happened. The witch had carried me away.