“What are you up to this time, Brown?” I ask, looking down at the two ogres digging holes along the stone walls of the convent. Brown was the larger of the two and is always doing something to get me out of its holy walls. “You know you can’t go over or through. You’re not going to be able to go under, either.”
I didn’t expect him to answer. Talking was not easy for him, but he could say a few words. He didn’t say much of anything to me nowadays.
I sigh and look out over the land surrounding the convent I was trapped in. All because of ogres like this one who wanted me to step foot outside so they could drink my blood. The forest is in the distance, and that is where Brown lives. This side of the convent is the lush and prosperous side, and the other is mostly covered in scorched and burnt lands closer to the borders of the Fire Realm.
I am working in the gardens as I usually do this time of day, singing one of the nun's songs when I hear Brown on the other side. Curious, I climb up to see what he is doing to find him and his brother digging holes along the stone wall.
“I see your brother has returned as usual,” I say, scorning the other beast’s return. He came about once a year when Brown had something big planned. Looks like they are getting to work on it, but I have no earthly idea what digging in the ground is going to do. “I don’t know why he helps you. I doubt you would share me if you ever did catch me.”
Brown and his brother ignore me as I talk, and it makes me a little mad that he does that.
“Why don’t you just leave me in peace and go find yourself a female ogre and have some little ogres with her?” I ask him.
He stops his digging and looks hard at me before bending down and starting dig again with his large hands.
“Come on, Brown!” I exclaim, walking across the top of the wall a bit of distance from him. “It’s been five years now. How long are you going to torment the nuns and me before giving up? You’re not going to get in!”
He stops once more and steps closer to the wall. I prepare for him to grab me, which he has tried to do before. The other times he has tried, the protection barrier had stung him, but he had hit me before, too, almost knocking me down.
“Wall fall,” he says with a growl. “I… see… you.”
So that was his plan? To bring the wall down, not to get in, but so he can see inside. We had a twisted relationship. For the past five years, he has tried just about every crazy scheme to get me out of these walls.
“You already see me,” I remind him, pointing to the large tree he usually climbs to spy on me. Yes, the way he watches me is creepy, but what am I going to do? “Don’t think I don’t see you climb that big tree over there and watch me.”
He shakes his head at me before saying, “Tree dead.”
I look over to the tree and see for the first time that the leaves are not blooming on it like all the others.
“You would destroy the wall of the convent just to watch me?” I look back at him, knowing that was exactly what he intended to do. “That’s low, Brown, even for you.”
He just smiles at me, and I get the feeling that if ogres laughed, he would.
“You…mine.” he says possessively, and I want to vomit.
“I am not yours!” I shout at him before jumping off the wall and leaving him to whatever his plan was. I had no plans to become a meal for him now or ever.
I march through the gardens, stopping at the entrance and washing myself off using the barrel of water there. I had to do something about Brown before he brought the wall down. Mother Frances needed to know what he was planning.
I find her in the central courtyard with a group of nuns under the old oak tree making basket weaves. These women were some of the most gracious and giving and I love them all.
They all smile at me as I approach, coming up along side the Mother. “Mother Frances,please, may I speak with you for a moment?”
“Of course.” she says, putting her work down and walking a short distance away with me. “What is the problem, my child?”
“It’s Brown. He is along the back wall by the garden, digging holes all down it.” I tell her as I turn to face her directly. “He is planning to bring it down somehow.”
“Oh, goodness,” she says, touching her forehead with concern. I didn’t like being such a burden on her shoulders. Brown was only here because of me. I didn’t see why she didn’t kick me out long ago and be rid of us both. “I don’t know why he would do that. He should know by now he cannot step foot on these grounds.”
“I think he is doing it to watch me,” I tell her, throwing my hands in the air. “The old tree on the outside has died, and I think he is afraid to climb it. I don’t know why he just won’t go away and leave us in peace.”
I am so grateful to have her and all of the nuns in my life, considering that most people see me as nothing more than a monster. Only the pure at heart can see my true form. With the nuns, I live a simple life but one in peace.
I’m not one of them, though. I don’t have the same religion or beliefs they did. Still, Mother Frances keeps me here, protecting me from the outside world.
“Do not fret so, my child,” she says, touching my arm softly for comfort. “If it wasn’t him, then it would just be another. At least he keeps the others away.”
“Yeah, but look at all the things he has done to us,” I say, thinking of all the schemes he has tortured us with over the years. Like the fire spears or the boulder toss.
“I will take Sister Marie with me, and we will have a look at what he is doing,” she tells me, taking my hand and rubbing the back of it in a calming manner. “I don’t see how he thinks digging some holes is going to make the wall come down.”
“Knowing Brown, he will find a way,” I say, not sure myself how he could bring down the wall.
“Why don’t you go and rest for what left of today?” she says, leading me past the main buildings. “There are some new books in the library you can go through.”
“There are?” I ask, glad to hear that. I had nothing new to read in the past several months. Donations always brought an array of books, and some could help with my research.
“Go, my child, and don’t worry,” she says softly. “I will see to Brown.”
I nod to her and go on as she advises me to the library and the new books. That helps my mood a little.
I go to the library to study the elements, too. I like to learn about them and hope the knowledge of Earth, Wind, and Water will be able to help me in the future. It is easy to find a book on them, but not so much of the Fire element. Fire is a darker power, and the library here doesn’t stock books of things the nuns considered evil.
Mother Frances inspires me in my thirst for knowledge. She believes that even though I am different, everything has a purpose in this world. My curse included.
I enter the library, and Sister Alice is at my desk. She is a few years older than me and came here about two years ago. Alice is half mage and sees visions of the future. She is a nun, too, and my best friend.
“Celine, I have been waiting for you,” Alice says as she closes her bible. “I have something I have wanted to tell you.”
“What is it?” I ask as I sit across from her. I let the new books go for now, seeing them in several boxes at the desk over from us. No one is in yet to categorize and stock. Instead, I focus on Alice because she has been getting a lot of visions lately.
“I had a dream of you,” she says kindly. “There were three beams of light and each of them touched you, and your light became brighter. You drew your strength from them, but they gave it freely. You will become the mother of the earth by natures’ rights and make it fruitful once more.”
“And what does that mean?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at her. Alice always had weird visions, but somehow, things always seem to happen along with their storylines.
“I don't know.” She chuckles weakly, rolling her eyes at me. “All I know is you were there, and you were happy.”
“It’s a nice dream, then,” I say, knowing she is doing me kindness with her offering. We both know what the vision is saying even though it is a little absurd.
“They are coming soon,” she says then. “You need to be ready.”
“Oh, I’m ready,” I say, smiling at her. “I’ve been ready for a long time.”
Alice has shared many visions with me. She is my guide in helping me to find a way around the curse. With her help, I just may have a chance of breaking it.
“So, it will be three, then?” I ask, accepting the number as final. All of the elements have accepted my sacrifice to them. All but the Fire element which wasn’t offered.
“I think so,” she says shyly, looking down at the table. “I saw three lights, but one was not so bright. They will, however, be able to break the curse that binds you. They will also take you away from here.”
“Good thing I always liked odd numbers," I say, chuckling now. Only with the help of the strongest bloodlines could break the curse and spell hanging over my head. The elementals would have sent only the best to carry those bloodlines into the future.
It was an offering I made to nature, magic, and the Gods; that if they released me from my curse, I would bond myself to each of their bloodlines. I am joining them all together to fight the evil that has taken over the lands and man. With Earth, Water, and Wind, we will all fight back the fires that are claiming the world.
“It’s a good thing, though, right?” she half asks and assures me at the same time. “All powers balanced against evil?”
My three champions will be able to see my pure form as well. I am happy that they will be able to. How else can I bond with them and make each my husband?
That part kind of scares me. Once I leave these holy lands, my life will be my husbands. I will, for the most part, have to stay away from all others. I know very little of men.
“I have faith; they will only send me the best.” I exhale and lean back in the chair. “Earth, Wind, and Water can certainly fight the Fire, wouldn’t you say?"
“Will you warn Mother Frances of their arrival?” she asks.
I lived with the nuns for almost four years before I came up with the idea of the sacrifice. Alice helped me find the information I needed and the magic that would be required. It was actually, through her own magic, possible. A sacrifice of myself to the elements with mine and her blood.
I offered to bear their children with the strongest of their kind to save the world. They were to send the best of their descendants to me as my husbands with a blessing from each of them to build nature once more.
“No. Mother Frances will wonder how I know they are coming and want to know why,” I say sadly. “I haven't the heart to tell her of my offering. I love her, but I don’t think she would understand.”
“Have you decided what you will do about your sister, then?” she goes on, as we have discussed what she did to me in detail.
“No,” I say with a shiver. “Elizabeth broke my heart with what she did. She should pay, but everything I think of seems so cruel. Despite what she did, my life is good.”
“I wish I could go with you sometimes,” she says softly. “Be your eyes and make sure you go the right way. But this is something you must do on your own. With your husbands.”
“I am to become the mother of earth,” I say again, still a little shocked at the idea even though I have had over a year to think on it.
“Do you think Fire can truly be stopped from destroying the world?” she asks.
“Man must learn to control Fire. As the other elements grow stronger, hopefully it will weaken.” I tell her, hoping it is so. “Only time will tell.”
“Just remember this is a haven for you,” she tells me. “If things get out of control or something happens, you can find your way back here.”
“I know,” I say, taking her hand. “Thank you, Alice, for coming to me, for guiding me. You have been a true friend to me, and I do hope to see you again.”
“As do I,” she says as she rises and comes around the table. I stand, and we embrace, saying our goodbyes now. We both knew this day was coming. I will be leaving any day now with a mission in hand.
“I should go,” she says, pulling back and we wiped at our tears. “I have kitchen duty tonight. The others will be wondering where I am.”
“Go, then. I will sit with you at dinner,” I say, ushering her along. “Try not to burn anything tonight.”
“It was only that one time. Not everyone can be as good at cooking as you.”
I smile at her as she leaves, and instead of returning to my desk, I go to the boxes of the books to start the process of going through them. I prefer doing it alone because if another nun comes over, she will help and then I may not be able to keep the book that I want hidden.
Books of ill favor have no business at the convent and are always destroyed. I have only two I keep hidden within my piles of books. Both are slim volumes, one on Fire and another of Mage Magic.
I hurry to flip through the books, taking them all out first and giving them a glance over. Close to the bottom of the last box, I come across a small red book that doesn’t have anything on the outside cover.
Opening it up to the first few pages, I am amazed to see a drawing of flames surrounding two words, “Elementum Ignis.” Fire Element.