I watch them, and it tears at my soul. They hit her, they kick her, and they pull out her hair in clumps. And through it still she remains silent, there are no words for this.
"Speak witch, speak!" they hiss.
She glares at them hatefully. Her mouth speaks still not a word; they're too blind to see their answers already betrayed in her eyes. Her eyes which say a thousand words, her eyes which show the truth.
Finally they tie her up and leave. They stomp out and slam the door forcefully leaving only the two of us and the echo of torture. I crawl over to her unconscious figure. Her beautiful robes torn and ravaged, her skin before milk-white but now bruised and bloody. Her once flowing golden locks plastered to her face and her scalp by sweat and by blood; revealing large bald patches. I reach out and gently touch her cheek. She's so cold, but I can hear her weak breath, ragged and desperate. Clinging tightly to life like the far too tightly bound ropes I remove from her raw skin.
She wakes slowly, opening her cornflower blue eyes groggily and I can't help but smile at her weakly. It's all I can do to give her hope, if there is hope there is life I think to myself.
She tries to return the smile, but it looks more like a grimace as she strains to sit upright against the cold stone wall. I remove my outer cloak and drape it over her shoulders. She nods her thanks.
"I-is it over?" She says as if she expects them to descend like demons again to revisit pain upon her once more.
"I think so," I answer, "For you anyway."
"Did I b-break?" she is trembling, her normal confident, steady speech gone.
"No." I tell her proudly. "You didn't break, you didn't even scream, you were...so brave..."
She manages a small smile as she leans back against the wall again before she closes her eyes. And I. I sit against the wall beside her; we huddle together to share warmth as we've done before, and we fall asleep.
When I wake it is night and the cell is pitch black, the tiny barred window providing very little light and less comfort. I hear heavy footsteps and catch sight with squinting eyes; must have been a lit torch held by one of the guards. The metal door is creaked open...
He steps into the room, followed by his thugs, his lap dogs. His grey eyes observe my sleeping sister, sprawled over the cold stone floor like some abandoned toy. Then his eyes turn towards me and I can't help but tremble. He smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. My heart begins to pound, and still he does not speak...finally he nods to his minions and they move towards me. Each of them takes one of my arms and I am hauled roughly to my feet. I scream, I kick, I bite them, they twist my arms cruelly and laugh more wickedly then surly their devil could...
There is no escape. Not for me. not for us.
Alizée is woken by my screaming. She begins to sob and lashes out at them with the little strength she has left, they throw her back against the wall.
The metal door is slammed. She weeps as she grasps at my fingers through the bars for an instant. a brief moment before I am dragged away wailing. She cries for me, she cries because she has already felt the pain.
I can't move. I lie lethargic in the darkness. They left a while ago and I'm not sure how long it could have been; the time seems to melt together no longer separated by minutes or hours. I can hardly feel the pain now. It has dulled to the point of none existence and my mind can't but drift to gratitude. The relief I prayed to the Goddess for has come. I wonder if Alizée is all right... perhaps she has escaped... this hopeful thought proves far to exhausting to my fragile condition though as I once again slip into darkness...
* * * *
Alizée takes my hand and we run across the field, the warm smell of harvested wheat drying in the late sun floats across the horizon. She giggles and pulls me gently. We lift our skirts and run faster.
"But, Alizée, where are we going?" I laugh.
She smiles and says nothing, pulling me playfully, and then I hear it... music. Drifting softly towards me it lightens my soul and fills me with excitement. As I listen the first song is slowly joined by another song, it is different and yet they harmonize beautifully. A third song and a fourth join the others until the music becomes powerful and charging. A race of light and love. Warmth.
As we reach the end of the field, we hop over the fence and we find ourselves in a forest glade. She pulls me through a glade filled with these. beautiful trees, illuminated by the reddish glow of the setting sun.
I step warily, but I still do, after her gazing around as I bound over the fallen leaves blanketing the forest floor. I hear her delighted scream as she leaps into Tolly's arms. He swings her around in the air and she giggles deliriously. I smile shyly at Tolly and he puts Alizée down to greet me.
A strange word is shouted from across the glade. Alerting me to the presence of others, I am surprised I did not notice them before now. A large group of people sit talking and laughing in the glen. Several play the instruments I heard before, their music raising loud and clear into the sky.
They are strangely dressed and talk in a language which I do not understand, and yet their cheerful disposition and their air of excitement is unmistakable. The sun has fully set now and the group of people stand in a circle. They link hands, the music slows, and they begin slowly swaying in perfect time to the music. Tolly grabs both of us by the hands and brings us forward. A man steps out of the circle and regards us warily, he speaks in that language, and to my utter surprise, Tolly replies in this mans foreign tongue. The man smiles and stands aside to allow us access to the circle.
Silence sweeps us, the circle now still as hands are stretched to neighbours. When the energy of the circle is aligned, the high priestess steps into the centre of the circle. She raises her arms to the heavens and begins to chant slowly, her words flowing beautifully and I know I don't know this language... but yet I understand. As she chants, the clouds obscuring the moon begin to drift slowly away. The priestess is bathed in a silver white light, illuminating her beautiful body and causing her blonde hair to sparkle as it catches the light. Her words quicken. As she speaks the last word of her incantation, the clouds once again cover the moon, and she looks lovingly around the group as they too begin to chant. The high priest joins her in the centre of the circle and takes her hands in his. They begin their invocation softly... their words floating upwards in a swirl of power; their sound seemed to dance upon the air currents. The energy floats up and up; so high I imagine, up into the velvet blackness that is the sky...and the world was at peace.
I awaken in the cell now. Alizée is sitting up against the wall, working furiously at something made of grass. I study her intently until she notices I am watching her. She attempts to hide it.
"What is it, Alizée?"
"It is nothing..."
"Show me," I request.
She shakes her head furiously, tears form in her blue eyes.
I half-walk, half crawl to where she lies. "Let me see," I ask again.
She holds out her trembling hand. She opens it slowly to reveal a tiny figure, entirely composed of grass. It is rather detailed, a fine piece, were the thinking behind it not so sinister.
I snatch it from her. She avoids my gaze. I turn it over in my palm. Embedded in the head of the little grass poppet is a hairpin. It is stuck firmly and has been worked in deep. I look at her; she still will not meet my eyes. Shame.
I find this impossible to understand. Alizée, my sweet little Alizée. Alizée who cries for the insects that my mother kills when they invade our kitchen. Alizée who hides litters of kittens beneath her bed so they will not be drowned... She can't meet my eyes now.
I remove the pin, but the damage is done... He will feel it. There is no doubt.
"Alizée," I whisper softly.
She makes no reply.
"Alizée, why? Why didn't you bind him instead? You know what will happen now..."
For the first time she answers, "The law of three-fold... I know this Riahannon."
"You know this!" I hiss at her, suddenly enraged. "Then why? Is this what Mama taught us? Is this what Papa would do?"
I throw the poppet to the ground in a fit of rage. I spit on it furiously. Alizée seems to find the ground very interesting. Then, she bursts into tears and at once does my heart melt and I rush to her side.
"Alizée!" I cry out. "You must not cry Alizée! Oh, I'm so sorry." I pet her hair gently, and her sobs are quietened.
"I am sorry Riahannon, but I cannot abide this, they torture us endlessly, and it will never end, we have the power...why can we not use it?"
"You know why." I reply softly. "You know why we cannot."