Gretch sat down cross-legged in front of the stone that marked the boundary between Earth and Fairy. Her phone, propped up on a pinecone, shone its flashlight app across the stone, and the shadows cast along the spiral pattern seemed to ripple with movement.
Even with the serpentine coils slithering around the stone, her surroundings had the strangest sense of normal to them. Strange, because every other time she'd been here, she'd seen the ley lines, heard the music, and sensed the stronghold of the Fae rising up around her. But this time the forest was simply trees and shrubs and plain ordinary woodsy sounds.
She opened her bag and pulled out the book and her portable ritual kit: three candle nubs—white, red, and black—matches, a stoppered vial of water, her ritual knife, and the paring knife she'd swiped from the kitchen. She didn't want to ruin the energy of her ritual knife by getting blood on it.
She smoothed away twigs and leaf litter to make a smooth surface on the dirt in front of her, placed each candle, and lit them. White for purity and strength, red for rebirth, and black for wisdom. Maid, Mother, and Crone. She set the ritual knife and the vial of water to either side of the candle, east and west—or as near as she could figure in the dark without a compass.
The Soul Merge spell was dangerous. She needed a circle of protection. Closing her eyes, she imagined the energy of a blue sphere surrounding her and the clearing with its widest diameter even with the ground, guarding both above and below. She blessed water with blade and then called up the elements: sprinkling a handful of earth around her, pinching some pine needles in her thumb and forefinger and setting them smoking in the flame of the black candle, and flicking a few drops of water from the vial. Fire already lived in the candle flames.
She quieted her mind, focusing on her breathing. Each breath, long and slow.
On each exhale, without making a sound, she called with her mind. Goddess.
Peace smoothed her ragged edges. She felt love the strength like arms wrapping around her. She opened her eyes, and though she saw that she was alone in the clearing, she saw something else overlaid on the real world with her mind's eye. The Morrighan stood on the other side of the marker stone, a raven on her left shoulder and a spear, longer than she was tall, held in her right hand.
The goddess crouched down before her, laying the spear across her knees and balancing on the balls of her feet.
"Gather your strength for the battle, my daughter," she said.
She still could not see Fairy or the ley lines, but she could feel them. She knew they were there. She closed her eyes and tapped into the power of the lines and the hub they formed at the stone.
When she opened them the goddess was gone again. She took a moment to be startled by the appearance of the Great Queen of battle and death. The Morrighan was not a goddess to be dealt with lightly. Gretch tried not to focus on the death aspect. Battle and strength were also the goddess' virtues. But death was also a part of rebirth. And wouldn't the soul merge be a kid of rebirth?
She shook off her doubt and focussed again on her task, opening the book again to the Soul Merge spell. This was her last chance to back out. She was about to invite another spirit to share her soul. Even though the book seemed to say that she wouldn't be any different, she couldn't help thinking it was the end of Gretch and the beginning of....Gretch 2.0.
There was also the distinct possibility of an intruder—some other spirit, an uninvited party crasher. She imagined the blue light of the sphere glowing brighter for a moment. There nothing left to do but begin.
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Rhianna and the Magic HorseFantasy
**Updates every Sunday** Rhianna was a free spirit on the road with her mother, until something changed. Something that left her abandoned on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with a stranger she is supposed to call Grandmother. Grounded. Now Rhianna...