Become a Fan
Sacred Traditions: Chapter Eight
By Marie E Logan
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Covered by her thick comforter and surrounded by fluffy pillows, Sally reclined on her bed with a book in her hands. She couldn’t think of a better thing to do on Sunday morning, their final day of weekend as it were. The past two days had been even more unproductive. Most of the students had spent their time lounging in the lobby, socializing from their luxurious spots in the sofas and chairs. Dana brought out a dart board for their entertainment, as well as a chess game and some others. Sally thought a pool table would have been more fun, but she doubted there was one hiding in a closet somewhere.
She sighed, enjoying her temporary release from reality and her studies. The novel was one she brought with her from home. It was called Samuel, and was a work of ordinary fiction. It was far from ordinary to Sally, however, who read the book at least three times a year. Her first encounter with it was during high school. Desperate to find something easy to read for a book report, she grabbed the first novel in arm’s length. Samuel was it, and she bought a copy not long afterward.
Just then there was a knock on her door.
“Who is it?” she called out, not wanting to answer the door.
“It’s me,” a male voice answered loudly. Sally raised an eyebrow.
“Tristan?” she called.
“Yeah,” he affirmed. With a huff she got out of bed and trampled her way to her door.
“What?” she asked, grouchily and with a hand on her hip.
“I thought we could go out today,” he put forth. “In search of the stations ‘n all.”
“Today?” she queried. “Why today?”
“Because we wasted the whole weekend!” he answered as if it were obvious. “You want to get started, don’t you? We only have a little over two months before Thanksgiving and that’s when I want to be home!”
“Fine!” she agreed, waving her arms in a motion for him to stop. “Just lemme get dressed.” She closed the door in his face and sought out some clean clothes.
Shortly, they found themselves outside, trotting down a dirt pass into the deepening woodland. The sun was shining warmly on what exposed skin they had. Since Sally had discovered the pieces of clothing supplied to her by the establishment, she had made a point to wear them as much as possible. She hadn’t asked anyone else if they had found or started to wear the clothes, and there was no way to tell by looking at them if they had.
“What do you think of this place so far?” Tristan asked her, breaking the silence Sally so much enjoyed. She glanced at him for a moment while she thought.
“It’s all right,” she said, truthfully. “It could be a little more fun, but it isn’t that hard.”
“I guess...” Tristan trailed off, putting his hands in the pockets of his long, brown coat. “Have you wandered through the library yet? They have some amazing books up there.”
“So it’s you who’s been coming back to their room so late the past two nights,” she assumed with a smirk. “You’ve been at the library till the wee hours of the mornin’.” A sheepish grin spread across his face.
“I like books,” he said bluntly. “I couldn’t help myself.”
“There was this one I found,” he began hastily, sounding like a child. “About different kinds of faeries and other creatures. It was so cool. Have you ever heard of a ‘dracae’?”
“No,” she replied, implying the question was ridiculous.
“It’s a water spirit from Scotland,” Tristan explained, gesturing with his hands. “It leaves gold cups or pieces of jewelry floating on the water’s surface in order to lure humans closer so they can grab and pull them into their dimension.”
“Really,” she said, humoring him.
“Uh huh,” he answered, oblivious to her disinterest. “Did you know faeries didn’t have wings, originally?”
“Nope,” she replied, her tone the same.
“The gossamer type wings were fabrications of Victorian England,” Tristan went on.
“Amazing,” she humored him.
“You really don’t care do you?” he asked humorously. She didn’t think he’d notice her lackadaisical attitude towards their conversation. She shook her head and gave him a look. “Fine, I’ll shut up.”
“I think it’s good you’re interested in something,” she supported him.
“Well, it is a peculiar subject,” he admitted. “But once you get into it it really envelopes you.”
“Remind me not to then,” she said with a smile.
“What I’m really interested in,” he began. “Is finding these statues so I can go home.”
“Do you not like it here?” she questioned him. She hadn’t thought he was that out of place.
“No, I love it here,” he insisted, though even he was amazed to hear the words. “I just love being with my family for the holidays.” He shrugged. “I suppose everyone does.” Her eyes wandered back and forth from the trees to the path and the shrubs and dying flowers that took residence between them. It didn’t take a genius to realize he was right.
“Well, I’m here to help,” she supported him again. There was a pause in their conversation. “Tristan,” Sally started to say. “Even if we do find all six stations, do you honestly think we’ll be able to figure out what each of them means? And by Thanksgiving?”
“Don’t think that way!” he exclaimed suddenly, sensitively as opposed to madly.
“It’s hard not to!” she retorted with a shrug.
“Be optimistic,” he begged with a whine. Just then, Sally’s line of sight drifted down the trail ahead. A series of rocks adorned each side of the pass as they approached, growing in size until they became boulders. The rocks ceased as the forest cleared partially. A gigantic rock formation thrust upward from the ground to the left, and the statue of the station stood tall at the right. Around the glade were tall oak trees, leaves still green.
“Wow,” Tristan nearly gasped, staring up at the masculine figure and glancing around at the trees and rocks nearby. There were stone benches made of granite. At the base of the statue was a large, circular flat stone, smoothed on top and polished like glass. The male figure of stone was muscular in build, and he pulled a boulder behind him using one arm and a length of chain.
“What do you think it means?” Tristan pondered aloud.
“That’s easy,” Sally replied. “He looks like Atlas, except the boulder isn’t on his shoulders.”
“So, what then?” he inquired. “Is it ‘burden’ or ‘obligation’ or what?”
“It has to be easier than that,” Sally insisted. “Besides, those don’t sound like very sorcerer like qualities to me.”
“So what is it, miss know it all?” Tristan teased her. She didn’t take notice, just kept staring at the chiseled man before them.
“Strength,” she said. “It has to mean strength.”
As she had been all weekend, Danielle sat hunched over her desk taking notes from a large book on magic and magical theory. The pages they had been given to copy were done before their cooking class on Thursday, and rather articulately at that. One of the books Danielle had been reading discussed the proper construction and maintenance of a Book of Secrets, though they called it a Book of Ways. It insisted the book be artistic and colorful and that as much time as possible needed to be put into its creation.
Danielle failed to see reason to argue. The book she was reading now was twice as lengthy as the one she’d started and finished on Thursday night. It also contained more information worthy of remembering. That was why she was still reading in on Sunday. With about fifty pages left, she suspected she could return it the following day after classes.
She had learned more in the past week than she had her entire life. She had enough notes to compose at least six reports, and she was more than ready to convert them into chapters for her Book of Secrets. She wasn’t sure, however, if it was appropriate in their studies to add the information. Madam Delaney could be teaching the subjects any day now, which meant if she did Danielle would only be writing the same thing twice. It was in her best interest to wait and see how the Witch taught and explained each lesson. Then Danielle could add whatever additional information she thought was appropriate.
There was a knock on her door. She looked up suspiciously.
“Who is it?” she called out, having no idea whatsoever.
“It’s Piper,” the other woman answered.
“What do you want?” Danielle asked her, still seated at the other side of the room.
“Can I come in?” Piper asked with a sort of laugh. Pursing her lips, Danielle rose from her chair and opened her door.
“What is it?” she asked again.
“I wondered if you had any desire to walk the grounds,” answered the other, her hands folded in front of her body. “Or to help me find the six stations.”
“Not particularly,” Danielle replied, honestly, though trying not to be rude.
“Are you sure?” Piper inquired. “Some fresh air might do you good.”
“I’m certain,” she asserted.
“All right,” Piper said. “See you later then.”
“Bye,” said Danielle. Piper turned and ventured down the hallway and out of sight. Danielle closed her door and returned to her desk. There was no point in her trying to find the stations. She had no home to return to for the holidays.
Piper jaunted down the stairs from the rooms to the lobby, her shoes clacking almost musically. The smoothness of the polished wood railing felt nice in the palm of her hand. As she descended, she saw Olivia seated in one of the sofas in the lobby, a blanket and a book in her lap.
“Good morning,” Piper greeted her. Olivia neither looked up nor replied. In the last few days, the only blond girl among them had taken a kindness to wearing the color white and light shades of purple and blue. Piper assumed it was a statement of some kind, though she wasn’t sure what exactly. “What are you reading?” Finally Olivia acknowledged her presence.
“Encounters With Fae,” she answered with a sigh, as if annoyed.
“Is it good?” Piper asked her, taking a few steps closer.
“Yes,” the other replied, sort of implying she wished to be left alone.
“Olivia,” Piper continued, knowing full well that the other woman was being purposely confrontational. “I wondered if you would be my partner. In searching for the stations.”
“No,” she answered bluntly without looking at Piper.
“Why not?” asked the other, finally getting annoyed.
“Because,” answered Olivia. “I don’t want a partner.”
“Fine then,” Piper agreed, pursing her lips. “Enjoy your book.” She walked briskly to the mansion’s doors and let them slam shut as she exited the building. Olivia sunk lower into the couch and continued to read.
Outside, Piper met Tristan and Sally as they moseyed up the dirt road directly in front of her. “Hey guys,” she greeted. Her full green and purple plaid skirt swept the ground beneath her feet.
“Hi,” both Tristan and Sally replied.
“Find anything?” Piper asked them, innocently.
“Ha!” Tristan laughed. “If we did, we wouldn’t share it with you!”
“Well, either way,” Piper began to reply. “You shouldn’t waste your time.”
“Why?” asked Sally, furling her brow.
“Because I just asked Olivia if she wanted a partner,” explained the other. “She said no. It’s obvious she’s confident and determined enough to find the stations by herself. If she does, it’s possible only one of you, or me, will be able to go home too.”
Sally and Tristan glanced at one another nervously.
“Happy hunting,” Piper offered, trotting past them and into the woods.
Tristan’s bedroom was sure to smell like teryaki for weeks. Sally had made the both of them dinner: rice and beans with marinated breaded mushrooms. It was delicious, no doubt about it, and something about dining in his quarters made it twice as special.
They sat on the floor in the center of the room, chatting and telling jokes. Their hunger disrupted their concentration on the map spread out between them. And now that there was no more food to consume, they returned their attention to it.
Tristan had left Sally waiting in his bedroom while he ran up to the library to get a map the school grounds. He had come upon a few of them in his search through the materials there. It would come in especially handy during their explorations.
Before returning, they discovered two of the six stations. They followed the path to the right of the school, which led them directly to each of the structures. But there hadn’t seemed to be any additional routes extending from it. Delaney wasn’t kidding when she insinuated they would be hard to find.
“Right, so where do you think we found the statues?” Tristan asked, leaning over the map. Sally studied it intently.
“Well,” she began. “I remember seeing the mansion from the path when we were halfway to the first station.” She drew a line on the map, pausing at halfway and then drawing a little bit more. She drew a circle to represent the station.
“It seemed like the same distance from that one to the next,” Tristan suggested. “But the trail curved a little.” Sally drew another line, moving more to the right than upward. She drew a circle there to represent that station.
“Then the trail led us back here...” she said, trailing off and drawing a line from that station to the front of the mansion. She pursed her lips. “I don’t see anything so far. No indication of where the others could be.”
“I know,” agreed the boy, just as perplexed. “We need to explore those sites better,” he suggested, rubbing his chin in thought. “We didn’t do a good enough job. I bet there’s another path leading off from the second one.”
“Speaking of which,” Sally remembered. “We haven’t decided on what that one means.” She grabbed a piece of paper upon which she sketched the statue. It was of a woman holding a book in one hand, a quill in the other.
“What about creativity?” suggested Tristan.
“I don’t think so,” Sally objected. “Though we shouldn’t discount it totally.” She wrote the word beneath her sketch.
“Bookishness?” Tristan asked with a laugh. “What’s a better word for ‘bookishness’?”
“Erudition,” she answered, also writing down the word. The room became silent as they stared at the image and thought as hard as they could.
“Any ideas?” he asked her. Sally raised one eyebrow and sighed.
“Intelligence?” she offered.
“Oh, that’s a good one!” he exclaimed. “Write that down. Go on.”
“All right, all right,” she said, doing as he wanted. “Geeze.”
“When do you think we should ask a teacher about them?” he inquired. “Should we wait until we have them all, so no one knows how far we’ve gone?”
“They won’t know if we don’t tell them,” Sally stated. “The teachers won’t announce it, remember?”
“Yeah, but I won’t be able to contain my glee when we know we’re right,” he told her with a smile.
“Maybe we should wait, then,” she agreed. “Until we have them all. Or think we do.”
Olivia pressed her ear against the dark, cold wood of Tristan’s bedroom door. Hers was directly across from his, and she had been waiting since they’d left. Her plan all along was to eavesdrop. And now she knew at exactly what point her competition was. They’d discovered two stations. “Strength” and “Intelligence” were definitely the correct descriptions for them. They’d marked them on a map, and that map would be in Tristan’s room every day until they knew where each station was.
It was there for her to use if she wasn’t able to find them herself.