Misplaced

"He kept on talking, but his words faded away. They were drowned in the loud buzzing in the back of my head.
“Caleb” I meant to say his name normally, but my voice sounded weak and shaky. The room shifted and turned, my head was spinning and my stomach dropped.
“Rose, are you okay?”
I blinked once, twice, thrice, but it didn't help. I reached for the coke but didn't have the strength to lift it. I fell backwards against the floor, but through I could hear the bump in my skull, I didn't feel the pain. I could no longer hear Caleb talking to me, but I watched his face as the edges of my vision darkened until I could see nothing but utter blackness"

After a sudden blackout, sarcastic occult-fan 'Alyce with a Y' finds herself somewhere very far away from home, discovering truths about herself she'd never thought possible.

(Tilmeldt Fantasy-konkurrencen, valgmulighed 1)

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4. Cleansed

“Who's going to host tonight?” Callie asked me the question, but since I couldn't possibly answer, I waited till Nathaniel did it for me.

“Jacqueline said that Mentor Isebel will be the host” he said over my shoulder. He and Callie spoke in hushed voices though we hadn't yet begun. Nate, Callie and I were sitting on the temple floor as part of a big circle. The room was just as incredible as the rest of the building. The walls were painted dark blue and covered in gold, bronze and silver detailing. Swirls in complex patterns highlighted the only door in the circular room. The floor was a milky white, slightly transparent and reflected tones of light and dark blue where the faint light hit it. Like moonstone, I realized after a while. The floor was raised into a podium in the middle of the circle we'd formed. A weird sculpture was placed up there. It was like a round table, but with slanted mirrors fixed all around it's edge. The middle seemed to curve into a bowl. Maybe it was some kind of moonfreak-art, I thought condescendingly.

“I thought Isebel only hosted for the Mentors” Callie exclaimed, barely hiding her excitement.

“She does normally, but since this is a special occasion...” he trailed off, leaving us to conclude for ourselves. I still didn't know what to expect. I didn't see any showers, bathtubs or something, so I decided that we weren't going to “cleanse” ourselves in that way. Maybe they would be handing out those warm towels you get in the airplane before a meal? I giggled at the thought, causing Nathaniel to send me one of his evil looks.

“Why, if it isn't the inseparable loser trio”

The voice from behind me was ice cold, unmistakeably arrogant and seeped hatefulness. I shuddered.

“Sapphire” Nathaniel greeted her, “I'm so glad so see you too”

She laughed – not a pleasant sound – and took a few steps to my right. I turned my head to see her. She had the same palette of colors as everyone else in the room, but yet she seemed to stand out. She was a tall, well-curved girl. The shine of her hair made it look silver rather than blond, and her eyes glinted with challenge and power. She was beautiful, I admitted. But that doesn't justify being a bitch.

“Right” she said in a sneer, “I would be too. I guess I'll go find a better company to sit in” - And with that, she turned around and trotted away, finding a space somewhere to our left. So even the dorks had bullies, I thought to myself.

“She must have the ugliest soul in the world” Callie said, her voice a tight whisper. I rolled my eyes. No wonder Ms. Hateful was after her.

“Who must?”

I hadn't felt her coming up, but now someone was standing right behind me. Nathaniel and Callie instantly straightened their spines.

“No one, Mentor” Nathaniel answered before Callie could.

“Please” the woman behind me crouched down to us, “I'm curious. Who were you talking about?”

She had a musical voice – just like the woman in the park, but yet different. It was strong, powerful and very, very beautiful. Almost... Magical.

“It was-”

“Of no significance” Nathaniel interrupted again, sending Callie a hard look. The woman behind us chuckled, but didn't ask again. Instead, she rested her hand on my shoulder.

“How are you today, Luna?” she asked softly. It was a simple gesture, but I felt like it held something more.

“I'm fine. Good, I'm good” I said shakily, wishing I could smack myself for acting like an idiot.

“I'm glad” she responded. I mumbled something like 'me too'. Her presence made me feel childish and stupid, for some reason. She sat behind me for another moment without saying anything, then she stood, briefly caressing the back of my head before walking away. I never got to see her face.

“See” Callie said, “you're as good as Selected already”

“I am not” I replied, knowing nothing else than the fact that being 'Selected' was a big thing to them. I looked up to see Sapphire's burning gaze resting on me. Her face was curled into an ugly frown that I didn't understand the meaning of. I quickly looked away.

“It's time” Nathaniel announced before Callie could say anything else. “I can feel it”

Callie nodded in agreement and I remained silent. He was right, though. Within seconds, a woman stepped onto the podium. She was facing the opposite side of the circle, and the faces of the adolescents before her instantly lid up as she spoke.

“Sons and Daughters of the Moon – Merry meet” she greeted them – us - like the woman in the park had. I recognized the last part from Wiccan and Pagan culture, something I'd been way into once. I also recognized something else; her voice. The woman on the podium was without a doubt the one who'd spoken to me just before.

“It's good to see so many beautiful children – No, adolescents gathered in such a beautiful place” she continued, slowly walking around the edge of the podium. She was wearing a shimmering silver gown that hugged her body tightly all the way to above her knees where it loosened, falling to the floor. It had long sleeves which stretched into a triangle shape on her hand where it was fastened around the root of her middle finger. I stretched my neck slightly, eager to see her face.

“You're closing in on the most important moment in your life. The moment you've been training for. The moment you've been praying for. The moment you've awaited”

I gulped, suddenly not feeling as detached as I would in an ordinary dream. I haven't been training, my thoughts screamed at me. Hell, I don't even know where I am!

“And tonight you will not only be Cleansed. You will be opened. Prepared. Mind, body and soul”

Her eyes met mine and I felt a surge of awe pass through me. She winked so briefly that I would have thought I imagined it if she hadn't smiled afterwards. She was beautiful beyond imagination. Her hair was completely white and fell in soft waves against her back and chest. Her eyes held the same powerful glint I'd seen in Sapphire's, only hers accompanied it with a warmness that made you feel safe. She kept talking about how important this time of our lives was, then switched to something more metaphorical and poetic, just like the woman in the park had. I turned to my thoughts then, not bothering to listen to their gibberish. I thought about my situation. I had long ago decided that I was in a dream, but I had been here for a long time now. Much longer than any ordinary dream. And though I was well aware of the fact, I hadn't been able to wake myself up. Hesitantly, I reached down and pinched myself at the wrist. Nothing. I tried harder, but besides the fact that I had to hold back a cry in pain, nothing happened. I tried to think back to an article I read about lucid dreaming. What were the tricks? One was convincing yourself of your actual location, but I'd already tried that. Holding ones breath was another. I inhaled a deep breath and held it. Held it. Held it. Held it. After little more than thirty seconds I could no longer hold it and let out a loud exhalation. I could feel Nathaniel's eyes burn a hole in my side.

“What's wrong with you today?” he hissed, but I was distracted before I could apologize. A loud creaking noise came from the ceiling – which by the way was painted like a starry sky. It suddenly opened; parted into pieces and moved aside, revealing a perfect view of the sky. It was already dark outside and the moon – unusually big – graced the night just above us.

“Let the Moon wipe away any sin you may bear” Isebel's voice rang through the temple. Her skin was even paler, finer in the moonlight. As I looked around, I saw that everyone was covered in the milky blue of the moon. I realized then what the odd sculpture was for. The mirrors around it's edge angled and reflected the moonlight so that we were all covered in it. It was brilliant.

“It's happening” Callie whispered eagerly. I followed her gaze to a girl on the opposite site. The light on her was different. It was as if she herself had become a source of illumination. Like a firefly, she shone from within. Dimly, but definitely. Around the circle, more adolescents seemed to get that same, interior light. Nathaniel was the first of us who was 'hit'. He moaned in what I first thought was pain, but by looking at him I realized was pleasure. That's so freaky, I thought to myself. Is he turned on by the moonlight?

But I would soon change my mind. At first I felt nothing but a strange lightness of head, like being tipsy, but then it rushed over me. It was the strangest sensation. A wave of sizzling heat covered my entire body, filling me with joy and sadness at the same time. My body was alive, sensitive to even the softest touch, and colors seemed to dance before my eyes. I wanted to scream out in awe, to run around, to kiss someone so passionately even their enemies could not help but enjoy it as well. It was so special, so pleasurable, that little trip of my own, and even though it seemed like forever, it was over too soon, leaving me completely bewildered. Isebel spoke again, her voice slightly hoarser than before, like if she was on the edge of tears. I didn't hear much, but I heard the last part and it left a lump in my chest.

“... Blessed be, everyone. And Luna Cheannaire, may I speak with you in private?”

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