When I opened them, it was dark. Not the soul-crushing darkness I had felt so intimately before. This was a normal, dawn darkness, the sun softening the edges as the world woke up.
I tried to move. Found I could, but with a wave of nausea that made me rethink. But I had the choice. I had control. Instead, I let my eyes roam over the cave I found myself in.
The vermillion carpet I was lying on.
The altar in front of me. Candles burning, the smell of incense.
The bowl of my blood, congealing in front of a carving of the goddess Hecate.
Everything came rushing back. I braced myself as another bout of nausea swept over me.
The trek through the hills.
Slowly, I rose to my knees. My hands fell into a comfortable position on my thighs.
Hetty’s warning came back to me;
“Don’t leave that cave without being blessed first.”
“What happens if I fail?”
“You’ll know if it happens. Which it won’t.”
I waited in silence. My head was still full of the trance journey. But it was fading fast. Hetty had warned me that I wouldn’t remember my spirit journey. Only that I would either pass the test, and come out a fully-fledged witch. Or I would fail. She wouldn’t tell me what would happen then.
Warmth engulfed me, although the stone of the cave was cold. My eyes closed and I heard a voice calling to me. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard, unearthly and captivating.
“Well done, Talia Elfstone. You resisted both the pull of Dark Magic, and the allure of Pure Magic. You now have the ability to reach your hidden power. But you will not remember this. You will have to learn to control your new abilities on your own. You are more powerful than anyone realises. Use this power to defeat the evil you face. Do not let it overwhelm you.”
The last traces of the ethereal voice faded and I felt the loss keenly. But only until I opened my eyes. It was a lot lighter now. I got to my feet, not knowing anything, except that I needed to leave the cave.
I followed the light. When I reached the cave entrance, I took one look back at the cave, but there was nothing there. Just a void of darkness. With only one way to go, I stepped forward, into the sun and my life.