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Monday, August 20, 2012
Mortal Goddess - Chapter 3
“That’s enough story telling for today. Who can count to ten for me?” Aira asked the group of children gathered around her. She laughed as they all began to count at once, ultimately breaking into arguments as they disagreed over which order the numbers went in. One little girl tugged at Aira’s sleeve.
“Aira, I can count higher than 10,” she said softly, then proceeded to count to 22. “I forget what comes next,” she admitted shyly.
The other children had fallen silent in order to hear the girl’s soft voice as she recited her numbers.
“Very, very good!” Aira exclaimed as she hugged the girl, a pale blonde veil of her hair covering the girl like a fine silk wrap. As if by magic, an apple appeared in her hand, and she handed it to the girl as a reward.
Aira looked at the sky. It was starting to get dark, which was reflected in her joyous dark-blue eyes. The village men would be coming in from their fields any time now, and the women were probably putting the finishing touches on their meals.
“It’s almost time for everyone to go inside, but before I leave, I want to review some lessons. Who can tell me about the cycle of the year?” She asked. The children all answered at once. Aira listened in amusement as they explained the snow in the winter; rain and planting in the spring; tending the crops during the summer, and harvesting them in the fall.
“Very good, how about the cycle of life?”
“Birth, childhood, adulthood, parenthood, old age, death,” a little boy recited. Aira smiled and handed him an apple as well. She went on to review the alphabet, and how they spelled their names.
Suddenly, as if the village had practiced it, every woman called her children in for dinner at the same time. Meanwhile, the men were coming in from the fields.
“Bye Aira,” everyone called out in unison as Aira mounted Tigerpaw, preparing to leave.
“Bye everyone, see you tomorrow. We’re going to prepare for a feast this weekend to celebrate the beginning of this year’s harvest,” Aira reminded them, waving as she left.
Aira returned to her pond to relax and cleanse her aura of any negativity it may have acquired during the day. After meditating for a few moments, she decided to pay another visit to Widow Smith.
“Aira, what brings you by again so soon?” The widow asked.
“I thought you might appreciate it if I spent the night so you can get some rest,” she answered, brushing the strand of hair that insisted upon constantly straying to her face – currently a dark blonde – out of her eyes.
“Oh thank you! I think there might be something wrong with him, he cries whenever I put him down, even for a moment,” the widow told Aira wearily.
“No, there’s nothing wrong with him. Some babies are just more needy than others. Also, he was just born, that’s a big adjustment! Give him some time, he’ll cry less as he gets older, you’ll see,” Aira advised, taking the baby into her arms. Presently he was asleep, but Aira was positive that he wouldn’t be for long.
She smiled as the slightest twinge of jealousy shone in her light green eyes. She couldn’t wait to have children of her own.
Devius stood in front of the mirror looking at his reflection. He had spent the last hour grooming himself – not that he needed it!
Laughter caught his attention, and he looked out the window at his mother and Olivia. In the afternoon sun, his mother looked happier than she had been since his father had died.
Devius wondered, for the hundredth time in an hour, if the woman by the pond yesterday had been real or simply a result of an overactive imagination. Somehow, he thought she could not be real for she was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen; most likely the most gorgeous woman in the whole world! If only she were real...
Devius finally decided that he looked presentable enough, and that looking in the mirror – no matter how much he loved to do it – would not make him look any better. He snorted in amusement. It was a good thing that looking in the mirror didn’t improve his looks, or else there would be women fainting everywhere he went, just from looking at him!
Devius had pretty much decided that he had imagined the whole encounter with the Goddess by the pond yesterday, but he was determined to return there today, just in case she was there. Taking one last look in the mirror, Devius smiled at himself, then made his way out to the stables, advising his mother that he was going to visit his friend again.
Once his horse was prepared, Devius carelessly pushed the groom aside while he mounted.
“Pompous bastard,” the groom muttered under his breath, thankful that Devious didn't hear him.
Devius headed his horse towards his friend’s home until he was out of sight of the mansion he was staying at, then he turned in the direction of the pond he had found yesterday. Once he arrived at the pond, he dismounted and tied his horse to a tree.
She isn’t here. She probably isn’t even real. Disappointed, Devius sat on the rock he had been so certain that she had been laying on yesterday.
Unbeknownst to Devius, Aira was in the middle of an underwater meditation that was her habitual method for clearing her mind ever since she was little. In the meditation, Aira would hold her breath for as long as she could, concentrating on slowing her bodily functions to the point where an unknowing person would mistake her for dead.
Tigerpaw had decided to run wildly for a few minutes, and was nowhere to be seen, so Devius truly had no reason to think he wasn’t completely alone, not that he had noticed Tigerpaw yesterday anyway.
Slowly, Aira brought herself out of the meditation, imagining that she was walking up a spiral staircase. Once she had come out of it, she gradually rose from her sitting position. The water was deep enough that only the top of her head appeared above the water, until she took a step forward, then her entire head was out of the water.
Softly, she released the breath she had been holding and drew in another. She walked to the edge of the pond, her nude body being revealed slowly, as if the pond did not want to give up its lover.
Devius’s eyes bulged as his Goddess emerged from the water.
“Holy mother of God! You are a Goddess!” He exclaimed reverently.
He suddenly dropped to his knees beside the rock. “My Goddess, I think I have fallen in love with you, and if you would return my love, I would become your most loyal and obedient servant! I would put your every whim before my very life, and I would die to protect you. Please, my Goddess, bestow your favor upon me...”
Aira, who was caught off guard, sat speechless during his outburst. Desperately trying to find her tongue, Aira blurted out the first thing that she could get her mouth to say.
“I’m not a Goddess; I’m as human as you are!”
“Of course you are,” Devius replied dryly, more than a little sarcastic. “Human females always emerge from ponds as if they were a mere illusion created by the water to tease the minds of mortal men. I have never seen a human with the ability to hold their breath long enough to be underwater from before I got here to when you appeared.”
Devius was amused by her denial. Boldly, he stepped closer to her, so close that Aira could feel the heat from his body even though they weren’t touching. “I will never believe that you’re not a Goddess.”
Slowly, sensuously, Devius took Aira in his arms and kissed her. Aira tensed slightly, her soft, startled, green eyes darkening to an indecisive cobalt blue. She was uncertain if she should fight him off, or explore these new sensations again.
“Aira, stop worrying and relax! Have fun. This man is your soulmate.” Aira heard Gia say inside her head.
“Stop,” Aira commanded, turning her head aside.
Devius released her and took a step back. “If I have offended you, please tell me what I can do to make it up to you,” he begged, truly concerned that he may have upset her.
“We should talk. Tell me about yourself.” Aira wanted to know everything about this soulmate of hers.
“Where do I start? My name is Devon Claudius Mansfield, but everyone calls me Devius for short.” Devius babbled on and on, lovestruck, about his favorite subject, himself, and also his parents and childhood.
Aira listened, and while he was talking, looked at his aura. His aura was red and pink, with small white spots, which meant that he was passionate, self-centered, arrogant, and yet had it in him to be infinitely kind, loving, and generous. He just didn’t know it yet.
Aira giggled at a couple of his childhood stories, her eyes changing to a playful purple. He certainly was a mischievous youth, but as funny as his stories were, they clearly supported her impression that he was self-centered and arrogant.
“You would make a great story-teller,” Aira informed him, stood up, and tucked a strand of golden hair behind her ear. “I hate to end this, but I have to go.” Cupping her hands around her mouth, she whistled a short, high-pitched whistle.
Immediately, Tigerpaw galloped into view, coming to a stop in front of Aira. She calmly allowed Aira to mount her, barebacked as always.
“Goddess wait! You’re naked!” Devius informed her incredulously.
“I know, I left my clothing at a friend’s house nearby,” she replied in amusement as she watched him mount his own horse.
“Can I follow you?” He asked.
“It’s your life and you can do as you please,” Aira responded, neither pleased nor displeased by his desire to follow her. She urged Tigerpaw into a gallop. Tigerpaw eagerly ran as fast as she could. Without needing to be told where Aira wanted to go, they soon found themselves at Gia’s house.
“Wait here,” Aira commanded, dismounting as Devius caught up with her.
She entered the house, already knowing that Gia was not at home. Quickly, she dressed and made a mental note not to leave her clothing at Gia’s in the future. Who knows when I'll be surprised by a visit from Devius?
Her secluded pond was no longer her private sanctuary. This was both depressing and exciting! After dressing, Aira grabbed her ever-present “magic” bag (well almost ever-present) and exited the small house.
Remounting Tigerpaw, Aira noticed that Devius was giving her an odd look. She tried to read his mind, but he was putting up a mental shield. She wondered if he was even aware that he was doing it.
Chuckling as she shook her head, her glorious strawberry blonde hair appeared almost sunset red against the lighting of the sun. Goddess indeed! Still giggling merrily, she let Tigerpaw have free reign, and knew that Tigerpaw would bring her into the village.
“Aira!” The village children shouted upon her arrival. “Aira look what I made to wear to the feast! Look at the picture I drew in the sand for you! Look at the stick I’m carving!” Various of the children exclaimed.
“Tell us a story Aira. Who’s that with you?” Others asked.
Aira smiled and motioned for the children to quiet down. They all sat in a circle, mostly from long habit.
“Of course I’ll tell you a story, but first let me introduce you to my friend, Devius.” She pointed to him.
Just then, there was a sharp scream. Closing her crystal-green eyes momentarily, Aira tried to sense what was wrong.
“Aira! Aira! Come quickly! It’s my husband, he’s been kicked by our cow!” A village woman yelled. Instantly, Aira was on her feet and running in the direction in which the woman was pointing. She mentally ordered the children to stay put. They obeyed.
She arrived with her “magical” bag in a matter of moments. Quickly, she examined her patient to determine how serious his condition was. Fortunately, he had only been lightly kicked – well, lightly for a cow anyway – and in a spot that wasn’t as vital as it could have been. Apparently, the cow was aiming for his middle, and had gotten his side instead. Also, she had almost missed him all together. He was very lucky, or rather he would be once she stopped the internal bleeding.
Reaching into her ever-present bag, she withdrew some dried herbs known to slow blood flow. Knowing that they were herbs not meant to be ingested in large doses, she place a small amount in her mortar, and crushed them into a powder with her pestle. Once in powder form, she placed about half the quantity in his mouth.
“Don’t swallow, it’ll work faster if it stays in your mouth. Unless you haven’t eaten all day,” Aira instructed as she placed her left hand about an inch above the wound – which was beginning to turn purple – examining it with her mind’s eye. The herbs were beginning to work, slowing the blood flow; also the body was beginning to heal itself. Aira cleansed his aura, and gave the wound some healing energy.
“Thank you Aira, the pain is beginning to go away,” the patient replied.
“Don’t move, you need to lie still for a few minutes,” Aira ordered.
“See, I told you that if’n you weren’t more gentle with that cow you’d end up hurt,” his wife chastised.
“Hush.” Aira held up her hand. “He needs to be relaxed now. Make him sit here until the sun’s shadow has moved to there.” Aira pointed to a spot on the ground. It would take the shadow about a half an hour to travel there. “Once the shadow has reached that spot it would be good to bring him inside and have him lie in bed. I’ll be by in the morning to examine the wound and determine if he is able to work tomorrow,” Aira promised, standing up.
She hurried back to where the circle of children still waited for her, her long flaxen hair streaming behind her like a banner. They had been trained to not follow her whenever she was called on to help someone. She looked around wondering Devius was. He came up behind her.
“Have you been behind me all this time?” She asked.
He nodded admiringly. She shook her head in amusement, then settled herself among the children once again. The youngest curled up into her lap while she proceeded to tell them two short stories about how puppies are born, and how horses are trained.
“Aira, will you sing us a song?” A little boy asked. Aira began to sing a soothing lullaby-like song, her eyes softening to a pea green. She was grateful that it was the time of day when all the younger village children took a nap. One by one, they all drifted into the land of dreams, all except for a girl about 12 years of age.
“Aira, want to hear about a dream I had last night?” She whispered.
“Of course I do,” Aira answered softly.
“I dreamed that the moon was full, and it was after the time my mom normally sends me to bed, only my hair was longer. We were outside by a pond, just you and me, and we were dancing. Then, I woke up,” the young girl, Leah, admitted with a shy smile.
“What a beautiful dream, Leah! I tell you what, if your mom says I can, I’ll take you dancing under the full moon some night. How does that sound?” Aira asked with an air of mischievous conspiracy.
“Really Aira? Oh thank you!” The girl exclaimed softly.
“Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Now, since you are too big to take a nap, why don’t you go and help your mom. I wish to ride my horse; so I’m leaving for the day. Bye Love.” Aira gave her a kiss, then gently pushed her in the direction of her house.
“Bye Aira.” Leah waived.
Aira motioned to Tigerpaw, beckoning the horse to come to her. Tigerpaw pranced right up to Aira, and licked her on the face, laying her head affectionately on Aira’s shoulder.
“I love you too girl,” Aira purred, patting Tigerpaw on the neck before mounting her beloved horse.
Devius quickly mounted his own horse, and sneaked up behind her.
“So, your name is Aira,” he commented. “It never occurred to me that a Goddess like yourself would have a name.”
“Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis; they all had names! And I’m not a Goddess,” Aira repeated, bemused.
“Yes, you are. I never heard of anyone who can heal the way you did that villager. Also, you sang the children to sleep with out a single protest or resistance of any kind. And, you can talk to your horse without speaking.” Devius was lovestruck, and completely convinced that this was no mortal woman.
“None of that makes me a Goddess.” Aira smiled.
“I’ll never believe otherwise.”
“Why are you here? On Hamilton property, I mean.” Aira asked, trying not to become impatient with him.
“My mother is visiting Mrs. Hamilton, and I am here with her.”
“Well then, ask my mother. She can tell you how she gave birth to me.” Aira was confident that he’d have to give up his absurd belief now.
“Your Mother?” He asked, confused.
“Yes Olivia Hamilton,” Aira replied.
“Sweet Goddess, you needn’t lie. I’ve known the Hamilton family for years. Mrs. Hamilton would have introduced us at one time or another if you were really her daughter. I have eaten dinner with the entire family on more than one occasion.”
Aira shook her head in disbelief. That’s what I get for rarely eating dinner with her family! “Believe what you want to,” she sighed in near exasperation, nudging Tigerpaw into a run. “Let’s race!” She called playfully over her shoulder.