A warm coil of wind lifted dust from the center yard and spun it among the steep cone roofs. The few people remaining in the roundhouses slept soundly and were certain to sleep longer than they had planned; Wynn had seen to that.
Her moon shadow flowed over the ground ahead of her as she strode to the smithy. She rounded the Chieftain’s house on its shadow side. A chorus of snores identified the old gossips. Their whispering and sly glances had fed the lie that Da abandoned wife and child to embrace evil in the Otherworld.
People respected, but distrusted workers of magic. With her it was all distrust. Besides, Da had never done magic they could see. He was suspect because he kept to himself, and because of her. But Da deserved their gratitude. He alone had braved the dusk to face the fey beast seen prowling the perimeter. Instead they dishonored him.
Liars. With a jerk of her hand, she tightened their sleeping spell. Wind hissed in the thatching and carried noises from the woods. No sound was challenged with a bark. Under her spell, even the dogs slept.
Wynn’s arriving shadow darkened the threshold of the smithy. On the door Uncle Dow had painted red, yellow and blue spirals using madder, lichen, and woad. She paused there to greet the incomplete moon. The triumphant weeks of First Harvest Festival had begun. Spelt ripened on the sea cliff. No one would cut a single sheaf before the Goddess transformed from Maiden to Woman, but harvesters readied their blades.
She sang. Her voice echoed from the wooden palisade circling the seven roundhouses.
Moon fire the Maid’s desire.
Bring close the Sacred.
Cross to us.
Connected by this moon to the Season Circle, Wynn now chanted in a lower octave to Govannan, their God of the Forge—a song of her own making.
This night I reach far with magic.
This night I forsake childish charms.
This night I lay claim to my birthright.
This night shall your forge proclaim me.
In the Fires of Creation I am born.
Opening the door to the smithy was itself an invocation. Wynn put both hands on the iron Pentacle that formed the latch. Govannan’s creative spirit entered the five-angled design at the apex where his down-thrusting sword drew power from the other four points: fire, earth, air, and water. She lifted the Pentacle, and the wooden door swung inward. In the silent dark, metallic scents and the clean odor of charcoal mingled, greeting her like close friends. Her only friends.
Wynn stepped inside and closed the door. Moonlight found no way into the smithy. She moved by memory to the candleholder on Uncle Dow’s bench. Rubbing the fingertips of her right hand together, she produced a cloud of sparks that swarmed around and settled on the wick. Chest and hands tingled with the pleasure of it.
The flame lengthened above the tallow. Using a copper shield for a mirror, she braided and bound her dark hair in a womanly crown, safe from sparks. Wynn studied the effect. Her eyes, amber in sunlight, seemed unnaturally dark in the distorted reflection. Mature. Powerful.
The others would be forced to see her differently after tonight. She would create an object of power with her magic, one that spoke of her alone.
From the kidskin bag tied to her belt, Wynn withdrew a mold of hardened clay. Into it, she’d carved a knot with no beginning and no end, the continuous journey of the soul. The grooves would capture the stream of molten silver and shape it to her design. This silver knot would connect her to the Center, the Source of the Pattern that sustained the worlds. She’d wear it as proof of her new stature as magesmith. Heads would turn.
But, she had to hurry. The others would linger only one fireside at Trevarrian to feast, share stories, and show off what they’d bartered at the Head. Tomorrow they’d ride home along the sea cliff track, above beaches where waves curled shoreward, row on perfect row. When next she traveled that road, she’d be a new person—a smith like Uncle Dow who transformed earth, fire, air, and water into poetry that could be touched. Respectable magic.
Unlike what came naturally to her.
And, she would be a smith, whether Uncle Dow taught her or not. Smiths were the only craftsmen who could make their own tools. Wynn had long begged to work the smithy with him; and finally, now that she stood as tall as Mam, he allowed it. But he only let her set up the charcoal, hand him tongs and hammers, and take turns working the leather bellows with the other apprentices. Tonight she could do anything she wanted.
Dow was short on explaning and long on showing, expecting her to learn beside everyone else, without special direction of any kind. Her da would have given her worthy tasks, now that her Gift had emerged; but he wasn’t here to advance her, or to help her understand the purpose and proper use of her magic. . . . Mam feared magic. Wynn’s first use happened without intending, but Mam’s alarm over Wynn’s inheritence turned her motherly smile to a hard line on her white face. Da would have to deal with it. After that, Wynn had been sent to sea with him every time he traded silverwork for the settlement. Wynn smiled. A thing unheard of for a child of three, and it lasted nine good years.
Until Da disappeared.
~ from Chapter 2 Crucibles ~