They kept ascending within the mountains until they came to a small cabin that stood in the middle of a clearing. It looked quite welcoming, but something about it felt off. Whoever lived in this cabin didn’t like being surprised, they had been strategic to place the structure in the middle so that it was surrounded by at least fifty feet of clearing on every side. How would Delilah learn Ceremonia Vitae if this woman wasn’t willing to teach her? As they approached the cabin, they couldn’t hear any sound from inside giving the illusion that nobody was home. Christianna rapped on the door loudly, and shouted with a tone she must have used often with her students at the Southern Academy campus.
“Ginger, open the door!”
Christianna, braced herself against the door and with all the strength she could muster, lifted the door off it’s hinges. The door burst open into a one room space. There was a unlit fireplace in the middle separating the kitchen from the bedroom area. That’s about all they could see through the darkness of the cabin.
“So now you’re breaking into people’s homes Christianna?” said a voice that sounded like it was coming from the kitchen area. A woman appeared through the cloak of shadows, revealing her uncanny resemblance to Christianna. The only thing about their appearance that differed was Ginger’s chocolate brown hair.
“I didn’t come here to reconnect Ging, so I’ll get right to it.” Christianna said in an icy tone. “This is Delilah Grey, the East Academy’s brightest healing fairy. She would like to learn about Ceremonia Vitae, and I’m hoping you’ll teach her.”
Delilah stood there confused as to why the two women were so cold to each other. Ginger regarded Delilah for a moment, as if she was considering accepting, then turned her gaze back to her sister.
“I knew this wasn’t a social call, but the real question is why come to me?”
“I don’t know of anyone else who can do it. Look, I know we don’t see eye to eye, but Alanthra could really use your help.” Christianna explained as calmly as she could.
“I gave up on Alanthra years ago, why would I come out of hiding now?”
“Do you know what Alanthra is going through? Fairy folk from all over are fleeing to the Capitol, and they have shut the gates. They’ve been abandoned and have nowhere to go. Meanwhile the Dark Master is out there reaking his havok.”
“And you think I’m your last hope? Heh, sorry sis, but I’m not a hero.” Ginger replied blankly.
“No, you’re right. According to prophecy, Alanthra’s last hope is two fire fairies who successfully performed Ceremonia Vitae and lived.”
Ginger looked at her sister with surprise.
“How?” Ginger asked in an exasperated tone.
“We believe it was instinct. But I didn’t come here to chit chat about the goings-on in Alanthra. I came here to ask you to train Delilah in Ceremonia Vitae.” Christianna said, placing a hand on her shoulder.
Ginger sighed “Alright, I’ll giver her one shot. But if she fails, you both leave.”
“Thank you so much!” Delilah chimed in. The two sisters seemed to be burning holes into each other’s eyes, and Delilah hoped that she could lessen the tension.
“No need to thank me, but we must start immediately. “I will go on with Delilah.” Ginger said cooly. “Christianna, you will have to stay here. You might as well see if you can’t fix that door.” Ginger said as an afterthought, leading the way back into the dark forest.
They walked in silence for ten minutes. The forest sloped up around them, Delilah then realised they were climbing a mountain. She considered asking Ginger where they were going, but decided it was best to wait to find out. Eventually she did, they came upon a clearing much smaller than the one where Ginger’s cabin was. There was a lot less room to walk around, but it seemed secluded, and somehow safe and restful.
“This is a sacred place for the forest and it’s creatures to rest. We won’t be disturbed here.” Ginger said as she sat down on the only large rock in the clearing. She fixed her long skirt so that she was comfortable and placed her hand in her lap. She opened one eye, noticing Delilah standing there confused. “Come up here, you need to be able to concentrate.” she said, as if that was an explanation.
Delilah followed Ginger’s advice and sat cross-legged revealing to Ginger the marking on her ankle that revealed she was a healing fairy.
“Alright, before we get started I must explain to you that this ability is very hard and draining. You must take a part of yourself in order to give it to whomever you are trying to save.” Ginger began to explain.
“What if it’s too late? I mean- what if someone dies before-” Delilah tried to ask, but she was cut off by Ginger’s surprisingly soft tone.
“The ceremony can only be performed on the living. I heard about what happened to the fire tree. There has been a lot of death in Alanthra, I know, and no doubt you’ve lost your fair share of friends, but there is nothing we can do about that.”
Delilah immediately though about the General. He had been the headmaster of the East Academy campus ever since before she started going there. She had looked up to him like a father, but the Dark Master killed him.
“Now, I will first demonstrate Ceremonia Vitae with a small subject, thus requiring only a small part of me.” Ginger explained, hoping that Delilah was catching on. Delilah watched as Ginger placed a rodent in between them. It was heaving from exhaustion as if it had been fighting for it’s life for a long time.
Ginger placed one hand over the other on her chest and closed her eyes. Delilah could see her breath deep, concentrating on nothing more than something within her. Her hands began to glow a radiant purple, like Delilah’s healing-fairy-marking. As she brought her hands away from her chest, a stream of the same purple glow went out from her and connected with the suffering rodent. It surrounded the creature and lifted it enough off the rock to place it on it’s feet. A few seconds later the glow vanished and the rodent scurried away.
“Happy as a lamb.” Ginger said when she opened her eyes. “It seems simple, I know. Now I want to see you try. Focus on your breathing and your heartbeat. In the moment that they are both in tune with each other, that is when you feel your life force within you.” Ginger said gesturing to the rest of the clearing for Delilah find a subject. There were many creatures who had found safety in the clearing, but Delilah was drawn to something else. She stood and lept off the rock, and walked over to the edge of the clearing, where a old tree seemed to be barely surviving. Ginger, from the rock, raised an eyebrow.
Delilah closed her eyes and placed her hand on the tree, breathing deeply and listening to her heartbeat. The tree’s bark instantly grew thick and it sprouted many new, strong, and healthy branches.
“Did I do it? I did it!” Delilah said looking at her hands.
“No, I’m not sorry to say. You are also a nature fairy, a detail my sister felt inclined to leave out.” Ginger said crossing the small clearing to Delilah. “So, multi-gifted, how many elements to you control?”
“Besides healing and nature? I can control water. Healing is actually my worst element in terms of practice.” Delilah confessed.
“It would have been important for me to know that information before I agreed to teach you. Now I’m not sure if you will succeed.”
“What did I do wrong?” Delilah pleaded.
“You did nothing wrong, it’s just that your draw to nature is stronger than your draw to living creatures. In order to become an expert at Ceremonia Vitae, you must be focused on your one element. You must leave everything you’ve learned about your other elements behind you.”