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CRICKET (CRICKET ADVENTURES Book 1)

by Author Darwun St James

 

Chapter 1   (preview)

Mud sprays in circles as hooves beat the rain-soaked ground against the storm… a dark hooded, cloaked figure draped on horseback leans into the wind.  As one, they rushed to stop in front of a small weathered and dimly lit house with a thatched roof.  Leather wrapped boots splash into deep puddles as the horse races for the warmth and safety of the dry barn.  In the stormy darkness, the oversized hood shields the face of the muddy rider.

Inside, the fireplace burns low until several logs are tossed onto the coals.  A woman’s voice commands, “In-Cendi,” and the logs burst into roaring flames. She swung the iron arm over the fireplace with satisfaction and hung a teapot over the rising flame.  The firelight glowed over the open room, illuminating her surroundings as she rushed to her tasks, pulling away a long dusty shroud draped over an oval table and twelve empty chairs, representing the twelve paths of Truth! 

In the middle of the table is a large ornate cast-iron pot, inscribed in gold around the belly, translated it reads, “The Cauldron of Manna.”  The storm strengthened as lightning strikes drew closer and heavy rain pummeled the thatch roof.   Lighting candles in calm whispered commands, “In-Cendi,” she moved to prepare for their ceremony, unshaken by the thunder and lightning.

On a near-by shelf, she swept a row of animal-skin medicine-bags into her arms and distributed each one around the oval table.  From another shelf she collected several small potion bottles, from which she carefully measured and emptied portions into the sacred vessel.  Each ingredient changed the light within the Cauldron from one bright shade to another.  Lastly she set out cups and saucers, lifted the teapot from the fireplace hook and placed the sizzling teapot on the thick wooden table.  Sitting at one end, she poured out a cup of tea as steam rose into her face and she held it in her hands to warm them.  The night sky lit up and thunder crashed overhead… waiting in the glowing candles and firelight, she knows they come… she can feel them.

 Above her, a circle of darkness appeared with a resounding buzz until a pinpoint of bright light burst through the shadowy pulsing circle and descended onto one of the chairs.  From the stream of white light, another draped figure appeared next to her; it is Madame Zuri, the eldest. Madame Teche poured another cup of tea.  Madame Zuri accepted the steaming cup as she lifted her head to speak, “Thank you my dear Hi-Priestess it is so good to see you again.”

“It is still strange to my ears to be called Hi-Priestess,” Madame Teche spoke with sincere humility, “It’s such a sad memory for me, of how this came to be.”

“Had it not been for your divine insight things would be sadly dark in our world, in all worlds…nevertheless Madame Teche, ma chère Hi-Priestess, life is as it should be. The Covenant of Manna has chosen wisely,” Madame Zuri gave a respectful nod as she addresses the younger Madame Teche with honor and fondness.

A noisy energy-charged breeze stirred around the table and many shimmering black holes appeared above them.  Madame Zuri counted the pulsing vortexes, “Alas, they have arrived.”  The carpet on the floor fluttered at its edges, and tiny mice ran for shelter through the vibrating dusty cottage floor.  Like popping bubbles, each priestess ruptured her dark undulating void and rainbows of vivid light-streams descended to all but one of the twelve chairs.

With a nod and a flick of her fingers, Madame Teche caused the teapot to rise and pour tea for each Priestess as they removed their hoods to reveal solemn faces.  Madame Zuri announced with reverence, “Good evening my sisters, this is an emergency hearing of the Covenant of Manna; our illustrious Hi-Priestesses of Light, Madame Teche is presiding.”  Each Priestess extended her hands toward The Cauldron of Manna, palms up… and in unison they responded, “E Pluribus Unum, Out of many comes one.”

“We recognize why we are here,” Madame Teche continued, “please, let us commence for there is so little time to neutralize what has been done.”  In unison they stood and each Priestess emptied the contents of her medicine bag into the Ancient Cauldron of Manna.  As they sat again, brilliant sparkling lights took form engulfing the room as living beings, shimmering from every inch of the little thatched cottage.  Madame Teche then emptied the contents of her sacred medicine bag and the light from the Cauldron of Manna transformed into a luminous blue-white, defying the eyes to stay open. 

“Sagmen Verto In-Cendo, In-Cendi,” she commanded.

The others repeated the command in English, “Sacred herbs, transformed by fire, ignite!” All candles extinguished in a flash of light as a crack of thunder exploded over the little cottage…In the center of the thick wooden table, with “no flame beneath,” the gold inscription around the belly of the Sacred Cauldron of Manna glowed like hot coals in the fireplace…  The combined medicine-herbs and liquid potions in the sacred medicine pot began a rolling boil and the contents projected a vision which changed from one shape to another as each Priestess saw her-medicine ascending and descending.

The small cottage is ablaze with color, streaming through the cracks in the walls into the wild dark night. The magic ingredients swelled and flowed like lava over the sides of the ancient cauldron, branding the table top and vaporizing instantly into bright colored rising steam; transformed by an enchanted flame.  As the luminous, iridescent steam settled over their shoulders, the Hi-Priestess spoke solemnly… “Shame shadows those who worship and praise ID, the super-ego,” and each Priestess bowed her head and mumbled their mutual agreement.  “A sad and disturbing era has come for us when one of our own is corrupted and seduced by these dark powers which are not inclusive as one. It has been our task and our blessing to protect the essence of the Great-Spirit,” Madame Teche added, “and to preserve Manna, our sacred mother is our duty.”

Madame Zuri spoke in agreement, “Together, we have succeeded for centuries, until now.”Again the priestesses murmured their disgruntled agreement.  Madame Zuri continued, “Our sister Ahman, former Hi-Priestess of Light shames us so that we must take swift and severe actions before she does her worst, for now she seeks the Cauldron of Manna. We must stop her corruption of the Light and protect the sacred tools of our great and Holy Spirit. Ironically we can only do so with the aid of the very force she seeks to covet.”  Madame Teche stood with her palms-up, followed by all, “Defendo Repello,” she commanded… and as she did, a visible shimmering energy stream swirled upwards from her palms.“Defendo Repello,” they repeat in unison, palms extended as their combined energies began swirling together as a helix.  The air above them vibrated faster now, creating its’ own orbit, pulsing in a visible mass.

“We must defeat and repel Ahman.  We must disable and restrain her before she destroys herself and us,” Madame Teche commanded.  “Debilito Ihibeo Ahman” they chanted in unison until the swirling energy-force distorted their voices as their unified energy permeated the room. “Yes my sisters”, Madame Teche assured them, “Ahman uses the spirit of man which grows weaker as evil grows stronger… ” The winds sent broken limbs crashing against the outer walls as another flash of lightening sounded immediately in a thunderous voice above the cottage. 

“Alas, the energy with-in the storm is finally at its peak so we may now join.”  Madame Teche extended both arms to grasps hands with the ones at her sides, and the room sparked with static electricity as each priestess locked palms with the next until they all completed the circle, save one…

    Madame Zuri squeezed Madame Teche’s hand fondly as she spoke… “Madame Teche, as Hi-Priestess you must go to the exterior and join the innocent-ones.  Your powers alone can shield the Magus-Child of Light “who is yet unborn” from Ahman.  Only her pure-light can free Ahman from our spell, until then she will be banished into dark waters; in-exile for eternity.” 

 “It is my destiny from which I will not waver,” Madame Teche acknowledged with a reverent bow of her cloaked head, “Until then” she accepted with resolution, “Summun bomun”, she said in Latin.

 “For the highest Good”, the covenant repeated in English. Suddenly another pulsing black-hole appeared above them vibrating and sparking with an audible muffled scream.  Madame Teche whispered, “She has arrived…”   Twenty-two hands extend palms up over the ancient Cauldron of Manna and radiant prisms of light form a flat, impenetrable barrier of energy over the entire room.   A screech of fury sounded through the shimmering dark void above them.  As Ahman’s muddied light burst through into their dimension, simultaneously the eleven Priestesses encapsulated her energy in their glowing blanket of combined powers.  Trapped, screaming threats and cursing them by name Ahman wrestled and fought against the barrier of light imprisoning her above the boiling medicine pot.

  In Unison, the Covenant of Manna began to chant the ancient Banishing spell as their voices rose with emotion and urgency…  First Madame Teche commanded in Latin, and then they strengthened and united their powers as one when the rest repeated the spell in English. The pulsing blanket of energy emitted from their palms held Ahman securely as she screamed and thrashed in vain over their heads.  In Unison the eleven Priestesses of Light chanted with rising voices…

“Caveat emptor~ let the tryer beware.   In-facto non-verba~ in deeds not words.  Extracto demonica~ cast she-demon out.  Exsilium inhibeo alter aqua~ exiled and restrained in Dark Waters.  Magus Energy vibrated and throbbed like living beings against the eardrums, swelling the cracked walls shut, pressurizing the open room of the little cottage.  Ahman cried out in a blood-curdling rage as the eleven priestesses forced her body of light toward the bubbling Cauldron of Manna.  Vigorously the pot boiled until the inscribed gold letters around the outside belly ignited in flames. The entire cauldron glowed red-hot now, and burning steam hissed and spat-up, out and into their impassioned faces.  Ahman’s agonizing screams pierce their hearts and tears washed their faces as they held their sister beneath a blanket of energy, absorbed within the Cauldron of Manna.   

Then there was silence… they listened until faintly, Madame Teche exhaled, “…and it is done.”   The pressure in the room released suddenly, and air sucked back through the opened cracks in the walls with audible swooshes.   “Ahman was a powerful Hi-Priestess of Light, how is it possible that she can be contained in Dark-Waters,” asked a young Priestess from the far-west sector?   “Yes, and she is still powerful sister, but Madame Teche is our Hi-Priestess now and together we wield the supreme powers of the Great-Spirit, so for now… Ahman is contained.” Madame Zuri answered a few more questions and then she turned to inquire respectfully, “Madame Teche, ma chère Hi-Priestess… are you prepared to go forward now?” 

 “Yes Madame Zuri, I am ready.” Madam Teche spread her fingers and a large leather bag appeared next to her, its handle pressing against her open palm.  The Covenant of Manna joined their energies again, this time forming a blanket of luminosity over Madame Teche.  The vibrating light settled slowly over her head and they all wished their sister and Hi-Priestess divine success, as Madame Teche disappeared in a blinding blue-white flash.  

Then one by one, each Priestess converted back into her own pure light and vanished in a streak through an undulating – vacuum into nothingness…  END OF CHAPTER 1

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