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The Blood Amulet

by Wiglorn 

Posted: 17 February 2008
Word Count: 1582
Summary: Prologue - reworked, thank to previous comments (now complete) Love to hear what you all think

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The Blood Amulet


The girl’s eyes flickered open. Her dream had ended but she could not remember it. For a moment her surroundings were unimportant. The unknown woman in the unfamiliar room was inconsequential. First she wanted to know who she was.
She lay still beneath a patchwork blanket she had never seen before, waiting.
Her identity remained hidden in that lost dream. It would soon come back she hoped, like recalling the name of a familiar face that had just walked by. She fought with the idea of another person’s face. She knew no one. Not a single face could be brought to mind. Not family or friend. Not even the woman in the room.
Turn around she thoughtlet me see you … let me … recognise you.
She slowly raised a trembling hand to her own face. Her heart pumped frantically as she touched her lips for what felt like the first time. Tactile fingers investigated every feature as if she had been blind all her life…
My life … How old am I? Who am I? What is my name?
The woman turned and approached in what seemed like slow motion. Soft candlelight flickered. A fire burned briskly beneath a large pot in a stone fireplace. A shuttered window blocked out any clue as to the time of day. The woman sat at the edge of the bed and lowered her face into view.
The girl opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. Her heart was now pumping so hard that it had taken her breath away. She winced as a sharp pain stabbed in her head and a dull throb came to her arm. Pain that she had just realised had been there since the moment she had opened her eyes. Her panic had been an anaesthetic. But that had gone, to be replaced with an aching body and a mind full of questions.
‘Relax,’ said the woman, ‘you have been involved in a car accident, but you are safe now.’
The girl raised herself onto her elbows, exposing bare arms. She looked down on herself to find she was dressed in a short sleeved blouse. More discomfort came. Her ribs might have been cracked … her legs broken?
The woman looked to her arm and the girl followed her eyes.
‘You have a black mark upon you. Lie still, I have to remove it.’
‘Black mark?’ said the girl. Her voice was so quiet that she was not sure if it had come out, but the woman smiled sympathetically as if she had heard it.
‘The Dark Witch has touched you. While the mark remains I cannot heal any part of you.’
The girl looked back to arm and saw a jet-black, hand-shaped imprint above her elbow. Like an inky birthmark, it burned at her skin.
She pulled the blanket back over her arm and lowered herself into the bed. ‘It’s just a bruise… it will go on its own.’
‘I am afraid such a mark will never leave of its own accord. Fortunately it has not yet taken hold of you.’
She placed her hand on the blanket directly above the girl’s arm. The girl recoiled at first, then relaxed as warmth spread over her entire body. Tiredness washed over her, forcing her back into sleep. Before her eyes closed she heard the woman chanting strange words. Words that eased discomfort and bought an overwhelming feeling of relaxation.

Bright sunlight poured into the room, burning a yellow glow through the girl’s eyelids. She sat up squinting under the shadow of her raised arm. A mouthwatering aroma filled the air. She swallowed and licked her lips.
Her eyes gradually adjusted to the glare of the new day then sought out the source of the flavoursome smell. What she had mistaken for a large pot in last night’s candlelight could now be described as nothing less than a cauldron. A fusion of tastes suggested themselves in the steam that rose from its gentle bubbling. The rich vapour drifted around the room, past a doorway, along stone walls cluttered with overfilled shelves, and over a huge oak table, flanked by high backed chairs.
She swung her legs out of the bed and her bare feet found a pair of slippers upon the stone floor. A gown lay at the foot of the bed that she was sure had not been there a moment ago. As she poked her arms into its sleeves she saw that the black mark had gone.
Even before taking a single step, she was aware that no part of her body hurt any more. The throbbing in her head, the pains in her legs and her ribs had completely gone. She waited a moment longer, listening for the slightest sound. A large archway to her right led to another room. She craned her head and waited. When no sound came, she walked across the room.
The cauldron was half full of vegetable stew. Without a second thought she looked around for something to eat from. The objects on the shelves looked less than appetising. There were jars filled with many unidentifiable objects, some floating in liquids. Strange instruments and the occasional skull of a small animal flanked dusty books. She turned to the archway, hoping it would lead to a kitchen. Then, as she passed the table she noticed a bowl and spoon.
That was definitely not there before.
She looked all around again but saw no one. After the briefest of examinations she decided the bowl was completely normal. Hunger had the better over concern.
Returning to the cauldron of stew she found a silver ladle hanging beside it. She served herself a generous portion before any thought of its sudden appearance had entered her mind. And finally, when she had seated herself, she gave not a second thought to the glass of milk that had appeared before her.
The taste was exquisite. Having no memory of ever eating before took away any frame of reference, though the girl imagined that if she had eaten something with such a delicious flavour, then she would have surely remembered. With each mouthful as satisfying as the last she nearly missed the figure pass by the open window. It appeared to move downwards rather than across her line of vision. Then there were footsteps. They had started suddenly and made their way to the doorway.
The door creaked open and the woman entered. The girl froze, spoon halfway to her still open mouth, as she watched her rest a broomstick against the wall and close the door behind her.

‘Good morning,’ said the woman, ‘nice to see you up and about.’
‘G-g-good morning,’ said the girl.
‘I see you have tried the stew,’ said the woman as she drew out a chair and sat down.
‘I’m sorry, I thought that…’ said the girl, pushing the bowl slightly away from her, ‘I thought it was for me.’
The woman waved her hands, palms facing forwards. ‘No, no. It was intended for you, please carry on.’
The bowl then slid back across the table. The girl had to stop the stew from sliding off the table and into her lap.
‘Oops, sorry, Jax. I’m a clumsy one aren’t I?’
‘You – you called me … Jax.’
‘Yes,’ said the woman, ‘yes I did, didn’t I. Have to have a name, don’t you? And since you don’t remember yours, I figured I’d give you one.’
‘Jax,’ said the girl, as if trying the sound of her name on her lips, ‘Jax – I like that.’
‘Good, good. And you may call me Merlino – for that is my name, Merlino Barfel.’
The newly named Jax turned back to the job of satisfying her hunger, but kept her eyes on her host the whole time.
‘You’re a witch aren’t you?’ said Jax as if taking away her hunger had also taken away her nerves.
‘I am indeed,’ said Merlino.
‘And the person who gave me that black mark – she’s a witch too isn’t she?’
‘She is Amsel –a Dark Witch. But we are as different as night and day.’
‘Did she cause the accident?’ asked Jax.
Merlino nodded her head in one slow and deliberate movement.
Jax swallowed then licked her lips, surprised at how dry her mouth had become. ‘Who else was in the car? I mean, the other … were they my…’
Merlino took a deep breath then spoke. ‘There were two others. I am afraid they did not survive,’ she paused for a moment while Jax to took this information in, then said, ‘…and yes, I do believe they were your parents.’
A lump came to Jax’s throat and her eyes burned but shed no tears. ‘I can’t remember my parents.’
‘Trauma has denied you this information. It may return one day.’
‘Why did Amsel attack? Why my parents, why me?’ asked Jax.
‘Our destinies have already been written. It was your destiny to encounter Amsel, as it will be again. Once you have been touched by her evil then destiny becomes fate. I was able to intervene and remove the stain of her touch, but you will have to face her again in time. She has foreseen that one day you will become a powerful threat to her.’
‘Me?’ said Jax, ‘but I don’t know anything about magic – or witches.’
Merlino smiled. ‘Then I shall have to teach you.’

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Comments by other Members

Steerpike`s sister at 21:31 on 17 February 2008  Report this post
You've certainly improved this - good for you! :) And well done for continuing it. I look forward to seeing more.

foundit at 10:59 on 18 February 2008  Report this post
I enjoyed reading this.

I can see it will intrigue and tease.
I look forward to reading the next instalment.


Wiglorn at 11:37 on 18 February 2008  Report this post
Thank you Leila and Joe for your kind words

I will get Chapter one up as soon as possible -
just doing the final tweeks to it.


NMott at 15:54 on 18 February 2008  Report this post
I only had time to read the opening paragraphs, but, to echo Leila's words, this is a significant improvement :) Keep it up.

- NaomiM

Wiglorn at 16:39 on 18 February 2008  Report this post
Thank you Naomi
I might just keep the prologue in the book now
I was toying with the idea of leaving it out all together


Freebird at 17:07 on 18 February 2008  Report this post
Oh, yes, This is much better! Tightly written, intriguing, no passive voice to be found.

The only tiny thing that jarred was that you repeated a similar phrase ("Without a second thought" and where she didn't give a second thought to the milk that had appeared on the table.

A real improvement! Just shows what a difference a small amount of tweaking can make.


NMott at 13:42 on 19 February 2008  Report this post
I might just keep the prologue in the book now
I was toying with the idea of leaving it out all together

Um, maybe I should clarify I was talking about the prose rather than the fact it's a prologue. I'm pretty much anti-prologue in general.

Wiglorn at 14:53 on 19 February 2008  Report this post
To be honest, Naomi,
I am not a great fan myself but felt that I had to put a little bit of information in.

My mind keeps on changing as there is a place where this scene is revisited in chap 15,

Anyway I am about to upload chapter 1

So, in the meantime, thank you

NMott at 17:07 on 19 February 2008  Report this post
there is a place where this scene is revisited in chap 15,

Yup, that's exactly the reason why I hate prologues. They are fine as stand-alone pieces which are impossible to place in the main part of the novel, but annoying when it an excerpt taken from the body of the work.


- that's what blurbs on the back cover are for.

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