In Illas, on the edge of the crystalline sea, Brother Cadfall bows his head as sisters of the Order of the Three make their prayer over him. Their fingers weave the sacred spell as they speak, and violet ribbons rush through the air. Violet ribbons snap into existence, appearing from everywhere.
Earlier this day, Cadfall’s biological sister asked him one last time, to reconsider this pathway, to reconsider dedication to the Three-Faced Goddess, where he would disappear for years into the monastery.
“Don’t you care about us?” she asked him, in tears. She was lovely as ever, wrapped in silver trimmed with gold, golden diadem on her forehead, a sign of her own personal – less extreme – devotion.
As he watched, heart silently breaking, because what he could say, she stripped the diadem from her forehead, throwing it down at the strip of open air beneath the grille that separated them, that separated him from her.
And, she left before she could hear him say, “I do. I care for everyone, though, and not just for you.”
He holds the diadem now, in a pocket of his robes, glimmering from within that pocket. He can feel it glimmering even with no light hitting it. He can feel it, as if its hidden light were a knife that might shatter his soul.
Then, the violet ribbons snap into place, twining around his body, merging with his navy blue novice robes. For three years, he will be pledged to the monastery, forbidden to leave for any reason.
It will be a harsh life. He is afraid, his fear tempered only by devotion and by hope, as the ribbons transport him silently, invisibly into his cell, the small stone-walled room with only a door and a cot to keep him company.
Here, he will offer his prayers and the energy of his quiet magic for the salvation of the world – including, he hopes, his sister.
I was thinking of writing this story based on people I’ve actually known in religious orders, but then I thought – no, this will be more believable if I write it in a world with magic. Of course, most religious orders don’t keep you away from your family for that long, but it is still a decision people I know have made – and the families who still love and visit them while living “outside.”
I think it all makes more sense with magic.