Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tarot Story: Sacrifices

In our Daily Tarot server, we like to have a bit of fun with tarot from time to time. This month's challenge was to create a story using tarot, something I've been meaning to try for a while. I got a lot of false starts with my endeavor, but ultimately I think it came together.

For planning the story itself, I used a Celtic Cross spread with my Llewellyn deck. For character development, I used a Mandala spread (personality analysis spread) with my Mildred Payne Secret Pocket Oracle deck. I wanted the story to be sort of fanciful, but also strange and more than a little bit creepy. Hopefully I achieved that. I don't want to make this post excessively long, so I plan to share more insight into my tarot story planning process and how I connected each of those spreads to my story in a future post.

So, with no further ado, here is my story. Please be forewarned, there is some graphic violence!

Sacrifices

Ursuline could still hear them. Asking for more. Expecting more. More. More. More. No sacrifice was quite enough, and she had become frightened they were coming for her. They were the sort who would come for her and take what they felt they deserved. Talismans weren’t enough. She gazed at her useless display of jewelry and wondered if the power they held would be enough for someone else. Probably. Most people make the proper sacrifices.

Most people acknowledge their divinity. Ursuline was not most people.

She wanted to be good, and Ursuline tried so hard to make them happy. It’s not that she didn’t want to please the spirits. She felt it fair to give them the appropriate tributes for the kindnesses they showed her, but they just howled louder in her ears – angry and unappeased. They skittered just around the corners of her sight, never allowing her to forget they were near and coming for the rest of what she owed.

Sometimes they showed her visions. Horrific and tortured scenes demonstrating what they wanted from her. They wanted her.

Other times she found little specks of things here and there. Gentle reminders of the nightmares in store for her. The specks were as powerful as the unexpurgated horrors she’d witnessed. Each speck brought to the forefront of her mind the tortured fantasies they showed her, playing over and over. She didn’t have enough talismans. Her power wasn’t enough to stop them, and it never would be.

She had attempted amulets. Little sacks of protection. Jars of nasty barriers. Charged with her energy, she’d carry them off to obscure locations to draw away the nasties. She could feel the screaming meemies hurtling toward the diversions, circling and shrieking. She dimmed her light and hid in the darkness where she became lost. If she didn’t know where she was, then they couldn’t know either.

Ursuline was careful about when she turned on her lights. When visitors came, she peered through the darkness, eyes long accustomed, to see who came to call. She weighed carefully their stature to determine if they could overpower her. If they presented too substantial of a threat, she hid, never letting them know she was there. She was certain they had envoys carrying with them their power and their desire to force Ursuline to make the proper sacrifices.

Once it had occurred to her that perhaps there were others. Others like her with angry, buzzing wraiths demanding more than their fair share. Others like her who were unyielding, doling out proper repayments and then hiding in the shadows when they snatched for more. Perhaps her and another could confederate to form a more commanding force—one they must acquiesce to, one they must accept their allowance from, and leave her and the others be. So, she turned on one miniscule light and ventured from her dark abode to find other small lights glistening in the muggy abyss.

When Ursuline found another cottage nestled quietly away, she raised her personal barriers and began the long process of surveilling the possible cohort. Ursuline watched her closely. She watched her making the proper sacrifices, the exact sacrifices she herself had left, perhaps even less. But they came and took their dues and left without bothering the woman for more. Few of the banshees lingered. Ursuline’s curiosity quickened alongside her admiration for the tiny forest witch.

Eventually she felt herself compelled to come forward and make herself known. As Ursuline moved toward the witch, she felt the witch’s gaze move up from her work to Ursuline. Her gaze took all of Ursuline in, and she smiled, as if expecting her. Ursuline disarmed her personal barriers, fearing she may seem an off-putting encroacher otherwise. The witch’s continued gaze empowered Ursuline to begin, and so she launched into the story of why she had come. She told the witch of the forces beyond the light. She spoke of their evil envoys and her persistent evasion of them. The last bit she hesitated and stumbled over as she told her about the visions.

The witch’s gaze softened, and she gestured Ursuline to her side. Ursuline’s heart raced. The shadows skittered away from the edges of her vision. It seemed as though everything around the witch and her cottage had begun to emanate a warm, pulsating glow. The darkness flitted away as it was engulfed with light. Ursuline’s own small lantern flickered under the heaviness of the radiance. She searched about for shadows, fearing the sudden brilliance would bring them near, but she found none. Feeling suddenly brave in their absence, Ursuline answered the witch’s beckon.

The witch took Ursuline by the hand, turning her away from her and toward the light’s source. Blinded, she could no longer make out where the light began or ended. She panicked slightly, and the witch pulled her back against her body and began to whisper softly in her ear all her secrets of survival in the abyss. The words buzzed together warm and soft, and Ursuline became calm again. The words kept flowing from the witch, and they bumped together and overlapped in ways that obscured their meaning but still seemed to form together a solid statement.

Ursuline leaned back into the witch believing a great revelation had begun. The witch stroked Ursuline’s hair gently, whispered one last alarming phrase, and as Ursuline’s eyes widened in fright, she saw light glint dangerously off steel. Ursuline felt all the words flow from her neck, red and sticky, never to come back. Her knees buckled, and the witch helped her gently to the ground. Her whispers resumed as she stroked Ursuline’s hair back from her face. The witch leaned in, her whispers fading further away as she got closer, and placed her lips delicately on Ursuline’s forehead. Then on Ursuline’s lips. Then on her sanguine neck. The witch leaned back with her reddened lips and giggled as Ursuline gurgled.

The blinding light vanished, snapping away quickly to reveal a mass of shadows. Each came and took from Ursuline her dues. The darkness spread from her as light slowly faded from her eyes. She stared blankly as they groped about, carrying their dues away into the gloom. She watched each piece twinkle away like fireflies desperately trying to light a void. Her eyes continued to stare, blank and empty, as the witch took her cold hand to her lips, nibbling gently. The ground rose up around her as she dissolved slowly into it. As the earth engulfed Ursuline’s body, the witch released her hand and stood to walk away unaccosted by ravenous shades.

To read about how I developed this story, check out my follow-up post: Developing my Short Story "Sacrifices" with Tarot

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