What was once a dark and dank cellar was now my coven of magic. Hypnotized by the glow of candlelight and burning embers, I observed a synergeio mysteriously come to life. Shadows of steam and smoke swirled about, invoking visions of reinvention. Savory herbs gently boiled in the stills on the hearth as they wafted intoxicating aromas of transformation.
Even though she was shrieking from the woods nearby, her voice was barely audible through the stones and my dream-like state.
Ok, that one I felt. With the hair on the back of my neck twitching, my awareness was redirected to the sound of a horse-drawn cart. Although they were nearby, the noises of the hooves were muffled, possibly by the wet ground. Had it rained? I must have been working on my craft much longer than I’d realized. With a reluctant egress, I came up from the hallowed lair to find Elektra with a magnificent haul of rocks piled high on the cart.
Unable to hide my amusement, I ran over to get a closer look at the gleaming beauties. I squealed with delight at the iridescent barrow of stones. More magic. The mist in the air delicately glazed them. I could identify hues of blue, gold, green, red, and even some purple emanating from these brilliant finds. “Where on this island did you find such treasures?” Their radiance magnetized me. I could not keep myself from gathering handfuls for closer inspection. “They are exquisite, indeed. What were you hoping to do with them?”
For the first time in our friendship, I saw a side of Elektra I had no idea existed. She was catatonic, looking on as though nothing remained but her. I wasn’t even a distant whisper. She had somehow escaped both my exuberance and curiosity, as well as the island. Her mind appeared to be void of thought. Was she ignoring me or just unaware of my existence?
Clearing my throat, it seemed appropriate to raise my voice a bit. “Elektra. I’ve been following your instructions and doing as you suggested. Clarifying my intentions and harnessing my thoughts so my denotation could manifest. I’ve also been concocting tincture formulas, which I’m quite proud of. I’d really like you to come catch a whiff and a glimpse of what I’ve done so far.”
Elektra displayed nothing but a poker face. Not one muscle moved, nor did either eye twitch. In fact, she was so absent she was drooling from the right corner of her mouth. I needed to keep a straight face but couldn’t help but giggle. I turned around, before firmly demanding, “Elektra! It is time for you to accompany me to the synergeio.”
Jolted out of her trance, Elektra stumbled over her own feet as she turned, searching for the voice beckoning her attention.
Feeling both agitated and excited, I needed to know. “Where the heck did you go? What was occupying your mind so intensely?”.
Embarrassed, she murmured, “Please forgive me, Circe. I was envisioning all we could do with the power we’re developing.”
“Did I hear that correctly,” I asked, “all we could do?”
“Yes. Is there a problem with having such insight?”
“Hmmm, let me see,” I teased, shaking my head in denial. “A problem? Insight? I don’t necessarily see a problem. Although I’m not quite sure what you believe you know. Don’t mistake me, I’d love to hear more about this vision. Though I must remind you, the only control we ever have is over our energy, thoughts, and actions. The knowledge you think you possess…let’s put that aside for now. Walk with me. Talk with me, as I show you the things I’ve been exploring. If you don’t mind me saying so, I’m getting damn good at this sorcery stuff!”
Elektra was amicable and, at the same time, oddly silent. Although she was engaged and shared some great ideas, she was increasingly distant. I suppose a better way to describe her actions was to say she was reserved. Every time I inquired about her vision, she sidestepped the question with additional guidance, all while her eyes roamed the room with caution. She monitored my every move and word. I had never felt as guarded as I did at that moment. What was she up to? I excused myself to get a bit of fresh air. Honestly, I was more interested in pilfering a stone or two, not that she owned them. I wanted to feel the incredible energy they possessed. I could tell they were much more than just colorful.
Elektra suddenly appeared from down below, as I searched through the collection. She apologized for being distant. “Please forgive me, Circe. I have this thing where my mind wanders. I can’t really explain it. I see things that aren’t of this world and find myself stupefied. It takes me a few minutes to snap out of it. I am sorry you had to witness that.”
“No problem, Elektra,” I reassured. “Being human is a unique experience. Then again, you’re a nymph, and I have no idea what that’s like.”
“Well, maybe the life of a nymph is foreign to you, but you do possess the enchanting voice of a siren.”
I felt my stomach plummet, my head going numb with anxiety as her comment bounced between my ears. It took a few minutes before I could gather myself and ask, “What does being a siren have to do with anything here?”
“Not much. You are, however, demoralizing yourself and denying any mystical abilities.”
My entire body twitched with her response. Her statement was maddening. Denying my abilities? Luring men with song was not a life’s ambition for me. I wanted, and would have, more power. I knew Elektra was the one to teach me about this energy. Her instruction was exactly the direction I needed to take, despite the blocks impeding my evolution. With every experiment, my confidence grew.
I gazed upon the unbelievable rune pile in Elektra’s cart. She followed me, delivering a barrage of derogatory remarks in an attempt to dispel my fascination. I ambled around her haul. She lingered just a few steps behind, whispering snarky comments as often as she could, about anything I found intriguing. I finally accepted that hiking myself up into that wagon was the best way to shake her and move this conversation beyond a witchy catfight. The plan was to show her who was boss. She was in service to me, after all. I was done with the insubordination.
Clearly, her game was to use me, but for what? The only way to win her game of manipulation was to outmaneuver her. I suggested we each select a few stones that appealed to us personally. I wondered about her intentions with bringing them home. She’d gone to great lengths to load them and have them hauled back to the estate. Her response that she believed we could use them for a few of the projects she had in mind. It was clear to me, given what I had already learned about the magic found in nature, I could use them in a manner similar to how I had used the plants. It was also clear that Elektra was hiding something. She was much more than the nymph she portrayed.
Even though she was in service of me, there was no mistaking the fact she had a secret agenda. She did not disclose the vision she proclaimed to have had. She had been ill-advised with her words when she brazenly said, the power we’re developing. The one thing I’d come to understand about all creatures, be they mortal, animal, or dare I say, god, was they instinctively put their best interests first. I was just as guilty.
I was being manipulated, that was undeniable. Although I didn’t believe Elektra’s goals were malicious. Yet, I was gaining a clear picture of what it meant to be a sorceress, and a powerful one at that. Was the vision she’d had for herself? I was not inclined to share the spotlight with a nymph or anyone else. I needed Elektra to remain just as she was, a servant nymph. Her comprehension of, and connection to, nature was far more valuable to me than having a sister sorceress to plan or commiserate with.
I decided to confront her about my suspicions. Without hesitation, she turned, walking in the direction of the house. In an odd twist, she also refused to face or look back at me. “No, Circe,” she said quietly, shaking her head. “My only intention is to facilitate the vision I had of you becoming a sorceress.” This was by far the worst thing she could do.
While she was away collecting rocks, I had become quite good at wielding energy. It wasn’t always easy for me to do, but Elektra’s dishonesty shed a bit of light on what I really wanted. With that thought, my body began to tremble, and I walked up behind her. Taking her by her wrist, I spun her so she could look me in the eye. She exclaimed, “Circe! Your eyes! They match the rocks!”
Ignoring her declaration, I slipped my hand into hers. I invited her to come with me to the synergeio. “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired and could use an aromatic interlude.” As we entered the sanctuary of magic, the scent of herbs and oils was intoxicating. My best pot of herbs had steeped long enough to induce a more relaxed state. After offering a cup to Elektra, I excused myself to empty several warmed urns of hydrosol into a clay water bath on the far end of the private cellar.
“How about a relaxing bath,” I asked. “I don’t know about you, but the mists chilled me to the bone. I suspect a nice soak will do a body good. Plus, I could use a bit of relaxation. How about you?”
Caught off guard, Elektra responded, “Sounds good to me, but I was not planning on a bath. I have promised to attend the aequi later this evening on the beach.”
I reassured her she wouldn’t miss it and said, “I don’t know why you can’t stay a short while. I just want to extend a bit of hospitality to make up for such an agitating afternoon. After that, you’re free to do as you please. Well, you are always free. I hope you know what I mean. I’m simply apologizing for the way this afternoon went.”
“Thank you, Circe. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. A remedial bath sounds perfect.”
As she settled into the water, an expression of ease covered her face. “Circe, I’m glad you suggested this. What sort of formula did you add to the water?”
Watching her, I waited for the enchanted decoction to overtake her abilities. Oddly, that never happened. Instead, her demeanor softened as she delighted in the warmth of the bath. I couldn’t understand. The potion I applied to the water should have changed everything about her, but it hadn’t! What happened? Where had I gone wrong? What had I missed?
I had no time to figure it out. Elektra retreated from the bath, announcing she had a ritual to attend and would return in the morning.