Inspired by some prompts at One Sentence Only (Table 25b), a summer themed ficlet for Lammas/Lughnasagh/Lunasdagh, as a priestess prepares to lead the ritual for the harvest celebration.
The heat of the fire was scorching even in the hot summer’s day air, like dragon’s breath against her skin. On the spit nearby the wild boar was cooking nicely. Bread, salad vegetables, cookies sprinkled with sugar, were all arranged on a table ready for the feast.
The boughs of the trees moved in the gentle breeze, carrying the scent of smoke, food, and wine to every house in the small town, beckoning everyone to join the harvest celebration. Most of the inhabitants were already there, having fed their letter with expressions of gratitude and wishes for the future, to the flames. Now they were adding to the offerings of food and drink, gossiping, laughing, playing alongside the excited children, or sitting in what shade could be found to await the ritual.
The village herbalist was one of the latter, sat in the shadow of an old oak, and knitting a blanket as she watched the games with a warm smile. Her teenage son, shirtless, was flirting with young men and women alike, though not with any seriousness. The mood of the day was light and happy.
As priestess, she’d made libation this morning, a mug of bitter tea and one of sweet mead, a cup of wine and one of ale. She’d thanked the gods for their blessings, not least the weather that had brought sun and rain in quantities enough to grow sufficient crops and sustain the livestock. The days were growing shorter already and despite the warmth of the day she knew winter would approach and they must soon prepare for it.
The door to the Elder’s office opened and he moved slowly across the open town square to join her by the fire. She bobbed a respectful greeting to the man who’d been a lawyer in his youth, a professor in his middle years, and was now the leader of their settlement. He was known for both his wisdom and compassion.
He returned her greeting, an open hand over his heart, honouring the woman who spoke with the gods.
“I was writing my letter,” he said. “Forgive my lateness.”
“The sun is not yet at its zenith,” she returned with a grin. “You are right on time.”
He cast the parchment into the flames, closed his eyes as it burned. Then he drew himself to his full height and clapped his hands.
“Gather around,” he called. “The ritual begins shortly.”
Soon all eyes were on her and she took a deep breath. “Welcome all to our harvest celebration on this glorious day. We honour and invite the gods to join our feast day.”
A poem followed, one written long ago for this occasion, the words flowing from her tongue easily for she knew the rites by heart. Then a longer prayer and, finally, the casting of the powder into the fire.
The fire leapt in response, crackling, and sending bright multicoloured sparks and a plume of white smoke into the air. She was no longer startled by the reaction though it never failed to impress her. Everyone applauded.
“Let the feast begin,” she said.
People needed no further encouragement, swarming off to fill their plates and glasses.
The Elder offered her his arm and she took it, moving with him to the table where the innkeeper was serving drinks. The blacksmith, proud of their new hobby, was already setting up the archery targets at the edge of the square, while some people were talking of going to paddle in the river.
It was going to be a lovely afternoon.
prompt words: dragon, fire, cooking, smoke, trees, house, poem, sugar, lawyer, shirt, wild, respect, shadow, open, professor, door, hobby, knitting, writing, office, tea, bitter.