Someone shook her lightly by the shoulder. She groaned and turned to the side. Even with eyes closed, the glare of the sun beat at her eyelids. Lying on her back again, she looked up. Smooth white ceiling without corners nor breaks to indicate the standard painted plywood of home greeted her. The sheets of her bed were soft and smooth, made of fine material unlike the cotton bed covers at home.
Where am I? She rubbed her eyes. Events of the previous night came back to her.
Karina shot up. I haven’t even said goodbye to anyone. Aly must be sick with worry. She threw the covers and… Then what? She was a stranger to this place. The only friend she knew had left her stranded in a house in the middle of the forest.
Arty. It was difficult to see him as a friend when he had kept all this a secret. She had confided in him for so long. And for what? Only to be betrayed. Karina shook her head to clear her mind. No. There must be a reason.
She put herself in his shoes. Of course, keeping this world to himself is easier when people would’ve dismissed it as a purely imaginative story. He would’ve gone straight to the nut house if anyone heard him speak of it. But…
“Karina.” A young female voice disrupted her thoughts. Seated near her bed with a tray of tea was the youngest of the sisters.
“Kala.” The girl placed her palm on her chest. “My name is Kala.” She touched her forehead with her index and middle fingers, then her chest and extended her palm to Karina.
“It is a formal greeting used on important occasions or in making new acquaintances. And this,” Kala lay her palm on her chest once more and slightly lowered her head, “is an informal greeting. It is more commonly used in this area.”
The girl looked at her expectantly.
Karina imitated Kala’s movements and was made to repeat it until the latter was satisfied with her. Then, Kala taught her the morning salutation. Soon, it was made clear that the young woman would be her guide and companion when Sara was fulfilling her duties as high priestess.
Kala taught Karina that even the most mundane things were deemed important. Every action has an effect on the universe and will consequently affect the many. Thus, it was practiced that each task was done with utmost consideration. It took years to master this skill that a mantra “Pure Heart, Pure Mind, Pure Spirit” was recited in all households.
“You mean I have to recite this all the time in my head?”
“No. Only our priestesses and priests do it. We only recite it once before we start on a task as a reminder,” Kala paused, thoughtful for a moment. “Also, we recite it when we are upset about something or someone.”
Karina knew what Kala was referring to and felt embarrassed.
“But, in my opinion, it is more to calm ourselves than as a reminder. Upsets and stronger emotions similar to it can hurt others. It emanates very dense energy sometimes so strong that it could strike down the person you are angry with.” Kala turned about and studied Karina’s face. “I hear of hate and violence in your world. It is a wonder any of your kind survives.”
“We’re not as advanced as you are,” Karina replied.
Kala wasn’t offended and seemed to go over their conversation.
“Advanced is a relative definition. I find some of your technology more advanced than ours. In answer to the subject at hand, perhaps you are right. But that is about to change.” Kala shrugged and continued to lead her to Sara’s residence.
Karina thought of the times Arty was present when discussions became heated and led to one or both parties getting angry. He didn’t look affected by the atmosphere. In fact, his face was politely neutral most of the time – like a mask.
Sara’s residence was annexed to a temple at the heart of the city which was distinctly a large clearing formed in a circle of trees. The temple was made of natural rock formation made smooth by elements and at its center was a great ancient tree. People meditated on the grass floor, their heads turned towards the direction of the sun.
Karina made the greeting she learned that morning for those she met as they left the temple. They returned the gesture and smiled warmly at her.
Does everyone know who I am? She looked at her new set of clothes to see if she missed something.
“You have yet to learn how to walk through the forest,” Kala whispered in her ear and giggled.
“Kala,” a stern familiar voice reproved.
Sara gestured for them to enter. They were offered tea and sat on the cushions proffered to them. The high priestess addressed Kala first, inquiring about their recent activities. Kala recounted the things she had taught their guest, the high priestess nodded approvingly after Karina demonstrated some of the gestures she had learned. Satisfied, Sara thanked Kala and was asked to return in mid-afternoon.
Now that they were alone, Karina looked at her hostess in a different light. Sara looked ethereal in her priestess robes and seemed to emit a strange glow from within. Her aura was light itself. Questions Karina wanted answers all vanished but one: “Why me?”
Sara sipped her tea slowly as if it was the most important thing in the world. She was an epitome of calm and serenity. At last, she replaced the cup on the table and turned her whole attention to Karina.
“The Goddess does not choose Her instrument based on physical form, intellect or status. It is a great mystery in your world too. Simple folk chosen to do something beyond their means; a prince seeking enlightenment leads to the birth of a new way of life; a craftsman’s son becomes a renowned teacher whose legacy lasts throughout the ages. A politician whose corruption knows no bounds can move people to action. We are all born to play a part of the Great Plan. Not every role is pleasant to the human mind but it acts as a catalyst to change.
“Some of us were not originally from this planet. Our spirits come from a different part of the universe. We chose to be seeded – be born on Earth to help raise Her vibrations to gain entrance to a higher dimensional plane.
“You are here because you have chosen to see the truth. It is not always a comfortable position to have your gift. But if it pleases you, members of our community have their own special talents, which your people call ESP.”
It wasn’t exactly the answer to her question. However, it reminded Karina that she had left her world without saying goodbye to anyone.
“Aly,” she whispered to herself.
Sara reassured her that Arty would take care of everything ending the matter with a statement that Arturion would do everything in his power as Gate Keeper.
It felt to Karina that she should have known about the Gate Keepers. The high priestess didn’t offer any explanation and was occupied with clearing the tea things. Karina made a mental note to ask Arty himself. She had a long list of questions prepared for him to answer to her.
The hostess motioned to her visitor to follow in the adjoining room. Unlike the rooms Karina had seen recently, it was sparsely furnished with the common glow globes floating in midair. It was similar to the clear crystal globe she had at home.
Two mats lay at the center of the room. They sat on these and Sara instructed her to meditate. It was easy for Karina to fall into a meditative state. Her mother, a gifted psychic and yogi, had taught her the basics.
“Good. We will begin cleansing ourselves of negative energies,” Sara breathed. She gave instructions on the cleansing process including breathing techniques. Karina knew some of these too, although it was slightly different from what she was used to. She had practiced regularly for half an hour when her mother wasn’t very sick then.
Aly and their father used to leave the house to go someplace more interesting while their mother turned the garage into a classroom full of New Age people.
Karina was a homebody and found the classes intriguing. Her mother would lead seven or more students into meditation, then to a sort of energy manipulation for healing the self and others. Those early years, she was just happy to imitate them and the adults had welcomed her into the circle easily.
She was eleven years old when an incident during one of the sessions put a stop to everything. She vaguely remembered it. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple demonstration that surprised several members of the group. This, however, made her mother decide to change the venue of the classes. Karina never knew its location but her mother always encouraged her to practice what she had learned regularly.
She sighed into the teacup between her hands. The fragrant scent of jasmine tea wafted in her nostrils. Outside, the sky was tinged with orange. The air had chilled considerably as the sun began its slow descent but it was still pleasant for an evening stroll.
“We have such fine climate and good neighbors. Outsiders often say that our home is an idyllic place. Yet, to think that anyone would want to leave this place for another fraught with danger at almost every corner is a mystery to me,” Kala wondered aloud.
Karina only smiled at this. Her young companion evidently loves her home and, from what she’d gleaned from Sara, had never ventured out of their world. From what Karina has seen of Merleina, she could only agree with Kala’s statement. Again, her thoughts drifted to Arty. Would he rather be called Arturion now? He was surely one of those who preferred coming to her “world fraught with danger” than stay in Merleina.
Her eyes lingered outside. The trees would be mere shadows in a few minutes. Already she could hear the sounds of activity from nighttime creatures. The susurration of insects; the hoot of an owl; the flap of wings; and…the sound of drums?
Sara had warned her not to leave the house unaccompanied, especially at night. Forest Folk or spirits usually tolerated the community but they were notoriously playful. New additions, visitors like her, were favored targets to their pranks. Her first night traversing through the forest with the high priestess and Kala’s sisters was the perfect example. She had been fooled by illusions that the forest floor was full of tree roots and other things which could trip her until Sara put a stop to it. It was only then that a path appeared before her eyes, which seemed not to have impaired the others’ sight.
The wind shifted, carrying the music towards her. A lone flute played in the midst of the beat of the drums. The overall combination matched the wilderness and had the power to make her want to dance to its tune.
It took only a few minutes before the breeze changed course once more, leaving behind a night as silent as a forest could ever be and a heart longing for home.
Wattpad code: 58366003
©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.