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Protective Amulets

In honor of Lost Things being out at Barnes & Noble, I thought I'd share one of my favorite scenes, one that shows you a little about each of the main characters. Lewis is making protective amulets to guard each of them against an evil spirit unleashed by the archaeological dig at Lake Nemi, calling upon the power of the goddess Diana who once bound the spirit there.

Lewis took them carefully, for all that they were pieces of metal he'd cut himself less than an hour before. He laid them out and then chose one, picking up the burin carefully. Sweat stood out on his brow.

Mitch touched his arm lightly. "They don't have to be perfect," he said. "It's the intent that's important."

Obscurely that made him feel better. There would be time another day to ask Mitch about what
he'd seen, whether it was real or just his imagining, but he held on to that feeling of peace. There was something stable about Mitch, solid and bright beneath whatever darkness overlay it. His hands were cutting, tracing the symbols dark on bright, but he was only half aware of them. Yes, there was a darkness there, something the color of old blood beneath affable charm. There was a shadow, and against it the flame burned all the brighter. A decision reached, an acceptance sought again and again. He couldn't name it, didn't need to, but it stood at the core of Mitch, just as Mitch stood at his shoulder.

"Very nice," Mitch said, as Lewis lifted the first amulet and turned it over, ready to begin the back.

"This one's for you," Lewis said. "It has you in it."

Alma's eyebrows twitched.

Hers was the second one. He made the first cuts with care, the long semicircle of the huntsman's bow the twist of her smile. She was strong, stronger than anyone, practical and competent. And under it was joy. For all the sadness that came to her eyes when she spoke of Gil, she had no regrets. Alma never would. Courage came from joy, and for her life would always be sweet no matter what it held. It drew him to her in laughter and tears alike to share in that evergreen strength.

"This one is for Alma," he said, his fingers tracing the crescent moon. The new moon pale over forests of dark cypress trees, fragrant wooded glens cathedrals beneath the stars….

Jerry's was hardest, as he'd expected. Mercurial, brilliant, shifting as the seas. It didn't
want to take. His hands slipped on the burin, the lines wavering, and he pressed it back, like holding on to the controls bucking in an unexpected thermal. There was strength there too, strength in yielding, the inexpressible, immovable permanence of the sea. Water yields. It gives, it pours, it shapes itself to whatever contains it. And yet it is nothing but itself, flowing with unimaginable might, unfathomable depth. Jerry yielded. But he did not surrender.

"This one's for you," he said, placing it in Jerry's palm still warm from his hand. There was a quick flash of amazement there as he felt it, and Lewis thought yes. That is how it should be, each suited to the one it belonged to, hallowed by the craftsman's love. He could not speak names of power, recite rituals to consecrate. But these were made of his love and concern, and that had power of its own.

The last one. The one for himself. He had been mistaken that Jerry's was hardest. The hardest was his own. A wave of fear washed over him. He could not make something that would protect himself. He didn't know how.

The shape of the moon mocked him, the hunter's bow eluded him. Darkness moved with a thousand whispers. They would never get back. They would never make it. If everything depended on him, they would die. He stood in memory beside the downed plane, tugging at Robbie's jacket, searching for a pulse. If it were up to him, it was over. Night crawled around him.

A dog howled, high and longing. Then another, and another.

That was as it was in the first dark, when man knew no fire. There was the pale moon rising to cast her light, heralded by the long song of the wolf. They were not foes but friends, packmates brought among men to work at their sides, and their presence made the night safe.

Lady of Hounds, Lady of the Crescent Moon, bright protectress…. The metal shone bright, burnished with her light.

It had been a dog that had saved them, some farm dog who led the old Frenchman to the downed plane, creeping out at night across lands that were once his before they were claimed by war. An ordinary black and white dog, leading a man through the woods. "Please help us, please…" He didn't speak French and the man spoke no English, but their uniforms spoke for them, Robbie's blood spoke for them.

The hunter's bow, dark on bright, hunter's truth. I kill that I may live. Lady of the Hunt, Lady of Wild Places….

The amulet glittered in his hand as though it were made of glass, cool and smooth beneath his touch.

"That's beautiful," Alma said softly as he lifted it, turning it around in the light of the incandescent bulb. "I had no idea you could do that."

"Neither did I," Lewis said shakily.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. Those descriptions of people could almost be poetry. I'm going to hit B&N when I get home from work tonight.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it!
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
I've just finished it, and I can't wait for the next one.
Jun. 26th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm so delighted you liked it! Thank you! I'm very pleased with how it worked myself. And I hope the Hermetics worked for you.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )