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Wind Raker -- Warding

A reader says, "You haven't said very much about the fourth (Order of the Air) book except that you finished. Can you give us a hint?"

A lot of the fourth book, Wind Raker, is spoilery for the third book! The third, Silver Bullet, will be out in about a month, so then I can spoil to my heart's content. However, this is a piece that isn't especially spoilery for Silver Bullet because it's a magical scene, a warding of the sea plane they're flying in Hawaii. It's just a very cool, fun scene. I'd love to hear what you think!

The Catalina settled neatly onto the waves off the coast of Molokai, rocking gently as she came to rest, and Alma killed the engines with a sigh that was almost regret. She was really coming to love this plane. The Terrier was Mitch's darling and Lewis preferred something lighter and faster, but the Cat was rapidly becoming her favorite.

Mitch took his headset off. "Ok," he said quietly. "What's the drill? I take it you and Jerry figured out how to ward the plane? Without painting anything on it?"

Alma nodded. "Without doing anything that the guys back at the machine shop will notice."

"I reckon if you needed a gallon of my aftershave you'd have said so," Mitch said with a grin. "So what are we using?"

"Milk and eggs," Alma said. "It's a blessing from the Ploiaphesia."

"From the what?" Lewis stuck his head over the back of Alma's seat.

"Isn't that for ships?" Mitch asked.

"Ships, sea planes, same difference." Alma grinned back. "If the ancient Egyptians had sea planes, they probably would have blessed them."

"Ok," Mitch said.

"I'm still not there," Lewis said patiently, and Al turned around in her seat. "Remember that ritual at Henry's, the first one I took you to when Jerry was looking at the curse tablet? That was a Ploiaphesia. It's a blessing of ships."

"The one with the canoe in the swimming pool?" Lewis looked bemused.

"More to the point, it's a warding of things that help you travel over water." Alma patted the Cat's side lovingly. "Which the Cat certainly is. So we're going to bless it like a ship with the closest approximation of Hellenistic ceremony Jerry can write for us to do on the fly."

"Hopefully not actually on the fly," Mitch said.

Lily had come up behind Lewis. "What's going on? Is something wrong?" She looked drawn, as though braced to be told she'd screwed up.

"We're talking about warding the plane," Alma said calmly.

Lily flinched. "I don't…."

"I'm their Magister," Alma said, making her voice as even as if she were explaining that she owned Gilchrist Aviation. "Mitch and Lewis are in my Lodge. Since you're concerned that there may be a curse, we've decided to ward the plane just in case. That should take care of any negative energy focused on you or these trials."

Lily blinked. "But you can't. I mean, it's too strong."

"I doubt that," Alma said firmly, getting to her feet. "Mitch and I have been practicing together for more than fifteen years, and we've all dealt with things of this nature before. We'll simply neutralize any unpleasant influence."

Lily looked spooked. "But you can't," she said quickly. "You have no idea. Mrs. Segura, you have no idea how strong he is! You have no idea how much power he has at his disposal!"

"So do we," Alma said. She met Lily's eyes directly, trying to project calm confidence. "We're more than capable of handling this."

"I haven't been in circle since…." Her eyes dropped. "I don't think I can…."

"There's nothing you need to do," Alma said. "This doesn't take the form of a conventional circle." Which was something she and Jerry had discussed -- it had to work if there were only three people in it, and four was the usual minimum for their Lodge tradition. But there were other ways, older ways that didn't rely on a collegial unit, languages of symbols far older than the ones they usually employed. They were more energy intensive, relied more on the strength of a single individual, but as Alma had talked it through with Jerry she'd been certain she could handle it. She turned to Lewis. "Hey, Lewis. Will you get out the picnic basket?"

Lily looked confused as Lewis opened it, as well she might: packets of sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, sliced pineapple in a jar, hardboiled eggs, bottled cokes, and a bottle of milk. "That looks like your lunch."

"Doesn't it?" Alma said with a smile, extracting the bottle of milk and the top egg and examining it. "This one's raw."

Mitch looked fascinated. "Ok, this is pretty nifty."

Alma opened the top hatch and climbed out, balancing neatly on the Cat's broad back in front of the wings. "Come on, everybody. Mitch on my right, Lewis on my left. Lily, you stand wherever there's room."

They had to squeeze, Lily stepping back between the props with Lewis standing more at her back than at her side, a reassuring presence behind her. She gave him a quick smile, and he nodded. "Don't let me fall off."

"I won't," Lewis said. It would be easy to slip and fall down the Catalina's side into the sea.

She handed Mitch the bottle of milk. "You get to be the hierophant."

"Suits me," he said.

Alma closed her eyes, the egg in her right hand, both hands at her sides. Everyone stilled. With her eyes closed, every other sense seemed magnified. She could smell the salt air touched with the warm, oily scent of the plane, the faint whisper of Mitch's aftershave, the faint scent of Lewis' skin, beloved and familiar. The waves lapped at the plane's floats, at her curved belly like a ship, splashing a little as the Cat rocked gently on the calm sea. Far above a sea bird cried. The sun was warm on her face, cool on her back where the shadow of the wing fell across her, and Alma tilted her face up to the light. Ocean. Salt. Wind. Sun.

Not my power but yours, Alma thought. Not my element, but yours. Gracious Lady, forgive us if we offend.

The sea was quiet, the sun warm. The breeze touched her face like a blessing. Alma stood at the center of the world.

Her voice was strong but not loud as she began the invocation Jerry had written. "Isis Pelagia, Lady of the Seas. Isis Euploia, Lady of Good Sailing. Isis Pharia, Lady of the Journey's Safe Return. By threefold names I invoke thee. We journey the oceans of the world under stars that are yours. We follow the paths of the mariners, the high paths of the air. We invoke you. We beseech you -- grant us safety in our journeys. Bless this vessel in which we travel. Bless these wings that carry us and the floats that hold us safe on the sea. Bless these engines that power us. Bless these instruments that guide us beneath the vault of heaven."

She paused. There was power, yes, but it was not the raw power of earth she was used to, the bright indomitable power like a blade. This was quiet, peaceful. It was like falling asleep in Lewis' arms.

The Catalina floated at rest, peaceful and quiescent. She felt it like her own body, as though she lay on the breast of the tropical ocean, the wind kissing her face, each green wave lifting her gently. She was the Catalina, willing and whole, delighting in the sky and in the return. She was a vessel meant for the long haul, for continents and oceans beneath her wings, for decades and decades of stars by night to steer by. For a moment Alma could almost see it -- endless stars over a dark sea, no light in sight beneath and only the heavens above, just as ancient mariners must have seen it.

"Isis Pharia," she whispered. A lighthouse to lead us safely home, the welcoming beacon from an airfield on a tiny island somewhere....

The blessing was real and complete. Alma let out a long breath, opening her eyes. The sea danced with dazzling brightness, reflections of sun on the waves. She lifted the raw egg.

"Isis Pelagia," she said aloud, "Let all that is rotten be pulled within this egg. Let all ill will that may touch this plane or its inhabitants be locked in this shell. Let it pull within it and seal away all that would do us harm."

And that was wrong. It was kicking now, the power pushing back, strong as winds tearing across the tops of waves. Alma caught her breath, taken aback by the force of it. Lily warned me, she thought. She hadn't believed her. Not like this, not this amount of raw power, greater than anything human Alma had ever felt before. Stronger than a Lodge, stronger than a festival -- how in the world could there be this much energy in it? How many people, what strength of working could do this? Her breath caught. Alma pushed, but it did not give. Instead, it began to force her back, the tendrils of the curse reaching out, four arms grasping. Her strength was not enough. It was stronger, much stronger, even though she knew Mitch and Lewis stood by her side, their wills joined to hers. It was much stronger, a wave to overtop houses and trees, rushing like a tidal wave….

Isis Pelagia. Not my power, but thine.

"Nothing may touch this plane or its occupants," Alma said, putting intention to words. She could not break it, not here, not now, but she could keep it from the plane. The grasping power that was the curse could not touch that, could not challenge the Sea Lady directly.

Not yet, something whispered inside her. It may not touch me yet.

The egg was hot in her hand, containing all the malice directed at Lily at this moment. It would not take more. And this did not break the curse, only contain it while Lily was aboard the plane. But it was the best she could do for now.

Alma took a deep breath. "Let all that is unwholesome reside within this shell, consigned to the deep." She gently tossed the egg out and away from the plane, and with a reassuring plop it sunk into the sea.

Suddenly the day seemed brighter and she wondered if Lewis and Mitch had felt it too. Lewis probably had, but she didn't turn around to look. They'd talk about it later. "The milk," she said.

Mitch was frowning. He'd caught it too, much less sensitive than Lewis, an ill wind that had blown over and past. He handed her the bottle of milk.

Jerry had written words for this and she'd learned them. Back on the script, back to the ritual as it was written. "Isis Galactrophousa," she began, careful not to mangle the title. Mitch's eyes got wide, as though he were trying not to comment that it sounded like a henchman of Ming the Merciless.

"Galactrophousa," Alma said again, "She Who Nurses Her Son in the Barque of Heaven, whose milk gave birth to the stars. Accept our offering of milk and our thanksgiving." She opened the bottle, pouring it down the Cat's side so that it flowed into the sea. "So may it be."

And it was.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC)
I like that there's no sense of being rushed here...they know exactly what they want to do, even if they are kinda winging it.

Why are they a Lodge and not a coven?
Feb. 3rd, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
They are kind of winging it! But they do know their stuff.

Oh good question! I think that's a full answer for a post!
Feb. 9th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
I think I get the Temple v. Lodge (tradition and timing, mostly), but I would like to hear more about Builders of the Temple, and their Lodge's relation to that.
Feb. 9th, 2015 01:56 am (UTC)
Well, *mostly* is probably too strong; I also have the idea that each is a different kind of seeking/calling.
Feb. 10th, 2015 11:43 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly. Different kinds of callings. As of course we see in the books, their Lodge isn't specifically a religious organization. Lewis is Catholic, Mitch is Protestant, and Alma and Jerry are Pagan. Stasi adds Jewish to the mix. So it's not like a coven or a temple in that its goal is to celebrate or teach a certain religion. The calling is to protect and build, with the understanding that doing so is possible within various religious traditions.
Jan. 30th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
My favourite bit! YAY!
Feb. 3rd, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you like it!
Feb. 3rd, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
Hi Jo, I'm a little worried you aren't getting my emails. If you are and are thinking about them, great, I just want to check. I owe you money! - Christy
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )