The dark summoning.

The dark summoning: The Virgin.

Verlie had an aunt named Masha, a women who had never married and was known for her temper. She had refused to wed and lived on her own, running a bakery and working long hours everyday. She'd forced the people in her town to accept her, and finally they had. Even now they bought her bread, when she was old and her hair was gray. Verlie had been born with Masha's red hair, if not her temper, and had been adored. Masha spoiled her niece, giving her presents and, more importantly, her time. Verlie had lived for these visits, preferring her aunt's life of freedom to the marriage and certain servitude her mother promised. Her aunt's best present, however, was a knife that Verlie could wear in her hair, hidden in a barrette.

"You'll never know when you might need it," the old woman told her. "And to know you have a weapon is to have a sense of security that shows in a woman. Men go after weak targets. Never present them with one. Your carriage is your greatest defense."

Verlie took to wearing the barrette daily, with its green butterfly, and though she became known for it, she never told anyone what was hidden inside. It gave her confidence, and pride, and she snubbed the boys who came to court her, as well as the older men who thought a slim redhead might make a good wife. Her mother felt she was too picky, but her aunt she didn't have to choose at all. So when her family tried to arrange a marriage for her, Verlie refused, leaving the same night with everything she owned shoved into a pack.

Masha will take me in, she decided, as she headed down the road out of her village. Her aunt lived only five miles away, on the other side of the crossroads in the next village. She had started out at dusk, sure her family wouldn't even realize until dawn that she had gone out the window. She wasn't going to stay, though. She was seventeen years old and was not going to marry a forty-five-year-old fat man, no matter who told her she must.

Confident, frightened, and rather excited at her sudden freedom, she headed down the dirt road, the sun setting on the horizon and shrouding everything in darkness, which she rather welcomed. The dark didn't have anything in it to frighten her, her aunt assured her, only men did, and they were as dangerous during the day. As long as she kept her wits about her, she would be fine. So Verlie walked along the road she'd taken so many times in the daylight, her pack thrown across her back, and whistling to prove to herself that the growing darkness wasn't making her nervous at all. She didn't run, quite, but she walked quickly and looked back a lot.

(This is just Part one of four... maybe five. I hope you enjoy, and I will be adding the new parts to this same Blog, so check back if you like dark rituals and summoning forces of darkness, that sort of thing.)