A Gypsy in Middle Earth
Don't own none of the the stuff J.R. came up with (oh yeah, 'cause we're chill like that and I can call him J.R. bitches! not really.)
Just so you know. I take quite a bit of liberty with the facts relating to the Roma (or Gypsies being the more popular term), so don't take offense if you happen to be Roma or consider yourself an expert on the matter. This is a work of fiction, after all. For that matter, don't be offended if your an elf and think I've portrayed you inacurately.
Mari ran as fast as she could. It was difficult to do in the woods, at night, loaded with half of her possessions, but it was worse to think of what was behind her.
The year was 1940. For over a month Nazis had France completely occupied. Mari and her family weren't Jews, however they were of another targeted group of people: gypsies. Her family were of the Roma, and traveled to the north in the summer and the south in the winter. At first they thought they would be able to stay in hiding outside of desolate towns in the country side, but soon those were occupied, too.
They were planning to flee from such a town that night. Their plan was to go to a designated spot where they would meet up with a man who had promised to sneak them on a truck would bring them to the coast where a boat that would take them to Spainish soil. Everyone had just finished gathering their belongings when the Gestapo came for them. A group of about eight men came into their camp with guns and dogs. They set fire to the vans and rounded up the her family. As she was ordered by her father to do, Mari ran. She headed for a spot where her family agreed to rendezvous should they be separated in such an instance.
As she ran, all she could hear was the barking of dogs and the far off cries of her family. Trying to block out all noise, Mari concentrated on going in the right direction. If she was on course, she should be approaching a stream soon.
There it was, ahead of her.
Picking up her pace a bit, she ran towards the stream. To throw the dogs off her sent, she jumped in and got herself as wet as she could. She turned left, and continued to run in the water for about 30 feet then, getting out of the stream, continued to run in the direction she was headed before.
The run through the stream may have prevented the dogs from sniffing her trail, but it only helped the cold seep into her body more quickly. She desperately needed to find the cave where she was to meet up with the others. Then, there it was, the large oak. Behind it would be two large bushes, and behind those would be the cave. This was the last stretch. Mari bounded through the bushes, branches scratching at her face and tearing at her clothes. As she ran, she searched her pockets for the small vile containing a white, powdery liquid. Finding it in her front pocket, she doused the base of a tree with it. "It will throw dogs off," she'd been instructed earlier in the day by her father. Once in the cave, she collapsed, exhausted from her ordeal. She then curled herself in a corner and waited for the others to arrive.
She was very cold. Until that moment, adreniline had been pushing her forward, but soon she started to violently shiver. For warmth she wrapped a woolen shawl around her body as well as her lamb's fleece mat that she normally used for sleeping on. Her wet clothes were not helping the situation. She was very afraid of catching hypothermia; she knew she to prevent that from happening she'd have to take off her clothes, but what if she were found? She would not be further disgraced by being found naked.
Five minutes passed when she heard barking again. She held her breath and clutched the rosary around her neck, waiting for what would happen next.
She heard men shouting in German. She didn't want to know what they were saying. Then finally, someone spoke in French, though with a very thick accent.
"Where is she? We know there is one more of you! Tell us where she is!"
"I don't know! I don't know where we are!"
Eric! They had her brother Eric! He was doing a good job of acting, because he knew very well that she was in the cave that was hidden from view only a few yards from where he stood. Soon after his response, the sound of a boot coming into contact with his stomach reached Mari's ears.
"We grow impatient. Where is she?"
"I tell you, I don't kn..."
Before Eric had finish, a gun shot rang out through the woods, then all was silent. Mari clutched her hands over her mouth for fear that she would scream. There was some more speech in German, then the men and dogs went off in another direction. She waited until she could she could hear no sound but the crickets before she allowed herself to cry.
Mari sat sobbing for an hour or so before she came to terms with what had just happened. No one was coming. All her family had been taken. Her mother, father, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews were all caught and would be taken to the camps to die. She was alone in the world.
"I cannot make it alone," she thought. "I have no money; father had it all. I do have some things that could be bartered, but not enough to get me to Spain, and I will not sell myself. I don't even know which way Spain is! Well, it's west, but even if I were to try and getting there by myself, the only way west is through town, and that's occupied and patrolled for almost a mile out of town."
It was utterly hopeless. She was penniless with no where to go.
Or was she?
Well, she was definitely without money, but there was one place she could go... maybe. Would it work? She'd never been there and was just as sure she could get there as she could get to Spain, but it was still worth a try. Again, she clutched her rosary as she tried to recall everything her grandmother had taught her in her life.
Janne sat on a stool besides the camp fire with her youngest granddaughter sitting on the ground in front of her.
"Mari, how old are you now?" she asked.
"Ten," she said proudly.
"Ten? You've been growing up too fast! Well, what have you learned in those twelve years?"
"Um..." she thought for a moment, "I know how to sew, and sing, and dance, and climb trees, and cook, and find food in the woods."
"Really!" The old woman was now thoroughly amused. "Is there anything you don't know?"
"Well, I don't know why this is here," said the girl turning around and pointing to a tattoo of a strange text inscribed over her right shoulder blade.
The Janne then grew serious. "That's there to protect you."
"Protect me from what?"
"From a spell."
"What kind of spell?"
She eyed Mari carefully, examining the then year old. After a few moments of silence she said, "Mari, you know how you just told me all those things you know? Well, there are almost a thousand things you don't know."
"Like palm reading, and other forms of fortune telling." She now switched from speaking in French to their native tongue of Romany. "Things like charms, and spells, and remedies. All these things are very important to know as a woman. I will teach them to you, Mari."
The small Mari grew excited. "I want to learn," she exclaimed in Romany.
"Good." She regarded her granddaughter for a moment longer before pulling from her pocket a rosary. It's beads were black and right where the Hail Holy Queen should come there was a shining green, oval stone. "Take this," she said. Mari took it from her and placed it around her neck. "Keep it with you always. You must never lose it."
"Is it blessed?"
"No. It has something much more powerful than a priest's blessing: it has magic."
Mari stared at the beads in wonder, especially at the green stone that glowed brightly in the fire's light.
(end flash back)
Over the next twelve years Mari's grandmother taught her an endless amount things. Just when she thought there was no more she could possibly learn about, she was taught something new. Among these things was a certain spell. She had never actually performed it because it was irreversible. The spell had the power to transport a person to another place. Mari's grandmother hadn't said much more about the place except that it was beautiful and safe. The spell was not in Romany. It was spoken in another ancient language.
Mari's father had taken notice to his mother's teachings and spoke to Mari about them when she was fourteen. That moment came to her mind now, as well.
(yet another flash back)
"Daughter," Elijah said, "Your grandmother has taught you much, is that not so?"
"Yes, she has, father."
"More than she ever taught any of your sisters..." he said in a voice with worry and concern. "She is preparing you for something, Mari. I don't know what, but she has seen it in your future. She told me this some nights ago." He no longer looked her in the eye. Instead his gaze was downcast.
Elijah was silent for a moment longer. "You know," he finally said, "Those things your grandmother teaches you could get you into a lot of trouble," he said, coming back to her eyes. "You'll need to acquire a few other skills, skills I can teach you, since you won't have a husband to protect you."
Mari grew outraged at this remark. "What makes you think I won't have a husband?" she demanded to know.
Her father smiled and nearly laughed. "Mari, your sister who is only a two years older than you, is married, and carrying her first child. Have you even considered marriage?"
She thought for a moment. "No."
"Do you even want to be married?"
"Not yet." Mari hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry, father."
"Don't be sorry. I'm not angry." He patted her head affectionately. "I didn't expect you to want those things. You're very different you know." A look of slight offense came onto Mari's face. "Special is what I meant," he quickly corrected himself. "Mari, you're very special. I simply want you to be safe, which is why I'm going to start teaching you how to fight."
(end flash back)
From then on, at the end of every day, Mari's father would instruct her in several fighting and defense techniques, including hand to hand combat and knife throwing. He also taught her to fence. She didn't learn with the traditional European saber, but instead she learned to use the Arabian saber that had been passed down in her family for centuries. Even once her grandmother died two years ago, her father continued to instruct her. Now, at the age of twenty-one, she was a very formidable fighter. Even though people no longer fought with swords anymore, sword fighting was a skill her family had passed down, much like the sword by which she had learned. Each of her brothers also knew the art, and she and they would often spar deep into the night by the light of the fire.
Her other skills of fighting however, proved the most useful when dealing in skirmishes with unruly towns folk. They now proved useless against Nazi guns, however.
Her mind was made up. She was going to try the spell. What was the worst that could happen? It wouldn't work? That would leave her no better off than she was now. All she needed to do was prepare the things for the spell. To do this, she unwrapped herself and blindly began to search through her bag.
First she needed to start a fire. Easily done. But how to contain it without being caught? A forest fire would surely give her away. Just then, her hand touched something cold and metallic. Ah yes. She'd forgotten about the small bowl she'd packed. This would serve perfectly.
She placed the bowl on the ground in front of herself. Reaching outside of the cave, she grabbed a hand full of dried leaves and dumped them in the pot. She mumbled the words of a spell in Romany and caused the leaves to burst into flames.
Having lit the fire, she began to go over the incantation for the transport in her head. She stood up, and just as she was about to begin she remembered that she needed everything that she was taking with her to be secured to her body. Quickly, she grabbed her mat and rolled it up.
Suddenly she became afraid that the Nazis would find her before she could leave. She folded her mat faster and strapped it to her bag with two buckles on its bottom. Checking herself over, she made sure that she had all her things, and then she began the spell.
Gathering all her energy, she chanted the ancient words the way she'd been taught to. The words reeked of age and power. They rolled off her tongue with weight and purpose. She knew the language (not just these words) well, even though she'd heard no one but her grandmother speak it. It was the ancient language which all of the most powerful of gypsy spells were written and said. Only one woman in each clan knew the words and chose only one woman to succeed them. It was (as so many other things were) a second nature to Mari.
As she chanted she held her hands out, palms facing the fire. She didn't notice what was going on in the cave around her because her eyes were shut; she was locked into the task of performing the spell. Fire now lined the walls of the cavern. The fire in the pot had become a small sphere of white light that glowed in a way that would have hurt her eyes, had they been open. When the last word left her lips, Mari's eyes shot open, seeing for the first time what the cave had transformed into. Then, as she opened her eyes and looked down at the sphere of light, it exploded. The whole cave was overcome by the light. As it hit her, the invisible force from within it pushed her backwards. Soon it was no more a push, but instead a pull. There was no way to describe what she was being pulled through, except as a column or tube of different colored lights. It was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
A sense of weightlessness hit her. She felt as if there was a vibration of sound running through her very bones. The feeling was blissful for the moment until the most frightening thing occurred to her: she was no longer being pulled backwards. She was falling down.
Even though she no longer felt weightless, the sound was still vibrating in her head, escalating from a hum to a screaming that kept getting louder and louder as she fell. Her pack had fallen away from her body. Too scared to scream, she waited for the eventual bottom of the fall. After a minute more of free fall, the light began to fade away. Eventually she was surrounded by a windy darkness. The tube of light had grown to be so far away that it looked like a star. Soon, more star-like lights came into her vision. Then, without warning, she stopped falling. She was frozen, facing the sky, surrounded by forest. With the intake of a quick breath of relief, she stopped floating and fell three feet.
She hit the ground hard, though not as hard as she would have had she not stopped three feet earlier. Still, the slamming of her body into the ground was enough to leave a mark.
The first thing Mari tried to do was sit up, but it caused too much pain to do so. The vibrating-screaming-hum had gone away, but her head began to spin and her breath became labored. She clutched her head. The last thing that she heard was the sound of a river rushing by before she passed out.
end ch. 1
I'm not a pleased with this story as I am with the other one I'm working on right now (After Forever), but both are coming along. It is what it is. Whatever that means.