The Memories of a Mud-Flower

The story of a Harad girl and her Harad life. Please review!

Memory One, Part One. The Adoration Chants.

There was no light in the dense air of the tent where Akshamala lay quietly, listening to the sounds of the elders leading the Prayer of the Eye one very, very early morning. "Yuingo mara tsunyo emenche u'Nora…" came the low chant that made her shiver. How could that beautiful Eye that lay far beyond by the dark mountains have prayers that made her blood run cold?

Guard us against the swine of the North…

She was afraid to get up. "Pitri, o Saurontei, mara aimasha ne, mara dell ne komard…"

Father, o Sauron, we adore you, we follow you forever…

She hoped she would never have to take part in them, the adoration chants. She had only seen thirteen of their harsh desert years, but she saw girls younger than her getting their pelda u'etumwa-le or wings of womanhood, and having to take part in these morning rites. Pumeet, one of her younger sisters, tossed and turned in her sleep. Pumeet was sunny and warm, always talking and jabbering and throwing her heart everywhere as though it was a game. Her mother had etched a tiny necklace of sun symbols in a ring around her neck. It was beautiful, and Akshamala was secretly jealous. Pumeet would be seen as a lovely, sunny girl while she, if you could even see her marks, was known as the quintessential "quiet child".

"Ne…Saurontei, Bazari, Pitri, mara u'ren-o felle ne-o tel'mayana leshe non."

You…Sauron, Eye, Father, our lives are yours to give light…

The chanting reached a screeching, shrieking, uncommonly grotesque, and Akshamala could barely bear the sounds as she pulled her head under a pillow. She murmured her own prayer, a song her mother liked to hum. It was about Omparkash, the ancient god the Harads had worshiped before the Coming of the Eye. Now he and his eight wives were nothing but an old wives' tale, a cheery folk song, a nursery rhyme. Saurontei was All. In the tiniest of whispers, Akshamala gave up a prayer against fear. "Eleka namen…namen…adumai, adumai…shosouden..." she whispered in the softest of tones, struggling to remember words.

It was three weeks later when Akshamala received her first blood, and her mother's eyes glistened with tears. "U'Akshamala…u'tel'lamwa fede etumwa…" she murmured, pulling Akshamala against her breast. My Akshamala…my daughter is a woman.

In her mother's embrace, Akshamala wondered how much longer the girl in her would last now. That part of her who loved to help with the baby mumaks that were raised at the very edge of their encampment, loved to feed them and to ride them when her father was away; who Noaje secretly taught to use the biritaki, just for his amusement… who braided her hair tightly to her head in many little rows so she could run with the wind at night when her family slept. This girl-part of her…would it slowly fade, lost in an hourglass of tiny sand grains?

That night, her mother led her into a brightly lit tent. Akshamala sat down on a stool, and her mother helped remove her desert robes. She shivered in cold dread. Her mother stepped outside, and she heard her exchange low words with her father. She returned with a knife and a very slim poker, which she immediately set in the fire. She bound up Akshamala's hair into a ball at the top of her head. "Shhh…mata, mata Akshamala…" she said softly, laying a hand on her shoulder as she sat behind her. Akshamala willed her body to stop shivering as her mother slowly raised the knife to her daughter's skin and began to carve the first swooping lines of the pelda u'etumwa-le.

Like all of the scars she would collect over the years, Akshamala would force the memory of the searing pain out of her mind. Yet, that was all that the pelda u'etumwa-le meant. It was the memory of wings. Wings that were now clipped; freedom forever vanished from the earth, forgotten except for the feathery engraving on her skin