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The peasants named the little girl Arielle. Every day, Arielle would work in one of the peasants' fields. The family would then feed her and let her sleep in their hut for the night.
And so the girl was raised by the entire village. She learned their stories, their customs, their songs and dances. She loved every single peasant in that small village, loved them as one would love their family. Arielle felt that she would do anything for these kind people.
The villagers loved her as well. They were convinced that the strange little child was saved from the storm and sent to them to better their lives. It didn't matter to them that Arielle had the lightest skin of any peasant, or peculiar green eyes, whereas most of them had mahogany skin and chocolate brown eyes. There were rumors, whispered talk that the child was a child of a grand homme. The villagers did not care. They just knew that their petit lionne was a treasure.
The little girl grew fast into a beautiful young woman. Her arms were strong and tanned from many years of hard labor. Her hair was of a different texture than the peasants', and the sun had lightened its color even further. The very same sun was burning her scalp now as she raked over the dry earth.
"Auntie, when will it rain?" Arielle called to the woman pushing through the dirt beside her, affectionately referring to her as an aunt.
The woman, named Mahalia, laughed loud and raucously. "Child, look at the skies!"
Arielle looked up. The sky was a clear and cloudless blue, allowing the sun so beat down relentlessly on the laboring peasants' backs.
"Does it look like it will rain soon, ma petit?" The woman asked.
"I will pray for rain, then," Arielle responded. She motioned to the dry ground and the small vegetables it was giving up. "You cannot survive on such small food, Auntie. Nobody can! Do the gods not see that?"
"Do not blaspheme, mon petit fille!" A large man said, his voice resonating in his barrel-like chest. "The gods will hear you, child!"
"Good, " Arielle said shortly, bending down to rake through the dirt once more. "They hear us dying, but what do they do? No rain from Agwe, and Asaka is hurting!"
"Child, the gods will strike you down for your impudence," Mahalia told her.
"I'm surprised they haven't already!" The man exclaimed, laughing. "My child, the day is ending. You may do as you please now. You will be staying with us for the night?"
"Oui, monsieur, if that is alright with you," Arielle replied to her adopted uncle.
"Of course it is alright. You help us with our chores, the chores our children helped us with before they married away, and you ask for nothing in return. You are always welcome in our home!" The man announced. "Now, run along, bathe or eat or rest, whatever pleases you. Tonight, we shall dance and pray to the gods once more!"
Arielle smiled in return and walked off of the barren fields, heading towards the sea. At the end of each day, she walked to the sea. The girl had almost died by Agwe's hands, yet she still went to the ocean. She would watch the waves crash for mere minutes or long hours, depending on her mood. Arielle had nothing but respect for the powerful god of the waters, who took everything from her, but also made it possible for her to gain immeasurably.
She had lost her family and her home in that storm. The young Arielle had mourned for months, but slowly began to accept her fate as an orphan. The peasants of her new village had been kind beyond belief, and helped her grieve. Every day she had enough to eat, when food was already scarce. Every night she was warm and sheltered, when people had little room to begin with. The adults treated her as if she was their own blood, and the children took readily to their new playmate.
Rumors where told about Arielle, the petit lionne. Her courage could not have been given to her by anyone besides the gods! But the girl was surely the bastard child of a grand homme, was she not? Her skin is light and her eyes are as green as the leaves on the trees. Still, Arielle was firmly a part of the little village.
Arielle stood on the shore, watching the azure waves beat a steady rhythm against the sand. Birds, colored vibrant yellows and passionate reds wheeled around in the sky above her head, singing their melodies. She stood, relaxing as the sun started to sink towards the horizon. When the fiery orb dipped below the waves, she headed back to her village.
Drums beat loud and low, shaking the ground with their power. Arielle picked up the pace and race in time with the drums, her feet hitting the ground on each strike. She felt as if she was dancing already. The music swirled as the flutes joined in, and the people sang to the gods.
Arielle skidded into the hilltop clearing as the other adolescent girls began their dance to Erzulie, praying to find their true loves. Arielle sang not for her own heart, but out of respect for her loa, and for the sake of the other girls.
She danced and sang with all her might to Asaka, hoping that maybe this time she would hear the prayers of the peasants. They all acted with such fervor. The gods must have heard them! Their feet hit the ground in time with the drums, arms swirling and hips swaying. Their voices rang out across the countryside. The elders recounted the times when Asaka was fertile and loving, and Agwe was gentle. The young ones listened, enraptured by the tales of green farm lands and gigantic crops. They imagined the fields green again, and danced all the harder for it.
Then the peasants prayed to Agwe, singing songs of his might and power, and asking for him to be merciful. Agwe was rumored to be mad. He would not let water touch the earth for many days, then he would make it rain so hard that it did more harm to the peasants than it did good.
When the peasants sang and danced to Papa Ge, Arielle could almost smell the fear coming off of them. He was the god the peasants feared the most. Erzulie might reject them, Agwe might drown them, and Asaka might starve them, but in the end, Papa Ge would come to fetch them. The peasants feared death above everything else. There was much to fear about it; the fear of the unknown, the fear of the pain associated with dying, and the fear of the loss of dignity that might accompany their death. They prayed that Papa Ge would not come to them until they were old and ready, and that he would let their children live long, healthy lives as well. The peasants offered animal sacrifices to the God of Death to please him and keep him away from their village. Arielle had no such fear of death. Death and dying did not bother her in the slightest. But she danced to Papa Ge anyways; the songs the peasants played for him were the fastest and made her heart pound like one of the goatskin drums.
In the middle of Papa Ge's dance, Arielle felt a shift in the air. The drums beat faster, the singing became louder and the key changed. Now the song sounded dangerous. A chill travelled up Arielle's spine at the music.
The music became faster and faster while the peasants twirled and twirled, their voices screeching inhumanly. The sky mixed with the earth as the peasants gyrated and stomped.
Then, a dark shape moved in the corner of her eye. A shadow, long and lean, rested against a tree. A shadow, darker than the night, just leaning against a tree. Watching. And, perhaps, waiting.
Soon as Arielle looked, the shadow flickered out of sight. But she had seen it.