Enjoyed this one, AND kept it well under the word count :) Couldn't come up w/ a good title though -- suggestions???
She felt the power course through her as she danced skyclad between the stones. To those watching she seemed to take on an ethereal glow, particularly eerie in the twilight drizzle. She was young to be High Priestess, and some of the braver souls had muttered objections when she took the post, though none doubted her now.
She had fasted through the three nights of the Samhain feast in order to prepare herself for what only she knew would be her last dance. But this moment, this last festival, was her chance to honour those who had given her such power.
She danced for her clan, giving their thanks for the successful harvest, and in supplication for future gifts. She danced for the spirits of those who had passed since last Samhain, to help the traveling dead reach the otherworld. But mostly she danced for Morrigan, the intensely powerful warrior goddess with whom she'd always felt most connected. Her mind opened and her body moved entirely of its own accord.
As the sun set, the hearth fires were all extinguished, leaving only the druidic fire she danced around to cast its shadows. The ancient stones she weaved between came to life as she passed through, seemingly swaying with the movement of her arms. The drums pounded but she heard them not, lost in the rhythms of her soul.
It was the festival of the dead, and she welcomed their presence as the spirits joined her dance. Even the least spiritual of the watchers could see the shadows of the dead as they passed by the stones. Shadows moving where none should be. And still she danced.
A faint breeze caused the shadows to whisper, and the watchers shivered knowing this dance was going far beyond any they had ever experienced. As with any who dance with power, it changed her slightly, brought her beyond the reach of the ordinary, and caused her people to regard her with awe rather than friendship. But she had never sought friendship. And so she danced.
The light and the dark warred within her as she whirled around the fire and between the stones, her painted body a work of art. As she danced, the head of each family ceremoniously entered her circle, one by one, to light a torch from the druidic fire. These would be carried to each hearth, uniting the entire village with the power-infused flames and protecting them from the spirits of those past. Her young sister Aibhilín, her only blood relative, was the last to approach. The young girl started in bravely, but shied away from the figure dancing. This was not her sister. Not the girl who used to run and play and would dare her to go out in the woods after dark. This was a woman shrouded in power; Aibhilín could sense the one she loved was already half lost to the spirit world. She quickly retreated outside the circle as she felt the dancer look right through her, apparnently seeing something Aibhilín could not and did not want to imagine.
The night was coming to a close -- the last of the stars were setting and dawn was just about to crack the horizon, but still the power did not lessen. If anything it seemed to build. Those still at the circle would later speak of a buzzing on the air, a palpable tension that held them enthralled. Exactly as that new year’s first beam broke the Samhain night, there was a loud crack and a bolt of lightening from the otherwise clear sky reached out to strike the very center of the druidic fire, momentarily blinding all who watched.
And when their sight returned, the eerie tension was gone, the traveling spirits seemed to have crossed, the druidic fire was out, and she who had danced with unrivaled power, was gone.