Disclaimer: The song belongs to Loreena McKennitt or whoever operates her record label.
It is not mine. Written for Juke Box 2017. Written as a bonus treat.
"Once You had Gold"
The young woman sat on a pile of cushions with her legs folded beneath her in the lotus position, with her concentration focused on taking deep breaths in and out, in out. Her eyes were closed the better to 'see' not the waking world all around here, but a vaster, more mysterious one of the spirit.
She had come from a long line of men and women both how had been born with the gift of the Sight. As she was all too well aware for those with that talent it could be as much a curse as a blessing. There was a tattoo of a pomegranate on her left ankle, illumined by the pale pearlescent light cast by the spring moon floating overhead in a net of clouds.
A long time ago, longer than she might care to admit that symbol meant that she was marked out to be one of those who would have not only to have the power but to pass it on to future generations. Alma had once rebelled at this seemingly arbitrary decision made by the elders on her behalf. In fact, she had even tried to run away from this destiny. She had been very young then, very sure of herself and very stubborn to a fault. Alma had once been so certain that she alone would be the one to decide her destiny.
The problem with that, aside from the personal anguish and acrimony she had incurred among her kin she had come to the realization that as far as and as fast as she might run; time and fate, even a love so fierce that it had burned. Sometimes she thinks of him: thinks of how they had met and fallen in love in a place much like this one with its steep hills, terraced hillsides and tall, graceful columns carved with scroll-work and historical and holy script. He had loved her, there was no doubt about that, but a more mature wisdom had taught Alma that his personal devotion to her could become superseded to his devotion to the land, and to the people and to the ruler had sworn to serve. He had spoken to her of a powerful, almost prophetic dream, of a place where the wind soughs strongly over the land and the night birds stilled their songs and gathered memories in the silence. Alma had once believed thought that had was expressed an unconscious longing for the arid, opulent desert landscapes of their ancestral home in the East.
Having both been born here in Andalusia to parents who had been among those who had left to settle in this outermost peninsula of the Empire; she could understand. He had gone on to talk about another dream he'd had: to talk about a bird with plumage in colors as varied and as iridescent as the mechanisms of the rainbow.
She swept the long dark hair that was once black as a crow's wing but was now threaded through with strands of silver. "Hmph, they might have warned me that children of those with the sight have a tendency to go gray at a younger age than those without," she muttered aloud.
The courtyard was guarded on three of its four sides by carved stone lions.
The irritation and the memories fade as her power comes surging for as inescapable and undeniable as the Ocean, and perhaps it is only a passing fancy the vision speaks in a throaty voice, saying: "Come to me," it sings. "Hear the pulse of the land. The pull of the ocean's rhythms. To hold your heart in its hand."
Then the night-birds burst back into song as if the tight reins on their feathered throats or the fetters on their hearts had been loosed. And then she was there, not in body, but in spirit.
In this spirit form she could observe, but not directly affect events as they unfolded; nor could those taking part in those events affect her or hear her; this particular power was deemed 'out of body walking.' In any case, she felt the remove, wherever, or whenever this was; it could have been the past, the present, the future? No way to tell, other than to let it unfold.
A unicorn joined in a feast and in a corner stood a pomegranate tree with sweet-smelling wildflowers there that were so white, so gossamer thin and ephemeral that she could almost mistake them for a heat shimmer or an illusion.
The flowers came clearer to her inner sight and Alma willed herself to move closer to the tree, thinking it could be the source of her line's mystical power, after all the pomegranate had become more and more often used not only to mark those with the Sight but also as sigil of the sovereign independence of Granada, even though they still owed fealty and give bi-monthly tithes to the Emperor.
She thought of the fruit itself, how when it was whole and ripe and sweet one must still slice it up and line up the tiny seeds like tiny red/white pearls.
She was distracted out of this line of thought by the appearance of the unicorn. She had never seen a unicorn before, but she knew instantly that was it was. From the spiraled horn, the narrow head, the pearly whiteness of its mane and coat, and the tiny hooves as it entered the moon-lit courtyard was, breath-taking.
The unicorn shook out its mane and let out its pure bell-like call and it was joined by others of its kind until half dozen stood around the circumference of the pomegranate tree. Yet, still, might some mystery be revealed to me, she wistfully thought. Sure as the cock crows at morn, the world in stillness keeps its secrets."
It was then that Alma heard an old voice say< "Don't go far from the land/The Seasons have their way. No mortal can understand.">
"What am I to make of these portents?" she muttered as she felt the falling away from the vision, falling back across spans of time and space that she still felt as keenly as she felt the blood beating in her heart. A part of her fought this falling away, mostly because she wanted to the vision to last, to draw from it something other than wonder and puzzlement of the image evoked.
Was it that the ancestors were telling her people that they had always been of the desert and that they had no business out sailing the oceans of the world? Or that perhaps that the problems they were currently facing were due to the fact that the imperial forces were stretched too thin to properly affect all of their territories, both the settled and the conquered?
She was a Seer, matters like that were in the hands of the rulers and soldiers. Still, she knew what life was like outside of these walls and she was aware that all was not well. She returned to her own body at the last and straightened out her legs, settling back on the cushions, rolling her shoulders to loosen tight muscles from having been sitting in one position for too long.
Alma stood up and walked over to a small end table where a pitcher and a cup stood; she picked up and poured herself some water, lifted it to her mouth and drank it down. She finished it rapidly and then drank some more.
Out of body experiences were such thirsty work, in any case, there was a lot to take in; but one thing she knew without a doubt when all was uncertain; their people had to stand together at this time or they would fall.
With that in mind, Alma squared her shoulders and considered how she would go about seeking an audience with the governor of Granada. it would be the most direct route, otherwise, she would have to go through more roundabout routes by seeking out her former love, Hamal.
He might be taken aback at her request to see him, even angry; however, at the moment, that was the least of her worries. If he kicked up a fuss or proved obstinate; "Well", Alma thought, she could deal with it. The important thing was getting to see the governor and making him listen to the context of him of her visions.