“Answer by raising your hand.” The old woman told her. “Do you see brightness?”
Elynir did not.
“Do you see dimness?”
This time, she did raise her hand. It felt stiff, like a branch, and knurled, a branch with an uneven weight that tipped low as if she held it with the tips of her fingers.
“Most of your body is unwrapped. We will unwrap the rest, and rub oil into your skin to loosen the stiffness. Your eyes are not adjusted. Once we remove the wraps from your head, we will put a new wrap, but only over your eyes. You must not remove it. Too much light too quickly will blind you.”
Elynir said nothing, could say nothing because of her vows to obey the elders. She did wonder if she was still twenty years of age. She had a young husband once, and a daughter she’d given birth to when she was nineteen. When she was awakened for one season, her husband and daughter had aged by forty years, and she was the same. They were her only living relatives. Her husband was older than sixty years. He resented Elynir’s youth and his oldness. Only her daughter wanted her to stay awake, but she was one against all the rest. At least Elynir had one person to fight for her; the first two Sleepers had no one.
Elynir gasped when she felt the four old hands touch her body. Her skin was too sensitive. She gasped and shuddered, becoming excited sexually as the oil was rubbed on her breasts and stomach, clenching her legs together when the old hands moistened her inner thighs, and put oil on her sex. The old women were not doing this deliberately, but it happened regardless. Elynir went through an orgasm and cried out, quieting down as quickly as her body allowed her to, not wanting these elders to reprimand her for using her voice.
The old women said nothing. They continued to cause Elynir to squeal and squirm, as they rubbed the oil lower on her legs and feet. Every part of her they touched felt sensual, sexual, thrilled her as much as her husband had, that first time long ago when he’d made love to her, and every time after.
“The moonstone’s magic is palpitating.” The old woman said. “Are you cold?”
Elynir raised her hand.
“Only blankets for now.” The woman said. “Your skin is too tender for clothing.”
They turned her, as gently as they could, but Elynir still felt their old bones and weathered flesh on her. The blanket they pushed under her was coarse, surely wool. She was rolled on her back and turned the other way. As the old women tugged at the blanket, and the blanket folded and stretched beneath her, Elynir felt discomfort bordering on irritation. The blanket felt grainy, rough, reminding her of tree bark. Its jerks pulled at her skin. She tried to keep her lips together, but grunts slipped out.
Finally, thankfully, the task was done and Elynir returned to her back. The old woman adjusted the thin wrap over her eyes, returning it to its former place. Her head and a portion of her neck were uncovered. She felt the cold tightening her skin, pulling at it. Would it rip?
“Warm tea, with herbs and honey.” The second woman said.
Elyrnir could distinguish between the two now: one’s voice was sharp, jagged, the other’s quieter, a low drone where the worlds ebbed together like a stream without pause. She felt the wooden edge of the spoon, a rounded edge, set close to her lips. Mere drops fell into her mouth.
“A bit at a time.” The woman spoke. “Too much will overwhelm your body, too much too soon. The herbs are bitter, but they will loosen your bowels.”
She only tasted a slight bitterness. The second time she was given drops of tea, the taste was stronger, strong enough to bother her. Bitterness stung at her mouth and tongue, down her throat, all the way down to her stomach. A minor revolt occurred in her belly. She thought of her waste, sitting in her bowels for so many years, so many decades. It repulsed her as much as the tea.
Deliberately, Elynir had refused to think about her appearance, because what if it had changed and she was no longer young? What if she was deformed or marred in some way? To avoid thinking of her upset stomach, she focused on her face, from the last time she’d seen it, in a reflection of water held still and firm by magic.
Elynir was, in her opinion, not as pretty as some of the other women of her time. Her head was not long, but a little long, with her rounded crown complementing her slightly jutting and softly rounded chin. Her forehead was too large, she thought, but so did many other girls her age. Her nose was not remarkable. Her most striking features were her eyes, which were black and looked to pierce through those she beheld, steady black beads on a pale face. And her hair, it was golden yellow, or had been once, but perhaps the power of the moonstone had dulled it, or made it pale. If the village had lined up ten girls in order from prettiest to ugliest, she felt she’d fall into the middle.
Everything about her was average, and yet when the elders tested the youth of the village for the ability to amass magic, she had shown more talent than the rest. She could fill a moonstone the size of half her palm in one week. The second fastest youth took half that time longer. For once, Elynir had something to boast about, and this very gift caused her to become mummified and preserved for… For at least one hundred years.
“Perhaps tomorrow your sight will return.” The sharp voice had come back. “If you must relieve your bowels, do it where you lie. You cannot walk to a privy, nor do we have the strength to carry you. We will clean you afterwards.”
Elynir did not want the women to touch her body again. It was… shameful.
She slept more than she stayed awake. She did not know if it was day or night. She knew nothing about the world outside, other than it was cold, and the cold had come in to bite her flesh.
How I Named My First Characters
Basically, I did the same thing as I did for language, as described in Part 1. This time, I looked through Amazon and Valkyrie names, reversed them and created new names. The Valkyrie names sounded a little more Scandinavian, so that’s the set that won out. Here is a link to the random name generator I used:
My first batch of names:
Reginhylde, Brygabi, Sveidne, Skodrifa, Hridul, Sanrifa, Sveind, Sangrior, Regiva, Sanronul
edlyhniger – Elynir
ibagyrb – Ibagghi
endievs – Endieve
afirdoks – Afiruk
ludirh – Ludyrr
afirnas – Afirnas
dnievs – Dinieve
roirgnas – Rorigg
aviger – Ahvigur
lunornas – Lunohra
The six names in bold made the cut for my band of six Sleepers.
More coming soon!